Monday, April 29, 2013

Let Them Eat Cake at Sweet Beginnings!

My judging clipboard; Best Decorated Cupcakes - adorable little shoes! Best Decorated Cake, and the row of cakes I was assigned to judge ... :)

I was thrilled to be one of the judges for the Perry Nursery School's annual fundraiser, Sweet Beginnings, last week. My category was "Best Tasting Cake" - gee, what a rough job, huh??? Taste three carrot cakes, a banana cake, two chocolate cakes, a pineapple cake, and an angel food cake ... whee!

So after assessing appearance, moistness, texture, uniqueness, and flavor, the "Best Tasting Cake" category was won by Perry's staff social worker Kathy Manta, for her carrot cake ... sigh ... :)

Winners in the other categories were:

Best Decorated Cupcakes: Rachel Stewart
Best Decorated Cake: Cheryl Baryo
Best Tasting Cupcakes: Pat Hutchins

There was also an amazing buffet, served by Fabulous Food, Inc.:

The Perry Nursery School is such a tremendously good cause, and I'm proud to do whatever I can to support them (primarily through publicizing this grand party; I wish I had more time, so I could actually volunteer there, too). Adorable at-risk preschoolers from low-income families - "the working poor," as Executive Director Sandy Hilton phrased it while speaking at the event - often with single parents or being raised by grandparents, come to Perry and are given pre-/post-school care, a good lunch, an education, counseling and, most importantly, love. They and their families are supported in many ways, far beyond just the three proverbial "R"s and learning to play well with others. Perry accomplishes a tremendous amount with limited resources, and so it's wonderful to attend Sweet Beginnings and find so many dedicated supporters, staff, volunteers, and others who work so hard to raise money to meet the students' and schools' needs.

Sweet Beginnings also offered a cooking demonstration by French chef Brigitte Romero, a cake walk (with the assortment of beautifully decorated cakes offered as prizes), a raffle, a cupcake tower-building competition, and a silent auction with prizes ranging from a handmade stained glass decoration to a Japanese tea set and from a golf outing to a culinary trip to Paris. I was thrilled to have the "buy it now" option, rather than agonizing over whether I'd win my chosen item and having to babysit it all night, and happily went home with a brand new cupcake carrier (something I didn't have and needed desperately!) and adorable little cupcake plates - perfect for serving, for using as a butter dish, and for taking pictures for ye olde blog!

Lucy Ann Lance, local DJ and community supporter extraordinaire, was the evening's emcee and did an amazing job keeping things lively. She gave some of the older children who attended the event an opportunity to shine by giving them chances to describe raffle items or choose winning tickets, which made things so much fun for everyone. MUCH credit goes to Perry's Development Director, Sandy Williams, for organizing this exceptional event - it was fabulous! I'm honored to have been invited to judge two years in a row, and am looking so forward to continuing to support Perry Nursery School!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Frugal Floozie Friday - The People's Food Co-op

It's Ann Arbor Veg Week, so it made perfect sense to feature The People's Food Co-op today. It's an Ann Arbor institution which offers many creative and delicious vegetarian and vegan options both for dining in and for take-out. There are so many, many ways to eat well here while staying within our mandatory Frugal Floozie Friday budget of $5 per person.

As pictured above, there is an entire array of salads, vegetables, pastas, and other dishes to choose from, all charged by the pound so you can select smaller or larger servings and prices to suit your appetite and/or your finances.

I picked one of my favorites, the Sesame Cashew Noodles that are cooked perfectly and offer great spicy flavor, paying only $2.66 for this generous serving. Since the Co-op is part grocery store, part buffet, part deli, and part coffee shop (Cafe Verde), I was able to wander to the produce section and select a lovely organic Braeburn apple to complement my entree; it cost 80 cents. The miniature chocolate bars normally cost $1.29, which would have taken my total to $4.75 if I'd been shopping at a different time; but I happened to be at the Co-op on a day when the treats were on a 2-for-1 sale, which made this an even better deal! So I was able to purchase a nutritious, wholesome meal for a quick take-out - and even a luxurious dessert - and still stay within our limited budget.

You could also choose potato chips, available for only 99 cents; and Blue Sky sodas, if you want something to drink besides water, cost 79 cents. A large bowl of soup can be enjoyed for only $3.99, or a cup costs $2.75. Large handmade cookies tempt you for only $1.99. There are countless ways to mix 'n' match a meal for $5 or less.

The co-op offers Fair Trade, organic, and locally-sourced items, as well as cooking from scratch; so whatever you choose will not only taste good but do good, as well.

Cafe Verde, the coffee shop connected to the co-op, offers coffees, teas, juices, and a beautiful assortment of baked goods and pastries for varying prices. If you're looking just for a luscious treat - particularly if you are on any sort of restricted diet (vegan, gluten-free, allergies, etc.), you will likely be able to find an option. The co-op is very careful and conscientious about its ingredients and about everything it sells. (And when it's not Veg Week, feel free to choose some of the meat-based selections, as well.)

At any time, The People's Food Co-op can be a wonderful local resource for good food and good prices.

The People's Food Co-op
216 N. Fourth Avenue
Ann Arbor, MI 48104

Monday - Saturday: 8 a.m. - 10 p.m.
Sunday: 9 a.m. - 10 p.m.

Food Bar:
Salad & Soups: 9 a.m. – 9 p.m. daily
Hot Bar: 11 a.m. – 8 p.m. weekdays, 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. weekends

Cafe Verde:
Monday - Saturday: 7 a.m. - 9:30 p.m.
Sunday: 9 a.m. - 8 p.m.

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Cafe Verde on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Chocolate-Covered Strawberry Kugel ... and it's vegan!

Anyone who's been following along on my adventures knows I believe firmly that kugel [KOO-guhl] is one of the great foods in the universe. There are savory versions; but to me, kugel is a sweet, creamy, luscious noodle pudding ... consummate comfort food. And that, of course, makes it perfect for breakfast, for brunch, as an accompaniment to lunch, as a partner for afternoon tea, for dessert ....

I've made numerous varieties of kugel over the years - chocolate and cherry, apple and almond (which is probably my most requested recipe). They all contain rich dairy products, to make them utterly decadent.

In honor of Ann Arbor Veg Week, which started on Monday, I've taken a pledge to eat a vegetarian diet until Sunday. And as part of that commitment, I'm trying to make some vegan dishes, as well - not just ones that are inherently meat- and dairy-free, but attempts to make healthier versions of beloved favorites.

While I was contemplating what to write about for my meat-free posts, my friend/co-worker Karan brought some kugel for the office staff at lunchtime one day - it was still warm from the oven, fragrant, delicious. And it was then, while enjoying this consummate dairy dish, that I had an epiphany:

Make a vegan kugel. No sour cream. No cottage cheese. No butter. No eggs. No animal products at all.

Vegan. Kugel. These aren't words that would normally play nicely together in my vocabulary. But I like a challenge, and so off I went on my little diversion!

I made sure to buy egg-free noodles, and I knew that I couldn't use eggs to bind the ingredients together, either. I bought Tofutti non-hydrogenated sour cream, and I also bought soymilk-based yogurt. As I perused the various flavors, I chose strawberry because I had yet another epiphany: the traditional crumb topping could be made with chocolate Cheerios and chocolate graham crackers to make a dish inspired by a chocolate-covered strawberry!

I boiled, I stirred, I baked, I waited. Once the kugel cooled enough to taste it, Jeremy was a willing guinea pig. He told me that if I hadn't told him it was vegan, he would never have known that there was anything unusual about the dish. It offered the expected creaminess and crunch, and his favorite bites contained bits of fresh strawberries. He really enjoyed it!

And the best part about this? Almost everyone else can enjoy it, too, no matter their dietary issues or preferences. Use gluten-free noodles, and you've likely met requirements for everyone!

Chocolate-Covered Strawberry Kugel

1 12-ounce package egg-free noodles
1 12-ounce container Tofutti sour cream
2 5.3-ounce containers Silk dairy-free strawberry yogurt
1/3 cup sugar
pinch of kosher salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups chopped strawberries

2 rectangles chocolate graham crackers
2 cups chocolate Cheerios
1/3 cup brown sugar
pinch of cinnamon
1/3 cup margarine, melted

Preheat oven to 400F. Grease a 3-quart casserole dish.

Prepare noodles according to package directions; drain.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together sour cream, yogurt, sugar, salt, vanilla, and strawberries. Add noodles, stir to combine, and pour noodles into prepared casserole dish.

Grind graham crackers and Cheerios into crumbs; place into a medium mixing bowl. Stir in brown sugar and cinnamon, then stir in margarine with a fork until crumbs are moistened. Place crumbs over the noodles, and bake for 30 minutes until topping is toasted and the noodle layer is bubbly.

Let cool, then serve.

Makes 12 generous servings.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Moroccan Chickpea Stew with Preserved Lemon

My good friend Deborah gave me a beautiful gift, recently: preserved lemons. She had written to me awhile ago to say that she had a bounty of riches, with too many lemons to use. What could she do with them?

I suggested pie, of course, because one can never, ever go wrong with pie. I happen to adore lemon pie (not that I was hinting!). But that wouldn't use up very many of the fruits.

So then I dared to offer the notion of preserved lemons, a classic of Moroccan cuisine, that are brined and sometimes spiced. Essentially, they are lemon pickles. Not too many folks would think this was a viable option, but Deborah is an adventurous cook who cares deeply about ingredients. She was the perfect person for this project!

Deborah happily accepted the challenge, and then very generously shared the results with me. So, of course, I delved into cooking something novel and exotic with this novel and exotic item.

I happen to be a huge fan of Moroccan food - stews, lamb, chicken, dried fruits, salads, breads, mint tea, and spices. But I've never made my own preserved lemons before, so I'd never had an opportunity to use them.

So I assembled my collection of ingredients and started cooking. Even though I own an authentic tagine [tah-ZHEEN] - a terra cotta cooking pot, and also the name of the stews cooked within them - I simply used a large skillet, figuring that it would be more readily found in others' kitchens than the more esoteric cookware; then I wouldn't have to worry about accommodating timing differences for cooking in the different utensils, etc. But, of course, I had to serve this in the right vessel!

With many thanks to Deborah for inspiring, and contributing to, this spicy, flavorful dish in honor of Ann Arbor Veg Week which begins today. I have signed a pledge to eat a vegetarian/vegan diet this week, and this is a lovely way to start things off! And also with thanks to my friends Rob and Ellen, for the lovely gift certificate to Spice Merchants, a beautiful store where I was able to buy the fragrant Moroccan spice blend I also used to make this dish.

Moroccan Chickpea Stew with Preserved Lemon

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 small red onion, chopped
1 small red pepper, chopped
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon Spice Merchants Moroccan Blend (contains garlic, onion, chilies, salt)
2 tablespoons garlic paste
1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes with jalapeno peppers
1 15.5-ounce can chickpeas, drained, rinsed
1 cup chopped sweet potato
1/2 preserved lemon, chopped fine
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
couscous, for serving

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, pepper, cumin, paprika, red pepper flakes, salt, and Moroccan spices; cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute.

Add the tomatoes, chickpeas, sweet potato, and lemon; bring to a boil, turn heat to low, cover, and cook for 45 minutes until most of the liquid has been absorbed. Sprinkle with parsley.

Serve over couscous.

Makes 4 servings.

Note: If you don't have any preserved lemons, or any friends who will share theirs with you, I think a spritz of lemon juice and some finely grated lemon zest would be good substitutes.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Frugal Floozie Friday - Mary's Fabulous Chicken and Fish

As with so many restaurants around town, I'd driven past Mary's Fabulous Chicken and Fish dozens of times, always thinking, "I need to try that place!" Not only does it bear my name, but how many times do I use superlatives like "fabulous"? Just as there is undoubtedly a drinking game that encourages a swig every time Guy Fieri says "Winner, winner, chicken dinner" on "Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives," when I get my own show on the Food Network there will be a drinking game - sips of coffee only, though; I can't condone anything stronger - associated with my effusive adjectives.

But I digress ....

Jeremy and I went out to lunch on our first really truly Spring-y day recently, with no coats, sunglasses on, windows open. And as we drove past Mary's, we decided the time had come to try it.

The menu is fairly extensive, with many family-friendly dinner packages available. There are also frugal options that meet our mandatory $5 per person budget.

Jeremy ordered the cheesesteak hoagie, asking for no peppers (which he loathes), for $4.99. A foot-long sandwich, it was generously filled with meat and was a hearty lunch.

I ordered the two-piece chicken luncheon special, also for $4.99, which offered chicken, mashed potatoes with gravy, cole slaw, and a roll. It was a good-sized lunch, with all the traditional fixin's.

Other options that come in under the $5 budget are a two-piece fish plate with fries for $4.99, a ten-piece order of chicken nuggets for $2.89, and a variety of chicken snacks - mix 'n' match wings, thighs, or breasts - ranging in price from $2.59-$3.95. You can even choose a large order of gizzards (which was selected for take-out as we ate) for $3.99.

There's a table to sit at; but the bulk of the business is clearly take-out, as four different orders were placed and filled as Jeremy and I sat and enjoyed our meal.

Mary's does make good chicken, and it's worth stopping by to get some.

Mary's Fabulous Chicken and Fish
3220 Packard
Ann Arbor, MI 48108

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Mary's Fabulous Chicken on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

A is for Apples ... à la Mode

Just a lovely little thrift shop find. Left it there after taking this picture, went back the next week and brought it home; it was waiting for me ... :)

Monday, April 15, 2013

Detroit-Style Pizza

I read an article in the Detroit Free Press recently that talked about how pizza from this area is starting to get recognition around the country. Everyone knows the famous New York City foldable slice that I grew up eating, the Chicago deep-dish pie, and the unconventional and quirky toppings of California-style pizza.

But pizza from Detroit? Huh? Don't they call that Little Caesar's or Domino's, both of which were founded here in Michigan?

Not exactly.

The newfangled pizzas were apparently first made in this area at Buddy's Pizza (then called "Buddy's Rendezvous") in 1946. The unusual style, and its immense popularity, inspired others to copy it and perfect it. The pizza has subsequently evolved and become very distinctive and unbelievably good. It really is its own unique, savory entity.

So, after all of this preamble, what, precisely, is Detroit-style pizza???

Well, here are its characteristics:

  • It's square, not round. Corners are prized.
  • It's baked in a deep pan, so it's very thick.  But while the interior of the crust is soft and light, the exterior is crisp.
  • The toppings and the cheese are distributed over the entire crust, without leaving a bare edge. This allows the cheese that touches the pan to become chewy, crunchy, and caramelized as it bakes.
  • Most of the sauce is spread over the cheese, rather than lying under it. This makes it less liquid, and thus better integrated with the toppings rather than being a separate layer that the cheese will just slide off of.

Brandon Hunt, co-owner with his brother, Zane, of VIA 313: Authentic Detroit Style Pizza in Austin, was quoted in the Free Press article: "When you grow up in Detroit, you just think that's pizza ... that everybody knows it. But it's really a Detroit thing. It's great, and we thought people should be able to experience it."

Shawn Randazzo, of the Detroit Style Pizza Co., won the 2012 Las Vegas International Pizza Expo with a Detroit-style pizza, a first for the competition. Jeff Smokevitch, raised in a Detroit suburb but now making his hometown's unique pizza at his Brown Dog Pizza in Telluride, Colorado, came in 2nd overall in this year's contest.

To see if Detroit-style pizza is available near you, or to learn more about this growing phenomenon, check out Shawn Randazzo's

Or make the pizza in the picture at the top of this post. You know you want some!

Detroit-Style Pizza

  • 2 packets quick-rise yeast
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1-1/2 cups warm water, divided
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 3-1/2 cups unbleached flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 cup oil

In a large mixing bowl, combine yeast, sugar, and 3/4 cup water; let proof for 10 minutes. Stir in remaining water, salt, 3 cups flour, and garlic powder. Mix well. Turn dough out onto a countertop and knead in the remaining 1/2 cup flour until a soft dough forms.

Place the oil in another large mixing bowl. Place the dough into it, turning to coat the dough thoroughly with the oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and a dish towel; let rise for 1 hour until doubled.

Punch down dough and place into a greased 9"x13" metal baking pan (the darker the better). Press dough to edges of pan, cover with plastic wrap and a dish towel; let rise for 1 hour until doubled.

  • 1 15-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoons pesto
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • generous sprinkling of red pepper flakes
  • pinch of kosher salt

Combine all ingredients.

  • 1 small red onion, chopped
  • 4 ounces ham, chopped
  • 4 ounces fresh mushrooms, chopped
  • 2 cups baby spinach leaves, chopped
  • 4 ounces fresh mozzarella, chopped
  • 8 ounces mozzarella, shredded
Preheat oven to 425F. Spread a very thin layer of the sauce over the dough.
Sprinkle each of the toppings over the sauce, spreading all the way to the edges. Drizzle just a bit more sauce over the toppings.
Sprinkle both cheeses over the top of the pizza, all the way to the edges.

Spread the rest of the sauce over the cheese and mix the sauce and cheese together just a bit.

Bake for 30 minutes until cheese is melted and golden, and edges are caramelized and crisp. Let cool for 5 minutes before cutting.

Makes 8-12 generous slices.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Frugal Floozie Friday - Bell's Diner

Bell's Diner, today's Frugal Floozie Friday feature, is a place which - as it states on its menu - invites you to "Call it your home." Very friendly, it's a great place to go for breakfast, lunch, or just to find "good, homemade food in a casual and cheerful atmosphere." It's an Ann Arbor institution.

Many, many options qualify for our mandatory $5 per person budget, and it's really hard to choose among them! But since Craig and I were there in the early afternoon, I was feeling more inclined towards lunch than towards breakfast.

Thus, I ordered the Deluxe Cheeseburger, which offered a choice of American, Cheddar, Swiss, or Jack cheese and was served with either fries or onion rings. Most places charge extra for an option other than the potatoes, but this full plate of food fell perfectly within our limit at $4.99.

Craig ordered breakfast, as he's a traditional kinda guy when it comes to food and this was his first meal of the day. While his generously-filled plate snuck just above our limit to $5.29, you can order this entire meal without the hash browns - thus, "2 eggs with bacon, sausage, or ham and toast" - for a mere $4.59. It was so much food that Craig even shared some of the bacon to supplement my cheeseburger!

Some other choices include homemade sausage gravy with a biscuit for $3.59; two large pancakes with one egg for $4.29; or a three-egg cheese omelette served with toast for $4.59.

Regular sandwiches (served with potato chips, pickles, and cole slaw) that meet our budgetary limit include the grilled cheese, the egg salad, the BLT, the hot dog, and the Coney Island. Deluxe sandwiches (served with lettuce, fries or onion rings, cole slaw, and pickles) that qualify are the grilled cheese, the egg salad, and the hot dog.

All of the regular burgers (same terms as the sandwiches, above) are great frugal options; or you can order a deluxe hamburger or cheeseburger.

One of the many great aspects of Bell's is that it serves both diner food and also Korean classics. So you can even enjoy a six-piece plate of Mandoo - "seasoned vegetables wrapped in pasta and deep fried" - with sweet and sour sauce for only $3.99.

If you just want dessert and a cup of coffee, Bell's offers fresh pie for $2.49, or enjoy it a la mode for $3.49. A hot fudge sundae also costs $3.49.

Stop by Bell's for a warm welcome, a cozy atmosphere, and great food for very inexpensive prices!

Bell's Diner
2167 W. Stadium Blvd.
Ann Arbor, MI 48103
Monday: 6:30 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Tuesday - Saturday: 6:30 a.m. - 8:30 p.m.
Sunday: 8 a.m. - 8:30 p.m.

View Larger Map

Bell's Diner on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Still in the Thrift Shops with Rosie

Still playing the game of searching for copies of this book at thrift shops ... ;) For the history of this perverse little amusement of mine, click here.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Michigan Maize 'n' Blue 3-Pointer Pound Cake

I am admittedly not a basketball fan. However, even I can manage to care about basketball when Michigan makes it to the Final Four in the NCAA Tournament, and - especially - when they make it to the Championship Game. Yes, indeed - the Wolverines, who haven't earned a place in the final round since 1993 (and haven't won it all since 1989), are playing for some mighty big stakes tonight against Louisville!

And so, of course, we've got celebratory food to offer!

Baseball, as we all know, is famous for hot dogs, and also for the "peanuts and Cracker Jack" of song. Everyone anticipates subs, nachos, chili, and other hearty foods for football games.

Basketball, however, doesn't seem to have any iconic food. And so, I had some choices to sort through and some decisions to make ... not my strong suit!

But Michigan has been wearing "Rise to the Occasion" shirts, which inspired me. Souffles rise, but they're too prissy for a sporting event. Bread rises, and I do love to bake it; but it's also a bit time-consuming.

But you know what else rises? Cakes. Cakes rise beautifully, and are especially tall when you serve one with three layers in honor of the 3-pointer that Michigan point guard Trey Burke shot last week to tie the game with Kansas, leading to a win in overtime. The rest, as they say, is history: Elite Eight, Final Four, the last two standing.

Here's hoping Michigan makes history tonight, too, and claims that championship. Hey, even Hugh Jackman has been rooting for the Wolverines on Twitter:

This is Wolverine saying “c’mon univ. of mich wolverines!!! This is your year. Trey…crush it BUB!

Hail to the Victors!

Michigan Maize 'n' Blue 3-Pointer Pound Cake

1 small pound cake
softened butter
3/4 cup blueberry spreadable fruit
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon half-and-half
colored sprinkles

Carefully slice the pound cake lengthwise, cutting off a 1/2" layer; place the bottom layer onto a serving tray and schmear with a very thin layer of butter to keep the jam from seeping in. Spread half the jam over the butter.

Slice another 1/2" layer lengthwise from the cake; lightly schmear both sides, then place it on top of the bottom layer. Spread the remaining jam over the butter.

Lightly schmear some butter onto the cut side of the remaining layer of cake, then place it on top of the rest of the cake.

Whisk together the confectioners' sugar and the half-and-half; drizzle over the top of the cake. Top with sprinkles and let glaze set.

Serves 6-8.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Frugal Floozie Friday - Taco King

Before heading off on a thrift shopping excursion, Craig and I stopped by Taco King to enjoy a quick lunch. There are a lot of items on the menu that meet our mandatory budget of $5 per person, and the portions are generous. We also ran into my friend Jen, whom I hadn't seen in ages, and her husband David. So stopping by this taqueria was a really nice way to start our afternoon.

You can order tacos for $1.75 each, or a Taco Supreme for $2. A quesadilla - "12 inch flour tortilla, with your choice of meat. Served with sour cream & lettuce" - or a vegetarian Chile Relleno cost an even $5. A tostada can be enjoyed for $3.50, and tamales will only set you back $2.50 (Central American style, wrapped in a banana leaf) or $2 (Mexican style, wrapped in a corn husk). The filling selections range from vegetarian to steak, tripe, chicken, several varieties of pork, beef tongue, chorizo, fish, and lamb ... a lot of choices!

I ordered the Daily Special, pictured above, which very helpfully made my decision-making process much easier. For $4.99, you can choose either two tacos, two tamales, or one of each; you can choose black or pinto beans; and you can choose the fillings for your tacos and/or tamales. I was told that only vegetarian tamales were available at the time we stopped by, and then I chose chicken for my taco filling

The taco was served with two tortillas, so I split the generous filling among them to essentially find myself with two tacos in addition to my tamal. I was unable to finish all of this, and invited Craig to share with me. He had ordered a vegetarian burrito, which was enormous, for $5.50. If you're willing to creep just a tad over our Frugal Floozie Friday budget, it's a great value.

Taco King is located at a counter in a Latin market, so you can also shop for goodies to take home - ready-made or ingredients to cook with - once you're done with lunch or dinner. And there are also freezers with ice cream treats, so dessert is available, too.

For fast, friendly service and a hearty meal, stop by Taco King.

Taco King
2231 West Liberty Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48103
Monday - Sunday: 10 a.m. - 9 p.m.

View Larger Map

Taco King on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Life Isn't Always Just a Bowl of Cherries

Never take the "bowl of cherries" moments for granted; relish them. There are still pits in those cherries, after all. A phone call, a momentary blip .... As another loved one phrased it, "the sunshine (can) be snatched away from you" in an instant.

But for today?  Life is, indeed, a bowl of beautiful cherries ... :)

Monday, April 1, 2013

Faygo Cupcakes for Opening Day!

I love baseball!

I whine every single year that Opening Day should be a national holiday. I inevitably rush home after work and manage to catch the bottom of the 9th, rather than getting to enjoy the entire game. Sure, I could take the day off - but really, there's stuff to do at work and that just seems a bit frivolous. I know others do it, or they call in sick, or they just sit at their desks watching games on rather than paying attention to what they should be. Thus, my annual proclamation that Opening Day should be a holiday!

But this year, I have the day off. One isn't permitted to work during the first two or the last two days of Passover; today is the 7th of Passover's 8 days, and thus a paid holiday for me since I work in the Jewish community ... yay!!! The Tigers take on the Twins in Minnesota this afternoon, and I get to watch the whole game ... whee!

So, in honor of this occasion, what festive food are we making? Baseball, hot dogs, peanuts, and Cracker Jacks all go together. I'm certainly not going to make my own hot dogs - that's a chore even I'm not fool enough to bother with! I can't grow my own peanuts up in the cold of Michigan. I could make my own Cracker Jacks, but I'm not a huge fan of popcorn so I'm disinclined to bother; it's so much easier to buy a small box and have the actual product on hand to bestow good luck upon the season.

Then I thought about cupcakes because ... well ... cupcakes are a good thing to think about! They make everyone happy. And since I had made ginger ale-infused Vernors Cupcakes last fall in honor of the Tigers representing the American League in the World Series, I thought I'd riff on that a bit and use another Detroit soda for today's recipe: Faygo, which comes in many flavors and colors, and can thus be coordinated with any team. (Admittedly, my cupcakes came out to be more Mets-colored than Tigers! But it's the thought that counts. Jeremy said they're "(Friggin') fantastic" and that they taste like Creamsicles; that's really all that matters.)

These festive cupcakes would also be perfect to serve on Friday, for the Tigers' home opener against the Yankees - my two favorite teams, having grown up in New York but having lived in Michigan since I was 16.

Baseball's back! I'm a happy, happy girl ... :)

Opening Day 2011

Opening Day 2012

Faygo Cupcakes

1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup orange Faygo soda
4 tablespoons oil
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 350F. Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. In a measuring cup, combine the soda, oil, vanilla, and eggs; whisk together.

Pour liquid ingredients into the bowl with the dry ingredients, and stir to combine. Divide the batter among the lined cups, and bake for 18-20 minutes until a tester comes out clean. Let cool completely.

1 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon blue food coloring
2 cups confectioners' sugar
3 tablespoons milk

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, combine the butter and food coloring. Slowly beat in 1 cup of the confectioners' sugar, then add milk; beat in remaining confectioners' sugar. Continue beating 'til frosting is the desired consistency.

Spread frosting onto cupcakes, then serve.

Makes 12 cupcakes.

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