Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Key Lime Cupcakes and Whipped Cream flavored Vodka Frosting

Hey!  Remember me?  I hope you do!  Really though, I hope you all didn't forget about me because I promise I didn't forget about you!  (...although that seems like a big old crock, I swear I didn't!)  I wouldn't be surprised if I slipped your mind and I should probably start off by acknowledging just how much time has passed since I paid any attention to my baking.  (Holy s#!^, it has been a LONG WHILE!)  Now I don't like to make excuses, especially for my slacking...BUUUUUT the past couple of months have been beyond chaotic/grueling/insane/life-changing/etc etc.  I hope I can jog your memory of me and finally get back to the grind of doing what I love to do!  And I hope most of all that you will forgive me for being MIA.  :)

Now I don't want to give you a big old laundry list of reasons that led to my temporary disappearance, but I do feel I owe somewhat of an explanation since this is my blog and I like to have it be a little more than just a (pardon me for this next one) "sugar-coated" version of myself.  Yeah yeah yeah, you guys care about the food, I know..but at least lemme think you care about the crazy girl behind the blog itself!  (Come on, I know you do, even if just a liiiiiittle bit :) ) Let me begin by saying that turning 21 was one contributing factor to my absence.  I've spent quite a bit of my spare time enjoying the perks of being "of-age"...but I figure I can combine the best of both worlds and put that added advantage to good use on here.  Guess what that means?  Yes, you got it folks...alcohol inspired recipes!  Tis the season, correct?  Yes, that's right..I thought so too. :)

Along with spending my free time galavanting around with my horizontal ID, I have been putting in more hours at work, I moved back home with mom and dad, and most importantly I have been trying to get myself situated with school.  I am VERY happy to say that after graduating this spring, I will now be attending Johnson and Wales  University for their Business Management program and I will be starting their Culinary Nutrition program the following year.  That means someone will have a pretty full plate for the next few years (I know I know, again I apologize for the corny pun! But really though, I'm not that  sorry ;) )...and I am SO looking forward to working towards those degrees and my future!  Maybe someday, if dreams come true, you'll know my name for more than just being that silly girl who fell off the blogosophere for a few months. 

So, ya see...I've been a busy little bee lately, but I hope to never abandon ship (well, abandon "blog" really, but you  know the point I was trying to make....I think) like that again!  And most importantly, I hope you will continue to follow me and my rambling thoughts on here for the long haul.  :)

 Now, on to the good stuff!  This past weekend was one of my dearest friend's 25th birthday and I knew I wanted to make something fun and festive for the occasion.  Not only is she an inspirational and supportive friend to have, but she literally has a contagious personality.  The little ray of sunshine she is always brightens up any room she's in and literally just exudes positivity and happiness (she can't fight the hippie within her!).  So, when I was trying to conjure up some deliciously summer/sunshine inspired treat, my mind went a million miles a minute.  And then, it hit me. My inspiration came from the martini that gave me the worst hangover of my life.  Odd, right?  Most people can't drink/eat things that make them sick, but not me!  I thought a key lime martini (or 5) sounded great, and transforming it into a cupcake sounded just as delicious...so, I did!  Big success, and I suggest you try them too!  Especially if you're looking for a scrumptious treat for a summer gathering and like the idea of boozey cupcakes. :)


Key Lime Cupcakes
adapted from Bon Appetit, Sept 2008
  • 1 ¾ cups cake flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) cool unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
  • 1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs (room temperature)
  • 2 ½ tablespoons key lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon key lime zest
  • 1 drop green food coloring paste
  • ¾ cup buttermilk (room temperature)
Adapted by: My Madison Bistro

Whipped Cream Vodka Frosting:
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 4-5 cups confectioners sugar
  • 4 oz cream cheese
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 4 shots Pinnacle Whipped Cream flavored vodka (this is to preference.  The flavor of the vodka really doesn't stand out but it does add a lot of vanilla and sweetness to the frosting)

  • Preheat oven to 350*F. Line a muffin tin with 12 paper liners.
  • Sift the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt three times, set aside.
  • Using a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on low until it’s softened a bit. Add the sugar and increase the speed to medium. Beat until fluffy, about four minutes. Add one egg at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the lime juice, zest, and food coloring and beat until mixed. (The mixture will look curdled.)
  • Add the flour in three additions, alternating with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the flour, scraping down the bowl as necessary. Mix on low until just combined. Fill each cupcake liner 2/3 full.
  • Bake 20-25 minutes. Cool completely.
For frosting:
  • Cream together butter and shortening until fluffy
  • Add cream cheese
  • Gradually add sugar (1/2 cup at a time) and alternate with lime juice/shots
  • Add sugar until you have desired consistency.  Add more lime juice/shots if frosting is too thick, adjust to taste

Thursday, April 21, 2011

S'mores Cookies

I don't know if anyone else has noticed, but it seems to finally be getting to that time of the year for enjoying warm nights outside by a bonfire with friends...which of course means S'MORES!  (YAY!)  A couple of weeks ago a friend of mine and I took a trip down to our friend's house for what we thought was going to be a warm and sunny Sunday Funday.  After the absolutely wretched winter we had, we all had such high hopes of sitting outside in the sun having a few drinks together and just enjoying being outside. Well, it was absolutely beautiful out the whole drive down, but of course once we finally got there we found ourselves bundling up in sweatshirts and jackets so we could sit outside comfortably.  Oh New England weather, you slay me.

With a few handy men around the house, a fire pit was soon built and we were enjoying some grilling, games, and good times.  There's just something about the smell of a bonfire that makes you really itch for the summer and to me, I instantly want s'mores..and lots of them!  Who really cares that you have to wash your clothes and hair a few times to get the smokey smell out?  Not me!  It's totally worth it (in my eyes...and tummy) and ever since that day I had been seriously craving the sweet and gooey deliciosity of the classic camp fire treat.  I really wanted all of the components of that perfect little family favorite, but was looking to make a sweet little twist.  When I found these cookies I knew I needed to make them.  And now you need to, too.  Seriously!  I mean it...you will have people begging for more.  I didn't even want to eat one because I knew I'd clean out the whole batch before I got to share them, so after giving some to co-workers and friends I kept a couple for myself and damn, these are some yummy, chewy, ooey, gooey, chocolatey, awesome cookies! Campfire not required.  (But definitely adds to the fun!)

S'mores Cookies

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 dash of cinnamon
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups miniature chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 cups mini marshmallows
  • 2 Hershey bars, chopped
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • In a medium bowl combine the flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking soda, salt, and dash of cinnamon. 
  • In a second larger bowl beat together the butter, sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract until creamy. 
  • Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Slowly beat in the flour mixture until smooth. Stir in the chocolate chips. 
  • Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased cookie sheet.
  • Bake for 8 minutes, and remove from the oven. 
  • Push 3 to 4 marshmallows and a few pieces of hershey bar into each cookies. 
  • Return to the oven and bake an additional 3-4 minutes until fully cooked. 
  • Cool cookies on a wire rack.

Makes approximately 4 dozen cookies.

Source: Baked Perfection

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Seitan Black Bean Corn Burgers

I honestly can't believe that after being a vegetarian for 8 years, that I am just getting around to making homemade veggie burgers.  That's a long time and a lot of money spent on store-bought brands when they are equally delicious when made from home!  Plus, you know exactly what is going into them and can easily tweak the ingredients to your liking.  I can't even begin to imagine how much I have spent on store-bought veggie products over the years, but I'm sure if I found out I would be quite shocked.  Unfortunately, to live a healthy lifestyle it takes a lot of time, effort, and money to do so and there never seems to be enough hours in the day.  Last week was a perfect example of 24 hours just not being enough to each day.  After a long week, it's my day off and leading up to it I have been dreaming of little creations to get making in the kitchen, errands that need to be run, miles that need to be run, things that need to be cleaned, blogging that needs to stop being neglected, groceries that need to be bought, transcripts that need to be sent, dry cleaning that needs to be sent out..all little odds and ends I wanted to cross off of my "to-do" list.  This morning I woke up ready and raring to go and I'm really hoping to get myself back on track!  My last day off (Monday) was the day I intended to work on all of this as well, but once I woke up and looked outside I found myself facing a quite dismal day...and my motivation level went kaput.  I really can't wait for the nice weather to be here so I start feeling more motivated and accomplished, because this folks...it ain't cutting it!

I've mentioned before that the bank that I work in is in a grocery store.  Well, we are faced right across from the check-out lines and I see my fair share of groceries being bought throughout the day.  A co-worker and I came to the conclusion (without any scientific evidence aside from our observation) that it seems that at least 90% of purchases made contain a bag of some sort of chips.  People are always buying bags of them!  I was really quite shocked to see some of the things people buy and in the quantities they buy them, and chips seem to be the leading thing in most people's order.  I mean, they taste good, they're a quick snack, they have a long shelf-life, and mostly everyone likes them, but there's really no nutritional value to them yet everyone loads up on them!  It's all about taste and convenience to some because most people, like myself, find that 24 hours simply isn't enough.  Let's face it..the healthy stuff is usually more expensive, goes bad faster, takes more time to prepare, and requires a little more thought.  And now not only are people strapped for cash much of the time, but they are always in a rush and then many times turn to less healthy alternatives.  It's actually pretty shocking to see on such a large scale!

Okay, just so you know, I am no saint and anything covered in chocolate usually finds it's way into my mouth, but I think there is a fine line in indulging here and there and leading an unhealthy lifestyle.  I don't think life is about restricting yourself from eating things you want, but man is it scary to see the way people eat and how much they eat nowadays.  Not to mention the absolute crap you find in some foods.  I could honestly go on and on and on about how much it appalls me to read ingredient lists and see just what we are putting into ourselves without a second thought (yuck!).  Dave teases me because whenever I go to Trader Joe's I buy one box of regular Joe Joe's and a box of chocolate Joe Joe's (if you don't know, it's the all-natural/trans-fat free equivalent to an Oreo).  I don't buy them trying to trick myself into thinking they are good for me, BUT if I am going to be ingesting something as a treat, I like to know exactly what the ingredients are and I like that my body will know how to store the sugar, the fat, and the protein accordingly instead of it wondering what the heck to do with this chemical-laden thing I just ate (for example: sucralose, saccharin, aspartame, food dyes, etc).  You won't ever catch me putting an icky Splenda in my coffee to save on calories, that's for sure!  ....Okay, okay, I should really apologize for the tangent I am going on (sorry my friends!), but I think that happens when you have an honest love for good food.  Good taste, good quality, goodness all around. Like I said, I'm human and I won't object to a brownie if it comes from a box, but ya just gotta know when it gets to be a liiiiittle too much.  So, with ALL of that being said, I was really intrigued to try making my own veggie burgers for the first time and knowing exactly what was going into them since I controlled the ingredients.  And aside from being less convenient than picking up a box of veggie burgs from the store, they were a real success in my kitchen (and they didn't turn out mushy like a lot of homemade versions!)  Thumbs up!  :)

Seitan Black Bean Corn Burgers
Yields: 6-8 big burgers

  •  1 cup seitan
  • 1 14 oz can black beans (drained and rinsed)
  • 1 tbsp vegan Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp tamari or soy sauce (I used Bragg's Liquid Aminos)
  • 1/2-1 cup bread crumbs (or 2 slices of bread toasted)
  • 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp high-heat vegetable oil for pan frying
(Note: I doubled up on the spices in my burgers and I thought that yielded a great result in flavor.  Also, you may need to adjust the amount of bread crumbs depending on how moist the seitan is since it varies a lot in moisture content.  I used 3/4 cup)

  • If the seitan is packed in water or broth, drain it.  Add to food processor and process until chopped.
  • Add the beans and process until finely chopped (You may still see the occasional bean piece).  Remove mixture to a mixing bowl.
  • Add the vegan Worcestershire sauce, tamari, bread crumbs, flour, corn, paprika, cumin, chili powder, and salt to the seitan/bean mixture and mix with your hands (you can use a fork, but your hands work best for faster results!)  Adjust the mixture to taste, and add more bread crumbs if the mixture is too wet.  (It should be moist, but not gloppy)
  • Heat oil over medium-high heat, preferably cast iron.
  • Begin forming patties.  (1/4-1/2 cup)  (I used more than 1/4 cup to make them wider to fit the big burger buns I bought, but you don't want them too thick or else they will get mushy in the middle and no one likes a mush-burger!)  These can be made in advance and stored until ready to cook.
  • When ready to cook, brown the burgers until they darken up nicely and get a "char" to them like a real burger would.
  • Serve and enjoy!
Adapted from:

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Vegan Apple Pecan Oatmeal Bake

My breakfast conundrum never seems to cease!  That was until now.  I am always working on expanding my options and now I have found one of the perfect answers to my daily battle of what to eat for in the morning. This, my friends, is it!  I am officially obsessed with oatmeal bakes.  They are convenient, can be made in advance, are totally and completely versatile, take just a few minutes to whip up, are great on-the-go, taste oooh so delicious, are definitely nutritious,  and they are soft, chewy, and keep you full!  No need to battle the hungry horrors in the morning..just pack a square or two of these little guys and you are good to to start off your day.

I prefer to cut mine into 9 squares and usually bring 2 or 3 to work with me to snack on throughout the day.  I tend to be much more of a grazer when it comes to eating because my body feels better being replenished throughout the day on little healthy options than big meals only a few times a day.  I find when I eat little snacks throughout the day I am more alert, eat less, and make healthier decisions because I am not forcing my body to wait until "meal time".  They all tease me at work because I pack a ton of stuff to eat with me everyday.  Every morning I waltz in with my re-usable Trader Joe's bag in tow, which lately has been packed with oatmeal bake squares, hummus, cucumber slices, whole wheat pretzels, a smoothie, an apple, a banana or two, a bag of nuts, tea bags, sugar in the raw, a sammy, and well, you get the idea.  I know I know, that's a whole lotta food!  It's not that I end up eating it all throughout the day, but I really like having the variety to choose from.  Which is another reason why I love these oatmeal squares...there are SO many different ways you can prepare these.  And I can't wait to show you all the different types I try.  You may be seeing a lot of these in the near future. :)

Vegan Apple Walnut Oatmeal Bake

  • 2  cups uncooked quick-cooking oats
  • 1/2  cup packed brown sugar (I love Trader Joe's brand!)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup cranberries (or craisins)
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 3 tbsp milled flax seed
  • 1  teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2  cups soy milk (or any other dairy-free milk)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 apple, grated
  • 1  tablespoons Earth Balance, melted
  • 2 tbsp apple sauce
  • 1  Ener-G "egg"
  • Cooking spray
  • Preheat oven to 375° F.
  • In a large bowl, combine oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, cranberries, pecans, and baking powder; set aside.
  • In a small bowl, combine the soy milk, vanilla, grated apple, Earth Balance, and "egg". Add soy milk mixture to oat mixture; stir well. Pour oat mixture into an 8-inch square baking dish coated with cooking spray. 
  • Top with more pecans (optional) 
  • 1/2 way through top with more craisins (optional)
  • Bake at 375° for 20 minutes. Serve warm.
Yields: 9 servings 

Note: This recipe was adapted from one that uses milk, butter, and an egg where I substituted soy milk, Earth Balance, and an egg replacer.  Feel free to sub the original back in the amounts listed if you prefer!

Adapted from: Sweet Pea's Kitchen

Monday, March 28, 2011

Lemon Lavender Cupcakes

 Okay, so I know I've been a little MIA on here but I promise I didn't forget about you!  I have had quite a few successful adventures in the kitchen I'm dying to tell you about, but lately my head has kind of been in the clouds with school applications, work, and all that other fun stuff that comes along with being an "adult".  Against my Grammie's best advice not to grow up (I so should have listened to her!), I did just have yet another birthday and yesterday we did our annual March Birthdays family celebration for my mom, my aunt, and me.  This has been a tradition for as long as I can remember, and we three princesses will be carrying it on for as long as we can.  (We sure do love being spoiled!)  Brunch, family, lots of laughs, and a room full of presents...I'm still not sure why we only do this once a year?  I mean, we do have 1/2 birthdays too!  I'll be sure to bring that up the next time I talk to my Gram. :)

The day started out great, even though I was running late...as always!)  So in my rush to get to brunch, I flew into the parking lot and ran as fast as I could into the restaurant.  Seeing as it was a cool 35 degrees out at that point (plus we were right near the water), it never really dawned on me that cupcakes could still melt when it's that cold.  Lesson learned, THEY CAN AND THEY DO!  After eating, chatting, and digesting, we left to head back to my Grammie's to open presents.  As I rolled myself out of the restaurant and to my car, I was greeted by the delicious smells of lemon and lavender......melted all over my passenger seat.  What. A. Mess.

Yup.  Biiiiiig old mess!  I'm sad to say there were some handmade marzipan flower casualties as well. :(

My poor little cupcakes.  At least they still tasted good!

 ....Because they sure didn't look so good. :(

But then we walked in and saw this, and suddenly melted cupcakes weren't so so bad. :)  I got everything I could ever need for cupcakes making and baking, along with a crock-pot, jewelry, gift cards, all sorts of kitchen gadgets, and well..you see, my family kind of spoils me. :)

Cupcake gift bags, cupcake tissue paper, cupcake wrapping paper, and cupcake cards (at least none of those could melt!)  filled the room.  I sure had fun unwrapping and opening all my goodies. :)

What a beautiful birthday crown!  I felt very much like the Statue of Liberty.


After opening up all of our goodies, we moved our way over to the kitchen to eat some more!  This time, birthday cake, cupcakes, truffles, and much, much more. Yum!  We sure did our fair share of eating. 

And then it was time for a photo-op of the Birthday Princesses.  (Left to right: Auntie B, Me, Mom)

....Then a sneak attack!  Without fail, my Uncle pulled a prank and shot us with silly string. Lots and lots of silly string.

But he was nice enough to share the silly string with more than just the birthday girls.

Right, Jonathan?  :)

My adorable little brother...in all of his silly string glory.

And now, on to the recipe!

These cupcakes (much prettier prior to their melting) were really delicious, light, and the perfect spring-time flavors.  I had always wanted to do a lemon and lavender combination and finally after all this time I got to trying it out.  The hint of the lavender flavor in the buttercream really complimented the delicious lemon in the cupcakes.  And, just because they happened the get a little melted, it didn't impact their deliciousness.  So have some fun and try them out!

Lemon Cupcakes:
  • Yield Makes 24


  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • Finely grated zest of 3 lemons (about 3 tablespoons), plus 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup buttermilk


  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.
  2. With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is until incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Beat in zest and vanilla. Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of buttermilk and lemon juice, and beating until just combined after each.
  3. Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until golden brown and a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely before removing cupcakes. Cupcakes can be stored overnight at room temperature, or frozen up to 2 months, in airtight containers.

    Source: Martha Stewart

    For the Frosting:

    • 3 sticks unsalted butter, softened
    • pinch of fine grain sea salt
    • 1 tablespoon clear vanilla extract
    • 1/2 tsp-1tsp lavender extract (adjust to preference)
    • 6-8 drops yellow food coloring (optional)
    • 2 pounds confectioners’ sugar, sifted
    • 4-6 tablespoons heavy cream or milk

    1. In a large mixing bowl, cream butter until fluffy. Slowly add in confectioner’s sugar, and continue creaming until well blended.
    2. Add salt, vanilla, and 3 tablespoons of heavy cream or milk. Blend on low speed until moistened. Add an additional 1 to 3 tablespoons of heavy cream or milk until you reach the desired consistency. Beat at high speed until frosting is smooth and fluffy.