Thursday, February 9, 2017

Butter Cupcakes + Salted Caramel Buttercream

Moving on from the healthiest pizza recipe I've ever posted to these morsels of heaven. Because, balance, right!? And HELLO! Sprinkles and unicorns.

You just cannot beat a good cupcake. With the perfect cake base and a delicious frosting topper, it's the perfect hand held dessert. It's taken me a long time to get my proportions right, but I have finally learned how to properly fill each liner so that each cupcake comes out the same. 3/4 of the way full works every sing time. 

These cupcakes are a little bit of magic and so much more. My family has been making this cake recipe for awhile now and last week I halved the batter to make a batch of cupcakes for a birthday celebration. The salted caramel buttercream is everything. 

Use your patience when making this frosting, but know that the end result will be worth it. It's taken me a few times to get it right! Don't give up. And if you want to make the full cake, you can find the recipe HERE. It's perfection.

Butter Cake Cupcakes + Salted Caramel Buttercream 
recipe adapted from Add a Pinch (makes 10-12 cupcakes)

1.5 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
pinch of salt
1/2 cup butter (1 stick), room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup buttermilk, room temperature
2 tsp. vanilla

Stage 1:
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup Crisco vegetable shortening
1/4 cup butter
1/2 tsp. baking soda

Stage 2:
1/4 cup butter, room temperature
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1 cup confectioner's sugar, plus more if needed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare cupcake tin with liners.

Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl and whisk. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream butter until fluffy, then add sugar. Cream together for about 8 minutes, scraping the sides down occasionally. Add eggs, one at a time and cream after each one. 

Add flour mixture and buttermilk, alternately, beginning and ending with the flour. Combine each addition of flour then turn the mixer on high to incorporate air into the batter. 

Add vanilla and mix well. Turn the mixer on high one last time for about 10 seconds to lighten the batter. 

Using an ice cream or batter scoop, fill each cupcake liner about 3/4 of the way full. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. 

Add all ingredients from stage one to a 3-4 quart pot. Stir with a wooden spoon over medium heat. 

Using a candy thermometer, cook to a softball stage (235-245 degrees). I have found that the closer to 235 the better. 

Remove from heat and pour into the bowl of a stand mixer to let cool. To quicken the cooling process, beat it with the whisk attachment for a few minutes. 

Once the caramel has cooled, add the butter and salt from the second stage of the recipe and and whip. Add the confectioner's sugar in 1/4 cup increments, whipping after each one. Since you will be frosting cupcakes, you may need to add more to get the frosting to stiffen and hold its shape. 

Transfer frosting to a piping bag and frost. Top with sprinkles, lots of sprinkles. 

Monday, February 6, 2017

Cauli Crust Skillet Pizza with Sausage, Mushrooms + Peppers

Pizza is our FAVORITE. Normally, I'm all about eating the real thing and just going all in on Fridays when we either make homemade pizza or venture out to one of our favorite local spots. But sometimes, I just can't wait until Friday and the craving hits hard. I'm all about clean and healthy eating but I've never really been into healthy pizza alternatives. If I'm going to eat pizza, I'd rather EAT PIZZA. 

I did, however, have a change of heart last week when my friend posted a picture of her cauliflower pizza crust on Instagram. My mouth was seriously watering and I saved the recipe. I've had cauli crust on my radar for quite some time and I was eager to give it a whirl. 

This cauliflower crust is AMAZING! I'm not saying that this should replace your weekly (real) pizza night, but I am saying that you should give this a try for when the pizza craving hits but you're trying to stay healthy. Mark was a skeptic and I totally won him over with this! If you're expecting this crust to hold it's own and act like a real pizza, it just doesn't do that. Know that you'll be eating it with a fork and just load on the toppings. 

Now, you can make this crust as easy or as complicated as you want. I ended up pulsing mine in the food processor and cooking for 15-20 minutes, then squeezing out some of the liquid, but I certainly don't think it's necessary. Next time I'm going to try just pulsing and mixing it raw, then cooking it in the oven before topping with my toppings. Skp the cheese (in the crust and on top) to make this Paleo and Whole 30 friendly! 

Make your Monday taste like a Friday. Kind of.

Cauliflower Pizza Crust
recipe adapted from

1 small head cauliflower
1 egg
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. oregano

Preheat oven to 275 degrees.

Wash and chop cauliflower into florets. Place in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until the cauliflower is finer than you would when making cauliflower rice.

In a bowl, combine cauliflower, egg, cheese and seasonings. Mix until combined. 

Form "dough" in a cast iron skillet or on a baking sheet, pressing it together. Bake for 15-20 minutes.

Top with toppings of choice. (I did Italian sausage, peppers and mushrooms with marinara and mozzarella) Bake until cheese is nice and bubbled. Cut and serve!

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Sweet Potato + Sausage Breakfast Hash

When I was younger, Hash was a joke in our house. I don't even remember the exact details of what happened but my mom (who is an incredible cook) made Hash and none of us liked it and from there on out we called it mush. It's been a long standing inside joke for years but I'm a grown up now and here I am sharing a recipe for hash. The truth is, I think it's a terrible name for a dish but it's what it's called so we are sticking with it.

I don't love eggs, but they are my go-to breakfast these days. They are quick and easy and always keep me full and satisfied. When I have extra time, a tasty bed of veggies like this one actually makes me excited for breakfast. Most mornings I'm not even super hungry, but skipping breakfast is not something I like to do and starting my day off with something nutritious and healthy ensures I'll make good eating choices the remainder of the day. 

This is really just one giant pile of sweet potatoes, peppers and sausage topped with two over easy eggs- just the way I like them. It's colorful, healthy and full of flavor. Make a bunch of this on Sunday to enjoy all week long and add your favorite veggies or whatever you have on hand! Ignore the breakfast in the title of this post...I think this mush would be delicious to eat anytime of day! 

Sweet Potato + Sausage Breakfast Hash

1 large sweet potatoes, diced (the smaller they are cut the faster they will cook)
1 onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 links mild Italian sausage, crumbled
olive oil
salt and pepper 

In a medium/large cast iron skillet or saute pan, drizzle olive oil and heat on medium high. Add potatoes and onion, and saute until onions become fragrant, about 5 minutes. Add peppers and let the veggies saute and sizzle, tossing occasionally. Cook until potatoes are soft on the inside and crispy on the outside. Season with salt and pepper. Smoked paprika is another tasty addition! Toss in sausage and cook until heated through. Top hash with two eggs anyway you like them! 

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Happy New Year + Trader Joe's Blooms

Happy 2017! I can't believe we are already almost into mid- January. I hope that you all had a wonderful holiday season with your loved ones and that your January is off to an amazing start. January can get a bad rap because it's generally cold, dark and has that post holiday funk, but I love this month! There is something to be said for a fresh start and a clean slate. Once all the decorations are put away and a little de-cluttering is done, I always feel more ready and inspired to take on the new year with open arms. 

I'm working on gathering new recipes to make as well as a few other posts on skin care, house projects and other odds and ends. I'm ready to get back into my creative space here. 

#SNOMG of 2017 has come and gone and while it left us really no snow to play in, it was still a warm and cozy weekend inside and bonus points because my west coast sister came out for a long weekend visit! We had the best time! (as always)

A quick little tip if you are like me and make a weekly or bi-weekly trip to Trader Joe's. They always have THE BEST flowers. I don't know what they do to them, but their flowers always tend to stay so much longer than any others. I picked up these petit Winter bouquets and a bunch of fresh eucalyptus and I've had a beautiful arrangement sitting on my kitchen island for a week now. They are still so fresh and bright! 

Hope everyone is having a wonderful week!! 

Friday, December 16, 2016

Friday Faves: Cookbooks!

Christmas is 10 DAYS AWAY- WHAT!? My sisters and I have an afternoon of cookie baking planned and I can't wait for that sweet sugary aroma to fill my house. Salted Carmel Filled Chocolate Snickerdoodles? Check. Peppermint White Chocolate Sugar Cookies? Check. Chocolate Gooey Butter Cake Cookies? Check. My waist is widening as this list grows. Ha! 

If you have any cooks on your list that you need a little extra something for, I've rounded up a nice little list of cookbooks! I love cookbooks and think you can never have too many. Pinterest and blogs are such a great and easy resource these days, but I've been trying to open up my cookbooks more often these days. There's something about flipping through real pages and seeing the notes I've made by things that I have made. 

Cooking for Jeffrey- A new book I am dying to get my hands on! I just love these two and can't wait to own this book. Ina can't do anything wrong.

Danielle Walker's Against All Grain Celebrations- I have Danielle's first cookbook and she is one of my go tos for Paleo cooking. I have heard great things about this book!

Skinnytaste Fast and Slow- I've never made anything from Gina's blog that I didn't like! She is one of my favorites and I absolutely love her first cookbook. This one is a must!

Giada's Feel Good Food- It wouldn't be a cookbook list without a book from Queen G! This one is filled with her favorite healthy recipes.

The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook- Another blogger cookbook! This is one of the first food blogs I ever started reading and I know the cookbook will not disappoint. I love her photography, too! 

Jerusalem- I love love love Middle Eastern Food! It might be my very favorite. This book has been recommended to me by several friends and I have flipped through it. It looks AMAZING and the pictures are gorgeous. 

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Christmas in Charlotte

We took a trip to our locally owned Hardware store yesterday. Blackhawk has the most magical tree display and is one of my favorite places in Charlotte to shop for Christmas ornaments. Will loved walking through the forest of decorated trees and looking at all of the ornaments on each one. It was a fun little outing that ended with a free bag of popcorn from the old fashioned popcorn machine at the store! I love that place at Christmastime and always look forward to taking Will, and now Kate, there to see the beautiful trees! 

Christmastime is is just the most magical. There is so much that our city has to offer at this time of year and with a little over a week to go before the big day, I'm rounding up some of my favorites!

Blackhawk Hardware- A beautiful display of trees and TONS of ornament shopping in here. It's been locally owned since 1977 and is just the neatest store! You'll find lots of odds and ends here and don't forget to grab a bag of complimentary popcorn on the way out! 

Leonard Bearstein's Singing Orchestra- The singing bears are a must! A little creepy though you can't help but love them. Shows start on the hour, from 10am-8pm. While you're uptown, walk around and check out the decorations! This is on our list for next week!

7323 Sherwood Forest Drive (off Colony Road)- This is my favorite Christmas lights display in all of Charlotte! We've been driving by here since I was a kid and I just love it. Santa is usually outside from 6-10pm handing out candy canes. Most of this street is decked out and this house is the star. 

Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens- Holidays at the Garden is the best! This is where Mark and I got engaged (at Christmastime) so it's extra special to us. Another thing I'm hoping to squeeze in next week with our little ones. It will be so much fun to take them back! 

McAdenville, Christmastown USA- Another Christmas lights spectacular! This is about a 30 minute drive outside of Charlotte but so festive and fun! Roll through the Starbucks drive thru on the way for a peppermint mocha to enjoy while you drive through the twinkling town. You can park your car and get out and walk now, too!

Holly Jolly fa la la! 

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Winter Detox Tea

Tis the season for runny noses and coughs! I was prepared for the preschool germs to come into our home once Will started school back in September but my poor little guy has had several rounds of the sniffles already and it's not even officially Winter yet! I've been pulling out all of my tips and tricks for keeping everyone healthy and happy. 

This recipe was discovered while scrolling my Instagram feed a few years ago. It comes from an old issue of Whole Living and is full of all the good stuff! Turmeric is the star here as it has so many health benefits- encouraging a balanced blood sugar and helping stiff joints- just to name a few. Lemon adds some zing and a good kick of vitamin C and honey for sweetness and to help coat the throat when it's a little sore. A pinch of cayenne is optional but is personally my favorite part. I love the heat! 

I love this tea in the winter months, and especially when I feel a cold coming on. 

Detox Tea

1 cup hot water
1/8 tsp. ground Turmeric
1/8 tsp. ground ginger
pinch of cayenne pepper
1 tsp. honey
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
slice of lemon

Heat all ingredients up in a small pot until they come to a rolling boil. Drink up!