Tag Archive | cupcakes

Playing catch up & an early halloween

Hello hello and Happy Halloween! Anyone dressing up tonight? I’ll be headed to night-class, but I’d much rather be celebrating and handing out candy, that’s for sure.  Anyway, I fully intended on blogging last week but every time I tried, studying got in the way. Unfortunately , for the time being, studying > blogging. Luckily though, my studying paid off and my midterms went great! HOORAY. So now I’m playing catch-up on sleep, blog-reading, homework and life in general.

Okay, time to talk about much more exciting things than studying…like celebrating Halloween. Prior to last year, I had celebrated the previous four Halloween’s out in Boston with girlfriends, and it was always a blast.
009010
Harvard schoolgirls throw-back

Halloween-October 2009 020
Me as Barbie a few years ago!

I skipped last year (I was actually on a flight moving to Australia!) so this year I was psyched to have the chance to dress up again, and even more psyched to be dressing up with my twin sister. We hadn’t dressed up together since we were in grade school!
halloween2

Although we celebrated a few days early since they obviously needed to throw a party on a weekend rather than a week-night, it was an epic Halloween in my book. I actually really liked my last minute cowgirl costume, but I loved Kimmie and Jimmy’s pirate get-ups even more! 

IMG_4944IMG_4945IMG_4950IMG_4952

I had been anticipating last weekend for the entire two months I’ve been home, as it was the first time I was going to be able to spend multiple days with my Kimmie, and the puppies too.
Just LOOK at these adorable little boys. Bumble-bee and alligator…I die.
IMG_4949IMG_5032

At their Friday night housewarming/Halloween party we  drank a little too much,  ate a few too many pieces of candy, and played way to many games of Flip Cup. It was perfect.
Here’s the outcome to our few to many drinks:
IMG_4973IMG_4974IMG_4975
Whoops. Dunkin’s breakfast sandwiches, homefries, muffins, and coffees were needed in a BIG way. (That would be me with the ketchup issues.)

The rest of the weekend involved exercise, real housewives marathons, pizza, pedicures, and lots of puppy snuggling. I did not want to leave Connecticut!
IMG_5026
Post-run snuggles
IMG_5042
Cupcakes from Sugar Bakery (winner of Cupcake wars!)
IMG_5044
The best cupcake I have EVER eaten.
IMG_5051
Cuddles with my boy.
IMG_4997
One of our favorite things to do together!
IMG_4999
Peanut was a tiger for costume #2!
IMG_5009
Love my nephews

This week it’s been back to reality, but it’s almost Friday so that’s a positive! And since the Red Sox won the World Series last night, there’s a lot to celebrate this weekend for sure!
redsox

What’s your favorite Halloween costume-to-date?
I personally loved being an eskimo. I loved wearing a furry-hood on my head all night, and face paint can be so much fun!

Do you like cupcakes?
I have cupcake problems…seriously I cannot be trusted around them.

Who else is psyched about the Red Sox?

Advertisements

In with the new

Hey there and happy weekend! Thank you all so much for your warm well-wishes for my Dad. I Face-timed with he and my Mom last night and he was LOVING his first official day of retirement. Their plans included a long walk in the morning, followed by a boat ride and a lobster dinner with friends. What a day! I’m so proud of him. 
Anyway, I did some new-to-me things this past week and got some new things too, so I thought it might be fun to share : –)

First up, New hair: After 6 months, I finally took the plunge and got my hair colored in Australia. This was a huge deal for me because I have gotten my hair cut and foiled by the same hairdresser back home since I was 16 years old. That’s an 11-year relationship right there! To say I was scared to branch out and try a new one  (especially in a new country) was an understatement. I love the end result and finally feel like “me” again. Is it just me, or does a hair appointment make anyone else feel SO much better?!
IMG_3042
Right after my appointment
IMG_3110
New hair half-up for a night-out with the girls!

New breakfast: I’m an oatmeal lover, but I was getting tired of my apple-cinnamon oats combination. I decided to mix it up with frozen blueberries (because fresh are WAY to expensive to even justify buying here), and I’ve been loving the result. With cinnamon, almonds, raisins, and brown sugar mixed in, it reminds me of blueberry muffins. Yum!
IMG_3077

New sneakers: At my job we’re required to wear all-black everything, including sneakers, which I didn’t have since I much prefer neon or bright-white colors over black any-day. I quickly picked up an inexpensive $10 pair at Target for my first few shifts and it was one of the worst decisions ever. At a job when you’re on your feet all day, good sneakers are so important.  Since I tend to develop chin splints quite easily, my feet, ankles, shins and knees were not happy with me for the last few weeks; I seriously felt pain all over! I quickly ordered these Nike Frees (5’s) and I’m loving the support they offer. Plus I think they’re pretty cute for black sneakers!
IMG_2962

New dinner: I try to keep frozen shrimp on hand for simple meal ideas, and these worked great in a stir-fry dinner last week. I combined shrimp, cabbage, peppers, broccoli and water chestnuts with teriyaki sauce, garlic and some brown sugar, and served it over a bed of pad-thai noodles. This was a winning dinner!
IMG_2980IMG_2981

New baking buddy: Brandon helps me prepare dinner quite often, but I usually bake by myself. However, this weekend  he joined me and I have to say, I really enjoyed the company! We made Funfetti cookies together (we’ve been hoarding the boxed mix from back home since Christmas…we’re slightly obsessed), and then I whipped up some homemade vanilla cupcakes, too. Such a fun weekend treat!
IMG_3097IMG_3101IMG_3104

I hope you enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Did you try anything new last week?
Do you tend to go to the same hairstylist over and over again?
I just love mine and feel like I’m “cheating” on her if I go elsewhere!

What’s your favorite brand of running sneakers?
Lately, I’m loving my Nike’s, but I love Asics too!

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!

IMG_2015

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.
IMG_2016
Surprise birthday dessert
IMG_2020
Big Winner of the night!
IMG_2030
Love these girls, such a fun night!
IMG_2044
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:
IMG_1933

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!)
IMG_1935IMG_1936IMG_1938
2) Next, cream the butter, sugar, and eggs together in a medium-sized mixing bowl until fluffy, then add the vanilla.
IMG_1929

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.
IMG_1932
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!
IMG_1937IMG_1941
6) Bake for 18-22 minutes, or until golden on the top. Let them cool, and while they cool, you can make the frosting.
IMG_1945

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!
IMG_1948IMG_1950
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!
IMG_1973

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 : – )

A Special 27

Hi there and happy April 3rd! Today is a very special day in this house…it’s Brandon’s 27th birthday! It has definitely been a happy day down-under. I have always considered birthdays to be very special, I think in large part because  my family has always been big on celebrating, but I also just really enjoy taking an entire day to celebrate a person. It makes you feel special…right?

Anyway, you know what’s even more special about having a birthday in Australia? It lasts longer! Brandon’s had a 36 hour birthday. Yesterday when he woke up it was his birthday, and today when he woke up it was STILL his birthday. Isn’t that neat? If that’s not a reason to celebrate, I don’t know what is! However, one drawback of this is obviously that our families aren’t here to celebrate with us, so I tried to make it as fun of a day as possible. Here’s some highlights:

-Hanging up a Birthday banner: I love birthday decorations, and my Mom always put banners up for my sisters and me, so I am simply following tradition! ( I also bought balloons but completely failed at blowing them up because I can’t tie balloons to save my life!)
IMG_1985IMG_1986

-Cookies ‘n Cream “27” Cupcakes: Oh.My.Gosh. These are my favorite cupcakes in the world to make AND my favorite cupcakes to eat!
IMG_1970IMG_1973

-Birthday presents: 3 shirts and a couple of un-pictured work-out items, too. I really need some creativity help with boys’ presents, I find it so hard to think of new ideas! Any suggestions?
IMG_1988

-27th Birthday dinner at Ciabatta: Best restaurant in our area, that’s for sure. We ate every last drop of food on our plates. Dessert included a homemade Italian Crustoli with Salted Peanut and Caramel Ice-cream, which tasted like heaven-on-earth!
IMG_1975IMG_1977IMG_1978IMG_1974

-Birthday  “Skype” session and present-opening with Brandon’s parents: Brandon received his birthday package from his parents this morning,  so he opened his presents with them via Skype, which helped make it seem like we were all together. Thank goodness for technology.
IMG_1980IMG_1981

All in all, a special birthday for my special guy. I’m so glad we were together to celebrate, and I am not wanting today to end. Love you, B!

P.S. I’ll post the cupcake recipe soon…it is a winner!
P.P.S. Thanks to my twin sister for the care package I received yesterday! Now I’ll be eating Easter Candy until June! (Not that I’m complaining…I cried I was so happy).
IMG_1982

Does anyone have any birthday gift ideas for males? When is your birthday? Anyone celebrating soon?
My sister and I turn 27 on April 9th…5 days away! Eeeeek!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookie Cupcakes

My pumpkin problem continues. I think I’ve had something “pumpkin” flavored every day of October…yikes. I figure I mine as well enjoy it while it’s still in season. I still had a remaining can of pumpkin in my cupboard last week, and I needed wanted to make a batch of something with it! Cupcakes? Cookies? I couldn’t decide…so I combined the two! I’ve had major success with making cookies in cupcake tins. I think the end result looks cuter than just a simple cookie, and it cuts down on washing those darn cookie sheets. It’s a win/win if you ask me! I made mine in orange/black cupcake liners, perfect for Halloween. I gave these to a friend and was told they were demolished in 2.2 seconds. Success! Bet you can’t eat just one….I couldn’t..

P.S. I halved the recipe below and it made 12-13 cupcakes (it probably would’ve made 14 but I ate an excessive amount of dough…oops). The regular recipe would make at least 24 cookie cupcakes. Enjoy!

Ingredients
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla 
1 cup canned pumpkin puree ( I used Libby’s)
3 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
2 cups (12-ounce bag) chocolate chips, not semisweet
Nonstick cooking spray

Directions
1) Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray muffin tins.
2) Using a mixer, beat the butter until smooth. Beat in the white and brown sugars, a little at a time, until the mixture is light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs 1 at a time, then mix in the vanilla and pumpkin.

After creaming the sugars and butter, add the egg, vanilla, and pumpkin

prettyyy batter

3) In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon. Slowly beat the flour mixture into the batter in thirds.

Flour, etc.

in go the chips!

4) Stir in the chips. Scoop the cookie dough by heaping tablespoons into lined muffin tins and bake for 14-16 minutes, or until they are browned around the edges.

black n orange!

5) Remove from the oven and let them rest for 5 minutes. Take the cookie cupcakes out of the muffin tins and cool them on wire racks (or on a fall placemat!)

cookie cupcakes!

Deliciously moist and the perfect amount of pumpkin flavor…I want to make these again already!

What’s your favorite pumpkin dessert? Please share!