Cupcakery

Since last Friday, I feel like all I’ve been doing is making cupcakes. I swear I had a dream that my yard was filled with children asking if they can have yet another one. ‘Please ma’am, just one more for the road?’ They kept promising to leave only to return and demand a different flavour. Well that’s just about enough!

It all started with me volunteering to make something for a fundraising cakewalk. Do you remember those? Such a classic event that all kids LOVE. I am not much of a baker but every once in awhile I get into the groove until I manage to wear myself out, which I did.

Here’s the scoop:

cupcake ingredients

This is a fairly inclusive picture of the ingredients used

cupcakes

Into the oven at about 350 degrees

I like to add more than what the back of the cake mix suggests because it just seems to make the cupcakes a bit more moist and flavourful. I also like icing that tastes like something other than just plain old icing sugar.

Cupcake ingredient list:

  • cake mix of your choice (I made two different batches-chocolate and vanilla confetti. I was also going to do lemon but decided I could live with the 50 plus cupcakes I was already creating)
  • pudding mix that is complimentary to your cake mix (I used chocolate and vanilla. If you like lemon, well then use lemon pudding)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup oil (you could also use apple sauce)
  • 1/2 cup greek yogurt (or sour cream)

Icing ingredient list:

  • 1/2 cup butter unsalted and warmed up on the counter (don’t microwave it!)
  • 2 cups of icing sugar
  • about 3/4 cup of hazelnut spread (for one flavour of icing-turns out brown)
  • about 3/4 cup of marshmallow mix (for another flavour of icing-turns out white)
  • (If I was doing lemon, I would have tried lemon extract or curd-adding slowly to control the consistency)
  • about 1 tbsp heavy cream
  • some hershey kisses of whatever kind you like (keep them wrapped in the foil -I used the cookies and cream. If it was lemon, I would have used lemon rind or better yet? Stick a lemon lollipop on the top!)

Cupcakes:

  • set the oven for 350 degrees Celsius
  • Mix the whole mess together-doesn’t matter what goes in first or last.
  • Place your batter in some lovely cupcake wrappers-probably about 1/2 full depending on how big you like your cupcakes (as you can see from the pics below, I experimented)
  • Bake for about 18-23 minutes
  • Let them cool completely before icing!

Icing:

  • Mix the butter with your electric mix to get it creamy
  • Add the icing sugar and mix with the butter
  • Add your flavour (hazelnut or marshmallow or lemon)
  • Add just a dash of the heavy cream to a consistency that works for you-I like really thick icing so I can stick the candy into it and I just think it looks pretty.
  • place the icing in an icing bag (I used a plastic disposable one with a monster round tip) or use a knife to ice your cupcakes
  • place your wrapped (or unwrapped) candy on the top! Or be creative and think of something else to stick on the top-paper umbrellas, plastic rings, etc.

Extra special note: if you really wanted to out do yourself, you could stuff your cupcake with filling. An apple corer could work (I’ve used a melon baller) to take the middle of the cooked cupcake out and then fill it with a complimentary filling (strawberry preserve, lemon curd, hazelnut spread, peanut butter are a few ideas). Once you’ve added the filling then ice over the top!

vanilla cupcakecupcake result

The end result of your efforts-a lovely cupcake!

Now watch the kids enjoy your efforts! Or better yet, have a taste test yourself.

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Home Alone!

Back in the day, I never appreciated being by myself. If I happened to be in this most unfortunate position,  I would spend the entire time wondering where everyone was and why I wasn’t invited. Oh, the waste of it all.

Now? A night alone is like winning the jackpot! Don’t get me wrong, I love spending time with my boys (hubby and son). It’s just every once in awhile, there is a need to rebalance the energy around here with a little less testosterone and a little more fabulousness.  In other words:

  • hockey or football do not need to be playing on the ridiculous number of TV’s we apparently need;
  • making the dogs bark for the sheer entertainment of it all is not necessary or desirable;
  • ice cream every night is not essential to your survival; and
  • trying to outdo each other’s farts and burps does not  establish ownership over the household.

Last night, the boys went on a school camping trip and I got to be ALONE. In other words, I:

  • exercised out on the back deck (without any hecklers trying to disrupt my concentration);
  • ate half of a leftover burger and some salad followed by half a cookie, a tablespoon of peanut butter, a glass of wine and a cup of detox tea (without having to explain why this wasn’t weird or contradictory);
  • watched taped reruns of the Bachelorette and Housewives of who knows where (without any comments about how dumb these are);
  • had a bath (without anyone banging on the door telling me to hurry up); and
  • appreciated the silence (no one asked me where anything was).

It was a great night, the goal of doing absolutely nothing of substance was accomplished and I am ready for the crew to arrive home today with their dirty laundry in tow and fill the house back up with the bantering that makes it a home sweet home.

Monday Memoirs

Lately, I’ve been preoccupied with the drama that is our ‘new’ home. I won’t go into any great detail at the moment but let’s just say that my perfectionist tendencies are being tested to the extreme (that is, for a perfectionist).  I really need to pull myself together and get on with life, regardless of its lack of order at the moment. Sometimes, that’s really hard for me and it’s easier to act like a possum and FREEZE. Which is what I’ve been doing lately!

Despite it all, here are 3 things I’ve been grateful for:

  • Optimism. Thank goodness for the ability to regroup, rethink, refocus and see the glass as half full. In fact, despite the stress I’ve been experiencing, I see the glass as way more full than half! There is always a lesson to be learned and I truly believe everything happens for a reason, even if we don’t know what that is until somewhere down the road.

Strongbow

That glass is totally half full…of only the best cider ever!

  • The boys. My husband and son are so good to me. They went and bought me a canister of cinnamon tea and a fancy strainer. I have no idea how the strainer works and am completely fascinated by it. The tea tastes like those cinnamon hearts you get at Valentines.

Tea 2

Can you see the Canadian flag ‘photo bombing’ in the background? No, I didn’t do that on purpose. 

  • The art of experimentation. Lately, I’ve felt compelled to try some new things in the kitchen. I came across a recipe for cauliflower crust pizza. I am not a huge fan of pizza but I have to say that this turned out really well and was not ‘heavy’. Very easy to make and will definitely stick it on the list for Friday nights.

Pizza

This has spinach, kale, feta and some mozza and cheddar on it. Yum! 

Have a great week 🙂

Wine of the Weekend and Sundry

I have had a cold all week and as a result of my inability to breathe without blowing snot bubbles, my running has slowed to a walk, complete with stopping every five feet so the dogs can smell a telephone pole or rotate themselves into crapping position.

Enough moping. I am so happy the weekend is here! It’s supposed to hit around 22 degrees Celsius (which is about 71 degrees Fahrenheit). This means I will be outside doing one of my favourite things-gardening!

I will also be drinking this (unless I end up switching to a more appropriate crisp, cool white wine):

Win o Clock

$12 Cdn

This is a Canadian wine from Oliver, British Columbia. Medium bodied with some spice and berries. 

On another note, when I took the dogs out for their morning walk, I couldn’t help appreciate these blossoms:

Cherry blossom

I love our early morning walks before everyone else wakes up

Then, on my lunch hour walk around the city, I couldn’t help but notice the striking, deep (almost black) colour of these tulips:

parliament tulips

Finally, I wanted to share some recipes I tried this week. These come from one of my favourite blogs: Eighty-Twenty

Both of these recipes got a thumbs up from my husband and son. They were easy to make and I will definitely be making them again 🙂

Turkey Burgers

Lasagna Stacks

Cheers to the weekend!

Monday Memoirs

Last week was full of a  ‘rewiring the entire house’ kind of adventure. I came home last Wednesday to the entire house covered in about 3 inches of dust. No word of a lie! Needless to say, the biggest thing I’m thankful for is that last week is well-in the past.  Here are a couple of other things I’m thankful for:

1. In laws or out laws. Call them what you want but I am incredibly blessed to have my husband’s parents in my life. Despite the chaos of renovating, they came to wait on us hand and foot visit. They cooked, cleaned (I mean they REALLY cleaned),  fixed things, walked dogs, spoiled my son and brought wine. Enough said. 

2. Braces. My son got yellow and black ones attached to his teeth. Back in my day, they were just plain metal. Apparently he can change the colours every month when he goes in for a check up. Say what? I’d just go with the clear or white ones. Just thinking about braces makes my teeth ache.

3. Personal missions. Some people have great aspirations. Me? I just wanted to find a set of headphones and the charger for my ipod shuffle. Is that too much to ask? We still haven’t unpacked the house and every time I thought I’d narrowed my search down to a specific box, I would open it only to find NOT WHAT I WANTED. I should have given up the search but the more I couldn’t find them, the more I NEEDED them. It truly was a sad state of affairs. Schlepping from room to room, wine glass in hand, complaining, asking my family over and over again if they’d seen them. Pathetic. In the end, I triumphed! I found them in a corner of the basement. I sounded like my husband does when the Canucks score.

in law food

An example of the fabulous food my in laws create.

This has shrimp, tomatoes, parsley, and parmesan  cheese-yum!

in law flowers

Aren’t these beautiful? My mother in law happened to pick these up at the grocery store.

Yes, grocery shopping for us. SPOILED.

Operation Detox!

As I stand to shake the crumbs off my shirt and shed my cravings for all things sweet and salty, I give you my latest and greatest detox creation:

detox dinner

Everything green and red from the fridge (and some light feta) with a side of kale chips

This is NOT the perfect salad or even very creative by my standards but nonetheless, here’s the list I generally use to evaluate what’s on my plate:

  • greens and other veggies -I use a lot of spinach, parsley and kale
  • healthy fat (i.e. olive oil, avocado)-have you tried coconut oil? I have been meaning too.
  • protein-I like chickpeas and tuna
  • lots of water on the side! although I am huge tea and ‘potion’ drinker (meaning vitamin and detox teas), oh yeah; then there’s the wine.

To be completely transparent, I chased this plate with a spoonful of peanut butter. I couldn’t help it.

Here is; however, a salad creation I also made and loved this week:

salad

Here is the recipe (I use this term loosely):

1/2 cup fennel

1/2 cup celery

1/2 cup snap peas

1 small or medium apple (I used a Gala)

1/4 cup sliced almonds (it would also be good with walnuts)

Dressing is made up of peach yoghurt (because that’s what I found in the fridge) with some lemon juice mixed in.

Have you eaten something green today?

The Comfort of Routine

For someone who loves a good solid routine,  I often find myself off the beaten path. You know when you go for a stroll in the forest and see those little paths branching from the clear one with the well marked signs? I fall for those all the time. Sometimes they loop right back and other times they lead to some place interesting.

the main path

A very clearly marked path that leads to an amazing view of the Pacific Ocean

Now, I’m all for exploring but in terms of my eating healthy and exercising regime I went down a path that led me to a couch  with a monster size TV in front of it and a pantry filled with nachos, burgers and the occasional Strongbow. Sure, there were some Oxygen magazines on the coffee table. I did manage to flip through the pages on occasion while dipping the nacho chips in hot sauce. Frankly, it’s been AWESOME (I think that word dates me) but after spending a good hard livin’ month here, it’s time to loop back. To be honest? I am looking forward to it!

off the path 1

Isn’t this sweet? I found it on one of my strolls around the neighbourhood

off the path 2

I bet there’s a couch in this house, with a troll watching TV. Probably there’s some salt and vinegar chips in there too. 

Without further adieu, my short term goals are:

Running around the new neighbourhood at least three times a week for 30 minutes or more (this will end up looking like two 30 minute runs and one 45 minute run); and

Reintroducing vegetables and water (this is another way of saying DETOX).

These may not seem like a total re haul but they work for me 🙂

Have you strayed like this before? What do you do to get back?