Thursday, February 25, 2010

Cupcakes Make Me Blush

I may be a health nut and I rarely stand up my daily date at the gym but I can never pass down a little something sweet to delight my taste buds and put a smile on my face. After all, there is always room for dessert. As I rung in the New Year with my cousins and some new friends met that night, I was lucky enough to meet Monika, the owner of the newest little bakery in Ballantyne that I have already fallen in love with. Let me preface this all by sharing how much I love cupcakes. People are always looking for creative ways to eat their food and in my opinion, the cupcake take the cake! Most cupcakes are portioned perfectly and satisfy the sweet tooth without making one feel as though they need to spend a little extra time with the treadmill. If they are done right, any given cupcake takes on a personality of its own and never fails the taste buds its about to please.

The Blushing Bakeshop, located in Ballantyne Village, is a little treasure chest of joy and treats of all flavors. Monika's cupcakes are exquisite and is guaranteed to have a flavor fit for any sweet tooth. Last week, I indulged in the Kimberly; a lemon cupcake filled with lemon curd and topped with toasted meringue. Refreshingly decadent, this cupcake was perfection. The lemon cake was smiling with a beautiful hint of citrus and the curd in the middle was a sweet surprise! Frosting, in my opinion, can make or break a dessert and I say with confidence that this frosting was nothing short of a puff of love atop one of the best tasting cakes I have ever had! Yesterday, I tried the Bonita; a blueberry cupcake topped with lemon buttercream. The words could not come out of my mouth as I ate this delightful creation. My fellow sweet toothed sources tell me that the Savannah (red velvet), Erin (vanilla with raspberry buttercream and Bella Lucia (vanilla cake filled with nutella and topped with stracciatella buttercream) are nothing short of cupcake utopia.

Become a fan of the Blushing Bakeshop on Facebook and daily clues will send you home with a free featured flavor cupcake of the day! You can also check out their daily menus here.

The little cupcake masterpieces below are some of the decorative creations that come out of Monika's bakery kitchen and I am beyond impressed. The delicate flowers are so precious and her inspiration comes from everyday finds, fashion and things we all love!

I love to write and am constantly thinking of creative ways to express the love of the foods I enjoy so much but these cupcakes leave me speechless. Sometimes the words just don't do it justice. Now would be a perfect time to hop on over to The Blushing Bakeshop and become as addicted as I have!

All photos via {here}

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Baking for a Cause

By: Kealy Howard
Recently our office put together a bake sale to benefit the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. When I heard we were putting this on I immediately signed up…two of my favorite things rolled into one; spending time in the kitchen baking and volunteering. My passion for baking started in my Grandmother’s kitchen when I was just a few years old, dressed in my Fisher Price apron, standing on a step stool, covered in flour, digging my hands into whatever cookie dough or cake batter we were working on, and of course sneaking in a few bites of dough or batter whenever she wasn’t looking. As for volunteering it all started when I joined my local Girl Scout troop as a Brownie. I loved helping others, whether it was working at a local soup kitchen, helping children with their homework in an after-school program, or raising money for charities such as the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, Special Olympics, and St. Jude. There are so many reasons why some people volunteer, I have to be honest and say the reason I volunteer is rather selfish. I just love the feeling I get when I am able to put a smile on someone’s face or know what I’m doing, no matter how small, will help put a dent in the never ending race to find a cure. It’s a feeling you can’t get by just donating money, sometimes you have to get out there and get your hands dirty and this bake sale resulted in my hands being covered with cake batter, a lot of chocolate, and sprinkles all over my kitchen…

My creation…Cupcake Bites! A combination of chocolate cake crumbled up and mixed with a can of cream cheese frosting (Yes, you heard that right. I did not make homemade frosting this time), rolled into balls, and placed into the freezer until firm. Once they were ready, I dipped the bottoms into dark chocolate and white chocolate candy molds to give the bottoms the look of a Reese’s peanut butter cup. After a minute I popped them out of the molds and continued to dip them into more chocolate; this time I alternated covering the tops with purple and red chocolate. Before the chocolate had time to set, I quickly decorated the tops with a few sprinkles and one M&M. Overall, this whole process took almost four hours and I’m not counting the time it took to bake the cake and cleanup my enormous mess! Nevertheless I had a great time baking for a cause and getting my hands a little dirty.

Cupcake Bites recipe courtesy of

Special thanks and lots of love to my dear friend Kealy. She is practically a professional baker and everytime I indulge in one of her sweet treats, I hear the dessert eating angel choirs sing! I have been begging her for the past sevral months to share her expertise on my blog and I am so excited to finally be able to share this with you all! Maybe we can convince Kealy she needs to be a regular guest spreading peace, love and good food (more desserts, please!!) to all!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Mint Chocolate Miracle

Thanks to my lovely party planning pals at My Punch Bowl, I found out this morning, via Twitter, that today's reason to celebrate was none other than National Chocolate Mint Day! While my favorite food marriages tend to veer in the direction of my beloved Caprese salad (tomato, basil & fresh mozzarella with a drizzle of olive oil), tying in first place is without a doubt chocolate lightly kissed with mint. Mint chocolate chip ice cream, Andes mints, York peppermint patties, mint m&m's, chocolate dipper peppermint mouth is, I am slobbering. So in honor of this delicious day, and appropriately enough, a recent bite of mint chocolate left me speechless and yes, deserves a post of its own.

While in the merry Midwest this past Valentine's weekend, Mark and I took a stroll downtown Bloomington to our favorite sweets spot, The Chocolatier. This little chocolate stop has more truffles than a chocolate lover sees in their chocolate dreams and as a little bonus, this particular place and its chocolates had a starring role on December 23rd when a certain sparkle was placed on my left hand! Up until last weekend, the cinnamon buttercream was by far the best piece of chocolate I have ever had. The dark chocolate coating the buttercream filling is a smooth and decadent consistency and that cinnamon filling is the perfect sprinkle of spice (and Christmas!) When we entered the shop, I had my heart set on the cinnamon and decided to mix it up and pack up a Cool Mint Dark Chocolate Truffle as well. (Mark, of course, stuck to his super hero roots with his favorite Ninja Turtle and a Cashew Cow). My heart stopped for a minute when I enjoyed the Cool Mint Truffle as I felt as though I was in the middle of a small chocolate miracle right at that moment. Cinnamon buttercreams will always have a special place in my heart but this truffle has now made it to #1 on my list.

Happy National Chocolate Mint Day!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Covered in Chocolate

I spent yet another snowy snuggly weekend in Illinois and you would think my Midwestern raised blood would be accustomed to the tundra but I must be a true southerner now as anything colder than 40 degrees just makes me want to dress up in full Eskimo gear and read "Happy Winter" like my sisters and I used to when we were little. Alas, the things we do for love.

Last year at this time, this gym romance of ours was just blossoming so naturally, the thought of Valentine's day made my stomach do flips and I didn't quite know what to think. As I brainstormed and tried to come up with the perfect little thoughtful gesture to share on February 14, of course my mind immediately went to something delicious that he could eat...surprise surprise. It was then that I decided to make my own chocolate covered strawberries with little Valentine's sprinkles making each berry delightfully unique. When the strawberries were all dipped and kissed with kitchen love, I still had a pot half full of melted chocolate just waiting to cover something else. It was then that I discovered Jet Puff Marshmallows in my pantry and started dipping away! These ended up being the cutest little love puffs and made a great addition to last year's Valentine's treat. It was the perfect way to do something nice without being too over the top and too lovie dovie.

Now, one year later I am as love drunk as ever and planning our WEDDING (eeek!!) I am the luckiest and happiest girl in the world and found it only appropriate to go back to last year's sweet treats and go for a repeat this Valentine's day. I shipped up all of our supplies before I got there and we spent Valentine's day afternoon dipping strawberries and marshmallows...and the rest of the day eating them. I think this is going to have to be a Valentine's day tradition for us for many "Moore" years to come! :)

Monday, February 8, 2010

Miss Manners

As most of you all know, I am busy as a bee planning my September wedding and I am just bursting at the seams with excitement. Thankfully, I plan events for a living which has helped tremendously. I am also not afraid to admit that I am a huge nerd when it comes to organization of materials for situations such as these. I take a lot of pride in the amazing planning binder I put together. In my basket of tricks are all sorts of surprises and creative ideas but what is sitting on top of it all is my Emily Post Etiquette book. I remember opening it a few years ago as a Christmas gift from my sweet Mom and thinking to myself when am I ever going to need this! If only I knew that this book would become my best friend. Let me tell you, the section on weddings is a dream come true and has been a wonderful reference guide to random questions that pop in my head throughout the day. I am a huge proponent of all things proper and polite and in my humble opinion, everyone should have a copy of Emily Post's book to have on hand. And weddings are not even a fraction of what this book covers. Emily Post covers it all.

The protocol for politeness should never be underestimated.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


I cannot come up with a good explanation for this picture but right now, it is merely serving the purpose of expressing the ridiculous amount of giddy-ness that my sweet Mary Katherine and I shared yesterday when we met for Monday lunch. To say that Mary Katherine was glowing would be an understatement because as of Friday while atop a mountain while the snowflakes fell, Nick Baker pulled out a little surprise from his pocket and MK, of course, said YES!!! When I got "THE call" on Friday night, an extra sparkle in that cute little tone of hers told me that this was no "Hi, I love you phone call" but this was the phone call 7 years in the making! That unmistakable voice on the other line said "We're going to be engaged at the same time!!!" I could not be happier for her and selfishly I am ecstatic that we are sharing our pre-wedding time together (this means planning, organization, lots of post its and bridal boot camp sessions at our most favorite meeting spot- the gym!) I only wish our lunch conversation and expressions could have been recorded yesterday because it was absolutely priceless. We were like 10 year old girls squealing in the corner with smiles from ear to ear. Our concensus by the end of lunch? We would like to get engaged every day and relive the feeling and moment forever. This kind of happiness seems merely impossible...until it hits you in the face and you realize it's 100% real.

Are you two lovebirds interested in a Moore-Baker double wedding? Congratulations Mary Katherine and Nick!!!