Birthday-palozza #NationalCupcakeDay

My biggest Lil’ Cupcake turned 6. How did that happen?

It seems like yesterday that she was little. Thanks to Facebook the past week has been day after day of photo memories of her growing up.

She is an amazing little girl. She is caring, considerate, sensitive, loving, smart, sassy, funny, and sweet. We are so proud of the person she is growing up to be. She truly cares for everyone; we can only hope she remains optimistic, compassionate and respectful.

This year, she asked to have an American Girl themed party, specifically Grace. She loves the Grace movies. We’ve watched the movie about 100+ times – if you’re a parent you know what I mean. But I have to admit, I also enjoy the movie. It’s about a girl who loves to bake and hopes that her skills will come in handy when it’s time to help out her family – sounds a lot like my little cupcake.

With twelve little girls and their dolls about to embark on our house, we had to come up with a plan. For the first time since the Cupcake was born, the weather was going to be nice…we were moving the party outdoors to play in the giant water slide bouncy castle. Sorry to our neighbours for the high pitched screams of delight and giggles. They had a great time. We did have some rainy weather back up crafts, decorating madeleines, colouring and watching…you got it The Grace movie.

While the theme of her party was settled, the cake was another story. She had a hard time deciding. He wanted a croquembouche like Grace made, and then she wanted cupcakes, then madeleines, then macarons. It was a couple weeks of indecision. But Pinterest to the rescue, she decided on a purple (her favorite colour) cake with sprinkles and macarons. The cake turned out beautifully.
BirthdaycakeCaution : If your working with sprinkles in this manner, you will need to sweep and vacuum your floors afterwards. And if you have a dog, you may have to vacuum your dog.

Thank you to Duchess Bake Shop for the save on the macarons. I tried, they just didn’t want turn out. However, one of Cupcakes friend’s mom took a French pastry course in France a few years ago, and gave me some tips. Challenge accepted – I will master you macaron!

With that party behind us, we had to have a family party as well with our close friends from Fort McMurray. It was a pretty special party because Cupcake doesn’t usually get to celebrate with them. It hit me as our close family friends were there that the oldest boy (LK) will be 18 on the 18th. How in the heck did that happen? I remember babysitting him and pushing him in a stroller as we followed the garbage truck around the block. In less than a week, he’ll be 18. He’s graduating this year…He’s going to University in September. That will soon be my baby girls. *Cue tears* Not really, it excites me to see how they turn out and what adventures lie ahead of us.

Today it being National Cupcake Day and all, what better recipe to share than a cupcake recipe. This cupcake was inspired by my neighbour. The G and T cupcake. These are adult only cupcakes, because they actually contain Gin that is not baked off.

GTCupcake2One-bowl G and T cupcake
12 regular cupcakes
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons lime zest and lime juice
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
½ cup Gin.
½ cup tonic.

Directions:
1. Add first five ingredient together, whisk ingredients to sift and add air into the flour mixture. About 1 minute.
2. To the flour mixture add oil, lime juice and zest, vanilla, gin and tonic. Be careful the tonic will fizz, mix slowly to incorporate till batter is smooth and little to no lumps. The batter will be the consistency of a thick milkshake.
3. Scoop about ¾ of a cup into each cupcake liner.
4. Bake for 15 – 18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of a cupcake comes out dry.
5. Allow cupcakes to cool, about 30 to 40 minutes.
6. When cupcakes are cooled, make the Gin Glaze: 1 tbsp. gin mixed with 4 tbsp. icing sugar, 1 tsp lime juice, and 1 tsp lime zest. Spoon the glaze or dip the cupcakes into the glaze. Glaze should cover the top of the cupcake.
7. Make the cupcake as the glaze hardens on top. The glaze will be a soft shell.
8. Prepare the Lime Buttercream: 1 cup butter room temperature and creamed till pale yellow. Add 1 and ½ cups icing sugar mixed with 1 tbsp. lime zest and 1 tbsp. lime juice. Mix till incorporated.
9. Frost tops of cupcakes and enjoy.

Happy #NationalCupcakeDay

GTCupcake

Dinner with cousins

avomousseingredientsWhen you send your cousin a picture of the ingredients that you have planned for dessert and she responds with, “I’m intrigued,” you know your cousin trusts you.

My evacuee cousin has lived in a hotel for the past two weeks. I know what that is like. During my second year of college in Lethbridge, I had to live in a hotel for 47 days. It was awesome at first, but quickly lost its charm when I had to eat out for every meal. While, I was in my 20s, I can only imagine how much more difficult it is with kids, and in my cousins case, a gluten allergy.

It is often said how difficult allergy cooking is. When cousin J said she would come for dinner, I knew I was going to adapt a recipe I learned at the May Williams-Sonoma Cookbook. The book features was Gwyneth Paltrow’s It’s All Easy. The book focuses on easy, healthy meals, many of which omit gluten or minimize dairy.

zunichickenDuring the cookbook class, we prepared Zuni Sheet Pan Chicken, Zucchini noodle Cacio e Pepe, and chocolate avocado mousse. My mom joined this class this time as a Mother’s day event, kind of like an Adult Mommy and Me class. Mom was a bit hesitant on the chocolate mousse, but was very surprised at how much she enjoyed it.

So when the time came to host Cousin J and her kids for dinner, it was pretty clear that we would be adapting the Zuni Sheet Pan Chicken for the BBQ and omitting the baguette. The two cupcakes we extremely excited to have cousin J, and Buddy and Buddy’s brother, visiting for dinner. The kids all ran outside to play and enjoy the sunshine. The dinner menu was a mix of our family favorites,  buttery Brussel sprouts a la Chrissy Teigan, roasted cauliflower and potatoes, and for dessert: Avocado Mousse. The kids gave declared the chocolate mousse pudding a two thumbs up. In fact my cupcake stated it was balanced, rich and creamy. Yes this how she talks. She has a refined palate…for an almost six year old.

mousse servedAvocado Chocolate Mousse

1 large avocado, pitted and peeled
2 Tbsp. almond butter
Sea salt
¼ tsp. vanilla extract
¼ cup brown rice syrup
¼ cup maple syrup
¼ cup raw cacao or unsweetened Dutch-processed cocoa powder
¼ cup almond milk
¼ teaspoon liquid stevia
2 Tbsp. coconut oil

1. In a blender or food processor, combine the avocado, almond butter, a large pinch of salt, vanilla powder, brown rice syrup, maple syrup, cacao, almond milk, stevia, and coconut oil and blend for 2 minutes, or until very smooth.
2. Divide among four ramekins; cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

While the evacuation is devastating, it was great to see Cousin J. Our family is close. We don’t get to see each other that much, but when we get together it is like no time has passed. Our family is big, loud, opinionated, stubborn, but fun.

And to my friends and family making their way home today – travel safe McMurray, the long journey home is upon us, and the road ahead is dusty, but when the smoke clears, we will rebuild. Bigger. Better. And in the end we will have a stronger community. #YMMSTRONG