Artsy Photo of the Day: Bearded Apple

It’s a tradition in our family to create caramel apples decorated in unique ways. And one apple every year is dedicated to me…and my beard. Since it is fuller than other years, my sister decided to go above and beyond. And I love it.

Can’t wait to eat it though…

Hashtag: #beardedmanforthewin

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Apple Cider Gone Wild! Top 10 Cider Recipes

I had my first real fall moment of the year this morning: drinking apple cider. The crisp, cool, thirst-quenching drink is the perfect inauguration for autumn.  You can have it with any meal, for a snack, or warm it up and froth it if you want to go frou-frou. But did you know it can be enjoyed in more than just a glass?

10. Apple Cider Gravy

Though a bold choice for Thanksgiving, a little sweetness may go a long way with your savory turkey. Not convinced? Have you ever put apples or cranberries in your stuffing? Or enjoy spreading some sweet cranberry sauce on your turkey sandwich? Well now your gravy can do you a personal, sweet, favor.

Recipe: Nourish Network

9. Apple Cider Upside-Down Cake

Summer is over. Pineapple is no longer the seasonal fruit, and apples are in. So what do you do with that huge bag of apples sitting in your garage? Make cake…apple cider upside-down cake.

Recipe: Mid-Century Menu

8. Apple Cider Caramel Cake

More cake. This time, adding some creamy icing and caramel will make this a true dessert. Think of it as an alternative to carrot cake. No chunks of orange…just smooth, sweet and creamy cake. Does it feel like fall for you yet?

Recipe: Simply Fine Living

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Endless Ice Cream: Cherry Whiskey Caramel

When I saw the Father’s Day cake from bakersroyale, I knew I had to make it. Actually, I made two. It was one of those fortuitous days where I had everything on hand for the recipe, plus a little extra. Have you ever eaten something that has left you breathless, wordless? That’s how I felt about this cake.  The combination of flavors was just perfect. So of course I had to convert it to ice cream form: almond flavored ice cream, with a salted caramel swirl and whiskey-soaked cherries. And while the ice cream didn’t leave me quite as stunned as that cake did, it is very, very delicious. The cherries can be made and refrigerated up to 3 days ahead, and the salted caramel sauce can be made up to 2 weeks ahead if you’re not up to tackling everything in one day.

Cherry Whiskey Caramel Ice Cream

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The Cure for Feeling Poor: Stuffed PayDay Cookies

Have you ever felt like you didn’t belong somewhere?  I think we all have.

You know what helps?  Cookies.  Cookies are magical and break down all social, political and economical barriers.  I wish I had some of these cookies last week when this happened.

So I spontaneously decided to head over to the Vera Bradley designer handbag store after work one day to shop for my mom’s birthday.  I entered the parking lot and started to have second thoughts.  Man, this mall was posh.  There was a strip of fancy boutiques and a freaking fountain (probably hand crafted in Italy or something).  I rolled through the parking lot in my car, which is an old, super-loud hand-me-down Buick from my grandmother.  Some ladies crossed the parking lot; they all had on white pants and flowing, flowery tunic shirts.  I looked down at my outfit.  Hmmm…starting to feel a little uncomfortable. My outfit consisted of workout capris, flip flops and a Paul Frank monkey shirt.  Let me explain.

My office has no dress code.  We do internal work that requires almost nobody visiting our office, so we wear what we want.  9 times out of 10 I am wearing workout clothes.  They are comfortable and sometimes I walk outside on my lunch break, so quit judging.

Yeah, so I sucked it up and went in the store.  No lie, I felt like Julia Roberts’ character in Pretty Woman.  Except not a hooker, just a poor person.  Um, all those ladies in and around the shop clearly made it their job to be impeccably groomed and coifed.

Nobody was rude or anything, but I felt out of place and like people were probably wondering why I was there.  I guarantee that if I came in with a tray of these bad boys that all my fashion faux pas-ing would have been forgotten.

By the way, I get the irony that I felt poor and Pay Day cookies would have helped.  Life just happens that way sometimes.

Stuffed PayDay Cookies

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The Endless Road Trip: Salt and Straw

We’re no strangers to crazy ice cream flavors here at ES, and let’s be real—in this brave new dessert world where salted caramel sundaes and olive oil ice cream have become the norm, a chef putting something insane inside your cone is not really newsworthy. HOWEVER, when I heard there is an ice cream shop in meat-mad Portland serving bone marrow ice cream, clearly I was there in a New York minute.

The bad news: Salt and Straw did not have the bone marrow flavor in stock on the day I visited, but really for the very best reason possible: they were waiting for cherry season to start, so that they could make a bone marrow-black cherry ice cream. Obvi.

The good news: I had enough friends with me to order up a smorgasbord of outrageous flavors: honey balsamic strawberry with cracked pepper, sea salt with caramel ribbons, coffee-bourbon, blue cheese and pear (!), honey-lavender, blood orange, and blueberry with key lime marmalade. All head-over-heels amazing. the sweet-and-savory balsamic-strawberry-pepper took top honors for me.

The better news:

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Cherry-Whiskey Upside Down Cake

I’m going through such a maniac state right now. I think my overloaded schedule has me in some sort of fit of always doing. Not that “doing” is actually resulting into anything productive. For instance if you follow me on Pinterest or Instagram, you see quite a bit of time has been sucked away admiring and trying to acheive some level of aestheticness that I’ve yet to figure out. What I have figured out is how to make a killer whiskey-loaded cake to impress the hell out of the dads in your life this Father’s Day.

Go ahead and show them that whiskey ain’t just for sipping or for licking. You truly can bite your whiskey with this cake. Here’s the quick rundown: the cake portion is tender and springy, not all all mushy as the bottoms of upside cakes can be. The whiskey gives the ensemble an extra subtle dimension that quiets the caramel topping and brings it in balance with the cake and fruity sweetness of the cherry.

If you like to bake, make this. If you don’t – well, there aren’t many times in your life where you can drink on the job, but in this case you totally can. Get in the kitchen and bake this for the dad(s) in your life, already.

Cherry  & Whiskey Upside Down Cake

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Are You a Supertaster?

For serious foodies, there’s nothing more embarrassing than being exposed as having a poor palate. Recently, I had a quite horrifying experience at Ample Hills Creamery in Brooklyn. Everyone in the borough has raved about their “salted crack caramel,” a deep, savory ice cream rich with the intense notes of burnt sugar. But when I finally tried Ample Hill’s caramel, I absolutely, 100% hated it. At first I thought there was something wrong with my spoon; that’s how much I disliked the strong, bitter taste of it. Even as three friends next to me all practically had a collective oral orgasm while shoving the ice cream into their faces, I couldn’t get the taste out of my mouth quickly enough. I went home and literally washed my mouth out. Not kidding.

What had happened? Is my palate too weak to support the taste of this cracked-out ice cream? Or…am I just a SUPERTASTER? Many of you have likely already heard about this concept. If not, here’s a brief intro from SupertasterTest.com:

Supertasters experience taste with far greater intensity than the average person. About 25 percent of Americans are supertasters, a group with an unusually high number of taste buds. If you love food more than most, you may have inherited supertaster genes.

Evidence suggests that supertasters are more sensitive to bitter tastes and fattiness in food, and often show lower acceptance of foods that are high in these taste qualities. Supertasters tend to dislike strong, bitter foods like raw broccoli, grapefruit juice, coffee and dark chocolate.

A-ha! So maybe it wasn’t a palate failure, but just an instance of my true taste bud elitism coming out. Clearly, the ES team needed to investigate this further. Armed with a packet of tests from Supertastertest.com, we got to work.

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