Monday, December 29, 2014

Christmas Hot Cocoa Cupcakes

I have officially been blogging (with varying levels of consistency) for a year! I started in December 2013 with So, I have decided to start a blog. Can't believe it's been a year. I've loved building this blog and filling it with my own silly stories and experiences. It's been great to look back at this incredible year. Some blog highlights for me.

All of my cupcakes
So many vacations
A few posts going 'viral' on Pinterest (Our First Christmas, Harry Potter Bridal Shower, and Hair, Hair, Everywhere)
Our House
and of course

Looking forward to many many more. 

For Christmas this year, I went with a comfort beverage combined with my favorite, cupcakes! I found a great Hot Cocoa Cupcake recipe from Lick the Bowl Good and figured I had to give it a try for Christmas. They were FANTASTIC! The cake was so moist and the whipped cream was so much lighter than the typical butter cream icing. Perfect for Christmas day. Enjoy!

Hot Cocoa Cupcakes

½ cups all-purpose flour
¼ cups sugar
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1/3 cup canola oil
1 cup prepared hot cocoa*
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 eggs, lightly beaten

Makes 12 cupcakes.

For the hot cocoa, I used whole milk, unsweetened cocoa powder, a few chocolate chips, and powdered sugar. 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt in stand mixer. Add in canola oil, hot cocoa and vanilla and mix until well combined. Add eggs one at a time, mixing thoroughly between. Fill a lined muffin tin ¾ full. Bake for 18-20 minutes. Let cool to room temperature prior to frosting.

Whipped Cream

¼ cups heavy cream
1/3 cup powdered sugar

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine all ingredients in a stand mixer and beat until thick and creamy, or when peaks form without collapsing.


Add the Whipped Cream to a piping bag with tip and pipe onto cooled cupcakes. Smash candy canes and chocolate for garnish. Take a mini candy cane and insert into the side of the cupcake. Bakers note: wait until right before you serve to add the whip cream and decorations. The candy cane will melt into the cupcake and look a bit messy. 

I hope you had a wonderful holiday!


Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Merry Christmas - Christmas Card!

Design by Minted

Wishing you a wonderful holiday and a happy new year!


And just because, our card from last year.

Design by Minted

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Thanksgiving Gingerbread Cupcakes with Cinnamon Butter Cream

Thanksgiving this year was a busy one for us. Kyle is big on creating our own little family traditions, so this year he wanted to do a Thanksgiving dinner just the two of us. I loved this idea, but we still wanted to have Thanksgiving dinner with our families, so this meant three dinners over three days. That's a LOT of food. 

For our dinner, Kyle and I came up with the menu together and spent the day in the kitchen whipping up our dishes. We even put our turkey in brine the night before, which I will definitely do it again. The whole meal ended up being really awesome, although we cooked way too much food. 
Turkey brine
Who needs serving dishes? 
A casual Thankgiving for sure
After dinner snooze

For our family dinners, we went to each of our parents houses and both families requested that we bring cupcakes. For Kyle's family, I made squash cupcakes with maple cream cheese butter cream. You can find the recipe here

For my family dinner, I made Gingerbread cupcakes with cinnamon butter cream icing and a little 'acorn' decoration on top. I LOVED the cupcake flavor, but they were a tad dry. I altered this recipe a bit to improve the result. Enjoy!

Gingerbread Cupcakes

1½ cups flour
2 tablespoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
1½ cups butter, softened
1½ cups sugar
3 tablespoons molasses
¼ cup milk (more or less for desired batter consistency)
4 eggs, at room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix  flour, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves in a medium bowl. In stand mixer, cream together butter, sugar, vanilla and molasses. Add eggs one at a time, mixing thoroughly between. Gradually add in dry ingredients until well combined. Add in milk until batter is desired consistency. Fill a lined muffin tin ¾ full. Bake for 25 minutes. Let cool to room temperature prior to frosting.

Cinnamon Butter Cream

½ cup butter (1 stick)
½ cup vegetable shortening (Crisco)
1 tablespoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon vanilla
4-6 cups powdered sugar, sifted

Using an electric mixer, cream together butter, shortening, cinnamon and vanilla until smooth and well-combined. Gradually add in the powdered sugar, mixing well until your frosting is desired consistency. Use a pastry bag to pipe the frosting onto the cupcakes.

Acorn Decoration

Hershey kisses
Chocolate chips
Mini Nilla wafers

Pipe a small amount of icing onto the bottom of a Hershey kiss and attach to the flat side of the Nilla wafer. Pipe icing onto the flat part of the chocolate chip and attach to the other side (curved side) of the Nilla wafer. Viola! Acorn decoration complete. (Seriously the easiest 'recipe' I've every typed out...)

I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!


Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Wait... I have a blog?

It happened. I promised myself it wouldn't, but it did. My blog went the way of the many, many diaries that proceeded it. Ugh, for shame!

I really enjoy writing this blog, capturing both my mundane and exciting moments, but life just seems to get in the way. Time slips away, planned posts forgotten. However, I don't want this to be another abandoned diary stored away with two pages of completed thoughts. I want to keep up this memory book, recipe catalog, random thought capturer (is that a word?). So I'm back!

Here's a very brief view of what I've been up to:

Celebrated one year of marriage!
Incidentally, we celebrated in the same spot Kyle proposed! 

Kyle completed the Ragnar Relay, a 200 mile continuous relay race across Maryland
Side note: this guy ran 4 legs of the race and completed them all with sub 7:30 mile pace! 
Trip to Miami to see friends
Hanging out in their AMAZING pool!
Kayaking through the mangroves
Family trip to the Poconos

...where my brother proposed! Thrilled to have Rosie *officially* joining our family in November of next year. 

Trip to Pittsburgh to see my college roommate!
They were fabulous hosts even if their sweet yorkie, Olive, wasn't too thrilled with her house guest.

I completed my first 5K, a night color run with girlfriends

Halloween - or as I like to call it 'Any excuse to dress in costume'
Pierce was a shark and we were shark attack victims

Mario, Luigi and Yoshi. She hates us now...
House updates (more to come on this)

Zoe's birthday weekend in the city (she is 7! How did that happen?!)

Three Thanksgivings (and the resulting 5 pounds)
Thompson family Thanksgiving - and Kyle sporting his Movember foo man chu to raise awareness of prostate cancer
Holiday parties galore!
My company party was Roaring 20's themed. Such a blast. 
And throughout all this time, our main focus has been our wonderful Pierce! She is six months old now and a ball of energy. Her training is going exceptionally well, but I'll likely do an update on that in another post. Here are a gazillion pictures to hold you over.
Before she conquered the stairs

Muddy after swimming in the river

First time patrolling at a bar. She found it thrilling.

On duty in her vest

Relaxing at the lake

8 weeks vs 5 months!
My little shark

She loves destroying toys

Part of Zoe's birthday was playing with 6 of Pierce's 9 siblings - impossible to get them all in one picture

Pro swimmer - I'll share more on this later

Zoe and Pierce are best buds

This is what she does while I'm working

She is a snuggler

I hope you're having a wonderful holiday season!