Tuesday, November 11, 2014

An Amazing Race Birthday Party

Hey guys,

My sister and I have always enjoyed planning elaborate night games for her birthday party, often involving finding stations around a field in the dark to solve a puzzle, but this year we decided to change it up a tad and went with an Amazing Race themed party. We set up stations all across our neighborhood (thanks neighbors!) and were able to string together a pretty diverse, hour long course for the racers. Stations ranged from decorating cupcakes to hunting for a car parked randomly, to digging in a bowl of a spaghetti blindfolded to pull out the correct amount of change! Overall, it went great, and I think setting teams of three rather than pairs helped when navigating the neighborhood!

This station involved transporting a stuffed anumal across the playground without touching the ground while holding the animal.

It was really fun for me trying to teach someone how to decorate a rose on a cupcake! As you can see,  some of the girls were naturals, while some needed to redo theirs.

This was a basic chocolate cake, and while my frosting job is a bit subpar, it was delicious!

This is a coconut lemon cake. It had coconut frosting, lemon curd filling, and lemon cake.

For dinner we did a barbecue. I think it's evident in the background of all of these pictures that our colour scheme was yellow and silver!



Our family is fortunate enough to own a lovely condo in the heart of Kitsilano, Vancouver in British Columbia which we visit for a month or two every summer to escape the excessive heat in Minnesota.  It's simply a fantastic area with stunning scenery, great trails along the ocean, and way too many bakeries! It's incredible to be able to walk down the hill to the ocean in the morning in the mist, stop for a cinnamon bun at Grounds For Coffee, and be an hour drive from Whistler! I totally know that's it's November (the snow make it rather obvious), but I thought I'd post some summer pictures as I've neglected to post anything since March. Here are a few of my favourite things :)


Saturday, March 22, 2014

Defying Gravity

To be honest, I've actually been baking quite a bit in the last week. Between lemon bars, lemon loaf, cookies, and blueberry muffins, there has always been something going on in our kitchen. The unfortunate part is that I haven't been documenting any of it, and I'm extremely reluctant to write a post without pictures! I need to write something though, and going back through old photos, I figured that my puppy Angus would be a fitting subject!

We're approaching Angus's third birthday, and I thought I would document a bit of what goes on in the life of our dog. It's a extra bonus that many of these pictures were taken in the spring, and helps cheer me up in the middle of the seemingly eternal Minnesota winter!

Who me?

Yeah, so about this. We have a super soaker water gun, and it turns out that Angus is a pretty big fan. This means that when the gun comes out, gravity seems to fade away.

I took this picture in the fall on a fairly windy day. This was pretty perturbing for the prince as he had just done his hair!

When you call "come," you can pretty much guarantee no response, but when you call "treat," well, this is what happens!

I love you Mama! Oh, thanks baby, I love you too!

Yeah, like I said, Angus is a pretty big fan of the super soaker....

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Chocolate Cupcakes

My friend had a Birthday recently and naturally, there had to some sort of treat involved. I was originally planning on making a chocolate cake, but given that there wasn't going to be that many people at the party, I decided on making cupcakes instead. I've used one recipe for chocolate cake for a while, and while it is delicious, I wanted to try something new. I used the chocolate cake recipe from My Baking Addiction and modified it slightly to make this batch of cupcakes. This recipe baked into cupcakes perfectly and was moist and tasty! Next, I went to the refridgerator to grab some butter to make chocolate butter cream and met an unpleasant surprise; there was no butter. What!? Thankfully we did have cream, which I used to make chocolate ganache. I never loved ganache for frosting cupcakes as it just doesn't hold up nearly as well as buttercream when being piped. The solution to this, I discovered, was to whip the ganache which gives it a bit more body, and it piped perfectly!

The trusty old Kitchen-aid mixer did a great job whipping up the chocolate ganache for the cupcakes!

I received a cake stand for my birthday which fit my small batch of cupcakes just perfectly!

Sprinkles were involved of course!

I made this tag to tie around the base of the cake stand!

Chocolate Cake:
(makes a 1 layer 8" cake or around 12 cupcakes)

1 cup sugar
3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoons cocoa
1 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup strong black coffee 
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoons vanilla extract

Heat the oven to 350F. Grease a 8" cake pan or line a muffin tin with wrappers. Mix together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer until combined. Add eggs, buttermilk, coffee, oil and vanilla. Beat on medium speed for about two minutes; the batter will be thin. Pour batter evenly into prepared pans. Bake 30 to 35 minutes for round pans, 12-15 minutes for cupcakes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Frost with chocolate ganache or a frosting of choice.


- To tell the truth, I don't really have a recipe for chocolate ganache, I usually just guesstimate with a ratio of 1 part cream to 4 parts chocolate.

- It's no problem if you don't have buttermilk: simply add a tablespoon of lemon juice, vinegar, or yogurt to the milk and let it sit for a couple of minutes


Sunday, February 9, 2014

Restaurant Review: The Buttered Tin

Our family received a gift card to a place we had never heard of, The Buttered Tin, around two months ago. We checked out the website, but it was a good 45 minutes away and decided to save it for a time when we were in the area. The website is absolutely wonderful, but simply did not do this lovely cafe/ bakery justice! The moment we walked in, we were glad we had made the trip. The atmosphere was one part cute, with one part cozy, and we actually did't mind the 25 minute wait as we could spend it narrowing down our lunch options and drooling over the pastry case! We went during the lunch rush, so there was a line up, but around 12:30, it cleared out a bit. The Buttered Tin is located in St. Paul, Minnesota, and if you're ever in the area, I'd highly recommend it for breakfast, lunch or a quick pastry. And you guys, the breakfast menu made my jaw drop. From Banana's Foster French Toast to the Loaded Hash Browns, there was something for anyone and everyone!

I ordered the TBT Hash which was root vegetables with potatoes, an egg on top and some toast. It was delicious, and the majority of their meats are sourced locally. Not to mention that the bread was made in house!

My Mom ordered the BLT sandwich complete with a tiny side salad. She really enjoyed it as well, and we will definitely be back soon!

We ordered this caramel roll for dessert and were rewarded by our decision. The caramel roll was everything you could wish for in a caramel roll: gooey, chewy, sticky, soft, and sweet! 

We bought a cupcake for my sister who missed the occasion called a Peanut Butter Blossom, and judging by her facial expressions, it was heavenly! All of their varied cupcake flavours looked adorable in the glass case.