Friday Things | March 8, 2013


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Time for an installment of Friday Things:

1. Bon Appetit’s Vegas Uncorked – May 9—12, 2013. “To mark its seventh anniversary, the famed resorts of Las Vegas have assembled an unparalleled collection of celebrity chefs, master sommeliers, and cutting-edge mixologists. Vegas Uncork’d—an homage to their skill, their cuisine, and their fans—is an exclusive opportunity to not just taste their food, but to rub elbows with them throughout four days of unique events.”

I haven’t been to Vegas in ages and I bet the event would be incredibly fun. It’s Vegas. How could it not be fun?


In November I was in Barbados for Food & Wine’s Rum Festival and watching the celebrity chef’s in action in a stunning location was an amazing experience.

Man at Food & Wine's Rum Festival

2. Laura did a Vanilla Cupcake Comparison and tested seven different recipes with as much detail, precision, re-testing, and scientific process as any homecook I’ve ever seen. She was literally the at-home version of Cook’s Illustrated (one of my top 5 go-to cookbooks) with her extremely detailed approach to what makes a good cupcake, what makes them work, fall flat, become dry, tasteless, or become wildly successful.

Some surprising hits and misses, along with recipe recommendations. A must-read post for anyone who enjoys baking science.

Vanilla Cupcake Comparison

Three cupcakes lined up

3. I’ve been obsessed with cremini, or baby bella, mushrooms lately. Did you know that most of the table mushrooms we eat are all of the same variety? Its name is Agaricus bisporus and it includes portobello, cremini, and white button mushrooms. The difference between these popular varieties of mushrooms is just age.

White button mushrooms are the youngest variety. They’re cultivated for their white color and soft texture.

Overhead of mushrooms in bowl

The portobello is the most mature mushroom and it’s really just an overgrown white mushroom. They are left to grow for longer, until they have spread out into that meaty cap.

The cremini mushroom is in between these two varieties. It’s a moderately mature version of the white button mushroom, which is why it has a similar flavor. It’s younger than the portobello, but still related, which is why these are sometimes sold as “baby bella” or “baby portobello” mushrooms.

Mushrooms in pattered bowl

Images are from my Mushrooms post and the Day of the Mushroom post. Every food has it’s own national holiday, even ‘shrooms.

4. Pass Down Your Photos, Not Your Hard Drives – Tips to rescue your photos from being banished to hard drive obscurity. Can you relate to this? I sure can. My daughter’s life is cataloged not in photo albums, but on zip drives. Her birthday parties are right next cookies and cakes and if I’m not careful, one day as I’m deleting four year old photos of slices of cake with horrible lighting, I’ll delete the fourth birthday party, too. Or lose it all together in a forgotten about box that’s shoved into a storage locker.

“I have a reoccurring nightmare. My son is getting married, and he wants photos for the wedding slideshow. With a look of shame I hand over my box of outdated hard drives with useless titles like, Edmund, Rory the Roman, and T-Rex. Decades of photos so poorly organized trying to find a good one plays out like the plot to Treasure Island. I always wake in a cold sweat swearing that I’ll start printing my photos.”

Pass Down Your Photos, Not Your Hard Drives

5. The Just Like Heaven tshirt and the Love Struck Leggings from Ellie. They have a rotating stock of workout gear for running, yoga, and if you’re like me, regular life clothes. Yoga pants are pretty much the only pants I wear.

Their stock rotates monthly with fair prices. There are no cough-cough $150 pairs of workout pants on their site but the quality is good, the fabric is soft and stretchy, and so far, it’s held up nicely. Something about spring always makes me want to re-vamp my workout wear.  Or shall I say, my ‘wardrobe’ since I live in my workout-wear. I’d rather be comfortable than in tight jeans.

Love Struck Leggings

6. Honey-Vanilla Teddy Bear Challah – The cutest bread I’ve ever seen

Honey-Vanilla Teddy Bear Challah

I love my Challah recipe because it’s as soft as ccroissants, fluffy, and nearly no-work yeast bread, with dough that can be made up to a week in advance and just hang out in your fridge until you’re ready to bake it. It’s just not as cute as that bear.

Challah in baking pan

7. These Overnight Buttermilk Soft and Fluffy Cinnamon Rolls may not be described as cute either, but holy moly they were good. Put them in a pan Friday or Saturday night and wake up to glorious weekend morning breakfast the next day.

Close up of Overnight Buttermilk Soft and Fluffy Cinnamon Rolls

8. I recently posted about Juicing and that I almost never juice anymore because of juicer cleanup and it being such a pain. Cooks Illustrated recently came out with reviews on 6 popular electric juicers

Ironically, I owned an upgraded model of their winning model, the Breville JE98XL Juice Fountain Plus 850-Watt Juice Extractor. Mine was a Breville 800JEXL Juice Fountain Elite 1000-Watt Juice Extractor, which is an all stainless steel and slightly fancier version with a few more bells and whistles than their winner, but I gave it away about six months ago because I just wasn’t using it. Whoops.

But I still have a couple other juices I can dust off. Ironically, my husband has been asking me to start juicing again. He’s gone from meat and potatoes to kale, cucumber, and ginger juice in the span of our relationship. I never saw that coming.


9. How to Pick the Best Avocados – Avocados don’t ripen on trees. Instead, they ripen or soften after they have been harvested. Skin color is one clue to ripeness, but is ultimately determined by pressure.

Color can sometimes be misleading as avocado “softening” can occur at varying rates, independent of the color.

How to Pick the Best Avocados

I went on an Avocado Tour last spring and learned all about them

Avocado factory

10. Vanilla Avocado Banana Ice Cream (Raw, Vegan, GF) – Rich, creamy, sweet, very ice cream-like, and no ice cream maker needed.

People write saying they enjoy the healthier ice cream and that it doesn’t ‘taste like avocados’. Instead, the avocados lend richness, fattiness, and smoothness. And their color is perfect for St. Paddy’s Day.

Vanilla Avocado Banana Ice Cream in ramekin

Sort of like how Soft Batch Dark Brown Sugar Coconut Oil Cookies don’t taste strongly of coconut. Must be something about those healthy, plant-based fats.

Overhead Soft Batch Dark Brown Sugar Coconut Oil Cookies

What are your Friday Things?

Do you juice or want to? Fan of mushrooms or avocados?

When were you in Vegas last? How are you with printing out your photos? Favorite workout-wear?

If you’ve made anything, done, seen, or bought anything fabulous recently, feel free to link it up in the comments.

Have a great weekend and check back for giveaways!

About the Author

Welcome to AverieCooks! Here you’ll find fast and easy recipes that taste amazing and are geared for real life. Nothing fussy or complicated, just awesome tasting dishes everyone loves!

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  1. Thank you so much for featuring my Vanilla Cupcake Comparison! I am so glad that you found it informative : )

    1. Thank YOU for putting it together and I had so many readers in the comments to me thank me for it and say they loved it. I even had one lady (Barbara Bakes) make cupcakes last week based off your comparison that she found via this post…so it came full circle, so to speak :) Thanks for your hard work! I love that post!

  2. Is there a particular juicier you would recommend? Everyday sort of use, easy to clean, and maybe juices leafy greens as well as apples, beets, carrots, etc…

    1. No, that’s the problem. I have 4 and don’t love any of them. The best juicer and if I could afford it I’d probably get a Norwalk but they’re like 2 grand. For everyday juicing and something that’s easy to use, easy to clean, lots of people swear by Breville and their Juice Plus and Juice Plus Elite’s but I had one and it was a PAIN to clean. So I don’t really recommend it. Some people like them, I didn’t. There is another one called Hurom that some people like but again, this is not a cheap juicer. I would go on your local Craiglist or ebay and see if you can pick a used one up and see if you can stick w/ juicing (it’s pricey b/c of the volume of food you need). I love!!! juices. I just wish there was a convenient DIY way!

  3. Speaking of ripening avocados… did you know you can get an avocado to ripen quicker by placing it next to (or in a paper bag with) a banana? I forget the science behind it (something with chemicals or gases, I believe), but it works! I tried it last weekend with a unripe avocado that I wanted to eat the next day.

    1. etheleyne gas and yep, all over it :)

      you can put things in paper bags with other things, i.e. bananas, mangoes, tomatoes, stone fruit, etc to trick ripening based on what’s at what stage and what the end goal is!

  4. Kudos to Laura for baking her way through all those cupcake recipes (I’m exhausted after one batch!). Thanks for the link!

    I’m terribly unorganized when it comes to food photos (please, let me forget about those first “flashy” overexposed photos!). Depending on the success of each recipe, I sometimes title the folder with a few “choice” words. ;)

    1. I’m exhausted just after that one batch, too! Can you even imagine doing it for real!

      And my food photos are just all ON my computer by date added. Other than that, there is no organization. They’re just here. It’s my personal photos of actual human beings that I need to be more proactive about…like, hugely! And of course, if I could de-clutter 90% of the photos I take of food and organize or just delete them, that would be a nice bonus :)

  5. Good info on the mushrooms; I did not know that the cremini and bella were the same variety. I’ve always preferred the cremini because they are drier and don’t water-down the taste of the recipe as much.

  6. Never been to Vegas but would love to go one day. Had no idea that all mushrooms are basically the same. That is crazy! I have always wanted a juicer mostly so that I could use fresh juice – carrot, apple – in baking.

  7. I remember Laura’s cupcake post…I still find it so fascinating! (I’m a nerd like that!)

  8. Are you going to Vega Uncorked? I want to go! I tried to talk my Husband into going, but he isn’t in to it. I have so many of the over ripe avocados in my fridge. lol If I cut them and they are still green, I’ll use them. :) I like your post today, very informative!

    1. Not going but you’re the Vegas queen…I think you should twist your hubby’s arm :)

  9. Holy cow! I looked at the prices of the events that aren’t already sold out in Vegas and my budget would never allow for that. Fun to dream though!

  10. Hi Averie! It was so nice seeing you last week. I LOVED your “Friday Things.” In fact, I think I’m going to work on a batch of cinnamon rolls tonight so I can have it for breakfast with the kids tomorrow. :)

    I also made a batch of your peanut butter choc chip with oatmeal cookies earlier in the week. They were a hit. :)

    Have a great weekend!


    1. So glad to hear those cookies were a hit and if you end up making the cinn rolls, please LMK how it goes! Wow – your life went from no one to bake for other than you and the hubs to two hungry mouths to feed…overnight! I’ve been thinking about you the past week and wondering how things are shaping up for you!

  11. Wow! I loved the #2 post about the cupcakes — how interesting! I’m a huge fan of yellow cake with thick chocolate frosting!

  12. So many great topics! I haven’t been to Vegas since 1999…wow! By sight alone, I think the Glorious Treats cupcake looked the best. That festival you went to sounds like a blast! I’ve been crazy about cremini mushrooms for years. I love mushrooms in general, but cremini’s are just meaty, flavorful, and taste great in anything. My favorite workout wear is Lululemon and Lucy!

    1. Oh wow if you ever went back to Vegas now, to say things have changed is an understatement! And I am so into creminis lately too…I love them for all the reasons you mentioned!

  13. Lovely post, I like everything. And I was in Vegas 2 weeks ago, what a city. I also visited buffet in our hotel – I ate a lot that day, hahaha. Have a great weekend!

  14. Happy Friday! The last time I was in Vegas was right when I turned 21. Fun times. Too bad I can’t hold down a drink anymore!

    1. I think many of us do our best drinking before we’re legal :) I am such a cheap date now it’s not even funny. lol

  15. Averie, I love your Friday Things posts. If I had known about Vegas, I totally would’ve gone – that sounds like such a fantastic event. I’m going to the International Food Bloggers Conference in Seattle in September – I’m super excited. Any chance you’ll be making a trip to the Pacific Northwest for it?

    1. No, won’t be at that one but have a great time! There are so many to choose from and I can’t even keep up with them all! :)

  16. LOVED this roundup!
    Dang- you have done it all; avocado tour eh!!
    Have a great weekend!

  17. Too many ironic coincidences here, per usual! I know we talked about mushroom brushes; here’s the one I ended up buying:


    I was just looking at my juicer this morning and thinking that I really should get it out and juice something. I’ve only used it twice since getting it for Christmas. I think I’ll get more use from it this summer. Winter isn’t exactly overflowing with produce here in WI.

    I used to live so close to Vegas and I have been there so much, and I hate it. I’d much rather be in Barbados. Or on an avocado tour. I want some avocado right now. I’m hungry.

  18. We usually do our pictures in chunks going from September to September… I don’t know why, instead of just doing from January to January like a normal person, but when we started our albums I think it was September so we just kept it like that since…. But we usually do a mass printing each September of the previous years pictures and then put them in an album and feel accomplished!


    1. That’s impressive about your photos – wow, I need to get better, way better, on printing mine out!

  19. An avocado tour sounds amazing, almost as good as the Ben and Jerry’s Tour or the Cabot Cheese Tour!

  20. Ooo, this post reminds me that I want to buy a juicer. A couple friends recommended the Omega Vert 350HD but I don’t know if I can justify buying one at that price so I think I’m going to go ahead and buy Cook’s Illustrated’s recommended one!

    1. Yeah the Omega’s are in a league $$ of their own :) If you end up buying the C.I. one (Breville), LMK how you like it!

  21. All of that looks so fun and I can totally relate to the hard drive. GAH! I must print pictures!! Jealous of the avocado tour. seriously

    1. I really need to get better with it. As moms, we go overboard when they’re babies with pics and then…well, at least for me, I have fallen off the printing-out wagon and need to get back on!

  22. I can so relate to the photo issue. I stopped printing out photos of my son when he was three. He turns 10 next month and we’ve got thousands of digital photos of him taken since then that I’m so worried about. I keep thinking about those high school graduation photo slideshows they do and worrying about not having images for it.

    I’ve never been to Vegas. After a couple hours on a cruise boat with slot machines the first year we were married, my husband and I realized we could both become gambling junkies in an instant. So, we don’t trust ourselves to visit Vegas…

    1. As moms, we tend to go overboard when they’re babies with pics and then…well, at least for me, I have fallen off the printing-out wagon and need to get back on! My daughter is 6 and the past few years, I’ve printed out so very little!

      For me, gambling holds my attention for about 5 minutes, as long as it takes to lose 20 bucks and when I realize I could have just bought x,y,z with it instead, I instantly have no desire to gamble! I’d rather go to Vegas to shop, eat, people watch, see shows…I love it. For about 3 days, then I gotta get outta there!

  23. I’m headed to Vegas in a few weeks. I’m in desperate need of some sunshine and good food. I’m off to check out those vanilla cupcakes. Thanks for the link.

  24. Love this! Last time I was in Vegas was for a girls only trip. . we did a lot of shopping and gambling. . and everyone purchased something that was highly overpriced. . when in Vegas! :P (I got my forst pair of jimmy choo’s!)

    1. Can I come with you next time? A girls trip that involved Jimmy Choo-buying is MY kinda trip!!! :)

  25. Fun post! My husband was just mentioning how we needed to head back to Vegas sometime. Would love to do one of those Food & Wine events while we’re there!

  26. What I would give to go to Vegas for that! Eat my way through a weekend, that’s for sure!

    I’m dying over your Challah bread!

    1. One of my favorite breads I’ve ever made! Like we’ve talked about with cakes, Bundt’s arent popular, but loaf cakes are. Same with this bread. I don’t think people can really grasp how good it is b/c it’s not as common-looking as their definition of ‘bread’ but it’s like…croissants, with none of the work!

  27. Great post! I went to Vegas as a kid (I think I was maybe 14), so I didn’t get the full experience by any means! I do remember the food and shopping being awesome though! I’d love to go!

    Having made your challah before, I can attest that it’s awesome!! It’s incredibly light and fluffy – not all challah is. My only problem was that my braid didn’t look nearly as pretty as yours! :)

    1. I just wrote this to Dorothy (comment next to yours)
      “Bundt’s arent popular, but loaf cakes are. Same with this bread. I don’t think people can really grasp how good it is b/c it’s not as common-looking as their definition of ‘bread’ but it’s like…croissants, with none of the work!” — You’re right though, some challah isn’t soft and fluffy but I am so glad you love it. Braiding…well, looks don’t effect taste :)

  28. I love mushrooms. I love avocados. I have a juicer and though I use it, it’s not very often. The clean up is a pain and I hate the waste that comes along with juicing. I’ve never been to Vegas, I live on the East Coast and going that far west is probably not likely to ever happen! I don’t remember the last time I printed out photos, maybe last summer for a Father’s Day gift?? I love my Nike and Underarmour cold weather running gear the most right now.

    1. ” The clean up is a pain and I hate the waste that comes along with juicing” — yep! I know. I love the results/taste but the cleanup, cost, and waste – deter me!

      I love Nike running gear and shoes, too. Their shoes are the only ones that fit me. 20 years later as a runner, I am 100% brand loyal to them!

  29. I’ve only been to Vegas twice–the last time was 2007. We flew to San Diego so I could finish up my grad school requirements and then we drove to Vegas to see Cirque Du Soleil and hang out for a couple of days. There is so much to see and do there, even for those who don’t really gamble! I didn’t know portobello, cremini and white mushrooms were all the same variety..but I haven’t met a mushroom I don’t like yet! I have been the queen of good intentions for the last year or so with the juicing…there’s no way I have the time to make a fresh glass or two on a daily basis. I have made larger batches and then frozen them in smaller bottles but that still takes a pretty big chunk of time from prep to clean up!

    1. True juicing aficionados shun the idea of pre-making juice b/c they claim the nutrients ‘die’ and that you don’t get the same benefit and while fresh is always best, your idea of freezing is a good one! But yes, regardless, still a ton of prep,planning, and cleanup!

      Vegas is such a mecca for food, shopping, the shows…there is so much to do besides ever even gamble one dollar! I love Cirque shows. They are just the best ever! I can’t wait to take Skylar to one, one day! And how cool that you were in San Diego in 2007. I was a new mom and hardly remember 2007 :) It was a blur!

  30. I’ll admit I shell out the big bucks for my workout bottoms- shorts, capris, etc. I need that little ipod pocket!
    But my top? $5 tank tops I buy in large and cut to size so they’re nice and breathable.

    1. I love the way you think! I always buy my tops bigger for breathing room! I hate having something sticking to me when I’m running and sweating. No bueno.

  31. Avocado tour?! That sounds like the best kind of tour ever. I’ve been super obsessed lately.

    1. I tried to click thru to your site but I think there was an error in the way you typed it b/c I’m getting a 404 error!

      1. ooopsies. My brain turns to jelly on fridays, apparently :)

  32. LOVE mushrooms – pretty much any kind to be honest. There are a few that are too chewy, but otherwise, send them my way. This isn’t new, but I’ve been more obsessed with it lately – nooch. I think I may have an addiction.