Lemon Cupcakes with Blueberry Buttercream

There are few flavor combinations that I love more than lemon and blueberry. The sunny bright flavor from the lemon, and the subtle sweetness and gorgeous hue from the berries. I baked these lovely cupcakes for a Relay for Life radio auction here on the lower Shore, but I managed to keep a few to enjoy and take a few pictures of so I could share the recipe with you guys!

As always, I used my favorite vanilla cupcake and vanilla buttercream recipe, then glammed it up a bit. Some lemon zest and lemon extract in the cake batter gives it that lemony punch that I was looking for. For the frosting, I cooked fresh blueberries down a bit with some sugar to soften up, then pureed and added to the buttercream. It creates a gorgeous color, that just screams “spring”!

Garnish with a single, fresh blueberry – and you’ve got yourself one delicious cupcake. This makes a large batch too, usually for me it ends up being around 30 cupcakes. I never have a problem getting folks to take them off my hands though, I’m sure you won’t either! Take advantage of all the delicious berries popping up in stores right now, and make these cupcakes soon.

Coconut Macadamia Muffins

We had alot of snow days this year. So many in fact, that to make up the days (and ensure that our kids weren’t in school until the 4th of July!), they’ve extended the school day by 45 minutes until the end of the year. They’re going in 15 minutes early, and getting out 30 minutes later. So, our morning routine has been squeezed a little tighter lately.

Enter a good, homemade muffin. I ended up with a half a can of coconut milk the other day, so I thought a coconut muffin would be a good use for it. I also added plenty of toasted shredded coconut, and some macadamia nuts for a little decadence and crunch. They turned out so wonderful, and we enjoyed them for breakfast all week long! The tropical flavors really taste like spring.

Speaking of spring, have you guys seen the new spring prints from Hen House Linens? They’re absolutely gorgeous. I can never say enough wonderful things about their linens, they wash and wear wonderfully.  I use them everyday in my home, just not for the staged photos that I share here…but at my table – morning, noon, and night. The lovely ladies over in the hen house have graciously offered up a set of 4 dinner napkins for giveaway. To enter, just leave a comment telling us what is your favorite thing about spring! Contest will run today to April 9, at 11:59 PM. (Congrats to winning entry #22 – Lisa!)

henhouselinens

I hope that everyone has a wonderful Easter weekend, fun-filled with egg hunts and lots of chocolate. We’re looking forward to dying our eggs and having a small egg hunt in our new backyard for the first time, and of course attending the Annual Easter Decoy & Art Festival here on the island. This is the weekend that everything really starts to open-up again here on our little island – spring is definitely in the air!

Source: adapted from A Taste of Thai

Strawberry Lemonade Cupcakes

Spring is definitely in the air here on Chincoteague Island, and I couldn’t be happier about it. The marshes are starting to return back to their vibrant green color, we have a family of bunnies that live in a thicket right next to the house, and we’ve been treated to a handful of almost 70 degree days.

But, in places like sunny Florida – it’s springlike temperatures pretty much all year. I had the opportunity to work with a couple of different wonderful Florida based companies this week in my kitchen, and it was the perfect way to kick-start spring around here! First off, Natalie’s Juice Company. Their sales rep, Brandy, was at the Ocean City Food Show that we attended weekend before last. She is so sweet, and sent me home with a wonderful sampling of their juices to take home. They are wonderfully fresh and flavorful. The least pasteurization that’s allowed, so it really is like drinking juice directly from the fruit. They’re wonderful!

In additional to that wonderfulness, the Florida Strawberry Growers Association generously overnighted me a huge box of glorious, juicy, ripe, red strawberries. The possibilities are endless, right? Look for another great strawberry recipe next week. I can’t thank you enough, Sue!

So naturally, I couldn’t help doing something together with the two of them! These strawberry lemonade cupcakes immediately came to mind. I took my favorite vanilla cupcake recipe, and added in a bit of lemon zest and good lemonade. Then I roasted the strawberries to release some of the moisture, and intensify the flavor (a trick I learned from my buddy, Annie). Added 3/4 of them to the cupcake batter, then pureed the remaining amount to add to the buttercream frosting, along with a little more lemon zest and lemonade.

All I can say is “wowza!”. They are absolutely perfect. Light, tender, and moist – bursting with the fresh flavor of strawberries and lemons. I garnished with a slice of strawberry and lemon, which I thought was so simple and pretty. So, if you’re feeling like a taste of spring…definitely make these soon!

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by the good folks at Natalie’s and the Florida Strawberry Growers Association. I was provided with complimentary products to review. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Cranberry Margaritas

Happy Friday, guys! With less than two weeks to go until Christmas, I figured a festive cocktail was in order. I’ve made margaritas with almost every fruit under the sun now, but this cranberry version has always stood out as one of my favorites.

A cranberry syrup is made from fresh cranberries and sugar, then pushed through a fine mesh strainer to remove seeds and pulp. Then the usual suspects are added for margarita mixing…tequila, triple sec, and margarita mix. Which, if you’re not doing so already – save yourself several bucks and make your own! It’s so much better than the store-bought stuff. You (and your cocktails!) will thank me.

I like to serve them with a sugar rim that’s had a bit of orange zest mixed into it, but a standard salt rim is also wonderful. Garnished with a few cranberries and a wedge or two of citrus, it doesn’t get any more festive than this!

Their gorgeous red hue lends perfectly to Christmas parties, especially since a large batch can be made up in advance and refrigerated until party time. I hope everyone has a great weekend!