July Blog-A-Day #30: Celebrating Two Years with Birthday Cake Oatmeal

Today Counting My Cupcakes celebrates her second birthday. Two years old. Wow, time flies. I still feel like such a beginner most of the time when it comes to blogging. The site has come a long way, but there is also so much room for improvement (obviously). 
Then again, I say that and immediately want to take it back. Why do I feel like there is SO much room for improvement? Well, mostly because I am comparing my blog to other blogs. Other blogs with better pictures, more interesting words, easier site navigation, and infinitely more followers. Some of that may be opinion, but some of that is fact. Either way, I take back my previous statement. 
My blog is beautiful just the way she is and I’m proud of her.I have devoted so much time into this little baby of mine. Sure, things will change over time. I may update the color scheme, redesign the layout, improve my photography skills, or gain (or lose) readership. But that’s life. Things evolve in their own time. 
Thank you to each and every one of you who are reading these words right now. Although I mostly write for me, because it is something I have always enjoyed, I really do love sharing my thoughts with all of you. Whether this is the first post you have ever read or if you have been a loyal reader all along, THANK YOU. 
Happy Birthday to CMC! Here’s to hoping the “terrible twos” don’t apply to the blogosphere 😉
Oh, and that oatmeal up there? I felt like I needed to celebrate the birthday in style. Who says you can’t put sprinkles in your oatmeal? Not me.
Birthday Cake Oatmeal
Makes 1 serving
Ingredients:
1/3 cup rolled oats
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon chia seeds
1 tablespoon vanilla protein powder
1/3 cup milk (I used almond milk)
1/3 cup water
1 banana, sliced
1 teaspoon sprinkles
Directions:
1. The night before you want to eat this, combine oats, cinnamon, salt, chia seeds and protein powder in a small bowl. Stir to combine. Add milk and water. Cover bowl and place in fridge overnight. (You don’t have to prepare this overnight, but it helps make the oats thicker!)
2. In the morning, slice the banana and add half of the slices to the oatmeal bowl. Microwave for about 1 minute and 20 seconds. Stir, add remaining banana slices, and microwave about 15-30 seconds longer. Add a splash of milk or water to thin the oatmeal if desired. Top with sprinkles and serve immediately. 
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July Blog-A-Day #16: Roasted Veggie Quinoa Bowl

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Even Zoey approves of this one. Don’t worry, she didn’t get any closer than that right there. She always acts so curious of our people food, but anytime I give in and drop her a little piece (I’ve tried strawberry and sweet potato), she spits it out. She’s not the most normal dog out there. 
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Normal is such a relative term though. Even the most normal things to me can be unusual to others, and vice versa. I wonder how normal it is for someone (me) to have such a strong love for all things sweet and sugary, yet still get so much satisfaction out of the most nutritious and clean meals. 
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Maybe it’s more normal than I realize. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, it’s all about balance. So an overly active sweet tooth needs to be counteracted with an abundance of vegetables. And when I’ve had a ton of veggies, I deserve the sugar that much more. 
It couldn’t be more logical actually. Right?
Right. 
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Plus, when avocado is involved, it’s like health food and an indulgent treat combined into one. 
Roasted Vegetable Quinoa Bowl
Makes 4 servings
Ingredients:
1 cup dry quinoa
1 cup frozen corn
15-20 grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
1/2 orange bell pepper, chopped
1 avocado, cored and diced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
Directions:
1. Cook quinoa according to package directions. 
2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Add all seasonings to a small bowl and stir with a fork to combine. Set bowl aside.
3. Line a cookie sheet with foil and spray with non-stick spray. Spread out the corn, tomatoes and bell pepper across the pan. Lightly spray the vegetables with cooking spray (or you can drizzle with about 1 tablespoon of olive oil) and sprinkle the seasoning mixture overtop. Use a spatula to gently toss the vegetables. Place on center oven rack and cook for about 10-12 minutes. Remove from heat, gently toss again, and continue to cook up to 5 more minutes or until vegetables begin to brown. 
4. Add roasted vegetables and diced avocado to the cooked quinoa. Give it all a good stir and serve immediately. 
*Top off with cheese if desired (goat cheese is my favorite!) 

A Honeymoon in Maui

You may have thought I was gone for good. Nope! I just had my wedding and honeymoon to attend to, but now I’m back and ready to catch you up on the most amazing past week and a half of my lifeeeee!

I have some pictures from the wedding day that friends and family put on my Facebook and our personalized Wedding Party page (it’s an app where people can join your “party” using a certain code and add pictures from the event – highly recommended for future brides!). But I’m going to wait until I have pictures from our photographer to put any on here. If you follow me on Instagram, you can get a sneak peak, if you haven’t already.

For now we’ll just recap the honeymoon in Maui. We ate a lot of food…a lot of delicious food.

papaya bowl
Papaya Delight from Kihei Caffe.
fruit
So much fresh fruit at all times!

mac nut pancakes
Pancakes with local banana and macadamia nuts (“mac nuts”) from Moana.

taco mountain
Best fish tacos ever. Greg had the tacos while I had the Taco Mountain, which includes all of the same ingredients served over rice instead of tortillas. From Coconuts Fish Cafe.

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We attended the Old Lahaina Luau one night and had the best time. It was all you can eat and drink, with a hula show for entertainment. My plate consisted of grilled veggies, sweet potatoes (purple sweet potatoes!), fish, more fruit and banana bread. Side note – I want to be a hula dancer.

Half Kalua Pork (BBQ pork, onion, pineapple, and a variety of cheeses) and half of the veggie special (asparagus, tomatoes, goat cheese, and a balsamic reduction sauce)…AAAAmazing. From Flatbread Co.

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Shave Ice – a traditional Hawaiian dessert. I got a scoop of macadamia nut ice cream on the bottom of bowl, topped with coconut shave ice and sweetened condensed cream. From Ululani’s Shave Ice.

gelato
“Sandy Beach” gelato (a mix of salted caramel, peanut butter and coconut) from Ono Gelato.

mac nut ice cream
Like I needed more ice cream…Mac Nut Ice Cream from the Halfway to Hana stand. 
Other places I highly recommend if you ever go to Maui: 

As you can tell, we fed ourselves very well on our trip. We didn’t spend a lot of money on anything else besides the basic travel accommodations (flight, hotel/cottage, rental car) so we wanted to eat up (literally and figuratively) as much of the culture as we could. Maybe this was just us trying to make ourselves feel better for all of the eating out, but Greg and I both noticed an overall healthy trend when it came to food. Hawaiians seem to really focus on local, organic, all-natural, vegetarian/vegan options. While we didn’t eat many salads, our meals centered around lots of fresh fruits, veggies and fish…oh yeah, and then there was the shave ice, gelato and ice cream 😉 Have any of you ever been to Hawaii? Tell me about your trip! I’m so in love with Hawaii now, I could talk about it all the time.

A Restaurant Review – Purée Organic Café

I already told you about my very first visit to this new café in Mt. Pleasant last week, and I wasn’t lying when I said I couldn’t wait to get back for more! Sunday brunch was calling my name from the second I woke up yesterday. Greg must have thought I looked extra pretty after church, because I could tell he wasn’t thrilled about going out to eat and spending more money, but obliged with my request begging anyway. 

I had been craving pancakes most of last week, but then I saw Purée update their Facebook page on Saturday night with their brunch menu. First on the list: Banana Bread French Toast ($11). I instantly knew pancakes, my go-to brunch meal, wouldn’t be an easy choice like they so often are. 


When we walked into the restaurant, we were seated by the owner Jenan at a booth right by a window (as the majority of the seating is). After taking a few minutes to peruse the menu, I told Jenan I was torn between the french toast and pancakes. She told me the french toast really was awesome and that was all it took to sell me on that one. 

These two extra thick slices of banana bread were created into the most perfectly delicious french toast I have ever had. The outsides were crispy, while the middle was soft and dense. I was even surprised to find some nuts mixed throughout for some extra crunch (just like in the chocolate chip cookies).  
Happy, happy brunch-er you see right there!
The toast was so moist that I hardly even need syrup at all. Butttttt, that doesn’t mean I didn’t take the opportunity to make it just a little sweeter anyway 😉
Although this organic, vegan-friendly restaurant doesn’t necessarily cater towards Greg’s typical diet, he was ultimately happy with his meal as well. 
He chose the BBQ Sausage Tempeh Burger ($11), which is topped with onions, avocado and cheddar cheese.

Neither of us actually knew what tempeh was, but Jenan was so helpful in explaining everything to us. It is a soy-based product, kind of link tofu, and serves as an alternative to meat. 
Greg ate the entire thing before I was halfway through with my toast. Either he was extremely hungry or the burger was extremely good. I bet it was a little of both. 
Side note (unrelated to the food), I loved this hutch that was right across from us. Isn’t it adorable?
When it was time to go, we went to the front counter to pay and I couldn’t help but reexamine the bakery case full of nut breads, cookies, cupcakes and muffins. If it wasn’t for the french toast already filling me up, I would have jumped at a Triple Chocolate Cupcake too.
Purée has done a great job so far in my book: cookies, french toast, decor, service. It’s all be fantastic. Jenan even told me they are planning on starting dinner service within a few weeks!
One thing I was not overly thrilled with was the cost. It was not unreasonable, but for $11, I was expecting the “fresh fruit” that came with my toast to consist of more than just a single sliced strawberry (although, the presentation was pretty). Greg said the same about his dish. Again, for $11, he was barely filled up and could have used a side dish to go along with it. 
Regardless, the food is excellent and you know you are getting quality, nutritious ingredients. I highly recommend Purée to anyone looking for something fresh and delicious. 
Puree - Organic Cafe and Baby Goods on Urbanspoon

Puree – It’s Not Just for Babies!

The other day I was walking by a coworker’s desk to ask her a question and noticed she was eating a nice big chocolate chip cookie. Suddenly I had a more important question to ask her. “Where did you get that?!”
She told me about Puree, a new organic cafe in Mt. Pleasant, that offers plenty of vegan and gluten free options for breakfast and lunch, as well as a variety of baked goods. When I saw on their Facebook page that they were having a Grand Opening celebration scheduled for yesterday afternoon, I just had to check it out. 
The menu offers food for everyone in the family, from babies to adults. I was a little hesitant to go inside without a baby in my arms, but quickly realized it didn’t matter in the least. I was instantly greeted by the owner’s mother who was so friendly and helpful. 
They were offering samples of their Spinach Pies and I wasn’t sure what to expect, but they were delicious!
I had a packed lunch waiting for me at the office, so I had to pass on the wraps and salads. Instead I chose something sweeter to save for after lunch.
The chocolate cupcakes looked tasty, but the chocolate chip cookies that drew me there in the first place were calling my name.

I snagged one for myself and one to bring back to my friend that recommended them to me. The cookies had chopped pecans mixed in as well, which gave them a perfect crunchy contrast to the chewiness.

I can’t wait to go back to try breakfast and lunch!

Puree - Organic Cafe and Baby Goods on Urbanspoon