Friday, December 1, 2017

Dairy Free Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cinnamon Buttercream Frosting

I have been on the quest for Dairy Free Food, since my son was diagnosed with a dairy allergy in 2015. Many people confuse this with being Lactose Intolerant. But he actually has, a full blown allergy to dairy. So since then, I have learned to cook dairy free, and I have also learned how to read a label with a fine tooth comb.

So in my quest, I have signed up for a few vegan recipe emails. Even though we aren't Vegans, I have come across some great desserts. I have tweaked them, as I'm not opposed to using eggs, but I have to tell you, Vegans know how to do some great desserts!

On to the pumpkin cupcakes... I'm not a big pumpkin fan, but my dairy free teenager is, so when I saw this recipe I had to try it. And it's DELICIOUS! I even thought so, the pumpkin isn't over powering, there is just a hint of pumpkin flavor.

Whenever I come across something that's dairy free and mouth watering, I have to share it!

I will do just that... Here's some deliciousness for you...


DAIRY FREE PUMPKIN CUPCAKES

2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 1/2 cups pumpkin pie filling
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 egg

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix the sugars, pumpkin pie filling, vanilla extract, olive oil, apple cider vinegar and egg in a mixing bowl. In a 2nd bowl mix flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and pumpkin pie spice. When both bowls of ingredients are individually mixed, combine the sugar mixture into the flour mixture and mix thoroughly. The batter will be thick, much like a muffin mix.

Line your cupcake pan with liners and divide batter evenly between them. I found that the batter makes 12 perfect large cupcakes.

Bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick poked into the center of one of the cupcakes, comes out clean. 

Transfer to a rack, and let cool completely before frosting.

DAIRY FREE CINNAMON BUTTERCREAM FROSTING

3 cups powdered Sugar
1/3 cup vegan butter (we love smart balance)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp plain almond milk

Combine all of the frosting ingredients in a bowl, mix with an electric mixer on low speed to start, working up to a regular speed, keep mixing until frosting is smooth.
Spoon frosting into a bag and pipe on top of the cupcakes.

Sprinkle with crushed pecans and cinnamon sugar.

This frosting is super rich and oh so sweet and delicious! 

In my wildest dreams, I wish that these were fat and calorie free as well :) But not everything in life can be perfect... right? 

I will say that the cupcakes bake quite thick, but not as thick as a muffin. 

The dairy free alternative that we prefer to use, there are several different options to choose from
Ahhh... Sugar sugar and more sugar
Just call me Betty Crocker!
If you bake these, you won't regret it!

I did tweak this recipe, but the original came from Loving it Vegan I did ask for her permission, before using her recipe on my blog, tweaks and all!
I hope you have a wonderful weekend, It's December, It's the final countdown to Christmas! Have a wonderful weekend.
Tammy x

Monday, November 27, 2017

Homemade Baked Cinnamon Ornaments

The desire to write and get back into the blogging world over came me, I thought I would have all the time in the world, since moving to Washington State from Austin, Texas. Especially while looking for work. Well. I was wrong. That whole "time" thing, didn't end up being consumed with blogging.

I found, that since I was home again, even if it were  just for a brief time, I started doing some of the things that I have always wanted to do. Like bake! I have friends that bake, and I was quite happy to let them do all of the kitchen duties, until one of my sons became Dairy Free. Now I'm always on the look out for Dairy Free options, and have now had the time to cook and bake them! I've had a lot of fun, I forgot how much I like to be in the kitchen. Ironically, these ornaments are Dairy Free as well, but DO NOT EAT THEM. No no no. Not for eating! In future posts, I would like to share the edible versions of my dairy free baking.

I love making Christmas ornaments, I think it gives the holiday an old fashioned feel. Every year I make and give away ornaments. This year, with the ornaments I chose to make, it will be hard to send them in the mail, but I will enjoy having these lovelies on our tree and They smell DIVINE!!

When the ornaments are baking, the whole house smells of cinnamon. I have a thing for cinnamon, I love the smell of it and the taste of it... I can't get enough cinnamon!

These ornaments smell good enough to eat, but again... these ornaments are NOT Edible.

To make them you will need a lot of cinnamon, so these are not the cheapest ornaments to make, but they are worth every penny. Did I mention they smell exquisite? 

There are 2 mandatory ingredients for this recipe, but I also added Ground Cloves. 

Mandatory Ingredients
1.5 Cup Cinnamon
1 Cup Applesauce

Optional Ingredient
1 Tbsp Ground Cloves

You can purchase very large containers of cinnamon at Walmart for around $8
This is not a specific recipe, you can play around with it a lot. You need to mix the 3 ingredients until  a ball forms, (as if you were making bread). If it's too sticky, add cinnamon and if it's too dry, add applesauce.

Before you begin to flatten your ball of cinnamon ornament dough, make sure that you have a surface covered in cinnamon, you will need a lot of cinnamon for the rolling out. I even had to rub cinnamon on my rolling pin and some of the cookie cutters, as the dough is very sticky.
It's very messy, but a lot of fun!
I played around a bit with the thickness of my dough, the nicest ornaments were the ones that I cut roughly half an inch thick.
I used regular Christmas cookie cutters, but I also used some vintage cutters. It was the first time I have used the vintage cookie cutters since inheriting them from my mom. She used to always complain about the dough getting stuck in them. I can now relate! But I just dusted the cookie cutters with cinnamon, and it worked... mostly!
Then other times, it didn't work...
Even when they finally came unstuck, there were sometimes casuallties...
Poor Cinnamon dough boy.
Once all ornaments have been cut, place them on top of parchment paper, on a cookie sheet.
Before baking, don't forget to poke a little hole in each one. I used the tip of a chopstick, it was the perfect sized hole.
Bake at 200 degrees for about an hour and a half. Take them out once they are rock hard. The whole house will smell of deliciousness.
And seriously... How cute are they?
                    The ones I cut out with the vintage cookie cutters, were especially adorable.
After they cool, string them up...
I made a star garland as well... I hung it on the wall as a decoration, I'm thinking it would look good on the Christmas tree as well.
This is the first time I have made these ornaments, so I don't know how long they will last, but they are really sturdy, I haven't had one break and I have a feeling that they will last for years. They smell great as well!

I love an old fashioned looking ornament, and these do just the trick
If you make your own cinnamon/applesauce ornaments, please let me know, so I can see how yours turned out!
I hope you're having a wonderful Christmas season!
Tammy 

Original adaptation from here

Sunday, November 12, 2017

50 Words

My 50 Words
1. Mother
2. Friend
3. Sister
4. Daughter
5. Traveler
6. Encourager
7. Optimist
8. Funny
9. Dreamer
10. Environmentalist
11. Feminine
12. Kind
13. Generous
14. Blessed
15. Recycler
16. Upcycler
17. Curious
18. Organized
19. Intelligent
20. Fun
21. Reader
22. Writer
23. Explorer
24. Strong
25. Lover
27. Tenacious
28. Sporadic
29. Emotional
30. Crafter
31. Crocheter
32. Blogger
33. Protector
34. Devoted
35. Reliable
36. Snorer
37. Saver
38. Investor
39. Listener
40. Thinker
41. Artist
42. Believer
43. Prayer
44. Snuggler
45. Professional
46. Stubborn
47. Communicator
48. Friendly
49. Student
50. Eager
I feel these are my 50 Words.
They describe me.
What are your 50?

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Travel Destinations 2018

Whenever I can see a new year creeping in on the horizon, the only thing that I can think of, besides "Did this year go fast, or is it just me?".. I always consider my travel destination. Where I want to go, What I want to see, Where I want to take my children and how many places can I afford to visit? 

My 15 year old has taken to telling me, as of late, that traveling is just wasting my money. After I passed out cold, I came to, and let that statement settle in my brain cells for a few seconds. The thing is, and I told my son, this IS what I want to spend my money on. I want to travel. I want to see things. I want to meet new people. I want to take trains, planes, buses and boats! The inside of an airport isn't stressful to me, it's electric energy! Fully charged with eager people, waiting to reach dream destinations! (Business travelers may disagree :)

Though I have not yet worked out all of the dates, as any mom I have to work around school dates, schedules and work. I know that these are some of the places we want to travel this year. My 12 year old daughter is a huge collaborating force in where I travel these days. She loves to travel, honestly, I thought I was a wanderluster. I've created quite the little travel bug.

So here we go.

In January, I like to bring the new year in while in London, that won't change this year. I spend Christmas with my children and then leave on Boxing day for London. 

In February, Hannah and I are planning on freezing our buns off a bit and flying to Iceland, because seeing the northern lights would be phenomenal! I haven't seen them since I lived in Maine in the early 80's.
In March I want to do a couple of local trips. We only just moved to Washington State 3 weeks ago and I found out today that there is a glass museum in Tacoma. 
Complete need right? Need to visit! The good news is it's only 30 minutes drive from us and there is a Natural History Museum as well. So Tacoma it is. I have actually heard negative things about this small city, so I'm intent on finding the good!
We will also be going to Seattle in March. I figure after a very long winter, Seattle will be just the ticket. I mean, who doesn't want to see the gum wall? I'll instinctively complain about how gross it is, and then add my very own chewed piece :) 
Then there is the Pike Market, Space Needle and another glass museum.
This one looks phenomenal
Images from The Trover Website
I'm super excited about what I'm planning for April 
I'm planning a trip to Juan Island to Whale Watch! It's like a serious check off of the ole bucket list, it's right up there with watching Sea Turtles hurry back to sea after hatching. I'm seriously beside myself!
To be honest, May is still undecided. It's my birthday month, and I just don't know where I want to go! I'll poke into London at some point... I'm sure... Maybe I will just hang around home. Maybe. 
June is the Red Wood forest in California ... More super excitement. I have a thing for trees. They are true loves. There is one right outside my friends house in Ireland that I adore and another one by Tower Bridge that I love. Honestly, I'm not a weirdo. I just love trees! 
July and August is all about the kids, it's summer vacation... and since we are in a new State. We are going to explore Washington. On the Agenda... Mount Rainier, Mount St. Helen, Ruby Beach and Olympic State Park
August brings us Europe. Hannah and I will be creeping our way through Europe again. 2018 we are going to Greece (Athens and Santorini) and Italy (Venice and Rome). We are slowly making our way around Europe, in summer 2017 we went to Limerick and Paris, it was our second trip to Limerick, and yes... we will go again. There is just something about Ireland, it's breathtaking and peaceful. 
The coming year though, it's Greece and Italy. There aren't enough adjectives in the world to describe our elation!
Is there anything more exciting than packing, knowing you're going on an incredible journey? Almost all travel is educational, but this one will be especially educational for myself and my daughter. Roman and Greek history? I can hardly contain myself!
October, November, December
Very often, we enjoy the holidays with family. Family is very important to me and I like the holidays to be ground in tradition. The older the kids get, the more I would rather have experiences for them, instead of presents under the Christmas tree, but with having 5 kids, 3 already adults, those experiences aren't always easy to arrange. So I'm often playing these 3 months by ear. Because I know at some point, I will be able to spend time with all of them. We live in different States, so travel will be involved some how. 

I have a real itch to go to Boston and Charleston as well. 
Maybe I'll win the lottery and be able to squeeze them in! 
So many places to go!
So few days off of work :)

Thanks for stopping by,
Tammy

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Under The Sea Birthday Party

Ahhhh… the things my gorgeous little girl talks me in to.

For her 12th birthday, she insisted that she wanted highlights in her hair. I thought that was a great gift for a birthday gift. I knew I would be charged a lot as she has very long hair, but I didn't mind. She's worth it. But...
Then she asked “Could I just have a few friends over for my birthday?”…. “Sure honey”… “Well mom, I changed my mind, could we all go to the roller rink together? “Sure babe, that sounds like fun”… “But mom, how about if we have a party at the roller rink? And also mom, I want the theme to be ‘Under the Sea’, okay?”

Under the Sea? Like there must be a lot of fish and stuff?

“Mom, I really want a cat too”. 
(Our cat was adopted from the Austin animal shelter, Hannah named her Hope. She has cerebral palsy and she's deaf, but she is the most lovely, amazing little tabby cat) 

I found the greatest party ideas on Pinterest, however, I had never thrown a themed (make everything myself) party before. My boys always asked for specifics, like Superhero’s, Lego or Minecraft. All those things are pretty easy to find, all made up and ready to buy at Target. But Hannah had very specific idea’s in mind and wanted Mermaids and fish!
I have to admit. I enjoyed every minute of the process. But it wasn’t cheap. Since I was no pro at throwing themed parties, I had to buy everything new. And Hannah had very specific ideas of what she wanted.
Even though we had some major fails, (for instance my attempt at jelly fish), but hey, we aren’t all party planner extraordinaire goddesses! 
But being noobies and all...I think we did a pretty good job!

We made everything, including the invitations. AND made BIG MESSES in the process. 
 

I loved molding the chocolate and decided at that moment I could be a chocolatier! (Isn’t it amazing what we can talk ourselves into and back out of  in a matter of 15 minutesJ)
Hannah’s dad was in charge of the anchor (I think he’s quite Handy with a cardboard box and silver spray paint!!)
We adopted out pufferfish.
We wrapped the spoons and forks in rope and lifebuoy’s. (Lifesaver candy and twine)
We had fish snacks (Blue jelly beans and fish crackers)
And Mermaid tail gift bags.
We had drift wood. (Pretzel sticks dipped in chocolate and sprinkled with blue sugar and crushed graham cracker crumbs)
Hannah said these represented sand and water. (Marshmallows dipped in blue chocolate and sprinkled with crushed graham cracker crumbs)
I admit. I ordered the cupcakes. Undecorated, and we put icing and our chocolate shells.
Hannah made bobby pins with shells for all the girls to wear.
 
We then gathered everything up, took it to the Skating rink and decorated there. I wasn’t overly thrilled that the room was orange, but the kids didn’t care.
All in all, I think that everything turned out really cute!
Each girl got cupcake in a cup with purple chocolate coins and sixlets.
The birthday girl got 2 cupcakes
After the cupcakes, pizza and gifts, the girls spent a couple of hours giggling and rollerskating. I didn't manage to get any decent pictures, you know what roller rinks are like, not well lit and kids zipping all over on roller skates. It was so much fun watching my 40 year old brother rip his trousers and watch Hannah's dad fall over. I think the adults did a good job entertaining the girls!
It's not every day that your princess turns 12!

Would I try my hand at another themed party? I think I would. I really enjoyed putting it all together. I don't know if I could have done it without Hannah's great idea's, she could totally be a party planner extraordinaire!
I hope you're having a great week!
Thank you for dropping by,
Tammy