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.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcakes

You guys. These cupcakes. They’d been on my radar to make for close to forever, but I always ended up opting out for another flavor whenever I made cupcakes. I finally got around to making them this week, and let me just say that I’m kicking myself for waiting so long!

I took my favorite vanilla cupcake recipe, substituting some of the regular sugar for brown. Then the cupcakes are filled with a delicious eggless cookie dough filling, and finally topped with a cookie dough flavored frosting.

A garnish of a mini chocolate chip cookie is the pièce de résistance that just sends it over the edge of cuteness. They’re basically a chocolate chip cookie dough bomb waiting to explode in your mouth.

So do yourself a favor, and don’t wait as long as I did to make these guys. They’d be so much fun for a little one’s birthday party!

Source: adapted from Annie’s Eats

Chocolate Cappuccino Cheesecake

I know I’ve been a little AWOL lately. The holidays wore me out, and I found myself in a bit of a recipe rut afterwards. But over the weekend I got into the kitchen and made this insanely delicious cheesecake,  and I couldn’t wait to share the recipe with you guys!

Rich, decadent, and chocolaty – pretty much all the points I expect to be touched by a good cheesecake. It baked beautifully, not splitting or cracking. It had a nice height too, which I love…there’s nothing more pitiful than a severely squat cheesecake.

The addition of espresso and Kahlua added a real depth of flavor to the chocolate, which isn’t that much of a shock. Whenever I bake a chocolate dessert in the kitchen, the recipe almost always includes coffee, in one form or another…

I served with a Kahlua whipped cream and garnished with crushed up chocolate covered espresso beans. The little bites of crunchiness against the smooth creaminess of the cheesecake was divine!

Definitely a keeper.

Souce: adapted from Allrecipes