Alabama authorities say a home burglary suspect has died after police used a stun gun on the man.  Birmingham police say he resisted officers who found him in a house wrapped in what looked like material from the air conditioner duct work.  The Lewisburg Road homeowner called police Tuesday about glass breaking and someone yelling and growling in his basement.  Police reportedly entered the dwelling and used a stun gun several times on a white suspect before handcuffing him.  Investigators say the man was "extremely irritated" throughout and didn't obey verbal commands.

Montgomery Education Foundation's Brain Forest Summer Learning Academy was spotlighted Wednesday at Carver High School.  The academic-enrichment program is for rising 4th, 5th, and 6th graders in the Montgomery Public School system.  Community Program Director Dillion Nettles, says the program aims to prevent learning loss during summer months.  To find out how your child can participate in next summer's program visit Montgomery-ed.org

A police officer is free on bond after being arrested following a rash of road-sign thefts in southeast Alabama.  Brantley Police Chief Titus Averett says officer Jeremy Ray Walker of Glenwood is on paid leave following his arrest in Pike County.  The 30-year-old Walker is charged with receiving stolen property.  Lt. Troy Johnson of the Pike County Sheriff's Office says an investigation began after someone reported that Walker was selling road signs from Crenshaw County.  Investigators contacted the county engineer and learned signs had been reported stolen from several roads.

NPR Politics presents the Lunchbox List: our favorite campaign news and stories curated from NPR and around the Web in digestible bites (100 words or less!). Look for it every weekday afternoon from now until the conventions.

Convention Countdown

The Republican National Convention is in 4 days in Cleveland.

The Democratic National Convention is in 11 days in Philadelphia.

NASA has released the first picture of Jupiter taken since the Juno spacecraft went into orbit around the planet on July 4.

The picture was taken on July 10. Juno was 2.7 million miles from Jupiter at the time. The color image shows some of the atmospheric features of the planet, including the giant red spot. You can also see three of Jupiter's moons in the picture: Io, Europa and Ganymede.

The Senate is set to approve a bill intended to change the way police and health care workers treat people struggling with opioid addictions.

My husband and I once took great pleasure in preparing meals from scratch. We made pizza dough and sauce. We baked bread. We churned ice cream.

Then we became parents.

Now there are some weeks when pre-chopped vegetables and a rotisserie chicken are the only things between us and five nights of Chipotle.

Parents are busy. For some of us, figuring out how to get dinner on the table is a daily struggle. So I reached out to food experts, parents and nutritionists for help. Here is some of their (and my) best advice for making weeknight meals happen.

"O Canada," the national anthem of our neighbors up north, comes in two official versions — English and French. They share a melody, but differ in meaning.

Let the record show: neither version of those lyrics contains the phrase "all lives matter."

But at the 2016 All-Star Game, the song got an unexpected edit.

At Petco Park in San Diego, one member of the Canadian singing group The Tenors — by himself, according to the other members of the group — revised the anthem.

School's out, and a lot of parents are getting through the long summer days with extra helpings of digital devices.

How should we feel about that?

Police in Baton Rouge say they have arrested three people who stole guns with the goal of killing police officers. They are still looking for a fourth suspect in the alleged plot, NPR's Greg Allen reports.

"Police say the thefts were at a Baton Rouge pawn shop early Saturday morning," Greg says. "One person was arrested at the scene. Since then, two others have been arrested and six of the eight stolen handguns have been recovered. Police are still looking for one other man."

A 13-year-old boy is among those arrested, Greg says.

Pages

Lasagna Cupcakes, Anyone? Science Says We Can't Get Enough Mini Stuff

Oct 26, 2012
Originally published on October 26, 2012 3:04 pm

A few weeks ago, my friend came back from Brooklyn raving about the food served at a baby shower.

"Savory cupcakes!" she exclaimed. Lasagna, grilled cheese, chicken potpies and even a mac n' cheese cupcake — all shaped like the trendy dessert and served on a cupcake tree.

Despite all the enthusiasm, my first response was quite cynical. Isn't that just baked macaroni and cheese in a muffin tin?

The idea came from Pinterest, where you can find recipes for taco cupcakes, mini caprese sandwiches and baby meatloafs "frosted" with mashed potatoes.

Seriously, why are Americans so fascinated with miniaturized foods? Was this simply the next installment of the cupcake trend, or did savory cupcakes speak more deeply about Americans' need to individualize everything?

Alice Julier, director of food studies at Chatham University, says she doesn't buy the individualism argument. The desire to shrink beloved dishes into individual servings pervades the global gastronomical landscape, she says. Think about tapas, dim sum or the Bento Box.

"The Japanese have been doing it with food forever," she says. And, they take miniaturization and individualism to extreme. They sell individually wrapped strawberries and even have toy kitchens where you can prepare dime-sized doughnuts and one-inch pizzas with micro-utensils and Lilliputian cookware. (These nano-foods are made of seaweed extract, but they're not edible).

Why shouldn't we Americans jump into the trend and miniaturize our favorites, like grilled cheese and lasagna?

These home-spun versions of molecular gastronomy – where food is deconstructed and then put back together — adds "a creative fun play to cooking that people don't get to do in their regular day," Julier thinks. And it brings us closer to our food. "Americans now feel a disconnect with their food. This gives us some control of foods' shape and form."

This all sounds reasonable, but it still doesn't explain the emotional response many of us have when we see a pee-wee pizza or bite-size lasagna. "Omigosh, look how adorable!"

Writing in The New York Times a few years ago, Natalie Angier called this "The Cute Factor." She said that humans are hardcoded to respond positively to any features or signs that reminds us of needy infants, from "the young of virtually every mammalian species, fuzzy-headed birds like Japanese cranes, woolly bear caterpillars, a bobbing balloon, a big round rock stacked on a smaller rock, a colon, a hyphen and a close parethesis typed in succession."

If punctuation can emanate "cute cues" that make us happy and trigger our impulse to nuture and care, then surely miniaturized food may elicit a similar response.

This foodie-scientist needed some solid data. So I suggested my friend come down to Washington, D.C. and bake up a few batches of these baby casseroles.

As soon as the bubbling mini-potpies came out of the oven, my skepticism and pedantic analyses turned to child-like glee.

Cute little discs of brioche — brushed with butter of course — served as the bread for the grilled cheese cupcakes. And, a thick bechamel sauce was rich enough that the mac n' cheese cupcakes held their shape as they cooled. Oh, how delightful!

But what finally won me over were the lasagna cupcakes. Wonton noodles replaced the pasta, and the thin noodles folded up along the sides of the cupcakes, sealing in the ricotta cheese and tomato sauce. Dare I say they were better than the large format?

Whether it's an instinctual affection for baby Japanese birds or just a desire to connect more closely to your dinner, the mini-food movement appears to be kicking in the U.S.

And, it's probably no coincidence, Julier says, that we are choosing to miniaturize calorie-rich dishes, like lasagna and meat pies. "It allows an indulgence without the guilt."

Cute and healthy all wrapped up together in a muffin. What more does a foodie need.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.