Follow That Food Truck!

monstaToday I ventured into the lot of food trucks. Food trucks have become popular for practical reasons:  low overhead costs, and the ability to serve people a variety of meals on wheels. I decided to explore “Food Tuck Fridays” in Maitland, Florida at Maitland RDV Sportsplex. The crowd was minimal–a perfect amount of people to draw interest to the car-studded parking lot, but not too much to overpower the senses. Later, crowds of hungry people came to explore the world of food trucks, advertising an array of sandwiches, cupcakes, soups and entrees for hungry patrons.

I mulled over a few options, and wandered to a food truck, Monsta Lobsta, that sold lobster and crab sandwiches. The truck was decorated in a minimalist style, but smelled of fresh seafood. I ordered the $10, 4 oz. half-lobster, half-blue crab roll. What bliss. The crispy, buttery roll added a nice crunch to the lobster; the seafood was light and refreshing. You are given chunky, well-sized portions of crab meat and lobster bathed in green onions, salt and pepper and fresh, tart lemon. The amount was quite filing and made a great lunch. They also offer interesting options, such as bisque soaked lobster rolls, as well as spicy lobster rolls. You can purchase 7 oz. rolls for $12 as well.

I also had a gluten-free cupcake from the YumYum cupcake truck. A cupcake–about$2.75 was juicy and packed with a pleasant peach flavor. The bits of fruit make their appearances in between bites of moist cake. The vanilla bean icing was a bit too sweet for my tastes, but everyone has a different taste. This options is perfect for those with specified dietary needs. The truck also offered non-gluten cupcakes in vanilla, pineapple and orange cream.

Food Truck Fridays offers its patrons fresh, open air, meals ranging from baked Jamaican patties to cupcakes to exotic soups to Mediterranean wraps. Patrons have variety and most importantly, the power to give into  food wishes.

Maitland RDV Sportsplex 

Food Truck Fridays (click link) 

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Must Try Foods: Super Target’s Limited Time S’mores Cupcake.

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S’mores perfection, but bite sized.

In honor of summer (which is nearly done)  Target has released their delicious s’mores cupcakes. I have been meaning to do a blog on these delights a few months ago, but was to busy cramming my face with these to blog about them. 😀 These mini desserts are made with a chocolate cake base and a divide of marshmallow creme icing, and chocolate icing. To top it all off you also receive a dash of crumbled graham crackers to add texture, and the authenticity of the classic s’mores flavor.

I have to say I have enjoyed snacking on these because I love s’mores. The marshmallow icing is delicious, and I can’t resist these. Another benefit is the size as you can control how many calories you intake and control the amount of sugar you consume. The serving size is 3 mini cupcakes, which total out to 330 calories, individually  110 per cupcake. If you are watching your sugar, or trying to practice self-discipline while you snack on sweets, you may like the portion control. As for the rest of us who gobble up things without regards to self-discipline, 3 may not suffice! These are delicious, and the flavors are a fun, well balanced treat perfect not only for summer, but for the entire year. Too bad they won’t be available for that long!

You get 12 in a pack for $2.50 or $2.99. Yes, I know it’s pretty bad I can’t remember the price, and I cannot find my receipt at the moment :-/ Either way, try them if you can. You won’t be sorry, unless sugar scares you.

S’mores cupcake Yumfactor: 4 tongues and a taste bud. It’s just really good. Only thing is, they may go fast if you love them as much as I do. And I don’t even share these.

Why Eating Ben & Jerry’s Boston Cream Ice Cream Should Be A Sin.

Taken by Shinai

Boston Cream Pie Ice Cream

First off, I don’t literally mean to imply that this ice cream breeches any sanctimonious rituals of daily life, or acts to be a blasphemous force to be reckoned with. Not to mention the looming feelings of guilt I felt after indulging in this delciousness. I’m simply saying that this luxurious ice cream, is sinfully delicious. When I first tasted a spoonful, I felt gluttonous, and became fully aware that if I continue to eat this, I’d be committing one of the 7 deadly sins on a hardcore level. So I stopped before things got too intense. :-/  (Yay for self-restraint :-D) . Described on the carton as “Boston Cream” flavored ice cream with fudge flakes, swirls of pastry cream and pieces of cake” this flavor reaches to portray magic in each spoonful. To make sure I describe this accurately without too much exaggerated connotations, I’ll break down each flavor, under-current, and note as I recall.

Firstly, what exactly *is* Boston Cream Pie flavored ice cream? (I don’t mean including the other added

The dimensions of delicious.

stuff like the chocolate flakes, the pieces of cake, and the ribbons of creme, but specifically the ice cream base). Now, think about this- Boston cream pie is NOT just a monotone flavor. One must take into account the chocolate glaze, the cakey foundation, and the gooey, custard rich center that makes it all worthwhile. In the context of this ice cream, what should have read in the product description based on what it actually tastes like is as follows:”Rich custard ice cream meets deep pieces of fudge flakes, dancing with ribbons of pastry creme”. Why? because the base of this ice cream is a plain custard- vanilla base. So if anyone is expecting for there to be more in terms of the ice cream, (such as more chocolate flavor)  there you go. That isn’t to say that the smooth custard doesn’t hold up on its own. No. Quite the contrary. The custard undertone is smooth, and performs well with the bittersweet fudge pieces that don’t get left out in the equation of all this bliss. But just when you thought there wasn’t more, more just arrived. Imagine dense and decadent pieces of vanilla pound cake, which take on the richness of the custard ice cream.

Taken By Shinai

Custard, creme and a little flake of fudge.

Finally, as if that doesn’t wow your tastebuds, there are ribbons of pastry creme to tie it all together. It plays hide and seek, because at one portion of the ice cream pint, you may not get any, but then, when you’re expecting a piece of fudge, or a dollop of cake, BOOM! You’re met with a creamy, velvety goop of pastry cream. This is not for the faint of heart. If this description is too intense for you, then I don’t suggest trying this. But then again, whenever I indulge in something that gives me a guilt complex, I tend to intensify it.I appreciate the uniqueness of this flavor and the attention to detail Ben and Jerry’s have done to provide a nice compliment to the Boston Cream Pie. I’m sure this may not be for everyone, but I enjoyed it. My only gripe is that there could have been more pieces of cake, or better yet, bigger chunks of cake. Also, since the custard ice cream is representative of the custard center, the ribbons in this ice cream could have been chocolate instead of more custard. I did feel that there was an abundance of custard and pastry creme that really mirrored the other. So, in other words, custard ice cream, chocolate ribbons, and bigger cake chunks. Other than than, it’s a great ice cream.

Ben & Jerry’s Boston Cream Pie Ice Cream Yumfactor: 4 tongues and a tastebud (4.5 out of 5 stars) This is really rich and delicate, and uniquely fun treat. I’d be curious to try it with chocolate swirls, and more cake chunks. This is what stopped it from being a 5, because the flavors would have been more balanced in my opinion.

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Strawberry Shortcake Cupcake Review!

***Disclaimer: This is a cupcake review. Yes, I am aware that baked products like cakes and cupcakes tend to have frostings that are too sweet, which can be spooned off, but let’s remember, I also bake cakes from scratch, including icings, and eat cupcakes monthly. Therefore, my taste for cupcakes may be pretentious and specific. Please bear this in mind before finding the urge to say “cupcakes are supposed to be sweet!” I am a bit of a dessert snob because I have been exposed to quality desserts.:D Thanks.***

Now, for the review:

Today I ventured into Barnes and Noble and sampled a new item from the cafe; A strawberry shortcake cupcake. It was unpretentious in appeal- a plain white cupcake liner revealing a rose pink strawberry cupcake, and a mountain of icing that made my teeth cry. Although I might risk getting another cavity, I felt the risk was worth it. I bought one, and on my first bite didn’t think it was unique in flavor. It tasted like a plain strawberry cupcake laden in artificial flavoring, and appeared to have a bit of food coloring. I could tell the cake had an artificial influence, (I know, it’s Barnes and Noble, but I am a cupcake snob, and am sensitive to natural and artificial flavors in cupcakes) but it wasn’t disgusting.

Cupcakey Gooeyness.

The cake and center wasn’t too bad, but the scariest thing about this delicacy was the icing. Overly sweet, which is not unique for cupcakes- but way too sugary. I would have recommended perhaps applying less frosting on the cake to the bakers (of course you could spoon it off as well). Then things got better for me. I took another bite, much closer to the center, and bit into a jelly center that tasted like rich, ripe sweet berries. This was the ticket right here. The cupcake had gone from something Little Debbie may sell (which to say that Little Debbie isn’t horrible, however the artificial and slightly processed tastes was present) to a cake that instantly earned a summery richness. The gooey, ripened center gave this cupcake jazz and depth. It went from being something that tastes unoriginal and too sweet to slightly more delicate. Sad news, though. Because of the diabetes flavored frosting, I couldn’t finish the whole cupcake. 😦

Strawberry Shortcake Cupcake Yumfactor: 3 tongues (3 out of 5 stars) It’s ok, not bad if your teeth and glucose can handle it. Better because of the center, but I’d rather find a recipe online and make these myself from scratch. It’s $2.50 a pop and available at Barnes and Noble.

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Low Budget Gourmet: Boston Cream Pie Coffee? Home Goods Raid..Sorta

Today a friend and I went to Home Goods, which is a store that offers gourmet food/coffee, furniture, and bath goods for discount prices.  Think Marshall’s, Ross or TJ Maxx, but without the clothes. I love this place, because it’s easy to access quaint adorable tea pots, funky, vintage “distressed” mirrors and desks, and features the best flavored coffees available- all at a bargain, or a decent price. I appreciate the variety. I went straight to the gourmet foods section, passed the strawberry flavored balsamic vinegar, and the garlic olive oils, to the fun flavored coffees.  What caught my attention first was the flavored coffee syrups (for about $5.99 for a 25.4 fl oz bottle).  There were sugar-free vanillas, to classic hazelnut and regular vanilla, and even Kahlua all manufactured by Monin and Davinci brands, who seem too be the to leading suppliers of coffee syrups. What I appreciate is the lack of corn syrup Monin and Davinci brands offer, and the attention to the importance of making pure, and natural, Organic syrups if you will. And you should. 😀

 

Lovely...

Tangent: I prefer Monin over Davinci just because they offer a wider variety, and it just tastes better.  It does, however contain a little bit more sugar. I love getting the Vanilla syrups because they are a versatile item that can go well with milkshakes, in milk alone,cocktails, sodas (Vanilla Coke, anyone?) in smoothies, and of course in coffees and teas, not to mention a flavor enhancer for baking items. (I will post both websites below just in case you are curious about the flavors they carry.)  Monin has over 100 flavors, also, many which are fruit based like (Mango,Passion Fruit, Strawberry) to other types. Their Vanilla syrup uses pure Madagascar Vanilla. Fancy!

I moseyed over to the coffee, my eyes shifting quickly from the standard “French Vanilla” to “Kahlua” when it hit me- “Boston Cream Pie” flavored coffee. I literally squeaked because there is nothing more exciting than interesting flavors of food or beverages, and this was one flavor I was not going to find everywhere. Then it hit me again…. “Pralines and Cream”. I had a dilemma here, folks. The Pralines and Cream smelled rich and had caramelized nutty and vanilla notes that were enticing, but the Boston Cream Pie- that indulgent cakey base, with deep chocolate and buttery, creamy custard seemed to beckon me as well. I was afraid that the chocolate would override what vanilla custard was there, although I smelled creamy notes through the bag (it has a scent hole). I figured since it’s not a layered edible item, all the flavors would run together, and the chocolate may even be a tad bit muted by the vanilla. Plus, if you have chocolate syrup and vanilla creamer at home, you could probably duplicate this! Especially with a creamier vanilla based creamer, such as Vanila Latte (Coffee Mate) or Sweet Cream (Int’l Delights Coffee) or perhaps “Italian Sweet Cream” (Coffee Mate) Both bags were $4.99 for 12oz Arabia coffee. I will do a review on these items in the future.

monin carries a wide variety of flavors, offers free monthly recipes on their site and even has flavors like “Apple Pie, Pumpkin Pie, Pecan Pie and Blueberry Pie” to florals like”Lavender, Rose and Hibiscus” and your standards fruits, exotic fruits (Chipotle Pineapple) and dessert type of flavors. How innovative is that? o.O You can buy Monin’s syrups here baristaproshop. As for davinci  they offer Buttered Run which Monin didn’t have, and Zabaglione (Italian egg nog with Marsala wine) but has a smaller variety. You can shop on their site.

What interesting coffee flavors have you tried? Interesting cocktails or sodas that featured unique syrups? Please share and of course let us know if you’d recommend them to anyone else! Thanks for reading, and don’t forget to comment/rate/subscribe! 

5 Uses for Butterscotch Pudding Mix~Low Budget Gourmet Ideas

Butterscotch is a classic candy flavor with buttery overtones that add richness to a lot of recipes.  Here are a few idea to kick start using this ingredient, which is perfect for the fall. Butterscotch pudding mix will add both flavor and moisture to the some of the following items
  • Butterscotch Cake. Simply add butterscotch pudding mix to cake mix (I’d say 1/4 of the package) to add flavor, rich color and moistness. I made a butterscotch cake by adding pudding mix to a box cake to experiment.  I also added coconut and topped it of with a chocolate glaze.
  • Butterscotch Milkshake.This is an amazing, and easy way to go gourmet. I added a teaspoon (this can change according to taste preference), soy milk or regular milk (about 1/2 a cup) vanilla (optional) and a cup of ice cream.  This will create a thick and indulgent shake!

    Homemade Butterscotch Milkshake with Whipped Cream and Cinnamon Sugar for a garnish.

  • Butterscotch based cheesecake. (Butterscotch and chocolate, butterscotch and rum cheesecake, butterscotch cheesecake with caramel, chocolate and pecans for the fancy folks out there)
  • Butterscotch Pudding (of course) Pie with coconut, or chocolate, or nuts. This is an alternative for those who want the butterscotch pie without the density of cheesecake.
  • Butterscotch and Walnut/ Butterscotch ad Chocolate Chip cookies. Adding pudding mix to any flour based recipe should give it a nice change of flavor while creating a  chewy texture.

Sure, there are butterscotch chips out there, but they don’t have the same influence on the flavor and moisture of a cake that pudding mix would have. Why not experiment with other flavors like pumpkin, vanilla,white chocolate, chocolate or even pistachio to see what ideas you can come up with! Or if you have already tied this,what items did you make and how did it taste? Don’t forget to rate, comment and/or subscribe!

TTSPTip: Play With Your Food! (Faking Your Way Into Baking)

In my view of things, a great way to learn how flavors interact with one another is to start with semi homade ingredients, and slowly add your personal touches to them. I think this lessens the pressure on the individual to make a “perfect dish” while making their way around unique seasoning combinations.  I started cooking, and most recently baking, but taught myself how flavors meshed together by experimenting with box cakes.  I am all about expressing one’s self creatively through food, and took it upon myself to create unique flavors, by adding things like pudding, or flavored syrups to cake batters.

Butterscotch pudding cake, with rum, coconut and a chocolate glaze. Semi-Homeade!

Why pudding? Pudding, (along with pieces of pineapple, carrots, and even apple sauce) add a richness to a cake, but also a lot of moistness.  My mother taught me this trick, an I have made it a point to experiment with fruits, pudding, and even Greek yogurt to discourage dry cakes.

One cake I experimented with was a yellow cake, but added about 1/4 of butterscotch pudding mix, (or less according to taste and awareness of sugar content) a little rum, and coconut flakes, and allow it to bake.  I drizzled melted chocolate icing from the package on the cake, giving the cake a somewhat homemade feel (because of the flavor originality) and a moist texture that made it much more indulgent. So, fake your way into baking by using semi homemade recipes

Two layer box cake with a homemade icing, and strawberries in the center and on top.

and jazzing it up! Now, I can say I have a much stronger sense that certain ingredients like vanilla can enhance other flavors, but nutmeg and cinnamon can be paired up with certain fruits to round it out or add depth. Now, I am a baked good snob, and often make cakes and other baked good from scratch. The same goes for non baking food; adding a pinch of garlic, or pepper, or even exotic ingredients to pastas, means, and rices can make cooking more adventurous and exciting. Play with your food, and you’ll have a better sense of how seasonings work, and more confidence!