Sunday, December 14, 2008

Gingerbread Latte with Eggnog Icing

I’m dreaming of a white Christmas…filled with gingerbread and eggnog! By popular request, I was asked to create something special for a Christmas party at church. This is what I dreamed up. Personally I am not a fan of gingerbread flavor, but when you add this tasty icing on top you have a delicious treat fit for anyone who likes a nice blend of holiday flavors.

Gingerbread Latte Cupcakes

5 tablespoons of unsalted butter, softened
½ cup of white sugar
½ cup of unsulfured molasses
2 eggs
1 ¼ cups of all purpose flour
2 tablespoons of cocoa powder
1 ½ teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
½ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon allspice
¼ salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ cup of hot milk
1 table spoon of instant coffee crystals
2 tablespoons of coffee flavored yogurt (optional)

Preheat oven at 350 degrees. Line 12-cup muffin tin. Cream together soften cutter and sugar. Add molasses and eggs. Sift together flour, cocoa, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, and salt. Then add flour mixture to the creamed concoction until combined. Heat milk for one minute in the microwave. Dissolve baking soda in hot milk. Blend coffee and hot milk together. Mix into batter. Add yogurt to moisten batter. Bake for 20 minutes.

Eggnog Icing

½ pound of confectioners sugar
½ stick of butter at room temperature
2 to 3 tablespoons of eggnog

Cream butter and sugar together at medium speed. Add eggnog one tablespoon at a time until the icing is spreadable consistency.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Candy Making "Redemption" of 2008

For the last six years, Audrey and I get together in December to make candy for our family and friends. Last year, was the our candy making turned into a major disaster due to the fact that the candy did not get hot enough and therefore would not harden. We were determined that this year we would make the best candy every. And we did! Our two signature sweets are Hard Crack Cinnamon and Peppermint Bark.

Hard Crack Candy

3 3/4 cup of sugar
1 1/4 cup of Karo white syrup
1 cup of water
2 flavored oils
food coloring
powder sugar

Boil sugar, syrup, and water until it reaches 300 degrees. While the mixture is boiling, put powder sugar on a large cookie sheet. When the candy reaches 300 degrees, remove from heat. Quickly add oil and food coloring. Spread candy very thinly and let cool. Next, use a spoon to break the candy into pieces. Finally, bad it up and share it with friends!

Peppermint Bark

1 pound of white chocolate*
1 bag of peppermint pieces*

Place the white chocolate in a double broiler on medium heat. Stir until chocolate is completely melted. Mix in peppermint pieces. Pour on to a large cookie sheet or baking pan. Let cool. Then break into pieces.

* You can purchase these items at Sugar Drop in Brentwood. I am sure you could find a substitute product somewhere else, but it will not be nearly as good.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Holiday Traditions

"Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kindred, and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmas-time." ~Laura Ingalls Wilder. The Christmas season is one of my favorite times of year. I love walking down the street on a brisk night looking at all of the lights and watching families enjoy spending time celebrating what they have. No matter how difficult times have been, Christmas seems to bring people together with warm thought and holiday cheer. As most families do we have always had certain traditions that we carry out each year to remember the good old days as well as creating new memories. One of my most cherish memories in walking into my Grandma’s house, which always seemed to smell like sugar cookies, to see that her house decorated form one end to the other with candy dishes and tins of party mix. Grandma Boston would bake all sorts of goodies to share with her family, friends, and neighbors. My parents continued this tradition at our house making sweet bread or stew to pass out to our neighbors during the holidays. Now, many years later my mom and I continue the tradition by pulling out our special holiday cookbook with all sorts of best loved recipes that have been saved and passed down from one generation to the next. This weekend my mom and I shared this family tradition with the Krodel’s who over the years have become a dear part of our family. We truly enjoyed sharing some of our favorite holiday treats with them. In the spirit of Christmas, here is one of my very favorite recipes from Christmas pasts.

Oyster Crackers
In memory of Nancy Boston

1 box of Oyster crackers
¾ cup of Wesson Oil
1 package of Original Hidden Valley Ranch dressing mix
1 teaspoon dill
½ teaspoon garlic powder

Preheat oven at 250 degrees. Mix oil, dressing mix, dill, and garlic together. Pour over crackers. Stir until well coated. Place on baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes stirring once. Eat and Enjoy!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Betty Crocker Meets Martha Stewart

A few months ago, I started playing around with the idea of making S’more inspired cupcakes. As usual, I researched possible recipes as a jumping off point. There were so many great ideas it took me awhile to come up with the right mixture of flavor and texture. The main elements of the cupcake came from Betty and Martha. Where would any of us be without them? The end product turned out pretty good. The only change I would make is possibly using an Oreo cookie crust instead of graham crackers.

S’mores Cupcakes

1 box of Betty Crocker Triple Chocolate Cake
1 ½ cups of graham cracker crumbs
3 tablespoons of butter
1 jar of marshmallow cream

Preheat oven to 350. Melt butter. Mix the butter and graham cracker crumbs together until moist. Press a spoonful in the bottom of each cupcake tin. Then mix the cake batter. Fill each cupcake tin about 2/3 of the way full. Bake for 20 minutes. Let completely cool. Next, cut a cone shape into the top of each cupcake. Fill the hole with a heaping spoonful of marshmallow cream. The cream will settle after a few hours so be sure to put plenty in the cake. You will have to trim a little cake off before placing the top back on.

Marshmallow Icing

1 (7 oz.) jar of marshmallow cream
½ cup of butter, softened
2 cups of powdered sugar
1 to 2 teaspoons of milk
1 Hershey’s chocolate bar
1 bag of butter cookies or graham crackers

Remove and discard lid and foil seal from jar of marshmallow cream. To soften marshmallow cream for easy removal from jar, microwave on High 15 to 20 seconds. In large bowl, beat marshmallow cream, butter and powdered sugar on low speed until blended. Beat in enough milk, 1/2 teaspoon at a time, to make frosting spreadable. Spread over tops of cupcakes. Divide chocolate bar into rectangles. Cut each rectangle diagonally in half and place on top of each cupcake. Top each cupcake with half a cookie or a piece of graham cracker. After frosting has set, store loosely covered at room temperature.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Tis' the Season

Everyone seems to have something that triggers that feeling that the holidays have really arrived. For example, my friend Jesse is struck with Christmas joy upon hearing "Love" by the Dave Matthews Band. It isn't something be looks for but rather waits for that first random occurrence to happen. For me, it's Starbucks' red holiday cups with cheerful Christmas Music blasting throughout the air and holiday decor hanging from the walls. I know it seems a little odd from a girl who prides herself in eating at local restaurants. But it's true. That is just my thing. It brings back fond memories of meeting up with old friends and sharing the ways God has blessed our lives. I can't even begin to count the number of incredible conversations I have had while sipping on a peppermint white mocha or a gingerbread latte. This year though I have found a new favorite that was so fabulous and unique that I had to put in on my food blog despite the fact it comes from a chain. Now let me give you a warning...don't knock it until you have tried it! I know some of your taste buds are quivering at the thought of what I could possibly be about to tell you try but trust me I would not lead you astray. So here it is...a few weeks ago Starbucks introduced there new Signature Hot Chocolates. To be honest my first thought in a very sarcastic tone was"Whoopee hot chocolate." It is not something I would normally pay someone to make because I have never truly had a fabulous cup other than my Grandma Lankford's old fashion cocoa. Upon reading the flavors, Salted Carmel and Hazelnut Hot Chocolate, I further judged this new creation to be intriguing but a little too weird for my own taste buds. I mean really who pores salt in their hot chocolate? However, one of the long time bristas at our local Starbucks convinced me to try a cup on the house. As disgusting as I thought it sounded, I was not about to turn down a free cup of anything. So bottoms up! Let's just say I was pleasantly surprised at how the flavors blended together to create one yummy cup of goodness. I am now officially addicted to the Salted Carmel Hot Chocolate. The cocoa is a perfect blend of caramel and chocolate topped off with fresh whip cream drizzled in toffee syrup and sprinkled with sea salt. It is amazing! So this holiday season grab your nearest and dearest for a sweet unique treat at your local Starbucks.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Pumpkin & Spice Creates Something Nice

So my last batch of Carmel Apple cupcakes were fabulous enough to get some rave reviews and a few shout outs. My friend, Tracy had like three in one night which I think might be the biggest compliment I have ever received. But if not having someone request your recipe for a cook-off and winning is certainly a nice pat on the back. As if that wasn’t reward enough for all my hard work, another friend from work hired me to make cupcakes for a party set with autumn tones. I saw this as a perfect opportunity to create a new favorite. I took my famous pumpkin bread recipe and adapted it to a more cake like substance. Then I search for a maple cream cheese flavor icing. Thank goodness I did a trail run first because the original icing recipe I used was almost as big of a disaster as the cherry cupcakes at least in my book. Let’s just say if it looks to easy to be true it probably is! Anyway, on my second search I found a great recipe by David Leite at There are lots of great recipes for all sorts of flavors so check out the site it you have a moment. In the mean, time you have to try the icing. FABULOUS does not even begin to describe it.

Pumpkin Spice Cupcake

2 c all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp fresh ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground gloves
1 cup pumpkin puree (plain, not pumpkin pie kind)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 c chopped pecans, plus extra for garnish

Preheat oven to 325F. In a bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, salt, and spices. Add pumpkin puree, vegetable oil, eggs, vanilla, and sugar to the bowl. Mix for about 3 minutes or until evenly combined. Fold in the pecans. Fill cupcake tines about 2/3 of the way from the top. Bake at 325° for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into center of one of the cupcakes comes out clean. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Maple Cream Cheese Icing
2 – 8 oz. packages of cream cheese, softened
1 stick of unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups of confectioners sugar
¼ cup of pure maple syrup

To make the frosting, mix all the ingredients on medium until fluffy. Frost the cupcakes when they have cooled and top with chopped pecans if preferred.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Rocky Road

Not long ago, I tried a local cupcake sweetry called Gigi’s. I ordered a have dozen cupcakes of a variety of flavors to spur on my own creative juices. Confession: I ate then all myself! So as I often do…I ate each cupcake thinking how I could make it better. My top candidate for a makeover was the Rocky Road. Now in all fairness, I am sure Gigi’s cupcake would have been perfect if it had been fresh. However, a few days later not so much. It was good after I heated it up and added ice cream. But as my avid readers know, I do not do good rather I create magic. So off to the drawing board I went. Now one thing you need to know is perfection does not always need to be made from scratch. There are cases such as this that magic comes from a box with a little tweaking. May I recommend if you ever need a delicious chocolate cake in a hurry try this easy mix with chocolate chips. The icing for these cupcakes involved chocolate gauche which I have never attempted before so I went completely by the book or in this case my new favorite blog…

Rocky Road Cupcakes
1 triple chocolate fudge cake mix
1 1/3 cup of water
½ cup of vegetable oil
3 eggs
1 teaspoon of almond flavor
1 cup of chocolate chucks (or chocolate chips)

Preheat oven @ 350 degrees. Mix the first four ingredients together for about two minutes. Fold in chocolate chucks. Spoon into cupcake wrappers. Bake for 20 minutes.

Chocolate Gauche
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¾ cup mini marshmallows
½ cup chocolate covered or plain almonds, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup chocolate chucks
Put the chocolate, butter, condensed milk, and salt in a heatproof bowl or the top of a double boiler and place it over, but not touch­ing, a saucepan of barely simmering water (or the bottom of the double boiler). Cook, stirring constantly, until the chocolate and butter have melted and the frosting is smooth and thick, about 5 minutes. Remove from the water and stir in the vanilla. Scrape the chocolate mixture into a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer at medium speed until the frosting thickens further and cools to lukewarm (so it won’t melt the marshmallows), about 3 minutes. When thickened, the beaters should form lines in the frosting. Fold in marshmallows, almonds, and chocolate chips. Allow the frosting to thicken until it’s a spread able consistency that won’t run down the sides of the cupcakes. (Just play around with it, you’ll know when it’s ready.) Let the cup­cakes sit uncovered until the frosting firms up, about 1 hour. These cupcakes are best stored in a covered container to protect the frosting; store for up to 3 days at room temperature.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Caramel Apple Cupcakes

One of favorite fall treats are Caramel Apples. A few weeks ago, I was strolling through the produce section when this glorious display of caramel apples caught my eye. I did what any pregnant woman would do and ripped open the package to bite into that sweet juice absolutely delicious fall treat. As I stood there licking the caramel off my figures, the strangers now staring at the pregnant woman eating in the middle of the store meant nothing to me because all I could think about was how great it would be to make this wonderful sweet into a whole batch of cupcakes. Thus, my caramel apple cupcakes were born!

Apple Cupcakes

2 sticks butter (room temperature)
1 cup and 2 tablespoons sugar
2 cup of all purpose flour
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
4 eggs
1 ½ cups unsweetened applesauce
2 teaspoon of cinnamon
1 teaspoon of nutmeg
2 cups finely chopped apples (I used one Gala and one Fuji)

Cream together butter, sugar, eggs. Mix together flour, salt, baking powder. Add flour to cream mixture. Mix in applesauce, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Fold in chopped apples. Fill cupcake wrappers. Bake at 350 for 25 min. Eat some hot out of the oven before proceeding to frost the others. I thought they tasted just like apple pie filling.

Thick Caramel
1/2 cup butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup6 ounces sweetened condensed milk
1 tablespoon heavy cream1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups of nuts (garnish)

Bring the butter, brown sugar, corn syrup and sweetened condensed milk to a boil over medium-high heat stirring to combine. With a wooden spoon, stir all ingredients together and then slowly add the heavy cream. Continue to stir for about 20 minutes until the caramel reached 248 degrees. It is important to continuously stir the mixture and to allow it to reach temperature.Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla and salt. Transfer to a bowl and continue to stir for 2-3 minutes allowing the caramel to cool slightly. Drizzle caramel on top of the cupcakes. Sprinkle with nuts.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Tin Angel

The Tin Angel on Westend Avenue is one of those places that you have probably driven by a hundred times thinking someday you should check that place out. If you walk the block, Tin Angel is known as the local eatery around the corner where every one is greeted by a friendly face. The restaurant has a warm and cozy environment. The brick walls and tin ceiling are covered with unique works of art. The menu is as colorful and well decorated as the atmosphere featuring traditional American cuisine. The chefs are on a constant quest to seek out the most flavorful, inventive, seasonal dishes possible to display on their menu. As a result, the food is nothing short of amazing. If your in the area around the lunch hour, try some local favorites such as the Margarita Pizza, Parthenon Pita, In side Out Eggplant Parmigiana, or Chicken Basil Brie. For dinner, treat your taste buds with the unique flavors of Seared Pork Tenderloin, Tangerine Duck, Catfish Pomme de Terre, or Cha-Cha Chicken. Whether you walk through the doors at noon or at sunset, you must try their Fried Green Tomatoes with Horseradish sauce.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Nashville Originals

Nashville Originals is a dedicated band of local restaurateurs; dedicated to the challenge of sustaining the independent restaurant as a feature and a fixture of local culture and community. What and where you eat, as Nashvillians, helps define the city. Their home grown restaurants reflect who we are and point the way in the future development of the city. From September 15th until the 21st, Nashville Originals are bringing the first annual restaurant week to town to give a happy time to diners. They will be featuring the finest cuisines at a very affordable price in an attempt to showcase the restaurants best elements. This is a win/win for all parties involved. Check out for a list of local eatterys that are aprt of this special offer. In the mean time....Gather, eat, enjoy life in the restaurants that are Nashville Originals.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Crayola Cupcakes

For the past ten years, I have had the honor to be apart of one family as their Nani. Quite often people ask me what is a Nani...well in the girls' words a Nani is better than a baby sitter but not quite the mommy. A few weeks ago, I kept the girls for a few days while the boys were at camp and their parents escapes for a romantic getaway. During that time, we had more fun than possibly imaginable swimming, picking berries, and of course cooking. Eliza, 8, loves helping in the kitchen and Georgia, 5, is my little foodie. With this in mind, I came up with special kid friendly cupcakes great for a rainy day or a colorfully creative party. First we, mixed up a regular box of yellow cake batter. Then we added a little vanilla flavoring to give the cake a richer taste, but you could add any flavoring you want. Next, we divided the batter equally into three bowls. After dividing the batter, add several drops of food coloring to each bowl and stir. I would recommend using colors that have a drastic contrast. Then scoop a large spoonful of each color in the cupcake tins until they are filled almost to the top. Bake as directed on the box. When the cupcakes are completely cooled, ice them and decorate them. We chose to ice ours in vanilla and roll them in colored sugar. Since these cupcakes were so bright and colorful we decided to call them Crayola Cupcakes. The girls loved making these cupcakes...even more than that they loved eating them! I hope that some day this recipe can help create a memorable afternoon with your favorite little ones too!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Queen’s Delight

A few weeks ago, my friend, Julie, was having a birthday celebration. Her boyfriend, Chris, had heard that I made delicious cupcakes so he asked me to make her chocolate cupcakes with white icing. Apparently no one told him that I don’t make just any cupcakes but rather I take what was once thought to be a kitty treat and trans form it into something heavenly. Knowing that Julie and Chris have very simple taste pallets I created something simple but delectable. Let’s just say that self proclaimed “Princess” Julie was not disappointed. For the cake portion, I used a bundt cake recipe that I acquired a few years ago from my former roomie Audrey. We used this recipe at least a hundred times for parties or dinner guest. It is always a crowd pleasure. For the icing, I decided to make a cream peanut butter icing. On top, I placed a miniature Reese’s Cup to resemble a crown. When serving, I would recommend having a goblet of milk nearby to compliment this royal sweet treat.

Chocolate Cake

1 box of triple chocolate cake
1 small box of chocolate instant pudding
8 ounces of sour cream
1 cup of oil
¼ cup of water
2 teaspoons of vanilla
6 oz (or more) of chocolate chips

Combine first seven ingredients-all but chocolate chips. Mix for about 4 minutes. Stir in chocolate chips. Pour into cupcake tins (or bundt pan). Bake at 325 for about 25 minutes for cupcakes or one hour for a bundt cake.

Peanut Butter Frosting

1 cup powdered sugar
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter (do not use old-fashioned or freshly ground)
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 teaspoons (about) whipping cream

Put powdered sugar and next 3 ingredients in medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat until mixture is smooth, adding whipping cream by teaspoonfuls if frosting is too thick to spread. Spread frosting in swirls over top of cupcakes. Garnish with miniature Reese’s Cups. (Store in single layer in airtight container at room temperature.)

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Cheesecake Factory

FYI: July 30th is National Cheesecake Day! The Cheesecake factory will be celebrating by offering any of their delicious cheesecakes for $1.50 a slice. You can not beat a deal like that. May I suggest calling up a few of your closest friends ordering a hand full of flavors then play pass the plate. It's a great way to try multiple flavors for next to nothing as well as making memory to last a life time. Grab a fork, Let's celebrate...

Friday, July 11, 2008


Germantown is one of my favorite areas of town. It is located a few blocks from the Farmer's Market. Most of the houses in the area have been restored to their original early 1900's appearance with 21st century furnishings on the inside. The historic neighborhood is filled with charming little houses each with a unique touch. I find driving through Germantown a refreshing change from the cookie cutter neighborhoods of today. Another appealing quality of the area is Germantown Cafe which happens to be my favorite restaurant. The cafe is located on the corner of fifth street in an old building that has been completely renovated. Inside you will find a sleek design with plum walls, wood furniture, white tablecloths and a few artistic pieces including single Gerber daisies on each table. Simple, but elegant. The tables set in front of a wall of glass that over looks Nashville's skyline. The menu is as breath taking as the view. The cafe serves traditional food with a subtle twist. Some of their most popular items include the Chef's Frittata, French Toast, French Onion soup, fresh Pasta, Saute Chicken with a side of asparagus. One of my favorite items is the Traditional Ruben with house made dressing. Let me also recommend the open face Chicken Salad with a side of fresh fruit. If that doesn't interest you, try the Crab Cakes served with mashed potatoes and green beans. Whatever you order, do mot leave with out checking out dessert. The chef serves a Chocolate Moose to die for...he spent years perfecting it and I must say it is pretty perfect. So next time you wondering downtown looking for a delicious place to eat check out Germantown Cafe. You will not be disappointed I promise!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Blackberry Bliss

In the summer, Ted loves to eat fresh blackberries. It reminds him of his childhood. He often makes a delicious blackberry cobbler with moist dough and a nutmeg-cinnamon flare. I wanted to recreate his treat with a twist. My batter is similar to a cobbler with a few minor adjustments. I substituted the cinnamon for fresh mint as an added bonus. For the icing, I used Italian cream cheese and a little vanilla. The icing is really tasty by it’s self. I have been using the leftover icing as a fruit dip. But for future reference I would recommend mixing half a pound of sugar with mascarpone cheese for a fruit dip to make it a little more fluid. Another suggestion would be to serve these warm. In that case you will want to put them on plate and serve with a fork because them will fall apart, but they are extra yummy warm.

Blackberry Mint Cupcakes

1 cup sugar
1 stick unsalted butter at room temp
3 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
t teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ½ cups fresh blackberries
1 mint leaf shredded (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a cupcake or muffin tin with cupcake liners and set aside. For the cake: Cream the sugar and butter together until light and fluffy with a standing mixer set on medium speed. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the buttermilk and vanilla and combine well. In a separate bowl, combine the flour and baking soda. Add flour mixture to batter. Fold in the blackberries carefully by hand. Sprinkle mint leaf in batter. Pour in cupcake tins. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until cakes spring back in the middle when touched. Set aside to cool slightly in the pan.

Mascarpone Icing
8 ounces mascarpone cheese
1 pound confectioner’s sugar
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
1 Tablespoon water

Meanwhile, prepare the frosting: Cream the cheese and vanilla together on low speed. Gradually incorporate the sugar until mixture is smooth and creamy, you may not need to use the whole pound of sugar. Add water as needed until right consistency. Frost cupcakes. Before serving garnish with a blackberry and mint leaf. The mint leaf will wilt if they set out for more than a day.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

House of Gyro

I Love Greek Food! When I was in college. my mom and I began a tradition of going downtown to get Greek food every time she came to visit. This tradition continued until I moved home the summer before Ted and I married. But not for long. One day, Ted and I stumbled upon this little Greek place on Stewarts Ferry. The House of Gyro is one those places that you probably would not notice unless someone pointed it out but once you find you never for get it. Their menu is designed for the Greek lover or plain janes. Thy offer Greek specialities as well as more common food like chicken and fries. I highly recommend ordering some type of Gyro. Their Lamb has the most amazing flavor. They slow roast it on a vertical rotisserie. Then they shave it off and grill it for a few minutes before serving it up on a platter complete with Greek salad, rice, and of course a pita. After eating at almost every Greek restaurant in town I can honetly say they have the best Lamb in town. The best part is...its cheap. Prices range from $3.99 to $5.99. You can't beat that. My favorite part about the House of Gyro thought is not the food. I love the owners. They have this philosophy of getting to know their costumes and making them relaly enjoy their dinnig experience. In this day and age that is a rare thing. Different from American culture they work really hard to save and invest in their restaurant. Everytime I go in they have changed something small to make it a better place. I love supporting a good onld family owned business.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Baja Burrito vs. Blue Coast

Baja Burrito is a locally owned fresh mex burrito joint located in Berry Hill. At any given time of the day, you can walk up to find a line out the door. What makes them so good you ask? Good question...perhaps it's the fact that every thing is made fresh on the spot. Maybe people love the fact that every order is made the way you want it meaning you can have all, nothing, or something in between. If those are not good enough reasons, then maybe it's the refillable chips and amzing queso. Really I have no idea what makes it so fabulous, but it's good enough to make people wait in line for twenty minutes just to enjoy one of the finest burritos in town. And it's good enough that a few years ago they decided to branch out. The company wanted to maintain the authenticity of Baja Burrito so they created a spin off chain called Blue Coast. As I was researching Blue Coast Burrito I was pretty amazed at how quickly and how far it has expanded. There are shops litterally from one end of the state to the other as well as a few in Arkansas in a little less than three years. Pretty Impressive! Blue Coast has the same bright colors and crazy dessert decor as Baja. They also use a similar menu with the famous made to order style. After visiting several locations, I have concluded the spin off is good, but not quite the same. I can't explain exactly why the food taste different considering they use the same menu, but there just seems to be something missing. Perhaps it's more the atmosphere. The regulars know the loyal staff. More importantly despite the large crowds the staff seems to know you. After years of weekly visits, they begin to remember the way I like my food without me having to order. Then of course the other bonus is that on any given day you will run into someone or a dozen someones you know. There are actually two or three people I run into almost everytime I go. All of this to say there is just something about Baja that people can't get enough of....and can't be satisfied by spin offs. Kay West from the Scene said it best "No matter how bad a case of seasonal affect disorder you are suffering, there is no way you can walk out of Baja without a smile on yoru face." If you don't believe me check it out for yourself. I would recommend a chicken taco salad with honey chapotla dressing, or a steak burrito with guacomolie, or their speciality a trio of fish tacos. You really can't go wrong!

Friday, July 4, 2008

Lemon Blackberry Cupcakes

My mom and I went berry picking this week as we often do. After a few hours, we returned with a load of blackberries which are Ted’s favorites. With a bucket full of fresh blackberries, I began searching for a recipe worthy of my time. I didn’t quite find what I was looking for at first. But I did find a yummy recipe for Lemon cupcakes filled with preserves. So I did what I do and used it as a jumping off point. The batter is very light and fluffy. It has a rich lemon flavor. For the preserves, I used Smucker’s blackberry preserves and mixed in fresh blackberries for a fresher flavor. The cupcakes really turned out well. I was also pleased to try out a recipe with some type of filling. I had wanted to add filling after reading a Wilton article of cupcakes. But I was under the impression that you had to use a special tool to do so. Well apparently I was wrong. On discovering I was wrong, I found out that one of the best ways is simply to use a batter, filling, batter method which gives you more flavor.

Lemon Cupcakes with Blackberry Filling

1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, room temp.
2/3 cup sugar
2 large egg, lightly beaten
zest of two lemons
juice of two lemons (with 1 T held aside for the icing)
1/2 cup lemon flavored yogurt

Preheat oven to 350 and prepare muffin tins. Stir flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt together. Set aside. Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, beating until just blended. Then add in lemon zest and lemon juice. Add lemon yogurt. Beat in flour mixture until blended.
1/2 cup blackberry preserves
½ cup blackberries

For filling, fold the fresh blackberries into the preserves. Divide half the batter evenly among the tins. Place a scoop of blackberry preserves on top of the batter in the middle of each cup. Cover with the remaining batter. Bake for 18 minutes.

Lemon Icing

1 cup powdered sugar
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
Fresh blackberries

Mix powdered sugar, lemon juice and 1 t milk. Add more milk as needed by 1 t amounts until icing consistency. After icing, allow cupcakes to sit until the icing has set. Garnish with fresh blackberries.

Saturday, June 28, 2008


This week’s cupcake project was inspired by our VBS Outrigger Island. The theme was Truth set to the back drop of the Hawaiian Islands. On Wednesday, the church had a Luau. So I decided this would be the perfect opportunity to try out some cupcake ideas. As I brainstormed ideas for cupcakes, I thought about the summer I lived on Oahu. What would best represent the Hawaiian people? Well two of the things that remind me most of my time there are seashells and pineapple.

For my first creation, I made banana chocolate cupcakes (see June 11) iced in vanilla. Then I rolled them in gram cracker crumbs to look like sand. Next, I melted white chocolate and dark chocolate in a boiler before drizzling them together in seashell candy molds. When the shells were completely cool, I placed them on top of the faux sand.

For my second creation, I wanted to create something like a pineapple upside down cake in cupcake form. Before I started baking, I did a little research on possible recipes. As I was surfing the web, I came across the site Coconut and Lime is a food site by food writer Rachel Rappaport. Her sight is filled with great recipes covering any flavor your pallet desires including my desire pineapple cupcakes. I knew as soon as I read her recipe that I had found my jumping off point for the week. Her recipe focused on the pineapple. I modified it a bit by adding a little vanilla and key lime to make more of a mixed island flavor. The icing was to die for so I left it alone other than adding a garnish. I attempted to use lime curls on top, but discovered that I stink at zesting so I sliced the key limes in halves instead.

Pineapple Paradise

2 cups all purpose flour
1 ½ cups sugar
2 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ vegetable oil
2 eggs
20 oz. crushed pineapple in juice
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon fresh key lime

Mix flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Add oil and eggs. Mix in pineapple in its own juice, vanilla, and key lime. Pour into cupcake tins. Bake at 350’F for 15 to 18 minutes.

Pineapple Cream Cheese Icing

8 oz. cream Cheese softened
2 cups confection sugar
1/4 cup pineapple juice
4 key limes sliced in halves for garnish

Mix cream cheese, sugar, and pineapple juice in bowl. Ice cupcakes. Enjoy!

Saturday, June 21, 2008


Words can not even big to express my love for In-n-Out. If you don’t know what In-n-Out is then you should hop a plane ASAP for California because you are missing out on one of life’s finest moments. Let me elaborate...first you need to know one very important fact about me. I do not eat fast food. I think that fast food is a sorry excuse for a meal. If you ever see a fast food restaurant on this site, then call the police because I have surely been kidnapped and something terrible tragic is going to happen to me like being force fed greasy fries and overcooked grade F meat…or my husband is trying to be funny and sneak a blog onto my food site. Anyway, moving on…now that you get that I do not eat fast food under any circumstance you need to know about my one exception…In-n-Out Burger…My mouth waters at the words as I think about their out of this world unbelievably delectable burgers. At first glance, they just look like any ordinary burger. But on closer examination you can’t help but to fall in love if you know the secret. See here’s the deal. In-n-Out has a very simple menu literally burger, fries, milkshake or at least it seems that way. They have a secret not really so secret menu. It’s not posted in the restaurant you have to just know about it (or look it up Here is a simple test…next time you meet someone who has been to Cali ask them if they have been to In-n-Out. If they answer yes in a balsa kind of way then they are boring and do not know of the secret menu. But if they answer with overwhelming enthusiasm then they are totally in. (the one exception would be my husband who’s taste buds have been deadened by years of fast food…yuck…JUST SAY NO TO FAST FOOD EXCEPT IN-N-OUT) Anyway, back to the secret menu…the most popular item on the secret menu is an animal style burger. Animal style means they coat your burger in mustard before cooking then top it with sautéed onions and a secret sauce (basically thousand island dressing with a kick) placing it on a toasted bun before serving it. Trust me try it even if you don’t like any of those ingredients you can’t help but to fall in love with the piece of heaven they serve you. This week I was in California visiting my best friend, Liz, who first introduced me to In-n-Out. We ate there everyday for lunch. It was the happiest my mouth has been in quite some time. So go and try it for yourself and you will see…YOU WILL LOVE IT!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Cupcake Catastrophe!

Week one of my mini cupcake project I made these fabulous banana nut cupcakes. Feeling pretty good about my baking abilities I moved into week two with a dream of creating cupcakes inspired by Ben & Jerry’s Cherries Garcia Ice Cream. I wanted a rich cherry flavored cupcake with bits of dark chocolate and a splash of almond covered in dark fudge. As I researched recipes for cherry cake I noticed that there were very few as in none….ah I have found my niche I will be the one who creates the perfect cherry cake recipe…or so I thought. Silly me what I should of thought was there must be a good reason you can’t find a cake recipe using real cherries. Needless to say after many hours of mixing and baking my Cherry Garcia cupcake dreams turned into a nightmare. So for now I am putting my dream on the back burner while I explore other delicious ideas. That is all I have to say about that!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Good Morning Cupcakes

By popular request, I am posting my recipe for Good Morning cupcakes. If your wondering how I came up with the name for my cupcakes well here it is. Food inspires my creations. People inspire my names. (I know its strange...some people name their children after their friends well I name my cupcakes after the people who inspire me.) When I was making these cupcakes, I couldn't help but to think of my teamate Alison. Quite often I stop at Starbucks after the gym to get coffee for myself and our other teammate Amanda. Alison, however, does not like coffee. (I know shocking!!!) Anyway, since she doesn't drink coffee I usually pick up her favorite morning treat a banana nut loaf. Upon receiving this treat, she smiles and says something to the affect its going to be a good morning. Therefore, I named these cupcakes "Good Morning" in her honor. So here 's to you Alison...thanks for being an amazing teammate and a great friend.

“Good Morning” Cupcakes aka Banana Nut Chocolate Chip Cupcakes
stick butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tsp. baking soda
2 cup flour
3 very ripe bananas, mashed
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. nutmeg
½ tsp. cinnamon
1 cup of chocolate chips
chocolate fudge icing
dried banana chips
Preheat oven 350 degrees. Grease cupcake pan. Blend the butter and the sugar into a cream. Add eggs and sour cream. Stir until smooth. Mix in flour and baking soda. Add mashed bananas. Mix in vanilla, nutmeg, and cinnamon to taste. Stir in chocolate chips. Pour into muffin tins and ¾ way full. Makes 20 to 24 cupcakes. Bake for 20 minutes. Cool (if you can wait that long) ice with chocolate fudge icing. Top with a banana chip.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

San Antonio Taco Company

You must be a Nashvillian if you have ever eaten at SATCO. If not then we need to talk. SATCO is one of the ultimate "let's meet and eat" kinda places. The restaurant is all about cheap eats. They have everything Mexican from tacos to burritos. But they are best known for their refillable baskets of warm chips. In college, we use to pile in the car and head down to SATCO for a cheap night out. Our tickets always read the same: chips with cheese dip, beans, ranch, and guacamole with some crazy made up name at the top. A dozen baskets later, we were done chatting and all of life's major worries had been solved. Last night as I met up with one of my college friends, I looked around to find a similar sight. Tables filled with people sharing baskets of warm chips and their adventures of life. So if your in the mood for good Mexican and a long talk, I highly recommend grabbing your buddies and heading toward 21st Avenue for a basket of chips.

Monday, June 9, 2008


One of my favorite places in Portland was Saint Cupcake. The cupcake shop makes the most delicious cupcakes in all sorts of interesting flavors. We sampled toasted coconut cream, lemon berry, vanilla with vanilla butter cream, and the fat Elvis. My favorite ended up being the toasted coconut cream. It was perfect just the way it was...buttery vanilla cake with cream cheese icing covered in toasted coconut. Now, the fat Elvis really enticed me. This cupcake consisted of a semi-sweet banana chocolate chip cake with a peanut butter chocolate icing topped off with a banana chip. With all of that you would think that it has to be pretty close to perfect. While it was delicious, I found myself thinking of all the things that I would do to make it better. Throughout the week I kept day dreaming of fun combinations of cupcakes that I could make.

Once we returned, I decided that I was going to create my own banana chocolate chip cupcake. So I googled cupcakes finding a plathera of cupcake blogs. Apparently, I am not the only cupcake crazy person out there! One of my favorite sites is Cupcake Project. The cupcake project was started by a lady who was making cupcakes for her friends' wedding. In preparation, she worked to master the art of cupcakes by creating a new tempting treat every week. Along the way she blogged about the things she discovered, the recipes she created, and the feed back from her friends. The project began as a nine month adventure... (You must read this!), but continues today as a passion for creating delicious treats. Her site is full of great ideas if your in the mood for cupcakes.

After searching blogs and recipe sites, I had million ideas floating around in my head. So I decided to start my own mini summer cupcake project. This weekend I created my first cupcake "Good Morning" which is a close cousin to the fat Elvis. Good Morning consist of a sweet moist banana-nut cake with chocolate chucks covered in a chocolate fudge icing. I topped my cupcake with a banana chip in honor of my original inspiration Saint Cupcake. If I do say so myself, they are pretty fabulous. I have several ideas in mind for June inspired by Ben & Jerry's and fresh fruit??? I bet your mind is turning....if you have any inpiring flavor combinations let me know and perhaps I'll turn your cupcake dreams into a mouth watering reality!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

"Nashville Originals" Must Eats

If you haven't tried these local eats, I suggest you grab your nearest and dearest for a great meal with unique flare.

1. Germantown Café – Sunday Brunch

2. Baja Burrito – Chicken Taco Salad with Chipolata Honey Mustard

3. Portland Brew – Chai with Caramel Sauce

4. Bistro 215 – Crab Cakes with Petite Salad

5. Christopher Tennessee Pizza Company – The Pepperoli

6. Sunset Grill – Dessert Trio

7. Midtown café – Traditional Ruben

8. Phat Bites – Roasted Red Pepper or Spinach Feta Hummus

9. Finezza Trattoria – Seafood tossed with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Fettuccini

10. Hickory Brothers Barbeque – Smoked Turkey with Baked Beans