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) 

Sweet and Salty: Salted Caramel Concoctions &The Craze

From the website “Created by Diane.” Diane’s salted caramel frosting. Link to her site below.

Unless you don’t leave your home much,  you’ve heard about the magic of salted caramel. It’s received much exposure and publicity as the salted caramel craze has been everywhere-on t.v, drizzled on cupcake icing, nestled in brownies, combined in ice creams, and coffees. According to the New York Times, this trendy flavor has seen its fair share of followers since 1990.  French baker Pierre Herme created the salted caramel macaroon, being the first to fuse the ingredients together. (Here is the recipe!) He experimented with flavors by adding a salty undercurrent to the sweet caramel flavor that allowed consumers to embark on a unique flavor combination. These two flavors complimented each other whimsically, as the caramel’s decadence became enhanced by a subtle, yet sizable salted influence. Since then, salted caramel is a trend that’s gaining staying power, as it’s not at all difficult to find it anywhere. I have also explored this flavor, initially wary of the salty nuances but I have come to appreciate it.

Private Selection Sea Salt Caramel Truffle Ice Cream.

My first experience was trying a “Sea Salt Caramel Truffle” ice cream introduced by Kroger in their Private Selection brand. The caramel ice cream has caramel ribbons, and salted caramel filled chocolates. I found this ice cream richly decadent and the caramel sweetness toned down by a subtle sea salt that was divine. This ice cream will be available in limited stores as Kroger supermarkets are not a national chain. It was so good, I still had to blog about it! 🙂 I’d give this 4 tongues. This ice cream was not overly sweet, and I craved it on a regular basis.

Starbucks has also capitalized on the salted caramel trend. Their release of a salted caramel mocha was popular. The caramel was the stronger flavor I tasted, along with a rich chocolate undertone, but I didn’t taste the saltness until near after I finished each sip. I couldn’t taste any traces of sea salt, until I sipped a few times and found it somewhere in there. The caramel didn’t have the traditional “less sweetened” element it usually does when mixed with sea salt. On the yumfactor scale-a strong 3 tongues and a tastebud. The salted caramel could only be detected in the drizzle on top of the whipped cream, and according to the site, the mocha base is mixed with a toffee nut syrup. The salted caramel is drizzled on the top. If that is the case, why market it as a salted caramel mocha if there isn’t a lot to begin with? This is a rhetorical question.

My other experience was eating a salted caramel salt water taffy.The fun, chewyness of the taffy naturally complimented the caramel, and the salted flavor kicked in at the end of the chew.Not overbearing, and an even balance of flavors.  This is your typical salted caramel experience, and worth a try. For $.25 I indulged in a salted caramel taffy, a mango jalapeno taffy, a cupcake flavored taffy, and a maple bacon taffy- the latter was surprisingly tasty!

I love this coffee!

I recently bought salted caramel flavored coffee by A.M- “Coffee for tired people.” This has by far been my favorite flavor to get creative with, and I usually combine a coconut and chocolate flavoring to it, or a Madagascar vanilla to the salted caramel. Both have been exceedingly good as the salt tones down the possible sweetness such flavors can have in this mixture. This has been my ultimate favorite aspect about the salt. It gives a light depth to a caramel flavoring, making baking and creativity less predictable.  This coffee flavor needs to be in everyone’s pantry. Granted, it will be slightly plain if you do not add anything else to it, but if you like caramel on its own-let alone salted caramel, you’ll enjoy this. On the yumfacor scale, it gets 4 tongues. (4/5 stars) because of its versatility and taste.

Now, for the grand finale.

T.G.I. Friday’s Salted Caramel Cake.

I have saved the best for last. My favorite salted caramel experience is T.G.I.Friday’s salted caramel cake. Firstly, this cake has heaps of flavor. This is a moist vanilla cake with a decadent vanilla bean whipped pudding/filling in the center of a slice. Then there is more. The moist and drizzle dance with the crunchy caramel bits decorated with pieces of sea salt. When you thought you couldn’t indulge anymore, there is a healthy scoop of vanilla ice cream and more caramel drizzle. Yes, it’s rich. Yes, it’s full of calories, but this has been one of the best desserts I have ever tried. 5 tongues (5/5)on the yumfactor. Yes, I think it’s perfect, but everyone is different. What I like about this dessert (which is part of the 2 for $10, or 3 for $16? don’t quote me on that) is the variety of sizes- standard and individual. I need a copycat recipe for this, then all will be well in my world! 😀

Here is the link for Created By Diane, who gives a recipe for the fabulous vanilla bean and sated caramel frosting cupcake.

What are your thoughts on Salted Caramel? Overrated? Unappreciated?

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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.

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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POLL/Question Time!! What Would You like me to blog about next?

So it’s clear this food blog has featured many coffee creamer reviews, a copycat recipe and money saving tips, but is there anything you’d like to see from me in the future? (More recipes I have tried/reviews-not that I want this to become a recipe blog, less junk food reviews or more even, money saving tips, or health related content, or a little of everything?) Let me know, and if I approve, I’ll be glad to take your opinions seriously. Thanks!

 

 

Vanilla Cupcake Goldfish Grahams:Because Sprinkles Always =Cupcakes (Even if you can’t taste it)

See the sprinkles on the little fishies?

Cute little gold fishes are always a great snack, and stepped out of their signature cheese varieties into the land of graham. Strolling down the aisles, you may now see goldfishes in s’mores flavors, graham, and even vanilla cupcake. The reason why I got this is not just because it’s new, but because it’s cupcakey! Aww, Pepperidge Farms knows how to be cute!!!

I expected this to not taste that much like a vanilla cupcake considering it has a graham cracker base.  Upon opening the bag, you’ll notice that there are sprinkles on your goldfish grahams to imply that is it indeed a cupcake. (Nothing spells a cupcake like sprinkles, and don’t you forget it :)) With the first bite, I was only able to taste a graham cracker and maybe a bit more butter? Then when the crackers were 75% dissolved into soggy crumbles, I swore I was able to taste a drop of vanilla. As far as the cupcake flavor itself is concerned, the sprinkles were the only thing to remind me of a cupcake. (Even the little vanilla cupcake they have on their packaging

Nothing says cupcake like sprinkles, however, it doesn't equal cupcake flavor, P.Farms

has sprinkley goodness on it) So basically, I’d have to say these snacks are pretty good, and do slightly deviate from the usual graham cracker flavor, (and by this, I mean a little more vanillaey than the typical graham cracker flavor)but I can’t guarantee everyone will taste it. Give them a try, and let me know what you think!

Pros– Overall yummy, and made with whole grain! Yes!! *Doing the bent elbow, up and down yes gesture*. Cute sprinkles. Goldfish that aren’t cheese flavored=variety. A slight vanilla aftertaste,(more vanilla than cupcake) but only when the graham is a liquefied puddle of sogginess.

Cons– No cupcakeness aside the visual aspect of the sprinkles. *Crosses arms and pouts*

Vanilla Cupcake Goldfish Grahams Yumfactor: 3 tongues and a taste bud (3.5 out of 5 stars) Because they are good, even though they don’t taste like a cupcake.

Coffee Creamer Review: Chocolate Chip Creme Brulée

Again, with the coffee creamers.

I like anything new when it comes to foods and their flavors, so I decided on trying both of the limited edition International Delight’s coffee creamers, Chocolate Chip Creme Brulée and Sweet Buttercream. The containers are both elaborately decorated with cool swirly designs and attractive colors, not to mention the drool-inducing food graphics.

I purchased the chocolate chip creme brulée first, because it sounded rather adventurous; deep, rich chocolate with a creme brulée undertone. Because I really didn’t understand what that was specifically or how it tasted, so I had to find out.  I wondered if the chocolate would over power the creme brulée or if the creme brulée would delicately compliment the chocolate.

Well, upon my first sip of coffee, here’s what happened.  I noticed the smell first.  The scent was wonderfully rich in all its chocolatiness and had a strong punch of the vanilla custard of the creme  brulée.  It’s almost like a souped up French Vanilla, but with carmelized sugar sprinkled inside each of  its buttery layers.  If you sniffed it as long as I did, you can even make out the sugary topping of the creme brulée.  Quite naturally,  I was expecting to taste a strong creme  brulée note. Hmm. I’m actually still waiting for it to emerge somewhere when I taste it, but it doesn’t seem to happen.  The flavoring was  mostly chocolate with a soft yet sweet vanilla cream undertone.  It was most certainly there but passively, as if it its job was to calm down the dramatically noticable chocolate from time to time; think a side kick whose jokes aren’t funny and does not do anything for the story-on top of that, you constantly forget their name and function.  (Perhaps this is intended, because the words “chocolate chip” are placed before the creme brulée.)

I tried the creamer in coffee rather than in tea, and its strong chocolate  taste is a perfect match for the strong cocoa aroma.  It was more so exquisite when paired with coffee and cupcake coffee syrup, yielding a sinfully indulgent chocolate cupcake party in my mug. *Note that this flavor is sweet and because of its sweet flavor may cause you to not take your coffee seriously sometimes, kind of like someone telling a 40 year old to eat cocoa puffs for breakfast. It’s good yes, but it’s like candy!!

If you are a chocolate fan, this will surely delight your senses, but if you rooting for its sidekick, *forgets their name* this may not be for you.

Pros: Wonderfully scented, a good and interesting flavor, yummy chocolate accent. Slight yet weak vanilla and sugar taste, which is supposedly the creme brulée.  <–wait, or is that a con? *shrugs*

Cons: You can smell more of the creme brulée than you can taste as the flavors are not experienced in levels, but more so the chocolate overshadowing it.  I suppose this is to be expected for some, but the label does say creme brulée.

Chocolate Chip Creme Brulée Yumfactor: 3  out of 5 tongues and a taste bud. It was the creme brulée ont the package that made me buy it, but I was not really tasting much of it.

Money Saving Tips: Managing Your Latte Love

Thanks, Ben!

According to www.Feedthepig.org, many Americans spend nearly $5 each day on the fluffed up lattes, adding up to $20-$30 weekly.  Now mind you, there is nothing wrong with spending that amount of money to get your eyes to stay open for a few hours, but in actuality, spending that amount on name brand coffee is not the only option out there.  To save yourself some cash, you can follow one of these easy tips and have you coffee as well.

1) If you must drink that certain name brand coffee daily, try opting for their coffee of the day versus that $4 and change espresso with syrup, too much sugar and whatnot.  I know, I know.. you want that special Cinnamon Dolce flavor that makes your tongue sing whenever you take a sip. Well, simply ask for that syrup. Usually, coffee of the day can range from $1.50 to $2 and change, saving you bucks right there; the syrup may be an additional $.20-$.30, and also you can add as much sugar and cream as you want, having your say in how you want you coffee made.

2) Buy your own coffee and make it yourself.  That’s right! You can go to either a farmer’s market that will have worldly coffees available at wonderful prices, or you can even go to Marshall’s retail stores where you can get a pound of flavored coffee for less than the price of one of those little pretentious espresso, fluffy drinks.  I went to Marshall’s recently, and came across dozens and dozens of assorted flavored coffees from your traditional vanilla and hazelnuts to the more exotic Hawaiian coconut, chocolate raspberry, butter pecan, butterscotch and creme brulee flavors.

Assorted Coffee Syrups. Pictured are Davinci and Monin brands. Also, Torani is also a popular brand.

 The prices ranged anywhere from $2.99 to $4.99, which is slightly the price of one cup you’d spend elsewhere. Simply add sugar, milk/cream and you’ve got flavor, coffee and savings! Boo yaw! Also, if you like Folger’s and Maxwell House brands, they offer coupons for additional money-saving in you weekly paper.

*If you like for example, Starbuck’s coffee syrup flavors, they are often times available for purchase at Target stores (Usually $6.99, but on the website it’s $10.99!). Other coffee syrups can be purchased at www.baristaproshop.com.

3) Why stick with coffee when it’s just the caffeine you need? Try teas that have caffeine (like green teas, white teas, red teas and black teas).  Studies show that these teas are full of anti oxidants which contribute to healthy aging, memory strength, higher metabolism and cancer prevention to name a few benefits. Teas are a healthy way to get caffeine without the jitters or guilt of high calories. While some flavors are an acquired taste, they do not have as much caffeine as espresso drinks, nor do they have the calories. Often, some teas are prices at $2.00-$3.25 depending on the brand, with 20-30 bags. Also, green teas are offered in new and exciting variety like Green Tea and Orange, Green Tea and Pomegranate, ect.

4) Try 5 hour energy drink.  One of these little bottles contain vitamin b and niacin with a little caffeine to keep you going for 5 hours and cost less than the $4 coffees you’d get elsewhere with a longer “keep you up and active” factor coffee does not have.  Yes, I said it.  While coffee is great, it usually stops working after say 3 hours, later accompanied by the ever so fun “crash”. My experience with this drink was total refreshment, as if waking up after a power nap. Mind you, I drank about 3/4 of the container, scared at first and expecting my tongue to fall off, but the beverage was not too sweet, had a refreshing berry taste.  It did not make me feel the jitteriness I have felt when partaking in the ritual of drinking some espresso drinks. Also,  for me, there was no crash afterwards. ( I will be doing a review on this drink in the near future, so stay tuned).

5) If none of those tips work, simply purchase coffee from your local convenience stores.  I frequent Quik Trip, where they have fabulous coffee flavors and good coffee, for roughly $1.17 for a 16oz size.  This again is cheaper than buying an espresso drink for $4. Their coffee does the trick and you are given more options without paying extra for adding syrup.  also, they get festive and creative around the holidays, offering Pumpkin Spice flavored coffee and Chocolate Cinnamon. (My fave currently, is the Vanilla Cupcake Cappuccino.)

So there it is guys and gals- options to save you money each day that are not hard to try an meet your needs. Cha-ching!

Magic Shell “Cupcake” Review

  

Cupcake Magic Shell With Vanilla Ice Cream

*Disclaimer: I love the vanilla flavor and when I refer to it being boring, that is a mockery of the whole “vanilla is boring” rubbish you hear some people say. 

Smuckers has released a line of Magic Shell ice cream (hard shell syrup) condiments for ice cream in a wide array of flavors ranging from chocolate to s’mores, cherry to reece’s peanut butter chocolate and newly, cupcake.  Gasps! (both in excitement but later for air when I tried it,) Since I love cupcakes for their cute factor and their deliciousness along with their ability to make me feel young again, I had to give this a try.  Mind you, I had read reviews of the condiment before to view opinions both good and bad stating how sweet this item was, but also how good it is.  Having vanilla ice cream, I figured buying this would boost it’s self-esteem of being wrongfully misunderstood as boring and too predictable to more fun..besides sprinkles make everything better,right?

WRONG! This new flavor is wonderful if you like the taste of a melted, dried  butter topping with pretty sprinkles. The bottle is a pleasant vanilla cream color which makes the imagination soar of conceptions of cupcakey goodness, and your mouth may water a little. After it is shaken for approximately 20 seconds and the foil seal is ripped off, you get a whiff of the creamy frosting inspired scent that may hurt your teeth if sensitive to sugary foods (and I’m a sweet tooth by the way).  It goes on very liquidy when poured on ice cream, but promises to freeze in seconds, creating a hard enough shell to be cracked with a spoon.

Humph! Well, Mr. turtle, I must say that I slightly resent you for lying to me because the consistency matches that of a melted Barbie thigh. That’s right no crunchy shell here, just plastic. May also be a wee bit sweet for you if you are over the age of 6. So,why do I keep on giving this a try? Oh that’s right.  I hate throwing things away.

Pros: The Sprinkles. Don’t sprinkles add excitement to anything? Not expensive ~$2.29 at Publix. 

Cons: Everything else. This is a great product to give to someone you don’t like very much. 🙂 

Magic Shell Cupcake Yumfactor: 2 out of 5 tongues (and a taste bud if used in very small portions). 

*Photo collage made by me using original photos.