The Perfect 1st Birthday Party

Today is a special day because Counting My Cupcakes turns one year old! I seriously considered having a party. Ok, so maybe I’m not having a real party, but I’m having a virtual party. Right here, right now. Join me?

Birthday pancakes are one the menu for breakfast.

Lunch will look something like this…
Each of us can enjoy the most fun and adorable chocolate cupcake for dinner.
And for dessert, we will have a bowl of ice cream.
That is what I would call the perfect 1st birthday.
To be honest, I kind of dropped the ball with this one and didn’t bake anything special for this baby blog of mine. Life can be a busy thing, what are you gonna do?
I promise I will be making it up soon for a belated birthday celebration. But for now, I am spending quality time with my grandparents who are visiting for a couple days 🙂 …and working 😦
Thank you SO much to all of my readers out there. Whether this is the first post you have read or the 100th, I am so blessed for your support and attention to what I have to say. I cannot believe it’s been an entire year already and I am looking forward to the next!
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Dining Out All Weekend Long!

This weekend has been full of the big 3 F’s: Friends, food and fun! 
One of Greg’s best friends from high school, and a future groomsman in our wedding, drove to Charleston with his girlfriend for the weekend and we’ve been having a great time. They got in late Friday night, like after the Opening Ceremonies late. (Did anyone else find the ceremonies rather…boring?? Raise your hand if you’re with me)
Saturday morning started off with a sweaty workout in preparation for a little weekend indulgence. 
We headed to Sullivans Island for an early lunch at Poe’s to fill our bellies before hitting the beach. I had the delicious Grilled Vegetable Quesadilla. 

The variety of dips on the side were great too- guac, chipotle sour cream, and pico. Mmmmm.
Poe's Tavern on Urbanspoon
Dinnertime brought us downtown to Kickin’ Chicken for a casual meal while simultaneously watching some Olympics coverage. I am not crazy about Kickin’ Chicken, mostly because a lack of healthy and/or vegetarian options, but I can’t say it’s not tasty. Fried chicken can be awfully tempting, but usually just a bit of Greg’s is all I need. Otherwise I stick to grilled chicken.
While I am continuing to cut out animal products from my diet, I also know moderation is key to everything and a little grilled chicken every now and then won’t hurt. I would rather eat a little bit of real meat than feel deprived.
I opted for the Chicken Fajita Salad, but subbed balsamic vinaigrette for the ranch dressing. 

It was HUGE! And I loved every bite. The black beans, tomatoes, grilled onions and cheese mixed with the crisp romaine lettuce made for a perfect dinner. There was even a lime wedge that I squeezed to get some citrus juice on top. 
Kickin' Chicken on Urbanspoon
Our next stop in the night involved frozen strawberry margaritas. Then came a late night dessert for me while others in our group enjoyed a beer at Closed for Business. Greg was amused by my order of the Homemade Ice Cream sandwich while he sipped on his craft beer. I explained to him, once again, that I really do prefer eating my calories rather than drinking them. And I simply can’t go without dessert. 
Oh yeah, and I also ran into Christina! It was great catching up with her in-person again even if it was just for a minute! 
This morning we took our friends to none other than Coleman Public House for brunch. We have only ever gone for dinner so I was really looking forward to trying their brunch menu. For some reason, my usual sweet tooth was drawn to some of the more savory items. In the end, I stuck with my natural instincts and got the blueberry pancakes, served with a side of fruit. 
They were good, as almost all pancakes are, but not spectacular. Still, I was not disappointed in the least. It would be hard for CPH to do any wrong in my eyes at this point. 
Greg ordered the only thing he has ever ordered- Southern Burger with mac and cheese on the side. You can be sure I had more than my fair share of bites of mac and cheese!! I fall in love even more each time. 
Coleman Public House on Urbanspoon
We have said goodbye to our friends and are now back home on the couch looking forward to spending the rest of the day like any other Sunday- napping, grocery shopping, and a whole bunch of nothing!
Hope you’re having a great weekend!

Scones and Puree’s New Burger!

WOOOHOOOO! Friday has arrived. Let’s start with a sweet, buttery scone. Sound good?
My grandma gave me some Cinnamon Apple Scone mix last fall and it took me until this week to make them. The worst part is that the recipe calls for the addition of water. That’s it, just water. The easiest mix ever and for some reason I waited now, eight months later, to bake them. And now I just want more! They were delish. 
Since we can’t live off of baked good alone (tear), I fit plenty of substance in my week too. I returned to Purée  for some “real food” earlier this week. They posted about a new menu item last weekend and I couldn’t stop thinking about it: Blackened Tempeh Burger with cheddar and jalapenos. 
The owner Jenan greeted me at the door as always and knew exactly why I was there. After a short wait, I was served this beautiful burger with a citrus ginger slaw on the side. 
Up close and personal….

Glorious. 
Needless to say, I was a clean-plater. This burger was everything I hoped and more. Jenan was spot on when she said the citrus ginger slaw went so well on the side, because the coolness balanced out the heat of the burger. So true. I was definitely feeling the heat and needed that coolness in my mouth! It was hot and spicy, but too intense by any means. 
On my way out, Jenan was kind enough to treat me to a serving of S’mores Bark. You can count on them to keep some sweet treats around. Cupcakes, cookies, cinnamon rolls, and this chocolate bark are sure to satisfy your sweet tooth after a wholesome lunch.
The cafe just started offering Saturday night dinner by reservation only. With the success I’ve had with brunch and lunch, I can only imagine dinner would be a hit too.
Puree - Organic Cafe and Baby Goods on Urbanspoon
This weekend we have some friends coming into town, which marks the beginning of a long strain of visitors for the next couple of weeks. Yay! I love visitors. 
I better get baking again to share with the company!
Have a great one my friends. 

Ice(d) Cream Oreo Cookie…Cookies

I know what you’re thinking. Does that title even make sense? Why yes, yes it does. It’s a complicated name, but they really describe the cookies perfectly when you see all that goes into them. So bear with me and it will all make sense soon. 
A few months ago, Birthday Oreos were all the rage. I never did pick up on that craze, besides Breyer’s  Oreo Birthday Blast ice cream if that counts. Then I was walking the aisles at the grocery store last weekend and the newest edition of Oreos caught my eye. Ice Cream Oreos – Rainbow Shure-Bert!…is their full name. 
Ice cream flavor + cookie form = asldkfjoeifohdflksdj!!!!!
Translation? Y to the UM. 
My original plan was to make cupcakes, but one minor problem turned into another and my plan was transformed into something else. You might wonder what crushed up cookies mixed into cookie dough would do. Would the cookie flavor just blend right and get lost in the mix or would it be double cookie heaven?

A spoonful of dough later, I had my answer. Double cookie heaven.
And why not drizzle pink and green icing overtop of each cookie-filled cookie just to keep with the sherbert theme and tie it all together?  

Ice Cream Oreo Cookie Cookies
Ingredients:
For the cookies-
1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
10 Ice Cream Oreos, chopped
For the icing-
1 cup powered sugar
2-4 tablespoons milk
Food coloring
Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Spray cookie sheets with nonstick spray and set aside.
2. In the bowl of a stand alone mixer, cream butter and sugar. Add egg and vanilla. Beat on medium speed until well combined.
3. In a separate medium bowl, mix flour, baking soda and salt. Add to butter mixture and continue to beat until well combined. Stir in crushed Oreos with a spatula. 
4. Drop dough by the spoonful onto baking sheets. Bake about 9-11 minutes, or until tops become golden brown. Let cool completely and ice as desired.
To prepare the icing, divide powdered sugar among two separate small bowls. Add 1-2 tablespoons of milk to each one and stir until smooth icing forms. Add food coloring until you reach desired colors (only 1-2 drops for light pastel colors as show in my pictures). 

Chocolate Pistachio Cupcakes

Goooood morning! I hope everyone had a great weekend. I sure did! Friday night was very low key with a PB&J and a glass of white wine for dinner while watching episode after episode of How I Met Your Mother on Netflix. Saturday started with Body Pump (in love with my new gym membership and all of the classes I can now take!), followed by Chipotle for lunch with Greg, and a fun night out with some friends. My friend and former roommate Megan is getting ready to move to California so we went to her favorite restaurant Coast for dinner before going out for more drinks and dancing. I slept in until 10am yesterday. Whaaaat??? I know. I couldn’t believe it either. We made it to the late church service before going grocery shopping and then laying around most of the day. 
There. Now you are all updated on my life 🙂
Ready for the good stuff?

And I mean really good stuff. Rich chocolate and salty pistachios adding just the perfect amount of crunch. 
These cupcakes call for your standard boxed mix with the simple addition of chopped pistachios. I know this is nothing revolutionary, but if you are anything like me, you are always looking for new ways to customize a simple recipe. 

Chocolate Pistachio Cupcakes
Makes 24 cupcakes
Ingredients:
1 box Devil’s Food cake mix
Water, oil and eggs as called for on box 
1 cup shelled pistachios, chopped (plus more for garnishing)
1 container whipped chocolate frosting
Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line or spray muffin tin and set aside.
2. In a large bowl, combine cake mix, water, oil and eggs. Stir until well combined. Add chopped pistachios and stir to combine. 
3. Fill wells of the muffin tin with batter, about 3/4 full. Bake for 18-22 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let cool completely before frosting and topping with more chopped pistachios.

Black Bean Burgers – Morning Star Copycat

IT”S HERE! Friday never felt so good. Besides last Friday, and the Friday before that, and the Friday before that….ok so every Friday feels pretty good, huh?
You know what else feels pretty good? Eating something so healthy, nutritious and delicious. Like black bean burgers for example!

Morning Star’s Spicy Black Bean Burgers have become a staple in our freezer. They are not just for me either, Greg loves them too. For the longest time I ate them simply by themselves or over a bed of lettuce. Then I discovered how great black bean burgers taste on English muffins. 
And thennnn I took a swing at making the patties from scratch. 

The verdict? Ahhh mazing. These tasted just like Morning Star’s, but the patties were even thicker. AKA, better! If you possibly have any doubts or hesitations about black bean burgers, I just have one thing to say: Don’t knock it til you try it. 
This is one recipe I will make again and again. 

Black Bean Burgers
Makes 4 patties
Ingredients:
1 1/2 cup cooked black beans
1/3 cup cooked corn kernels 
1 egg
1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
Directions:
1. Preheat George Foreman Grill or skillet to medium heat.
2. In a medium bowl, add about half of the black beans. Mash well with a fork. Add remaining beans, corn, garlic and spices. Stir to combine. 
3. In a separate bowl, add egg and breadcrumbs. Whisk to combine. 
4. Add egg and breadcrumb mixture to bean mixture. Stir all ingredients together until well combined. 
5. Divide bean mixture into 4 equal parts. Use hands to form into patties. Place on grill or skillet and cook about 3-4 minutes on each side. Serve immediately on top of English muffins or hamburger buns. 
Serving suggestion: Top cooked patties with guacamole, salsa, and/or cheese. 

Peach Crumble Bars

Remember when I had a ton of peaches a couple weeks ago? I made salsa with some of them, but also made these bars. 
I am not normally crazy about peaches, but I was crazy about these bars. As much I wanted to dig in the second they came out of the oven, I found that they were really best at room temperature. So once they cooled down a bit, there was no holding back any longer.

These sweet bars were a well-welcomed change from my common ice cream or fro-yo summertime dessert. They don’t require too much work and serve as a great alternative to a pie. As you can tell, there are so many “pros” for this treat, I can’t think of a reason you shouldn’t make them.

Peach Crumble Bars
(Adapted from Annie’s Eats)

Ingredients:
1 1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 cups all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
16 tablespoons (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 egg
5 medium peaches, peeled and chopped
5 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Pinch of ground nutmeg

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 9×13 inch pan and set aside.
2. In a medium bowl, combine 3/4 cup sugar, baking powder, flour and salt. Cut in the butter and egg until butter chunks become size of peas. Spread half of this mixture in bottom of pan. Press down to form the crust.
3. In a separate bowl, combine remaining 1/2 cup sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice and nutmeg. Mix in the chopped peaches and stir to combine. Spread peach mixture over the crust in the pan. Crumble the rest of the flour mixture evenly over top of the peaches.
4. Bake 40-45 minutes or until top crumble is golden brown. Cool completely, cut into squares and serve.

*Best kept in refrigerator up to 3 days