Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes

Earlier this week I made another batch of cupcakes for a co-worker's birthday at my office. This particular co-worker has flirted with being a vegetarian during times in his life and even has an, "Eat More Kale" sticker up outside of his desk. I've wanted to make these Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes found in my trusty "Cupcakes" by Martha Stewart for years, but just haven't pulled the trigger. As a peace offering to get him to stop calling me, "mincemeat" I decided to gift him with vegan cupcakes.

I can't find this exact recipe on ol' Martha Stewart's website, so here it is straight from the good book itself.

Ingredients: yields 12 cupcakes

1 1/2 cups cake flour, sifted
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, plus more for dusting
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups water
Confectioner's sugar, for dusting

Yes, no eggs, milk, butter, or shortening. This had to be the quickest recipe to throw together, which means it's probably perfect if you have little ones running around and you're short on time.

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Sift together cake flour, granulated sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt.
  3. In a medium to large mixing bowl mix together oil, vinegar, vanilla, and water until well combined. I used a simple whisk and could get everything smooth.
  4. Add flour mixture to liquid mixture until smooth.
  5. Divide batter into lined muffin tins. Because the batter is very liquidy I found that dumping it into my large measuring cup allowed for the easiest transfer into the cupcake liners.

  1. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes.
  2. Lightly dust with confectioner's sugar and/or cocoa powder before serving.

They're actually quite good! They have a very fudgey and cake-like taste to them, which is yummy. Numerous co-worker's turned their noses up at the word, "vegan," but word quickly spread throughout the office that they were tasty and all of those bad boys went like hot cakes.

If hot cakes were made without the use of animal products :)

Monday, February 20, 2012

Photo of the week: February 20, 2012


Exposure - 1/60
Aperture - f/1.8
ISO - 400

Bokeh is still one of my favorite things to play around with on my camera. It's nice to take the same subject as below and mess around with the camera lens and get the blurried goodness that is above. Maybe that's just me.


Okay, I need to go break in my new Sam Edelman Lorissa pumps before the hubs takes me out for dinner tonight! Enjoy the three day weekend ... if you have one :)

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Jump! Jump!

Way back in the day when I was a wee little lass in Catholic school I had to wear a navy and green plaid jumper with a yellow button down to school every day. At the time I wasn't a fan of my jumper, but now it would be so refreshing to not play that game every morning called, "what the heck am I going to wear today?"

I'll be completely honest there are days where I just throw on the first thing I see that isn't horribly wrinkled. Thankfully, yesterday morning I pulled out an old jumper of mine and put together a work appropriate and more importantly adult version of my Catholic school uniform.

For the record, my blouse had been recently pressed, but taking pictures after work showed off the wrinkles accrued during a working day.

Jumper - Ann Taylor Loft from 2009
Blouse - Ann Taylor Loft from 2011
Belt - Target
Tights - Target
Shoes - Cole Haan from Rue La La

I've had this jumper for years now and if I'm completely blunt, this is has been the best styling of it yet. I think the ruffled blouse works better than any of the other blouses I've paired with it. Now I just need to pick up a few more ruffled blouses.

Oh, did I mention that this bad boy has pockets? Perfect for small items like chapstick or gum during long meetings in a conference room.

The real kicker for this jumper is the exposed zipper on the back. I love that bad boy.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day

It's V-Day people. You know, the day in which some people go overboard with romantic gestures and make the rest of us feel bad? Or, as I like to tell myself, the hubs and I don't need one day a year in order to be nice to each other because we do that 365 days a year.

Okay, I'm slightly bitter because the guy has never sent me roses or chocolates to my office. He's not much for public displays of affection.

That's cool because I'm a big girl and I can do them all on my own. Since I knew a few of my co-workers would be the recipients of flowers and chocolates I wanted to bring in something for everyone at work.


Enter red velvet cake with buttercream frosting that just happens to look like roses if you squint your eyes the right way.

All I did was make a simple two-layer red velvet cake (used Martha Stewart's red velvet cupcakes recipe here) and add on some yummy buttercream frosting.

To get the rose look I followed directions from here, which I found on Pinterest, and they are super easy to make. Start a rose with a center dab of frosting and then continue around the center 2-3 times with your frosting tip. Repeat over and over again. Then, fill in the gaps with little swirls of frosting.

One tip - put your cake on a flat cake stand or tray. My tray has a bit of an upward lip on it and that kept me from being able to pipe my frosting close to the bottom of the cake. Minor detail, but it's something I hope to remember for next time.

The roses aren't as tight as I would have wanted them, but for whipping this together at 10 o'clock at night for the first time I'm pretty happy.

Another tip - since this was a cake I was making for my office I siphoned off enough batter for two cupcakes. That way the hubs and I have dessert for our home-cooked V-day dinner tonight. Making two cupcakes from the cake batter is a nice way to share some of the baked goods I make for my office with the hubs.

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Photo of the week: February 14, 2012

Exposure - 1/6
Aperture - f/4.5
ISO - 800

Is there anything better than a cup of warm hot chocolate on a cold and windy winter day?

How about that same cup of hot chocolate while snuggling up to a fire and reading a book?

I think that's how every weekend should end.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

A decade

It's been ten years since the hubs and I had our first date back as two college freshmen in West Virginia. I can't fully comprehend that amount of time because that's more than a third of my entire life and it was a very formative ten years. Eighteen years young and I met my better half. Who does that? I never had to go on a blind date, meet someone online, or try to score a guy's number at a bar. Ten years ago was before Facebook, prior to both of us having cell phones, and neither of us had a digital camera. We didn't exchange phone numbers at first, rather AIM screen names. It was like a foreign time out of an alternative universe.

Sure, there are moments where I think, "holy crap! you've only really dated one person in your entire life. How do you know you're not missing something?"

Honestly, I'll never know for sure, but I do know I don't want to go looking to find out.

We've been through so much in the past ten years and I wouldn't do it any differently. Okay, I'd make a few minor modifications here and there, but overall all the big moments would stay the exact same. Today I'm going to reflect on the good moments, but goodness gracious there are too many to list. Trust me, I've got the laugh lines to prove it!

We bonded with each other's siblings.

We survived our freshmen year of college! Holy crap was that a difficult year. The school year started off with September 11th and in the wake of that tragedy the whole world changed.
We took college road trips, even though the hubs sucks at staying awake in a car. Try driving from Florida to West Virginia with a dude who can snore for 12 straight hours. Not cool unless you have Disney soundtracks to sing along to!
He put up with my crazy sorority sisters. I'd call him at 4am sometimes and say, "can you pick me up?" In my defense his baseball teammates weren't any better. But then again I had soccer teammates on top of crazy sorority sisters. That man put up with so much drama in college I'm surprise he doesn't have more gray hair.
He asked me to do the honor of marrying him. I thought I was getting a puppy and instead I got a future husband.
We graduated from college and decided that we were going to live together - again. We had previously lived together at my parents house for a summer in which we had two twin beds in my bedroom and the door had to be opened at all times. Showing that he was a proper gentleman the hubs got a job at a local grocery store, took a few college credits, mowed my parents lawn, and more importantly went fishing with my grandpa almost every day. When the hubs asked my dad for permission to marry me my dad couldn't say anything but yes.
We had our very first apartment in Newark, DE where we made chocolate chip muffins and pancakes for our very first meal. That's our first grocery receipt on the fridge!
We brought Jewels into our lives.
And a few months later Jax came crashing in.
Back then the dogs used to fit in one dog bed! Jewels was even bigger than Jax for what seemed like the longest three weeks in the history of time.
We celebrated our first Christmas together with the pups. Jewels was six months old and Jax was only 10 weeks old! He peed on the 14ft Christmas tree my parents had in their house and we haven't had a live tree since! It was at that point that we decided to never spend another Christmas apart again and haven't since 2004.

We supported each other during a few really stupid ideas. Why the hell did I think my hair looked good that curly?
Unfortunately, there has been more than one occurrence of the dreaded beard. When we first started dating the hubs had hair long enough for a small ponytail! I didn't realize it for days because he always had a baseball cap. Thank goodness the freshmen baseball boys had their hair buzzed during spring break.
How we're alive somedays truly does surprise me. ATVs and sleds do not make good companions. Double dares never end well. Throwing rocks at wild animals, even in self-defense, is so stupid I still can't believe it was thought to be a viable option. If you can't drive a stick shift say so, don't think you can learn for the first time on a massive hill! Two hand touch really means tackle football and calling it anything different is just misleading.
I graduated from college all over again! And then promptly chomped 14 inches off my hair! Those pictures still scare me. Never going that short again!
We went on vacations ranging from long weekends in Michigan, a destination wedding in Florida, to an amazing honeymoon in Brazil, and couples vacations with our best friends. We're planning a trip this summer for our five-year wedding anniversary and I can't wait!

We moved from Buckhannon, WV to Newark, DE to Towson, MD to Halethorpe, MD and now call home a nice little suburb outside of Baltimore. We bought a freaking house!

It's taken us a small village to get here. We've got the friends who first introduced us and our best friends who have seen us through from the beginning and are still around today. We've got family members that have lent us their hearts, in addition to their furniture. We've made new friends over the years and they don't make fun of us for dating forever. We're the Lily and Marshall of our group of friends and we're okay with it.

The first official picture of the hubs and me. Yes, we're at a Hells Angels themed party.

All because ten years and a week ago a boy finally said more than two words to me at a party. We had hung out in group settings before, but the guy was so shy and quiet I didn't even know his last name. Finally, he asked me out. Ten years ago on February 8th we had our first date.

I haven't been a first date since and I hope to never go on one again.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Super Bowl Champions!

In case you didn't know the Super Bowl was this past Sunday.

I was born in Jersey.

I grew up in New York.
Any questions on my team loyalty?

My brother might be the only bigger Giants fan than me in my family. Oh, and he's physically huge which is a perk when it comes to intimidating fans of the opposing team :)
Every Super Bowl Sunday has to begin with the Puppy Bowl! Jax was all over the game. I think he was eyeing up a future date with more than one of the cute puppies. Then, a few more vital ingredients make for a fantastic gameday.
Pepperoni and sausage pizza puffs. Recipe found on Pinterest.
Beer and buffalo chicken dip.
One husband who refuses to dress in blue.
Giants cupcakes!!! Go Blue!

Then about four hours of intense moments of football intermixed with a few commercial laughs. Seriously, commercial makers throw in a cute dog or Vadar and you're good to go!

At one point in the game I jumped up to give my brother a high five and immediately crumbled and cried, "don't hurt me!" He roared a bellowed laugh and said he's been working on not breaking hands while doling out high fives. Whew! I knew it was stressful hanging out with a real Giant.
Victory!!!!! Posing with the pups in their Giants gear. The O's mancave was officially team blue on Sunday.
Who would ever have thought that Eli Manning would have the most Super Bowl Championships out of anyone in the Manning household. Unstoppable that guy is :)

There's always a scary end to these things. We were so hyped up at the end of the game for all the obvious reasons and then it just all ends. Where does all that energy go? Well, if you're huge like my brother then you tend to start picking up people like they were chess pawns. I was the littlest one of the group, so do the logic.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Stella and Dot Trunk Show

I previously posted that I attended a Stella and Dot trunk show hosted by my friend, Miss M, down in DC. I'm not going to lie, I was thinking a trunk show would be like those old school Tupperware parties my mom and her friends used to host, but thank goodness that was definitely not the case.
I, for one, do not remember champagne being present at any Tupperware party. I do fully acknowledge that I was a child at those parties, so I was probably more occupied with the punch bowl. Nor do I remember as much sparkly jewelry.
These parties are full of peer pressure! "Oh, you should definitely buy that!"
It was a fun night down in DC. These golden Stuart Weitzman pumps haunted me the entire evening and continue to do so! I'm on the hunt for something similar, but in the silver variety.