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,