Ok, so let’s just talk about the giant elephant in the room for a second…I haven’t updated this blog for some time now (137 days to be exact). I’m awful, I know. A lot has happened during that time though! For starters, as most of you know, the business which I had with a couple of friends of mine had to close it’s doors and ever since then I’ve joined the world of the unemployed, with the exception of about a month of working in an insurance office (no thank you). Let me just say, after owning and running my own business, I have a whole new appreciation for work ethic. I learned so much during that short time we had the store and also redeemed a couple of important friendships in my life. #Winning!
So, summertime. It once again has flown by and with only 1.5 days left in August I am MORE than ready for Fall to get here! Not just because it’s 9,000 degrees outside and my A/C doesn’t work, but it’s also the best season, hands down, in my humble opinion. This summer brought with it lots of great opportunities for travel and also lots of great memories with some wonderful people. First, in May I became an Aunt again to a beautiful baby girl named Lyla Grace Windsor. She is the newest love of my life! Being an Aunt has to be one of the best jobs in the world and I wouldn’t trade a second of it!
Yay for babies!
In June I had the chance to go to Panama City Beach, FL with a group of students from my church and it was…you guessed it…amazing. Great relationships were made there and I definitely feel blessed to have been a part of it. You can’t really go wrong though with the beach, a bunch of awesome people, and lots of sweet tea.
Then, in July I had an amazing opportunity to go back to the land I love so much…Northern Ireland! Words simply cannot describe the love I feel for that place. It’s my second home (feels more like my first most days though) and I consider the people there my family. They are so amazing. I went for three weeks with 12 other Americans and we met up with 40 Northern Irish with whom we did a summer program called “Fused” for two weeks. Let me just tell you, there’s no other way to live than by doing life with people you love and doing ministry with them in a place you are called to be. This was my 14th trip there and even though the “romanticized” side of Northern Ireland has long worn off, it still gets my heart pounding each time I go. The people are amazing, the place itself is breathtaking, and it’s been so neat to watch the ministry evolve there over the past 9 years I’ve been going. I could go on and on about it, but since this is a food blog I’d better get to the point…(if you’d like to hear more about the trip though I’d love to tell you about it over coffee sometime :)). Here are some quick snapshots of our team and the place we were at (Newcastle, Northern Ireland):
My last night :(…saying goodbye at the best little pub in Northern Ireland, Maghera.
So yeah, that’s summer in a nutshell. ‘Twas fantastic, to say the least. Now that we’re all up to speed on what’s been going on for the past four months though, let’s talk sugar!
After closing the store back in March, I was a little burned out on baking (no pun intended!) since it was what I had been doing 6 days a week for 6 months straight. I decided to take a short break from it…didn’t think it would be a 4 month break from it, but hey…what can you do. Hopefully now I can update this more reguarly and start checking off all the different things I have wanted to make for some time now! There’s a list of about 200 different recipes I want to try, so I guess I’d better get to work.
These cookies n’ cream cupcakes are from a recipe I adapted from a blog I follow (and you should too!) called Bakergirl. These cupcakes are not new or exciting in terms of originality, I know, but I’ve been wanting to make these for awhile now. I mean, who doesn’t love Oreos?! They turned out really well…moist with a good texture and good chocolate flavor. Here’s the recipe I used:
- 4 oz. unsweetened chocolate*
- 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter
- 4 Tbsp. sugar
- 1/3 c. Dutch-processed cocoa
- 3/4 c. hot, strong-brewed coffee
- 1 c. cake flour
- 1 1/4 c. sugar
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 6 Tbsp. vegetable oil
- 2 large eggs, room temp.
- 2 tsp. white vinegar
- 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
- 15 Oreos
- 1/2 c. unsalted butter, at room temp.
- 1 lb. powdered sugar
- 2 Tbsp. milk
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 1 c. finely crushed Oreos
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a standard sized cupcake pan with 15 cupcake liners and lightly spray with baking spray. Twist the Oreos in half, saving the non-creme half for the icing later, and place the Oreo creme side up in the bottom of the cupcake liners. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, combine the chocolate, cocoa, butter, 4 T of sugar, and brewed coffee with whisk until smooth. Set aside and let cool to room temp.
- Whisk dry ingredients…flour, sugar, salt, baking soda…together in a seperate bowl. Set aside.
- To the chocolate mixture, add the oil, eggs, vanilla, and vinegar and whisk until smooth.
- Add the flour mixture, little by little, to the chocolate mixture and whisk until combined. Be careful not to overmix though.
- Distribute the batter evenly to the cupcake pan, filling each 3/4 full. Bake for 17-19 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Set aside to cool completely before frosting them.
- To make the icing, cream the butter and vanilla together in an electric mixer using the beater attachment. Slowly add the powdered sugar in 1/4 c. increments, blending well after each. Add the milk and beat well, until smooth.
- Add the crushed Oreos to the buttercream and mix on low speed until combined.
- Spoon icing into a pastry bag and pipe on cupcakes.
So, there you go! The blogging draught of 2011 is over! Hope you enjoy these and until next time…cheers!