Unicorn Frappuccino: a review

I tried Starbucks’ Unicorn Frappuccino today so you don’t have to.

First, let me tell you something about myself: I love unicorns. I have unicorn jewelry. I watch My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic (Twilight Sparkle is my favorite, in case you were wondering). I still have the horn saved from the unicorn piñata I had at my birthday party when I was like 7. I have a unicorn/narwhal art print framed on my bedroom wall. Yeah.

So imagine my excitement when I heard Starbucks was releasing a limited edition Unicorn Frapp! (PS – I also love me some Starbucks. Give me a sugary sweet grande goodie any day of the week.) Very excitement. Much excited.

The Unicorn Frapp is a beautiful creation. Just behold its pink and blue swirly beauty, topped with whipped cream and magic sparkle sprinkles:

Unicorn Frappuccino

You expect it to taste like cotton candy, right? Or birthday cake. Or strawberries.

But no.

Oh no.

This thing is different.

I had already heard some things on the internet about the recipe for this disaster, so I didn’t go in without skepticism. It’s basically mango flavor with blue raspberry sour swirl. As you mix it, it’s supposed to magically change colors and flavors. Cool concept, but mango and sour blue raspberry in a creamy Frappuccino? Hmmm….

Here we go… @mrcheezypop #unicornfrappuccino #MaxsMunchies

A post shared by Emily Rose (@enchntdrose) on

Rather than describing the experience of drinking this, allow me to show you instead:

#unicornfrappuccino is a disgrace to the name unicorn 🦄 sorry @mrcheezypop #MaxsMunchies

A post shared by Emily Rose (@enchntdrose) on

Needles to say, I did not like it, Sam I Am. I did not like it one bit.

It is quite sour, and as you mix, the sour just permeates through the mango flavor, which would have been decent on its own. The creamy-ness of the Frapp also adds a really strange dimension; you don’t normally have sour and creamy in one drink, and for a good reason: it’s awful. Altogether an abomination. An insult to unicorns everywhere. Would not recommend.

Thankfully, the Unicorn Frappuccino will only be sold for a few days, while supplies last. Then it will magically disappear into the social media abyss, right along with the striped dress and the Harlem Shake. May it rest in peace.

-ES

COOKIES!

Christmas lights

The holiday season is a magical time of year. The trees come alive with lights, wreaths transform walls that were once bare, and giant ornaments appear all over shopping centers. It is a time to build memories by keeping family traditions alive and reconnecting with others.

My family celebrates Christmas and one of my favorite traditions, besides making tamales, is baking cookies with my mother while watching some of my favorite Christmas movies like Elf. I know not everyone celebrates Christmas, but I believe food always brings people together. Here are a couple of cookie recipes from our talented bakers at Fountaindale to tryout and for any last minute cookie exchanges.

Orange Thumbprint- Cristina
(Makes about 60) 

These are my FAVORITE! I love citrus so I like to add a little more orange zest to the recipe to give it a bit more flavor. The cookies come out soft and taste amazing. It’s definitely a recipe to try out!

orange-thumbprint-cookies-2

For the dough:
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
½ cup granulated sugar
2 large egg yolks, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon coarse salt

For the filling:
⅓ cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 large egg, room temperature
1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest, plus 1 tablespoon fresh orange juice.
⅓ tablespoon coarse salt
confectioner’s sugar, for dusting

Instructions:

  1. Make dough: With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream butter and granulated sugar until pale and fluffy. Add yolks and vanilla, and beat for 1 minute. Reduce speed to low; beat in flour and salt until combined. Cover bowl with plastic wrap, and chill until firm, at least 1 hour, or up to 1 day.
  2. Make filling: Preheat oven to 325͒ F. Line baking sheets with parchment or waxed paper; lightly coat with cooking spray. Whisk together granulated sugar, flour, and egg. Stir in Zest, juice, and salt.
  3. Form balls of dough (each equal to 2 teaspoons), and place on prepared sheets, about 1 inch apart. With the handle of a wooden spoon, press gently in the center of each to create an indentation. Bake 10 minutes. Remove from oven. Press centers again if indentations lose definition. Spoon filling into centers. Continue baking until cookies are light brown around edges, 10 to 12 minutes more. Transfer sheets to wire racks to cool completely before dusting with confectioners’ sugar. Cookies can be stored up to 2 days at room temperature in airtight containers.

Sugar Cookies- Maureen 
(Makes about 30)

“The cookies come out soft but still good enough to decorate with icing and sprinkles! I’ve also made this icing–it’s easy and you just need to buy food coloring.”

sugar cookies with frosting

For the dough:
½ cup butter
½ cup shortening
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 ¼ cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda

Instructions:

  1. In a mixing bowl, cream butter, shortening and sugar.
  2. Add egg and vanilla; mix well.
  3. Combine flour, baking powder and baking soda; gradually add to the creamed mixture.
  4. Shape into 1-in. balls. Roll in sugar.
  5. Place on greased baking sheet; flatten with a glass.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees F for 10-12 minutes.

For the icing:
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 teaspoons milk
2 teaspoons light corn syrup
¼ teaspoon almond extract

Instructions:

  1. In a small bowl, stir together confectioners’ sugar and milk until smooth.
  2. Beat in corn syrup and almond extract until icing is smooth and glossy. If icing is too thick, add more corn syrup.
  3. Divide into separate bowls, and add food colorings to each to desired intensity.
  4. Dip cookies, or paint them with a brush.

 

Pumpkin Turnovers- Deb
(Makes 8 turnovers)

“I made my own dough instead of buying puff pastry. I call them Pumpkin Pasties, which is a much-loved treat from the Harry Potter universe.”

pumpkin-turnovers-2

Ingredients:
2 puffed pastry sheets, thawed
1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon all-spice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 Tablespoons brown sugar

For the Glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
2 Tablespoons milk
Dash of vanilla

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Mix pumpkin puree, brown sugar and remaining spices in medium mixing bowl until smooth.
  3. Place puffed pastry sheets on clean, dry surface. Cut each pastry sheet into four squares.
  4. Place one and a half HEAPING tablespoons of pumpkin puree on one half of the square.
  5. Fold over from corner to corner into a triangle shape, and press edges together to seal.
  6. Place turnovers on an ungreased baking sheet, leaving about 1 inch between them. If desired, crimp edges with fork.
  7. Cut three small indentations on the thickest part of the turnover to resemble small apple pies.
  8. Brush with one beaten egg, if desired.
  9. Bake for 20 minutes.
  10. When golden brown and puffed up, remove from oven and drizzle vanilla glaze on top using the prongs of a fork.
  11. For glaze, simply whisk together powdered sugar, milk and vanilla. If glaze is too thick, gradually increase milk. Enjoy!

 

Magic Cookie Bars- Kate

“My favorite recipe!”

magic cookie bars

Ingredients:
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs (I just crush graham crackers in a bag)
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
2 cups semisweet chocolate chops
1 1/3 cups flaked coconut
1 cup chopped nuts

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  
  2. Coat a 9×13 baking pan with non-stick cooking spray.
  3. Combine the graham cracker crumbs and butter.
  4. Press mix into bottom of prepared pan.
  5. Pour sweetened condensed milk evenly over crumb mixture.
  6. Layer evening with chocolate chips, coconut, and nuts.
  7. Press firmly down (I recommend with a fork or a spoon so it doesn’t stick to hands).
  8. Bake 25 minutes or until lightly browned.
  9. Cut into bars.

 

Monster Cookies- Agnes
(Makes about 2 ½ dozen)

Here is Agnes’ recipe slightly modified from

Monster Cookies

MonsterCookies

Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour
​1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
¾ cup (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, slightly softened
1 cup brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup creamy peanut butter (use crunchy if you like nuts)
1 whole egg
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1½ cups old fashioned oats
1 cup M&Ms
¾ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
½ cup butterscotch chips
Instructions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt.
3. In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar, white sugar, and peanut butter.
4. Add the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla and mix well until creamy.
5. Slowly add the flour mixture until incorporated. Stir in the butterscotch, chocolate chips, and M&Ms.
6. Mix in the oats.
7. Place balls of dough, around 1½ Tablespoons each, on the parchment sheet. You can hand place extra M&Ms on top, pressing slightly in.
8. Bake for 9-11 minutes. Make sure not to over bake. The cookies will not be brown and will continue to cook as they cool on the pan.
9. Store in an airtight container.

Hope you enjoy these recipes as much as we do. Happy holidays from Fountaindale!

-CP-

Home Brewed Beer Demonstration at the Library!

Fall is just around the corner and what better way to enjoy this time of season than with some good craft beer. The library wants to help make your Fall and Winter season more enjoyable by providing a great demonstration on how to home brew your own beer. Impress your friends and family with your brew master skills during the Fall and Winter festive meals; regale them with tales of how you acquired such mastery of the hops at your local library. Don’t worry! The program doesn’t start until September 10th, there is still time to sign up for the program just click on the cold frosty glass of beer below to register.

imagejpeg_1

If you can’t make it to our Home Brew Beer program the library has plenty of Home Brewed Beer Resources available. To check out what is available at our library click the glass of beer below, this will re-direct you to our catalog.

imagejpeg_0

-J-

Christmas Cookies

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! We may not have had any snow yet, but it still feels like the holidays with twinkling lights everywhere and the smell of fresh baked cookies out of the oven. Today I am sharing with you three cookie recipes pulled from a few of the library’s cookbooks that I tested myself over the weekend. Read on to find out how easy these treats were to make and how they stood up to a taste test.

Eggnog-Frosted Nutmeg Sugar Cookies
Very Merry Cookies by Better Homes and Gardens
Makes about 24 cookies

Image

1/2 of a vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise, or 2 teaspoons vanilla
1 3/4 cups butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg or 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 tablespoon eggnog
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 recipe Eggnog Icing (see below)
Coarse sugar

Eggnog Icing: In a medium bowl stir together 3 cups powdered sugar and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. Stir in enough eggnog or milk (3 to 4 tablespoons) to make an icing of spreading consistency.

1. Using the tip of a sharp knife, scrape pulp from the vanilla bean; set aside. In a large mixing bowl beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add sugar, baking powder, nutmeg, and salt. Beat until combined, scraping sides of the bowl occasionally. Beat in the egg, eggnog, and vanilla pulp or vanilla until combined. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer. Using a wooden spoon, stir in any remaining flour. Divide dough in half. Cover and chill dough about 1 hour or until easy to handle.
 

2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. On a lightly floured surface roll each dough half to 1/4-inch thickness. Using a fluted round 3-inch cookie cutter (I used a star-shaped cookie cutter instead), cut out dough. Place cutouts 1 inch apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.

3. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until edges are firm and bottoms are light brown. Transfer cookies to a wire rack and let cool. Spread eggnog icing on cookies. If desired, sprinkle with coarse sugar. Let stand until icing is dry.

For those of you that like eggnog, this is the cookie for you. It has the sweet simplicity of a sugar cookie with a holiday twist. I did have to wait an hour for the dough to chill, but preparing it was a snap. However, I would only use a dash of nutmeg instead of a teaspoon the next time around since my taste buds, as well as those of my taste testers, thought it was a bit much.

4/5 stars for taste, 5/5 stars for ease

Orange Snowballs
Cookies For Christmas by Jennifer Dorland Darling

Image

1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sifted powdered sugar
1 tablespoon finely shredded orange peel (set aside)
2 teaspoons finely shredded orange peel (set aside)
1 tablespoon orange juice
2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon gold edible glitter (optional)

1. In a large mixing bowl beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add powdered sugar. Beat until combined, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Beat in orange juice until combined. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with mixer. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the 1 tablespoon orange peel and remaining flour.

2. Shape dough into 1 1/4-inch balls. Place balls 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.

3. Bake in a 325 degree F oven for 15 minutes or until bottoms are lightly browned. Cool on cookie sheet for 5 minutes.

4. Meanwhile in a food processor or a blender container combine the 3/4 cup granulated sugar and the 2 teaspoons orange peel Cover and process or blend until mixture is combined. Stir in edible glitter, if desired. Roll the baked cookies, still slightly warm, in the sugar mixture. Transfer cookies to a wire rack; cool. Makes about 48 cookies.

I can’t say I’ve ever had a cookie like this before, but I’m glad I tried it. The orange flavor was pretty subtle, and if you want more of a citrus taste, I would suggest adding just a tiny bit of orange extract, perhaps 1/8 teaspoon, or perhaps increase the amount of orange juice by about 1/2 teaspoon. These cookies were quick and easy to make and while my taste testers and I enjoyed them, we all agreed they could use a little oomph.

3/5 stars for taste, 5/5 stars for ease

Baby Butter & Jam Sandwiches
Christmas Cookies by Lisa Zwirn
Makes about 36 cookies

Image

10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, plus more for dusting the cookies
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
Raspberry preserves (or strawberry or apricot preserves or some of each)

Cookie cutter needed: 1 1/2-inch round
Zwin shares an awesome tip and writes, “The first time I made these I couldn’t find my 1 1/2-inch round cookie cutter. I ended up using one of those little plastic cups that come with a bottle of cough syrup. The rim was a perfect 1 1/2 inches! And the cup can be gently squeezed to loosen any cutouts that get stuck.”

1. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter in a large bowl until creamy. Beat in the 1/2 cup of confectioners’ sugar until fully blended. With the beaters on low speed, mix in the flour and salt until thoroughly combined. Using your hands, gather the dough into a ball, then press it into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for about 1 hour or until the dough is firm enough to roll out. (If refrigerated longer, let the dough sit at room temperature for about 30 to 45 minutes to soften before rolling.)

2. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.

3. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to a thickness of between 1/8 and 1/4 inch. Using the cutter, stamp out circles close together and arrange them about 1 1/2 inches apart on the prepared sheets. Re-roll the scraps two or three times. (Working the dough too much can make it tough.)

4. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, rotating the sheets from top to bottom and front to back about halfway through baking, or until the cookies are just beginning to color and the edges are pale golden. Transfer the cookies to a rack to cool completely.

To assemble: Spread a little of the preserves on the bottom side of half of the rounds, taking care not to spread it too close to the edge. Top with another round, right side up. Just before serving, sift confectioners’ sugar over the sandwich cookies.

Store the plain rounds in an airtight container for up to 1 week. Once the cookies are spread with jam, they’ll start to soften after 1 to 2 days.

Out of the three recipes I tested, I’d say this one was my favorite. Soft, buttery, and flaky with the tartness of raspberries – what more could you want in a cookie? While I was impatient and didn’t want to wait an hour for this dough to chill as well, the prep process was very simple and the end product was well worth the wait! My only regret is that I didn’t make more of these!

5/5 stars for taste, 5/5 stars for ease

All three books are filled with plenty of other great recipes, so feel free to stop by the library to check them out and browse our other cookbooks! Happy Holidays!

-a-

Pardon All Turkeys

Thanksgiving is on its way here and I’m sure you’re all happy with the idea of sitting around the table with family and friends for great food and conversation. But there’s someone at that table who could probably think of a better way to spend their day. The Turkey. Sure it’s “tradition”. Sure it’s “tasty”, but I say ‘Pardon the Turkey!’ According to Infoplease.com, Each year since 1947, the National Turkey Federation and the Poultry and Egg National Board have given a turkey to the President of the United States at a White House ceremony. In 1989 George H.W. Bush did the smartest thing of his presidency – He pardoned the Turkey. Since then all Turkey’s that have been presented to the President have been pardoned and sent off to retire at a petting zoo. Some have even been lucky enough to be sent to Disneyland. I say we continue this tradition at home.

You might be appalled by the suggestion of no Turkey at your Thanksgiving celebration. You might even be wondering who am I to tell you to do such an extraordinary thing. Well, I’m Rozie, the Turkey loving vegetarian. And I’d like to present to you some tasty dishes for your dinner table that are meat-free, cruelty-free, delicious, nutritious, and with your help – prepared with LOVE!

There are many blogs and websites tailored to the needs of vegetarians and vegans. One of my favorites is the Fat Free Vegan Kitchen. Susan V. makes some wonderful dishes, all free of animal products. This year I will be trying out her Thanksgiving Meatless Loaf.

MEATLOAF
Alongside this will be Sandra Lee’s Garlic and Herbed Early Peas and French Beans. This has been a staple of our TG meal for years. If you plan on making it, I’d like to say that I have never added the cognac, and since becoming a vegetarian 2 years ago the bacon has been omitted, also. Roasted veggies are always a welcome side and a nice change from the traditional mashed potatoes. You can choose a yummy recipe from the Food Network.

Of course, no Thanksgiving meal would be complete without pie! Once again, Susan V. saves the day with her delicious Double Layer Pumpkin Cheesecake.
pumpkin cheesecake

Susan also has a great selection of desserts and sides to bring to your holiday table. So enjoy your family and friends. Enjoy the food. Enjoy knowing that there’s probably a Turkey living it up on a float at Disneyland.  Have a fantastic Thanksgiving!!!

Rozie 🙂 the Turkey Loving Vegetarian.
MM AND TURKEYS
GOBBLE! GOBBLE! GOBBLE!

Forks Over Knives

As the AudioVisual (AV) Librarian, I have a passion for all things media especially as related to music (CDs) and movies (DVDs).   On October 19, 2010, I was lucky enough to secure a spot in an Advanced Screening of a documentary movie entitled, “Forks Over Knives” with my wife, Monika.  While film is a passion of mine, her passion is food and, more specifically, Vegan Food.  She is also very interested in the science and health benefits.  She is somewhat of an authority on the topic due to her vivacious reading various books as it relates to the topic as well as interest and recommendation of films.  She also has proven to be a big inspiration to all (our family, our friends, and myself) that surround her with relation to her vast knowledge on this topic, as many of us have altered our eating habits and menus because of her.  It was because of her idea that we attended this event.

“Forks Over Knives” examines the profound claim that most, if not all, of the so-called “diseases of affluence” that affect us can be controlled, or even reversed, by rejecting our present menu of animal-based and processed foods. The major storyline in the film bases the personal journeys of a pair of researchers, Dr. T. Colin Campbell and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn.

With movies like “Food Inc.”  and “The Future of Food”, “Forks Over Knives” is another film to make us re-evaluate what we eat, what we are told to eat, and how it effects us.

There seems to be a growing movement in this direction as the information gets out and becomes more and more prevalent and mainstream.

I’d recommend it to anyone interested in their health and food.  So how about giving Forks Over Knives a try?

-Brian

Haunted Places, Halloween Treats, and Spine-tingling Delights

So you’ve hit the traditional hayrides and pumpkin patch with your friends and family, but you’re looking for something a bit scarier to raise the hair on your arms?

How about a visit to one of the most horrifying Haunted House in America? Looking to find something closer to home? Weird & Haunted Illinois has so many cool places to check out that you’ll be set for the next 10 Halloweens! Did you know that America’s Most Haunted Places includes the famous Bachelor’s Grove Cemetery?

If you are staying home and throwing a party, consider having Glow-in-dark drinks to complete the ambiance. Other ideas for party treats that are kid-friendly yet charming for Halloween-lovers of any age are here.

Maybe you just want to stay home, pass out candy to the little ones, and watch the It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. Well, don’t forget another Halloween classic (that is my absolute favorite) The Legend of Sleepy Hallow, which is now called The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad. It’s the tale of the Headless Horseman narrated by Bing Crosby.  Take a peek at it:

Maybe finish the night off with a glass of wine by the fire while listening to some of these classical pieces.

Fantasia – Night on Bald Mountain

Saint-Saens: Danse Macabre, Op. 40.

Carl Orff : O Fortuna – Translated

For more Halloween Classical music suggestions check here and I’m sure Brian has a few. Enjoy!

-Sabrina S.