Unicorn Rainbow Bark

Isn't this the prettiest creation you've ever laid your eyes on? Rainbow, sprinkle, unicorn magic! I love it!

With the ever increasing popularity of all-things 'unicorn' on the Internet, I just had to make a creation of my own. If you haven't already stumbled across pictures, please search 'Unicorn Hot Chocolate' on Instagram. I love whoever started this food trend and, in my books, it's never going out of style.

Since I know your sitting there drooling over the pictures, I've decided to share the recipe! For toppings you can really use whatever candy/chocolate/sprinkle combo you want but for the sake of keeping the recipe easy to follow, here's exactly what I used:

Ingredients
2, 12 oz. Bags of White Chocolate Chips
1 cup Lucky Charm Marshmallows
1 bag Skittles
1 bag Troll Gummy Hearts
1/4 cup Sprinkles
1 bag Airhead Xtremes Bites, Rainbow Berry

Directions

  1. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. To melt the chocolate, pour both bags into a microwave-safe bowl. Reduce microwave heat to 50% and heat chocolate in 30 second intervals, stirring between each 30 seconds until chocolate is fully melted.
  3. Use a spatula to spread melted chocolate over prepared parchment paper.
  4. Add toppings, starting with the sprinkles. Once finished, lightly press the toppings into the chocolate. 
  5. Refrigerate until chocolate is set and bark can be broken apart.

New Orleans Restaurant Round-Up (Part Two)

And the eating continued...

4. Latitude 29

Latitude 29 was a pleasant little surprise after a two-hour Drink and Learn tour in the French Quarter. Even though we were not totally in need of another drink, we were very much in need of a plate of food. This little tiki bar was recommended to us by our tour guide and unexpectedly served up some of the best steak and frites I've ever had. I mean, I was a little tipsy but I still stand behind this meal 100%. The steak was so deliciously tender and the fries were cut shoestring style, piping hot and nice and crispy! Mmmm....Immediately after we finished, I glanced at Tyler to ask if it would be ridiculous to order another serving. Unfortunately, we did not.
Note: If you don't mind drinking something sweet, try their signature Latitude 29. I've also heard that they make one of the best 'tiki-style' hurricanes in the city. Be sure to go in the afternoon to take advantage of the Happy Hour menu like we did.

What we we

  • Steak and Frites
  • Latitude 29 Tiki Drinks

My Menu Favourite

  • Steak and Frites

5. Mais Arepas

After months of Instagram stalking and drooling over my iPhone, I finally got to try some of the amazing food being served at this quaint little Columbian-Creole restaurant. Since I've been home, people continue to ask what my favourite restaurant was in New Orleans, and I would have to say that Mais Arepas takes the win! The type of food served here is so different from anything I've had, or would make at home, that it blew me away. I've seen a lot of Instagram hype over these so-called 'Arepas' but never had the chance to try one myself, and let me tell you I think I picked one of the best places to have my first. The meat was tender, the arepa was freshly made, hot and delicious and the whole thing was so flavorful that my taste buds couldn't even handle it. They also serve pitchers of red sangria, which is always a win in my books.
Note: They have pictures of all their menu items on Facebook. If you simply click on the menu item that you are drooling over in their handy 'Menu' app, it will pop-up with a picture!

What we ate

  • Ceviche de Camaron - Jumbo Louisiana shrimp marinated in citrus, red onions, tomatoes, jalapeños & cilantro. Served over avocado.
  • Cerda Arepa - Colombian-style pulled pork, maduros, pickled onions & cotija cheese.
  • Carnicera Arepa - Grilled skirt steak, maduros, avocado & cranberry beans (cooked with pork belly).
  • A pitcher of red sangria

My Menu Favourite

  • Cerda Arepa - Colombian-style pulled pork, maduros, pickled onions & cotija cheese.

District Donuts Instagram feed the day we visited.

6. District Donuts

Ok, if you really want to be hangry, jealous and hating the fact that these amazing donuts aren't just around the block from you every morning, then do what I did and follow @districtdonuts on Instagram. Each day it's like a little punch in the stomach that says, 'Hey, look at me, I'm a gourmet freshly-dipped cookie dough donut and you can't have me.' But sometimes, I like to eat things with my eyes and so yes, they continue to torment me day in and day out. I started following District Donuts around mid-January, so by the time the end of March rolled around and I set foot in New Orleans, I had to have one of these crazy donuts! And after two rounds of beignets in the days before, my stomach was ready for the challenge. I'll have to say that I was a little disappointed that 'Today's Donuts' didn't include the root beer float, cookie dough, banana split or peanut butter cup flavours, however I won't hold it against them for the mere fact that they have created these flavours in the first place.
Note: Although the donuts were mouth-watering, I think my favourite part of this meal was the breakfast sandwich! I would give my left arm for some more of that miso praline maple bacon.

What we ate

  • Mexican Hot Chocolate Donut
  • Miso Praline Maple Bacon and Egg Biscuit
  • Almond Joy Donut

My Menu Favourite

  • Miso Praline Maple Bacon and Egg Biscuit

 

7. Dat Dog

We came across Dat Dog while touring down Magazine Street in New Orlean's Garden District. It was a hot, sunny day and the large, bright-coloured patio seemed to be calling our names. There were SO many places that I could have ate on this street; Arana Taqueria, Salu, Riginelli's Pizzeria - just to name a few. However, Dat Dog seemed entertaining and laid-back, which was exactly what we were looking for. It was nothing fancy, but I got to sit on a patio in the sun and so I was more then happy. They serve mostly gourmet hotdogs and french fries, hence the name, and by gourmet I mean alligator, crawfish and duck sausages served in a fresh bun and topped with whatever you would like, for no extra charge! Not to worry for those of you that don't like to venture too far away from your pork hotdog with ketchup, they also have a ton of mainstream options.
Note: Try one of their homemade sodas from the bar and if you don't know what to get on your 'dog', let the kitchen dress it for you!

What we ate

  • Gator Dog dressed by the kitchen
  • Crawfish Dog with Creole Mustard and some other things I can't remember...
  • Cheddar Bacon Ranch French Fries

My Menu Favourite

  • Cheddar Bacon Ranch French Fries

8. Shaya

As I mentioned in Part One of the New Orleans Restaurant Round-Up, Domenica was the first of two Chef Alon Shaya restaurants I ate at during my trip, can you guess what the other one was? You got it, Shaya! Chef Alon hits the mark again with an amazing atmosphere, friendly wait staff and a unique variety of modern Israeli cuisine. To start, guest are offered pita pillows hot out of the brick oven that is located in the back corner of the restaurant. Don't worry if you eat the whole thing in mere seconds because it will continued to be offered all throughout the meal. The hummus, oh the hummus! It's whipped so fine that not a single grain of chickpea remains - amazing! Not to mention the falafels, pickled veggies, roasted beets and babka for dessert. Everyone needs some Shaya in their life!
Note: It's quite fancy in here, dress up if you're looking to fit in.

What we ate

  • Curried Fried Cauliflower Hummus with caramelized onions, cilantro and mint
  • Roasted Beets with yogurt, dill and black pepper
  • Pickled Vegetables, red onion, cauliflower, and cucumbers
  • Falafel, cabbage salad and cucumber tzatziki
  • Warm Chocolate Babka with poppy seeds, tahini and halva ice cream

My Menu Favorite

  • It's a tie between the Cauliflower Hummus and the Warm Chocolate Babka

New Orleans Restaurant Round-Up (Part One)

Jackson Square, Cafe Du Monde is just to the right of this picture.

Jackson Square, Cafe Du Monde is just to the right of this picture.

CafeDuMonde
Do you see this powdered sugar?!

Do you see this powdered sugar?!

1. Cafe Du Monde

Oh, Cafe Du Monde, what high hopes I had for you! The place that 'everyone MUST go' to try a famous beignet. Lets get something straight here, a beignet is basically just deliciously fried dough topped with more icing sugar then one person should ever consume; so it's never going to be BAD. However, after visiting Cafe Beignet (see below) this place just didn't compare. I'm an atmosphere person and for anyone who has happened to walk by Cafe Du Monde in Jackson Square, I'm sure you witnessed the endless lines of people waiting to get their hands on one of these famous beignets. I'll give them credit, the line moved exceptionally fast and I was still able to sip on my hurricane from Pat O'Briens, because its New Orleans and that's what people do. Once we made it to the front of the line, we were quickly hurried towards any table that had just emptied, leaving us sitting in a mess of icing sugar from the family that had just left. The waitress was quick to clean the mess and take our order. This is where the story gets good. Our beautiful, world-famous beignet arrives! And I quickly think to myself, how the heck do people eat these things? Who cares, we're on vacation - lets dig in! Ha! As I pick up my first bite I am immediately covered in icing sugar from head-to-toe. No joke, icing sugar is like the STD of the baking world. We start to look around and pick up on others strategies. The table of women beside us are in a fit of laughter as they all lean as far over the table as they can to take their next bite. As I glance towards Tyler with a huge bite in his mouth, I can't help but burst out in a laugh, which is followed by a huge POOF and an icing sugar cloud that surrounds our whole table. For this story alone, I'm happy that we went to Cafe Du Monde and I would encourage others to go and give it a try. You just have to!
Note: Do not wear anything black here, white would be ideal.

What we ate

  • A Beignet of course!

 

Fried Kale and Roasted Cauliflower with whipped feta

Fried Kale and Roasted Cauliflower with whipped feta

Tiramisu

Tiramisu

2. Domenica

I know, I know, I go to New Orleans on vacation and end up eating at an Italian restaurant, what's up with that? I'll tell you whats up with that. Domenica was an all-around amazing experience. From the attentive and extremely friendly wait-staff to the amazing food and homey atmosphere, I could eat here every night. We happened to walk by the following night to see our waiter conversing with a new table and I have to admit I was a little jealous. This was the first of two Chef Alon Shaya restaurants I tried in New Orleans and I've got to say, it's no wonder this man wins awards!
Note: Get limoncello with dessert.

What we ate

  • Roasted cauliflower with sea salt and whipped feta
  • Fried tuscan kale with pine nuts, tomato and Parmigiano Reggiano
  • Prosciutto pizza with tomato, fresh mozzarella, arugula
  • Special tiramisu

My Menu Favourite

  • The pizza crust was amazing! The fried kale was also pretty great.

 

CafeBeignet1
CafeBeignet2.JPG
Beignets and a breakfast sandwich!

Beignets and a breakfast sandwich!

Mmmm Iced Cafe Mocha...

Mmmm Iced Cafe Mocha...

3. Cafe Beignet

It's 10 a.m. on Bourbon St. The sidewalks are being hosed down from the amount of booze, bodily fluids and who knows what else hit them the night before. The street is mostly filled with tourists, the odd homeless person and that guy that just never went to bed. We hear some live jazz and wander in that direction. In an oasis between strip joints and 24-hour bars you'll find Musical Legends Park and behind that is where you'll find Cafe Beignet. Always bustling with people and a little hard to snag a seat, Cafe Beignet is the perfect little courtyard to start your day in. We managed to get a seat in the sunshine and enjoyed some live music while waiting for our food to arrive. These beignets, while to an untrained eye might seem underwhelming, were so delicious! They were warm on the inside and they had the perfect amount of icing sugar-to-donut ratio. Also, they serve three in one order, what more can I say! We learned from our experience at Cafe Du Monde and used a fork and knife this time around. Not as much fun but I managed to keep my clothes clean!
Note: Order an Iced Cafe Mocha to wash it all down, Mmmm!

What we ate

  • An order of Beignets
  • Breakfast sandwich on a croissant with scrambled eggs, bacon and white cheddar

My Menu Favourite

  • The Beignets! However, the croissant on the breakfast sandwich was super flaky and delicious as well.

 

FoodFest!

FoodFest!

Cherry Snoball.

Cherry Snoball.

Grape Snoball.

Grape Snoball.

FoodFest4
Baked Alaska from Antoine's

Baked Alaska from Antoine's

4. NOLA FoodFest

FoodFest is a weekend-long food festival that takes up four blocks in the French Quarter and offers hometown eats from all across America. The booths offered anything from Texas BBQ and Arizona Cheese Tamales to the famous Baked Alaska served at Antoine's restaurant in New Orleans. If we weren't still full from the three beignets at breakfast I think we would have tried a few more dishes!

What we ate

  • Blackened Catfish Po'boy with creole sauce
  • Snoballs from Plum St. Snoballs!

My Menu Favourite

  • The Snoball!

Said by the best - Design Thinkers 2014

Recently I had the opportunity to once again attend RGD's Annual Design Thinkers Conference in Toronto, Ontario. With my mind open and my brain in desperate need of some inspiration, I sat down in the main auditorium of the Sony Centre excited to see what this years speakers had to share. From the witty and outspoken Aaron Draplin, to the observant and knowledgeable Mary Lewis and the hilariously genuine Jessica Walsh (just to name a few) my experience was one of the best yet. By the end of the conference I left feeling refreshed, inspired, excited and ready to drop a few hundred dollars on Amazon. My first purchase will be a shiny new sketch book!

Here's some of the advice I took home from these enthusiastic individuals that I plan on incorporating into my work and life as a designer.


First win the eye, then the heart, then the mind.
Every design must earn its space, be rigorously relevant and rooted in truth.

- Mary Lewis, Creative Director and Partner of Lewis Moberly


Well designed ideas respect people’s intelligence – they’re built on more than novelty.

- Andrew Deitchman, Co-founder & CEO of Mother New York



5 Principles of Design

From Todd Waterbury, Executive Creative Director and Senior VP of Marketing at Target

Design should be:

  1. Emotional - Design that listens with an open heart and creates change with an open mind
  2. Useful - Design that challenges lifes complexities to simplify the everyday
  3. Democratic - Design that uncovers a one-of-a-kind idea and is intended for everyone
  4. Insightful - Design that focuses on the details
  5. Purposeful - Design that forms from an individual need and functions for the greater good.

If it isn't written down then it's not a rule.

- Andy Epstein


It's ok to question everything. Ask why.

- Charles Adler, Co-founder of Kickstarter


Design process made simple

From Joesph Duffy, Co-founder and Design Director of Duffy and Partners

  • Get inspired daily
  • Create your process
  • Ask questions and listen to answers
  • Do your homework
  • Justify why
  • Sketch like a lunatic
  • Only do work that you are proud of

The goal of graphic design is to get inside people’s heads & get them to think about things differently

- Richard Turley, Senior VP of Visual Storytelling & Deputy Editorial Director at MTV


How to Play

Jessica Walsh, Partner at Sagmeister & Walsh

Play is a state of mind in which we feel challenged, focused and creative. Play prepares us. Play shapes the brain. Play is not just for children. It is proven that adults who play tend to be more productive at work and at life in general. Play is an essential state of mind that creatives need to seek out and incorporate into every day.

How to play:

  • Have the confidence to fail
  • Persistence is key
  • Have a sense of humour
  • Give yourself plenty of time
  • Have space away from the project
  • Have intrinsic motivation to do the work

We design for communication, not for pretty pages. We will only start when there is content.

- Erik Spiekermann, Creative Director at Edenspiekermann


DIY: 'Make-Your-Own' Lip Balm

It's that time of year again! Dry skin, chapped lips, cracks, bleeding and discomfort - moisturize, moisturize, moisturize! And those products aren't cheap. When it comes to looking for a 'good' lip balm, people tend to spend upwards of $3.00 per tube. I know you are probably thinking, well what other option do I have? What you are probably unaware of is just how cheap and easy it is to make your own lip balm. Not to mention, you can load it full of all-natural and organic ingredients and have the comfort of knowing exactly what you are putting on your face. Below is a breakdown of material costs, where to order from and step-by-step instructions for creating two all-natural lip balm flavours - vanilla and peppermint.

Lip_Balm1

WHAT YOU NEED, WHERE TO ORDER FROM AND COST PER ITEM

*Note: The below ingredients will be enough to make approx 100 .15 oz. tubes of lip balm. It's up to you whether you want to make them all at once or save your ingredients and make a small batch when needed.

Organic Shea Butter - Vitacost $9.79 for 7 oz.
You will have leftover. Use extra as a moisturizer for just about any part of your body!

Extra Virgin Coconut Oil - Vitacost $8.99 for 16 oz.
Again, you will have leftovers but you can use this stuff for just about anything! Cooking, baking, moisturizer, conditioner etc.

Peppermint Essential Oil - Vitacost $5.99 for 1 oz.

Vanilla Essential Oil - Amazon $5.00 for 10 ml

Sweet Almond Oil - Vitacost $3.29 for 4 oz.

Beeswax - Etsy $9.12 for 16 oz.

Plastic Tubes - Etsy $12.69 for 100 tubes

Plastic Syringe
You can get these cheap at any pharmacy.

Printer-Friendly Labels
I bought a pack of Avery inkjet labels which tend to be around $10.00 per 100

Added $15.00 for shipping fees and $9.00 for taxes

Total Cost: $88.87 divided by 100 = 0.88 cents per tube

 
Tubes are taped together in groups of 10 and placed on a flat surface for filling.

Tubes are taped together in groups of 10 and placed on a flat surface for filling.

As the liquid begins to harden, go back and top up the tubes to create a flat surface for the top of the lip balm.

As the liquid begins to harden, go back and top up the tubes to create a flat surface for the top of the lip balm.

Get creative and design personalized labels! These were printed on Avery Labels and then trimmed to size.

Get creative and design personalized labels! These were printed on Avery Labels and then trimmed to size.

Lip_Balm5

HOW TO MAKE LIP BALM

Peppermint Lip Balm

MAKES 20 .15 OZ. TUBES

Ingredients
2 tbsp shea butter
4 tbsp organic coconut oil
3 tbsp beeswax
1/2 tsp peppermint essential oil
Plastic syringe
20 .15 oz lip balm tubes

Directions

  1. Prepare empty lip balm tubes by fastening them in an upright position. Make sure you have 20 tubes out and ready to be filled before moving on to step two. I taped sets of 10 tubes together to keep them upright, or you can purchase a tray online for them to sit in. Make sure you have your plastic syringe close by.
  2. In a double boiler melt the shea butter, coconut oil, and beeswax. Whisk until all the beeswax beads have completely melted.
  3. Stir in the peppermint oil.
  4. Leave your double boiler on low heat and stir occasionally while using your plastic syringe to divide the liquid amongst the tubes, filling them. You might want to top up some of the tubes as you go - I noticed that once the liquid begins to harden, it shrinks down in the tube a little. Let the balm set with the caps off and then label if desired.

 

Vanilla Lip Balm

MAKES 30 .15 OZ. TUBES

Ingredients
2 tbsp shea butter
4 tbsp organic coconut oil
3 tbsp beeswax
2 tbsp sweet almond oil
1 tsp vanilla essential oil
Plastic syringe
30 .15 oz lip balm tubes

Directions

  1. Prepare empty lip balm tubes by fastening them in an upright position. Make sure you have 30 tubes out and ready to be filled before moving on to step two. I taped sets of 10 tubes together to keep them upright, or you can purchase a tray online for them to sit in. Make sure you have your plastic syringe close by.
  2. In a double boiler melt the shea butter, coconut oil, beeswax and sweet almond oil. Whisk until all the beeswax beads have completely melted.
  3. Stir in the vanilla oil.
  4. Leave your double boiler on low heat and stir occasionally while using your plastic syringe to divide the liquid amongst the tubes, filling them. You might want to top up some of the tubes as you go - I noticed that once the liquid begins to harden, it shrinks down in the tube a little. Let the balm set with the caps off and then label if desired.

Download my label design here!

Note: These labels are designed to fit on Avery Mailing Label sheets size 3 1/3" W x 4" H. They will need to be trimmed to size before applying to lip balm tube.

Click here to download the Vanilla Lip Balm Label

Click here to download the Peppermint Lip Balm Label

DIY: Driftwood Necklace Holder

A few months ago while scrolling aimlessly through my Instagram feed, I came across a DIY necklace holder. It was made from an old piece of wood and some decorative door knobs. Since large costume jewelry has made a huge comeback, I have been in a constant battle with where to store my big, long, short, heavy (you name it) necklaces. This was the perfect solution! And since I live on the shores of Lake Huron, driftwood seems to be in abundance. I picked up four different decorative knobs from World Market in the US (I think you can also get them from Anthropology, Pottery Barn or any local home store). Mine were $4.99 each, which totaled around $23.00 for the whole project - reasonable compared to what these might sell for in a store. I got my piece of wood for free from good ol'Mother Nature and called in some man muscle to drill holes through it. This is a great DIY gift to give to your mother, sister, friend or pretty much anyone struggles with an abundance of necklaces.

Side note: Every wall in my house is wood, so wood-on-wood was unavoidable - I'm not a crazy person.

MyNecklaceHolder

What you need:

  • Piece of wood (driftwood, painted plywood, scrapwood)
  • 4-6 decorative knobs
  • Drill with bits that match the knobs you've purchased
  • Man muscle (unless you know how to use the drill, in which case kudos to you!)

I love the sharp edges of the wood as opposed to the ragged, driftwood style.

I love the sharp edges of the wood as opposed to the ragged, driftwood style.

Search around for some really unique knobs, it can make a world of difference!

Search around for some really unique knobs, it can make a world of difference!

Worn paint creates a great effect.

Worn paint creates a great effect.

Here are some others I came across on a quick search of Pinterest to invoke a little more inspiration to create your own DIY necklace holder!

Boston Restaurant Round-Up (Part Two)

I finally got around to writing about the second half of my 'eat-all-the-things' Boston weekend get-away and let me just say, you should be glad I did! From lobster rolls to bone marrow, BBQ pork belly to prosciutto wrapped dates, here's the rest!

 
Barkingcrab
Bun-less Lobster Roll with Fries and Coleslaw and Pan-Seared Scallops, Corn Puree, Fennel Salad

Bun-less Lobster Roll with Fries and Coleslaw and Pan-Seared Scallops, Corn Puree, Fennel Salad

BarkingCrab3

3. The Barking Crab

The Barking Crab was a perfect place to stop for a quick lunch before heading out on a day full of adventures. With its casual, coastal clam shack atmosphere and harbor-side patio there was a lot to see as we munched on some delicious seafood. The outdoor atmosphere was great – especially on a nice sunny afternoon. We watched many fishermen load up their boats to head out to sea for the day. We found the menu to be a little confusing if you are not up-to-snuff on your 'seafood terms' however, we stuck to what we knew and didn't seem to have a problem! We ordered a traditional lobster roll sans-bun, lets be honest buns are overrated. But then we splurged and got the fries. Worth it.

What we ate

  • Bun-less Lobster Roll with Fries and Coleslaw
  • Pan-Seared Scallops, Corn Puree, Fennel Salad

My Menu Favourite

  • Bun-less Lobster Roll with Fries and Coleslaw
    (until sea sickness hit while whale watching)
 
Medjool dates filled with Marcona almonds and Cabrales blue cheese, wrapped in Jamon Serrano

Medjool dates filled with Marcona almonds and Cabrales blue cheese, wrapped in Jamon Serrano

Grilled corn with alioli, lime, espelette pepper and aged cheese

Grilled corn with alioli, lime, espelette pepper and aged cheese

Roasted bone marrow with radish citrus salad and oxtail marmalade

Roasted bone marrow with radish citrus salad and oxtail marmalade

4. Toro

If I had to choose one restaurant in Boston that you absolutely MUST try, this would be the place! Actually, it’s a tough tie between Fomu Alternative Ice Cream and here. This Barcelona-style tapas restaurant is located in Boston’s South End and serves small plates made with locally sourced ingredients. If you are looking to branch out and try some different menu options then head to Toro! They unfortunately don’t take reservations but we managed to luck out with our timing and get a table right away. However, I have read multiple reviews that suggest this isn’t always the case – so be prepared to wait. The food was amazing, the atmosphere was lively and our server was very helpful when we had a difficult time making decisions. Overall, an amazing dinner. One downside – only one dessert item! Off to Fomu we went...

What we ate

  • Medjool dates filled with Marcona almonds and Cabrales blue cheese, wrapped in Jamon Serrano
  • Grilled corn with alioli, lime, espelette pepper and aged cheese
  • Crispy pork belly with vermouth-carrot puree and kimchi vegetables
  • Roasted bone marrow with radish citrus salad and oxtail marmalade

My Menu Favorite

I can’t say I could pick even if someone twisted my arm! Everything was different, delicious and full of flavor.

 
Fat Cheeks Tray with berkshire pork belly, berkshire pulled pork and great northern brisket served with coleslaw, collard green, pickles and onions.

Fat Cheeks Tray with berkshire pork belly, berkshire pulled pork and great northern brisket served with coleslaw, collard green, pickles and onions.

SweetCheecksQ-Boston2.JPG

5. Sweet Cheeks Q

So you've got a craving for a big hunk of meat? I've got you covered! Sweet Cheeks Q is located just a few blocks away from the home of the Boston Red Sox, Fenway Park. They offer sustainably-raised 'Super Natural' premium Black Angus beef that is free of hormones, antibiotics and chemical additives, as well as all-natural pork, turkey and chicken. If you are looking for BBQ smothered in sugary, overpowering sauces then this isn't the place for you. At Sweet Cheeks Q you can expect to indulge in expertly cooked and prepared cuts of finger-licking good meat, meat and more meat! While seated at a family-style table, your meat comes served on cafeteria trays with southern-inspired sides and cocktails. The atmosphere is light-hearted and welcoming - the perfect spot to relax for a few drinks with family and friends. The meat was plump, tender and full of flavor. Overall, Sweet Cheeks Q more then satisfied my carnivorous tooth!

What we ate

  • Fat Cheeks Tray with berkshire pork belly, berkshire pulled pork and great northern brisket served with coleslaw, collard green, pickles and onions.

My menu favourite

  • Berkshire pork belly - juicy and delicious!

Boston Restaurant Round-Up (Part One)

First, I would like to start off by noting that I titled this post 'Part One' because I ate so much delicious food during my time in Boston that it would be overwhelming to try and cram all of that into one sitting. Seriously though, I'm surprised I was able to fit in my seat on the flight home. Not to mention, one night we made two dinner reservations. The eating got a bit out of hand, but we went there to eat and so eat we did!  While researching restaurants before arriving in the Walking City, I was on the hunt for menus that featured premium dishes using locally-sourced ingredients and offered a variety of gluten-free options, as my travel companion suffers from a gluten intolerance. This is a summary of my favorite spots from Day One.

 
Fomu1
Fomu2
Fomu3.JPG

1. [Fomu] Ice Cream

One word: AMAZING. If you travel to Boston and are following a Paleo diet, have dietary restrictions or food allergies, then I highly suggest you make the trip out of town for a treat at Fomu. You won’t regret it!  This locally made, all-natural, dairy-free ice cream shop has two locations in Boston, MA. We visited the one in Allston (two times because it was that good.) Their signature ice cream is made from scratch using coconut milk and then sweetened with unrefined cane sugar and agave. It is churned using little air to create a gelato-like consistency. They have endless flavors to pick from and if you are bad at making decisions the friendly staff were quick to offer up samples! They also make from-scratch, premium, plant-based baked goods and have a variety of gluten-free, nut-free, and soy-free options. I highly recommend getting a gluten-free ice cream sandwich if you stop by, which are always conveniently stocked in a refrigerated area of the store. I could eat this stuff all day!

What we ate:

  • Mint Chip Ice Cream Sandwich (gluten-free, dairy-free)
  • Coconut Magic Bar Ice Cream (gluten-free, dairy-free)
  • Affogato – Peanut Butter Chip Ice Cream topped with Expresso (gluten-free, dairy-free)

My Menu Favorite

  • Coconut Magic Bar Ice Cream - I had it twice!
 

2. Lonestar Taco Bar

Located conveniently beside Fomu ice cream shop is this awesome little taco bar called Lonestar. This was our first meal when we arrived in Boston and it definitely didn’t disappoint.  We started with the 'best margaritas in Boston' and finished with very full stomachs! The owners of Deep Ellum, a well-known modern American bar located next door in Allston, opened Lonestar in 2012. The menu features house roasted, smoked, pickled, and fresh chilis, hand-made masa harina gluten-free corn tortillas, slow-cooked pork carnitas, and mesquite-smoked beef barbacoa, just to name a few. The food was delicious and the staff were very welcoming!  I'm looking forward to trying out their sister restaurant Deep Ellum someday when I return. All-in-all a perfect start to our eating get-away.

What we ate:

  • The Lonestar Margarita
  • Victory Club Nachos, the original 1949 bar snack.
  • Carnitas Pork Taco - confit pork shoulder, salsa verde, cilantro, queso fresco
  • Taco special - beef Barbacoa - Smoked brisket, pickled red onion, avocado crema, cotija  

My Menu Favourite

  • Victory Club Nachos – these delicious house-made chips were topped with crema sauce, nappa cabbage, Cotija cheese, pickled jalapenos and a few dabs of guacamole. If you want to read a whole review on just the nachos click here.
 
Russell1
Russell2

3. Russell House Tavern

Located in Boston’s Harvard Square is a modern American tavern serving up seasonally inspired, classic dishes. Russell House is the perfect spot for any occasion, whether it's lunch on the patio or a romantic dinner. The menu features dishes such as a crispy soft poached chip-in farm egg with pecorino aioli, crispy pig's head cake with a soft poached egg and ginger-maple aioli, and local Berkshire pork trio with herb-grilled loin, confit belly, smoked shoulder, Anson Mills grits and sauce vinegar. They also prepared some amazing cocktails and desserts! We would have loved to get a seat out in the alley patio, but when we arrived it was already full of people.

What we ate:

  • Maine Family Farms Steak Tartare with Toasted Caper Brioche, Quail Egg Yolk
  • House Charcuterie Board with Chicken Liver Paté, Smoked Fish Rillette, Smoked Pork Rillette, Seasonal Accompaniments, Daily Selection of House-Cured Meats
  • Maine Rock Shrimp Salad with Smoked Tomato Aioli, Avocado, Crispy Tortilla
  • Flourless Chocolate Cake with White Chocolate Ice Cream, Cherry Gastrique

My Menu Favourite

  • Flourless Chocolate Cake with White Chocolate Ice Cream, Cherry Gastrique – We inhaled this in less then three minutes.

DIY: ‘Make-Your-Own’ Ice Cream Sundae Kit

I’m famous on Pinterest! Well almost…2,291 're-pins' and 192 'likes' technically makes you Pinterest famous right?!

This idea came to me a few summers ago, while picking my brain trying to figure out what to give my 6-year-old neighbor as a birthday gift. As a creative gift-giving individual, I didn’t feel like running down to Walmart and grabbing any regular toy off the shelf. I wanted to give something unique that would bring that WOW factor to her little face. I thought to myself, “What do kids LOVE more then anything?” That’s right, ice cream and junk food! Don’t get me wrong – I love to promote a healthy lifestyle and I understand the importance of good nutrition – but sometimes you just need to indulge, love life, and let kids be kids!

I had seen a few other ‘Make-Your-Own’ Ice Cream Sundae Kits floating around in the world of Pinterest, but none quite suited what I was looking for. Since this was for a younger audience, I wanted to use bright colors and a variety of candy for the kids to pick from. Bulk Barn and Dollarama were amazing resources for this DIY gift!

Here’s what you need to create your own:

  • A tub, box or decorative container to hold your ingredients
  • Cones, waffle cones or waffle bowls
  • Sundae toppings (gummies, chocolates, peanut butter chips etc.)
  • Sundae sauce (caramel, strawberry, chocolate etc.)
  • Sprinkles, of course!
  • Gift tags
  • Clear cellophane bags
  • Ribbon
  • Tissue paper
  • Ice cream on stand-by in the freezer

After gathering all my materials, I carefully wrapped the ingredients in cellophane bags, hand-wrote a gift tag for each and tied them up with a ribbon. I placed some tissue in the bottom to keep the ingredients standing up straight and arranged everything neatly inside the plastic tub.

Let me tell you, this present was as popular as the first batch of freshly baked donuts at a bakery. There was cheering, yelling, excited dancing and possibly even some tears over this basket. Something to be wary of – this neatly-put-together and carefully designed gift will be destroyed by a group of hungry, sugar-crazed children in two seconds flat. So once you are finished getting your kit together, take a few minutes to admire all your hard work and get a couple of good photos before you throw it into the wolf pack.


Use labeled mason jars to hold toppings.

Use labeled mason jars to hold toppings.

Washi tape can be used to close your cellophane bags and add a punch of colour to your kit. It goes nicely with brown cardstock textures.

Washi tape can be used to close your cellophane bags and add a punch of colour to your kit. It goes nicely with brown cardstock textures.

A tin pail would be a great container to hold all of your ingredients.

A tin pail would be a great container to hold all of your ingredients.

Here are some other kits I looked at on Pinterest for inspiration before assembling mine. These would be more suitable for an adult with an avid sweet tooth.
 

An evening of food and drink in the city

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Weslodge's Wagyu Hot Dog & Patria's Seafood Paella

Weslodge's Wagyu Hot Dog & Patria's Seafood Paella

The Harbord Room's pistachio and olive oil cake minus the strawberry ice cream which I ate on the side.

The Harbord Room's pistachio and olive oil cake minus the strawberry ice cream which I ate on the side.

Sullivan & Bleeker Jar Cakes

Sullivan & Bleeker Jar Cakes

For the past few weeks I have been anxiously awaiting to attend the Taste of Toronto event in Fort York, Toronto, Ontario. If you haven't already realized, I consider myself to be somewhat of a foodie – ok, maybe a HUGE foodie. Taste of Toronto is a four-day foodie wonderland featuring 14 of the city's hottest restaurants serving up some of their most popular dishes. It also included an outdoor market area with over 50 food and beverage vendors. 

If your idea of a fun Saturday afternoon includes stuffing your face with the most delicious food and drink in the city for four hours straight and then laying in a food coma for the rest of the night, then this is the festival for you! Four dinners, two desserts and countless samples later, I can say that I thoroughly enjoyed the festival from beginning to end.

As I entered the festival grounds, I was immediately overwhelmed by the amount of vendors. Where to start? What to try first? It was essential to map out a plan of attack. I was especially surprised by the amount of vendors handing out FREE food. What’s better then getting a bunch of free food? Nothing! I tried everything from aged cheese to ginger beer, jerky and green juice. I was stuffed and slightly buzzed before dinner had even begun.

Some of my favorites included:

Fever-Tree's All-Natural Ginger Beer

Anne Payne's Caveman Foods Ltd. Raw Tibicos Black Pepper Flavour

Krave's Black Cherry Barbecue Pork Jerky

Belvoir Fruit Farm's Elderflower Presse

Blue Goose's Spinach & Raclette Cheese Chicken Sausage

After we made our way around the vendors, it was finally time to eat! Wait, what had we just been doing for the past hour? Shhhhh.... those were appetizers.

After a thorough glance through each vendor's menu, it was pretty much impossible to pick only one dinner and one dessert – so we didn't. Might as well go all-in, right? Here's what we tried:

Barque Smokehouse's Rack O'Bama Baby Back Ribs (rubbed, smoked, and basted) and served with a potato, corn, and candied smoked bacon salad. These ribs were AH-mazing. That being said, I could have done without the potato salad. I'm not really a 'drenched-in-grainy-mustard' type. Needless to say, the ribs pulled through and made this dish my favorite of the night! 

Weslodge's Wagyu Hot Dog with a house bun, beet mustard, beef cheek marmalade. Mmmm beet mustard, I think I need to try making this! 

The Harbord Room's Pistachio and Olive Oil Cake, served with preserved Ontario strawberries, strawberry ice cream and crumbled meringue. Fresh strawberries and homemade ice cream, who doesn't like that? This was my first experience with olive oil cake and it was quite good. Not to sweet and paired with the pistachios it had the perfect crunch.

Patria's Seafood Paella with bacalao mussels, shrimp, bay scallops, fish, peas, crispy Serrano. As someone who has never really been keen on seafood until recently I was a little unsure of what to expect, however this dish turned out to be quite a pleasant surprise! A little cold by the time we received our dish, but the staff at Patria were doing their best to keep up with a very large crowd.

Barque Smokehouse's Chicken Wings. Smoked dry rub chicken wings served with pickled watermelon. Unfortunately, next to the ribs these wings just didn't quite do it for me. A little too dry and spicy, but of course I still gobbled them up!

Other honorable mentions from the festival:

Sullivan & Bleeker's jar cakes - too cute! I'm a sucker.
Coffin Ridge's Forbidden Dry Cider

Freshly baked cupcakes 24/7...yes please!

Sprinkles Cupcakes opened their doors in 2005 on Little Santa Monica Boulevard in Beverly Hills as the world's first cupcake bakery. After nine years and continued success, it is no surprise that today they operate 12 locations spanning across the USA.

What's better then a whole store dedicated to the sale of delicious cupcakes you ask? How about an ATM outside the store that dispenses cupcakes on-demand, 24 hours a day, seven days a week! This little machine can bring a smile to anyone's – and I mean anyone's – face! This automatic-happiness machine holds over 600 freshly-baked cupcakes and is continuously restocked all day long. All you need to do is select a flavor on the touch screen monitor, insert your credit card and wait patiently until the small door rises and unveils your perfectly packaged cupcake, voila!

Out for a walk with the dog? Sprinkles has that covered too! While you're deciding which delicious flavor you would like to try, go ahead and order little Raxo his very own doggie cupcake.

Gluten-free or vegan? Rejoice!
Sprinkles stocks the ATMs full of their traditional red velvet cupcake in the gluten-free or vegan variety. I can confirm that the vegan red velvet is hands-down one of the best cupcakes I've ever had (to date). I barely managed to make it one block down the street before taking a seat on the curb and devouring the whole thing.

Not into red velvet and don't have any dietary restrictions? Then the cards are in your flavor...oops I mean favor. But seriously, I'm glad I only had one flavor to pick from or I would have been standing there for days. Is it even possible to pick between a S'mores and a Peanut Butter Chip cupcake? Not to mention the other 15 flavors that popped up on the screen. It's safe to say that there is something for everyone.

So where can you find one of these on-demand cupcake dispensing machines? I hunted this one down in Chicago, Illinois, but others can be found in California, Georgia, Nevada, New York, and Texas.

Source: http://www.sprinkles.com/cupcake-atm