Sunday, July 15, 2012

Mexican Chocolate Cupcakes with Lime Cream Cheese Frosting

It was potluck time at work, which always means that I get to whip up some cupcakes! I l.o.v.e. making cupcakes. The perfect amount of the cake paired with the perfect amount of frosting, nestled into a cute little paper dish, and garnished to perfection... mmmm.... hands-down my favorite dessert. 

The Mexican chocolate cake for these peppery, rich gems was borrowed from our once-neighbor and extremely talented ballet dancer/cupcake baker, M.P., over at Spoonful of Sugar. Her creative cupcakes  brought a huge smile to my face when she would walk them over to our doorstep and have since inspired my creations. Miss you, M!

The lime frosting was inspired by the little wedges of lime that come served with tacos at most Mexican restaurants. Lime and a spicy kick just go together. The lime cream cheese frosting perfectly compliments the slightly smokey kick from the Mexican chocolate. Mm-m-m.

What you need (cupcakes):
1 1/2 c. flour
1 c. sugar
1/3 c. cocoa powder
1 t. salt
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. baking powder
1 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. chili powder
1 c. water
1/2 c. veggie oil
1 t. vinegar
1 Tbls. vanilla

What to do:
Preheat oven to 350 and line your cupcake tin with cupcake liners.
In a large bowl, mix together all dry ingredients until well combined.
Slowly add the wet ingredients and mix until combined.
Scoop into cupcake liners, filling to 3/4 full.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean.
Allow to cool completely before frosting.

What you need (frosting):
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 stick of butter, room temperature
5-6 cups of confectioner's sugar, depending on desired consistency
1 Tbls. lime juice
Zest of 1 lime

What to do:
Place all ingredients in a large bowl and mix until well combined.
Frost away!

This flavor combination is incredible. My co-workers have asked for them for the past two potlucks, so it's not just me who thinks this! Make them. Now.

I think I'll have some tacos now,


I do, I celebrate, I is a speech-language pathologist!

I will be honest with you guys. June was insane. Positively insane because we had the immense pleasure of photographing four weddings. Negatively insane because our precious little VW Jetta decided it was time for us to pour our finances under its hood ($1200 to be exact - half of its worth).

Refusing to spend another dime on the Jetta, we used Epoxy glue to put the front bumper back on.

But, you know, we survived insane with our heads held high and smiles on our faces. Insane taught us some things about ourselves, such as how when insane comes into my life, Scott takes over and makes me feel like I can do anything - love that man. Insane taught us some things about our marriage, namely that we are still best friends at the end of the day. And insane taught us a thing or two about how to maintain joy amidst her presence.

. I do .
Scott and I, with the help of our friend Michael, photographed four weddings. Four beautiful, fun, sweet, memorable weddings.

And friends, I learned that photographing weddings is a lot of work. You are on your feet for 8+ hours, capturing memories that will happen one time in those individuals lives, directing as needing, and at the end of the day, sitting down for a piece of cake (my favorite part! ;) )

Ashton and I in the van on our way to Chiara's wedding.

But, after all that work, I would and will do it over and over again. I LOVED photographing those weddings! Collectively, we learned SO much about ourselves, about our photography, and about what we can do in the future to make our work better. Thank you, thank you to Amanda, Chiara, Jenna, and Corrie for putting your trust in me and my team and allowing us to capture such a monumental day in your lives :) You each hold a special place in my heart!

Danny made a nice little bed in my suitcase upon my arrival in Belton for Jenna's wedding.

. I celebrate .
We have found the time to celebrate this past month, because life should be celebrated and celebrated well with good friends and good food :) We attended an 80s-themed birthday party to celebrate my friends, Kat and Jenny's, birthdays. We rocked out our 80s attire in style!

The 4th of July was a bit different for us this year. We typically celebrate the 4th of July with Scott's big, extended family on their land out in east Texas. But this year, with the 4th of July falling in the middle of the week, we had an urban celebration with our Houston friends! We enjoyed pool-side hotdogs and sugary treats, then a short walk to Allen Park for the fireworks show.

My homemade blueberry pie - recipe to come!

Melissa and Payton

The hubby and I!

Scotty putting out a roadside fire with two other men on our way to Wimberly, TX (he's on the far right).

. I is a speech-language pathologist .
...and I earned that degree with terrible grammar! JK. But seriously. After 6 years of school and 9 months of a paid, supervised work, I am officially a licensed and fully-certified speech-language pathologist! Hannah Key, MA/CCC-SLP. Finally. Thank you to my parents for paying for undergrad, thank you to my husband for being so supportive during graduate school, thank you to my professors (both undergrad and grad) for sharing your wisdom, and thank you to my Aunt Geana who inspired me to pursue this career and has answered many a phone call regarding my clients. You guys are awesome.

That about sums it up! Here's to a less insane July, and a HOT August!

Sporting my new, Zooey Deschanel inspired hair cut! Go, Bangs!

Dancin' to that 80s beat,


Sunday, July 1, 2012

Blueberry Mint Iced Tea

If you remember from my last post, Scott and I went blueberry picking and now have approximately 6 lbs. of blueberries sitting in our freezer to use up. Not too bad, considering we started out with 11 lbs...

We made this cool, fresh, fruity iced tea the day we picked the blueberries and man! What a great finish to a hot and sweaty morning of blueberry picking!

What you need for a 2-qt. pitcher:
4 cups water, boiling
4 cups water, room temp. OR several handfuls of ice (if you don't have time to refrigerate the tea before serving)
4-5 bags of black tea (we use Lipton)
1/2 cup of sugar
10-12 fresh mint leaves
Pinch of baking soda
2 handfuls of fresh blueberries

What to do:
Pour the sugar into the bottom of the pitcher.
Place the mint leaves in the pitcher with the sugar and crush with the end of a wooden spoon to release the fragrant oils.
Pour boiling water into the pitcher and place the tea bags in the water to steep for at least 10-20 minutes.
Remove the tea bags and fill the rest of the pitcher with room temperature water (or put enough ice in the pitcher so the liquid reaches the top, if you don't have time to refrigerate the tea prior to serving).
Stir the sugar with a large spoon until it dissolves completely.
Add a pinch of baking soda and stir until dissolved. This will remove the bitter after taste that results from the tannin released from the tea.
Crush the blueberries in your hand to release the juices and place them into the pitcher. Stir until well combined with the tea.
Allow to rest for approximately 10 more minutes.
Serve over ice in big, 1990s era glasses - or Mason jars. Whatever suits your fancy ;)

Happy sipping,


Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Since April 7th...

I have decided to make it more of a priority on this blog to post more about life. When I first started this blog back in 2009, it was a way for me to let my family and close friends know what Scott and I were up to, with a few recipes and crafts here and there. I posted about things like how we paid off Scott's college debt, our picnics in the living room when it was raining, and growing tomatoes. Well, I don't remember the last time I blogged about just life. When Scott and I started our photography business and watched it grow before our eyes (faster than I EVER could have imagined), I honestly just neglected blogging about "life" because I didn't feel like I had much to say about it - other than taking pictures of people and Scott being in studio for 80+ hours a week....

But you know, that is life. We can choose to lull through the mundane, or we can choose to make every moment an experience. And that's what I intend to do. To live more intentionally. To live life more aware of what is going on around me, to really embrace what life happens to be in that moment. Even if I am just washing dishes. 

Now don't get me wrong, a huge part of what Scott and I find joy in is photography, cooking, baking, and investing time in our hobbies. So there will still be "recipe" posts and "craft" posts, but I hope to fill the in-between with tid-bits of the everyday.

Starting now.

Scott and I have had the pleasure of spending good quality time with our families the past few months, and taking little trips here-and-there on the weekends with friends. 

We went to Austin, TX, at the end of April to celebrate our dear friend, Kate's, birthday. She and her husband found an amazing townhouse right next to Barton Springs that 6 of us had the pleasure of renting for the weekend. We drank wine on the back porch, swam in Barton Springs, went on a hike in Zilker Park, and ate great food. All things wonderful :)

 Scotty made breakfast for everyone, of course :)

 Me and the hubby.

 The birthday girl!

And I was SO excited to see this guy!! 

My youngest brother, Levi, turned 21 in April! The last of us to become an "official" adult. Which means my parents are officially "old" ;) JK! You guys are the sprightliest parents know!!

 I made the birfday cake! Italian Cream Cake...

Love this boy :)

I have been hugely blessed by the girls in my small group. Scott and I joined a smaller small group back in August, and just in the last few months the girls have been making more of an effort to spend intentional time together. It all started with a group thrifting excursion in The Heights back in April! We ended the afternoon with gelato :P

May brought my first vacation as a working woman! And the first Huddleston Family vacation in MANY years. After my brother, Jim, graduated from Abilene Christian University (with a 4.0 and highest honors, I might add :) Proud sister, I am! ), my family (8 in all!) piled into a 15 passenger van and headed West for a week in Colorado! 

 Our first night, we stayed at the Big Texan Lodge in Amarillo, Texas.

 The next morning, we back-tracked about 45 minutes to hike Palo Duro Canyon. It was stunning.

 Daddy and the bros.
 The whole crew!

 As we trudged along further West, we stopped at the Cadillac Ranch for some great photos and graffiti.

 We finally made it to Salida, Colorado, where we spent the evening at a hotel. The next day, the guys played disc golf while the girls went shopping! (and made cute jewelry at a bead store!)

 Our final destination was Breckenridge, CO. My dad's boss was so kind to let us stay at his vacation home there - a 3-story town house just outside of downtown. We played dominoes...

 ... hiked...

 ... had snowball fights...

 ... mountain biked... 

 ... hiked some more!...

 ... found a frozen lake at 12,000 ft elevation!...

... and took LOTS of pictures...

Huddleston family vacations are rarely restful, but we are able to experience so many amazing and beautiful things - it's totally worth the lack of sitting around :)

For Memorial weekend, Scott's family came to Houston and spent 3 days with us! There were 6 people crammed into our tiny 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom apartment, but we made it work and had a blast! 

 We went blueberry picking at Chmielewski Blueberry Farm

 Scott and I got a little competitive excited, and ended up picking 11 pounds (yes, POUNDS) of blueberries!

We used about 1/2 a pound to make homemade kolaches with blueberry filling, and another 1/2 a pound to make blueberry mint iced tea (recipe to come!!). The other 10 pounds.... they are currently in our freezer. I still have nightmares of blueberries filling our apartment from floor to ceiling... I am forced to swim my way through the blue mass...getting blueberry guts between my toes... 
Blueberry recipe ideas would be greatly appreciated :)

And as for June, well, I have been photographing weddings! It has been SO fun, and definitely a learning experience. I love, love photographing weddings and hope for many more to come in the future.

Since May 29th, Scott has been working away at his summer internship at an architecture firm downtown. He really likes working in downtown, and is particularly enjoying this firm. He is currently working on building a model out of LEGOs. Yes. LEGOs. I will say that neither I nor he can complain about making over minimum wage playing with Legos.

Well friends, that is all there is to tell at this point! I plan on sharing that blueberry mint iced tea recipe with you later this week, as well as my personal experience being in front of the lens... that's right! I was the subject this time. Results to be shared soon!

Blueberry stains on my lips,