Chocolate Chip Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream

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Remember how I used to actually do this thing called baking? Then I would tell you all about the delicious creations and show you pretty pictures. I didn’t always leave this internet page of mine alone and occasionally stop by to only review what and where I ate. Those were the days. 
But wait! Those days are back. See…
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Cupcakes! Pretty little cupcakes! Just for you.
I know I sound like a broken record, but this wedding thing is getting so close. In less than three weeks I will be in Columbus just days away from walking down the aisle.

Besides just counting days and weeks, I am quantifying everything I do in terms of how many times I will do it before the wedding. For example, when leaving Trader Joe’s on Sunday, I told Greg, “We will only go grocery shopping three more times until we’re married!” (Side note – in our efforts to be more money-conscious, we’ve successfully cut back our frequent grocery shopping trips to just one streamlined trip per week. It’s been fabulous).

My energy has been pouring into planning and organizing, in addition to the usual working, puppy-raising, and running (which, by the way, has gradually increased to the point where I’m running about two times as much as I ever have before. I think that explains a lot of my extra tiredness too). 

Baking and cooking anything new or exciting has been put on the back burner, no pun intended. But all hope is not lost. These sweet cupcakes proved to me there is light at the end of the no-homemade-baked-goods-in-the-midst-of-an-upcoming-wedding tunnel. 
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When life is busy and you feel like you don’t have time or energy to bake, but just absolutely need a homemade sweet treat, these are the answer! Don’t even look at those packaged baked goods in the grocery store. Seriously. Stop it! They’re not worth it. 
These are worth it. 
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They take approximately 5-10 minutes to throw together (depending on your level of sugar deprivation), and can be made in one bowl. A dozen cupcakes and only one dirty bowl later and you’ll be onto your next busy life task in no time, wondering why you even gave those pre-packaged grocery store baked goods a second look. 
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Chocolate Chip Cupcakes
With Vanilla Buttercream
(Adapted from The Cupcake)

Makes 12 cupcakes

For the Chocolate Chip Cupcakes-
Ingredients:
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup cake flour
7 tablespoons butter, softened
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup powdered sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 batch of vanilla buttercream (recipe below)
Sprinkles as desired

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line standard size cupcake tin with paper liners and set aside.
2. In a large bowl, add flours, butter, sugars and eggs. Use a hand mixer to beat on medium speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Fold in the chocolate chips.
3. Pour batter into cupcake wells until about 2/3 full. Bake 20-22 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in middle of a cupcake comes out clean. Let cool completely before frosting.

For the Vanilla Buttercream-
Ingredients:
1/2 cup butter, softened (1 stick)
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-2 tablespoons milk

Directions:
In a medium bowl, cream butter and powdered sugar until smooth. Add salt and vanilla extract. Slowly add milk while beating on low speed until frosting reaches desired consistency.

A Restaurant Review – Mosaic Cafe

Time is just flying on by isn’t it? This past Thursday was the one-month mark until my wedding. What?!

It also marked the five year anniversary of when Greg and I began dating. It sounds crazy to me to say that. Here we are, five years after it all started, closing the chapter on one part of our relationship and about to begin the next. I need to cherish this last month of being a fiance! Not a girlfriend, not yet a wife. (Yes, I was just channeling my inner Britney Spears with “I’m not a girl, not yet a woman.”)

To celebrate this special time in our lives, we did what we normally do for special occasions and went out to dinner. I have had a Living Social coupon to Mosaic Cafe for far too long (in fact, it had already expired, but you can still use it for face value), so I told Greg in the morning that’s where we should go. He didn’t oppose, so after work and a relaxing bike round around the island, we headed to Mosaic.

We had the Smoked Gouda Dip ($6.99) as an appetizer. Sounds good, right? Well…I wasn’t impressed. I only took a bite or two before deciding it really wasn’t worth the calories. Greg agreed that it wasn’t close to what we were hoping.

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For my entree, I had the Fit Life Burgers ($8.99): “Spicy, mini black bean burgers, served over spinach, garnished with edamame hummus, cucumber-yogurt sauce feta, grape tomatoes & roasted peppers.”
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Unlike the appetizer, the Fit Burgers were delicious! I enjoyed every part of this dish and could feel good about eating such a nutritious meal too. 
Greg had the Charleston Chicken Roller ($9.99): “Grilled chicken, bacon, smoked Gouda pimento cheese, spinach, tomatoes, basil mustard on a tortilla.” (minus the mustard for Greg.)
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I asked Greg for one bite and ended up having many more than just that. It was SO good! Especially the pimento cheese. Mmmm, mmmm. We all know I don’t eat much meat, but when it tastes this good, it was well worth it.

I also have to mention they have the most amazing cookies. A co-worker brought some to our office a long time ago and I remember falling in love then. I couldn’t leave without getting one, the only question was what kind would I get?! Although the white chocolate raspberry sounded great, I opted for my favorite cookie flavor of all time, oatmeal raisin. Greg says I always pick the worst flavors, but I’m willing to bet some of you would agree with me that oatmeal raisin is the best. Right?

I polished that baby off in no time…hence the lack of a picture. Let me tell you though, it was super thick, chewy, full of texture and simply amazing.
In the end, we were happy with the meal, despite the disappointing appetizer. If you don’t go for a full meal, I highly recommend stopping in for a cookie. You won’t be sorry.

Mosaic Cafe & Catering on Urbanspoon

Weekend Eats 4-21-13

Hi friends. This weekend wasn’t too exciting on the foodie front, but here’s a look at what I loved the most:
On Friday, we drove to North Carolina to visit with Greg’s family and celebrate some birthdays. On the {rainy} drive up, we grabbed Chick-Fil-A for dinner.
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Did you know Chick-Fil-A is about to revamp their salad menu? I am SO disappointed, because the Southwest Chargrilled Chicken Salad is my favorite thing on their menu. Apparently they don’t think their salads are healthy, even though I’m pretty sure grilled chicken, tons of leafy greens, fresh veggies, and black beans are healthy. Especially for a fast-food joint! I’ve looked at their new salads which are being released next week, and am not a happy camper. Maybe I’ll end up finding a good replacement, but it’s going to be hard to do.

I’ll get over it I guess.

On Saturday afternoon, Greg and I went out to do some shopping…actually I went out to do shopping and Greg just tagged along 🙂 We had Moe’s for lunch and it was just what I needed to fuel my afternoon. Rice, veggies, chips and salsa filled me right up. 

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Later in the afternoon, I was ready for some fro yo. A self-serve place called Di’lishi is just down the road from Greg’s parent’s house and we’ve made it a ‘must-have’ every time we visit. The day had started out awfully chilly, but turned into a beautiful warm day. Fro yo was the perfect treat.

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What was the tastiest thing you ate this weekend?

A Restaurant Review – Another Trip to Crave!

I told you that my girlfriends and I went to Crave for dinner on Saturday night to celebrate my bachelorette party, but I didn’t say much else about the meal. Ready for the details?

We started by ordering some wine – a bottle of red and a bottle of white. We sipped away while studying the menu and snacking on the complimentary warm bread and butter.

After much indecisiveness on everyone’s part, we were ready to order. I ultimately decided to order the Spinach and Tomato Grilled Cheese ($9) as an appetizer for the table to share. I knew I HAD to have it one way or another, but most of the girls were ordering some of the more expensive entrees. I felt like I should get something a little fancier too, but didn’t want to give up the grilled cheese. This was a perfect compromise. I could have a few bites of my grilled cheese and also get a fancier dish as my main meal.

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It was just as good as I remembered and it was gone in no time. Everyone quickly knew why I love this sandwich so much. 
Now, if I thought I was in love with the grilled cheese, I fell even more in love with the Sea Scallops ($25) I ordered for my entree. The seared scallops were served with green beans and the most amazing lobster risotto in the world.
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Actually, I don’t think I can honestly say I’ve ever had any other lobster risotto, so technically I don’t have authority to declare it the best in the world, BUT I promise you…It was heavenly. Everything about my dish was above and beyond my expectations. 
I also sampled a few bites of my sister’s fish tacos and my mom’s black bean salad. Oh yeah. Maybe a few bites of the award winning mac and cheese too. 
I was overwhelmed with pure goodness for most of the meal. So many delicious things coming from all directions!
Although we were just about stuffed by then end of dinner, I couldn’t pass up dessert. Our waitress recommended the Salted Caramel Chocolate Cake ($8) so we decided to get a slice to split. Thankfully my dear friends let me have more than my fair share of bites, or maybe I was just a little agressive with my fork and forced the others away. 
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This cake is one of their several gluten free menu items, in case that is of interest to you. I didn’t even realize that until we had just about finished the piece, but you would never know the difference. It tasted like any other gluten-filled cake I’ve ever had. 
If you can’t tell, I love this place. It’s a Charleston MUST for locals or visitors alike. 
They have plenty of options to suit any palate or dietary need, so there’s really no excuse not to give it a try. 
Crave on Urbanspoon

Sunday Blessings – Bachelorette Weekend with My Best Friends

This weekend my best friends and I gathered in Charleston for my bachelorette party. I put together a little welcome gift for the girls including a bottle of wine with a custom label (from Etsy and I’m totally in love) and a praline. 
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Everyone got into town super late on Friday night, so we just chatted for a bit then went to bed in order to get a good night’s sleep in preparation for a long day on Saturday. 
I knew I wanted to show off all of Charleston’s amazing food. We started off on the sweet side with donuts from Glazed.
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We got a Cinnamon Twist, Chocolate with Sprinkles, Maple Bacon, and the star of the show: Berry Mascarpone. 
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We ended up having to go back and get a second Berry Mascarpone donut. It was unreal. 
After strolling through the Farmers’ Market (it was the first weekend they were back up and running for the year and it was packed!), we continued to stroll down King Street for some shopping. We worked up an appetite and grabbed lunch from Verde before calling it a day downtown. 
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Time for the beach!
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We got a little bit of sun, but since it was already late in the afternoon, it was cooling down outside and we didn’t last too long. We headed home to get dressed up for dinner at Crave
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I’m do a full review of the meal tomorrow, so I’ll spare you more pictures now. I will tell you this – it was one of the best meals I’ve had in awhile. We were all raving over our different dishes. Love this place! Love it so much in fact that I’m going back this week with Christina and Erica! (I hope our plans are still on girls!)
We went out for some drinks on Market Street downtown, but we didn’t get too crazy…not really my style 😉 But we had a great time talking about life. I could tell you that we went around the table and shared our five-year plans, but then you’d think I’m a loser. Whoops. Too late now! But that’s exactly what we did. 
I loved talking with my best girlfriends about our lives…where we are and where we’re headed. For some of them, it was their first time meeting. So I thought it’d be nice to get to know each other better. Plus, since I don’t get to see or talk to my out of town friends as much anymore, even I felt like I didn’t really know their current wants and desires in life. 
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After all the girl talk, we went back to my place where my friends had surprise gifts for me to open. They really are the best friends in the world. 
One by one, the girls started to make their way out of town, back to their homes. By late morning, it was down to my sister, mom, and cousin. We went to church, then brunch at Charleston’s Cafe, where I had the most amazing whole wheat blueberry pancakes EVER. 
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Going, going, gone!
Finally it was time to say goodbye to the last of them. As expected, this weekend went way too quickly, but we really did squeeze in just about as much fun as we could have asked for. I am so grateful for all of them making the trip to celebrate this weekend – coming from Indiana, Ohio and Florida, I know it wasn’t easy. 
God has blessed me with the best group of girls in my life and I can’t wait until we’re together again for the big day in just over a month!

Weekend Eats 4-7-13

Lots of deliciousness this weekend. LOTS of deliciousness. 
Friday night trip to Trader Joe’s meant lots of fresh veggies for a massive salad: spinach, onion, bell pepper, mushrooms, strawberries, avocado, goat cheese, sliced almonds, raspberry vinaigrette. Perfection. 
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Breakfast taco on Saturday morning: scrambled eggs and avocado wrapped in a whole wheat tortilla. Plus a big mug of coffee to get me going. 
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Saturday night called for another whole wheat tortilla, this time filled with homemade tuna salad made with mustard, onion, and a shake of salt and pepper. Simple as can be. Sliced apple, carrots and steamed broccoli served as side dishes. 
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Sunday. We all know Sunday means brunch around here. With so many events going on in Charleston this weekend, restaurants were pure madness. We were told it would be an hour wait at one place, so we moved to the next. We were told 30 minutes so figured we’d wait it out. By this point, we. were. starving.
Then, after almost an hour of not being sat, we gave up and headed to old trusty- Coleman Public House. No wait at all! Woohoo. 
I had the Huevos Rancheros. HUEVOS. I love saying that, don’t you?
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Here is where things get really good. Have you had this, or any coconut milk ice cream for that matter?   Technically, it’s a ‘frozen dessert’ according to TJ’s, not ice cream. But it’s easier just to call it ice cream…made with coconut milk. I ate mine with a couple spoonfuls of cool whip. Such a refreshing treat on these warm and beautiful spring days! 
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But the best part of my weekend? THIS. Another successful TJ’s purchase. This chocolate bar was everything I hoped it would be and more. Get yourself one two. Go!!
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What was the tastiest thing you ate this weekend?

Just an Update!

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Hi Friends…at least I hope you’re still my friends even after abandoning you for so long. I feel like it’s been months since I’ve blogged, but in reality it’s only been about a week. That’s not so bad, right?

Last week, after returning home from a long weekend in Ohio for my bridal shower, I spent a couple of days trying unpack my suitcase along with the many, many gifts from the shower. I’ve had a lot of rearranging and organizing to do to make room for all of our new things – mostly in the kitchen! It’s proving to be a difficult task, but exciting at the same time. In between a little something called WORK, working out, taking care of the pup, and trying to finalize all of the wedding plans, this blog of mine has taken the back seat. Not to mention, we went out of town again for a last minute trip to spend Easter weekend with Greg’s family in North Carolina.

I love blogging, I really do. But to completely honest, it’s been refreshing to focus on spending any of the minimal free time I have these days with my family, in the present, laptop free. Now that it’s April, I can officially say our wedding is NEXT MONTH! Greg and I are getting more excited every day. I am soaking in this final part of being an engaged couple and need to just focus on US. Oh yeah, and the ever-growing Great Dane of ours. Zoey is currently 6 1/2 months old and about 75 pounds. Ah! She has not outgrown her cuteness though (as if she ever will). While there have been times of her puppiness driving me crazy, I currently think everything she does is absolutely adorable. My Zo girl is the best.

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I’m definitely not going anywhere for good, but for the next several weeks (until after I become a Mrs. and go on our Hawaiian honeymoon) my posting may continue to be at a minimum. That being said, I have plenty of delicious recipes to share so stay tuned! I just wanted to give a quick explanation for my absence in case you were worried.

Have a great rest of the week! I’ll see ya again soon!