Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Overnight Apple Butter & Happy Holidays!

Please head over to my new blog at TheUrbanHousewife.com, where you'll find this post & more!

The holidays are officially here & some of us are still scrambling to find gifts or collect ingredients for the dish we want to impress family & friends with. Homemade gifts are a great way to show you care, not to mention they're environmentally friendly! I decided to try my hand at canning for the first time & opted to employ my crock pot to make Apple Butter for my friends & family. For those of you looking for a last minute gift, this may be the perfect match!

Overnight Apple Butter
4 1/2 lbs of apples, peeled, cored, & sliced (I used a mix of Granny Smith, Red Granny, Pink Lady, & Fuji)
1 cup Brown Sugar
1 cup Agave Nectar
1/4 cup Apple Cider Vinegar
2 Tbsp Cinnamon
1 Tbsp Vanilla Extract (I love Nielsen Massey!)
1/4 tsp Cloves (optional)

In a crock pot, add your sliced apples, then the rest of your ingredients.Mix well to cover apples in the spices & liquids.

Cook on low for 8 hours, until apples are soft & fragrant.

Using an immersion blender, puree the mixture until smooth or desired texture.

Turn the crock pot to high, remove the lid, & allow the mixture to simmer until thickened & reduced. This can take anywhere from 1 1/2 to 3 hours, depending on your desired thickness.

A wooden spoon should be able to stand in the mixture & when you put a dollop on a plate, liquid should not seep out.

This yields 6 to 8 cups of apple butter & is perfect for half pint mason jars.

My holiday celebrations have already started with a weekend trip to Southern California to see Ryan's family. At Ryan's request I made, White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies. They turned out flatter than I'd hoped, but that didn't stop them from being devoured, especially by Ryan & his friend Josh. Once I acquire more white chocolate chips, I'll have to make these again with some adjustments.

For dinner I made a dish I have been loving lately, Chipotle Chili With Sweet Potatoes And Brussels Sprouts. The recipe originally appeared on Isa's blog over at the PPK, but I love it so much, she gave me permission to re-post it on Eat. Drink. Better. This is an excellent dish to share with those with a fear of vegan food, as it lacks processed vegan ingredients & substitutions. Just tell everyone you made sweet potato chili & watch people gobble it up!

I hope everyone has a happy holiday season, whatever they may be doing. I'm not sure I'll get another post in before the new year, but I am look forward to another year of blogging & reading about delicious vegan food throughout all the seasons!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Gluten Free Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Whoopie Pies with Cream Cheese Filling

Please head over to my new blog at TheUrbanHousewife.com, where you'll find this post & more!

It all started with a sweets swap & a few attendees with a gluten allergy. As vegans, we all know what it's like to be the one left without options, so I decided to try to remedy that for the gluten free folks & try my hand at baking for them. It was my first time baking gluten free & luckily, it turned out! Moist, cakey pumpkin cookies were produced & in the end I decided they were best suited for whoopie pies. There's a lack of assembly photos, but regardless of that I wanted to post these for Kittee because she rules at life! While I used a mix of White Chocolate Chip & Dark Chocolate Chips, you can use whatever you have on hand. These would also be great with some chopped nuts!

Gluten Free Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Whoopie Pies
2 1/2 cups Bob's Red Mill All-Purpose Gluten-Free Baking Flour
1 tsp Baking Soda
1 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Xanthan Gum
1 Tbsp Cinnamon
1/2 tsp Nutmeg
1/4 tsp Allspice
A pinch of Salt

1/2 cup Earth Balance, melted
1 1/2 cups Sugar
1 1/4 cups Pumpkin Puree, canned or fresh
1 Tbsp Ener-G Egg Replacer mixed with 2 Tbsp Water
1 tsp Vanilla extract

2/3 cup Chocolate Chips (I used 1/3 cup white, 1/3 cup dark)
Optional: 1/4 cup Chopped Nuts of your choice

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees & prepare a sheet pan with a Silpat, parchment, or non-stick spray.

In a medium bowl, mix together the dry ingredients.

In a large bowl, mix together the wet ingredients.

Add the dry mixture to the wet, being careful not to overmix.

Fold in the chocolate chips & (optional) nuts.

On your prepared sheet pan make even scoops of your dough, leaving space for spreading. The dough will be soft & slightly tacky, so a small disher / scoop works well for this.

Bake at 350 degrees for 18 to 20 minutes, or until the edges are slightly browned.

Allow to cool completely before assembly.

Cream Cheese Filling
1/4 cup Earth Balance, softened
1/4 cup Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese, softened
2 cups Confectioners Sugar, sifted
1 tsp Vanilla extract

Beat together Earth Balance & Tofutti cream cheese until combined.

In small batches, add in the confectioners sugar until everything is smooth.

Beat in vanilla extract.

Take your cooled pumpkin cakes & pipe in or smooth on a large dollop of cream cheese filling, add another cake on top. Voilà, Whoopie Pies!

This recipe yields 12 to 16 whoopie pies, depending on your scoop size.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Farm Sanctuary FOR the Turkeys (with video) & a Sweets Swap!

Please head over to my new blog at TheUrbanHousewife.com, where you'll find this post & more!

Recently, friends & I attend the 9th annual FOR the Turkeys Celebration at Farm Sanctuary in Orland. It's always an amazing time being surrounded by like-minded people, but the best part is always the animals! It was a bright beautiful day, despite previous day being less than stellar. I had been looking forward to feeding turkeys ever since my last visit to the farm for the Hoe Down & I was not disappointed.

In addition to shelter time, we had a Thanksgiving inspired meal with hundreds of other animal lovers in the People Barn. Tofurkey & gravy, cranberry sauce, apple kale salad, & sweet potatoes, were just some of the dishes available, plus a choice of Apple or Pumpkin pie. I chose the apple & was very happy with my sweet selection!

The speakers included Gene Baur of Farm Sanctuary, Emily Deschanel of Bones, & Josh Hooten of Herbivore Clothing Company & Store in Portland, OR. I found myself especially inspired by Josh's talk on activism & it was the push I needed to stop resting on the laurels of Prop 2 passing & get back to action for the animals!

Lately, I've been having fun taking video at events, so I threw together a little segment on the day. This was shot with my little Canon Powershot & edited in Windows Movie Maker, so please bear with my amateur status. Enjoy!

This weekend we had the 2nd annual PPK Cookie Swap, although this time it included a few other sweets. I made a crazy layered dessert that was most recently called a "Peanut Butter Mousse, Custard, Whipped Cream, Chick-O-Stick, Brownie Trifle", so I'll roll with that. Yes, it was as insane & rich as it sounds! I also made an option for our gluten free attendees, Pumpkin Chocolate Chip, with both white & dark chips. They were very cakey & fluffy, not something I had expected for my 1st foray in to gluten free baking!

There were lots of treats to choose from like Crunchy Oat Cookies & Snickerdoodles from the Sisters Vegan, Fudge, Peanut Butter Cups, White Chocolate Macadamia cookies, Rum Balls, Caramel Popcorn Balls, Truffles, Butterscotch Oatmeal cookies sandwiched with Rum ice cream, Rice Krispie treats- oof! I have to stop, my tummy hurts all over again thinking about it! Needless to say, I consumed FAR too much & now find myself on a sugar detox. That being said, I'll always look forward to next year!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Thanksgiving, an Interview, & Green Options.

Please head over to my new blog at TheUrbanHousewife.com, where you'll find this post & more!

It's been a whirlwind lately! From a quick trip to New York City, a Farm Sanctuary bash, Holiday baking, & starting a new writing job, I haven't had much time to write about mi vida loca! While the NYC posts will likely start next week, for now I have some other things to share with you.

Thanksgiving was a quiet one this year. I didn't want to fuss with a big bash, so a friend & I had a small vegan potluck for those not spending the day with their family. The dishes ranged from classic to extravagant, such as a Seitan & Chard roulade with Cashew Cream, Roasted Brussels Sprouts & Butternut Squash, Stuffing with dried cranberries, mushrooms, & celery, Cranberry sauce, Cornbread, Butternut Squash Risotto, & Potatoes Anna.

For dessert, I made an Apple Pie cake, which was also the seasonal Thanksgiving special I made for Sugar Beat Sweets. The cake was Vanilla with a Cinnamon swirl, filled with Spiced Organic Pink Lady & Fuji Apples, & topped with Vanilla Bean Buttercream & a Caramel drizzle. While the picture was taken so quickly, it doesn't do it justice, it was enjoyed & we managed to eat most of it, despite our full bellies.

Recently, I did an interview for Vegan Nutritionista for her series of interviews with "Famous Vegans". I'm honored to be included with the great people she's written about so far! We talked about two of my favorite subjects, baking & travel! Check it out at Vegan-Nutritionista.com.

Finally, as I mentioned, I took a new job as a writer for Green Options, a network of eco sites. I'll be writing about everything from food & fashion to activism & animal rights. You can check out what I've written so far on my profile, as well as subscribe to a feed of my posts HERE.

One blog I plan to write a lot for is Eat. Drink. Better. which deals with sustainable food news & recipes, but I need your help! Posts like "Beyond Pie; 10 Savory Pumpkin Recipes" aren't possible without other veg bloggers & recipes. We need to show mainstream eco sites that vegan food is the right choice for the planet & it's easy, approachable, & delicious! Hopefully each of you will show support for the site & offer use of your recipes, so I can republish them with credit & in turn drive traffic to your blogs as well!

Let's get the word out about veganism to the eco set! Subscribe to my feed for future posts & don't forget to check out what I've written so far. Thank you for your support!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Twinkie meets Cupcake, Equal Rights, & Marijke's Farewell Weekend.

Please head over to my new blog at TheUrbanHousewife.com, where you'll find this post & more!

It's rare that I have a weekend that's not planned out in advance, something always seems to have been on calendar for months. When a glance at the calendar showed unfilled boxes, I felt a bit of relief, as well as excitement about the many things that could be done!

It all started Friday, with some cupcake baking for JennShaggy of Veganize It.. Don't Criticize It!. After an ongoing comment battle between our blogs & my interest in her Vegan Twinkies, we decided a trade was in order. Jenn's Vegan Twinkies are available in two locations in Los Angeles & are highly sought after by locals. I can certainly see why! Moist, sticky, sponge cake in the classic canoe shape house a thick, sweet filling, just like you remember, but without all the processing! In fact, these are better than the toxic treats of your youth & they don't contain beef fat!

I opted to make Jenn a trio of cupcakes from the Sugar Beat Sweets menu; Snickerdoodle, which is my best seller & the favorite of my family, Orange Dreamsicle which uses oranges I picked myself, & Classic Vanilla, which I topped with kosher rainbow sprinkles from Kittee! We exchanged treats & sat on my couch talking about vegan baking, the LA vegan scene, & our careers in the entertainment industry. I had a great time & it was awesome to make a new friend. Check out the cupcakes she took home, plus surf her blog for mouthwatering, creative, vegan recipes!

Another Friday night activity was a march for equal rights in San Francisco. As we celebrate the victory of Prop 2, we also mourn the passing of Prop 8 which bans gay marriage & takes away the rights of many. Thousands of people from the Bay Area came to San Francisco to show that we won't accept this unfair & wrong proposition that should not be about religion, but about love & equality for all. Please consider signing one of the many online petitions about this cause because regardless of how you feel about marriage, no one should be discriminated against.

A few months ago, I received an email from Marijke, a vegan au pair from Potsdam, Germany. She had just arrived in San Francisco & was looking to meet other vegans. I invited her to the VBC picnic & we became fast friends, realizing we had a lot in common. From VegFest to the Halloween potluck to going out dancing, we've spent a lot of time together & shared so much fun, I feel I have a friend for life. Sadly, her year long trip has unexpectedly been cut short & she'll be heading back to Germany this week.

In an effort to show her more of what America & the Bay Area has to offer before she departs, we took a road trip down to Santa Cruz on Saturday afternoon. Armed with leftover twinkies & cupcakes, plus chocolate peanut butter bars made for us by Carmen, a group of us piled in the car to escape the rain of San Francisco & see the ocean. We engaged in an afternoon of shopping, followed by dinner at Saturn Cafe & while the rain eventually caught up to us, it didn't stop us from heading to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk for arcade games, photo booth pictures, & dancing in the sand by the ocean. On the way back, we hit my favorite frozen yogurt spot, Fraiche, which is rumored to be opening a San Francisco location soon!

Sunday was a sleepier day. We all slept in, then Ryan & I headed to meet Marijke downtown for some more shopping. After buying every piece of animal print clothing I could find, we walked to the Ferry Building, home of local, artisan food & wine vendors. We snacked on olive rolls & bought a sour batard from Acme Bread & Marijke had soy Cookie Dough gelato from Ciao Bella. On the walk home, we couldn't resist stopping in 7-11 for Slurpees, after all, we were trying to show her an all-American weekend! A call from friends Alex & Kristen resulted in an impromptu dinner at my place, so I threw together spicy yogurt tofu, red & black quinoa, sauteed kale, & garlic bread for everyone. It was a great finish to a weekend I won't soon forget for a person I will never forget! We will miss you, Marijke! I can't wait to come visit you in Germany!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Halloween Treats from Caramel Apples to Cakes!

Please head over to my new blog at TheUrbanHousewife.com, where you'll find this post & more!

As someone who likes to dress up or just dress outrageously, I've always been a fan of Halloween. As a child, I always wanted to be a "punk rocker" or the popular cartoon character of the year, but my mother wouldn't have it. She made every costume I wore, from the time I was Queen Elizabeth to when a refrigerator box was crafted in to a costume to make me a House, complete with a real lawn. (I could not sit down in the house costume, so my mother made me wear another homemade costume underneath!) This year was no exception & my mother produced 3 awesome costumes for myself, Ryan, & Strummer before I had even settled on what we should be. Ryan made a dashing Captain Hook, while I opted for the role of Peter Pan, Strummer was the Crocodile & I even had a lantern with a little Tinkerbelle on it to round out the cast. Strummer was a little less than thrilled by her costume, so I think the total minutes her costume was worn hover around 15.

We decided to host a Halloween potluck at our place, as San Francisco now lacks a celebration in the Castro & we're always happy to fill up on delicious vegan food! I started by making Caramel Apples from an excellent & easy recipe Kittee mentioned from Chow. I opted for three varieties, plain & Chick-O-Stick or Peanut Butter Bar coated. Next I took mini Chick-O-Sticks & Peanut Butter Bars & made candy bars by covering them in chocolate, similar to Butterfingers. I know most people say Chick-O-Stick taste like Butterfinger centers, but I must say the Peanut Butter Bar is far superior, as it lacks coconut. They're both downright delicious though & far too many were consumed!

The assortment of dishes & costumes were excellent! Elmo, a Deviled Egg (not vegan!!), Holly Golightly, a bumble bee, a tree, & even Sarah Palin & President Ahmadinejad were just some of the people in attendance! The treats on the table were great too, such as Pumpkin Whoopie Pies & Uncheese + Crackers from Erin at Vegan Homemade, Mummy dogs, baked beans, my Buffalo Tofu with Blue Sheese dressing, an excellent eggplant dip from Megan at The Sisters Vegan, & a killer Rice, Avocado, Tempeh dish that we all marveled at when it was served in a dome shape! We also snacked on vegan Doritos, chocolate covered pretzels, Candy Cane Joe-Joe's, Sour Patch Kids, Swedish Fish, & Ghost Dots. A filling feast was consumed by all & I feared I wouldn't fit in my costume by the end of the night! Luckily, that didn't happen & instead I just went to bed at 6am, happy that the shindig was a success.

Previous to the party, I made a Halloween themed birthday cake for a friend & awesome gal, Chris. She wanted something to fit in with the spooky theme of her birthday, so we opted for a Chocolate Orange cake, so we would have the Halloween colors in full effect. I topped it with a ganache spiderweb & left it at that, so she could further decorate with candles. It was pretty fun to make & I can see more ganache spiderwebs in my future!

By the way, I will be headed to Lula's Sweet Apothecary in NYC at 9pm on November 15th. If you're in the area, come join me, Ray Ray, & the PPK crew for some serious sweet tooth business!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Flavor of the Minute, aka Five Current Faves!

Please head over to my new blog at TheUrbanHousewife.com, where you'll find this post & more!

While raindrops on roses & whiskers on kittens aren't too shabby, they're not currently on my list of my favorite things. Instead I'm enjoying everything from food to friends & thought I would share what I'm crushing on at the moment; maybe you'll find a new love as well!

In my VegFest post, I mentioned a super fun sampler pack of spreads from Artisana. I tried all 11 flavors & boy, do we have a winner! Goji Bliss is SO good, I've been eating it with a spoon! A little bit goes a long way as this coconut butter flanked with everyone's favorite superfood Goji Berries, is rich & creamy. I can't wait to try baking or making frosting with it, but I'm perfectly happy eating it on toast, so it may disappear before I have a chance!

Halloween is here! I hope you're all dressing up & planning to share photos! I'm having a potluck, of course, & the place I sent my guests for ideas is Wing It Vegan, home of "Halloweegan" & the best posts on festive & cute food for the big day! Someone needs to make Mashed Potato Ghosts & Spookitty Heads for me, pronto!

I was lucky enough to get to spend some time with Amanda from Walking the Vegan Line. It's not our first time meeting, but I always enjoy meeting up with fellow vegans & bloggers from all corners of the earth. We tried to grab pizza at a new spot, but ended up having an Ethiopian feast, husbands in tow, while we chatted for hours. She also ordered some mini cupcakes with red frosting for a company event from Sugar Beat Sweets. How cool is that?!

While it might seem quite obvious, I am obsessed with my puppy, Strummer. Well, she is currently obsessed with a new toy given to her by the always awesome Laura B. It's a big orange skull & yes, it's larger than her! Check out the video to prove it. The cats received new toys as well & it looks like it's a love fest; here's Beamish & Scurvy.

Finally, TRAVEL! We all know I love to travel & bring you the vegan goods in cities far & wide. Well, I'm at it again. New York City & I have a serious love affair & after landing an insane bargain on airfare (another favorite thing of mine), I will be biting in to the Big Apple from November 15th through the 19th. I'm ready to chow down, like you can see I did last time! Anyone want to join me at Lulu's Sweet Apothecary for sundaes?

These are just some of the items on my radar & I'll be sure to share more in the future. What are some of your favorite things right now?

Monday, October 20, 2008

World Vegetarian Day & VBC Picnic Edition!

Please head over to my new blog at TheUrbanHousewife.com, where you'll find this post & more!

This year was the 9th annual World Vegetarian Day in San Francisco & Sugar Beat Sweets was lucky enough to have a table selling vegan treats to the veg masses! While the focus of my booth was cupcakes (I made over 1,000 in 8 varieties) , I also decided to do some special treats which included cinnamon rolls, brownies in both chocolate & peanut butter swirl, & of course, the infamous candy corn from the recipe I shared last year.

As I'm sure you can guess, making 1,000+ cupcakes takes a bit of time, so I did 2 days of baking for the 2 day festival & also had to fill the orders for my regular customers! It was quite the undertaking, but luckily I had Mel from veglicious helping me on both a day of baking & a day of the festival. She also took the photos you see here, as I was busy slingin' sweets!

VegFest is always a great place to see old friends & make new ones; Amey from Vegan Eats & Treats, Laura & Meave of Vegansaurus, Megan of The Sisters Vegan, & Erin from Vegan Homemade are just some of the bloggers I was able to chat with! Also seen over the weekend, Colleen Patrick Goudreau of Compassionate Cooks, who had a booth next to mine, many of the Farm Sanctuary family who were repeat customers, chef Jesse Miner, who brought us goodies from his heirloom beans demo & of course, the crew at VegNews, who wrote a bit about us on their blog. I talked to so many awesome people, I know I am missing some here! By the way, SFoodie, the blog of the SF Weekly, did a piece on Sugar Beat Sweets, including a video. Check it out!

So, what else was there? Awesome speakers including John Robbins & Howard Lyman, food demos by everyone from Sarah Kramer to Antonio Magana, entertainment from musicians, belly dancers, & a vegan acrobat, plus free food samples! Coconut Bliss, Sheese, & Artisana were some of my favorite treats & I picked up an fabulous sampler with 11 flavors of Premier Organics spreads. Mmm, Goji Bliss!

VegFest was a fun & rewarding experience, I can't wait to do it again next year! Just don't ask me to bake 1,000 cupcakes until then. I'll have a booth at the upcoming Bazaar Bizarre, but the production scale should be much smaller.

On a beautiful sunny September day, the VBC convened for another brunch cartel. This time we opted for Dolores Park & an open invitation for all to join us, which didn't disappoint! Many new faces showed up & the food was outstanding! Best food ever? Maybe. I made a coleslaw & a Southern Style Banana Pudding with Vanilla cookies to stand in for Nilla Wafers; it turned out pretty darned good! Vanilla beans flanked the smooth, yet fluffy pudding mixture, while layers of bananas & cookies added texture.

Some of the other dishes we enjoyed were avocado potato salad, chickpea curry, tempeh sausages with roasted red pepper sauce, brownies, pasta salad, homemade beer brats with sauerkraut, & freshly baked rolls with cinnamon butter! Needless to say, it was quite the feast & I always look forward to future brunches.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Chicago, the Sugar Shack; part two.

Please head over to my new blog at TheUrbanHousewife.com, where you'll find this post & more!

You would think by reading part one of my Chicago adventure, I might have exhausted all the vegan options in the Windy City, but I'm happy to say there were many more eating adventures, including dessert, of course!

Despite being full of cupcakes from both The Bleeding Heart Bakery & Sweet Cakes Bakery, Natalie & I were not done with our sweets tour! We had a rest after our rainy day at Renegade & then we were off to Blind Faith Cafe & Bakery in Evanston, home of "innovative vegetarian cuisine" & a large selection of vegan treats. I started with a wonderful Lemon Seitan dish, my first non-baked good of the day, & it really hit the spot. For dessert, I ordered an assortment of desserts for the table to split. Once again, they were refrigerated, so my order was placed in advance. We noshed on a tasty maple spice cake with cream cheese frosting, a firm, but tasty cappuccino brownie filled with walnuts, peanut butter chocolate cake with lovely frosting, & both a chocolate & a vanilla cupcake. The cakes were all on the dry side & the frostings on the cupcakes were far too sweet for me, but Blind Faith had a nice dessert assortment, many of the items were very tasty, & I would go there again.

The next day, Natalie & I set out to bake together. With two bitches who love to bake in one house, how could anything go wrong? Well, let me tell you, it can & it did. Not once, but TWICE. The great vegan cinnamon roll experiment = FAIL. The yeast never activated, yet we kept going & ended up with half baked lumps of dough, that I still tried to eat. Natalie documented our failure best & even includes the recipe. (Side note: It's a great recipe I have used with success!)

Post baking failure, I headed out in to the rain to meet up with Kelly of Vegan Cookies fame. Let me start by saying, she's young, motivated, & writing an awesome cookie book; make her Snickerdoodles now! We met up at Pick Me Up Cafe where I had a cup of chili to balance out the sugar intake & Kelly had vegan cheese fries. Photogenic? No. Tasty? Yes. After a bit of wandering around & a photoshoot by Kelly (she took the photo at top), we walked multiple miles in the rain back towards Renegade Craft Fair, where we shopped around a bit before she had to catch a train home.

For dinner, I headed over to Earwax Cafe, the spot with a not-so-appetizing name, but a nice vegan selection. I got a Jamaican Jerk Seitan salad & sadly, it was so spicy, it was hard to enjoy. Luckily, the most amazing milkshake ever was there to keep me happy! Freshly squeezed orange juice + Temptation ice cream = OMG, so good! Seriously, skip the other flavors (I almost went peanut butter, but it was hydrogenated) & get this! I still dream about it!

Monday was my final day in the windy city & I decided to check out Karyn's Cooked for my final meal. Let's just say, I should have listened to what others had to say. I ordered Thai skewers in peanut sauce & a trio of sides which included Southern greens, cole slaw, & potato wedges. Unfortunately, the portions were small & most everything was bland & uninspiring, although with a hefty dose of salt, the greens were quite nice. For dessert, I ordered a slice of tiramisu cake, which was, of course, refrigerated. Coming in at $7, this was a pretty generous slice & probably best shared between two people. The cake was hearty & wheaty, almost like a coffee flavored bread with a creamy coffee frosting that was not very sweet. I found myself taking bite after bite, trying to figure out this cake, but I can safely say I wouldn't order it again.

So, where was the best dessert in Chicago? I think I may have found it in the kitchen of Natalie Slater of Bake & Destroy; enter the Chai-cago cupcake! This lovely spiced confection with sweet & festive Bears themed frosting made my tastebuds dance. I've heard it's a bit heard to get a reservation at the Slater household, but luckily you can check out BeBoBa for Bake & Destroy sweets. Overall, I thought Chicago was a great city with fabulous people! I'd love to go back sometime when the weather isn't such a downer & explore some more!