Santa Cupcakes

PhotoGrid_1387409782815Still looking for that last minute gift to get your co-workers, child’s teacher, mailman, etc? Why not go with baked goods?! They’re cheap, relatively easy, and personal. I know that I LOVE getting sweets as a Holiday present, especially a cupcake. You want to give me a cupcake as a present, I promise we will be best friends!

At my job we don’t do traditional gifts but we do all get each other a little something, mostly cookies or candy. Last year I gave cookies so this year I wanted to get something a little different. You can’t really go wrong with a cupcake. And I found this adorable way of packaging them so it was really a no brainer. Everyone in the office was getting an individually wrapped cupcake!

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To save time I made vanilla cupcakes from cake mix. I did make my own buttercream frosting. You can find the recipe on how to make the perfect frosting here. Decorating them was a piece of cake. I’m usually not great with pretty looking food. My food may taste good but I’ll never win any prizes on my presentation. However, these are super simple to decorate and they are adorable!

Once the cupcakes were all decorated, I just needed to wrap them up. I bought a package of 30 plastic tumblers from the Deals store for only $3. They were the perfect size. The cupcakes fit right in. Then you just throw the cup into a plastic treat bag and tie it up with a ribbon. Over all, not including the baking, I want to say the project took about thirty minutes to prepare 20 cupcakes.

I brought the cupcakes into my office today and they were a huge hit. Everyone loved them and they all raved about how they were packaged.

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Chocolate Buttermilk Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting

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Well I’ve been away for awhile. I’ve definitely missed blogging about fun books and yummy recipes but sadly life got in the way. My beloved Grandmother, who also happened to be my best friend, passed away two months ago. Moving on and dealing with everyday life has been a lot harder than I expected. They always tell you how difficult it will be when you first lose someone. The first week you just go through the motions. The funeral, the wake, the countless number of things that need to be taken care of. The week is dedicated to your loved one and your loss. You’re almost too busy to mourn.

The thing I feel everyone forgets to mention is that it’s going to get a lot worse before it can even begin to get better. It’s when life goes back to “normal” that it really hits you. Going back to work and getting on with everyday life is when I fully comprehended what losing my grandmother really meant. Whenever anything good or bad happened, she wasn’t there for me to share my news. I no longer had someone to eat dinner with every night. She was usually the first person I saw or spoke to in the morning and now she was just gone. It was a lot harder to deal with than I thought.

I’d like to say that now I’m better and have come to terms with the loss, but that would be a lie. I don’t think I’ll ever fully be OK with it. Sometimes I’ll simply forget that she’s actually gone and I’ll need to remind myself. But I am starting to learn how to cope. With the help of friends and family, each day has started to get a little better. I try to focus on all the good times I’ve had and all the important life lessons my grandmother taught me throughout the years.

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Spinach Artichoke Chicken

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I don’t think you’ve ever truly had pizza until you’ve had pizza from New York City. No offense to Chicago or any other city, nothing really beats a New York slice. Even a crappy slice is better than the best slice in most other cities. If you ever find yourself in New York, I suggest hitting up these places for pizza:

Grimaldi’s Pizzeria – This is by far my favorite place for pizza in New York. You will wait over an hour before you’re seated (even on a weekday afternoon), but it’s definitely worth it. There are several locations throughout New York and New Jersey but you should definitely go to the one in Brooklyn, under the Brooklyn Bridge, if you want to do it right.

Lee’s Tavern – This pizza is definitely worth the trek to Staten Island. From the outside it may not look like much, but Lee’s Tavern serves some of the best thin crust pizza the city has to offer.

Artichoke Pizza – This is not your typical tomato sauce and cheese pizza, but it is just as good. It’s a doughy slice smothered with artichoke hearts, spinach, cream sauce, mozzarella cheese, and pecorino romano cheese. It’s basically hot artichoke dip on pizza. It’s divine!

You may be wondering why I’m babbling about pizza when the title of the post clearly states I should be discussing chicken. Don’t worry I have a reason for all this.

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S’mores Cookie Bars

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I absolutely love s’mores. I don’t think there is a better combination than chocolate, marshmallows, and graham crackers. Peanut butter and chocolate comes close but I don’t think it can beat the s’mores combo. It’s perfection! And I love experimenting with different ways to make s’mores. You already saw it once with my cookies. Now I want to introduce you to the S’mores Cookie Bar!

Once again I feel like I need to apologize for my lack of photography skills. This photo is not nearly as appealing as the dessert actually was. I found the recipe on Pinterest and basically followed it exactly the way it was; I only changed up the topping a bit. I decided to use real marshmallows instead of fluff. Overall, I liked the dessert but I will say that the bottom layer was a little thicker than I would have liked. I probably would have cut the ingredients in half to make a thinner layer at the bottom.

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Grilled Pizza with Tomatoes and Onions

20130704_152621The weather has been out of control hot in New York these past few days. Aside from the time I need to spend at work, I have been doing nothing with myself but lying in bed watching Netflix with the AC blasting. I haven’t even had the energy to open my laptop to put up a post. I know it’s horrible. The summer makes me very lazy.

But one good thing about the hot weather is that it means I’ve been eating a lot of barbecue. Most things taste better on a grill. Hamburgers, hot dogs, pound cake, pineapple. And definitely pizza!

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Vanilla Pecan Cake with Buttercream Frosting

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OK, so I realized I have a lot of recipes that start with a boxed cake. I’m basically the Sandra Lee of amateur cooking blogs. I should start ending each post with a cocktail recipe and I’d be set. I did bake this cake while drinking beer so that has to count for something, right? Anyhoo, semi-homemade or not, this cake is amazing!

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