Posts Tagged With: Hanson

Chocolate, Cheesecake, and Hanson: Tulsa Has It All

“You’re going where? For what?”

That’s the reaction that almost everyone had when I said I was going to Tulsa in May for Hanson Day. Because we’re in California, and vacationing in Oklahoma (which has tornadoes), when you’re already in a beautiful place (that doesn’t have tornadoes) seems silly. And Hanson? Are those guys still around?

Yes. Yes, they are.

First stop: 3CG, Hanson's independent music studio in the middle of Main Street.

First stop: 3CG, Hanson’s independent music studio in the middle of Main Street.

This was my first Hanson Day (an annual event held by Hanson in their home town) and my first time in Oklahoma. Other than imagining scenes from “The Grapes of Wrath” I didn’t know what to expect from Tulsa, and maybe that’s why I was so pleasantly surprised.

Tulsa is cute. It has some fun little neighborhoods, like the Blue Dome District. They were having a festival the same weekend as Hanson Day and so after the bowling tournament (because of course there’s a Hanson bowling tournament) a few of us walked around to explore.

The most delicious thing at the bowling alley? Zac Hanson. Obviously.

The most delicious thing at the bowling alley? Zac Hanson. Obviously.

We stopped into Dwelling Spaces, a shop/cafe that had the brilliant idea to make Hanson lattes and hot chocolates. It was warm and humid outside, but of course we all had to get one.

And that's how you make a Hanson hot chocolate.

And that’s how you make a Hanson hot chocolate.

In another part of town the store Ida Red was also in on the Hanson party and figured that the best way to sell candy bars would be to put pictures of the Hanson men on them.


It’s just a shame they used a picture of Zac from the photo shoot where he looks like Ally Sheedy. Don’t believe me? Here:

Don't you forget about Ally Sheedy.

Don’t you forget about Ally Sheedy.

Closer to Hanson territory are a few restaurants in the Brady Arts District. They had two fan club dinners there for us and excellent signage for both. Caz’s Chowhouse was a favorite and I went back there for lunch with a couple of friends. Everything was tasty, their ice cream floats really hit the spot on a hot day, and the little cheesecakes weren’t bad (although they weren’t the quality of Junior’s in New York, but that’s hard to top).

I'm a big fan of signage, and these table toppers were a lovely touch.

I’m a big fan of signage, and these table toppers were a lovely touch.

Right next to 3CG is a wood-paneled cozy place called the Tavern. A few of us shared the Bacon Popcorn appetizer at the recommendation of Zac Hanson, and it was good. Difficult to eat, but tasty. The Angry Mac & Cheese got good reviews from our group, and if you don’t like spicy then you can ask for it to just be Grumpy or Mildly Annoyed.


Just don’t bring any vegetarians with you.

In exploring slightly further away I was shocked – SHOCKED – to find the Philbrook Museum. It’s like someone scooped up a little piece of Italy and dropped it in Tulsa. The grounds are beautiful, the art collection is diverse, and it looked like they did a really nice Sunday brunch, although I was saving my appetite for the Hop Jam that afternoon.

This is Tulsa? Who knew!?

This is Tulsa? Who knew!?

What’s the Hop Jam? Oh, just a little beer and music festival that Hanson started in 2014. It’s free to the public (although you need to buy tickets to sample the beer – $2 each) and several bands played over the course of the afternoon, with Hanson as the headliner for a crowd of about 30,000 people.

There were also lots of food trucks offering Chinese Nachos and lots of other delicious things, including grilled cheese made with donuts.

I did not eat this, but I wanted you to know that it exists.

I did not eat this, but I wanted you to know that it exists.

I stuck with a pulled pork sandwich. Seemed less diabetes-inducing.

And if you hadn’t heard, the reason Hanson started a beer festival is because they also started a beer company. You can get your MMMHops right here.

Next I want them to make a soda called MMMPop.

Next I want them to make a soda called MMMPop.

Other delicious things at the Hop Fest included Isaac Hanson and his special Hop Jam guitar. This man is aging incredibly well.

Old Man Hanson is a refreshing site on a hot and muggy Tulsa day.

Old Man Hanson is a refreshing site on a hot and muggy Tulsa day.

And despite the gross hot weather, I had to peek into Glacier Confections, just around the corner from 3CG. They do beautiful truffles in some unique flavor combinations. (The Elvis is peanut butter, banana, and bacon. Not my favorite, but something you should try at least once.) They even had a Hop Jam truffle, which I’m sorry to say I didn’t try because the one thing I learned at the Hop Jam is that I really don’t like beer. I really tried to, but it’s just not happening.



The caramel truffles were fantastic though, as long as you ate them while inside the store, before they could turn into puddles outside. You can also order from them online.

And speaking of turning into puddles, even a hungover Taylor Hanson seemed to have that effect on some people. Seriously, whose hair looks that good all the time?

Out drinking until 1a.m. and then ready for work by 9a.m. That's called being a professional.

Out drinking until 1a.m. and then ready for work by 9a.m. That’s called being a professional.

My verdict on Tulsa is that it’s a fun place to spend a few days, and I didn’t even see everything I wanted to. Next year I need to go to the Guthrie Center and the Riverwalk, and maybe try that donut grilled cheese thing. Just for blogging purposes, of course.

And here’s one last photo of Zac from the Hop Jam, just because.


Rock on, your Royal Zacness. Rock on.

Where’s the love?

Categories: Cheesecake, Chocolate, Travel | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments

Baking for All This Love Crap: It’s Valentine’s Day, Hanson Style


Watch the guys give Loving Tips

“Oh, all this love crap
Gets me down, and
Oh, all this love crap
Keeps me down”

Are those the immortal words of romantic poet Robert Burns? Nay. They’re the scribblings of the Hanson brothers. (Mostly Zac, I think. It’s his special brand of sexy-crazy, which turns out crazy sexy.)

And if you’re single this Valentine’s Day, or if you’re with someone who you just don’t like very much, then this is the song for you:

It’s a good thing they can really sing, because they’re terrible at lip syncing.

Can’t listen to the song while you’re at work? Turn off the sound and watch Zac smear chocolate on his face while Isaac plays guitar god and Taylor makes love to the camera. It’s Hanson at their silliest and I love it. I’d also love to see Zac do some real 80s hair band songs because The Boy. Can. Wail. Maybe a little “Pour Some Sugar On Me” or “Cherry Pie”? Ooooh, “Kickstart My Heart”. That would be amazing.

The making of this video is also pretty adorable, so have a look if only to hear Taylor’s reply to Zac asking, “Whatcha’ doin’ Tay?”:

Anyway, let’s talk Hanson and sweet sweet desserts that are as delicious as they are. I started this Hanson baking theme with my awesome Hanson Halloween party and then had minor success with an Ugly Christmas Sweater cookie decorating at Christmas.

Inspired by “All This Love Crap” and way too many Hanson FUTY videos (that’s “from us to you” and includes some great moments at truck stops around the country), I decided to make some things that were not only inspired by Hanson, but that the guys might actually like to eat themselves.

Clearly bacon would have to be involved, because:

I love how Zac and Isaac are lost in a bacon trance while Taylor is looking right into the camera, seducing us with salty pig parts.

My Maple Bacon Cupcakes have always been popular with my coworkers so I whipped some of those up and topped them with cream cheese frosting. I cook the bacon in the morning before work and wait to put it on the cupcakes just before I set them out, for maximum crispness.

MMMaple Bacon Cupcakes

MMMaple Bacon Cupcakes

I also leave a few cupcakes plain for the vegetarians, and then I topped a few with candy minifigs that I made, because you know how the guys love their Legos. I just saw the Lego movie over the weekend and I sort of hope that either Zac or Isaac has a basement just like Will Ferrell’s. That would be fantastic.

Everything is awesome!

Everything is awesome! Especially that picture frame.

It wouldn’t be a Hanson party without some Zacarons, and I still had the lustre dust I bought on my last trip to the U.K. that I wanted to try out. Ideally these would have been passionfruit macarons (since Zac inspires passion in many), but based on the five grocery stores I went to in my area, passionfruit jam, jelly or juice is impossible to get this time of the year so I went with mango instead. Mangoes are also juicy and delicious.

Playing doctor with Zac.

Playing doctor with Zac.

I painted the lustre dust on with a dry brush after they were baked, cooled and filled and they turned out sparkly and beautiful. If I didn’t hate “Twilight” so much I’d be tempted to do them next Halloween as some kind of sparkly vampire cookie.

"What... what are you guys getting?"

“What… what are you guys getting?”

Speaking of those FUTY videos, this one made me think that the only way to make junk food better is to put it in a brownie.

The guys who own Baked must agree because they have a recipe for a “Got Munchies” brownie that involves potato chips, M&Ms, pretzels, and really anything else you want to throw in.

These are probably the item that my coworkers were most excited about, just because they looked so crazy. Everyone also really liked the sweet chocolate and the salty pretzels and potato chips together, so I would absolutely make them again.

And just a little piece goes a long way, so you can make one pan and cut them into 20 or more servings.

So fun to make. So easy to eat a whole pan of.

So fun to make. So easy to eat a whole pan of.

You think Zac could write a song about potato chip brownies? It wouldn't be "Jet Lag", but it would be pretty good. Have I mentioned how much I love "Digital Pants"?

You think Zac could write a song about potato chip brownies? It wouldn’t be “Jet Lag”, but it would be pretty good. Have I mentioned how much I love “Digital Pants”?

I was staying away from other song titles this time around (ha!) because I’ve already done that, but I found a recipe for Chocolate Chip Madelines, and I do have a Madeline pan, so I just couldn’t resist pulling these out of the middle of nowhere. So to speak.



A tip about Madelines: I put mine in Tupperware overnight and by morning they were a bit more sticky and moist than I would have liked. Still tasty, but not the firm cookie that I was expecting. So don’t wrap them up too tightly. Let them breathe a little.

Now let’s watch Zac eat/smear some more chocolate:

The last thing I considered making but didn’t think would last overnight, is Puff Broccoli. Well, Puff Pastry Spinach, Broccoli & Mozzarella Bites. If you’re really dedicated, give it a try and let me know how it goes. I didn’t think they could compete with bacon cupcakes and junk food brownies, but if the gag has lasted 15 years already then who am I to say?

Young Man Hanson

Young Man Hanson



Old Man Hanson

Can’t fight the power,

Categories: Bake From Scratch, Baking Holidays, Macarons | Tags: , , , , , , | 6 Comments

My 2014 Baking Resolutions (and Coconut Dream Bars)

I decided to make a few New Year’s baking resolutions this year to help motivate me to try new things and get a bit more organized. Because isn’t that what most resolutions are about? Mine are just more kitchen focused.

Here’s what I came up with:

1. Learn how to use lustre dust. I bought some on impulse, I just haven’t quite figured out what to do with it.

2. Stop buying kitchen things on impulse. 

3. Use up odds and ends in the kitchen before buying more ingredients for new recipes. I seem to always have stuff like a half bag of butterscotch chips, an open box of graham cracker crumbs or a partial container of heavy cream hanging around and they go bad before I use them up. Then I go buy more of the same stuff.

4. Figure out how to do birthday mash-ups. My team has grown from 12 people to about 30 in the past two years. In December we had eight birthdays, and I just don’t have the time to pull off that many highly-personalized parties so close together. So this might be the year we have a Chuck Norris in Paris party to combine all the birthdays from one month.

5. Try some gluten-free recipes. We have a handful of gluten-free co-workers now so I’d like to find tasty recipes that everyone can enjoy. Suggestions?

6. Work on my decorating skills. I love to bake cakes, hate to decorate them. I may never be a whiz with a decorating bag, but there are shortcuts I could take with sprinkles, candies, flowers, and other adornments that will fancy things up a bit. Because presentation counts.

7. Plan ahead! Get a baking calendar together for the year so I know what I’m making next week and next month. Because if I wait until the day before I need to bake and have to go through all these cookbooks, there’s really no hope.

I know I don't need them all, I just really like knowing they're there.

I know I don’t need them all, I just really like knowing they’re there.

I’ve already got number 7 covered. I took an old binder, put dividers in it for each month, and then I went through the big pile of recipes that’s been living next to my fireplace and sorted them out by when I’m most likely to make them.

All sorted!

All sorted!

I filed maple recipes under July for Canada Day, Harry Potter recipes under May for the anniversary of the Battle of Hogwarts, and apple recipes under September for when I start thinking about autumnal baking.

Then I dealt with number 3. In my pile o’ recipes I found Martha Stewart’s Gooey Coconut Dream Bars. It called for graham cracker crumbs, shredded coconut, semi-sweet chocolate chips and sweetened condensed milk – all of which I had and wanted to use up.

The sad, holiday baking leftovers.

The sad, holiday baking leftovers.

The bars are super easy to make and incredibly tasty. Just make sure you press the graham cracker crumbs down really firmly to get a nice crust.


And for a little teaser of what’s coming up soon on my baking calendar, here’s a video of Hanson eating bacon:


Categories: Office Birthdays | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Baking for Christmas: Hanson Style. Kinda.

Maybe I should call it The Hanson Christmas Party That Wasn’t. Or The Party That Only Partly Was.

I had the best of intentions, and not just intentions, but I had a plan. I wrote out a list of what to bake, how to decorate, photos to use. It was going to be even more awesome than my Hanson Halloween party!

These are the sweaters that launched a thousand Hanson-themed Christmas parties. Or at least mine.

These are the sweaters that launched a thousand Hanson-themed Christmas parties. Or at least mine.

And then it just all went wrong.

The first problem was that I tried to do all this when I was really too tired to be in the kitchen. I just got back from vacation a few days before, but it wasn’t a relaxing vacation, it was a running around sightseeing vacation. I flew out of London the day before Hanson flew in, so maybe my bad timing there should have tipped me off that a Hanson Christmas was not to be.

But I was so excited about the idea of it all that I sort of neglected to think about the effort it would take to pull off.

So here’s what happened. First, I saw this Christmas Sweater Cookie set at Walmart.


It’s not the kind of thing I normally buy because I prefer to bake from scratch, but I’d never seen a sweater-shaped cookie cutter before and I thought it would be perfect for My Favorite Christmas Sweater Cookies. Even better, I could bake the cookies and then let people decorate their own, making it interactive, artsy, and a little more fun than just eating cookies.

You may want to have people sing along as they decorate:

This part of my plan went really well. People did have fun decorating (and eating) and I highly recommend doing cookie decorating in your office, Hanson themed or not.


Some people got very detailed with their sweaters.


Although I like to make my own frosting, these pouches were much cleaner and easier to set out than a regular decorating bag.


Ta da!

Everyone loves to use sprinkles.

Everyone loves to use sprinkles.

But I also wanted to make Ike-cicles. And how hard can candy making be, right? I saw this tutorial and the beautiful icicle candy this woman made and figured it would be a snap. And it was. Everything snapped. And cracked. And shattered. And burnt the crap out of my fingers in the process.

This is why people just buy candy.

This is why people just buy candy.

No man is worth this kind of pain and stress, not even a Hanson with a perfect little curl hanging over his forehead.

Ike and the perfect curl. You think that would make a good title for a kids' book?

Ike and the perfect curl. You think that would make a good title for a kids’ book?

I really love that curl.

Ok, so I figured even without Ike-cicles I could still make up some holiday Zacarons and call it a day. Because although I started out an Isaac girl, many hours on Pinterest have swayed me towards the beauty that is Zac. That hair, that smile, that complete goofiness.What’s not to like?

Right, left, up close, far away, this boy has no bad angles.

Right, left, up close, far away, this boy has no bad angles.

I figured I’d try a little disco dust to make the Zacarons extra shimmery and gorgeous. But then even those went wrong, with my usually perfect macarons cracking and the disco dust clumping into freckles instead of an even coat of awesomeness. In the end I had about 20 decent ones and a whole lot more that went into the trash.

They looked nothing like this:

Let's just remember how wonderful the Halloween Zacarons were and not think too much about this latest disaster.

Let’s just remember how wonderful the Halloween Zacarons were and not think too much about this latest disaster.

And this is when I decided to just call it a day. Disappointing, and a little embarrassing, but I think it’s important for you to know that I have kitchen disasters just like everyone else. But I’ll be better prepared next time, believe you me. I’m going to have the best “All This Love Crap” Valentine’s Day Party ever.

And oh, if you have better luck than I do, be sure to top your table off with a broken angel:


I didn’t care that my friends criticized me,

Categories: Baking Holidays, Cookies, Theme Parties | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

Baking for Halloween: Hanson Style. (Yes. I Said “Hanson”.)

If a Jedi, a pirate and Elvis all got together, what would they sing? "Viva The Empirial Death Maaaarch?"

If a Jedi, a pirate and Elvis all got together, what would they sing? “Viva The Empirial Death Maaaarch?”

Why a Hanson-themed Halloween party? It’s not like I’m a lifelong mega-fan. I hadn’t even really thought about Hanson in a long time. Once in a while “This Time Around” would come up on my iPod and I’d think about how fun they used to be, but that’s about it.

Then a few months ago Hanson popped up in my Facebook newsfeed – something a friend of mine had Liked – and I saw that they had a new album and tour on the way. No stops in San Francisco unfortunately, but after some Googling and YouTubing I got caught up in a wave of nostalgia and bought tickets for the Boston show. I was planning on going there anyway, sort of.

The House of Blues in Boston, concert night.

The House of Blues in Boston, concert night.

I emailed one of my old BU friends that I was coming to visit and take her out for a wild night with Hanson, and over the next few weeks we both got caught up on their albums and videos. Then she moved to New York and I had to take another friend, but whatever. It all worked out.

The concert was fan-freaking-tastic! The guys sound great together, which I guess they should after playing together for 21 years, and I was very impressed that even Zac played guitar and sang solo. I had no idea he had those kinds of skills.

So anyway, here we are coming up on Halloween and sure, I could just do the regular pumpkins and vampires and spiders, but that’s so expected. My coworkers seem to enjoy the odd parties I put together much more. (Remember the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy birthday party?)

And sure enough, aside from enjoying the treats, almost everyone who came by and looked at the pictures and signs had to smile and say, “Hanson? Are they still around?” or “Ohmygod I totally loved them!” And then I immediately pointed them to YouTube to catch up on the past 15 years of Hanson tunes.

So I’m feeding people and spreading the Hanson gospel all at once. Not bad use of some sugar and eggs.

I think the tuxedo pics keep the table festive, but classy. I really hope they don't sue me for using them.

I think the tuxedo pics keep the table festive, but classy. I really hope they don’t sue me for using them.

And just what do you feed people for Hanson Halloween? Have a look:


I thought each of the guys should have their own special treat. Of those three I’m most proud of the name Zacarons. It sounds like something you’d shout at a bullfight, or maybe when Batman punches someone really hard. “Zac-a-ron!”


This is my third attempt at macarons and the first time I used dulce de leche to sandwich them together. I’ll write a separate post just on macaron making, but just say for now that these are quickly becoming an office favorite.

taylorThere are no good T words for Halloween, so I almost gave up on Taylor. V’s, M’s and P’s would have been much easier. I settled on Taylor-Made Meringues and took the recipe for these straight from Martha Stewart. Meringue isn’t difficult to make, but the orange food dye didn’t transfer nearly as well as it was supposed to, so only the first few have a really nice orange swirl to them. Still tasty though.


A coworker suggested I could have made “DemenTaylors” – maybe Blow Pops covered in black fabric or something – but covering 40 candies sounded like it would take even longer than making meringues. I think Valentine’s will be more his holiday, when I can make Taylor’s Heart Tarts.

i-like-ikeAnd then there’s Isaac. Oh, Issac. His dessert had to be the most overwhelmingly rich and sexy and tasty because he’s clearly the most delicious Hanson. Sorry, what was that? You disagree? Then you must not have seen this video, because there’s no arguing with this:

Right? That little growly thing he does? Are you with me now? Ok.


So my idea of rich and indulgent is chocolate with chocolate and caramel and more chocolate. I considered a cheesecake, but taking things that need to be refrigerated to the office can be tricky, and I didn’t want a mess.


I had also planned on calling this dessert “Eye Like Ike…” and decorating with candy eyeballs, but eyeballs aren’t sexy, and they don’t really look that tasty. If you’re doing this at home though, maybe you could do eyeball popsicles and call them “Eye Like Ikecicles”.

Too much? Probably.

I settled on Chocolate Kahlua Dulce de Leche Cupcakes. I started with a regular chocolate cupcake recipe and replaced part of the liquid in the recipe with Kahlua… maybe a little too much Kahlua. They really smell like booze. You can do this with any recipe or even a box mix.

After baking them and letting them cool I took a knife and cut a bit out of the top, added in a sumptuous amount of dulce de leche I had left over from the Zacarons, and then put the top back on. I frosted them with chocolate buttercream and added a few red sprinkles.

And now here’s another musical interlude:

Hanson and TLC: Two classic 90s bands brought together at last.

hanson-browniesSo. What else could I do for the theme? How about playing off “Get the Girl Back” (The video has Kat Dennings, Nikki Reed and Paul McDonald so you know it must be cool.) with some Get the Ghoul Back Brownies? I’ve tried many from-scratch recipes over the years, but I always come back to the one on the back of Ghirardelli’s can of Sweet-Ground Chocolate.


And don’t skimp on the bittersweet chocolate chips. Some ghosty Peeps stuck on with toothpicks make them frightfully tasty. Wah ha ha!

All of these were perfect after-lunch treats, but I wanted to start the day with something sweet as well, so I decided “Thinking ‘Bout Somethin'” (The video is a “Blues Brothers” tribute with Weird Al on tambourine, so you know it must be cool.) should inspire some Thinking ‘Bout Pumpkin Bread with cream cheese frosting on the side.


I used to frost the top of the bread before setting it out but found that people really like to layer it on the entire slice, so now I just leave out a knife and let everyone put on their own perfect amount.

Need something else to round out the table? Turn a bag of Blow Pops makes a quick bowl of MMMPops.

Need something else to round out the table? Turn a bag of Blow Pops makes a quick bowl of MMMPops.

It would have been really fun to serve MMMHops at our little shin-dig, but it’s not sold anywhere that I know of, and our office isn’t booze-friendly anyway. Instead I set out a bowl of MMMPops. That would also be a great name for cake pops if you wanted to make those instead, or for labels on bottles of soda.

See how giddy people get for Hanson goodies?

See how giddy people get for Hanson goodies?

So whatcha think? Should I start planning my Hanson Christmas party now?

Where’s the love? Oh, it’s right here,

Update 10/9/2013: Look what just came in the mail! Yep, I’m a card-carrying member now. I can hardly believe it myself 😉


Shame it came with what looks like a dead bug laminated into it. Still fun though.

Categories: Baking Holidays | Tags: , , , , | 18 Comments

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