Featured Foodie: Rodney Blackwell

Neysa : February 10, 2012 05:09 : Featured Foodies

Triple-pattied, bacon-topped, and always with a side of fries, Rodney Blackwell is on a quest to find your town’s best burger.  Then he’ll put it on Burger Junkies so you can find it, too.  Based in his hometown of Sacramento, California, Rodney travels the country finding, eating, photographing, and writing about the most delectable beefy sandwich creations.  Drawing from a love for food photography, Rodney’s images are intense and immodest.  A sloppy, half-eaten triple-cheeseburger, iceberg lettuce stuck to a bun, french fry crumbs scattered on crumpled silver paper — Rodney finds a way to make it beautiful.  Or maybe there’s just something inherently appealing about all hamburgers that Rodney captures with each shot.  In his reviews, he assigns his subject a number score based on five factors: bun, flavor, juiciness, value, and the ever-mysterious “B” factor–that certain unspoken something that makes each burger experience unique.  From clean, artisan kielbasa sliders to a quick Quarter Pounder with Cheese,  Rodney has little pretense when it comes to burger consumption: a good burger is a good burger.  And while Rodney prefers his medium rare, you can be sure each Burger Junkies review will be well done.  more »


Featured Foodie: Meaghan Mountford

Neysa : February 3, 2012 03:40 : Featured Foodies

Meaghan Mountford decorates cookies.  Probably some of the most amazing cookies you’ve ever seen. Meticulous, clean, and direct, Meaghan’s decorating technique is nearly flawless.  From a googly-eyed marshmallow monster to a 20-piece snowman, you might say Meaghan builds cookies like a carpenter builds a barn: smooth lines, exact measurements, everything in its place.  But the greater allure of Meaghan’s work comes from her personal style.  Take her choice of subject matter — Marvel superheroes, MTV, Twinkies and Snowballs (to commemorate the snack food giant’s recent bankruptcy claim) — Meaghan makes cookies that appeal to all ages, but hang on to a distinct thirtysomething sense of ironic whimsy. Her designs are  playful, nostalgic, topical, and reveal a person who, despite her talent and accomplishments, just doesn’t take herself too seriously.  I was first introduced to Meaghan when I found her Melting Snowman Sugar Cookie, which has gone viral on Facebook and Pinterest.  Credit for this popular cookie doesn’t often come back to Meaghan.  Her response?  “I’ll just wait for my windfall of riches.  Someday… someday.”

Meaghan is on the cusp of a book release.  Sugarlicious promises to be a cornucopia of ideas for decorating not just cookies, but also cakes, cupcakes, cake pops, marshmallows, and just about anything made with butter and sugar.  Here at Key Ingredient, we are delighted to feature her as our first Featured Foodie.  Enjoy! more »


Holiday Bakedown: The Cutest Christmas Treats

Neysa : December 14, 2011 08:19 : Featured Foodies

Holiday baking.  Every year we pull out the cookie sheets, the pie tins, the cake pans, and we make something sweet and buttery for the people we love.  What is it about holiday baking that puts us in such a good mood?  Is it just the sugar rush?  I don’t think so.  It might be that during the holidays, we give ourselves permission to set aside our worries, indulge a little more, and celebrate our lives with warm people and delicious food.

Because of the collective excitement around sweet holiday treats, there’s an inevitable explosion of creativity in holiday baking.  With unlimited access to these works of art on Pinterest, Stumbleupon, and Facebook, you could go into sugar shock just looking at them all.  So at Key Ingredient, we compiled our favorite adorably festive holiday treats.  We’ve only chosen six because that was all the sweetness we could stand in one afternoon.  But there are literally hundreds, even thousands, more amazing treats out there. Got some to share?  We’d love to see photos on our facebook page!  So let’s begin, shall we?


#6. Snowman Hot Chocolate by Meet the Dubiens


Probably the easiest treat of the bunch to make, Jill’s Snowman Hot Chocolate revitalizes a holiday food staple.  A few food-marker-decorated marshmallows and whipped cream, and you’ve got a warming and memorable treat.  Jill originally made this drink for her children, but I’ll guarantee that it can make anyone, whatever their age, smile.

#5. Grinch Peppermint Chocolate Cupcakes by Sugar Swings.

Who doesn’t secretly (or maybe not so secretly) look forward to watching How the Grinch Stole Christmas every year?  Michelle at Sugar Swings directed her enthusiasm for the shriveled-hearted Who into Grinch-Inspired Cupcakes.

A surprising peppermint chocolate cake with peppermint buttercream makes these little cuties extra festive, and the eyes and hat are made from candy melts.  You’ll love them more than a three-decker-sauerkraut-and-toadstool sandwich with arsenic sauce.

#4. Peanut Butter Reindeer Cookies by Bakergirl

Kerry’s Peanut Butter Reindeer Cookies get a special mention for two reasons.  First, because the cuteness to time investment ratio is so high.  After making a standard peanut butter cookie, you’re only a few M&M’s and chocolate pretzels away from these adorable Christmas goodies.  And second, because Kerry made these cookies last year and they’re still making the rounds on the social media sites.  Staying power certainly says something about these treats, and no doubt we’re drawn to them for both their taste and simplicity.

Plus, this recipe is extremely versatile.  If you’re not feeling peanut butter cookies for the holidays, you could easily make a sugar or gingerbread version.

#3. Christmas Light Cookies by Fork and Beans


Featuring vegetarian, gluten-free, dairy-free recipes, Cara at Fork and Beans is new to the blogging game.  But it’s hard to tell.  Her photographs are bright and pretty, her writing compelling and heartwarming, and her recipes clean and simple.  The inspiration for these little Christmas light cookies came to Cara after she realized that, despite her day-to-day “pessimistic optimism” toward life, she can’t help but shuck it all off around Christmas time.

Christmas reawakens the kid in all of us, Cara says, and makes her think that maybe her glass is actually half full … of eggnog. The non-dairy kind, of course.

#2. Penguin Santa Cake Pops from 365 Days of Cake Pops

Johanna, author of 365 Days of Cake Pops and owner of Pop.O.Licious Cake Pop Shop in Puyallup, Washington, says it best:

Penguin cake pops are cute by themselves, but put a Santa hat on them and they’re downright adorable!

We agree, which is why these little guys are our #2 cutest Christmas treat this year.  True, they take a little bit of work, but Johanna provides an easy step-by-step for how to make them.  (Hint: A Hershey’s Kiss is used for the hat).

Since Thanksgiving, Johanna has been posting a new Christmas themed cake pop every day, and she’ll continue through December 25.  Check out all her amazing (and I do mean amazing) work on her blog and her facebook page.

#1. Melting Snowman Cookie by The Decorated Cookie 

Chances are you’ve seen the melty snowman cookie by now.  He’s spilling onto blogs and recipe sites everywhere, in all sorts of incarnations.  Who did it first?  We’ve got it here.  Meet Meaghan from the Decorated Cookie Blog.  She created Mr. Melty in 2008, and since then her unfortunate snowman has gone viral.  Here’s an excerpt from her original post:

Oh, poor snowman. If you don’t like the sentiment this expresses, [you can] make your snowman smiley.  That way, it will appear the snowman understands his inevitable demise and doesn’t mind so much the nature of things.

If you check out her blog, it’s not hard to believe Meaghan created this sweet and funny cookie that has blown up around the internet.  Marvel at her gorgeous decorated cookies, with recipes ranging from simple to incredibly intricate, but always easy to follow.  Meaghan’s amazing recipes are compiled for you in her upcoming book, Sugarlicious, which will be available in February.  You can pre-order on Amazon now.

Think you’ll try your hand at one of these cute creations?  We’ll be featuring even more cute holiday creations on our facebook page, so check us out and post your own holiday creations.  We’ll keep going until we go into cuteness overload.  Or sugar coma.

Whatever you make for your family today, we’re wishing you a sweet holiday season!

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