Fun Food

Nudo: Adopt Something Delicious

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Why give a friend a gift of teas or olive oils when instead you can give them their own olive tree or tea garden? This is the concept of Nudo: you can adopt a tree or garden and receive a seasonal selection from your own adoptee. I’ve written about Nudo in the past and have loved checking up on the company. (I mean, how cool would it be to tell your friends the story of the exact tree your oil is from?) This holiday season, they’ve expanded their olive tree selection and added Darjeeling Tea Gardens.

I had the pleasure of sampling their new Sicilian Feudo Giulfo single-estate extra-virgin olive oil as well as their Darjeeling Tea, and oh my gosh you guys, the stuff is good. The olive oil is spicy, fruity, and so good on its own with a bit of bread. The Golden Harvest tea was indeed golden in color and tasted like the ultimate cup of tea. This is the stuff tea parties are made of.

If you’re looking for a fun, unique gift for someone that loves food or tea, or cares greatly about where their food comes from, Nudo is for you. And because they’re so awesome, they’re giving away a tea adoption! You’ll receive an adoption certificate from your tea garden and a shipment of the Golden Harvest Darjeeling loose leaf tea. Enter using the rafflecopter below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Nomiku: Sous Vide for Everyone

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Sous vide is one of those things I’ve always wanted to try, but assumed I’d never be able to. For those uninitiated, sous vide consists of cooking food in water at a low temperature (less than boiling). Many items are placed in vacuum-sealed bags and may need to cook for a couple hours. To do it successfully, you need to be able to have water continuously circulating and always at the same temperature.

This is where Nomiku comes in. Nomiku is a super easy, well designed gadget that allows you to sous vide at home. You just need the Nomiku, a large pot, and whatever you want to put in it. The Nomiku even comes with basic instructions and information on sous vide so anyone can get started.

I received a Nomiku to try, and I have to say, it sat in its box for a week or so. I was afraid. Would I be able to sous vide? Would I like what was made? Do I need to know how to plate things all fancy, like in the video? But I took it out and tried it last night, and I absolutely love it. I started simple with eggs (sous vide eggs are something many people talk about. If you’re looking for perfectly cooked eggs, this is the way to do it). The great thing about eggs is that they don’t need a vacuum sealed bag, since they’re in the shell! (And sous vide poached eggs are much easier than the traditional because they can stay in their shell.)

I set the Nomiku to 64°C, placed the eggs in the pot, and waited for an hour. When they were done, I cracked them onto a toasted english muffin. The egg itself was beautiful. The yolk was nearly set, and looked like a gorgeous yellow jewel. The egg white was fairly runny but kept a tiny bit of its shape. Everything about the eggs were consistent and delicious.

Mr. Geek and I are already plotting what we’ll try next. We’re wanting to do some steak soon, as well as try their recipe for “Deep Fried Egg Yolks.” And I may play around with scrambled eggs and also compare sous vide hard boiled eggs to traditional hard boiled eggs on the stove. I’ll slowly work my way up to fancy dishes and pretty plating, but for now I’m eating my projects quicker than I can plate them. ;-)

If you’re interested in this cooking style, you should pre-order a Nomiku now for $299.95. Not sure if you’d like sous vide? Attend the Nomiku event this Sunday, November 17th in Seattle. Two Nomiku Kickstarter backers will be going head-to-head Top Chef style to make the best sous vide dish. You’ll be able to see the Nomiku in action and try the food! I’ll be there.

Have you tried sous vide? What should I make with my Nomiku next?

Creepy Candy for Halloween

While a handful of fun size candy bars will always be an acceptable gift in this home, there are some items out there that will rock the socks off of your average Halloween treat. If you’re looking to impress your party attendees or want a fun and creepy host/hostess gift, I’d recommend one (or more) of these fun and spooky treats that are perfect for All Hallows Eve.

Zombie Bars

Zombie Bar

These white chocolate crispy bars are green with a blood red “Bite Me” message on top. It’s a perfect gift for anyone who loves zombies (or anyone you’ve always wanted to say “Bite Me” to!). The bars were recently featured on the Food Network. It’s pretty cool to see how they’re made! Get 10% off your order with code “GEEKGIRL10″. Pack of 4 for $19.95.

Spider Lollipops

Spider Lollipops

Freak your friends out with these spider lollipops that look a lot more scary than they are! Instead of a spider, you’ll actually just be eating a cotton candy lollipop. That’s not so bad! Pack of 6 for $15.

Ground Gremlin Meat

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This ground gremlin meat from Dylan’s Candy Bar is actually 2 pounds of Strawberry licorice laces. Delicious! 2 pounds for $14.99.

Bloody Brain Lollipops

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Complete your zombie costume with these fruit punch flavored lollipops. Or give them to someone whose brain you love. 6 for $9.99.

Silver Bullet Mints

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Lastly, protect your loved ones and your breath with these silver bullet mints. Guaranteed to keep werewolves away! (Well, people who have eaten these have never been seen with a werewolf.) Tin of 45 mints for $2.50.

Are you planning any fun gifts for Halloween?

Cupcake Inspiration From the Trophy Book Launch

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I attended the Trophy Cupcakes Book Launch Party over the weekend, and was in awe of how many ways they displayed cupcakes throughout the event. They were all beautiful and a lot of them were pretty unique! Here are some of my favorite bits of cupcake inspiration taken from the event. Keep them in mind for your next party:

Display Your Cupcakes Proudly

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A giant cupcake display looks even prettier when you mix flavors, colors, and sizes of your cupcakes.

DIY Cupcake Station

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This “Decorate Your Own Cupcake” station was a super cute idea, and was clearly being used. Keep in mind: If your party has a lot of kids (or childlike adults), this station will get super messy and most people will focus on quantity of sprinkles over quality.

Gold Frosted Fruit

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A piece of fruit sprayed gold with edible spray paint is an elegant way to top a cupcake. This would be fantastic for a wedding or fancier event!

Cotton Candy/Cupcake Collaboration

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Spun skewered a mini cupcake on a fork and used that to spin the cotton candy onto. It was a super fun and creative element. A bit messy to eat, but still fun!

Decorate with Cupcakes

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Cupcakes don’t just need to be used to feed the masses–they can also be used to decorate the party! Just find a fun container to put them in. (Tip: If it can hold a candle or an air plant, it can hold a mini cupcake!)

Have you done any creative cupcakeing at parties in the past? Let me know in the comments!

Recipe: “Hot Wing” Salad

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Britt, a good friend of mine and blogger at BlondeNerd.com, just had her first salad last night. I know, I don’t believe it either. She refuses to go near lettuce and has avoided salads all her life. I told her that one day I would convert her by taking her favorite meal, Hot Wings, and turning it into a healthy, leafy dish.

Yesterday was that day. With the help of Whole Foods and their Whole Kids Foundation, I created a recipe to encourage more people to eat salads. And if I can get Britt to eat more veggies, I can get ANYONE to. According to Whole Foods, “replacing one meal a day for a salad could translate into the reduction of 100 calories per day. That’s 10 pounds in one year!  ” So my thinking is: Let’s take some of our favorite unhealthy foods and turn them into slightly-less-unhealthy salads. We still get the flavors we crave while also getting our daily veggie requirements and filling up on less fattening ingredients. Guess my next challenge is to create a cupcake salad…

Anyway, back to the recipe! Behold: A salad even Britt will eat.

“Hot Wing” Salad (serves 4)

Ingredients:

  • 2 Boneless, Skinless, Chicken Breasts
  • Canola Oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Paprika
  • 1/2 cup Hot Sauce (I used Bella’s Hot Wing Sauce)
  • 3 Romaine Hearts
  • 1/2 cup Shredded Carrots
  • 3 stalks Celery
  • 1/4 cup Blue Cheese Dressing
  • 1/4 cup crumbled Blue Cheese
  • 2 Green Onion stalks

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Directions:

Slice the raw chicken breasts in half horizontally to make four thin breasts. Season both sides with a bit of salt, pepper, and paprika.

Pour some canola oil into a frying pan (a little more than you would normally use) and let heat up on medium-high heat.

Place the chicken breasts in the pan and let cook for a few minutes on both sites (until inside is not pink and outside is browned).

Place the cooked breasts in a dish, and cover with hot sauce. Flip the breasts over and make sure both sides are fully coated. Place aside.

Chop the romaine hearts and celery and place into a large bowl. Add the shredded carrots.

Add 1/4 cup of Blue Cheese Dressing (or more or less as your tastes prefer) to the salad and toss until evenly coated.

Place the salad evenly onto four plates.

Sprinkle crumbled blue cheese on top of the salads.

Slice the chicken breasts and place one on top of the crumbled blue cheese. Garnish with green onions.

Serve with additional dressing and hot sauce as tastes prefer.

Enjoy!

Measurements are all able to be messed with: If you like more or less of something in your salad, go for it!

The beer expert at my local Whole Foods recommended the following beers to be paired with the salad:

  • Laurelwood Brewing Co: Organic Free Range Red Ale
  • Double Mountain Vaporizer (dry-hopped pale ale)

What do you think? Would you eat a “hot wing” salad? What other unhealthy dishes should I try to convert into a salad?

If you feel inspired to help kids eat more salads, visit wholekidsfoundation.org or make a donation next time you’re at Whole Foods!

Whole Foods provided me with a gift certificate to create this salad as well as information about their Whole Kids Foundation. Thank you, Whole Foods!

Trophy Cupcakes and Parties Book Launch

Trophy Book Launch

I attended the media event for the new Trophy Cupcakes and Parties book yesterday, and holy cow. I am blown away. I own my fair share of cookbooks, cupcake books, and party books, but this is my new go-to.

First off, it’s written by the amazing Jennifer Shea. Not only is she the founder of Trophy Cupcakes, but she’s also a beautiful, sweet, charismatic person with an amazing sense of style–she’s the type of person everyone either wants to be or befriend. I had a fantastic time meeting her when we worked on the Hunger Games Cupcake video and I always look forward to seeing what new beautiful cupcake or project she’ll announce.

Second, the book is just BEAUTIFUL. Rina Jordan did a fantastic job with the photography and the styling of the photos and the book as a whole makes you feel like you’re at a charming and whimsical party and leaves you inspired to create one yourself.

Third, the book holds so much great information. Not only does it include tons of recipes for popular Trophy cupcakes (and fantastic tips and tricks on how to frost cupcakes like the pros!), but it also includes decoration, craft and activity ideas as well as other recipes, all broken up in adorable party theme ideas. There are parties for adults, kids, babies, and everyone in between. I love the Andy Warhol-inspired Pop Art Party, the “Superhero Training Camp” Party and the Life Aquatic Party meant for a baby’s First Birthday.

If you enjoy making cupcakes or throwing parties, you NEED this book. You can get it on Amazon, Trophy’s Website, or in Trophy’s stores.

Or, if you’re in the Seattle area this weekend, you can pick up your book at the Trophy Book Launch Celebration. Cupcakes, champagne, an amazing book, a dance floor, and me? You know you want to. You can get your tickets here. If you decide to attend, let me know so I can say “Hi” in between bites of cupcake!

Now I’m off to practice my piping skills and study up on methods of cupcake-making.

Recipe: Butterbeer Mug Cake

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It’s getting chilly, which means it’s perfect time to cozy up with a hot cup of mug cake. And with the announcement of new movies being made in the Harry Potter ‘verse, it only made sense to figure out how to make a Butterbeer Mug Cake. All you need on a crisp fall day is this and a good book.

I teamed up with Kristina Horner (the resident Harry Potter expert) to film a video on how to make the cake, and then we sat down for a nice discussion/speculation session on the new “Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them” movie(s). Check out both videos below! And keep reading for the recipe. As long as you have some basic ingredients, a mug, and 90 seconds, you can have Butterbeer Mug Cake.

Butterbeer Mug Cake

Ingredients:

  • 4 TBS Flour
  • 2 TBS Brown Sugar (I used light brown)
  • 2 TBS White Sugar
  • 2 TBS Vegetable Oil
  • 2 TBS Cream Soda
  • A pinch of Salt
  • A dash of Imitation Butter Flavor (optional)
  • Whipped Cream

Directions:

Place all ingredients except for the whipped cream into a microwave-safe mug and mix.

Microwave the mug for 90 seconds.

Carefully remove and let cool for a few seconds.

Top with whipped cream.

Enjoy!

The mug cake is best enjoyed soon after baking while it’s still warm and gooey.

Easy, huh? Let me know what you think of the mug cake in the comments!

Bake with Doctor Who

The other day, Kristen Hackett from On Wednesdays We Wear Pink introduced me to Dalek Cupcake toppers. I had a bit of a freak out moment. Why aren’t these in my life, and how quickly can I get them? Who makes these? Do they make other things? Why is it only available on Amazon UK?

I did some sleuthing, and came across the company that makes them. Guess what: They’ve made a full set of amazing Doctor Who baking and party supplies. Be still my beating heart. Unfortunately for me, the company is based in the UK, and shipping to the US starts at around $40. I may have to love these all from afar for the moment, but hopefully some of you are able to get them!

Here are some of my favorite pieces from their collection:

TARDIS Cupcake Kit

TARDIS Cupcake Kit Two different patterns of cupcake wrappers, 4 different types of toppers, and it call comes packaged in a mini TARDIS? Yep. Need it. £9.99.

Dalek Cake Stand

Dalek Cake Stand This cake stand would make the coolest centerpiece for a Doctor Who party, or a great way to display cupcakes for a Whovian’s birthday. £7.99.

TARDIS Chocolate Mold

TARDIS Chocolate Mold This chocolate mold features 6 different Doctor Who designs. These would make super cute gifts or party favors! £4.99.

Doctor Who Dusting Set

Doctor Who Dusting Set This set allows you to dust powdered sugar, cocoa, or other fun ingredients over cupcakes, cakes, the foam on your coffee, and whatever else we can think of. This is super classy looking! £3.49.

Dalek Cake Mold

Dalek Cake EXTERMINATE the cupcakes and go for one large cake with this fantastic Dalek Cake Mold. I mean, just look at it! £16.99.

See the entire Doctor Who collection from Lakeland at Lakeland.co.uk.

Which of these Doctor Who items are you wishing will appear in your kitchen?

Wood For Sheep: The Unauthorized Settlers Cookbook

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You all know I love theming my food and drinks with my game nights, but I never realized how easy (or tasty) it could be for Settlers of Catan until I read this cookbook. Chris-Rachael Oseland (who also wrote the Doctor Who cookbook I love) put together an assortment of delicious recipes that can team up to form various Settlers maps, using these hexagonal containers. The best part of her maps? Every set has something that someone can eat. If they can’t, she provides options to make them more friendly to dairy free, gluten free, meat free, or other dietary restrictors.

These recipes are absolutely perfect for game night: Most can be set up before folks come over, and people can help themselves throughout the night. No fuss from you when you want to be playing games, and the recipes are all healthier than the standard pizza run.

You can find the book at Amazon for $13.64. Even if you’re not the biggest Settlers fan, I promise, this will be a fantastic base for any gathering of geeks.

3D Space Cookie Cutters

3D Space Cookie Cutters

Suck UK has added another genre to its line of 3D cookies, and this time they’re conquering the final frontier. The cookie cutters come with the pieces to make either a rocket, shuttle, star fighter, or space buggy. It looks like you can’t choose which one you get and have to pay a lot of shipping to get them to the US at the moment, but give them time and they should pop up on Amazon/in local stores. Find them now for $12 each at Suck.uk.com!