Zucchini with Lemon Cream Cheese

Flashback to June 2013. I laughed in my dad’s face as he suggested a more sugar-free business model for bubbles+sprinkles. I laughed, not because eating healthy isn’t important to me, (I’m what you call an any-vore– I’ll try anything once), but because how much fun is a sugar-free cupcake? Cupcakes, [and bubbly], to me invoke connotations of celebrations, frivolous and serious. I see them as a way to break loose from your daily routine tracking calories and meeting deadlines. But I think I’m eating a bit of humble pie this week, as I tried my hand at Zucchini Cupcakes.

They were inspired by some lovely friends of mine, whom I met while visiting Guatemala. We’ve remained in touch over the past year, so I have to give kudos to the Peters family for this idea.

But guys, it was HARD! Baking with fruit and veggies means that sometimes a couple of iterations of a recipe are necessary. And I have no shame in admitting that this was a two-batch week. The first batch just didn’t dome as much as I would have liked and I didn’t get the cornbread-esque taste that I was going for. I checked. I adjusted. And I’m a fan of the following recipe:

Cupcakes (makes 12):
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 zucchini (10 ounces), coarsely grated (1 1/2 cups)
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Frosting:
  • 16 oz confectioners sugar
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • The juice of a lemon
  • Lemon peel for garnish

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Preheat oven to 375– a bit higher than normal. We’ve got some ingredients here that are a little bit more dense. Line cupcake tin and set aside. Combine cupcake ingredients and fold in zucchini, in large bowl. Here’s the kicker- don’t. over. mix. If you over mix recipes like this one, you’ll create pockets of air in the batter. This is a surefire (heh, pun) way to bake sunken cupcakes. If you’re using an electric mixer, I recommend 1:30 – 2 min on medium. If you’re doing it by hand: 3 min, tops. Fill cupcake liners about 2/3 of the way and bake for 25 minutes (again- a little bit longer).

While your cupcakes cool, let’s whip up some lemon cream cheese frosting. Cream cheese can be sticky to work with, I encourage you to get your hands dirty. Mix all frosting ingredients, ensuring that no seeds from the lemon slip in there. Frost your cupcakes and garnish with slices of lemon peel. I dipped mine in excess sugar for extra sweetness. Another option? Check out this video to learn how to make that perfect curly-Q.

Hope everyone has a great week!

Xo,
Jenna

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Happy Easter!

Man oh man, do my teeth and stomach currently dislike me. They’re so over sugar-laden snacks that just NEED to be sampled. (Market research, right?) Even with the reprieve of my recently-shared Paleo Chocolate Cupcakes, they’re feeling quite disapproving.

Luckily, after this weekend, the Hallmark holidays take a breather for a minute. So I, and the rest of the five-year-old population of Portland, just HAD to indulge in all of the sweets I possibly could for Easter.

Pre-Easter, I was lucky enough to visit Tra’Renee Chambers and the team at Afternoon Live. So I brainstormed. I phoned a friend. I played the 50-50 game. And I asked the audience. The audience (thanks, Lori and Debbie!) was immensely helpful. With their recommendations, Easter Surprise Cupcakes were formulated. Inspired by the (sometimes polarizing) Peep, this dessert is so light and airy, you might feel like you’re floating away. Full video and recipe shared here.

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Hope everyone had a wonderful Easter holiday, and that you’re looking forward to an amazing week ahead.

Xo,
Jenna

Happy Easter!

For those celebrating, the happiest of Easters! As with all holidays, hope you’re surrounded by good food, yummy beverages and great friends and family. I definitely was, and am very thankful for each and every food coma  this weekend. I planned ahead for the mass consumption of deliciousness by running my first half marathon yesterday– the Hop Hop Half. Highly recommend for all runners wanting to try one. It was a beautiful course, 10 miles of which were directly along the Columbia River. Portland weather behaved for about 85% of it before dumping rain/wind/questionable hale (?) on me during the last two miles 🙂 Very glad to check that one off the bucket list, and feel even more entitled than usual to sugar and booze during the rest of the weekend.

Carrot cake cupcakes were a bit of a no-brainer today 🙂 Disclaimer– I normally don’t like carrot cake. I won’t say “hate”, but it’s been a long-time dislike, due to the texture that the carrot creates in what I believe should normally be smooth and (moist). Now however, I think I’ve changed my tune. I’m going to thank my new food processor for that. Less than a minute created a smooth puree of apple sauce, walnuts and carrots which all added their own dynamic layers to the flavor of the cupcakes. Frost with a batch of the most sinful cream cheese frosting I’ve made to date, garnish with an Easter candy of your choice and enjoy with loved ones.

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Recipe (makes 12):

Cupcakes:

  • 2 cups mini carrots (peeled)
  • 1 cup apple sauce
  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp ginger
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil

Frosting:

  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 16 oz powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp heavy cream

Blend apple sauce, carrots and walnuts in food processor until pureed. Combine with dry ingredients and add eggs/vegetable oil. Beat until smooth. Fill cupcake liners and bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes. While cooling, combine frosting ingredients and beat on high power for 4 minutes. Frost and garnish with candy of your choice– jelly beans, Peeps, chocolate, etc. Enjoy!

Any kind of sparkling wine is especially applicable on a fun holiday like today, but in my personal opinion…it should be pink. And pink it was. Lunch today offered multiple complements to the Charles Smith Secco Rosé 2012. The Secco Rosé is super drinkable with flavors of strawberry, cherry and biscotti. It’s a blend of 80% Raboso Piave and 20% Pinot Noir hailing from vineyards in the Piave Valley  in Italy. No photos of the bottle, but here’s an image as reference to find.

secco

Hope everyone has a wonderful week!

Cheers,
Jenna

 

Spicy Red Velvet– Kicking Things Off With a Bang

It’s been a muggy, rainy day in Portland and after I got my full monthly quota of sun yesterday, it seemed like the perfect day to kick off my cupcake and champagne education.

I went back and forth about a good style to start with. I kept reminding myself that cupcakes are a comfort food, and while my goal is to work up to culinary works of beauty, today was all about the “yumminess” factor.

I decided to make a red velvet with cream cheese frosting– and then add a spicy kick. About half of cup of chili powder went into the cupcakes and a couple table spoons of Siracha into the frosting. Totally a risk– there’s only so much that testing the batter can tell you, but I was thrilled with the end result. You get a light zing throughout your bite, but the aftertaste isn’t too intense. About two cups of tiny rainbow sprinkles went into the frosting for an slight crunch and cute/fun/silly factor that I think is essential with any cupcake.

Cupcake 1- Spicy Red Velvet

I’ve tested a couple of sparkling wines this week and I was looking for one that would balance the spice, but not be overpoweringly sweet. I found my winner in Jacob’s Creek’s Chardonnay Pinot Noir Brut Cuvee from SE Australia.

Brut Cuvee’s are going to be more dry than Extra Bruts and less dry than those labeled Suc. This one has a citrus-y kick to it, which worked surprisingly well with the cocoa and spice in my cupcakes.

Jacob's Creek Champ

I’ve kind of given in to the fact that Sunday afternoons will be spent in loose, elastic clothing from now on, but week one was definitely a success. Hope everyone at work is ready for the deluge of cupcakes that are coming in tomorrow. The champagne on the other hand, will definitely be gone by then.:-)

Hope everyone has a wonderful week!

Cheers,
Jenna