Beef Stew with Roasted Garlic

Posted on September 1, 2015

Hi Everybody! Happy September! Although this crazy heat and humidity sure doesn’t feel like September fall is on it’s way, I’m hoping I wake up to a cool and crisp morning one of these days… because I’m so ready for it! As you may be able to tell by another fall themed recipe! I know I’ve shared several different stew recipes with you over the past couple of years, but I couldn’t resist sharing another. Stews are one of my favorites things to cook; not only are they so hearty and cozy, but I also happen to love the slow cooking process. All the chopping, peeling, and stirring is curiously comforting as the ingredients in the big cooking pot begin to fill the kitchen with such warmth and deliciousness! I would also love to make goulash soon too. The flavours are amazing and the food has a very interesting history too. Another thing I love about making stews, is that no stew ever turns out exactly the same; you can add in different herbs, seasonings, vegetables, even meats, depending on what may be in season or what you have on hand, and somehow, it always turns out delicious! I love this particular stew because of all the fresh herbs, but also because of the roasted garlic. It’s a simple way to add more flavor, and really it’s not just for stews, you could use this in any sauce, dip or spread, to give the garlic such great sweetness and softness. Another great thing about stews is that they get better the longer they sit… the flavors marry and intensify, making it the perfect make-ahead meal!

Beef Stew with Roasted GarlicBEEF STEW WITH ROASTED GARLIC
*Serves 4*
(Recipe adapted from Julia Child & Epicurious)

3 1/2 lbs beef, cut into about 1 1/2 inch pieces
1 head of garlic
A couple of tbs of olive oil
2 tbs unsalted butter
1 medium onion, diced
6 carrots
8oz mushrooms, sliced
3 fresh rosemary sprigs
3 fresh thyme sprigs
1 bay leaf
3 – 4 cups beef broth (homemade or low sodium)
2 cups red wine or extra beef broth
3 tbs tomato paste
2 tbs all-purpose flour
Salt & Pepper
To serve with beef stew: crusty white bread and/or mashed potatoes

Beef Stew with Roasted Garlic


1. The first step is a sort of “pre-step” and that’s roasting the garlic! Preheat your oven to 400 deg F and cut the top off your head of garlic. Place the garlic cut side up on a piece of foil, drizzle it with about a tablespoon or so of olive oil, then bring up the sides of the foil and make a little “garlic package”, making sure it’s sealed well. Bake for about 30 – 40 minutes, or until the garlic cloves are nice and soft. Once soft, take the garlic out of the oven, and let it cool a little bit, then squeeze the softened garlic out!

2. While your garlic is roasting, begin cooking your stew. In a large pot, heat up some olive oil and the two tablespoons of butter, and brown your beef. Make sure you do this in a couple of batches so you don’t crowd the pot. Let the beef brown on all sides, then remove it from the pot, and add the diced onion as well as one diced carrot into the pot, season with salt and pepper, lower the heat and cook until the vegetables soften.

3. Add the flour to the vegetables and cook, stirring, for about a minute, then add the beef back in, and add the tomato paste at this point as well. Stir everything gently until the vegetables and the meat are coated in the tomato paste. Add the fresh herbs and roasted garlic (I mush it up with a fork before adding it. Also, add as much/little of it as you like, depending on how garlicky you want the stew to be! If you want it extra garlicky, you can roast more than one head of garlic!) and then drown everything with 2 cups of either red wine or beef broth. Let it simmer for about 15 minutes, then add 3 cups of beef broth, cover and let simmer for 1 1/2 hours, checking on the stew and stirring every 15 minutes or so. Then, uncover the stew, and let it cook for another 1 1/2 hours.

4. While it’s cooking, saute the sliced mushrooms until tender in some olive oil, then about 15 minutes before the stew is done cooking, add the mushrooms, as well as the remainder of the carrots (peel and cut them into chunks), and the rest of the beef broth if necessary – if the stew looks too thick, add in some extra broth to thin it out (you can use more than one cup if you need to). Discard the bay leaf and fresh herb sprigs, and check that the seasoning is right, adding in more salt and pepper if you need it (sometimes I add in a pinch of sugar at the end to balance out the flavors). Serve with mashed potatoes, fresh crusty white bread, and an extra sprig of fresh rosemary on top! Bon Apetit! (said in Julia Child’s voice, of course!)
(*Note: To make fishing out the herb sprigs easier, you can make a “bouquet garni” which basically just means placing the herbs in a piece of cheesecloth and tying it up, then placing that in your cooking pot. You could also just tie up all the herbs and place them in the pot. I would definitely recommend doing one of these, otherwise you will be spending time trying to fish those sprigs out, and there will be way too many little pieces of rosemary swimming around your stew!)

I hope you all have a wonderful day, and enjoy this hearty, cozy stew!
Thanks so much for stopping by today!

Spiced Applesauce Muffins

Posted on July 26, 2015

Hello Everyone! I hope you’re all having a great summer! Sorry it’s been quiet around here for the past couple of weeks, life has been busy to say the least! It’s been a crazy hectic summer this year, between traveling, new jobs, looking for and getting ready to move into a new house… all exciting things, but overwhelming at the same time! But since I’m having a quiet Sunday afternoon at home today, I thought I would share this sweet treat that I’m having with my cup of tea right now with you! This year was the first time in a long time that I was looking forward to the summer. Last winter was so long and cold that I couldn’t wait until the day I could trade my winter boots for flip-flops and get in my car without having to get mountains of snow off of it first! But now, a couple of weeks into the heat and humidity that we get here on the East Coast, I remember why I always dread this time of the year, and why I usually spend the summer impatiently waiting for fall to come already… That sort of explains this recipe. A craving for fall. These Spiced Applesauce Muffins are basically a taste of fall in a delicious little package! They’re light and fluffy because of the applesauce, and have that distinct fall taste and smell thanks to all the warm spices. I usually bake muffins or some sort of quick bread on Sundays, so that I have something that’s easy to grab on my way out the door in the morning for the rest of the week. If you’re as anxious for fall to come as I am, you will love these! And if not, save the recipe for September! Here’s how to make these…

Spiced Applesauce Muffins

*Makes 12 muffins*
(Recipe adapted from Epicurious)

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
2 large eggs
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) + 3 tbs unsalted butter, melted
1 cup applesauce, unsweetened
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
1 tbs granulated sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Spiced Applesauce Muffins


1. First, preheat your oven to 400 deg F, and line a standard sized muffin pan with 12 paper liners. In a medium sized bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ground cinnamon, ground allspice and nutmeg. Set aside.

2. In your electric mixer bowl, whisk together the eggs and the brown sugar, then slowly begin pouring in the melted butter, and mix until you have a smooth mixture. Add in the vanilla extract and applesauce, then begin adding in the dry ingredient mixture. Gently fold in the chopped nuts (you could substitute raisins for chopped nuts, those would work well too!) and then divide the batter equally between the 12 muffin cups (you want them to be about 3/4 full). Sprinkle the tops with the cinnamon sugar topping mixture (this will form a thin “crust” on top of the muffins as they bake), then bake the muffins for 18 – 20 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Once baked, let the muffins cool for a couple minutes before eating.

I hope you all have a wonderful rest of your weekend, and enjoy this recipe if you try it out!

Strawberry Bread with Greek Yogurt

Posted on May 3, 2015

Hey Everyone! Happy May! How did this happen?! Sometimes it feels like the days and weeks just drag on, and other times, it feels like life is speeding ahead at a thousand miles an hour. It definitely feels like the latter is happening around here these days, and I can’t believe that the summer is almost here! I wanted to stop by and share this Strawberry Bread with Greek Yogurt recipe with you today, since it’s the perfect “almost summer” quick & easy recipe, and with strawberry season coming up soon, it’s a great seasonal quick bread to make! Greek yogurt is one of my favorite things to bake with, because it always keeps cakes and breads so moist. I always use it in banana bread, and it works great in other quick breads too! You could of course use other berries, like blueberries, raspberries or blackberries in this recipe instead, and even do a simple confectioners’ sugar glaze on top… that’s the great thing about quick breads, you can add whatever looks good in your fridge or pantry! Here’s how to make this strawberry bread…

Strawberry Bread with Greek Yogurt
*Makes 1 loaf*
(Adapted from The Smitten Kitchen)

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3 eggs
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup plain Greek yogurt (I use fat free yogurt)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 – 1 1/2 cups fresh strawberries + 1 tbs all-purpose flour

Strawberry Bread with Greek Yogurt


1. First, preheat your oven to 350 deg F, and grease (or line with parchment paper) a standard sized loaf tin. In your electric mixer bowl, whisk together the sugar, eggs, pure vanilla extract, vegetable oil and Greek yogurt. Once you have a smooth, creamy mixture, sift in the flour, baking powder and salt, and mix until you have a smooth batter.

2. Chop your fresh strawberries into small pieces (about the size of blueberries), then gently toss them with the tbs of all-purpose flour (this will prevent the strawberries from sinking to the bottom of the loaf as it bakes). Using a spatula, gently fold the strawberries into the batter (reserving a couple to sprinkle on top of the loaf), then pour it into your prepared loaf tin. Sprinkle the remaining strawberries on top, then bake the bread for 50 minutes to an hour, until an inserted toothpick comes out clean! (If the bread browns too much as it bakes, simply cover it with some foil to prevent burning.) Let cool before slicing.

Happy Baking, Everyone!
I will be linking to these awesome blogs!

April Favorites

Posted on April 30, 2015

Hi Everyone! Can you believe that tomorrow is May 1st?! This has been one of the craziest, busiest and most stressful months in a while around here, but it’s also been a very exciting one, filled with lots of fun things and new adventures! I feel like whenever this time of year comes around, it feels like the summer is just around the corner; we’ve had such beautiful sunny weather for the past couple of days and even had our first bonfire and s’mores of the year! Here’s a little bit of what’s been happening this month…

LUSH Bath Boms Blueberry Coffee Cake Muffins
Left: LUSH bath treats – a flower bubble bar and a lavender bath bomb! If you’re a bath person and you’ve never tried any LUSH products, you should definitely give them a try! They smell incredible and are super moisturizing, and they are really fun too – some of them have glitter inside, others have lots of different layers of colors inside that turn the bath water into crazy colors! Right: I made Ina Garten’s Blueberry Coffee Cake Muffins for breakfast over Easter, and as with all of Ina’s recipes, these were delicious!

Blueberry Coffee Cake Muffins
You can never go wrong with the Barefoot Contessa! I also made her savory Leek & Artichoke Bread Pudding and her Caramelized French Onion Dip this month, which were both amazing too!

Easter dinner Easter candy
Left: A pretty loaded Easter dinner plate! Featuring honey glazed ham, the Pioneer Woman’s mac and cheese, the Barefoot Contessa’s leak and artichoke bread pudding, a fresh berry salad, roasted asparagus and classic deviled eggs. We ate leftovers for days and still have ham in the freezer! Right: Easter candy!

Ducks at the park Cherry Blossom Festival DC
Left: One of my favorite things about the weather finally being nicer are evening walks at the park. I love these long spring days, and that it’s not pitch dark by 5pm! Right: One of my favorite things about the area that we live in is the annual National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington DC (you can read more about it in this post). If you’ve never visited DC when the cherry trees are blooming, you should definitely plan on it next year, it’s absolutely gorgeous!

Miss Shirley's Annapolis MD 
Left: The most incredible chicken & waffles at Miss Shirley’s in Annapolis. This is one of my favorite restaurants in this area, they have so many delicious breakfast dishes to choose from, but this was definitely one of the best things I’ve had in a long time! Right: This man is my favorite thing every month. And every day. Always. Forever.

Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
Two of my favorite posts that I shared with you this month: Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting (left) and Carrot Cake Cupcakes (right). I was obviously having a cream cheese frosting moment this month, since both these recipes feature it!

I hope you all had a wonderful month, and that the one ahead is going to be even better! Thanks so much for stopping by, I hope you have a great rest of your week! Stop by again soon for lots of new projects and recipes!

Creamy Mushroom & Parmesan Quinoa

Posted on April 27, 2015

Hi Everyone! I have a super quick & easy quinoa side dish to share with you today that you can easily whip up in about twenty to thirty minutes! This Creamy Mushroom & Parmesan Quinoa is, as the name suggests, so creamy thanks to all the cheese, and really hearty and satisfying, yet still pretty light. I love how versatile of an ingredient quinoa is; that you can use it in both sweet and savory recipes, serve it hot or cold , and make it into a main dish or a side dish! I’ve cooked it in pretty much all these ways, and this is one of my favorites! You could substitute other vegetables for the mushrooms, or even add in shredded chicken and make this into a main dish!

Creamy Mushroom & Parmesan Quinoa

1 1/2 cups quinoa (uncooked)
3 cups water
8oz mushrooms (baby bella or button), sliced
1/2 – 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 – 3 tbs olive oil
Salt & Pepper
2 – 3 tbs fresh parsley, chopped
Optional: red pepper flakes, dried thyme, 1 tbs butter

Creamy Mushroom & Parmesan Quinoa


1. First, cook the quinoa according to the instructions on the box (combine the uncooked quinoa with water and cook for about 15 minutes, or until all the water has been absorbed, the quinoa is fluffy and has little “tails”). Make sure you rinse the quinoa before cooking it! If you want to add extra flavor, cook the quinoa in chicken stock instead of water.

2. While you cook the quinoa, prepare your mushrooms. Thinly slice them, and saute them in a medium sized pan with some olive oil. Season them with salt and pepper (I also add in a pinch of red pepper flakes and dried thyme, but that’s totally optional) and cook until the mushrooms have browned nicely. Set aside.

3. Next, add grated Parmesan cheese to your cooked quinoa (I add about 1/2 cup and then add extra on top right before serving) and stir well, until the quinoa becomes nice and creamy, and has almost a creamy risotto texture. Stir in the chopped parsley (I use Italian flat leaf, but you can use curly if you prefer that. Reserve some of it for sprinkling on the top) and mushrooms, and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper if you need to! And if you’re feeling extra indulgent, add in a tablespoon of butter to add some more creaminess!

If you like this Creamy Mushroom & Parmesan Quinoa, check out more of my quinoa recipes:

Quinoa Breakfast Bowl with Fruit, Nuts & Seeds  Kale Salad with Pomegranate Seeds, Roasted Butternut Squash & Quinoa Cheesy Broccoli & Quinoa Patties

Left: Quinoa Breakfast Bowl with Fruit, Nuts & Seeds, Middle: Kale Salad with Quinoa, Roasted Butternut Squash and Pomegranate Seeds, Right: Cheesy Quinoa & Broccoli Patties

And since this recipe uses fresh parsley and you may have some left over, this is my favorite ways to store the leftover fresh herbs so they don’t go to waste! Check it out here!

  How to store fresh herbs
Happy Cooking, Everyone!
I will be linking to these awesome blogs!

Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Posted on April 14, 2015

Hi Everyone! A miserable, rainy day like today definitely calls for a sweet treat, don’t you think? Instead of making my favorite Chocolate Chip Banana Bread with Greek Yogurt (or this Nutella Swirled Banana Bread!) with the very ripe bananas that were sitting on the kitchen counter, I made something a little more special (but just as quick and easy!); This Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting! Sure, you could just make the cream cheese frosting and eat it with a spoon (just kidding!) but it’s even better spread thick on this banana cake, topped with a handful of chopped nuts! The cake itself is so moist and delicious and makes for a great treat to go with your tea or coffee!

Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

*Makes one 8 inch cake*

2 very ripe bananas, mashed
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil (or unsalted butter)
1 large egg
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
1/3 cup applesauce
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tbs baking soda
Optional: 1/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

4oz cream cheese, softened
4 tbs unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
Topping: 1/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting


1. First, preheat your oven to 350 deg F, and grease an 8 inch square (or round) baking pan. In a large bowl, cream together the sugar and oil (or butter if you’re using butter instead of oil). Next, add in the egg, vanilla extract, applesauce and mashed bananas, and mix until you have a creamy mixture.

2. Next, sift in the rest of the ingredients: all-purpose flour, salt, ground cinnamon and baking soda, and mix until you have a smooth batter (it’ll still have some lumps because of the mashed bananas, which is fine). Using a spatula, fold in the 1/4 cup of chopped walnuts or pecans if you’re using them, then pour the batter into your prepared baking pan, and bake for about a half hour, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. (If the cake begins to brown too much on top, you can cover it with a piece of foil to prevent it from burning.)

3. While the banana cake is baking, prepare your cream cheese frosting. This is my favorite cream cheese frosting recipe (it’s a Martha Stewart frosting recipe), and I use half of her original recipe for this cake. To make the frosting, make sure that both the cream cheese and the unsalted butter are at room temperature and completely softened, otherwise you won’t get a smooth frosting out of this! Using the whisk attachment on your mixer, mix together the cream cheese, butter, sugar and vanilla extract until completely smooth.

4. Once the cake is completely cool, (make sure it is COMPLETELY cool, you don’t want your frosting to melt off the cake!) spread the frosting on top using a spatula. I like to make it look very casual and just make frosting swirls using the spatula, but you can make it look as fancy as you like! I don’t go all the way up to the cake edges, but leave about a half inch border or so, because I think it looks pretty when you can see the cake! At the end, simply sprinkle with more chopped walnuts or pecans!

Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

(*Recipe Notes: I tweaked and combined a couple of my favorite recipes to come up with this Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting recipe. You can substitute buttermilk, Greek yogurt, sour cream or plain yogurt for the applesauce that I used here, any of those would work well in a banana cake. You can also substitute butter for the oil that I used here. This cake isn’t overly sweet, which is why the cream cheese frosting works well with it (it’s the same cream cheese frosting I use in these Carrot Cake Cupcakes), but if you prefer a sweeter cake, add in extra granulated sugar, or even brown sugar to the cake batter! And the more ripe the bananas are, the more sweetness they will add to the cake! I make this cake in an 8 inch square baking pan, but you could use a round pan instead, and even double the recipe, and make it into a two layer cake for a special occasion!)

Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
Happy Baking, Everyone!
I will be linking to these awesome blogs!

2015 National Cherry Blossom Festival, Washington DC

Posted on April 13, 2015

Hi Everyone! I hope you all had a great weekend! I wanted to show you a little bit of ours with a couple of pictures from this year’s National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington DC! This is one of my favorite times of the year in this area because of all the trees that turn the whole city pink and white as they begin to bloom. We have gone to see the cherry blossoms in the city every year since we’ve lived here, but there is something so enchanting about it, that it just never gets old.

2015 Cherry Blossom Festival

2015 National Cherry Blossom Festival
This year we went down to see the cherry blossoms on what we found out was the first day of the peak bloom days. It was an absolutely gorgeous day for it; it was so sunny and warm, which after the long winter we’ve had still feels almost unreal! The Cherry Blossom Festival is always pretty packed with people, apparently attracting about 1.5 million people every year, but I’ve never seen it as crowded as it was this year! The peak bloom coincided with spring break for lots of kids, a hockey game in DC and a lockdown around the Capitol building for a couple hours as we found out later on… suffice it to say, it was REALLY crowded downtown!

2015 National Cherry Blossom Festival

2015 National Cherry Blossom Festival
We walked around the Tidal Basin area, which I think has the prettiest views of the cherry blossoms. It’s a beautiful walk any time of the year, but seeing the Jefferson Memorial surrounded by the pink trees, the National Monument towering in the background, and the hundreds of fluffy cherry blossom branches leaning over the water is quite breathtaking!

 2015 National Cherry Blossom Festival 2015 National Cherry Blossom Festival

2015 National Cherry Blossom Festival
How beautiful are all these cherry blossoms?! In one section of the path around the river, the trees get very low, making you almost have to crouch down as you walk through what looks like a cherry blossom tunnel from a fairytale! Yes, the whole place is crowded with tons of people, everyone trying to get the perfect shot of the blossoms and the beautiful DC architecture, but even that can’t take away from the beauty of this!

2015 Cherry Blossom Festival Washington DC

Cherry Blossom Festival
It was the perfect spring day.

2015 National Cherry Blossom Festival
If you’ve never been in DC during this time of the year, it’s definitely worth a visit! You can read more about the National Cherry Blossom Festival here. Thanks so much for stopping by today, I hope you all have a great week!

Carrot Cake Cupcakes

Posted on April 5, 2015

Hi Everyone! I wanted to quickly stop by and wish you a happy Easter! I hope you’ve all had a wonderful weekend celebrating with friends and family, eating some delicious food and hopefully enjoying some spring weather! We went out for a walk today (to walk off all that Easter ham! And the chocolate. And all the other treats…) and it couldn’t have been a more beautiful day! It was warm and sunny and there were beautiful bright yellow daffodils peeking out of the ground around every corner! I love this time of the year, when everything begins to bloom and come back to life! The cherry blossoms in DC are supposed to be in full bloom next weekend and I can’t wait to go out and see them, it’s one of my favorite things about this area (you can check out some of my pictures from last year’s Cherry Blossom Festival here)! I also wanted to share these Carrot Cake Cupcakes with you today! I made these over the weekend to give away as Easter treats (and maybe kept a couple for us to eat!) and wanted to stop by and tell you how I made them!

 Carrot Cake Cupcakes


1 recipe carrot cake cupcakes (this is one of my favorites)
1 recipe cream cheese frosting (I used this one)
Finely chopped walnuts or pecans (about 1 cup or so)
Marzipan carrots to top cupcakes (mine were store-bought)

Carrot Cake Cupcakes

To make these Carrot Cake Cupcakes, first make your cupcakes. I followed this recipe with a couple adjustments: I didn’t add raisins or walnuts into my cupcakes since I was going to add the chopped walnut border around the frosting. I also adjusted the baking temperature and time, I baked the cupcakes at 350 deg F, for about 20 – 25 minutes (you can adjust the baking time to suit your oven, just make sure a toothpick comes out clean once you think they’re done). Whenever I make carrot cake cupcakes, I grate the carrots on the finer side of the grater, because since the cupcakes are smaller than a cake, I want smaller pieces of carrot in them… but you can grate them however you want! This recipe makes a LOT of cupcakes (about 2 dozen), so cut it in half if you want a smaller batch.

For the cream cheese frosting, I used this recipe, which I find makes pretty much the perfect amount of frosting for the amount of cupcakes. To make the frosting, first, make sure that both the cream cheese and the butter are softened and at room temperature before you use them! There’s nothing worse than lumpy frosting! Once I’ve made the frosting, I always press it through a sifter (is that even a culinary phrase?! You know what I mean.) once or twice, just to make sure that there are absolutely no lumps and the frosting is completely smooth.

Carrot Cake Cupcakes

Let your carrot cake cupcakes cool completely before frosting them, so the frosting doesn’t melt right off! To frost them, I didn’t even use a piping bag, I just spread the frosting on the top of each cupcake evenly using a knife, going right up to the edges of the cupcake. Then, I smoothed out the top, and rolled the edges in the finely chopped nuts (you could use walnuts or pecans, I used walnuts). Gently shake off the excess nuts off the cupcake, then top each with a marzipan carrot! (Mine were store-bought, but you can definitely make your own homemade!) Store the cupcakes in the fridge, in an airtight container, then take them out about thirty minutes or so before eating them so they have time to come back to room temperature again.

Carrot Cake Cupcakes

If you’re a carrot cake lover, you will LOVE these Carrot Cake Cupcakes! They are super moist and have that great warm, spiced flavor so characteristic for carrot cake! And of course there’s no better classic pairing than carrot cake and cream cheese frosting. The chopped nut border and little marzipan carrots just make the cupcakes a little extra special, perfect for Easter, or any other special occasion!

Carrot Cake Cupcakes

I hope you all had a wonderful Easter! Thank you so much for stopping by today, have a wonderful week!
I will be linking to these awesome blogs!

Bunny Ear Easter Gift Bags

Posted on April 1, 2015

Hi Everyone! Happy April! I hope you survived the day without any crazy pranks being played on you! Are you ready for Easter this weekend? If you’re still busy making your shopping list, finding the perfect ham recipe, decorating your home or putting together Easter baskets, I have a really easy idea for cute little Easter gift bags that you can put together in about five minutes, with craft supplies you may even already have on hand! These Bunny Ear Easter Gift Bags are super simple, but make for cute packages for any Easter treats you may be giving to your friends and family. Here’s how you can make them…

Bunny Ear Easter Gift Bags

Plain kraft paper gift bags
Kraft paper
Fuzzy pink or white material
Hot glue gun
Pencil & scissors

Bunny Ear Easter Gift Bags

First, draw the bunny ears on a piece of brown kraft paper (draw one first, then cut it out, trace around it to make a second ear and cut that out too). Then, cut the pink part (you could use white too) out of some fuzzy material (you could either re-purpose an old sweater, blanket or other item, or buy some material at the fabric store). Using your hot glue gun, attach the fuzzy pink shapes to the kraft paper ears you cut out. Then, using hot glue again, attach the ears to your kraft paper gift bags, by adding a little bit of hot glue to the bottom of the “ear”, and pressing it onto the back of the front side of the gift bag. Press for a couple of seconds to secure the glue, and you are done!

And if you like these Bunny Ear Easter Gift Bags, check out some of my other Easter ideas!

Easter Egg Place Setting Spring & Easter Pansy Centerpiece

Left: Easter Egg Place Setting (tutorial here) Right: Spring & Easter Pansy Centerpiece (tutorial here)

  Mossy Easter Eggs Easter Egg Tree

Left: Mossy Easter Eggs (tutorial here) Right: Easter Egg Tree (tutorial here)

Happy Crafting, Everyone!
I will be linking to these awesome blogs!

March Favorites

Posted on March 31, 2015

Hey Everybody! I can’t believe how fast another month flew by, and that we are a quarter of the way through 2015 already! March is one of my favorite months, not just because it’s my birthday month, but because it’s the beginning of spring (or it should be, anyway!) when the world begins to wake up from a long, cold winter, and comes alive again. The month started off with a big snow storm (you can see some pictures I shared here) and this past weekend, I was back in my winter coat again… spring will eventually come one of these days! March was a wonderful month, filled with lots of great moments; celebrating my 28th birthday, seeing an old childhood friend, a spontaneous day trip and many answered prayers, just to name a few. Here are a couple of glimpses into my life this month…

Birthday celebrations Mini desserts
Left: I turned 28 at the beginning of March! I’m getting dangerously close to thirty which is slightly scary…! Even though my birthday fell on a super busy Sunday this year, my husband planned so many wonderful things for me and spoiled me too much! We went to one of my favorite places, called Silver Diner, for a quick (and giant!) birthday lunch; I love this diner, all their food is organic and locally grown, and they serve classic diner dishes with a modern twist. I had their fish & chips, and since we live in Maryland, every part of the meal was seasoned with Old Bay! The fish, the chips (fries) AND the tartar sauce. Right: Birthday mini desserts.

J.Crew Statement Necklace The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Left: One of my favorite birthday gifts this year. How gorgeous is this necklace! I love the fun spring colors, that are so perfect for this time of year. I’ve literally been wearing this pretty much every other day. Necklaces are definitely one of my favorite pieces of jewellery. I have recently been looking at buying a name necklace for my friend. Jewellery makes such a good gift as it is something that you can keep forever. Right: If you’re a fan of Maggie Smith’s and have seen The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, then the sequel is definitely worth seeing! We went to see a late night showing of it on my birthday, and I thought it was so sweet; I loved where the storyline took the different characters, and how beautifully the movie was made!

Hyacinths Hyacinth
What a difference a couple days can make. Hyacinths are one of my favorite spring flowers, and always remind me of my grandfather’s beautiful garden when I was growing up. He grew every kind of flower from beautiful roses that had originally been planted in the house where my grandmother grew up, to tulips, daffodils and hyacinths. I love the strong scent of these flowers and every time I walk through the front door, I can smell them!

Primo Hoagies Starbucks NY Mug
Left: I don’t even have the words to describe this deliciousness. If you follow me on Instagram, you will have already seen some pictures from last week’s spontaneous little trip we took to a town in New Jersey where we used to live a couple of years ago. We had nothing to do one afternoon, and since we had been craving some real New Jersey hoagies lately, we decided to drive up for dinner. It was definitely worth the two hour trip just to get some real hoagies (and a giant pizza)! Sometimes the best days are the spontaneous, unplanned ones filled with little adventures! Right: If you know me, you may know that I love cute mugs, and sort of can’t resist buying one if I see one! This has resulted in a seriously overflowing kitchen cupboard filled with the most random, un-matching assortment of mugs from pretty much all over the world. So whenever my husband is making me a cup of tea and asks me what mug I want, it takes me a while to decide (no joke. I must be crazy)! Anyway, all that said… this is my new favorite!

Nutella Swirled Banana Bread Spring & Easter Pansy Centerpiece
Two of my favorite posts that I shared with you this month: Nutella Swirled Banana Bread (left) and A Simple Spring & Easter Pansy Centerpiece (right)

2015 Memory Jar
You may remember this 2015 Memory Jar that I shared with you at the beginning of the year; it’s filling up fast with so many wonderful things and answered prayers already! After a pretty hard year last year, I made the decision at the beginning of this year to appreciate the little things more, and to make this a good year. It’s funny how sometimes we need a physical reminder, like writing something down on a piece of paper and throwing it in a jar like this, to remember all the good things that happened in a day, or a week, and how easy it is to overlook those things!

And if you want to see some of my favorite things from the past two months, you can find them here and here! I hope that March has been a good month for you, with lots of happy memories to look back on! And be careful tomorrow… since it’s April Fools’! Thank you so much for stopping by today, I love sharing little bits of my life with you, and love when you visit! Have a great rest of your week, Everyone! PS. Don’t forget that you still have time to enter to win a $100 gift card with Abreva here!

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