Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Maplehurst Bakeries Peanut-Free Cupcakes GIVEAWAY!

* This giveaway has ended, but read on to hear about how much we love these peanut-free cupcakes! :)


A couple weeks ago, I had a day of repeat appearances. I went into my girls' school to do some volunteer prep, then hit Lowes Foods grocery store to buy some cupcakes, went back to school to volunteer and have lunch with Little Sis, then back to Lowes Foods to get more cupcakes and then back to school to have lunch with Big Sis. Whew!! I was so glad be finally done with all that madness!

Why so many trips to buy cupcakes you ask? Well, these were *special* cupcakes to celebrate Big Sis' birthday with her classmates!! On my first trip, I had bought just enough for Big Sis' class, but they were Buy One Get One Free at the time and the more I thought about it, the more I NEEDED. And you bet I am willing to make multiple trips to Lowes Foods just to get these Peanut-Free cupcakes, because, let me tell ya, Peanut-free store-bought cupcakes are not easy to come by. I've found that a majority of grocery store-bought cupcakes say they may contain peanuts and tree nuts. 

A couple years ago, Little Sis had a scary allergic reaction to Chinese food that didn't specifically contain peanuts but was most likely cooked in the same pan as another dish with peanuts. These particles landed her in the pediatrician's office for 3+ hours for a breathing treatment and close monitoring. Then several months later, she had a reaction to candy corn of all things, which said they "May contain peanuts and tree nuts." We now avoid anything "May contain". That means when other kids bring in cupcakes to school to celebrate birthdays, my girls don't eat them. Instead they get something out of their "special treat baggy" I sent to school in the beginning of the year for just that purpose. They also don't eat most cakes and cupcakes served at birthday parties unless we KNOW they don't contain nuts, which just doesn't usually happen, so we bring our own. That's why I was SOOOOOO ecstatic when Nana happened upon these a few years back at Lowes Foods. I couldn't believe my eyes and now that's all I get! Thanks, Nana! (Updated 2/27/13: Just remembered it was Nana that stumbled across these for us!)

Check out my loot that day. I took a picture of these beauties in the back of my car while parked in the school parking lot. I totally could have opened up shop! :)



And though there are only 24 kids and 1 teacher in Big Sis' class, I bought all these for a few reasons:
  1. To share w/ the awesome office staff who are always so good to my girls, all our family members that come in to visit and the hubby and me!
  2. To stick in the freezer for later use, mostly for those birthday parties I mentioned earlier. It really works like a charm: just take one cupcake out of the freezer when it's time to leave for the party and by cake time, they are perfectly thawed. 
  3. Because I want *some*, I mean one, too. :)
Though I'd love to supply my family with homemade cupcakes all the time, that just isn't always possible due to time constraints and even school policies where homemade baked goods are no longer allowed to be shared in classrooms. This is a good thing, mind you, so you actually KNOW what's in those baked goods, but difficult at the same time if you are trying to provide a food-allergen-free treat that you know is safe for your kid. And, to be honest, sometimes my girls just prefer the store-bought stuff!


That is why these cupcakes are so completely awesome. They are so very moist and taste soooooo good. They are beautiful to look at and they are PEANUT-FREE! They are manufactured by Maplehurst Bakeries, LLC which is based in Brownsburg, IN and packaged under the name "From the Heart Cupcakes" or "Everyday Favorites" with a clear Peanut-Free logo on their label. Update (2/27/13): You can typically find them in the bakeries' freezer case/section.


Of course, I had to ask them whether they are tree nut-free, too, since the two don't necessarily go hand-in-hand. Case in point: Big Sis is severely allergic to tree nuts but can eat peanuts and well, I already told ya about Little Sis. She's supposedly not allergic to tree nuts, but I've never dared to test that out myself. Maplehurst Bakeries was very quick to respond (like within 30 minutes!) with: "Due to lack of accurate and reliable testing for tree nuts, we can't claim our products are tree nut free." But I also ran across this on their website Maplehurst Bakeries Peanut-Free Letter which makes them tree nut-free in my book. :)

And I've noticed they provide seasonal cupcakes, too. These were from Valentine's Day. Just.Love.That. :)



They make cute little cupcakes, too! Sometimes these are just the size you need.



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So be sure to tell your family, friends, teachers, your kids' classmates' parents, co-workers and anyone else you can think of about these awesome peanut-free cupcakes!! Not only because they're delicious, but because more and more people are affected by nut allergies these days and even if neither you nor your loved ones have nut allergies, there are so many people today who do, that you are sometimes asked to avoid them at various places, ie schools in particular. I've noticed lots of preschools starting to go completely nut-free. For that, I am sorry, but grateful too. Thank you!

So bring 'em in for class parties! Buy 'em for birthday parties! Take 'em to sports celebrations! Whatever! Or just get 'em because they're so good.

Click here for an updated list of grocery stores across the country that carry these cupcakes. Hopefully there's one near you, but if not, bug your local grocer to start carrying them! :)

ACME Foods Pennsylvania
Albertsons 
BI-LO Farm Fresh 
Giant of Carlisle 
Giant of Maryland 
Jewel-Osco 
Kroger 
Lowes Foods 
Market Basket 
Marsh 
Publix 
Shaw’s 
Shoppers Food Warehouse 
ShopRite 
Smith’s 
Stop & Shop 
Tops 
Walmart 
Weis

And LASTLY, if you don't believe me, try to win some for yourself! With that, I am SOOOO excited to announce the Maplehurst Bakeries' Peanut-Free Cupcake Giveaway!!

Isn't it so completely awesome that Maplehurst Bakeries has so generously offered to host this giveaway of not one but TWO prizes so YOU can go to one of the grocery stores near you and try some for yourself!

1st prize: $30 Visa check card
2nd prize: $20 Visa check card

Now THAT's a lot of cupcakes!!!

Contest Rules:
For US residents only
Must be 18 and older to enter
*see Rafflecopter Terms and Conditions for more details

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Shout-outs:
Maplehurst Bakeries, LLC - thank you SOOOO much for providing me and so many other consumers a delicious, beautiful, Peanut-Free cupcakes that my daughters can safely (and gladly) eat!

Thanks so much for stopping by and please feel free to make my day by leaving me a comment, joining my blog in the top right corner or liking my on Facebook at MyEpicureanAdventures - the more the merrier! :)

Christine, aka happyvballgirl :)

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Texas Recipes' Cinnamon Roll Pancakes - OMG!

Saw this recipe pop up on my news feed last night and the rest was out of my control. First had to share it on my Facebook Page (My Epicurean Adventures). Then first thing the next morning, I HAD to make them. I had no choice.

Here is the original Facebook post from Texas Recipes: Cinnamon Roll Pancakes. Check out that picture. See what I mean? Your mouth instantly starts watering, doesn't it? Well, apparently everything IS big in Texas because the amounts in this recipe just cracked me up. They must be cooking for the entire Ewing clan! I'm sure it's delicious as-is, but as always, I added my own little twist to it and made it organic to boot! See the adaptation below.

And here's my pic. I know, not as awe-inspiring, but boy were they OMG crazy delicious! Tasted just like a cinnamon roll in pancake form. Whoa.


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Cinnamon Roll Pancakes
adapted from Texas Recipes
by happyvballgirl of www.MyEpicureanAdventures.com

Ingredients:
Pancakes:
1 cups all-purpose flour (I used 1/4 whole wheat flour and 3/4 cup all-purpose flour)
2-3 tsps baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp ground flax seed
1 Tbsp wheat germ
1 cup milk
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 large egg, lightly beaten

Cinnamon Filling
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 tbsp ground cinnamon

Glaze (*skipped the cream cheese since Little Sis doesn't care for it and used organic powdered sugar which means it's not as white and it tastes a little different, so I added some vanilla and melted butter to the standard powdered sugar glaze recipe):
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 Tbsp milk
1/4 tsp. vanilla
1/2 Tbsp melted butter

Directions:
To make the Cinnamon Filling:
Mix the three ingredients together. Place in a piping bag and snip the end off or put in a Ziploc bag and snip the corner off.

To make the Pancakes:
Mix the dry ingredients in one bowl and the wet ingredients in another bowl. Stir them together until everything is moistened leaving a few lumps.

Heat pan on med-low heat (recipe says 325 degrees, but I have no way of telling, so I just left it at med-low on my gas burner). You don't want these to cook too quickly and you won't want your cinnamon to burn.

Make desired size pancake on greased griddle and then using the piping bag and starting at the center of the pancake, create a cinnamon swirl. Wait until the pancake has lots of bubble before you try to turn it. You will find that when you turn it the cinnamon swirl will melt. The cinnamon will melt out and create the craters which the cream cheese glaze will fill.

To make the Glaze:
In a microwave safe bowl melt the butter. Whisk in the powdered sugar and vanilla. Add a little milk if needed to make it a glaze consistency.

Place pancake on plate, then cover with glaze and say mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

Makes about a dozen medium sized pancakes, perfect for this family of 4.

How'd I do with my swirls?! They were fun to do. :)



And here's how the girls' breakfast was served up:


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Updated 6/02/2013 - and just one more pic from this morning's batch, my messiest endeavor yet. I highly recommend AGAINST using a piping bag - unless your tip is big enough. Mine was too small, kept jamming up, oozed out the back and MADE A MESS!! Luckily, the end result was just as yummy. :)


Thanks so much for stopping by and please feel free to make my day by leaving me a comment, joining my blog in the top right corner or liking my on Facebook at MyEpicureanAdventures - the more the merrier! :)

Christine, aka happyvballgirl :)

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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Post-NYC Gluttony Lunch

Just a quick post to show you what I call my post-NYC gluttony lunch. After a looong weekend of non-stop eating all sorts of delicious, not-necessarily-good-for-you foods, it's time to get back to reality, for the sake of my jeans! Haven't gotten around to posting the details on this trip yet (stay tuned) but feel free to check out last month's trip to Asheville, NC where more gluttony took place: Oh the Places You'll Go #1: Asheville, NC! :)

Update 6/20/13: Oh the Places You'll Go #2: NYC :)


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In this lunch:
  1. Salad by Trader Joe's: Organic Baby Spinach, Mixed Medley Cherry Tomatoes, Broccoli Slaw, Shredded Carrots, Roasted and Unsalted Sunflower Seeds, Organic Dried Cranberries, and a Brown Caged-Free boiled egg (seriously, ALL from Trader Joe's!)
  2. New York Style Original Bagel Crisps, Plain to be dipped in...
  3. Trader Joe's Red Pepper Spread with Eggplant and Garlic
  4. Cutie (mini orange)
  5. Maplehurst Bakeries' Peanut-Free mini cupcake :)
Re: cupcake - Hey, I can't just quit cold turkey! I like to eeeeeease myself back to reality, not be thrust into it! hee hee

Shout-outs:
LunchBots - for some seriously awesome stainless steel lunch-transporting gear! Check out my affiliate link! :)

Shop LunchBots

Maplehurst Bakeries - for providing my girls safe and delicious Peanut-free cupcakes!

Thanks so much for stopping by and please feel free to make my day by leaving me a comment, joining my blog in the top right corner or liking my on Facebook at MyEpicureanAdventures - the more the merrier! :)

Christine, aka happyvballgirl :)

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Saturday, February 16, 2013

Oh The Places You'll Go #1: Asheville, NC

So... I've decided to start a new series of posts called "Oh The Places You'll Go" inspired by Dr. Seuss' book of the same name. I reaaaalllly wish I had started doing this years ago since we tend to do a fair amount of traveling, both as a family and even as a couple. People often ask me for suggestions on where to stay, what to see and do, where to eat when they are going some place they know I've been to. Unfortunately, I'm pretty useless when it comes to answering such questions because: 1. I'm really bad at remembering what we did when and where and 2. since the hubby does all the initiating and planning, I just sit back and enjoy the ride (thanks and sorry, Sweetie, I know that really bugs you sometimes, but you're so good at it! hee hee) and half the time don't even know what airline we're flying! Now had I kept a log of our many adventures over the years, I could have a nice little travel book going! :) Oh well, better late than never.


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This trip, which took place a couple weeks ago, was made possible by the hubby, of course, and his mom, aka Nana who wanted to take the girls to "The Great Wolf of Lodge" (that's what Little Sis calls it) for a couple nights while they are "tracked out" of school (they attend a year-round school). So what do what do we do? Get the heck out of Dodge and go to Asheville, NC with nothing more in mind that to eat good food, walk around the city, window shop (and shop for real), soak in the beautiful mountains scenery and do a little hiking. I'm happy to say we accomplished all these things on this trip. :)

Here's what looks to be a pretty decent tourism website on what to do when your visiting: http://www.ashevillenc.com/

First stop on the way, though, was Furnitureland South, a mega-crazy big furniture store, more like campus, that just happened to be on our way to the mountains. We've been in the market for a high dresser for our bedroom and decided to take a "quick" look around. 3 hours later, we were the proud owners of just that, in addition to 2 sets of bunk/loft beds for the girls. Boy where they excited when we showed them the pictures! LOL! :) And as long and torturous as it may sound, we actually had a lot of fun. Certainly much better than my last experience there when I was about 8 months pregnant and couldn't bear to walk, much less stand still for more than 2 minutes at a time. :) Even their restaurant was quite enjoyable! Here are some pix to prove it:


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Next stop was the Princess Anne Hotel, for our second bed and breakfast stay, ever. 1st one was last year in Asheville, as well, at the GORGEOUS Biltmore Village Inn (yes, it really is as beautiful as it looks in the picture AND we pretty much had the place to ourselves)! Ok, I just remembered a time many years ago, pre-kids, when we stayed at one in Charleston, SC w/ the hubby's family. But that was it! We've always been hotel dwellers but in our old age, we've come to appreciate and enjoy them more! haha. :)

Read my in-house Senior Contributor's review: Sweetie's Princess Anne Hotel Trip Advisor Review


The rest of this post will mostly be a little of where we went to eat/drink, a quick description of what we thought and some pix to go along with it since I really need to get this out before our upcoming trip to NYC tomorrow morning. I hate being behind so quickly! :) The really cool thing is that the hubby is an awesome reviewer of things and earned himself the title of "Senior Contributor" on Trip Advisor (haha), so I'll be including his reviews as well. What a great team we make, don't you think? :) And let me just apologize in advance for so many dark pictures. As you can see, a lot of them were taken at night and there's only so much you can do w/ a smart phone camera, so please forgive me! :)

Now on to dinner at Tupelo Honey Cafe. My dinner would have been DE-licious had it not been too heavy on the black pepper. Some people (like my hubby) love it, but I do not. The highlight here was definitely the homemade biscuits with to-die-for blueberry jam.

Sweetie's Trip Advisor Tupelo Honey Cafe Review


After dinner, we strolled around downtown. Nothing to review here, but we've passed by this bead store in the evening I don't know how many times during our past few trips here and their window has ALWAYS caught our attention. One of these days, we will actually go IN (if we ever pass by when they're open)!



We stumbled upon this gem of a place: Tressa's Downtown Jazz & Blues and enjoyed listening to some live "Hot Jazz" (aka Dixieland or jazz that was popularized by Louis Armstrong) while sipping a Kir Royale and Ginger-infused artisan moonshine. Who could ask for more? :)

Sweetie's Tressa's Review


Check out our breakfast at the B&B. Every bite was delicious. Here you see we did what we usually do when it comes to yummy food: share!


After breakfast, we decided to try to get a little exercise in and do some hiking at Chimney Rock State Park. If you visit in the off season, be sure to check their hours. We got totally lucky that our 40 min drive from Asheville wasn't for naught. It was Tuesday and they were open but we ALMOST went on a on a Wednesday, when they're closed. Whew! We were disappointed that Hickory Nut Falls trail was closed, a trail of decent length and difficulty, so we just took the elevator up to chimney rock on an extremely cold and windy day. It was beautiful and the view was incredible but every time that wind blew all we could think of was how much our girls would hate this... Cold, windy and scared you're gonna be blown right off that rock!




Snapped up a last pic of Chimney Rock as we take the stairs back down. What a perfect sky.


As we left the park and wound our way back down, we passed over this bridge where I just had to snap up this beautiful sight. I just love the combo of water and rocks, especially on a bridge where you can take it all in without getting wet! :)


Made it back to the hotel for some chill time (and hors d'oeuvres!!!). The hubby read by the fire while I knitted, but mostly ate. :)


This night we had dinner at a favorite Indian restaurant in town: Chai Pani where we enjoyed delicious Indian street food. We ate here last year and it was so good we just had to come back. This wrap we got was crazy good. As I ate it, the feeling of "OMG this is the most perfect blend of flavors and the most delicious wrap I have EVER had!" overcame me. And check out the "Indian Nachos". Really yummy. The other dish in the top left corner was a deep-fried kale appetizer. To be honest, it looked a bit scary to me, was a little TOO deep-fried and oily, but it was not awful (ie we ate all of it, too). LOL.

Sweetie's Chai Pani Review


Drinks and Carolina hockey were taken in after a brief walk in the cold at The Bier Garden, right around the corner from Chai Pani. I ordered myself a delicious Strawberry Basil Lemonade (reminiscent of my Sweetie's muddle drinks) while watching the game and doing a little mobile blogging. :)


Finally, we stopped in for some decadent desserts at French Broad Chocolate Lounge. After walking around in 24 degree weather, we were warmly welcomed with fogged up glasses, heavenly aromas of chocolate and mouth-watering treats.

Sweetie's French Broad Chocolate Lounge Review


Here's breakfast #2 at the Princess Anne Hotel. Like I said earlier, when food this yummy is being served, sharing is a must!


Just before heading back for home, I had to take this last parting shot of the fountain at the hotel. It was so cold this running fountain froze over! Brrrrrr.


Yay! I'm done! I finished my first "Oh the Places You'll Go" post merely an hour before it's time to take off for our next adventure in the Big Apple. Supposed to be freezing, like high of 30, also. What's up w/ that? NEXT trip is gonna have to be somewhere warm! :)

Here's #2 if you'd like to check it out: Oh the Places You'll Go #2: NYC

Thanks so much for stopping by and please feel free to make my day by leaving me a comment, joining my blog in the top right corner or liking my on Facebook at MyEpicureanAdventures - the more the merrier! :)

Christine, aka happyvballgirl :)


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