Sunday, August 25, 2013

You had me at cupcake...

     Nothing says Sunday morning like homemade, warm and cinnamon dusted French Toast.  Unfortunately, in the midst of baseball playoffs, a sit down, home cooked big breakfast is out of the question.  I'm lucky if I can toss a toasted bagel at one of my anxious players on their way out the door to an early morning game.  To satisfy my constant craving for this weekend treat I decided to concoct a recipe that would bake it in a 'to-go' format.
     While not your traditional French Toast, these take-out tidbits pack in some wholesome flavour and good for you blueberries as well.  They even have cereal in them so technically they really are a breakfast food!  Whatever your reasoning, bake up a batch and you'll soon see what I mean.  These cupcakes hit it out of the ballpark.
Blueberry French Toast Cupcakes
For the cupcakes:

3 eggs
1/3 cup oil
¾ cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¾ cup sour cream
1 French Vanilla Cake Mix
1 ½ teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line pans with decorative cupcake liners (grease proof work best)
  • In a large bowl, gently combine eggs, oil, buttermilk and vanilla
  • Mix in sour cream
  • Add cake mix and cinnamon and mix until smooth
  • Fold in blueberries
  • Fill cupcake liners ¾ full and bake for 17-20 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean
  • Allow to cool in pan for 10 minutes before removing
  • Cool cupcakes completely before frosting

For the Frosting:
8 oz cream cheese, softened
½ cup butter, softened
2/3 cup Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal, powdered
(Crush the cereal by placing it in a resealable plastic bag and using the back of a spoon to flatten it into a fine powder) *you'll need extra for garnishing
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups powdered sugar
1 cup blueberries, some for blending, some to garnish
  • Beat cream cheese and butter until combined and fluffy
  • Stir in Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal powder
  • Add vanilla
  • Mix in powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time
  • Put a handful of blueberries into a blender and puree them until liquefied
  • Add blueberry liquid to frosting a few tablespoons at a time until you reach your desired colour and consistency
  • Adjust the consistency using a teaspoon or two of milk if it is too thick and a bit more icing sugar if it is too thin
  • Pipe onto cooled cupcakes and top with a sprinkle of Cinnamon Toast Crunch powder and extra blueberries
Grab & Go!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Adjusting My Sails...

     If you are a follower of my blog then you know that I am a recent graduate of the Faculty of Education.  Going back to school at my age, with a husband, two teenage boys and a tween girl was hard I will admit, but my struggles are not yet over.  Now that I have that very expensive piece of paper that says I am a qualified teacher, I have the daunting task of finding employment.

     As is true in most provinces right now, teaching jobs are few and far between where I live. Since we are deeply rooted here in our little corner of southwestern Ontario, moving abroad is not an option for me. Fortunately, I've managed to secure a spot on the occasional list. Being on this list will ensure me sporadic work at best.  Now I, as well as 399 other teachers intent on obtaining a full time gig, lie in wait of a 6 am phone call. This means that I have to hope for a nasty bout of the stomach flu or a recurrence of the plague in order to get called in to supply teach.  Seeing as many of my friends are teachers, I feel a tad bit reprehensible for even thinking in such a way.

    That said, it became clear that I needed to adjust my sails. So, with resume in hand (actually it was in a cute cupcake folder, but I digress) I pounded the pavement.  Not surprisingly, I decided to narrow my search to local bakeries. After two years of emotional baking I've learned that baking not only makes me happy, it makes others happy too.  As I've mentioned before, one of the main reasons I love to bake is to see the simple pleasure it brings to others. I'd like to say that my baking is a selfless act, but that would be a lie.  The very act of baking soothes my mind and warms not only my kitchen, but my soul. Studies have shown that doing something that occupies one hundred percent of your attention while you are engaged in it will make you more motivated and focused. Both of these feelings are said to promote happiness. Baking equals happiness; this I already knew. So I figure if I can't land my dream teaching job, I can at least help to make ends meet by getting paid to do something else that I love... bake.

     Yesterday I had the pleasure of meeting Renee of Renee's Fine Cakes and Colleen from Sweet Revenge Bake Shop.  Not only did I enjoy a decadent and deliciously artful brownie and a mouthwateringly divine "hoppin' carrot" cupcake (did I mention that job hunting was hard?!), I also enjoyed talking with women who share my baking passion. It was evident by the ambiance of both of these sweet shops that these ladies love what they do.  It was delightful to meet you both and if nothing else, you have a new customer in me.  Life is sweet, stay the course.   

A Perfectly Huge Brownie!

A Hoppin' Carrot Cupcake

Ps- Thanks to author Allison Winn Scotch for the great quote!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Grateful Awareness


   Some days you never know what lies ahead of you when you wake up and get out of bed.  Perhaps that is a good thing.  If we knew what fate had in store for us there would be times that we'd choose to pull the covers over our head instead of rising up to face the day.  Today would have been a good day for me to choose to pull the covers up and nestle back into the warm embrace of my bed. 

    While it may not have been a stellar day, it certainly taught me something about myself and the resiliency of my family. It would seem that no matter how fortunate we are, we never seem to take the time to stop and give thanks. It's not until something dire happens that we actually pause and reflect on what we have and stand to lose. 

     I believe that in our daily lives we need to recognize that it is not being happy that makes us grateful, but being grateful that makes us happy.  Today I am very grateful for the health and happiness of my family. Throughout this tumultuous day I've been surprised by, and appreciative of the people around me; strangers willing to help, friends coming by for support and family just being there for each other.  For all of these things I am grateful.  It's something I need to try harder to do; pause and be mindful and thankful for what I have.  Each moment of grateful awareness reveals the wonders that surrounds us and gratitude turns what we have into enough.

Double Chocolate Zucchini "Muffins"
(I use the term "muffin" but in all honesty these could be cupcakes, they are that decadent!)

This recipe is dedicated to the friend who continues to supply me with fresh picked zucchini...
for that I am grateful.


1 cup flour
1/2 cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 cup mini semi sweet chocolate chips
2 large eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup granulated white sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups shredded raw zucchini


  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
  • Line muffin tin with 12 paper liners
  • Combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon together in a medium sized bowl, stir until well combined
  • Add in the chocolate chips and mix
  • In a separate, large bowl, whisk together the eggs, oil, both sugars, and vanilla until well combined then add in d in the zucchini and mix until combined
  • Slowly add the dry mixture to the wet mixture until just combined
  • Spoon evenly into the prepared muffin tin
  • Place into the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean
  • Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes before removing them from the tin
  • Place muffins on a wire cooling rack to continue cooling

*Adapted recipe by For the Love of

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Nothing to Snicker at...

    I kid you not, these cupcakes are to die for! Chocolate and peanut butter paired with peanuts and caramel ~ can there be a more perfect flavour combination? I think not.  Judging by how quickly they disappeared at my niece's going away party I think many agree.
     Since Sunday I have made 4 dozen of these epicurean delights, and aside from the few I stashed in the freezer for their own safety, they are all gone. Quite literally in the blink of an eye.  Whip up a batch and you'll soon see what I mean! 
     Be warned... I'll bet you can't eat just one!


Cupcake Ingredients:
1 box devil's food cake mix
3 eggs
1/2 cup oil
1 cup buttermilk (mix 1 tbsp vinegar with 1 cup milk, stir and let sit for 5 min.)
1/2 cup sour cream
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line pans with decorative cupcake liners
  • Sift cake mix into a small bowl and set aside
  • In a large bowl, combine all other cake ingredients and beat until smooth (about 2 minutes)
  • Stir in cake mix
  • Fill cupcake liners 3/4 full and bake for 17-20 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean
  • Allow cupcakes to cool in pans for 10 minutes before removing
  • Cool completely before frosting

Frosting Ingredients:
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
4 cups powdered sugar
1-2 tbsp milk

*You will also need chopped peanuts, caramel sauce and sliced Snickers pieces to garnish. 
  • In a large bowl beat butter and peanut butter until creamy and well blended, scraping down sides of bowl as needed
  • Add vanilla and 1 cup of powdered sugar and mix on low speed until incorporated
  • Continue to add powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, to reach the right consistency
  • Add 1 tbsp of milk and mix until light and fluffy (if needed, add more milk to get the proper consistency, not too thick or too thin)
  • Increase mixer speed to medium high and whip about one minute until frosting becomes fluffy
  • Fill a piping bag and pipe onto cooled cupcakes
  • Top with chopped peanuts, caramel sauce and coarsely chopped Snickers bars

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Cheers to 20 Years!


    Yesterday my husband and I celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary.  Neither of us can fathom the idea that we have been married that long.  It truly seems like just yesterday that I walked down the aisle in a dress that I still adore and became the wife of the love of my life.  Since then we have added three wonderful children to our lives (two of which are now taller than me!) and have built a life together that is both comfortable and fulfilling. 
     To commemorate our milestone, I of course decided to bake some cupcakes.  After all, it has been said that the way to a man's heart is through his stomach.  I must admit that these cupcakes, with the addition of the champagne and salted buttercream frosting, are not my usual fare. The flavour is unexpected, yet delightful; unpredictable, yet familiar.  Just as I hope our marriage continues to be.
Pink Champagne Cupcakes

1 box white cake mix
3 egg whites
1 1/4 cup pink champagne/sparkling wine (I used Yellow Tail Pink Bubbles)
1/3 cup oil
 4 drops red food coloring
  • Heat oven to 350 and line pans with cupcake liners
  • Beat cake mix, egg whites, champagne, oil and food colouring on low speed for 30 seconds until combined
  • Continue to beat on medium speed for 2 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally
  • Pour into liners
  • Bake for 18-23 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean
  • Cool 10 minutes before removing from pan
  • Cool completely before frosting

Salted Buttercream Frosting
1 cup butter, softened
1/8 teaspoon salt
4 cups confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon milk
 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5-6 drops of red food colouring 
  • In a medium bowl combine butter and salt
  • Beat until blended
  • Add sugar, 1 cup at a time and beat until combined
  • Add the milk, vanilla and food colouring and beat for an additional 2 to 3 minutes or until batter becomes smooth and creamy
  • Pipe onto cooled cupcakes and garnish with a fresh, ripe strawberry or garnish of your choice
  • I used edible pearls for this occasion

*Frosting recipe adapted from;

Monday, August 5, 2013

Sugar & Slice Sunday

It’s Sunday!
(actually it's Monday, but it's a holiday weekend here in Canada so today feels like a Sunday!)

Welcome to Sugar & Slice Sunday Link Party
The only place where you can party on a Sunday and feel fresh on a Monday! 

Join me over at Sweet 2 Eat Baking. You will surely find a recipe or two to try.  There are so many decadent desserts to be enjoyed! 

Sweet 2 Eat Baking - Decorated Cakes, Cupcakes, Cookies, Desserts & more!

Sweet 2 Eat Baking