I gotta tell you , 25 doesn’t feel a whole lot different than 24. Sure, It’s only been a week, but still.
I’m excited that so many of you have entered my birthday giveaway! I’ll be announcing the winners on Friday.
my brother nick, adam & i
Last week for my birthday we had dinner and dessert with the family at my moms, although I was at school until about 8 so technically I missed my own birthday dinner. It’s ok though, because I was there for the best part; the dessert. I was surprised to see how many people there were, since I thought we were doing a smaller dinner/dessert night – I was happy to see my nonna & joe, along with my brother & val, and adam’s parents were all in attendance to celebrate :)
As usual my mom invites me over for dessert, and then asks me to bring the dessert ;) We ended up having lots of desserts – I brought these cupcakes and a vegan cake, along with banana peanut butter ice cream, and then my mom also had a chocolate mousse-like cheesecake for us. I had been doing pretty well on my sugar-free diet up until then, but since it was my birthday I let loose on the sweets.
my birthday twin alysha & i cutting our cake
On my actual birthday I had school, again, until about 5:30. We hadn’t made any plans really for going out or what we would do the night of. It turned out to be a super hot and sunny day, so I said I wanted to be somewhere on a patio for dinner. We are so lucky to live minutes from the water, so we made a quick reservation for dinner down by the pier to take in the view while we ate. It was such a warm night, no wind at all – we walked along the pier without jackets.
post dinner all-out free birthday menchies visit
Every year I make myself some sort of birthday cupcake. Last year I made these Reese’s peanut butter cupcakes, dipped in chocolate. They were pretty ridiculous. I am a huge fan of anything peanut butter and chocolate, and I really wasn’t planning on making pb&chocolate cupcakes again this year, that is, until I saw this recipe from one of my fav vegan websites (i’ve made a vegan carrot cake, and a marinated kale salad from her site too) I had actually seen these a while ago and bookmarked them, but wasn’t thinking of them for my birthday. However, they looked so good I knew I had to make them.
I’ve been making a lot of vegan recipes lately, mostly because I like using less butter in baking, and because of my dairy and egg allergy it seems to work. I’ve also been using flour alternatives because of my wheat allergy, like rice and coconut flour. These cupcakes are amazing. The frosting is like silk – I highly recommend using smooth natural peanut butter, it has a much deeper roasted flavour. I used Trader Joe’s creamy peanut butter. I topped them with dark chocolate chips, and raw cocoa nibs.
Vegan Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes
makes 12 cupcakes
recipe adapted from Healthy Happy Life
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 cup white rice flour
- 1/2 cup coconut flour
- 1/2 cup vegan butter, melted (or coconut oil)
- 1/2 cup coconut or almond milk
- 1/3 cup water + 1 tsp ground golden flax seeds
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/3 cup cocoa powder
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 1 Tbsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 cup blendable fruit (berries, banana, apple sauce)
to top: 70% dark chocolate chips, raw cacao nibs
Peanut Butter Frosting
- 1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
- 1/3 cup vegan butter, chilled
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2-3 Tbsp non-dairy milk (coconut, almond)
1. Preheat oven 350 degrees.
2. In a large mixing bowl, add flours, sugar, cocoa powder, cinnamon, and baking powder. Stir to mix.
3. In separate bowl blend together fruit (berries, banana or apple sauce), vanilla, melted butter, flax seeds + water, apple cider vinegar and non-dairy milk. Blend with mixer until well incorporated.
4. Line cupcake tins with wrappers – add 1/4 cup to each.
5. Bake cupcakes at 350 for 16-20 minutes or until tops begin to toast up.
6. Cool cupcakes.
To make frosting, blend all ingredients together with mixer on medium speed until fluffy and smooth. Pipe onto cooled cupcakes. Sprinkle cupcakes with raw cacao nibs, and top with a chocolate chip.
I made these this week and they would be great for an Easter dinner. They’re sort of like a bird’s nest cookie, except inside out. I filled them with homemade lemon curd, topped with a cream cheese buttercream and sprinkled with toasted coconut.
We’re away with some of my family at Osoyoos lake for the weekend – it was 18 degrees today. Definitely felt like summer. We walked into town for a couple hours and had lunch at a cafe, and walked back. We were out in the sun long enough to get a little bit red.
I’m really loving this warm and sunny Easter.
Hope everyone has a lovely Easter weekend with family and friends. I’ll definitely be enjoying it before school begins again on Tuesday. I am also lucky enough to be going to the Rihanna concert Monday night – should be interesting.
You will need:
24 of your favourite Vanilla Cupcakes – baked and cooled.
To toast coconut place pan on medium heat, add ½ cup medium unsweetened coconut to the pan and allow to heat. Once fragrant, sift around coconut continually for 5 minutes until lightly browned and toasted.
Remove from heat and place in dish to cool.
- 3 large eggs
- 1/3 cup sugar
- Grated zest of 1 (one) lemon
- 1/2 cup lemon juice
- 6 tablespoons butter cut into small pieces (3/4 stick)
- Whisk together eggs, sugar and lemon zest in medium saucepan until light in colour.
- Add lemon juice and butter
- Cook, whisking over medium heat until the butter is melted. Then whisk constantly until the mixture is thickened and simmers gently for a few seconds.
- Place a medium mesh-sieve over a bowl and scrape the filling using a spatula into it. Strain the filling into the bowl.
- Let cool, cover with plastic wrap and push against the curd, so you do not have a film, and refrigerate to thicken.
To assemble cupcakes:
Using a small knife, cut a circle at a diagonal into the top center of the cooled cupcake. Make sure not to cut too far down, you still want a bottom to your cupcake. Take out the ‘core’ and cut off the excess and reserve the ‘cork’ to replace on to the cupcake.
Using a small spoon, fill the center of the cupcake and replace top ‘cork’ to cover.
- 3 sticks of unsalted butter (1 ½ cups), room temperature
- ¼ cup cream cheese, softened
- 4 cups sifted icing sugar
1. Cream butter in stand mixer with whisk attachment for 2-3 minutes until light and fluffy. Scrape down sides.
2. Add sifted icing sugar ½ cup at a time and whip well. Scrape down sides as needed between adding more.
3. Once all icing sugar is incorporated, add in the ¼ up of cream cheese. Whip again until well incorporated.
4. Pipe onto cupcakes and then sprinkle with toasted coconut.
I have 5 days left in this country – and Summer has finally decided to stick around. We had to endure a rather unruly June, but July has been quite nice. I have been told I’m not really allowed to complain, however, as I am going to Europe for a month. Where the weather looks like this:
Believe me, I will not be complaining.
That is, until it is so unbearably hot and humid that I can’t sleep through the night. Who can stand sleeping in anything when it is THIS hot. Adam and I have shrugged off our duvet cover each night, and even having a thin bed sheet on top is too much. Each morning I wake up in a tangle of bed sheets and the duvet half on the ground. I find I toss and turn more in the heat.
I remember my mom telling me that when she took my brother to Italy when he was a baby, they would let him run around naked indoors because it was too hot. I can’t imagine a baby in that heat! At least I know i’ll be well hydrated, because I will be hooking an IV of fluid up to myself in the form of a straw – and some Pellegrino.
Tonight we also had Adam’s baseball BBQ and game – it was great until my allergies began to act up. Thankfully my current bed partner (Adam) doesn’t mind crawling in bed with a girl covered in a face mask and a lovely nose strip (thank you Breathe Right) It’s the only thing that will do the job right now. Along with allergy medicine, nose spray, and an Advil decongestant. I really hope my future children do NOT inherit my allergies. Summer’s really suck with them.
On another note..
Berry season is in full swing – delicious local berries are readily available as we make our way through the seasonal peaks. Strawberry season is almost over – but there is still plenty of time left to go and pick some (I believe end of July is the finish). Unfortunately we haven’t been able to hit up many U-Pick farms, due to the fact we’re moving, packing, and (I’m) leaving the country later this week. However, last year we did visit Krause Berry Farms in Langley, and loved it - Their welcome sign is, after all, a giant strawberry.
They provide all the info for each berry season and schedule. If you have a free weekend I suggest visiting them, the farm and cafe are awesome – corn pizza, fresh fruit smoothies, milkshakes, sky high pies, and mini donuts! You can also buy frozen foods and bring them home with you! You can read about my older post and visit to Krause Berry Farms here.
I made these strawberry cupcakes for our blogger picnic a few weekends ago – they are perfectly light and refreshing without being overly sweet.
I picked up the cute mini purple cupcake stand from our visit to Steveston the weekend before from a store called Serenity Home Decor. They have lots of unique and adorable gifts, cupcake related items, baking, novelty etc. Definitely worth a stroll through.
Fresh Strawberry Cupcakes
You will need:
24 baked and cooled yellow cupcakes
one batch of Swiss Meringue Buttercream
local, fresh strawberries, washed & sliced (reserve smaller strawberries for decoration)
Fresh Strawberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream
5 large egg whites
1 cup sugar
3 sticks butter, chilled, cut into cubes
Add washed, sliced strawberries (about 3/4 cup) to a food processor, and pulse for a few minutes until pureed. Do not drain, or add sugar. I like to leave the seeds instead of draining it like a coulis and heating it up – leave it fresh and un-cooked. Set aside.
In a metal mixing bowl, preferably from your stand mixer, place over a pot of simmering water, not boiling. Add sugar and egg whites. Be sure there is no yolk or oil in the egg whites, they will not whip properly otherwise.
Whisk constantly, until thermometer reads between 140-160 degrees F. If you do not have a thermometer, heat until sugar is completely dissolved and the egg whites are hot. This takes about 7-10 minutes.
Transfer metal bowl back to stand mixer, with whisk attachment and whip until the egg whites are thick and glossy and cool. The bowl itself should be cool to the touch, again this takes about 7-10 minutes on high.
Once the glossy thick texture is achieved, switch to a paddle attachment, and on medium add the chilled cubes of butter, one at a time, until fully incorporated.
The texture will begin to change, to a heavier, silky texture. It may look curdled, but continue to mix and it will become smooth once again. This time my butter was a bit too warm, and my frosting was curdling and soupy. I place it in the fridge for 15 minutes, added a couple more pieces of chilled butter and began to whip again. It became smooth once again.
Pour in the pureed strawberries, and whip for a moment to blend completely. No artificial colouring needed here – all natural baby.
Using a star tip, pipe strawberry buttercream onto cupcakes. Slice reserved smaller berries, dried/wiped dry, and place on top.
These cupcakes are best eaten the same day – but are ok to be stored in the refrigerator for a day or two at most. Allow to come to room temperature before serving.
These would be perfect for a summer picnic, a bridal shower, baby shower, or summer BBQ as a light and tasty tag-along dessert. You can most certainly swap out Strawberries for other berries as well.
Enjoy your summer =) Any plans?? I suggest visiting a U-Pick Berry Farm! Blueberries, Strawberries, Raspberries!