The Dish Culinary Student Blogs Justin Boyle <![CDATA[15 Smokin' Chicago Chefs]]> 2012-10-30T10:16:00Z 2012-10-30T10:16:00Z Read More ]]> If you're a gourmet living in Chicago, you already know how lucky you are, with so many culinary traditions to choose from. You can find casual or fine dining, from succulent street food to elegant table service, with fresh produce straight from local farms. To guide you through this sizzling hotbed of culinary talent, we've listed 15 well-known faces on the Chicago food scene (in alphabetical order). Some of these chefs have won or been nominated for awards from the James Beard Foundation, Michelin and more. We also explore their backgrounds and provide directions on how to find the cuisine that put them on the map:

  • Andrew Zimmerman of Sepia on Jefferson Street turns out New American cuisine in the vintage atmosphere of an 1890 print shop. Zimmerman, a former musician, took over Sepia in 2009 and ever since has orchestrated inventive American cuisine with Italian accents, using fresh and often locally sourced ingredients. You can indulge in seasonal specialties such as apple cider consommé with pork and chestnut dumplings.
  • Anthony Martin, executive chef of TRU on St. Clair Street, creates progressive French cuisine. Stunningly designed dishes reflect Martin's art studies as well as his training at the Pennsylvania Culinary School. Martin offers carefully selected caviars, exquisite desserts and prix-fixe or tasting-tour menus. Try an appetizer menu including Atlantic skate or river salmon, before moving on to Wagyu beef braised with aromatics.
  • Art Smith's Table Fifty-Two is located on Elm Street, a few blocks west of Lake Michigan, but the food comes straight from his roots on the Florida-Georgia border. Smith's jazzed-up comfort food uses ingredients sourced from regional organic farms. You can enjoy good eats under the high ceiling of the elegant upstairs room or in the welcoming, home-and-hearth atmosphere on the ground floor. For brunch, you can choose from heart-healthy foods or richer fare like fried chicken and waffles.
  • Carlos Gaytan of Mexique integrates his French culinary training and his Mexican heritage. With recipes inspired by the French occupation of Mexico in the mid-19th century, Gaytan takes classic south-of-the-border dishes like tacos and huaraches to new heights. Gaytan's diverse path has included artistic ice carving as well as assisting in his mother's restaurant in Taxco, Mexico. He introduces patrons to themes such as moles and their many regional variations. Just imagine -- chocolate enchiladas.
  • Carol Wallack of sola serves up contemporary American fare prepared with deep respect for the culinary traditions and cultural diversity of Hawaii. She delivers a taste of the Pacific Rim to North Lincoln Avenue with her creative fish, meat and fowl preparations paired with sides such as adzuki beans, red rice stir fry, or kim chee and pork belly. Wallack has created an ambience that blends Midwestern hospitality with her "Surfer Girl" love of the islands.
  • Carrie Nahabedian of NAHA offers seasonal New American recipes with Mediterranean influences. A Chicago native, Nahabedian builds on her California experience as executive chef of the Four Seasons Hotel as well as her Armenian culinary heritage. NAHA's online menu introduces you to the farms that supply the fresh ingredients, such as the lunch salad featuring beets and sweet Michigan cherries.
  • Grant Achatz is a partner at Alinea, which is well-known for progressive American cuisine. Alinea on North Halsted holds the coveted three stars in the Michelin Guide, so you'll need to book in advance. Just the restaurant website is mouth-watering, with art gallery-style closeups of menu items like squab inspired by Miró. Achatz's experience includes his own family's restaurant, The Culinary Institute of America, Thomas Keller's The French Laundry and a stint as a wine-maker.
  • Jason Paskewitz of Rustic House in Lincoln Park serves Midwestern-style American cuisine. The Chicago Tribune awarded the restaurant three stars, and the three-course prix-fixe menu is affordable, currently under $40. The décor at Rustic House lives up to its name, providing a warm and intimate environment for Paskewitz's seasonal farm-to-table fare. Check out the nightly rotisserie specials like organic chicken or entrées such as swordfish chop.
  • Lee Wolen joined The Lobby at The Peninsula in 2012, ready to work his magic on the hotel's upscale American cuisine. A graduate of the Pennsylvania Culinary Institute, Wolen worked in Chicago before his experience at famous establishments such as New York's Eleven Madison Park and Spain's El Bulli. The Lobby features 20-foot windows, a chocolate bar, live music, and a menu updated with vegan and gluten-free options.
  • Matthias Merges of Yusho, located on Kedzie Avenue in Logan Square, serves up yakitori-style skewers and hearty noodle dishes paired with cocktails, wines and spirits. A graduate of The Culinary Institute of America, Merges is former executive chef of Charlie Trotter's, a Chicago culinary legend since 1987. Merges and his restaurant Yusho offer an experienced yet fresh take on Japanese street food.
  • Michael Kornick's mk The Restaurant approaches New American cuisine with a no-frills earnestness that keeps the focus on the food and flavors. The atmosphere invites diners to enjoy playful preparations that let the ingredients speak for themselves. A fall tasting menu spotlights seasonal treats such as cumin-scented parsnip soup. Beyond his management and culinary work, Kornick is dedicated to supporting community organizations.
  • Paul Kahan of avec offers Mediterranean-style comfort food in a friendly wine bar. Kahan took the initiative to introduce Chicago residents to communal-table dining on the Near West Side, serving charcuterie, salumi plates and dishes that can be a snack or a meal. Kahan grew up around delis and smokehouses, then detoured into computer science before returning to his calling. Kahan integrates products from Midwestern farms into his cuisine.
  • Ryan Poli of Tavernita proposes a European-driven menu of small plates with Latin-American flair, served up in a lively environment that gleams like gold. A veteran of Thomas Keller's The French Laundry and trained in classic French and American cuisine, Poli draws on his experience in Spain for inspiration in crafting tastes at Tavernita. With other area chefs, Chicago native Poli works on the Pilot Light Project to expose young people to healthy eating.
  • Stephanie Izard of Girl & the Goat serves New American cuisine along with fun foods and craft beers in the West Loop. Izard took her formal training from Le Cordon Bleu at the Scottsdale Culinary Institute and gained fame as the winner of "Top Chef: Season Four." She uses close partnerships with area farmers to create casually elegant, seasonally appropriate dishes. Try the grilled baby octopus or the chickpea fritters.
  • Tony Mantuano designed the modern Italian cuisine at Terzo Piano in the Art Institute of Chicago. Mantuano gained national visibility competing on TV during the 2010 season of "Top Chef Masters." Mantuano uses local, organic ingredients to produce dishes and desserts with a new perspective on classic Italian style.

Chicago is home to dozens of exciting chefs and restaurants, and these 15 examples are just a taste. Next time you're wondering where to go for a night out in the Windy City, close your eyes and point at a spot on this list.

Candice Mancini <![CDATA[15 Portland Chefs Worth Celebrating]]> 2012-10-23T09:46:00Z 2012-10-23T09:46:00Z Read More ]]> portland.chefsPortland has gained a reputation in the national media for exquisite cuisine. In Oregon's unique foodie-sphere, jean-clad diners frequent fine dining establishments, and residents share an appreciation of local, seasonal and sustainable food. The rich diversity of cuisine includes American, Italian, Mexican, Peruvian, Middle European and Thai…not to mention gourmet drinking snacks.

We've chosen 15 of Portland's best-known chefs and listed them alphabetically. Several of them have been nominated for honors such as the Best Chef: Northwest award from the James Beard Foundation. We also describe the style of cuisine featured at the restaurants they helped transform into culinary icons:

  • Andy Ricker at Pok Pok. Authentic northern Thai food. Opening in 2005 outside of Ricker's Portland home, Pok Pok has gained fame among the nation's Thai restaurants. Ricker uses authentic ingredients and gains inspiration from frequent travels to Asia. He has earned the title of James Beard's Best Chef: Northwest, and The Oregonian has named Pok Pok Restaurant of the Year. With this encouragement, Ricker opened Pok Pok NY in New York City in 2012.
  • Benjamin Gonzales and Shannon Dooley-Gonzales of Nuestra Cocina. Traditional Mexican cooking. With a name that translates to "our kitchen," Nuestra Cocina embodies the values of family meals and local ingredients. Chefs Benjamin and Shannon describe their menu as old peasant style Mexican, with authentic dishes such as handmade tortillas and cochinito pibil (pork shoulder). At Nuestra Cocina, you can also sign up for cooking classes.
  • Cathy Whims from Nostrana. Classical and innovative Italian. Whims attended the School for American Chefs and has cooked with renowned chefs across Italy. Whims marries her Italian cooking education with local ingredients, using a wood oven and wood-fired grill. Nostrana lets you discover the complex flavors of simple cooking.
  • Christopher Israel of Grüner. Middle European and Alpine. Grüner's eclectic menu combines hearty and light flavors. Sample locally grown and raised food, ranging from rabbit terrine with pickled rhubarb to smoked trout salad with apples and kohlrabi. Try out the bar menu for handcrafted burgers and more. With Israel's background in graphic design, you can expect beautiful food.
  • David Anderson at Genoa. Classic Italian. Originally from Alaska, Anderson is a former Iron Chef Portland and was named a Rising Star in the Oregonian's Diner issue. At Genoa, you can enjoy Anderson's five-course dinners and dishes such as house-made pasta stuffed with spinach, ricotta and mascarpone. The restaurant, an OpenTable Diners' Choice Winner, offers pairings of fine food with special "orange" wines.
  • Gabriel Rucker from Le Pigeon. American. Innovative dishes range from rabbit and eel terrine to pigeon with figs, pecans and smoked bourbon ice cream. Rucker's talent and culinary courage have earned him accolades such Food & Wine's Best New Chef and James Beard's Rising Star Chef. Rucker's notorious rapport with customers adds to Le Pigeon's festive ambience.
  • Gabrielle Quiñónez Denton and Greg Denton at Ox. Argentine-inspired Portland cuisine. Both chefs graduated culinary school with honors, Gabrielle at the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco and Greg at The Culinary Institute of America. The two met in the Napa Valley, and they opened this warm, eclectic neighborhood restaurant in 2012. At Ox, smoked beef tongue, wild Alaskan halibut, cocoa-braised lamb shoulder and ceviche sit side-by-side on a lengthy, diverse menu.
  • Greg Higgins from Higgins. American. Higgins won the Best Chef: Northwest award from the James Beard Foundation, and Nation's Restaurant News highlighted his restaurant. From meats to vegetables, flours to coffee, the local ingredients result in fresh, colorful feasts. Menus mirror the seasons -- you may find a smoked Northwest seafood and pickled vegetable platter or a forest mushroom dinner featuring crispy chantrelle dumplings.
  • Hank Costello of Andina. Peruvian. Costello and the Andina team offer "new Peruvian" cuisine, including native, pre-colonial ingredients. In addition to his position as head chef of Andina, Costello operates a catering business dedicated to local, healthy foods. Andina is located in Portland's vibrant Pearl District, and the menu includes tapas, vegetarian and gluten-free foods.
  • Jason Barwikowski from The Woodsman Tavern. American. Barwikowski offers a large, unusual menu with entire sections on drinking snacks and country ham. The extensive food selection is matched by a drink menu with pages of wines, beers and creative cocktails. In addition to winning PDX's Prince of Porc award, Barwikowski was named by fellow Portlander Andy Ricker as the best dressed area chef, in an interview with Bon Appétit magazine.
  • Jason French at Ned Ludd. Wood-fired American cuisine. French attended L'Academie de Cuisine, where he received a James Beard scholarship; he has also worked with Portland's Vitaly Paley. At Ned Ludd, if it's not raw -- meat, fish, vegetable -- it's probably cooked in a wood-fired stove. The menu changes regularly, with delicacies like house-cured bacon and whole roasted trout. The restaurant pays homage to the food artisans and farms that supply fresh ingredients.
  • Naomi Pomeroy from Beast. American and more. Early in her career, Pomeroy hosted an underground supper club from her home. The 24-seat Beast has maintained this intimate house-party ambiance with communal tables. The six-course prix-fixed dinner menu might include Corsican or vegetarian specialties. Pomeroy has earned accolades from Bon Appétit and Food & Wine, and she was a contestant in Top Chef Masters.
  • Vitaly Paley of Paley's Place. American. After studies as a concert pianist, Paley chose a chef's life and graduated from The French Culinary Institute in New York. He has earned the titles of Iron Chef champion, James Beard's Best Chef: Northwest and Portland's Prince of Porc. Paley's Place serves local, organic, sustainable foods in a Victorian house where you can eat outdoors. Seasonal items include escargot à la Bordelaise with roast marrow bones and garlic or Carman Ranch grass-fed ribeye with creamed corn.

When you explore these restaurants, you can enjoy the diversity of Portland's cuisine, savor the flavors of the Northwest and become a part of the local food community.

Justin Boyle <![CDATA[10 Places Where You Gotta Get a Bagel]]> 2012-10-11T14:38:00Z 2012-10-11T14:38:00Z Read More ]]> truly good bagel can fill your belly, lift your spirits, and make you swear that there's more than flour, salt, water and yeast in the dough. Here are some places on the North American continent turning out unbelievable bagels. Have a look at these ten famous bagel spots (listed alphabetically). Set aside some time to make a special trip, or just enjoy reading their menus, tips on bagel care and legends about bagels.

  • The Bagel Broker on Beverly Boulevard in Los Angeles, Calif., celebrates 25 years of bagels in 2012, with special deals if you are 25 years old or it's your 25th anniversary. This L.A. institution offers up breakfast and deli sandwiches alongside classic bagels and bialys for a buck a pop, plus prodigious catering spreads and massive platters of bagel toppings for pickup or delivery.
  • BB's brings authentic hand-rolled, kettle-boiled NYC-style bagels to the heart of the South, operating two locations in Alpharetta, Ga. Known for the no-nonsense attitude and a serious passion for boiled breads, BB's boasts over 30 years of baking experience. This small diner has a big reputation and an even bigger menu; tables won't be held, so show up hungry and order quick.
  • The Original Brooklyn Water Bagel Co. stakes the quality of its bagels, sandwiches, melts and muffins on the water used to make them. With franchises from Beverly Hills, Calif., to Hollywood, Fla., the company sets up high-tech filtration and treatment systems to turn local water into a virtual copy of the stuff from Brooklyn. At these shops, you can try anything from an Asiago bagel to a flagel (AKA flat bagel).
  • Eltana, a café on Capitol Hill in Seattle, Wash., cooks up hand-rolled bagels boiled in honeyed water and baked in wood-fired ovens, following the Montreal style. The menu offers lox spread with pink peppercorns as well as Eastern Mediterranean street food. As if the bagels weren't enough, each week Eltana features a new artisan-made crossword puzzle to entertain you.
  • Ess-a-Bagel turns out to be the first spot on our list in the Big Apple -- any list of bagel places has to get around to New York sooner or later. The founders who opened this spot in 1976 had a background baking in Austria. Ess-a-Bagel has won acclaim throughout the years, not only for its classic bagels but for its creative cream cheeses, salads and sandwiches. Ess-a-Bagel offers kosher deli items and a coffee house, with desserts and pastries like rugelach (yum).
  • House of Bagels, one of the elder statesmen of our list, sits on Geary Boulevard in San Francisco, Calif. The founders brought their Brooklyn recipe to the West Coast 50 years ago. The company also provides copious catering services and a traditional New York deli, with seating to enjoy treats like potato latkes. And don't forget the grocery store and fresh-baked cookies and pastries for your sweet tooth.
  • Kupel's Bakery (pronounced "couples") on Harvard Street in West Boston has dished out bagels, breads, rolls and pastries since it opened in 1978 at the site of the Bagel King. With the logo "best bagels in Boston," Kupel's continues to focus on the honest, no-frills products that helped build its reputation. Specials for autumn include pumpkin-spiced coffee, and bagels come in classic varieties or new styles like jalapeño.
  • Murray's Bagels, at 500 Avenue of the Americas in Greenwich Village, is named after owner and baker Adam Pomerantz's father. In 1996, Pomerantz quit his high-powered finance job, hoping to make the best bagels in New York City. City residents are validating that ambitious dream and eating his wares by the thousands. If you're looking for a quick nosh but not a bagel, Murray's also serves a host of pastries, omelets, salads and such.
  • Schmendricks is a San Francisco outfit with a purist's philosophy and focus on authenticity. The simple menu could fit inside a matchbook, but the business has won the title of Best Bay Area Bagel. This bagel domain extends beyond San Francisco; various local cafés host Schmendricks pop-ups, and you can order bagels delivered as far as Palo Alto. These delights may cost more than some other bagels, but patrons don't seem to mind.
  • St-Viateur Bagel in Montreal has baked bagels based on an Eastern European recipe since its founding in 1957. St-Viateur offers 24-hour shopping and sells over a thousand dozen bagels daily. If you can't visit one of the four bakeries and two bagel cafés in the City of Saints, the firm also ships its products. Fortunately for customers, you don't need to speak French to order "un bagel."

These are some the most delicious bagels we could find, but you can look for other places to satisfy your craving for the perfect boiled bread. Explore your local bagel scene and discover what your hometown bakers are cooking up. You never know, the next great bagel maker might have just opened shop down the street.

Stacey Makely <![CDATA[Beyond Cupcakes: The Next Big Food Trends]]> 2012-08-07T11:41:00Z 2012-08-07T11:41:00Z Read More ]]> Tmeatballshe next time you see a line out the door at that shop on the corner, don't assume patrons are waiting for cupcakes. Tons of unique and hip foods are making their way onto the restaurant - and dessert - scene, from wacky donuts to chili pies. Here's our list (in no particular order) of the next big foods to stand in line for.

10 delicious foods you may want to try in the future

Meatballs: The Meatball Shop - Whether you're craving a meatball slider or a meatball hero, this place has it! With two New York City locations and one in Brooklyn, NY, this cool meatball shop offers diners beef, pork, chicken and even veggie meatballs, which is why it makes our list of next big foods to stand in line for.

Sandwiches: Ike's Place - Located in trendy downtown San Francisco, the more than 80 gourmet sandwiches on Ike's menu include dozens of vegan and vegetarian options - from the vegan strawberry girl (cucumbers, lettuce, tomato, Asian sesame dressing, soy cheese) to the Love Triangle (vegan breaded chicken, real honey, honey mustard, BBQ, pepper jack, Swiss, cheddar). But meat lovers, don't distress! There's tons on the menu for you too.

Soda Fountains: The Ice Cream Bar - You'll feel like you've stepped back into the 30s when you enter this cool San Francisco soda fountain that uses local organic dairy and produce for its homemade ice cream, soda and classic lunch-counter items. The Ice Cream Bar's menu boasts sundaes, malts, milkshakes and more - like homemade ice cream sandwiches in oatmeal, chocolate chip, sugar cookie and brownie or the classic root beer float, but with a twist ("our cold-brewed sassafras based elixir made with 11 herbs and spices").

Meat Pies: Dub Pies - This Brooklyn, NY joint takes the phrase "pie shop" to a whole new level. These "authentic Australian/New Zealand-style gourmet meat pies" can be purchased in the shop or bought online and then shipped to your home. If you're in the market for a 5-inch round dinner pie or a party pack of mini-pies, whether you're craving a steak pie, chili cheese pie or Tex-Mex vegetarian pie, you'll find it at Dub Pies - and chances are it'll be worth it.

: Voodoo Doughnut - Talk about a unique twist on donuts! Voodoo Doughnuts' two locations in Portland and one in Eugene, Ore. are serving up unusual breakfast - and anytime - treats like the Bacon Maple Bar (raised yeast doughnut with maple frosting and bacon on top), Captain My Captain (topped with vanilla frosting and Captain Crunch cereal), and, of course, the Voodoo Doll (made in the shape of, you guessed it, a voodoo doll). Can you say, "yum!"

Cake Pops
: Natalie's Cake Pops - If you can dream it up, it's probably already on the menu of Natalie's Cake Pops. From watermelon pops - complete with chocolate chip "pits" - to funky frogs for kids to decorative pops fancy enough for a wedding, these delectable cake lollipops are shipped from Littleton, Colo., directly to your home (though no shipping May - August because of the heat).

Shawarma: Shawarma Spot - The unique concept of serving Middle Eastern cuisine quickly and efficiently for take-out or delivery puts this Washington, D.C. restaurant on our 'next big foods' list. Besides shawarma, the Shawarma Spot is serving up hummus, kabobs, gyros and more from D.C.'s trendy Adams Morgan neighborhood.

Pies: Chile Pies (& Ice Cream) - Whether it's sweet or savory you're craving, you can find it at this San Francisco, CA pie shop. The house specialty is a signature green chile apple pie (sweet apple & green chile filling, cheddar cheese crust and walnut streusel). Now that's a piece of pie worth waiting for!

Hot Dogs: The Gourmet Hotdog Company - This restaurant's healthy twist on hot dogs earned it a spot on our 'next big foods' list. Using top quality meats for their dogs (and even biodegradable packages to serve them in), this London eatery has everything from the classic frank to the chicken dog to the Chicago-style hot dog.

Peruvian Sandwiches
: Sanguchon - Unique delights abound at this Peruvian sandwich truck in San Francisco's Potrero Hill. Founded by Chef Carlos Altamirano, who owns three Peruvian restaurants in California, the truck offers sandwiches with classic and contemporary Peruvian fillings, as well as traditional side dishes and homemade blended fruit drinks.

Culinary ideas worth trying

Whether this list of 10 unique foods has made your stomach growl or given you ideas for foods you want to try or recreate, it's hardly the end -- you can probably find more ideas online or even in your region -- - sometimes, but not always, it helps to have a city close-by.

Jill Tyndale <![CDATA[10 Sweetest Cupcake Blogs]]> 2012-07-10T10:20:00Z 2012-07-10T10:20:00Z Read More ]]> cupcake-blogsIf you haven't been keeping up with cupcakes, you've been missing a lot. Cupcakes have moved past their child's-birthday-party origins and invaded the world of adult flavor. You can find cupcakes made from every ingredient under the sun, from lasagna cupcakes (seriously) to butternut squash cupcakes to cupcakes with so much chocolate your mouth will explode.

Whether you're new to the cupcake world or you're an old pro, the blogs below promise to offer plenty of new flavor combinations, decorating tips and tricks, and cupcake-themed merchandise. Enjoy this mouth-watering roundup of the cupcake blogosphere, listed in no particular order.

10 cupcake blogs full of sugar and spice

All Things Cupcake. When these people say All Things Cupcake, they mean it. Featuring a team of bloggers spread across the U.S., and one in Australia, ATC focuses more on cupcake culture than on recipes. From cupcake pajama pants to cupcake tattoos, ATC explores the world of cupcake accessories -- and trust us, it's a big one. Recipes to try: Reindeer cupcakes, hidden candy corn cupcakes

The Cupcake Activist. This foodie with a cause is passionate about cupcakes. She reports on her experiences judging cupcake contests, chronicles her thoughts on every cupcake shop she's ever visited, and religiously reviews cupcakes from places as diverse as Dodger Stadium and Costco. She also shares her adventures in the kitchen in a way that's approachable for the home cook. Recipe to try: Red velvet cookies

Cupcake Bakeshop. Cupcake Bakeshop features the sweet creations of software engineer and cupcake baker Cheryl Porro. Cupcake Bakeshop is a great resource for novice bakers, with a guide to equipment, a basics and troubleshooting section, and answers to frequently asked baking questions. You can even find tips for delicately eating your cupcakes. Recipes to try: Fig and almond cupcake bombe, Thai tea cupcakes

The Cupcake Blog. The Cupcake Blog offers photos of pretty much every kind of cupcake you could imagine, from adult beverage cupcakes to superhero cupcakes. And who doesn't love a blog that devotes a whole section to the goodness that is red velvet cupcakes. You can get recipes for many of the featured cupcakes, while others provide purely visual inspriation. Recipes to try: Amaretto apple streusel cupcakes, gluten-free chocolate lavender citrus cupcakes

Cupcake Project. Blogger Stef jumped into the deep end of the cupcake world, offering to make cupcakes for a friend's wedding without having baked a cupcake before -- ever. It must have been a success, as Stef's blog grew into a cupcake resource with recipes, frequently asked cupcake questions and updates on her ongoing wedding cupcake business. Recipes to try: Cucumber martini cupcakes, french toast cupcakes stuffed with peaches and marscapone

Cupcakes Take the Cake. From Hello Kitty to True Blood cupcakes, Cupcakes Take the Cake explores the diverse world of cupcakes in the Big Apple. User-submitted photos and recipes feature prominently on the blog, but Cupcakes Take the Cake is more than just a source of inspiration for the kitchen -- it's a cupcake community. Cupcake meet-ups, where readers can share cupcakes at various bakeries, are mostly in New York City, but the Cupcake Lovers' Cruise to Bermuda (in August 2012) looks to be a delicious event for cupcake lovers worldwide. Recipes to try: Cherry Coke cupcakes, strawberry salsa jalapeno cupcakes

My Little Cupcake. Little cupcakes, as in cakepops, are the focus of his blog. But there's nothing small about the decoration, which features intricate edibles used to create holiday-themed cakepops. The site offers an online store where you can purchase mini-molds and decorating supplies. Once you're stocked up, head over to the recipe section for instructions on creating your own cakepop delights. Recipe to try: Bailey's Irish Cream with a chocolate base, chocolate truffle cookie delight

Raspberri Cupcakes. Steph, who blogs from Sydney, Australia, describes herself as a "food blogger on a constant sugar high." Recipes include creative ideas for sweets from cakes to cookies and, of course, cupcakes. Steph does more than experiment with creative flavors; her blog provides detailed instructions for decoration and stunning presentation as well, including creative ideas such as a macaron and cupcake bouquet. Recipes to try: Rolo chocolate brownie cake, cheesecake-filled chocolate Easter eggs

Utah Loves Cupcakes. Blogger Becky has two passions: Utah and cupcakes. So she started a blog devoted to all things cupcake in the Beehive State. The site features an updated list of Utah cupcake shops as well as a roundup of vendors offering local Utah ingredients such as diary, honey and produce. Professional-quality photography brings the blog to life. Recipe to try: Nutella cupcakes

52 Cupcakes. At heart, this is a classic cupcake blog, with a focus on interesting cupcake flavors and innovative decorating. Sure, there are posts about the best cupcake apps and new mixing equipment, but the focus here is squarely on the flavor. Clear recipe directions as well as tips on helping each recipe shine make this a blog you can bake your way through. Recipes to try: Salted caramel chocolate cupcakes, butternut squash cupcakes with sage frosting

If the recipes mentioned above don't have your mouth watering, there are plenty more on these blogs. Find your favorite flavor combinations or get inspired to create your own.