‘Tis the Season

'Tis the Season

It’s hard to believe another holiday season is here. I think I began my “Countdown to Christmas” right around June 25, and now here we are practically in December. The whole Baking for Good team is excited for this year’s holiday orders. If you’re in the market for gifts, swing by our website (our holiday favorites are here) or email info@bakingforgood.com to receive a copy of our gift guide. We’ll help you make this holiday season the sweetest one yet!

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Going Nuts Over These Cookies

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Before starting Baking for Good, I considered going into event planning. I love the little details that go into planning parties, and I’m inspired by the work of some of the very talented event planners I’ve met in NYC.

Given my love for special events, I’m always thrilled when friends of BFG send us photos of our treats on display. These peanut cookie photos were sent to us by the lovely Nicki Sebastian, aka pbj4life. They are from her baby shower, which was artfully designed by event planners Cait & Jules. Ever since Nicki shared Cait & Jules’s site with me last year, I’ve been eagerly following their blog to get a peek into some of the fun and festive events they plan.

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Congrats to Nicki – we can’t wait to meet your new baby girl!

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We’re Featured on Instagram!

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I’ve talked a bunch about our Instagraham cookies and my love for Instagram, and this week I’m excited to share that Instagram is featuring us as a “suggested user” on their app! When new users download the app, they’ll see a list of accounts that Instagram recommends they follow…including ours! When we learned we were being featured last week, we had fewer than 2,000 followers, and now we have more than 15,000. We’re so excited! If you use instagram, search for our account at @BakingforGood. Each day we’re posting a fun photo from around the bakery or elsewhere in NYC. Let me know if you’re on Instagram and I’ll follow you back!

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An Update to Our Cause Program

When I started Baking for Good in 2009, I wanted to build a fundraising platform that would allow organizations large and small to support charities that were close to their hearts. I was tired of the same old school fundraisers that encourage students to go door to door selling wrapping paper and chocolate bars (especially since I’m pretty sure most kids aren’t allowed to wander door to door in their neighborhoods anymore). I wanted to create a website — an online bake sale, if you will — that would offer really delicious, gourmet baked goods that would be perfect for gifts and special occasions AND that would help great organizations raise money for projects that matter.

Three years later, I can say with confidence that lots of organizations, large and small, were excited about this model. Our list of charity partners started out at about 50 and grew to 200+ in a matter of months. The downside, however, was that the list grew to be so long that many of our customers felt overwhelmed at checkout, and we found that even though we were donating a lot of money each month, it was spread across so many organizations that it was sometimes difficult to see it making a difference in any one place.

Surely the list couldn’t keep growing forever, so I knew from pretty early on that we would need to make a change in our donation program. The true catalyst for us making a change came earlier this summer, when we learned that commercial co-venture laws in several states restrict nonprofits’ ability to promote companies like ours, and discourage businesses like ours from linking the names of nonprofits directly with the purchases of products. It’s complicated, and the rules vary from state to state, but we decided it was time to simplify the way we make our donations.

Change is good. We’re really excited about the changes we’re making to our cause program, and we hope you’ll enjoy them. Now when you shop at Baking for Good, instead of choosing one nonprofit from a list of dozens of organizations, you can choose from a shorter list of causes by category. Each month we will choose one nonprofit within each category to receive the funds for that month. We’ll be using nominations from our customers as well as rating systems like Charity Navigator to determine which nonprofits to support.

We know that sometimes you really want to choose a specific organization that has important meaning to you or to your recipients, and we want to still allow that to happen. For wedding orders and other big events and gifts (any purchase over $300), you can select a specific organization of your choice. Contact us anytime at orders@bakingforgood.com to talk to us about these types of orders.

If you haven’t visited Baking for Good lately, swing by the site and check out the new cause program. We’ll be sharing stories about the nonprofits we’re supporting on our blog, and we welcome your nominations for organizations to support in the future at causes@bakingforgood.com.

Thanks for being on this journey with us!

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The Sweetest 60 Seconds of Your Day

I often say that one of the best parts of running Baking for Good has been getting to know our awesome customers from across the country. Earlier this summer I posted on Twitter asking if there were any “budding filmmakers” who wanted to help us submit a video for a contest to win a van. Little did I know that we would hear back from Tom Gorman, a beyond talented filmmaker who just so happens to love our cookies! (We baked for his wedding last summer…happy anniversary, Emma & Tom!)

Before I knew it, Emma and Tom were ditching their Memorial Day weekend plans to spend a day with me and boxes full of baked goods. The video above is what resulted. Sweetest 60 seconds of your day, right?? Thank you, Emma & Tom — we love it!!

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Lots of Love for Our New Instagrahams

ImageA few weeks ago I wrote a post about my favorite iPhone app, Instagram. I’ve been playing around with the idea of doing an Instagram cookie project for a while, and this week I figured out what it would be: snapshot cookies, affectionately called “Instagrahams,” or “Instagraham Crackers,” if you will. We adapted our favorite sugar cookie dough to give it a cinnamon graham flavor, and it’s become the perfect base for showing off our favorite photos.

Even better, the Instagrahams have become a huge hit on social media and blogs. With a teeny budget, we selected four brands we love to follow on Instagram and baked 1/2 a dozen cookies for each of them (Warby ParkerKate SpadeDANNIJO, and Man Repeller), featuring their own Instagram photos. We created small gift boxes and added in some chocolate bars and marshmallows so they could turn their Instagrahams into Insta-smores. Within just a few hours of delivering these gift boxes to their offices, our Instagram feed was abuzz with hundreds of new followers and we started hearing from new customers, brands, and blogs across the country that wanted to work with us.

To be honest, I wasn’t sure if this Instagraham project would drive new business or just be a fun way to generate some buzz, but I’m excited to say that it’s already done both. Check out our Instagrahams and order your own here. Happy instagrahaming!

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Recipe: A Healthy Take on Mexican Salad

I’m always drawn to Mexican salads when I see them on menus at restaurants. In concept, they can be really healthy. What’s not to love about tomatoes, avocado, and black beans? But somehow, these salads always seem to be ruined by excessive amounts of dressing, cheese, and tortilla chips (or worse yet, an entire tortilla bowl).

Lately I’ve been making my own version of this salad, but with a much healthier spin on it. Instead of starting with plain old romaine, I use thinly sliced kale. I then top it with all my favorites – the tomatoes, avocado, and black beans, plus a small amount of feta or ricotta salata and a simple balsamic dressing. It’s perfect to go along with a hot summer lunch. Feel free to take liberties with this recipe; it would be great with freshly cooked corn and caramelized onions, too.’m always drawn to Mexican salads when I see them on menus at restaurants. In concept, they can be really healthy. What’s not to love about tomatoes, avocado, and black beans? But somehow, these salads always seem to be ruined by excessive amounts of dressing, cheese, and tortilla chips (or worse yet, an entire tortilla bowl).

Mexican Salad with Kale and Heirloom Tomatoes
(serves 2)

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups raw kale, washed, dried, and thinly sliced
  • 8 oz canned black beans, rinsed
  • 1 cup chopped tomato (I like to use heirloom cherry tomatoes and halve or quarter them)
  • 1 ripe avocado, sliced
  • 1/4 cup feta or ricotta salata, crumbled
  • 1 lime, quartered
  • a splash of balsamic vinegar (or another simple dressing of your choice)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Place your kale on a serving platter, or divide it onto two plates if you prefer to have each person’s portion plated separately.
  2. Sprinkle the black beans on top of the kale. Add the tomatoes, avocado, and cheese.
  3. Drizzle the salad with balsamic vinegar or your choice of dressing and squeeze lime juice over it. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Enjoy!
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