Thursday, April 17, 2014

Coconut Nest Cupcakes

Hi guys! I'm pretty thrilled to be sharing a super cute recipe with you today just in time for Easter- Coconut Nest Cupcakes! Even though they look a bit time consuming, I promise you they are super easy to put together AND a total blast to make. I had way too much fun baking these up on Sunday and then proceeded to have WAY too much fun photographing these cute little guys. On top of all of that, coconut cake is one of my all-time favorite things, so I was a real happy camper.

Now, we've talked about this before, but it's been a while, so I figure it's worth reiterating. I'm a gluten free eater (out of necessity, mind you), and over the last 5 years have struggled with finding a good cake recipe that yielded consistent results. I've had cakes that rose beautifully and then sunk like a pancake as soon as I took them out of the oven, I've had them so crumbly that they practically disintegrate the second you pick it up, and I've had dry, dense, and awful.

I grew up in a family that prided itself on making homemade cakes and never using cake mix, so I've always been reluctant to bake with a mix. After years of frustrating gluten free cake baking, though, I figured it wouldn't hurt to try. So, I tried Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Vanilla Cake Mix, and let me tell you, it is a godsend. Perfectly textured cake that always rises, tastes amazing, and is easy to customize.

So... why am I rambling on about this? Well, because I used it to make this recipe! Today's recipe is going to focus more on how to customize an existing recipe, how to make some dreamy coconut frosting, and of course, how to make cupcakes that look like adorable little bird's nests. Let's hop to it! (Ha! Easter pun!)
Coconut Nest Cupcakes

Ingredients:

For the cake:
- Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Vanilla Cake Mix plus the ingredients stated on the package OR your favorite yellow cake recipe
- 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
- 3 tsp coconut extract

For the frosting:
- 3 sticks unsalted butter, softened, and cut into 24 pieces
- 3 tbsp heavy cream
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tsp coconut extract
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 12oz (3 cups) confectioner's sugar

For the decoration:
- 1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
- Cadbury Mini Eggs- enough for 3 per cupcake. Let's just say, a whole package should be more than enough, but all of them had been used in some capacity by the time I was done baking. Ahem.

1. Make your cupcake batter according to the recipe, adding the unsweetened shredded coconut and coconut extract before doing the final mixing.

2. Bake your cupcakes according to your recipe and let cool completely.
3. Spread your sweetened shredded coconut onto a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for about 8 minutes in an oven preheated to 350°F. To avoid burning, be sure to stir your coconut at least once during the baking process. You'll know it's done when it's fragrant and golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool completely.
4. To make the coconut frosting, begin by beating the butter, cream, vanilla extract, coconut extract, and salt together on medium-high (with a handheld or stand mixer) until smooth (1-2 minutes).

5. Lower the speed to medium-low and slowly add the sugar. Beat until smooth, about 1-2 minutes.

6. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat for 3-5 minutes. When you're done, you should have an impossibly creamy, fluffy, dreamy, coconut-y frosting!
7. Load your frosting into a piping bag fitted with number 22 star tip, and pipe frosting onto your cupcakes. If you don't have a piping bag, you can always use a knife, but be sure to build up some height with your frosting so the coconut will have a place to sit.
8. Place 3 of the mini-eggs in the center of each frosted cupcake, pressing them in lightly to secure them.
9. Then, sprinkle your toasted coconut around the perimeter of the eggs to form a little nest! This bit can be kind of messy, so I would recommend doing this over a plate to contain the mess. You may need to lightly press the coconut into the frosting to help it stay in place.
10. Sit back and admire your handiwork!
Seriously, ya'll, how cute are these? I had SO much fun making them, and even more fun photographing them and eating them!

I hope you get to try your hand at making these soon and hope you have a happy Easter!

XOXO
Becca
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Monday, April 14, 2014

Dreamy Daffodils

 Glasses: BonLook
Necklace: c/o Woodii
Dress: Diane von Furstenburg (SUPER on sale years ago)
Tights: Nordstrom

Well golly it sure has been nice around here! Between the sunny skies, longer days, and pretty blooms everywhere (of course alternating with lots of rain), it sure is starting to feel like spring!

I was looking through my closet over the weekend, seeing what pretty frocks I could pull out of the woodwork (and taking note of how desperately my closet needs a purging, yikes), when I pulled out this dress. It's definitely one of my favorite dresses ever. I was thumbing through a sale rack at Nordstrom something like 7 years ago when I found this dreamy daffodil printed dress by Diane von Furstenburg that was marked down to something like 75% off. The print is a little bolder than what I would usually wear at the time, but once I tried it on, I knew it needed to come home with me.

I adore the daffodil print on this dress, can't get over how flattering the cut is, and love that it has pockets (duh). What's not to love? Since we had such a gorgeous weekend, it had to get worn.

Other than wearing awesome daffodil print dresses, the weekend was fairly uneventful. I spent most of the weekend at home relaxing, cleaning, and cooking. I made some really cute cupcakes for Easter that I'll be sharing later this week, and also made some chili!

I've been really trying to take to heart one of my goals for the year, which is to eat better. I've been doing really well with it lately, but with Easter coming up, I obviously needed to whip up something to sate my sweet tooth. We'll talk more about cupcakes later this week- promise!

Did you guys get up to anything fun this weekend?

XOXO
Becca
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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Happy Birthday, Buddy and Hank!

Happy birthday to Buddy and Hank! These two goofballs are 2 years old today and just as cute as ever. I brought Buddy and Hank home when they were 4 months old and honestly could not resist these two little trouble makers. They're brothers, best friends, partners in crime, and the sweetest companions a gal could have. 

I'm so happy I have these two little critters in my life. They make me laugh and smile my face off every single day with their cuteness, sweetness, and crazy antics. 

Happy birthday, Buddy and Hank! You guys are the best!

XOXO
Becca
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Monday, April 7, 2014

Transitional

 Glasses: Andy Wolf Eyewear
Dress: Anthropologie/Similar
Belt: Anthropologie/Similar
Tights: Nordstrom
Shoes: Swedish Hasbeens/Similar

Hi guys! Sorry things have been a bit quiet around here lately! I'm now 1 month in to my new job and really loving it. I'm learning a lot, and love feeling like I'm working in an environment that I can actively contribute to. It's pretty great!

While the new job is awesome, I'm going through a phase where I'm really re-adjusting to have a good work/life/blog balance. I'm working 8 hours+ more a week than I did at my previous job, so I've lost a good chunk of the time I was previously able to devote to blogging. I still love having this blog and being a part of this amazing community, but I've had to cut back to maintain myself stay in a good place and not get too stressed out. I'm hoping that as I continue to adjust to my new schedule, I'll be able to find a bit more time to devote to sharing recipes and projects. I've always loved doing those posts, but they're admittedly quite time consuming. Thanks for bearing with me the last month while things have been so quiet around here!

Speaking of transitions, I always have such a hard time with my wardrobe when we get to this time of year. It's warmer, but not warm. It's sunny one minute, and raining the next. Does anyone else feel like when spring rolls around you have to be prepared for all sorts of weather on any given day? I'm finding that while I'm definitely bringing more summery pieces into my wardrobe, I still need to rock a pair of tights and keep some cozier pieces on hand. Which is to say, spring is still all about layering!

One of my favorite layering pieces right now is this gorgeous scarf from Conversation Pieces. I'm completely in love with the color and pattern and am finding that it's the perfect weight to keep me cozy, without being overwhelmingly hot like a lot of my winter scarves. It's all about good layering pieces!

Weekend-wise, things were relatively quiet. Friday night I ran some errands and caught up on Scandal (OMG!!!!!!), Saturday I had breakfast and did some shopping with my friend, Michele, and then had dinner and drinks with my friend Levi, later on. Sunday, I honestly lazed in bed with the cats longer than I care to admit, before doing some last minute tidying up and cooking. It was a pretty low-key weekend, but it was nice to recharge.

Today it's supposed to be in the 70s (!!!) so I'm hoping I'll get to spend some time outside even though I'll be working all day.

How was your weekend? Did you get up to anything fun?

XOXO
-Becca
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Monday, March 31, 2014

Black and White and Green All Over

 Glasses: BonLook
T-Shirt: Anthropologie/Similar
Necklace: A gift from my old co-workers
Belt: Anthropologie/Similar
Skirt: ModCloth
Tights: Nordstrom

Oh man, was this weekend ever typical for Seattle spring. Yes, it may look gloriously sunny in these photos, (and it was!), but just the day before it had been pouring rain. There was thunder and lightning and everything! Oh, spring weather.

Well, despite the pouring rain, the sunshine on Sunday sure made for a nice weekend! Now that it's starting to warm up a bit and we're having some dry days here and there, I've been busting out my favorite warmer weather pieces, like these dreamy Swedish Hasbeens. Even after practically living in these puppies last summer, I still can't get over the cute cut-outs on these shoes. So in love. I also finally ironed my favorite green skirt, so I decided to pair the two with a striped t-shirt and some black tights.

Now, you may not realize it, but I just about never wear black. I recently stated to Katie, that I was trying to branch out a bit by bringing some black into my wardrobe, and we had a good giggle about how wearing black is a daring fashion choice for me. I'm such a weirdo.

As far as the weekend goes, I spent Saturday doing a cooking experiment, which you'll be hearing about eventually, and watching Golden Girls. Hey, sometimes you gotta get your lazy on. Also, Golden Girls is kind of the best show ever, so no shame there!

Sunday I met up with Katie and Jeremy for brunch. We ate some ridiculously good food, gossiped, and generally had a blast. After brunch, we all watched a few episodes of the current season of RuPaul's Drag Race. Do you guys watch? If you are, who are your favorite queens this season? I'm dying over Darrien Lake, Adore, and Bianca. If you don't watch, you definitely should. It's too good! Katie had never seen it before, so Jeremy and I had fun filling her in on everything, and we collectively cackled away.

I should have done some serious cleaning, but I didn't manage to take care of much. I swear, one of these days I'll get all my cleaning done, but alas, there just were not enough hours in the weekend this week.

Did you guys get up to anything fun this weekend?

XOXO
Becca