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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What I’m Sippin On: Green Tea and Strawberry Smoothie (With Recipe)

Hello all! So, fun fact time: I love making and drinking smoothies. It’s a great way to get your fruits serving, calcium and even protein! It’s a great way to replace a meal, and you can even add veggies to your smoothies!!! (I think only carrots may work for this, though) I am currently drinking a green tea and strawberry (with orange juice) smoothie. I love the green tea’s light and herbal flavor, but I also appreciate its light caffeine content. I will be doing a post on why green tea is so epic of a tea, including health benefits, info on tea types (loose leaf, powder and bag). The only thing is I seldom measure when I create things, but I do want you guys to have the recipe. I do think these measurements are pretty accurate, though. It’s delicious! You’ve gotta try this recipe.

Green Tea and Strawberry Smoothie (2 servings)

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 tsps.Matcha Powder (Green Tea Powder- I’m thinking you can also use 1/4 to 1/2 a cup of chilled green tea, just be sure to make sure you sweeten it prior to using it. You may need to adjust this as you go aing, because matcha powdered green tea has a different flavor than liquid green tea in drinks I find. So please, pour, mix and sip, then adjust if necessary! In order to make green tea, please follow the directions on the back of the green tea box.) I bought mine on ebay, but you can find it at Asian stores as well.
  • 1/2 cup Vanilla Yogurt
  • 1/4 cup milk (can be soy or regular)
  • 2 -4 strawberries (depends on how berry you want it to be. I used 2. Can also be frozen)
  • Vanilla flavoring (extract or syrup. I used French Vanilla Flavored Torani syrup) (Vanilla enhances whatever flavors you are using)
  • 1-3 tsps of sugar *to taste* (Can also be substituted with agave nectar, honey, or splenda)
  • 1/4 c orange juice (Really, I just poured enough in the container, and eye measured it.
  • ice cubes (I used about 5-6 whole cubes)

(I used a magic bullet blender to make this.)

1) Spoon 1/2 cup of Vanilla flavored yogurt into the container. This can be adjusted according to how much protein, yogurt content you desire. More yogurt will make the smoothie thicker in texture.

2) Add matcha green tea powder (or cold sweetened green tea) Then add 5 to 6 ice cubes. This can be altered to your personal taste level, but remember that more ice cubes equals a colder beverage, and too much ice can make the drink more slushy  in texture.

Smoothie will be more pink than green, because you are using a small amount of green tea.

3) Add 2-3 strawberries, vanilla flavoring, milk and orange juice. If you are also using a magic bullet, it should be nearly full of ingredients by now. Add desired sugar amount (I added about 2.5 teaspoons)

4) Blend until smooth. You may have to premix the smoothie to ensure the yogurt becomes well incorporated. Smoothie is finishes when it is light pink in color, and smooth in consistency. If you see green powder, or yogurt, please blend until it mixes well.

5) Garnish with a strawberry if necessary. Enjoy!! This can make 2 servings, but if you want more, you can add more milk, which shouldn’t alter the flavor of the smoothie. The consistency however, may be changed. Play with the  fruit content, as well as the yogurt content to get the balanced texture.

*Optional* For added protein content, add desired amount of protein shake mix to smoothie, or even use vanilla soy milk. I have made similar smoothies with soy milk, and it tastes wonderful! Also, you may use powdered sugar in smoothies as they contain a small amount of corn starch, which acts as a mild thickening agent! Info on matcha can be found here: http://www.google.com/search?aq=f&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8&q=matcha

Where Have I Been? Recipes and New Cooking Ventures

The last blog (aside) that I wrote was nearly two weeks ago. Instead of blogging, I have been using some time to get some things done, but most of all, I have been cooking more!!!! I have made scones from scratch, biscuits, dinners, a peach cobbler with fresh sliced peaches, cakes, and interesting drinks! I have a few pictures of them prepared items and will try my best to share the recipes. (Some are from an app on my phone, so I’m not sure if you all will be able to access the same recipes I have used.) (Actually, the app is powered by allthecooks.com) Although I use recipes, I also get creative and add my own ingredients to it to give the dishes originality. So the way they come out will be a tad different from the ways your may if you do follow the directions very closely. Let me know if you are interested in anything else I have listed. I plan on doing a smoothie blog full of recipes and drink ideas I frequently use. Enjoy the 4 or 5 recipes!!!

  • Fun smoothies (like Green tea, mango, orange juice and lime an original- Heavenly!!!) and classic ones, like mango strawberry yogurt smoothies.
  • As of late, I have made three cakes from scratch (green tea and coconut with a glaze, and a pink grapefruit yogurt cake, which I covered previously, and layered  carrot cake with a cream cheese icing), however I decided to make a box cake. This is a French Vanilla Box cake, (with a homemade buttercream icing), but baked in as a layer cake, adding fresh strawberries (which I soaked in sugar and vanilla extract for 2 days). I then assembled the berried in between the layers, and frosted the cake, adding fresh sliced strawberries atop the cake for a pretty garnish. The cake was great, but the recipe I used for the buttercream icing was too sweet!  I will NOT use that recipe again! There is no other recipe to link, so I will just post a pic, and say that you can make layered cakes from the box, and add whatever flavoring, fruits, or icing you want to make it more creative. So think of this as more if an idea, not a recipe.
  • The lovely inside. See the itty, bitty berries?

French vanilla layered cake with homemade buttercream icing and fresh strawberries.

  • Tropical French Toast with bananas and coconut (with a hint of rum which I incorporated in the french toast egg/milk wash) This recipe calls for flour to be used, which makes the french toast more decadent. I also added approx.1 teaspoon of vanilla pudding mix to made the toast more creamy (which I got from another recipe) I did not have any thick bread on hand, so I used plain old wheat. http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/fluffy-french-toast/Detail.aspx For the fruit, I simply took some banana pieces, added butter, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cook it until it got soft to my preferred desire. I then took some shredded coconuts, and sprinkled it over the banana.

Tropical French Toast with slightly caramelized bananas. They weren't super ripe, and I probably didn't use enough brown sugar. Still good,though.

  • Peach Cobbler with fresh peaches, and a “special ingredient” not listed. I again made it my own by using 3/4 cup of vanilla soy milk, less than 1/4 cup of half and half (to make it a tad fluffy), water (I do that sometimes) and 1 service which is a teaspoon of french vanilla creamer. I added an ingredient that gave the sweet peaches depth, and also some apple pie spice to round the spicy and sweet flavors out. The crust was a bit more dense that other cobblers I have had, and slightly cakey, but I actually liked its richness.

Goodness this was divine!

Cobbler before I tore into it like an animal.

Opa! My First Greek Yogurt! (Then my second one)+ A recipe!

So, I have heard some talk about the epicness of the Greek Yogurt. Yes, I said “The Greek Yogurt” because people have been making it out to be the God of all Yogurts. Not only can it be consumed out of a small yogurt cup, but I was required to use it when I baked a “Pink Grapefruit Yogurt Cake” (<– Which was amazing), and have seen it being used in various exotic dishes on adventurous cooking shows. Dannon has also released their own line of Greek Yogurts, which I had the pleasure of trying. Firstly, this yogurt is NOT cheap in comparison to other yogurts(I’m used to paying $.50 for my regular ones). At Wal-Mart, I purchased one Dannon Greek yogurt for $1.00, however, I have seen other yogurts, standard size for $1.50 to $1.75. May not be a big deal to some of you, but I certainty was not expecting to pay that much (remember, I am a broke college student, and I’m exceptionally frugal as well, lol.)

Dannon's version of "The Greek Yogurt"

The first thing I noticed was the overall texture of the Greek yogurt. It was very thick and creamy, as if someone had frozen regular yogurt, and added a touch of cream after it thawed slightly. I actually thought the texture itself was fun, and an obvious change from thinner yogurts. Then, I tasted one spoon on the creamy yogurt, and first noticed a tanginess that was a little more obvious that regular yogurt- then a nice sweet cushion of vanilla sweetness. Overall, Dannon’s vanilla flavored Greek yogurt was pretty good, but I had to use the rest to make my cake, so I couldn’t really enjoy the whole serving. I did have enough to get an idea of why some people do like Greek yogurt. It’s thick, creamy, chock full of protein (12 grams!) and does vary from your typical very sweet yogurts out there. It also taste a tad bit more natural than say some other yogurts that are just full of sugar. Dannon also sells various flavors like blueberry, strawberry honey flavored, plain and of course vanilla. Other flavors they make I am currently unaware of. Anyone care to fill me in? I’d appreciate that 🙂 Yoplait also makes Greek yogurt, which I have not yet seen at the moment except online. *shrugs*

So…. I decided to buy another one, but only because I saw a coupon.  With the coupon and sale at Publix, I ended up paying $.75. That’s better. 🙂 I varied my brand, and purchased  Voskos Greek yogurt in exotic fig flavor.  The texture was a thick pile of yogurtness- so think that if you scoop some in a spoon and hold it upside down, it ain’t budging! As far as the fig flavor, it was not as sweet as the Dannon vanilla, and has more of a tartness to it. Quite honestly, it’s not my favorite flavor. I know that figs are not the sweetest fruit out there, but I have had figs where they were a tad bit sweeter. Sadly, this was the only flavor available for this brand at my local Publix, and although I so feel it is natural tasting and rich, I didn’t care for it by itself. However, I did add some Crunchy Nut cereal flakes to it,(I’ll review this later on) and WAO! it was better! 8) The hint of honey really danced delicately with the tart fig, and added a nice crunchiness to the yogurt. But eat it fast, for it gets soggy, and does NOT taste as magical! I’m pretty sure Greek Yogurts like these are ideal for mixing fruits and grains in them in you want, because the creamy texture I believe will accommodate any of the above additions and make for a yummy yogurt. Voskos also has other flavors available-honey, blueberry, strawberry and honey vanilla. I’m sure these probably have a higher chance of tasting better, and I may give it another try, because I truly think this yogurt brand has potential-just not in this fig flavor.

By the way, the nutrition facts for Voskos Yogurt is:

  • 0g of Total, Sat. and Trans fat, 0mg of cholesterol, 65g/3%  Sodium.
  • 170mg/ 5% of Potassium, Total Carbs. 28g/9%, 0g Fiber
  • 22g Sugars and 11g/22% Protein. <– My goodness! :O

The high protein content is perfect for those of you/us that work out regularly and seek healthy, low fat protein sources. That’s a plus.

Dannon’s Vanilla Greek Yogurt Yumfactor– 3 tongues and a tastebud (3.5 out of 5 stars) I bet this would be capable of getting a 5 if mixed with fresh, ripe berries or even mangoes. Yummy!

Vosko’s Exotic Fig Greek Yogurt Yumfactor– 2 tongues and a tastebud (2.5 out of 5) It was a bit too tangy for me, however bumped up to a 3.5, when I added the honey nut cereal. I would recommend trying it in another flavor perhaps.

Agree? Disagree? Think that Voskos is indeed amazing in fig? Upset that I tainted the figness by adding cereal? Agree that the cereal is great in it? Leave a comment/rate this post! Thanks for reading! 🙂

Here is the link to the Cake I made via Nutmeg Nanny originally By:

Pepperidge Farm Strawberry Milano Cookies Review

Pepperridge farm has recently released a new flavor in addition to
their line of the delicately sophisticated Milano cookie.  Saddened by their
discontinuation of my favorite French Vanilla flavor (side note: This saddens me VERY deeply. Seriously, this flavor was epic.), I was eager to try the new and somewhat sexy Strawberry variety. First things, first, I ate the entire package within a day, and I intended the cookies to last me at least a week. The flavors are extremely complimentary to the other, as the
strawberries’ sweetness dances seductively with the rich, complex dark
chocolate. This by far is the best combo in my opinion. 

Irony= Me taking this pic and placing a raspberry candy beside the epic strawberry chocolate Milano cookies. Oh well. It's pretty, darn it.

I have had the pleasure (as previously mentioned) of trying the French
Vanilla flavor which gave the chocolate flavor a creamy, toned down,yet subtle accented, contrasting note, and the displeasure of sampling the Raspberry flavor.  Personally, the raspberry tasted like cough syrup gone bad (as if good cough syrup is ever tasty) with bitter-sweet chocolate domination. I gag sometimes  randomly, when I imagine its taste then note how my  taste buds hate me for a few hours after. Negative association much? I have wondered what on earth the orange ones taste like, but with my recent experience of orange flavors with interesting pairings (such as cappuccino, which strangely tasted like sand and smelled like a burnt ham sandwich), I have since  been cautious.
For only $2.50 on sale at Target, but suggested at $3.39 (Really? These are good, but let’s not get cocky here, Peps. This is actually the suggested retail price of ALL  their Milano cookies. Not sure about the other varieties), it’s well worth a try. I can’t stop eating these cookies, and it kind of annoys me how little control I have over their time span! Pure indulgence.
Pros: Beautiful mix of sweet and bitter as strawberry and chocolate go together well. A sexy combo I might add *wink,wink* Soft, crunchy yet delicately spongy texture of the Milano cookie. Not Raspberry flavored. (thank Goodness) Pretty to look at.  Isn’t pink and brown together just the prettiest color combo ever? 🙂
Cons: Buying it for $3.39 versus $2.50. *rolls eyes*
Strawberry Milano Yumfactor: 4 out of 5 tongues and a taste bud. (4 1/5 out of 5)

Panera’s Strawberry and Cream Scone Review

I love variety new flavors and scones so when I went cruising Panera Bread’s website and saw they had a few new items, I was pretty chipper. The one that caught my attention the most was the strawberries and cream flavored

Panera Bread's Strawberry and Cream Scone.

 scone.  Hmm.. Instantly, I wondered it the scone would be glazed, or have a biscuit colored, creamy texture with bits of the dehydrated strawberries, and occasional tastes of vanilly nuggets. I even wondered if there would be any detection of cream at all, just to make sure Panera was not tricking me into thinking cream was in the scone.  Having already tried and loved the orange scone, I knew this one had to be consumed and fast.

So I bought one with a no ice, iced green tea. That’s how I do it, so I can get every drop of my drink without th ice deception making it look like I have more than I actually do. Milking it is my middle name. So what? I’m a broke college student. 😉 The texture was about the texture of their orange scone- rather hard but soft. Imagine eating a donut stick by Little Debbie this is exactly the consistency it has, and the glaze was a clear, sugary glaze that the donut stick has.  I was slightly disappointed, because I was expecting  thicker, opaque glaze similar to their orange scone glaze, but obviously in a vanillish cream variety. The taste was both refreshing as the strawberries gave a tanginess to contrast the sweet glaze, almost buttery more so than creamy, however. I;d have to pass on this one, though it isn’t bad, it does nothing in competition with the beautiful orange scone.

Pros: I love the fact that the scone had real dried strawberries versus those little dried hard balls of fruit you get in jiffy muffin mixes. Bring on the realness!

Cons: The glaze is like a dried glaze you’d eat when eating a little Debbie caked donut. Twins??? Or rather, it’s three-sided cousin from up North. Either way, they can very well be in the same family. May not be a bad thing if you don’t care. Also, strong buttery taste and a harder than normal scone texture. Perhaps, it’s the hardened glaze?

Yumfactor: About 3 tongues and a taste bud.