Monday, January 31, 2011

Superbowl Party Perfect Dips.

I would like to interrupt your regularly scheduled Valentine's Day offer to talk about my latest idea. PARTY DIPS!! As you may have heard, there's this thing called the Superbowl. People tend to celebrate this event with a party. You know what'd be perfect for that party? These insanely tasty party dips. Check it out.
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So what's the deal? Each dip is an 8 ounce tub layered with delicious Sugarlush confections.

[1] Salted Caramel Pretzel Dip: A thick layer of salted caramel frosting, a thin layer of cream cheese, topped with ooey gooey chocolate ganache. It's amazing on pretzels, but perfect on just about anything.

[2] Vanilla Strawberry Cookie Dip: Two classic flavors joined at the hip for one delicious dip! Vanilla malt frosting is topped with strawberry puree. Inspired by a Nilla Wafer fiend, but also great for graham crackers, shortbread, ginger snaps, the list goes on and on!

Each tub is $6. Pick-up is required on Sunday, February 6th before 4pm. Want to order? Send me an email. All orders must be placed by END OF DAY FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 4th! If you have any questions, you know how to reach me.

Want to download the PDF with information? Click here and hit "download."

You're dreaming of these now, aren't you? Salty pretzels with caramel and chocolate… sweet Nilla Wafers covered in vanilla malt frosting and strawberry goodness… Oh yes. Don't hold back. Be the hit of your party and be a lush!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

VALENTINE'S DAY 2011 SPECIAL!

click image to see full-size

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The Valentine's Day Special is back!

Here's the deal. Like it says, $10 for one box of 6 (that's a half-dozen) cupcakes. There are two flavor combo options:

[1] Strawberry cupcake with strawberry frosting, dipped in chocolate
[2] Red velvet cupcake with vanilla malt frosting

You choose either one flavor combo, or opt for the popular "3 & 3" box. You pick them up on Saturday, February 12 between 2pm-4pm. That way you can enjoy them all weekend long!

Want to order? OF COURSE you do. Send me an email at sugarlushcupcakes@gmail.com.

Orders must be made by THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 3rd! That's NEXT WEEK, PEEPS! I take cash & Paypal. I'll send out Paypal invoices so both of us have a record of your order and payment status, but feel free to pay with cash if you prefer (just let me know that that's how you plan to pay).

Sounds good? Have any questions? If so, you know how to reach me. Ready? Set... Order! XOXO ;-)

PS: In case you want a recap of last year's goods, read this post.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Ginger Meyer Lemon Bars


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Meyer lemons. What's the deal? I'll tell you what the deal is—they're delicious. The little special lemons are a hybrid of a lemon and an orange. They're small, juicy, and sweeter than your usual lemon. Over the past few years they've become the little darling of the culinary world. They're not necessarily that easy to come by either, at least, not if you're going to your regular grocery store in Columbus. They tend to be a specialty item, offered for a brief time, and also kind of pricy.

That all changed two weeks ago when I walked into my Kroger one fateful Wednesday. There was a produce fixture full of bags of meyer lemons... for $1.25 per bag. Each bag contained 6. Um, hello? This is amazing! I grabbed a bag. Then turned around for a second bag. Then went back later for the 3rd. That's right. Three bags of glorious little meyer lemons in my grasp for whatever baking project I see fit. Oh, sweet glory be.

The decision was hard. What do I do? What should I make? I considered limoncello, but since that involves the lemon peel, meyer lemons don't really get me anywhere on this. Do I make a tart? Sounds reasonable enough. But wait... I could also make LEMON BARS. I don't make them very often. Maybe once or twice a year, if I have time? I think it is the perfect opportunity. Meyer lemon bars... with a hint of ginger. Now doesn't that just sound delightful??

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I planned to try out a recipe from The Craft of Baking. I've had this book for a little over a year and haven't dived nearly deep enough into it. While my usual lemon bar recipe is solidified (and awesome), I wanted to try something new. Research, you know? After reading the instructions for the crust, I gave up. Sort of. I settled on a crust from a Martha Stewart recipe, but kept The Craft of Baking's recipe for the lemon goo. Turns out, the crust in TCoB is made like pie dough—chilling, rolling, etc. Yeah, I didn't have time to mess with that. I wanted to do this in one Saturday afternoon in under 3 hours, including oven time.

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Martha's crust is divine. It's insanely buttery and rich, as opposed to crumbly and painfully sweet like most recipes. I used an 8x8 pan, for which I cut the crust recipe in half. Also, I replaced the wheat germ with cornmeal. I'm a sucker for cornmeal, and it seemed crazy enough to work. In the past I've done straight flour, which works also.

Now for the lemon goo. This recipe doesn't use much lemon juice, there's a good amount of sugar, and I used meyer lemons. What does that mean? They're not uber tart. They're pretty mellow for lemon bars, actually. I would've preferred a slightly larger pucker, but everyone else truly loved them. Also, you can vary the amount of fresh ginger—that's entirely up to you. I like a punch, so I lean more towards 1.5-2 grated tbsp. If you want just a little essence, I'd err towards 1 tbsp.

:::Lemon Bar Filling:::
Adapted from "Little Lemon Bars," The Craft of Baking

4 large eggs
2 cups granulated sugar
Zest of 2 lemons
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (approx. 3 lemons), strained
1-2 tbsp freshly grated ginger
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp kosher salt

Prepared your crust and bake as directed (again—follow Martha's recipe, but cut the crust amount in half for your 8x8 pan). Start blending the filling ingredients. Juice your lemons and strain the juice to get rid of the pulp. Zest two lemons (use two of the fruits you just juiced), then grate your ginger. If you want a strong ginger kick, go for 2 tbsp. If you want it milder, use just 1 tbsp. TIP: You can keep fresh ginger in the freezer. You don't even need to thaw it if you're going to grate it—you can just pull it out and grate as needed. I don't know about you, but I can't go through an entire piece of ginger root before it goes bad. The freezing tip (from Melissa D'Arabian of Food Network) is a big ingredients and money saver! Next, blend the juice, zest, and ginger into the eggs and sugar. In a separate small bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together, then pour into the egg mixture. Mix until just combined.

The crust should be baked until lightly golden. Pour the lemon bar filling onto the baked crust, then pop back into the oven for 30-40 minutes at 350°. The top should be firm to the touch when finished. Transfer to a cooling rack, cool completely, then sprinkle with confectioners' sugar.

• — • — •
I still have about 8 lemons left in my refrigerator. I've been using them randomly—in cocktails, or just as straight juice added to mug of hot water (I'm telling you—healthy and tasty!). But what to do with those last few? A tart? Pancakes? Oh, the possibilities!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Valentine's Geek Out: Carnation Cones

I'll admit it. I love Valentine's Day. It's one of my favorites. It might even be THE favorite (I know—WHOA). It's just so pink and festive. It's not serious. You don't have to worry about buying things for seventeen different people. It's just about you and one other person. It's cute. You get to eat frouffy desserts. Flowers are generally involved. Everything has hearts on it. Heck, you can even be anti-Valentine's Day and make it fun. What is not to love?

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I adore February issues of magazines because they're usually centered around this holiday. I came across this little craft idea in Martha Stewart Living and I thought it was too adorable not to share. They look like ice cream cones! My goodness, don't you just want to sprinkle these floral cones everywhere? And the best part? Carnations are pretty stinking cheap. While, of course, they'd look lovely with hydrangeas or peonies, let's face it. You can get a bouquet of carnations for the cost of one single hydrangea stem. Brilliant, right? You can download the clip-art for the cones here.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

30 Before 30: The Recipe To Do List


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Have you guys heard about 30 Before 30? It's basically a list of goals you set for yourself to achieve by the time you hit the big 3-0. Some goals are serious, some goals are fun. I've seen a lot of bloggers doing it, and it makes me think because one of these days… I'll be thirty just like everyone else. I still have time—approximately two years. But you need time to think of these things! Why not start now? New year, new goals. While the list of general life goals will take a little more consideration, I do, however, have an ever-growing "Recipe To-Do List," as I like to call it. I'm finally going to do something about it—I'm combining the two: 30 Before 30—The Recipe To Do List.

Sadly, it will probably take me awhile to get through it. There's not much time for making croissants from scratch or even testing out new cupcake creations. Maybe this can be a little fuel to make these things happen, and maybe give you guys a few ideas too. Or—even better—give you ideas of things you want to order! Now that's not a bad idea, right? ;-) Here's the list so far:

  1. Mocha Crepe Cake
  2. Braised Short Ribs
  3. Red Velvet Funnel Cake*
  4. Chocolate-Covered Caramel Pretzel Cupcakes (I'm excited for this one, and you should be too!)*
  5. Meyer Lemon Tart
  6. Ginger-infused Limoncello*
  7. Croissants, from scratch
  8. Chocolate Babka
  9. Gordon Ramsey's Raspberry Souffle
  10. S'more Cookie Bars
  11. My own version of Petit Fours*
  12. French 75 cocktail
  13. Blackberry Champagne Baklava (Yeah, sounds good, right?)*
  14. French macarons, Martha Stewart's version
  15. Mini fruit-filled Kiss Pies (only, w/out using Hershey Kisses. Yuck...)
  16. Cannoli Crunch Pie*
  17. Caramel Stout Frosting*
  18. Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream Cake (I'll probably end up altering this, too)
  19. Homemade gnocchi
  20. Vietnamese Coffee
  21. Donuts to accompany that Vietnamese Coffee
  22. Ice Cream. Possibly peanut butter... or something...
  23. Beef Wellington
  24. Mini Grilled Cheese on a Stick
* denotes recipes I plan to make up or alter... a lot.

Alright, so I'm just a little under 30. Hey, I have time—I have to seriously consider my options here! Plus, it'll be good to leave a few blanks since I'll have two years to do this. I'm sure something will change. From the time I started this post to the time I reread the list 2 days later, I already debated "Do I really want to commit to that?"

January's passing by quickly, so it's time to get crackin'! And if you make your own Recipe To Do List, holler at me. I'd love to hear about it! :-)

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Senate Restaurant: Cincinnati, OH

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I may live in Columbus, but I graduated from the University of Cincinnati. It's funny how young professionals are always assumed to be OSU grads in this town. I'm a Bearcat through and through, and proud of my 5 years in "The 'Nati" (My degree—graphic design—is a 5 year program, like many majors at UC). I don't hang out in Cincy that much anymore, but every now and then I miss the energetic areas around campus, Clifton, Hyde Park, Mt. Adams... but Over-the-Rhine? Scary, dude. It's the kind of place you maybe have to drive through once in awhile, but you don't really make a habit of staying. For those of you unfamiliar, OTR is a historic neighborhood in central Cincinnati. According to Wikipedia, "It is believed to be the largest, most intact urban historic district in the United States…Its architectural significance has been compared to the French Quarter in New Orleans, the historic districts of Savannah, Georgia and Charleston, South Carolina, and Greenwich Village in New York City. Besides being a historic district, the neighborhood has an arts community that is unparalleled within Cincinnati." Impressive, right? It's the kind of thing that would make a native proud. Unfortunately, it's also—literally—one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in the country.

I found out a few months ago that Over-the-Rhine (or OTR for short) has been turning over a new leaf for quite awhile now. The entire neighborhood isn't completely reformed, but there's a newly rebranded strip near downtown, OTR Gateway, that's revitalizing the area. It's a little bit like the Short North in Columbus—a series of boutiques, businesses, cafes, restaurants and bars that breathe new life into both OTR and downtown. My interest was piqued when I saw a friend "like" a certain restaurant on Facebook. "What is this Senate place she likes?? Hmmm…" Senate. A little restaurant located at 1212 Vine St. that has a creative, intriguing menu, and had me tugging my boyfriend's arm saying "Can we go? Can we? Pleeeeeease?????" I've been dreaming of this for months. Like six months, at least. Luckily, we were able to make a visit during the holidays. Hallelujiah!

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First, take a look at this menu. Are you into food? Do you consider yourself kind of a "foodie?" I thought so. Seriously—truffle fries? Duck fat fries?? I'm dying here. Those hot dogs? We have Dirty Frank's Hot Dog Palace here in Cbus, but I will take these gourmet versions over anything on that menu any day. And warm pretzel beignets?! I don't know how beignets and pretzels can be combined in one bite but I am more than willing to give it a whirl.

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Upon arrival, I will honestly say that this strip of OTR was not sketchy. That was the question of the night—will we be safe? Is it shady? While I won't guarantee it (I know better than that), I will say that the Gateway strip seemed pretty solid. Just make sure you're not alone, okay? And bonus—there's a public parking lot located next to the restaurant so you don't have to walk several blocks into the "bad parts" of the neighborhood. We got there at 6 pm since they don't take reservations, and the place became packed while we were there.


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I started with the Lucy Lou cocktail (limoncello, St. Germaine, lemon juice, and cremant) and George (the BF) had something called "Applecrack," I think. It's not on the menu online, but I do remember it contained rum and… other liquor. Both were excellent. The Lucy Lou was a perfect balance of sweet and sour—not the kind that makes your face twitch and teeth curl.

Narrowing down our choices was painful. Time to strategize! First thing's first. We ordered the Poutine for our appetizer. The Poutine is a plate of truffle fries topped with local cheese curds, braised short ribs, and a light gravy. Holy mother of pearl, they were awesome! The braised short rib shredded on top was AMAZING. So flavorful and tender. I have my weird taste aversion to cheese, so I took the melty cheese curds off my share (I know, I know) but I assure you, George (who loves his cheese) and I were both thoroughly in love. If they had just a plate of plain ol' braised short ribs, I would order it. Multiple times.

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The main course took a little more consideration. The Poutine was an easy choice, but our dinner?? Oy. Did you notice the Lobster BLT or the McBelly? Or the Wood-Grilled Sirloin that has MARROW BUTTER??? My God, why don't these people create a tasting menu so we don't have to make all these decisions??? We had to do it up right though. We had to get a hot dog. George ordered the special dog of the day, the Tijuana, which comprised of wood-grilled pork sausage topped with mole-braised pork belly, avocado & queso fresco.

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I opted for the Croque Madame: a beef hot dog topped with black forest ham, b├ęchamel sauce, and a poached egg on a brioche bun. That's right—ooey gooey eggy deliciousness oozing all over one salty, tasty beef hot dog. Do I really need to tell you how splendid they both were? Or will you just assume they were delicious? Let's go with the latter.

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George ordered the Lobster Mac & Cheese as a side, but we didn't quite realize how full we'd be. But like I said—it's our maiden Senate voyage! It's time to go all out! The side is plenty to share, and it had huge chunks of lobster. They don't skimp. It's worth it. We ended up taking it home with us though. We had to save room for dessert!


— • —
Unlike dinner, dessert took no deliberation. One order of Warm Pretzel Beignets, please! They came with a Caramel Marscapone dipping sauce, which had me curious. I like caramel, but honestly I would prefer a warm chocolate ganache. This was perfect though. It was light, fluffy, and just a weeny bit sweet. And what exactly do they mean by "pretzel beignets?" A beignet (ben-YAY) in the US is basically fried dough (of the choux variety) sprinkled with sugar. Simple, but effective. And 100% delightful. The beignets came to us fresh from the kitchen in a paper bag, shaken by the chef. The little fried blobs are shaken in cinnamon, sugar, and crushed pretzel pieces. A-HA! So that's what they mean by "pretzel beignets." Fork, beignet, marscapone, dip in pretzel remnants, devour. Perfection.

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Have I talked your ear off enough? Are you tired of me? Probably. But take my word—Senate is worth a visit. And so is Cincinnati and the little strip of OTR Gateway, for that matter. And Senate, if you hear me, I want to give you a high-five. Your offering is creative and lived up to my high expectations. Now, will you open a location in Columbus, please? You'd have a strong following—now that I will guarantee!
 
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