Baking: Sunny Citrus Cupcakes

citrus cupcakes

It is my dear friend’s birthday. She loves cupcakes(of course). So I determined to make some pretty cupcakes. I started with a pretty standard lemon cake recipe. Filled them with lime infused whipped cream, and glazed them with mandarin cream-cheese icing. They are citrusy and delicious and very very pretty. Just like she is.

lemony golden tops

So here’s a little tip for the next time you need to make cupcakes. You can make them highly impressive by adding a filling to them. Here’s how:

Make any kind of cupcake.

Make some whipped cream and add into it any flavor you like, raspberries, melted chocolate, citrus zest, cinnamon, maple syrup.

Make icing.

Think of the fun you can have! Here are some flavor ideas: white cake+raspberry whipped cream filling+chocolate icing. chocolate cake+cherry filling+chocolate icing. spice cake+maple whipped cream+caramel icing. chocolate cake+orange whipped cream+white chocolate icing. chocolate cake+raspberry filling+peanut butter icing.

So many options! To fill the cupcake, use a long pointy icing tip and a pastry bag. These are very inexpensive to buy and reusable. Wait until cupcakes are completely cool before filling. Poke pointy tip into cupcake center in about 3 different spots, careful not to overfill and have them crack apart.

One little tip…as much as pretty buttercream icing, piped six inches high, is delicious and wonderful. The filling in the cupcake adds to the sweetness, so a glaze or at least a smaller amount of icing leaves these cupcakes palatable without being too sweet(if there is such a thing).

Cupcakes are good for the soul. (but sugar is bad for the body, so eat as a treat!)

Voila. Pretty cupcakes for a pretty friend.

reasonable life motto

Local Fare: Caffe Crema

Caffe Crema

It is a highly valued treasure in my life when I can walk into a coffee shop and am greeted by name and I don’t have to order my drink, it’s just made and made well (2 shot americano in a short cup. We like to call it a Baby Americano). This is one of the many reasons that Caffe Crema is such a lovely treasure, hidden deep in Suburbia. Crema just celebrated it’s first birthday here in Calgary so it’s relatively new. It’s located waaaaay out in Suburbia, close to us and is that local neighborhood coffee shop that actually makes good coffee. Sexy Husband and I are the type to shamelessly drive allllll the way downtown any time we want, just to get a good coffee. I am unapologetic about my need for particularly delicious coffee and great service. Thanks to Caffe Crema, I don’t often have to darken the door of Starbucks (not to offend Starbucks lovers out there. Starbucks will always represent our generation of coffee shop culture and I instantly feel at home in any city when I see one. Just saying…mediocre generic coffee…not my thing.) Here are a few reasons why I heart Caffe Crema:

1. Good Coffee: I don’t care how cute and friendly the coffee shop is. If the coffee is not good, I’m not gonna go. Crema uses beans from Fratello Roasters, local Calgary superstars who roast consciously purchased beans. There is usually a variety of beans AND coffee tastings weekly! They were just voted into the top 5 Calgary Coffee Shops by the Krups Kup of Excellence event!

good coffee

2. Good People: Owners Jeff and Stephanie Halldorsen are so lovely and wonderful. Charissa the Manager and her crew of super friendly and knowledgeable baristas are so so great. They remember names and drinks, they are full of personality and pull consistent shots. I honestly feel like I’m in to visit friends every single time I go.

cute and fun baristas

3. Good Concept: I love the idea of bringing good coffee to the people. Lots of people don’t have the time or motivation to get themselves a cup of great coffee, but really, life is better with quality at your fingertips. It’s a super family friendly atmosphere with a good set up for kids, craft nights, live music events, poetry reading nights. It’s kind of a bustling centre for the community in the deep South West.

vintage book collection for sale

Bottom Line: You should pop by and check them out! They can be your friends too! I can almost always be found there Wednesday mornings with my Sisterhood of the Caffeinated Mommies. You check them out HERE.

Recipe: Cinnamon Spaghetti Squash

Cinnamon Spaghetti Squash

I canNOT believe this, but Picky Princess actually said to me tonight, “Oh Mommy THANK you for this cinnamon squash, I LOVE it!”  Whoa.

It’s amazing how, unconsciously, you kind of use the same tastes and spices over and over. I am definitely drawn to a lot of the same tastes, fresh basil, olive oil, fresh cracked pepper, rosemary, olives, avocado. These are the types of things I cook with a LOT. But if we go out for dinner, I am so excited to order different tastes, Thai food, Indian Curries…mmm I love it all. So it got me thinking that I probably need to start cooking more with some of these great tastes.

Tonight I was roasting a spaghetti squash and pulled out some things I usually would put on the squash: romano cheese, olive oil, fresh sage, sea salt and pepper. Which would have been yummy! But instead I thought I’d try a little twist. Only a few ingredients but a completely different palate. Mild and delicious. Give it a try!

Cinnamon Spaghetti Squash

1 spaghetti squash

1 tbs extra virgin olive oil

2 tsp grated fresh ginger

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp curry powder

Directions: Slice squash lengthwise and place cut sides down on a baking sheet. Roast at 350 until softened enough to scoop out, 45 mins-1 hr (I used a really small squash so it may take a bit longer). Roasting the squash can be done ahead of time. Once it’s cooked, scoop out the squash. In a pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Saute the squash with the ginger and spices, adjusting them to suite your taste. This was a fairly mild version to please my Little People, but each flavor still stood out.

Thoughts On: My Kitchen Table

My kitchen table is ugly. It really is. It looks more like a craft table, paint stains, burn marks from the glue gun etc. It’s also ridiculously small. Fits 4 people comfortably, but we manage to have up to 8 around it fairly regularly. It is by far the ugliest thing in our house. Sexy Husband and I bought it when we first were married. I think it may have been our first “big” purchase. Ugly ugly, very ugly.

It is, however, my favorite place in the house. Life happens at this (ugly) table. It’s a place where:
I’ve taught my child to print her name.
We’ve created beautiful masterpieces of crayon and fingerpaint.
We’ve enjoyed beautiful meals.
My friends have come and laughed until they’ve cried and cried until they’ve laughed.
Bottles of wine have led to long late night discussions.
Deep fears and secrets have been expressed and then shared.
Wedding cakes have been made.

Businesses have been started.
Recipes have been created.

Life changing announcements have been offered.

Dreams have been dreamed.

It’s a safe place. A happy place. A place where we sat for many hours studying when it was just Sexy Husband and university degrees. A place where we laughed for hours when IronSister moved in with us in Victoria. A place where our first baby used to lie on a sheepskin and watch us eat. A place where our second baby sits to discover the joys of blueberries and spaghetti squash.

Everyone who matters to me, my richest treasures are invited to this table. Come for coffee. Come for a meal. Come for dessert. Come for the conversation.
Welcome to our sanctuary. (just don’t mind that’s it’s ugly)

Recipe: Lemon Cheesecake

my best little helper

Ooo this is a good one! I feel pretty strongly that if you’re going to eat dessert, it should taste good. And it drives me crazy when people are like, oh you’ll love this healthy recipe, it tastes just like the unhealthy version. Usually, it seems, it doesn’t. Cookies aren’t supposed to taste like dirt. Brownies aren’t supposed to taste like beans.  Chocolate is not supposed to taste like carob(unless you like carob). And I have made MANY a batch of muffins or cookies a bit “too” healthy, and they do taste a bit like dirt. But I think you’ll like this one! The crust is oats, nuts and dates, the filling, a bit of whipped cream, a bit of cream cheese and a bit of maple syrup. All of these things perhaps a bit of a treat, but the portions of each are small, so I’m deeming it a great healthy dessert, sugar free, gluten free(if you use gf oats), lemony and tasty! I’m going to try it out on my family tonight. I have a wide range of tastes to please at family events: Dad who is too healthy to be considered sane, Mom who will tell me it’s the best thing she’s ever eaten no matter what it is(thank God for her), Brother-In-Law who is a meatatarian, IronSister who is a vegetarian, and then of course easy-to-get-along-with Foodie Baby and Sexy Husband and my very own Picky Princess.  She helped me and deemed it delicious so…it must be. Hope you enjoy.

Lemon Cheesecake

Makes 9 squares

1 cup dates

1/2 cup hazelnuts (any nut would do)

2 cups oats

1/2 cup butter, melted

1/4 cup honey

1/2 brick of cream cheese, room temperature

zest and juice of one lemon

1/4 cup maple syrup

1 cup whipping cream

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350.

In a food processor, combine dates, pecans, oats, butter and honey. Pulse until combined.

Pour into a 9×9 baking dish. Press evenly to cover bottom of dish. Bake for about 15 minutes or until edges start to turn golden. Remove from oven and cool completely.

Meanwhile, in the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese, lemon juice and zest until smooth. Remove paddle attachment and switch to whisk. Add maple syrup and whipping cream and whip until smooth and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Spread whipped lemon filling onto completely cooled crust and chill. Cut into squares and serve.

oat date nut crust

Thoughts On: Growth

family of little feet

I did some thinking today, while out on a long run.

It’s been so grey and cold and miserable here and finally the sun broke through and the chill in the air subsided. In a week, Sexy Husband and I are running the Calgary Harvest Half Marathon. This is my second half, and his first(although truth be told he runs circles around me without having to do a whole lot of training). The first one I did was last May, and it was the end of 8 months of dedicated training and slow movement, one kilometer at a time from being a total non-runner, to being…a runner. It still shocks me that this is something I can do! And while crossing the finish line was great and represented a major area of personal growth, it really wasn’t the achievement I was proud of. The growth, in life, doesn’t come from the accomplishment. It comes from living a life that is capable of producing an accomplishment. The living part. The accomplishment for me was that I lived for 8 months with consistency and discipline. Every hour of training reflected spiritual growth from hours of reflective gratitude, for such a beautiful world, and the freedom to do something I love. Hours of sacrifice. Hours of training my body to be healthy and my mind to be sound. Hours of taking care of myself. Hours of deep conversation the odd time I had company(what happens on the road stays on the road). Hours that I struggled and hurt and fought and won and…grew.

For me, it was never really about the Finish Line. It was about the training. I think this is usually were the victory is. We can all rattle off our accomplishment list, and we should be proud of it! But the growth usually comes from the less glamorous part of our lives…The day to day sacrifice and hardwork. The discipline, the studying, whatever the goal requires.

If you are working to lose weight, if you are working to get fit, if you are studying for a degree, or whatever your personal goals may be….KNOW that your victory is not a number, or a race time, or a piece of paper. It’s in every bite, every step, every page.

Today’s deep thoughts from the road.

Pretty Things: Whippy Cake

"butter bean"

Let’s be honest. Who doesn’t want anything and everything to do with something as delicious sounding as Whippy Cake? I do I do! Seriously, I love this business. You must check them out! Becki and the lovely girls at Whippy Cake, design and make these fabulous glamor bands. Accessories that are hard to live without! They are quirky, they are over the top, they are perfection. As of today I am a proud owner of my very own Whippy Cake Glamor Band, “Butter Bean.”

Hmmm maybe I can talk Becki into a giveaway. Stay tuned! But definitely check out the prettiness or her great blog . She’s got some great make up tips and hair demos too!

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