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Lately

Hi there! My oh my, where did June go?  I feel like I blinked and suddenly it’s July! Please slow down, summer. Summertime is always pure craziness with plans, but this summer just seems even crazier. Since I can’t seem to find the time to sit down and blog weekly, I wanted to share a few things going on around these parts lately, and share a recipe too while I had a few minutes.

Lately I’ve…been working constantly
I manage a seasonal ice cream shop, mini-golf, and barbeque restaurant (which I worked at for 7 years growing up), and along with management duties, I’m also the prep cook for the restaurant, so this all keeps me extremely busy. If you’re looking for me Thursday-Sunday, I basically sleep there.  I absolutely love it but I am also absolutely exhausted when Sunday night rolls around.  Monday is the new Friday in my book!

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Ice cream unloading
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Lately I’ve…spent as much time as possible with my Nana
Brandon and I escaped reality for a few days last week and headed down to Cape Cod to spend time with my Nana at her cottage on the water. It was my favorite place as a child and still remains my favorite  place today. The quiet, the serenity, the sound of the ocean,  and having daily cocktails with Nana can’t be beat. Grandparent time is the best time in my book.

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Lately I’ve…been loving ocean-side runs and outdoor workouts
Thanks to my second family living right on the beach and taking me in on a weekly basis, I’ve been enjoying ocean-side runs multiple times a week this summer. It doesn’t get much better  than exercising with a view like this. I will never be able to express my love of the ocean enough.

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Plus, while on the Cape, Brandon and I rode 22 miles on our bikes and it was a blast. Now I want to bring my bike everywhere! Outdoor workouts make sweating so much more fun.
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Lately I’ve…been loving ice cream way too much (no surprise here)
Do I even need to explain? I think not. YOLO.
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A father’s day ice cream cake for my Dad (1/2 for him, 1/2 for me hehehehe)

Lately I’ve…been missing my grandfather
It’s hard to believe a month and a half has passed. I love you, Bop.
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Lately I’ve…been praying for this puppy
Can someone please say a prayer that this puppy comes into my  life soon? Please? I’m begging.
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Lately I’ve….been making these cookies:
I’ve made these 3 times in 3 weeks, so believe me when I say that these are addicting! They are now my absolute favorite gluten-free homemade cookie. Love, love, love. Thanks Sally!
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Gluten Free Almond Butter Choc-Chip Cookies
Inspired by Sally’s Baking Addiction
Ingredients
-1 large egg
-1 cup almond butter at room temperature ( I used creamy, but crunchy would work too.)
1/2 cup  light (or dark) brown sugar, lightly packed
-1 teaspoon baking soda
-1/2 cup to 1 cup dairy-free chocolate chips  (or any type of chocolate chip you prefer. The chips I used were mini, so I reduced it down to a 1/2 cup amount, which was plenty!).

Directions:
1) Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. Then, in a medium sized mixing bowl, whisk the egg.

2) Next spray a 1 cup measure with butter spray, and measure the almond butter accordingly. Then add the almond butter, baking soda, and brown sugar to the bowl with the egg. Mix everything together until thoroughly combined (this may take a few minutes). Then fold in the chocolate chips until combined.
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3) Now form your cookies. Scoop the dough and roll it into cookie formation with your hands, one by one (using about 1.5-2 tablespoons of dough per cookie), placing them onto a parchment-paper covered baking sheet.  Once the cookies are on each sheet, gently press down on the dough mounds with the back of a fork.
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4) Bake the cookies for 8 to 10 minutes (no more than this). The cookies will probably look  under-baked, but they will harden and be completely cooked in the next few minutes during the cooling process. Allow the cookies to cool for  about 10 minutes on the baking sheet before transferring to a wire rack to finish cooling.

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These are so addicting. I used dairy free chocolate chips, but you could truly put any sort of chocolate chip into these. Plus, I think slivered almonds would be a fantastic addition to this recipe, too. These are simply amazing to eat and so so easy to make. Thanks again for the recipe, Sally!

Have a great rest of the week, friends!

What have you been up to lately?
Have any new recipes to share?
What’s the longest bike ride you’ve taken? 22 was mine!

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All smiles…and Cake Pops

Today I am all smiles because today’s the day Brandon arrives home from Australia. Hip hip hooray!!!  Can.not.wait. to hug him : )
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Confession: Ever since Brandon moved to Australia, I have a tradition of reading all the cards and notes he’s ever given to me each time we are about to be reunited. I’ve done this every time we’ve been apart and I even brought them all with me to Australia and did this when he went away on business trips. I like having them close to me because it just makes me feel like he’s with me.  Handwritten cards and notes=happiness in a box. They are the best gifts of all.

Truthfully though, I have a hard time stopping smiling around Christmas. Anyone else like this around this time of year? The joy in the air is absolutely contagious in my opinion! Last week I was all smiles in Connecticut with my sister and her puppies in Connecticut. Mostly we just shopped, did wedding-related, crafts, and baked, but I am pretty sure it was my favorite week of the year!
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I do believe that baked goods play a huge part in the joy of any time of year, but it’s especially apparent at Christmas. Baking and enjoying holiday goodies with my family is one of my favorite things about Christmas, so yesterday I decided I would devote a few hours to baking. Cleaning-up aside, baking is truly my favorite hobby. Cake pops were first up on my baking agenda since I’ve been excited to make them ever since I found a cake pop pan at T.J. Maxx. I’m pretty sure this pan is available at major stores, too, since cake pops are all-the-rage right now, but this was my first attempt using it and I absolutely loved it. Perfectly round cake pops, yes please!
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I am all about making desserts healthier, but for Christmas, I think the old-fashioned way is the best way, so real butter and real sugar make these cake pops a real winner! I opted to make chocolate cake with white chocolate and milk chocolate glazes, and lots of sprinkles of course. This homemade chocolate cake is super simple to make, too. Plus, with the help of the pan, it’s a fool-proof way to nearly perfect cake pops. I adapted this recipe directly from the pan wrapper itself, and it’s a definite winner. My Dad and I went crazy over the dough and the finished product.  If you make these, I think you will too!
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Christmas Cake Pops
Ingredients
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
3/4 cup sugar
3 TBSP unsweetened cocoa (I used Godiva brand)
2 eggs
3/4 cup flour
1/4 tsp. salt
24 holiday lollipop sticks ( or regular, but I couldn’t resist the holiday sticks I found at Michaels!)
white chocolate, milk chocolate, or any type of chocolate for melting
Assorted sprinkles for decorating (optional)

Directions
1) Heat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit, grease cake pop pan and set aside.
2) Combine semi-sweet chocolate chips and butter in a medium pan on the stovetop and melt over low-heat, stirring until smooth. Then remove from the heat and transfer to a medium mixing bowl.
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3) Add the sugar and cocoa  to the bowl and mix until well blended, then add the eggs in one at a time and mix until blended.
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4) Lastly, add the flour and salt to this and stir until well blended.
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5) Now add spoonful’s of the batter to the bottom of the cake pop tin (the side without the holes). Make sure you mound the dough over each hole, this way it forms a perfect circle!
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6) Place the top of the pan over the bottom half and secure the clips. Bake for 15-18 minutes. (Mine took about 17 minutes). Check them with a toothpick at 15 minutes to be safe! Once your toothpick is nearly clean, remove them from the oven.
7) Let them cool in the pan for 5-8 minutes, then remove from the pan and place them on a cooling rack.
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8) Now re-grease the cake pop pan and repeat steps 5-7 to use up the remaining dough.
9) While the cake pops are cooling, set out your bowls of decorative sprinkles. I used 4 different kinds because I have a sprinkles problem : –) Then use a double boiler to melt your chocolate (I melt about 1 cup of chips at a time). I started out with white chocolate first.
Side note: This is the biggest bag of chocolate chips I’ve ever used!
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10) Once melted, dip an end of your lollipop stick in the chocolate first, then stick it into the cake pop and roll in chocolate, shaking off any excess chocolate. Then decorate with sprinkles and place on parchment paper. Repeat this process until the cake pops are covered!
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These are perfect for any holiday party! I love them because they’re perfect if you’re looking for a  portion-controlled dessert and they are just so darn cute.
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Merry Christmas!

What’s making you smile today?

Do you have any traditions with your boyfriend/husband/significant other?

What’s your favorite type of cake pop?
Mine is vanilla with pink frosting (you know, the one at Starbucks!) but chocolate is a close second!

Simple Pumpkin-Spice Date cake

Hello and happy Veteran’s Day, friends!
Thank you to all who protect our country. We are truly blessed.

How was your weekend? I knew my weekend would be great when a lunch  with my boss on Friday concluded with homemade apple pie and chocolate-decadence cake. How could it not be a great weekend when you start it off with those two things??!
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After that epic lunch on Friday, the wonderful weekend continued thanks to family-time and birthday celebrating. My twin sister, her fiancé, and the puppies were home for the weekend to celebrate my Mom’s birthday a few days early, and we had a blast.  Plus, having today off from class is pretty great, too.
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These puppies melt my heart.
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Anyway, I’ve been doing a bit more baking lately, and whether it’s because I’m using the oven to get warmer or it’s just the cold weather inspiring me to bake, any excuse works for me!  I’ve  meaning to share this  recipe for months, and since I baked it just last week for my little Mem’s birthday, I had the perfect opportunity to take some photos in order to do just that!  This recipe is an oldie, but seriously a goodie. It originates from my Grammie’s recipe box and it’s from many years ago (just check out how old this recipe card looks!), but since the first time I tasted it, I loved it.  My Grammie was the sweetest little thing, but she sure knew how to make a mean dessert. This Pumpkin Spice Date Cake is definitely one of her best.
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I don’t know about you, but one of my most favorite things about fall is the abundance of pumpkin-foods sold everywhere. Candies, coffees, baked goods; you name it, I love it. However, buying these pumpkin treats in stores and coffee shops isn’t always the most waist-line friendly option, which is why I love this recipe.  I get my pumpkin-dessert fix, but as a healthier option. This cake has zero oil, zero eggs, and zero butter, and a cool-whip-inspired frosting makes it an even smarter choice.  Plus, it’s super simple to make and bake in no time.  You’ll use a boxed spice cake mix as your base, to which you’ll add pumpkin, skim milk, baking soda, walnuts, and dates. Then voila, make your cool-whip frosting and you’re done.  My Mem has always declared this as her favorite cake and for a non-dessert person like her, that says a lot!

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Two Layer Pumpkin-Spice Date Cake
Recipe from my Grammie Rowden

Ingredients for cake:
1 box 2-layer size spice cake mix
1 cup milk (I used skim)
1 cup canned pumpkin (Not pumpkin pie filling)
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup chopped dates

For frosting:
2 cups cool whip ( I used Lite, but regular or fat-free would be fine too!)
1 TBSP. molasses
1/4 tsp. nutmeg

Directions:
1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (176 Celsius). Spray two round cake pans or one 13x9x2 cake pan with cooking spray and set aside.
2) Combine cake mix and baking soda, then add milk and pumpkin.
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3) Blend at low-speed with electric mixer until moistened. Then beat at medium speed for two minutes.
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4) Fold in nuts and dates. (BEWARE, the dough is extremely delicious!)
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5) Pour mixture into greased pans and bake at 350 degrees F for 25- 30 minutes. Once baked, set layers  aside to cool.
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6) Once cooled, remove the cake from the pans, and set the first layer in the container that you plan on storing the cake. Now you are ready to frost!
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7) In a medium-sized mixing bowl, gently stir molasses and nutmeg into cool-whip topping. IMG_5094IMG_5096
8) Spread cool whip mixture onto first cake layer, covering it completely. Then place the second cake layer on top of the first, covering this layer completely as well. (Now you have frosting sandwiched in-between the layers, even better!)

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9) Refrigerate immediately and enjoy asap! (Don’t forget to add candles for a birthday cake!)
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If you’re looking for a healthier pumpkin treat, I think this will fit the bill! Mem’s face lit up when she saw the cake and as she ate it, too. Cake at 10 a.m.? Hey, you are only 87 once. I would do this all day everyday for her <3
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Cake + hugs + laughs + love…highlight of my month right there.

What’s your favorite pumpkin dessert?
Mine has to be this spice cake, or pumpkin chocolate-chip bread…it’s a close call!
I’m also obsessed with candy-corn pumpkins, but technically I’m not sure if that counts.

What did you eat this weekend? Any good desserts? Please share!

P.S. Happiest birthday today to my second-Dad, Brad! xoxo
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Easy Low-Sugar Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Bites

The baking bug officially hit me this week and I  honestly couldn’t be happier about it.  It’s been so fun to find new recipes and experiment/adapt them to sugar-free and lower-sugar treats;  it’s becoming a new hobby of mine! So far, I’d say they’ve all been pretty successful, and these oatmeal raisin cookie bites were no exception. I stumbled upon these Cinnamon and Raisin Granola Cookies via Pinterest and was immediately intrigued.  Jennifer makes some great looking healthy recipes!

Anyway, since I’m a big oatmeal lover and an even bigger oatmeal-cookie lover, I  was excited to experiment with these, yet somewhat skeptical of how they would turn out due to the lack of butter and brown sugar in the recipe. An oatmeal cookie without brown sugar? Neverrr …or so I thought. I was proven wrong once I tasted the dough. These are chewy, full of raisins, and have just the right amount of natural sweetness. The only change I made was adding a half-tablespoon of protein powder in place of a tablespoon of maple syrup, since I thought this would bind the dough together a bit more. It worked! I’m calling these ‘bites’ because they’re a bit smaller than a traditional cookie, at least for my standards.
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The portion-size of the cookies can be whatever you want—I used an ice-cream scoop to spoon-out the dough for mine and simply flattened each slightly with a spoon before popping them in the oven. Remember, whatever portion you spoon-out for the dough will be the size of  each cookie, since they don’t spread.  I loved that these were easy to make and portable enough to eat pretty much anywhere, and you can enjoy a few without any guilt at all! I enjoyed mine with a side of vanilla ice-cream, but that’s an optional (excellent) addition.
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Low-Sugar Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Bites
Adapted from this Peanut Butter and Peppers Recipe
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Ingredients

  1. 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce (I used store brand)
  2. 1 tbsp. maple syrup (sugar free)
  3. 1/2 tbsp. protein powder (I used chocolate by Arbonne)
  4. 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  5. 1 cup oats, ground (I used whole oats)
  6. 1/2 cup oats
  7. 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, ground
  8. 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  9. 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  10. pinch of salt
  11. 1/3 cup raisins

Instructions

  1. Preheat  the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit  (176 degrees Celsius). Then line your baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl combine the applesauce, maple syrup, and vanilla extract. Mix well until combined.
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  3. In a blender or food processor (I used a blender), grind one cup of oats  until it is a flour-like consistency (this should take about 30-45 seconds max.)
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  4. Then add the oat-flour, oats, cinnamon, protein powder, baking soda, baking powder and pinch of salt to the bowl; mix until combined.
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  5. Fold in the raisins.
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  6. Scoop the amount of batter you’d like for each cookie bite into cookie-form and place on the cookie sheet, about an inch or two apart from one another. (I flattened each with the back of a spoon, so they weren’t so round). Then bake them for about 8-10 minutes or until bottom is lightly golden.
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We all loved these. Next time, I’m doubling the batch!
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Thanks again Jennifer for the recipe idea!

I’m off to enjoy the sunshine today, with the help of my new floppy hat.
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Another first for me, thanks to Sue! She insisted on getting it for me yesterday, and I’m already  obsessed with it! I just love the hat trend in Australia. Is it just me, or do big hats scream “royal”?! 
It might just be me…oh well, I love it!

Happy almost-weekend!

No-Bake Pretzel & Peanut butter fudge bars…OMG

I have to admit, I haven’t baked much since moving to Australia. I didn’t plan on this at all, especially since it is one of my favorite hobbies (second to shopping, of course). However, I attribute my lack of baking mostly to the fact that it is just so darn expensive to buy ingredients here. I’d also be lying if I didn’t admit that having a tray of desserts readily available for a household of two people is VERY dangerous. The mortifying realization of ‘where did all the cookie bars go? Oh wait…we live alone, I ate them’ has happened to me too many times to count. So when we have guests, I find it to be the perfect time to bake.
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Source

Brandon’s Dad is a diabetic, so I was on the search of a low-sugar dessert that we could all enjoy. Did you think this was going to be a low-sugar recipe based on the title of this post? Probably not, but it really is! I found this recipe on Pinterest, and after I read the words ‘Peanut Butter Fudge Caramel Pretzel Candy Bars’ and saw the pictures, I figured it would likely be a winner. Pretzels, peanut butter, and fudge in one low-sugar recipe? SOLD. This recipe looks and sounds fantastic as-is, but I can say that adapting it to fit the ingredients I had on-hand proved to be pretty successful, too! I substituted chocolate protein powder for the vanilla, left out the butter extract, and opted to leave out the caramel swirl in favor of a sprinkle of sea salt on the top instead. Other than that, I followed the original closely.

I found these to be the perfect combination of salty and sweet. Oats & Pretzels on the bottom with peanut butter and chocolate on the top made each bite extra-special. Plus, these fulfilled my constant sweet and salty craving too, which seems to be a constant of mine this year. Seriously, a bag of pretzel m&m’s stand no chance around me. But these are WAY more fun to eat than pretzel m&m’s.
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  Obsessed, obsessed, obsessed. Make these as soon as possible!

No-Bake Low-Sugar Pretzel & Peanut Butter Fudge Bars
Adapted from Natural Sweet Recipes

Ingredients:

For the Pretzel Crust Base:
1 Cup Pretzels
1/2 Cup Oats (I used whole oats)
1/4 Cup Coconut Sugar
2 Tablespoons Chocolate Protein Powder (Or vanilla)
1/2 Cup Butter (very softened)

For the Peanut Butter Fudge Layer:
1 Cup Natural Creamy Peanut Butter
1 cup Sugar Free Chocolate (or any chocolate)
1/3 Cup Coconut Sugar
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 Tablespoon Cocoa Powder

For the Topping:
3-6 Tablespoons Crushed Pretzels (depending on how much pretzel topping you want)
Sea Salt

Directions:
1) Line a 8 by 8 baking dish with parchment paper or spray it well with canola oil cooking spray.
2) In a food processor or blender, blend the oats until they become a flour-like consistency. Add in the pretzels and pulse them together until fine. (I used a blender and it worked great!)
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3) In a mixing bowl, combine the oat flour, pretzels, coconut sugar and protein powder. Add the soft butter and mix to combine well. The dough should be moist, but not too sticky. (If it seems too sticky, add a little more protein powder and mix well.) Transfer the dough to your prepared pan and press firmly and evenly into the bottom of the pan. Place this in the freezer while you make the fudge, for about 10 minutes.
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4) In a microwave safe bowl, add the chocolate and coconut sugar. Microwave for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds or until all the chocolate and coconut is melted and combined. (Keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn’t burn!)
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5) While the chocolate is warm combine I with the peanut butter. Allow the mixture to cool slightly for a minute or two and then add the vanilla and cocoa. Mix well. (Warning: this smell is intoxicatingly-good!)
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6) Pour the warm fudge mixture over the chilled base and return it to the freezer to chill for about 2 minutes. Meanwhile, crush up the pretzels. (I crushed mine up in a zip-loc bag!)  Sprinkle the pretzel mixture over the fudge layer, then add sea salt if desired. Return it to the freezer for about one hour. Then transfer them to the fridge, cut, and serve.
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The natural sweetness of these bars is shockingly delicious. Although this was my first baking experience with coconut sugar,  I’ll be using it again and again. I made these yesterday, and they are nearly gone today. A good sign? I think so!

Any holiday is a baking holiday..australian anzac cookies

Hey there and happy Anzac Day from Australia! Anzac Day is Australia’s National Day of Remembrance, which stands to remember the service of Australian veterans. I had the day off from classes today, and nearly everywhere in town was closed, too. It really is a true day of honor.  I started the morning off bright and early with a sunrise service at 5:30 a.m. with some girlfriends. Despite the very early awakening, I am so glad I went. The music and words spoken were beautiful, and it was so nice to see such a big turnout to honor the veterans. I would say at least 600-700 people were there!
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Sunrise Service

In my opinion, any holiday is a baking holiday, so in honor of Anzac Day, I wanted to bake the traditional “Anzac Cookie” that I’ve seen all over Australia in coffee shops, restaurants, airports, and supermarkets. I just wanted to make it a bit healthier than the traditional versions.  I have tried a few Anzac cookies at various places and believe me, they are delicious, but I know they are full of butter…lots of butter! What made of butter, oats, brown sugar, syrup and flour isn’t delicious? There’s nothing wrong with these ingredients at all, I just wanted to use less of them! In my search to find a healthier  recipe, I found a keeper from Cooking Light. This recipe uses minimal butter compared to other traditional recipes, but still uses enough to yield a soft texture and buttery-like flavor to the cookies.

These cookies take only minutes to put together, and you only need one mixing bowl from start to finish. Less dishes=happy Meredith. Hope you enjoy these as much as I am!
P.S. the dough is pretty great too…I would know, obviously : –)

Healthier Australian Anzac Cookies
Recipe from Cooking Light
Ingredients
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  • 1 cup whole oats
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup shredded sweetened coconut
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons golden cane syrup (I used maple syrup and it worked just fine!
  • Cooking spray

    Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F (176°C). Line two cookie sheets with baking/parchment paper, and spray with cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. Combine the first 5 ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
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  3. Next, add the water, butter, and syrup; then stir well.
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  4. Pat/roll the dough into ball formation, using about 1-2 TBSP of dough per cookie, and space the dough out evenly on the cookie sheets. Then bake at 325° for 12 minutes, or until lightly browned. Remove them from the oven, and let them cool. Once firm, remove them from the pans to cool completely on wire racks.
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  5. Eat them with vanilla ice-cream…that’s an order! : )

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I brought these to dinner tonight and my two girlfriends really enjoyed them. They said they tasted just like a traditional Anzac cookie…and they would know since they’re Australian! I’d say these are a winner for sure.

What’s your favorite type of cookie?
Oatmeal Raisin and chocolate chip are my top two!

A cupcake and casino weekend

Hey there and happy Saturday to you! How is your weekend?  Between Brandon’s birthday celebrations and preparing for my parents arrival, it has been a busy but fun weekend around here.
Last night, a group of about 16 of us went to Ribs and Rumps (cute name for a barbeque restaurant, I think!) for Brandon’s birthday dinner. It was a great night full of laughs and great food. Check out my meal..I swear it could have fed a family of 3 with just the meat alone!

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I’ve never been the biggest “ribs” fan, but since it was the restaurant specialty, I decided was convinced to try a combination plate of both ribs and chicken. They ended up being delicious, so I’m glad I did, but it was so much food. I am thinking we may take my parents there to try it out while they’re here since my Mom loves barbeque ribs, plus I think she’ll get a kick out of the name and the portion sizes, too.
If you’re reading and you’re from Australia, have you eaten here?

Anyway, most of us went into town after dinner to have drinks, hang-out, and “play the pokies”. This is what they call the slot machines in Australia, which I think is too cute. It sounds much more fun than “playing the slots!” One of my girlfriends won $40, and I was envious! It was a really great celebration for Brandon.
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Surprise birthday dessert
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Big Winner of the night!
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Love these girls, such a fun night!
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With the birthday boy  : – )

Speaking of celebrating for Brandon…we’ve still been celebrating nightly because the Cookies and Cream Cupcakes I made on his birthday seem to be never-ending! I guess that’s the problem with making a batch of 12 cupcakes for two people; we have to eat them all! Not that I mind, these are too good to pass up.  I found this recipe over  a year ago on one of my favorite food blogs, How Sweet It Is,  and I’ve been making them ever since. However, to make these more birthday-ish, I adapted this batch to include a very special Australian ingredient:
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Basically, these are cake-batter tasting Oreos and they are out-of-this-world good! Mark my words, I will be shipping these home to America when we move back…100%, absolutely shipping them back.

Cookies ‘n Cream Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
Cupcakes and frosting adapted from How Sweet It Is
makes 12 cupcakes
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour (I used white flour)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup milk ( I used skim)
12 crushed 100s and 1000s Oreos (Or any type of Oreo-like cookie would work)

Directions
1) First, preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (or 176.6 degrees Celsius),and crush your oreo/oreo-like cookies in a Ziploc bag, and set aside. Now line your muffin tins with liners. (This really helps come clean-up time and makes the cupcakes extra festive. I chose blue polka-dotted liners that my friend Sarah sent me. I adore them. Thanks again, Sar!)
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2) Next, cream the butter, sugar, and eggs together in a medium-sized mixing bowl until fluffy, then add the vanilla.
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3) Next, combine the dry ingredients in another  mixing bowl and stir. Then add half of the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, mixing them until combined. Then add the milk.
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4) Now add the remaining dry ingredients and mix until combined.

5) Once mixed, add your crushed Oreos to the batter and stir them in with a large spoon or spatula.
Pour the batter into your tins evenly, and you’re good to go. Just make sure you save yourself a taste, you know, just to make sure it’s as delicious as it looks!
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6) Bake for 18-22 minutes, or until golden on the top. Let them cool, and while they cool, you can make the frosting.
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Vanilla Buttercream Frosting (You’ll likely have extra, this makes a lot of frosting!)
Ingredients:
2 sticks of butter, softened
1 1/2 – 2 lbs powdered sugar (called sugar icing in Australia)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1-2 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk ( I used low-fat)

Directions
Soften the butter and mix the butter and powdered sugar together, just gradually adding the powdered sugar to the mix slowly, a bit at a time. Add the vanilla, and then mix in the condensed milk, adding more if needed to reach the consistency you want. (I ended up using 2 tablespoons).

To frost these, I put the frosting in a Ziploc bag, cut a small corner-edge off, and “piped” the frosting on the cupcakes the best that I could without an official piping bag. They weren’t perfect but I think Brandon loved them and that’s all that matters to me!
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This is how I presented them, which wasn’t exactly how I envisioned it, but these blue “27” candles were the only candles I could find. At least they were blue and not pink, which is what I almost resorted to buying!
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If you try these, I hope you enjoy them!

What’s your favorite  Oreo, and what’s your favorite birthday dessert? Cupcakes? Ice-cream? Cake? Please share!

Me? I’m a Double-Stuf Oreo and an ice-cream cake kind-of-girl : – )