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June 9th 2012 (Belmont Stakes, Elderflower Cucumber Cupcake)
“PeanutPimpMama’s cupcake was ******’ amazing ! After two bites I envisioned a paradise on earth, dare I say a Utopia-and it was beautiful. After the 4th bite, I had an ******** that lasted several hours. So tell PeanutPimpMama I liked it-thanks.”
I’m a Jersey girl and the seashore is an incredibly nostalgic place for my family and I. It’s something we look forward to all year long and we are lucky to live in a state that not only has great beaches, but a fantastic little culinary scene along with it! Ocean Grove reminds me of my G-Ma Pauline, and many family weekend visits after Sunday School. For starters, it’s not your normal Jersey Shore fist-pumping town. Developed by a Methodist Group in the 1860’s, this Victorian street lined village is known as “God’s square mile”. Visitors cannot stumble off the beach and enjoy a nice refreshing cocktail as it is a completely dry town prohibiting the sales of our tasty “social lubricant”. That said, food and drink offerings in the town are top of the line, assuring a return customer and solid experience. Just be prepared to B.Y.O.B!
An old apothecary, Nagle’s is located on Main Street in Ocean Grove, NJ. The windows are lined with medicine bottles and the wood paneled walls inside are adorned with family photos, newspaper clippings and artifacts from the “old days”. The menu offers nostalgic American dishes such as BLT’s, Reubens, Burgers and open-faced sandwiches. In an effort to get with the times (and without getting too fancy), they have added some “modern” dishes such as wrap sandwiches and salads that you can add your choice of seafood or meat to as well. Let’s not forget that Nagle’s is known for their breakfast menu and last but not least their extensive and classic list of desserts loaded with their famous ice cream. They have a convenient take-away window in the front so you can get your scoops without having to wait in the long line for the dining area. Nagle’s is where you go for your root beer float and to relive that classic 1950’s date, “Let’s go out for a Coca Cola!”. They will pour yours right from their old fashioned soda fountain.
On our sizzling Summer day in June, we decided to visit this Ocean Grove institution and start off with a root beer float. One would hope that without a cocktail in reach, this would be an impressive one and it was! There was a mountain of fuzzy foam on top of this vanilla ice cream beast that we slowly slurped with our ice cream clogged straw. In an attempt to keep it a light lunch experience, my boyfriend and I decided to share this float and indulged in some of their other tasty offerings.
He decided to go for the Buffalo Chicken Wrap which was accompanied by those good old fashioned (diner-style) crinkle cut fries. I can’t say that he rated this wrap very highly since his description was “bready with an overbearing sauce,” but considered it acceptable. To each their own, but when I eat Buffalo sauce I want it to set my mouth on fire and shoot smoke stacks from my ears. I always have a bottle of Frank’s Red Hot and Tabasco on hand, making it my mission in life to douse it on anything I can. I’m not so sure he’s on board with that, as he has a very refined palate…
I decided to go for the Salmon and Spinach salad with egg, tomato and cucumber dressing. I requested that they blacken the salmon since I saw it offered on the menu as an entrée. They were super accommodating with my request to substitute grilled for blackened. When I saw this mountain of greens with nice red Jersey tomatoes I was very excited and actually felt like I was doing something good for my body! Then I realized that the dressing (actually Tzatziki) was the creamy sauce used for kebabs and falafel and was not the cucumber dressing I was expecting on a salad. I decided to do a little mixology of my own to save this experience and to ease the calorie guilt. I asked for a side of their house balsamic vinnaigrette and combined the two (dip by dip) after salting down my tomatoes and eggs for some flavor. The fish was a tad fishy, but the blackened seasoning masked it well. I got through about half of it and decided to wrap up the rest. FYI they aren’t allowed to touch your food if you ask to take it home. That’s not the biggest deal if you have any strange restaurant phobias I suppose…
After any Nagle’s experience please make sure that you end it with ice cream! My peanutbutter milkshake made my day!
A week ago my cousin Erika was in town and sadly our Movies in the Park event at Bryant was rained out. After hosting our rooftop induction party for our new team mascot (TIM), we decided to check out a restaurant in the Upper East Side. Keeping in mind the weather was extremely hot that day, we were in search of clean flavors and a place that would offer a tasty and healthy meal. After Googling and Yelping my neighborhood, we decided to settle on Candle 79 based on its vegetarian and seemingly healthy offerings. This restaurant is not your ordinary Upper East Side establishment, offering gourmet vegan and vegetarian meals in a posh atmosphere with a sulfite-filled (yes filled) wine and cocktail bar. It’s actually quite the confusing but altogether delicious experience contradicting the theory that vegetarians can’t have fun with food.
Our server (name shall go unmentioned) was quite the talkative type that kept creating awkward moments. You would have rather he remained silent and distant. He was decently knowledgeable about the menu, but our educated foodie-eyes pretty much had our hearts set on what he deemed “the best” anyway. I must admit we were stumped when we found out that their Pad Thai was actually raw, so I would suggest asking for descriptions of dishes before ordering just to be safe. It’s amazing the picture the mind’s eye can put together when it comes to ordering off a vegetarian menu vs. what actually comes to the table.
After we ordered our bottle of white wine and some Allagash White beers, the chef sent out an amuse bouche for us. We were confused when we saw what appeared to be three Doritos arrive with tablespoon sized dollops of guacamole on top. After biting into our snacks, we discovered that the guacamole had bits of cucumber in it. To its credit it was a nice “Summery twist” to a guacamole recipe, but started the meal off on an odd note for what was to come. The prices on the menu definitely had your hopes up for a sophisticated vegetarian experience…
For our first appetizer we selected one of their daily specials: deep fried-goat cheese stuffed zucchini flowers served with stewed tomatoes, corn, asparagus, and soy beans. They reminded me of jalepeno poppers with their size, consistency, and texture. Obviously the flavor was way more mild with the goat cheese filling and of course lacking a pepper… in fact the more I think about it a pepper could have improved this situation greatly. Maybe that’s just because I want to make everything spicy in my life.
The second appetizer we indulged in was their stuffed avocado filled with quinoa, zucchini, black beans, corn, cucumber, radishes, toasted pumpkin seeds, and grape tomatoes served on a bed of baby greens, and topped with a chipotle-avocado dressing. This was the most simple and yet most impressive dish that came out that evening. It was colorful, tasty and all of the ingredients were in perfect proportions with just enough of the chipotle vinaigrette. For $16.00 it was a bit steep, but a must have if you decide to dine at Candle 79 on a hot Summer day.
For the main course we shared three dishes. The first dish was a large portion of the Saffron Lobster-Mushroom ravioli served with garlic sauteed spinach and filled with a cashew ricotta and finally topped with a truffled tomato sauce. When reading the menu the word Lobster was very appealing until you learn that they are just a type of mushroom. Evidently the Lobster Mushroom is a parasitic ascomycete that grows on mushrooms turning them reddish to resemble the outer shell of a cooked lobster. Known to have a seafood-like flavor and texture, they can even be somewhat spicy. I would give the dish an overall 8.5 in spite of the lobster-letdown. It was a very filling and well presented dish. The cashew ricotta even tasted like real ricotta!
Sometimes all of these vegetarian dishes can be a bit hard to breakdown leaving you the opposite of feeling “light”. In efforts to combat the veggie-bloat, we decided to go for the gazpacho. I do not want to discredit the gazpacho because I’ve never been a fan of cold tomato sauce in a bowl. Call me crazy, but my natural instinct is to throw it in the microwave and toss it onto some al-dente noodles. My cousin however being the gazpacho-aficionado that she is, happened to enjoy it thoroughly. I was glad. I left her with it.
Last but not least, our third dish for the main course was the Seitan Piccata. This dish did not fail my taste buds, and I would give it a solid 9. The Seitan was served on top of creamed spinach, grilled potato cakes, oyster mushrooms, and topped with a lemon-caper sauce. Since I am the (formerly known) vegetarian that I am, this dish came together well when I was envisioning it. Understanding the amazing chicken-like consistency that seitan can have if breaded and fried, I assumed it would soak up the flavors of the lemon-caper sauce very well and serve as a great contrast to the creamy goodness underneath. What I want to know now is how they formed that lovely skin with the breading normally caused by the egg coating, sans an egg??? I was right on, as the un-chicken tasted exactly like chicken!.
By the time we were ready for dessert there wasn’t much room left. I will leave the sweet stuff to your imagination.
All my life I have loved confetti cupcakes. We all know how they can bring you right back to second grade in a heartbeat. I love them so much that my cousin even baked my 26th birthday cake with “Funfetti”. I was definitely the only 26 year old in a bowling alley having a “bowling party” with a rainbow chip cake that year. There’s just something so magical about all of those little rainbow colored chips in the batter and something about them that just never tastes quite… well, cooked.
One of the customers came into work with some confetti cupcakes a couple weeks ago. Instantly I was inspired and excited to make these at home and somehow find a way to improve them. Using Father’s Day as an excuse (because my Dad loves sweets) I got right to it! Unable to get my hands on actual confetti (round) sprinkles, I substituted with good old fashioned ice cream Jimmies. Adding the Jimmies was the most exciting part of this recipe obviously. The rainbow was hypnotizing as the blender hit the batter.
I was quite shocked at how dense melting Jimmies made it when attempting to scoop batter into the cupcake wrappers. I was afraid for the over-beaten consistency, but in the end they came out of the oven like fluffy little Jerry-Garcia explosions.
While trying to figure out how to get that special Duncan-icing-like flavor, I added an entire package of Philadelphia cream cheese to the mix and that seemed to do the trick. Normally I use a pastry bag to apply my icing, but the consistency was so nice and thick I was able to use my icing spatula for application. Instead of adding the Jimmies to the icing as well, I topped them off with nonpareils because they are prettier – fact.
If you are interested in having your very own batch of PeanutPimpMama’s Confetti Cupcakes, please email your requests to: email@example.com.