welcome to cupcake heaven

miette‘s gingerbread cupcake was reportedly named the best cupcake in america, although i didn’t know this before i bit into one that someone had brought into the office today. i have to say i whole-heartedly agree. it was moist and flavorful, with a wonderful gingerbread-y taste that didn’t overwhelm, properly balanced with an amazing cream cheese frosting.

luckily i found the recipe online, definitely plan on trying it out next time i NEED to bake something comforting and delicious. for those of you wishing to take it a bit further, miette has published a cookbook with all of their delicious recipes.

Gingerbread Cupcakes

Makes 18-24

11/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons ground ginger

3/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon cloves

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon cardamom

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons stout beer, such as Guinness

3/4 cup molasses

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

2 large eggs, room temperature

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup light brown sugar

1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 cups cream cheese frosting (see below)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin tins with paper liners.

2. Sift the flour, baking powder, spices and salt together.

3. In a small saucepan over medium heat, stir together the stout and molasses, and bring to a boil. Whisk in the baking soda, whisking constantly as the mixture foams up. Remove from heat immediately and let cool to room temperature.

4. Using an electric mixer with the stand attachment, combine the eggs and sugars and whisk on medium speed until well combined and lightened in color, 3-4 minutes. Slowly drizzle in the oil and beat until combined. Reduce speed to low and slowly add stout mixture. Stop and scrape down sides with a rubber spatula. Return to low speed and add dry ingredients, beating until just combined. Fold a few more times with the spatula. Strain the mixture through a medium-mesh sieve into a clean bowl.

5. Fill each cupcake liner two-thirds full (a 1/4-cup measure works well). Bake until the tops spring back when touched and a tester inserted in the center emerges clean, 20-25 minutes. Let cool on wire rack.

6. When completely cool, use a piping bag to adorn the cupcakes with a swirl of cream cheese frosting.

— Meg Ray, “Miette” (Chronicle Books, 224 pages, $27.50)

Cream Cheese Frosting

Makes about 3 cups

1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup sifted, powdered sugar

2 cups (1 pound) cream cheese, room temperature

1. Using an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, combine the butter and sugar, beating until smooth and glossy.

2. Add the cream cheese and mix thoroughly. Use immediately or cover and refrigerate until needed. Transfer cold frosting to a stand mixer and beat until smooth before using, 2-3 minutes. Cream cheese frosting lasts 2 weeks in the refrigerator. Do not freeze.

— Meg Ray, “Miette” (Chronicle Books, 224 pages, $27.50)

another reason to make these cupcakes: so i can pack them up in jars for easy transport! you should have seen me bringing a cupcake to E today after work, i tore off the top of a tissue box to form a “carrier,” and was walking around town looking like a crazy sick lady. i can imagine this is a much better (and cuter)  option.


birthday girl

this weekend my little baby girl turned one year old (February 25 — good, i see you’re jotting that down). fear not friends who haven’t seen me in more than 9 months, i’m referring to my dear puppy Olive. Olive (affectionately called Olz, Ollie, Peanut, Schnugs, Demon, etc.), was a rescue dog from the pound that happened to be one of the most impulsive decisions i have ever made. she’s majorly needy, sometimes nippy, occasionally a crazy ball of energy and barks, but always my trusty and favorite sidekick. isn’t it funny how some of life’s most impulsive decisions turn out to be the most rewarding and life changing? she may be a rescue dog, but i’m pretty sure she saved me and not the other way around.

anyways, enough sap already. to celebrate Olive’s entrance into the world she is now waging her terror on, i baked her a doggie friendly cake she was able to snack on for days. i used this recipe:

i admittedly didn’t have vegetable oil, honey, or shredded carrots, so i used some greek yogurt, crumbled dog food (which resemebled choc chips after baking), olive oil, and cream to my own discression. i “frosted” the top with peanut butter and created a “1” with her dog food.

i will neither confirm nor deny that happy birthday substituted with “woofs” was sung. happy birthday my sweet girl, may there be many more birthdays to come.


lentil hummus

somehow i was left with a huge amount of cooked lentils the other day, and was at a bit of a loss at what to do with them. i remembered having seen an article for lentil hummus in martha stewart living and decided to replicate it as the perfect dip to keep in the fridge. pretty delicious i would have to say. best part is that it replaces the tahini with nut butter, so you really can make this without an extra trip to the grocery.

ingredients:

cooked lentils – 2 cups
almond butter – 1/4 cup (Or any other nut butter without sugar)
garlic – 2 pods crushed
olive oil – 1 TBSP
lemon juice – 3 TBSP
hot sauce – 1/2 tsp or to taste
salt – to taste

combine all ingredients in a food processor until smooth. garnish with additional olive oil, chili flakes, or fresh herbs to taste.

don’t be fooled by my attempt at healthful eating here… i’m sure this will end up slathered on bread or eaten by the spoonful. too hard to resist!


rory beca @ forever 21

i’ve always been a fan of Rory Beca, a brand that tailors to my love of silk, prints, and simple yet bold tops and dresses. Rory’s website says that she’s inspired by “fabrics, art, music and travel,” so clearly she deserves her places in the blog spotlight. so what’s the catch,  you ask? it’s the cha-ching. her luxurious silk clothes run from about $100-300 on major shopping sites like shopbop.

cue Forever 21 and their new collaborations with top-notch designers. Forever and Rory Beca have teamed up before, but i just ran across their new collection, and every budget conscious fashion lover needs to check it out ASAP (i.e. before they sell out!) i assumed you’ve already guessed that since these little gems are being sold at Forever 21 we are not talking about luxury and silk. as much as this disappoints me, you get what you pay for and the bargain version is selling for $20-40! you read that right, ladies (and gentlemen?). i wholeheartedly believe fabric is important in all clothing decisions, but for trendy and/or seasonal non-investment pieces, keeping it simple can sometimes work out well too. focus on the clean, feminine lines and movement of the pieces. i’m smitten — who doesn’t love a bargain! i’m not even going to put a question mark after that statement.

here are a few of my favorite pieces — what do you think?

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bensimons

i am newly re-addicted to tennis shoes.

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after the skater shoe fad swept my middle school back in the early noughties (yes, i excitedly participated, and quickly regretted it) i looked disdainfully at tennis shoes as something associated with past sartorial mistakes. i occasionally borrowed my mom’s white jack purcells, and did have a pair of converse that i let my sister steal after a while, but never had a pair that i felt worked with everything and wanted to wear every day.

that love has arrived my friends. i got a pair of bensimon sneakers on major sale at Madewell a few weeks ago, and once i put them on this weekend i couldn’t take them off. they went with me from the pool, throughout the city, shopping, and on a walk with my dogs. i switched between corduroys and an oxford to a striped t-shirt dress to shorts, and they added the perfect casual note to every outfit.

i love how they have such a slim profile. the sole is not too heavy, and the thin capped toe gives it a polished look without the thickness of that found on jack purcells. they feel like flats! but more comfortable… and they don’t make my size 9 feet look clown-ish. bonus: i feel like a chic french woman when i wear them. who knew running after the bus could be so chic!

i hope it stays as warm as it’s been so i can keep wearing them every day!


irish blue biscuits

as promised, here is the recipe and some documentation of the cooking adventure i had with my mom this weekend. along with all of the goodies we made for my sister’s birthday, we made these amazing blue cheese crackers, recipe from Nigella Lawson’s How to be a Domestic Goddess. if you like blue cheese, these are heaven in a bite. i am going to make them again as soon as i find myself in possession of a large hunk of blue cheese that i haven’t already eaten most of… difficult to come by, these moments. and the best part? you can make them into any shape you want! we went for a mild scalloped diamond as it was our first time making them, but i’m thinking an elephant cookie cutter for next time, or maybe a whole zoo, how cute would that be?

 

Irish Blue Crackers
from How to Be a Domestic Goddess

preheat oven to 400 F.

combine
3/4 c. Cashel Blue (or other blue cheese)
scant 1/2 c salted butter, softened
1 large egg yolk

then work in, forming a soft dough
3/4 c all-purpose flour
1/4 c blue cornmeal
 (i used regular old yellow cornmeal, which is why my crackers aren’t as pretty as Nigella’s)
a pinch of salt (depending on how salty your cheese is)

shape the dough into a disk, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

dust a surface with flour and roll out the dough until it’s about a quarter-inch thick. cut into any shape you’d like. brush with an egg glaze, and cook for 10-15 minutes. they’ll be crisp around the edges and soft in the middle when they’re finished. remove to a wire rack to cool.


happy monday!

ok, maybe not so happy monday. i had to wake up extra early this morning, and after an extended dinner last night with a girlfriend it was not the easiest of tasks… but looking back at pictures taken from this weekend, i get a jolt of inspiration from the fact that:

a. spring is (hopefully) actually here!

b. there are only 4.5 days left til next weekend! time to start planning some epic activities so we have something to look forward to throughout the week.

here are some glimpses of my weekend (including my sister’s 19th birthday!), as you can tell, making and eating food ranks pretty high on my list of favorite activities…

last image is of some AMAZING blue cheese crackers, recipe from Nigella Lawson’s How to be a Domestic Goddess.

they’re amazing. recipe and pics to follow.


must get chocolate

in an effort to quench the intense chocolate cravings i am having right now (HUGE problem seeing that i have no chocolate and no intention of leaving my house just to get some), i have been searching for delicious, chocolatey, recipes, hoping that mental indulgence will help. i think it’s having the opposite effect, but i wont force any more of my misery on you, and instead, present this gift: a recipe for insanely rich chocolate mousse that has… two ingredients. seriously. CHOCOLATE AND WATER. if i didn’t fail at stocking my pantry i could be feasting right now. i hope that the rest of you are luckier i.e. more prepared than i am.

you’re welcome.

PS: i like the direct spoon to mouth option, but apparently this also makes a good cake filling. and if you want to get really fancy you can infuse other flavors into the water before adding the chocolate. they suggest earl grey tea, which i have. baby steps.


back to the basics

as much as i’ve been “branching out” lately, aka buying my bold yellow pants, i love me some basics. foolproof, classy, seamless, chic, the basics are timeless for a the mere reason that they can never steer you wrong. check out this outfit: crisp, light-washed jeans for spring, plain white tee, beige trench, and a little black skimmer. this outfit just makes me want go sit on the patio of my favorite little hipster-tastic lunch spots in LA before window shopping quirky stores with a coffee in my hand and my good friends by my side. where would you go in this outfit? i’ll meet you there.

 

 

home is where I am with you

 

 


soft as silk

blouses by equipment

i’ve been craving more silk blouses in my life lately, i think that their drapey fit and softness just get to me. not to mention that they are the ultimate “wear with everything” piece. worn with a pencil skirt or slacks to the office, even a bright or patterned silk blouse fits right in to the toughest work uniform. with jeans or a skirt it transitions to the weekend. and if you’re feeling up for it, throw it over a swimsuit and it’s the perfect cover-up for beach days! not that water and sand are good for silk. maybe that one is best left to the catalogs…

so i will be looking around for some blouses to add to the rotation. i love the ones at equipment, but they’re a bit pricey, so i think i’ll try vintage hunting first. here are some combinations that i am planning on working with my future silk shirt collection:

in a bright color to dress up jeans...

in a dark color or simple pattern to tone down bright jeans

with white shorts for summer...

or in white with more formal pants for work

for casual weekend days...

and not so casual weekend days

anyone else as addicted as i am?