Sunday, February 28, 2010

Mini-Prep Weekend Purchase

Until this past Saturday afternoon, I had never before purchased an electronic kitchen device for myself. Toaster, coffee machine, hand-mixer, nope. All have been {very much appreciated} hand-me-downs for one apartment to the next. Though I've hunted for small game (ie: pots, pans, utensils, cutlery, flatware) in numerous T.J. Maxx and HomeGoods stores, there's something undeniably exhilerating about being the proud new owner of my very own food processor! A big thanks to my good friend Sabrina who generously gifted me a Williams and Sonoma gift card last May for my birthday. Indeed, it may have taken me several months to actually hone in on a purchase, (there were just too many fun things to chose from!), but I'm confident this selection will help further my cooking aspirations. Additionally, I've never owned anything comparable to it.

This little Cuisinart Elite Die-Cast Mini Prep, 4-Cup machine isn't only one of the cutest things I've ever seen in comparison to it's giant relatives, but I've already found it to be incredibly user-friendly and easy to wrangle around a kitchen countertop. It also fits my lifestyle. Sure, a 16-Cup beauty would be nice to have around for making dough and vats of gazpacho someday, but in the meantime neither do I have the counter space nor the need for all of those attachments and uses. I predict this mini processor, however, will have a long and busy life whipping up little batches of sauce, soups, pestos, dressings, slaws, egg salads, and tapenades.

So far, it's been impressively simple to clean, operate, and store. Emboldened to branch out with a new "from-scratch" creation this weekend, I attempted a basil pesto. Though it was, unfortunately, 3 cloves too heavy on the garlic this time around (as I discovered after brushing my teeth and rinsing 4 times with mouthwash in vain), I now at least have the tool to make classic pesto a steadfast recipe in my culinary repertoire. p.s. If you have a favorite pesto recipe, please, please, please send it my way!

The Cuisinart Elite Die-Cast Mini Prep, 4-Cup can be found at Williams and Sonoma - near you, or online - for $59.95.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Lip Butter by Korres

By Jove, I've found it!

Nope, it's not a gloss. Nor is it a lip balm. Rather, it goes by the name of "Lip Butter" and pictured above is the lovely, oh-so-flattering color Jasmine.

Korres, originally established in Greece in 1996, is my "of-the-moment" totally lovable cosmetics company. For starters, their steadfast philosophy is (and I quote): "A collection of advanced natural formulations using a targeted ingredient approach to correct the signs of aging and address variety of skin concerns." This environmentally-conscious cosmetics brand becomes even more noteworthy due to the fact none of their products are tested on animals. (Though this information is not published on their website, I contacted their Customer Service department to confirm). The product packaging is either recycled or recyclable AND they avoid using non-biodagradable ingredients in their formulations. Hooray for active botanicals!

At one time only available to our friends across the pond, Korres products are now distributed internationally throughout 14 countries. Their one U.S. flagship store is conveniently located in Manhattan's trendy SoHo area (field-trip anyone?), but don't you worry. A wide variety of Korres products are also available in Sephora shops worldwide. Indeed, this is where I first stumbled upon this fantastic brand.

So. What exactly is said Lip Butter and why on earth is a little 0.21-Oz. tub of it worthy of a blog post?

In utter desperation to combat winter's unrelenting weather and consequential effects of chapped lips, it's an ongoing endeavor of mine to seek out the best remedy. Seriously. I must have about eight varieties of lip glosses, lip balms, Chapsticks, Aquaphors, you-name-its, scattered about my apartment and hidden in the crevices of my "junk drawer" at work, so one is never too far out of reach. When I stumbled upon Lip Butter by this company, I deemed it experimental investigation to purchase retail-therapy moment fueled by positive consumer ratings on Sephora's website.

All this being said, Korres' Lip Butter concoction is nothing short of amazing. It melts into your lips providing them with ample hydration, simultaneously leaving a long-lasting sheen. I find this balm/butter gives a little bit of plump to your pucker (without any stinging effect), and NO stickiness at all. Lovin' that! Butters come in a spectrum of colors, but for me, Jasmine is the perfect hint of natural, nude-ish pink. The shade I've been looking for all along. The price tag of $10.00 is a bit steep, but hey - for a butter/balm that actually works, I'll be stocking up on more as soon as this little tub runs dry.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Greenery at the Greenmarket

For the past two days here in the City That Never Sleeps, the weather has been surprisingly - dare I say - balmy? True, it's uncomfortably cold enough that I'm still hibernating in my shapeless Puffy Coat, but the unmistakable mossy smell of Spring has been lingering in the air now for almost a full 48 hours!

On a mission to pick up a few staples at Whole Foods today, I was thrilled to see the famous Union Square Greenmarket as vibrant as ever. Even better - there were bulbs and flowers for sale! Green, living, COLORFUL things - oh my goodness they DO exist!

Manhattan's Union Square Greenmarket is the biggest and most popular farmer's market in the city. Sure enough, it's also bustling year-round. Hours are Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from 8:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m., and hearty farmers set up shop despite any inclement weather conditions: rain, snow, sleet, sweltering heat - they muster through it all! While vendors do change from time to time, there are typically various types of plants and greenery for sale throughout the Winter months. However, the flower vendors usually stay at bay until the Spring. Which is why when I walked by a cluster of pots all planted with brave little Petunias, Hyacinths, Violets, and Amaryllis', it just made me so downright happy.

I'm certain Winter still has a few more curve balls to throw at us, but seeing and smelling the first inklings of Spring today was a good personal reminder to really soak in the changing of the seasons. The transformation of Winter into Spring in the Northeast is especially a welcome one, however it's a perfect time to reflect upon the pleasant memories, feelings, events, and weather(!) associated with all four.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

A Little Sunshine!

With all the Winter ickiness we poor, Vitamin-D deficient North-easterners have been faced with this month, a little sunshine can go a long way. This being said, merci beaucoup, Une Femme Curieuse for sending a little my way in the form of a lovely Sunshine Blog Award! This is The Printed Thought's first blog recognition of the sort, so I'm quite humbled. And keeping up with Sunshine etiquette, I'll be passing it along - rather, sharing the rays - to a few of my bloggy favs in the coming, stay tuned!

Monday, February 08, 2010

Vegan Cupcakes: Touchdown!

So, I'm going to be honest here. I'm not exactlyyy your avid football fan. BUT - I love Superbowl Sunday because Game Time is THE perfect excuse for a little pot-luck, friend-gathering fiesta...and what's not to love about that?

Killer nachos? Check. Pigs-in-a-blanket? Check. Seven-layer dip, veggies and hummus, pretzels, chips, wings, bruschetta...yum! My friends and I all contributed a little this-and-that for an über-fun Superbowl party yesterday evening, hosted by non-other than my lovely friend Ashley. Me? I volunteered to bring along some sweet chocolatey treats. Which means bright and early on Sunday morning, I was wide awake in the kitchen, apron donned, mug of coffee by my side, whipping up some tasty from-scratch Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes. The best part? "Vegan," by default, automatically means dairy-free!

I've always thought of cupcakes as being A.) Really cute, and B.) Special-occasion kind of desserts, (move over cookies!). You just don't encounter them every day. Unless you live above Billy's Bakery, but that's another story. So, when you do get your hands on a yummy little cupcake, it truly becomes an "oh-la-la" moment of taste bud bliss.

After Googling the internet for THE perfect Vegan Chocolate Cupcake recipe, I finally found one starred with rave reviews. A winner! This one accomplishes what the quintessential Vegan treat should always strive to do: not taste Vegan. Indeed, if I hadn't made these myself, I would have bet that Paula Dean loaded them up with butter, milk, and heavy cream herself. Quite the contrary. Try this recipe and they'll surely be a game-time winner...even if you are really paying more attention to the commercials.

Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes
Adapted from “Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World,” by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero.


1 cup soy milk

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup canola oil

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/3 cup cocoa powder

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

White Frosting Vanilla Glaze:

1/2 package of confectioner's sugar

1/4 cup vegan margarine (softened)

3 tablespoons soy milk

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line a muffin pan with paper or foil liners.
  2. Whisk together the soy milk and vinegar in a large bowl and set aside for a few minutes. It may curdle a little bit; this is OK!
  3. Add the sugar, oil, and vanilla extract to the soy milk mixture and beat until foamy. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, pausing a couple times to stir until all the large lumps are gone. A few small lumps are OK.
  4. Pour the mixture into the cupcake liners until they are about 2/3 of the way full. Bake 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting.
  5. Sift confectioner's sugar into a large bowl and add in the soy milk, margarine, and vanilla. Beat until creamy, adding either more sugar or soy milk until desired consistency is reached. Spread on cooled cupcakes and garnish with shredded coconut or topping of choice.