Vanilla Cupcake {w} Nutella Whipped Frosting

Let's talk the cup-cake. Now, some might argue that the frosting is the star, but not for me. I'm a cake snob. It must be perfect. It must be light, but not so light it crumbles apart. There needs to be a dense-ness to it, without it being dense like a pound cake. It must be moist, but not so moist that it seems underdone {best moistness test being... is it still moist the next day}.

A basic Vanilla Cupcake is like a blank canvas. You can do anything with a really good Vanilla Cupcake. Any topping, any filling, any frosting, or any combination of the 3. It's a license to be creative and have fun. This also means that the Vanilla cake must be outstanding and must hold all of the qualities I've mentioned above. Lucky for you, I've made made enough cupcakes over the last 6 years, and tested enough recipes that I have found the Perfect Vanilla Cupcake.

This Vanilla Cupcake recipe is adapted from a food blog titled Cookies & Cups. There are a few things I've learned from this recipe. Mixing order & temperature of the ingredients do matter! I prefer slightly chilled ingredients as opposed to room temperature, like this recipe calls for. Following the order of instruction is even more important, as this recipe will fail you if you deviate or are impatient and just want to throw everything in. Trust me, I've failed so you won't have to.

Photo Credit Given to Cookie & Cups

Isn't that most perfect looking cupcake ever? Perfect dome on top {always the sign of a good cake} and if you look really close, you can actually see it's moistness.

Perfect Vanilla Cupcake
Recipe Adapted From: Cookies & Cups
  • 1 3/4 cup Cake Flour {recipe for DIY cake flour to follow}
  • 1 1/4 cup All Purpose Flour
  • 1 3/4 cup Sugar
  • 2 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1 tsp Kosher Salt
  • 1 cup Butter, cut into small pieces {cold, not quite at room temperature}
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup Milk (2% or whole)
  • 2 1/2 tsp Vanilla 
To Make the Cupcakes --
  1. Preheat oven to 350°
  2. Line cupcake pan with cupcake liners.
  3. In bowl of stand mixer add the first 5 ingredients and stir together using paddle attachment for about a minute. Enough to get them nice and combined.
  4. With mixer on low, drop in butter, mixture resembles coarse sand {no large chunks remain}.
  5. Add eggs one at a time on low speed.
  6. With mixer still on low slowly pour in milk and vanilla. Turn mixer to medium and beat for 2 minutes until batter is smooth, scraping sides of bowl as needed.
  7. Fill liners 2/3 full and bake for 18-20 minutes until centers are set and toothpick comes out clean.
  8. Allow to cool in cupcake pan for a few minutes before removing.
  9. Allow to cool completely before frosting.
DIY Cake Flour -- if you don't have Cake Flour on hand, don't going running to the store. It's super easy to make on your own, and you are likely to have what you need at home. In a sifter or sieve, add 1 3/4 cups of All Purpose Flour then add 4 Tbsp {equal to 1/4 cup} of Cornstarch and then sift several times until well combined. You'll end up with 2 cups of Cake Flour. Use what you need an then store the rest in a Ziploc bag.

This frosting is for the die hard Nutella lover {like my daughter}. "Tasty" could not adequately describe the delicious goodness that is Nutella Whipped Frosting. You are in for a real treat with this one. Paired with the Perfect Vanilla Cupake makes it -- well, perfect. I'm already planning on making these again later this week, but this time, I may dunk the tops of the cupcakes first in melted chocolate. Sinful, I know.

Nutella Whipped Frosting
  • 1 cup Butter, at room temperature
  • 1 - 13 oz container of Nutella {which is a little more than a cup and half, but really, I couldn't just leave one lonely ounce in the container to store}.
  • 4 cups Powdered Sugar
  • 1 tsp Vanilla
  • 2-4 Tbsp Heavy Cream
 To Make the Frosting --
  1. Combine Butter and Nutella in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.   
  2. Whisk on high until combined, scraping the sides often.
  3. Add Vanilla and Powdered Sugar, one cup at a time until combined.
  4. Add Heavy Cream {last} 1 Tbsp at a time until you reach the desired consistency.
  5. Continue to whisk on high until light and fluffy {about a minute more}.
Enjoy. I sure did. In fact, you may need to prepare yourself with an excuse for eating one for breakfast the next morning. My excuse was "it's supposed to be Spring, but it's snowing outside and I woke up with a stuffy nose, therefore deserve a cupcake for breakfast." Totally legit, don't you think?

Baltimore, MD

The best thing about Baltimore was the Braised Beef Stuffed Tortellini in a Ramano Cream Sauce I found in "Little Italy" a few blocks from hotel. I'm still dreaming about it.

The worst thing about Baltimore was the $99 seafood appetizer which included raw oysters of which my colleagues forced me to try. I'm still having nightmares about it. Sorry about the dark picture. It was taken at one of those restaurants that think they are extra fancy if they turn down the lights.

There is a picture of me almost throwing back up the oyster, however, I think I've paid off enough people to keep it off of social media. I hope.


Blendtec Green Monster Smoothie

I didn't put up a new smoothie recipe last week, but I have a good excuse. We liked the Green Detox Smoothie so much we actually continued to make it two weeks in a row! I was asked what the "detox" part of the smoothie was, and I'll be honest -- I don't know. Maybe the ginger? 

This weeks smoothie recipe I adapted from a Blendtec smoothie recipe called the Green Monster Smoothie. I was hesitant to try it, because of the addition of Mango's. The Merkley's just aren't big fans. But I am finding that I love smoothies with green apples, so I thought we'd give it a try.

Photo Credit Given to Blendtec

Now, I've really enjoyed all the smoothies I've made so far. But this one, I really love! There is a lot more spinach in this smoothie than the others, so prepare yourself for a more dominant spinach flavor than the past smoothies. But who are we trying to fool? The reason we add greens to a smoothie is because we want the veggies, without actually eating raw veggies? But don't worry, you'll still detect the sweetness of the Mango and the tartness of the Apple. It was super refreshing!

Green Monster Smoothie
Recipe Adapted from: Blendtec Green Monster Smoothie
MAKES 40 OUNCES - 2 SERVINGS (282 Calories Per Serving)
  • 1 Banana
  • 2 cups Frozen Mango Chunks
  • 2 small Granny Smith Apples
  • 4 cups Baby Spinach
  • 8 oz Trop 50 Orange Juice
  • 4 oz Water
  • 1 cup Ice Cubes
Place all ingredients in your blender, secure lid and blend until smooth. I used the "Smoothie" button on my Blendtec, which blends for roughly 36 seconds.

If you haven't been following my weekly smoothie posts, you can read up about it HERE. I also include a few things I've learned about buying produce, prepping the fruits and a few tips for making smoothies fast and easy.

The End of Another Season

We could let the season end without one more trip up the mountain for some fun. I've been nursing a CrossFit knee injury and knew the second I put my boots on that it was a bad idea.

But it was worth it!

The sun was shining, the skies were clear blue...

And a couple of inches of new snow had fallen overnight. P-E-R-F-E-C-T conditions for a fair weather skier, such as myself.


It was the perfect way to send off winter and welcome our next favorite season.... SOCCER season!


To be clear, Chris turned 40. I'm still in my very early 30's.

I met Chris when he was 26 and he already had a little salt and pepper in his hair. I'm told that's what they call graying {very} pre-maturely. Well, now that he's turned 40, I guess he has an excuse, right?

Brielle took her own money, and walked to Macey's after school to collect all the candy she'd need for her dad's special birthday poster. It reads...

Turning 40 is nothing to "Snicker" about! Your joints have already begun to "Crunch," you've started to have "Butterfingers" and your mind is playing "Twix" on you! But we wouldn't trace you for "100 Grand" because you are "Mounds" of fun! We hopd you don't think we're "Nerds" for making this card, but a "Hot Tamales" like yourself needs "Extra" attention on your Birthday! Love, your "SweeTarts" and your "AirHead"

Chris also woke up to find that his truck have been decorated by some friends...

Later in the week, I received a text from Chris (who was at the Sportsman's Expo in Salt Lake) which read "You bought me a new fly fishing pole for my birthday! Thanks babe!" He was most certainly welcome and I sure do appreciate him making his 40th birthday easy on me!


Green Detox Smoothie

This weeks smoothie comes from a blog called "Gimme Some Oven." We stocked up on spinach, bananas and giant bag of frozen pineapple chunks from Costco, so I hit up Pinterest for a tropical green smoothie with those primary ingredients. Plus, the word "detox" makes it sound so much more healthy, right?

If you haven't read my previous posts, we've been buying fruit in bulk to keep the costs of making daily smoothies down. Then we make the same smoothie all the week long to use up our supply before the fruit spoils.

Aside from spinach and kale, I haven't ventured out to add other veggies to my morning smoothies. I'm just not that brave. But I thought to myself... how bad could a single stalk of celery be? It wasn't.... bad.... but the bitter celery flavor was certainly at the forefront on my first sip. The more I drank, the less it bothered me. After a few sips, I tasted mostly pineapple.

The original recipe recommends adding chia seeds. Now, I've read up on health benefits of chia seeds and they are certainly a good source of fiber, antioxidants and omega-3. But I'm curious -- does it change the flavor of the smoothies at all (for those who have tried)? Not to mention, I'll need to find another place (locally) besides Macey's that sells the stuff (holy smokes -- $11.00 for a small bag).
Photo Credit Given to Gimme Some Oven

Green Detox Smoothie
Recipe Adapted from: Gimme Some Oven (Link HERE)
MAKES 4 CUPS - 2 SERVINGS (238 Calories Per Serving)
  • 1 Banana
  • 3 cups Frozen Pineapple Chunks
  • 2 cups Baby Spinach
  • 1 Celery Stalk
  • 1 Tbsp Ginger (really, just to taste)
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 8 oz Water
Place all ingredients in your blender, secure lid and blend until smooth. I used the "Smoothie" button on my Blendtec, which blends for roughly 36 seconds.