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Business & marketing advice, news and features, design inspiration, and the art of gifting.

Recipes to Boost Focus in Meetings: Crème Brûlée Maple Apple Tart


Pitching to a hungry audience is shooting yourself in the foot, so bring along some tasty treats - preferably sugary stuff - to boost focus and mood. It WILL make a significant difference in the success or productivity of your meeting. This week’s #RBFM sugar spell: Crème Brûlée Maple Apple Tart.


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By Fausto Mendez

    Crème brûlée maple apple tarts are some of the best dessert tarts that I’ve ever tasted, and this recipe, courtesy of Sugar for the Brain, certainly hits the spot if you’re a fan of such delights.

    It’s a relatively easy recipe if you have the crust ready to go, but I tend to be a fan of from-scratch crust. Below, I break down your shopping list for the grocery store.

The Grocery List

+ Two Cortland apples, peeled. Cut the apples into eight wedges. 

+ Eight cups of sugar.

+ Six egg yolks.

+ Third cup maple syrup.

+ Half teaspoon maple extract.

+ One and one fourth cups of 35% cream.

+ Half teaspoon vanilla extract.

+ Two tablespoons powdered sugar.

+ One shortcrust pastry (store bought or from scratch).

Step 1: The Setup

+ Lay your crust over a 14” x 4” pan. 

+ Lay the apples over the crust. Fit them in how you like. Sprinkle sugar over all of it.

+ Then, bake the crust & apples for 40 minutes.

Step 2: The Filling

+ In a medium bowl, mix together the egg yolks and maple syrup. Whisk and whisk.

+ Throw in the cream. Drop in the vanilla. Then, pour the concoction over the crust & apples. 

+ Bake for an additional 15 minutes. 

Step 3: The Finishing Touch

+ Sprinkle sugar over the tart and caramelize the sugar with a gas torch. Alternatively, a quick broil in the oven can achieve a very similar effect. 

+ Sugar for the Brain recommends to eat it cold, but I think it’s better hot. It’s up to you. If you’re going to chill it, let it cool down to room temperature. Then, put in the fridge. 

Illegally Perfecting All-Natural Ice Cream with Nitrogen in Silicon Valley


Stanford Grad Robyn Fisher started her business by illegally selling all-natural ice cream on the street next to unemployed chefs. Today, she’s the proud owner of the super popular Smitten Ice Cream shop.


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By Fausto Mendez / Photo by Robyn Fisher

    Wired interviewed Stanford Grad Robyn Fisher on her recent successes as the owner of a made-to-order, all-natural ice cream shop that started out as an illegal operation on the street.

Wired: When you launched, it was sort of a pirate ice cream enterprise wasn’t it? Not strictly legal?

Fisher: At that time I started getting my ice cream out there in 2009, all these chefs had been laid off from restaurants. So they went to the streets to sell their food, and I joined them. We used Twitter and Facebook and about 12 of us would set up in a park or on the street and say “come and get it before the cops come.” It was totally not legal. We would get hundreds of people coming, and it was amazing. I learned so much from all of those street food chefs about pricing, marketing all sorts of things.”

    Fisher partnered up with laid off chefs to improve her recipes and business model. Around the same time, she also perfected the art of using nitrogen, all-natural ingredients, and a custom mixer to instantly freeze the ice cream sans freezer, and it’s not just flashy tech for flashy tech’s sake.

    The nitrogen technique creates the perfect texture in ice cream because the instant freeze enables her to skip some of the chemicals that ice cream makers inject into their product in order to achieve similar textures. Fisher does a really great job of explaining the science behind the cream during the interview.

"Wired: I know ice cream is cold, but what does the nature of ice crystals have to do with how good the ice cream is?

Fisher: The general gist of it is freezing speed makes all the difference in crystal size, and the smaller, the better for mouth taste and creaminess. Freezing speed is correlated with freezing temperature. So if you can freeze it really, really cold, you can get smaller ice crystals.

And if you can freeze really cold, you can freeze really fast. The benefit of that is if you make small enough batches you can freeze to order. Therefore you don’t need any of those extra ingredients that make ice cream far from natural.”

    Smitten Ice Cream is now one of San Francisco’s favorite ice cream spots, and it continues to reach new heights of fame as travelers from around the nation and the world visit the shop during their stay at the Bay Area.


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Bring-Your-Own-Lunch Recipe: Fast & Lazy BBQ Chicken


Every week, we suggest a fascinating, delicious and not-so-unhealthy dish that is easy to reheat in your office lunchroom. This week’s #BYOL recipe: BBQ Lazy Chicken. 


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Author: Fausto Mendez / Photographer: INeedCoffe

    Another week, another fast, easy and delicious recipe. This week, we feature an original recipe, straight out of the mind of my other half. She makes this chicken several times every month, and each time, she makes extra for me to take to work the next day. It heats up well in a microwave, and pairs well with a variety of sides, my favorite being macaroni & cheese to accompany the main course. 

    This BBQ chicken recipe is incredibly fast and easy, and you may find yourself in utter awe at the taste of this utterly delicious chicken. Unfortunately, she usually eyeballs measurements, so I don’t have exact measurements for you. You may require a second attempt at getting it just right, but even if imperfect, it’s hard to ruin this recipe, unless you overcook the chicken. In that case, it’s really easy to ruin it, so that’s the most important part of the recipe. Don’t overcook the chicken!

Step 1: The Ingredients

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Photographer: Phú Thịnh Co

+ Chicken: legs, thighs, whatever you like. I prefer thighs.

+ Lawry’s Chicken & Poultry Rub

+ Coconut Oil

+ Homemade BBQ Sauce: minced onions, garlic butter, ketchup, brown sugar, vinegar, worcestershire sauce and water.

+ You may substitute the homemade BBQ sauce for your favorite bottled brand, but I really love my wife’s BBQ sauce recipe.

Step 2: The Chicken

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+ Liberally smear the Chicken & Poultry rub over the chicken pieces.

+ Perfectly sauté the chicken pieces in coconut oil. BHG has a great guide on how to perfect sauté any piece of chicken, if you’re not sure how to do it.

Step 3: The BBQ Sauce

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Photographer: K.M. Gong

+ If you opt for bottled sauce, you can skip this step. Just pour it on your chicken when you’re ready to eat.

+ If you’re making the homemade BBQ sauce, grease a new pan with butter, and sauté the onions until translucent. 

+ Add garlic, and “sweat”, chef’s slang for “cook out the juices”. 

+ Add ketchup and a small amount of water. Mix. Add a splash of vinegar and a splash of worcestershire sauce. Mix, and simmer for ten minutes.

+ Taste the sauce. You’ll have to adjust your sauce by adding sugar, worcestershire sauce and ketchup until you’ve discovered the perfect blend for your tastebuds. 

+ Simmer until the sauce thickens.

+ If you’re not eating the chicken immediately (maybe because it’s your lunch at work tomorrow), don’t store the chicken in the BBQ sauce. Add the sauce only when you’re ready to eat. Don’t let it swim in the sauce for days.


    Join us on Facebook, Pinterest, Google+ or Linkedin, and stay ahead of the game with an occasional laugh, non-stop marketing advice, and insightful business analysis - plus: free fonts, easy-lunch recipes and more. Brought to you by AnyPromo.com.

Recipes to Boost Focus in Meetings: Slutty Brownies #RBFM

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By Fausto Mendez

    Pitching to a hungry audience is shooting yourself in the foot, so bring along some tasty treats - preferably sugary stuff - to boost client focus and mood. It WILL make a significant difference in the success or productivity of your meeting. This week’s #RBFM sugar spell: Slutty Brownies!

    Who doesn’t love a well-made dessert smashed into some Oreos, which is then smashed into another delicious, delicious dessert? If you don’t love that, I suggest you leave now because we’re about Frakenstein a brownie, a blondie and some Oreos into one amazing concoction, otherwise known as the “Slutty Brownie.” Let’s start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Step 0 - What You’ll Need for 15 to 20 Slutty Brownies

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+ The blondie mix: 8 tablespoons butter, 3/4 cup brown sugar, 2 eggs, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1 1/4 cup flour, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, pinch of salt, 1/2 cup chocolate chips (add more chocolate chips, if you want). 

+ The brownie mix: 1 1/2 cup sugar, 3/4 cup cocoa, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, 2/3 cup butter, 1/2 boiling water, 1 teaspoon vanilla, 2 eggs, 1 cup flour, pinch of salt, 1/2 cup chocolate chips (add more chocolate chips, if you want). 

+ One package of Oreo cookies

+ One 9” x 9” brownie pan

Step 1 -  Make the Blondie and Brownie Layers (No Baking Yet)

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+ The Blondie mix: Add melted butter and brown sugar into a bowl. Beat that mix until she’s smooth and ready. Add eggs and vanilla extract. Beat some more. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda and salt. Next, mix both mixtures together. Stir in your chocolate chips. 

+ The brownie mix: Add sugar, cocoa, baking soda to a clean, empty bowl. Then, slowly mix in the melted butter. Add the boiling water. Stir, stir, stir. Next, add the vanilla and eggs. Stir some more. Add the flour and salt. Keep stirring. Finally, add the chocolate mix.

Step 2 - Stack the Layers in the Baking Pan

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+ Line the baking pan with aluminum foil, which you’ll grease with baking spray.

+ Slutty brownies are, of course, made of three layers. Start with the blondie mix at the bottom of the baking pan. The middle layer is just cracked and broken Oreos, and you can use as many cookies as you prefer. The top layer is the brownie batter. If you’re feeling extra sinful, add another layer of Oreos at the top of the brownie batter. 

Step 3 - Let’s Get Baked

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+ Bake the dessert for 35 minutes. The key is underbaking in order to achieve a soft, almost gooey texture, so be careful not to overbake. 

+ Eat your masterpiece. Then, take a nap. Wake up. Repeat until all Slutty Brownies have been vanquished. 

+ I conveniently forgot that we made these brownies for an upcoming meeting or pitch. You may need to make another batch if you took my above advice to eat all the brownies. 

+ Thank Julia’s Album for the original recipe!

    Join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ or Linkedin, and stay ahead of the game with an occasional laugh and non-stop marketing & business advice, news and analysis. Brought to you by AnyPromo.com.

Recipes to Boost Focus in Meetings: Pumpkin Cream Cheese Bread #RBFM

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By Fausto Mendez

    Pitching to a hungry audience is shooting yourself in the foot, so bring along some tasty treats - preferably sugary stuff - to boost everyone’s focus and mood. It WILL make a significant difference in the success or productivity of your meeting or pitch. This week’s #RBFM sugar spell: Pumpkin Cream Cheese Bread!

    Our favorite #RBFM recipes deliciously mash up two separate concepts, such as cinnamon rolls and cheesecake. That’s because, in a business setting, you definitely want to impress your meeting’s attendees. It makes your meeting that much more memorable. They will always remember that meeting as “the one where I tried a cinnamon-roll cheesecake for the first time.” If you’re making an important pitch, the incoming sugar high could be the difference between a success or a failure. 

   Anyway, let’s bake something. You can thank Recipes Quick’n Easy for original recipe. 

Step 0 - Gather your Ingredients

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+ Filling: eight ounce pack of cream cheese, 1/2 to 3/4 cup of sugar, one tablespoon of flour,one egg, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract.

+ Bread: 1 2/3 cups flour, one teaspoon baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves, 1/4 teaspoon ginger, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, one cup pumpkin puree, 1/2 cup canola oil, two large eggs, 1 1/2 cups sugar, one cup chopped pecans or walnuts. 

+ Glaze: one cup powdered sugar, two tablespoons half & half, one teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts. 

Step 1 - Mix & Preheat

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+ Preheat Oven to 325 degrees. 

+ Grease and flour two 8” x 4” x 3” loaf pans.

+ Start the filling. In a bowl, mix: cream cheese, sugar, flour, egg and vanilla. Mix until it feels pretty smooth, and aim for a “cream” texture. 

+ Start the bread. In a larger bowl, mix 1 2/3 cups flour, baking soda, salt cinnamon  cloves, ginger and nutmeg. In a separate bowl, mix: pumpkin puree, canola oil, eggs and sugar. Now, mix the contents of these two bowls together. Drop in your nuts for good measure. 

+ Step 2 - Prepare for the Bake

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+ Empty half the pumpkin batter into the two loaf pans. Layer on the cream cheese, followed by the rest of the pumpkin batter.

+ Create a marble effect with the cream cheese by swirling a knife in the batter. The goal is not to mix the cream cheese into the batter; instead, the cheese should remain separate from the batter. 

+ Step 3 - Let’s Get Baked!

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+ Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, or until you can stick a toothpick into your bread and pull it out clean. 

+ While we wait for that to finish, let’s make the cinnamon glaze. Take all the ingredients for the cinnamon glaze and mix them together. Add more cinnamon to darken the glaze. 

+ Pull out your bread. Let it cool for ten minutes or so. Now, drop some glaze on that B, and drop in your nuts for good measure.

Step 4 - Assimilate

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+ First, I should warn you that fireworks may shoot out of your mouth during consumption, so keep a fire extinguisher on hand. 

+ Once you have your extinguisher, grab some bread, and put it in your mouth. I guess you can save some for a friend or whatever, but I wouldn’t blame you for being selfish. Oh yeah, don’t forget to save some for your next meeting, or… never mind, you’ll probably have to cook another batch.

    Join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ or Linkedin, and stay ahead of the game with an occasional laugh and non-stop marketing & business advice, news and analysis. Brought to you by AnyPromo.com, the Web’s low-price leader in promotional products. 

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