{october fun} halloween update and more…

Photo: So thankful for my good friends at #starbucks today!!  It's going to be one long day... http://instagr.am/p/RfU4bRDfbD/

I haven’t been myself lately, and the photo above pretty much sums it all up.  The past two weeks have been filled with a whirlwind of activities and somewhere in between we all managed to get sick.  Eva and Zoe have gone through runny noses, coughs and sneezes, and even Lucas had a mild fever for two days.  Victor had a sore throat for one day, and as for me, well I got the worst of it.  My sore throat was actually a bad case of ‘strep throat’.  I didn’t get to a doctor until the end of the week, after I completely lost my voice and figured I had better try to get my hands on some real medicine before the weekend arrived.  I was put on a round of antibiotics, and three days later I’m still not at my best.  Thankfully, though, I think the worst is behind us.  I have so much to catch up on.  I hope you enjoy the summary in photos.

Sesame Street Live’s ‘Elmo Makes Music’ comes to town!

Before we all got sick, I managed to take Eva and Zoe to a fun production featuring their favorite furry monster and his best buddies.  Words can barely describe the joy and excitement they experienced as we arrived and they started to spot everything Elmo.  When the show started, I teared up because I was so overwhelmed with the happiness I saw in their sweet faces.  Here are a few shots of them before the show.  It was a really fun day, very ‘mommy and me’.

{eva and zoe posing with elmo}

After the show, I wanted to take them to eat lunch before returning home.  The plan was to go to the Cheesecake Factory at Las Olas, but when we arrived the wait was over 45 minutes because of a local art festival.  We ended up at the ‘Royal Pig Pub’ and they were very formal and well-behaved, placing their cloth napkins under their plates as they nibbled on non-kids’ meal french fries and chicken ‘fingers’.

{lunch at the royal pig pub}

Halloween Update

We are members of a local meetup group that hosts lots of fun activities for families and young children.  They hosted a Halloween party in the park and the girls were super excited to get into character, chanting Yo-Ho-Ho every chance they had.  Eva and Zoe marched in a music parade and got so into it they stopped on a tree stump for a make-shift performance with their borrowed guitar and tambourine!

It’s a good thing we went to this event, too, because by the time Halloween rolled around the girls were too sick to go trick-or-treating.  The sign we put up on our door read:  “QUARANTINE//SICK BABIES//SORRY”.  Don’t be too sad for them, though.  Victor did bring them by my office and they were pro’s asking for candy (especially Eva!) even though it was their first time out and about in costume and trick-or-treating.  The worse part was finding out that Zoe may have an allergy, or aversion at best, to peanuts.  She ended up throwing up in the parking lot before Victor went back home, and all she had eaten was a bite of a Snickers bar.  My poor baby.

{eva and zoe = my fierce pirate girls}

{my little monster}

A Baking Fool…

I got a little caught up in the spirit of Halloween, and took on one baking project too many.  After finding out how hard it is to decorate cookies by hand, I may never work with piping again.  Oh well.  Here are a few photos for your viewing pleasure:

{pumpkin spice halloween cookies}

{day of the dead sugar skull cookies}

Seven months old and growing too quickly…

In keeping with my monthly tradition of photographing Lucas in his crib, here is his seven month photo.  It is becoming increasingly harder to get a cute photo of him with the blocks in the background…

{lucas at seven months}

And this is the part where I get a little nostalgic all too soon, when I see my little boy growing up oh so fast.  Victor sent me this picture when I was at work yesterday.  My first reaction was to think that he was helped up for the photo, but I was wrong.  He got up all on his own, my little boy.  He has only been crawling for about two months now!  He’s just so anxious to play with Eva and Zoe already.  My little boy may be walking a lot sooner that we’re ready for.  {Note the terror in Eva’s eyes..lol}

{taken just five days later on november 5th}

Well, I do apologize for the long post, but even more so for the long time without posting.  I hope you’ve enjoyed my update and look forward to sharing more soon and more often.

May you have a Sweet November..

xo

ps.  Today is election day.  Did you go out and vote yet?

pps. Oh yeah, and did I mention — we got our floors redone; note the dark floor under Lucas’ bare feet! We left the living room for later — see ugly white tile beyond pretty new floors…

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{fall} in love with baking…

The weather is still rather warm here in South Florida, so it’s been hard to really get into the mood for Fall.  Having said that, I turn to baking as my inspiration for warm and cozy days full of wonderful seasonal flavors.  Here are some pictures of sweet baked goods I’m hoping to make this Fall.

Instead of pumpkin pie, I plan to make this decadent pumpkin cake this Thanksgiving:

Pumpkin Cake with Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting
{via Food and Wine}

I just love warm apple crisp with a scoop or two of french vanilla ice cream…

Apple Crisp
{via Martha Stewart}

It’s been way too long since we made our own ice cream…this flavor is perfect for the Fall!

Caramel & Apple Ice Cream
{via Food and Wine}

I’ve been dying to make a simple bundt cake like this one, or a variation of zucchini bread, just to have in the mornings with a hot cup of tea…

Glazed Lemon Bundt Cake
{via Real Simple}

I hope you find a way to celebrate Fall as well, and enjoy it before the busy holiday season is upon us!

{happy baking}

xo

~the sweetest mami~

Featured Recipe: Pina Colada Cupcakes

Pina Colada Cupcakes by Sweetest Creations

I’m ready. I’ve been baking cupcakes for a while now, and am now ready to take it to the next level. Inspiration: the Food Network’s Barefoot Contessa meets the lovely Martha Stewart. Hey, why not, right?

I would say I started baking cupcakes because they are the easiest (mess-free) way to serve a group without having to deal with the whole ‘cut and serve’ process that comes with a traditional cake.  My favorite cupcake (so far) is my coconut cupcake, and I love it so much I needed to see if I could make it better…which I did, when I decided to add pineapples to it –this idea turned out to be a huge hit — and thus was born my first original creation: the pina colada cupcake.

My mantra when it comes to cupcakes is to keep it simple, keep it pretty, and keep it sweet!  I am going to start playing with some new flavors now, as well as continue to refine the flavors I’ve made in the past — chocolate ganache, carrot cake, vanilla, and of course coconut!  I’m excited to explore new ideas for inspiration, from my newest cook book ‘Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes’.  I just got this for my birthday from my oh-so-thoughtful husband.

I hope you enjoy sharing this journey with me, as well as an actual cupcake here and there from my many future batches.  I look forward to expanding my collection under Sweet Creations– my new sweets venture.

{happy baking}

xo

~the sweetest mami~

Pina Colada Cupcake Recipe

Ingredients

  • 3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 5 extra-large eggs at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure almond extract
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk {no buttermilk? no worries! see substitution below}
  • 2 cups sweetened, shredded coconut
  • 1 cup fresh pineapple, chopped finely

For the frosting:

  • 1 pound (2 oz bars) cream cheese at room temperature
  • 3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
  • 3 cups confectioners’ (aka powdered) sugar, sifted

Directions

Before you begin, prepare your mise en place:

  1. Set aside all ingredients that need to be used at room temperature — butter, eggs, and cream cheese
  2. Sift your ingredients– (1) flour, with baking powder, baking soda, and salt; (2) confectioners’s sugar
  3. Prepare your muffin tin/cupcake pan — line with cupcake liners
  4. Make your own buttermilk, if using substitution [see below]

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, add the eggs, 1 at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition. Add the vanilla and almond extracts and mix well.

In 3 parts, alternately add the sifted flour mixture and the buttermilk to the batter, beginning and ending with the dry. Mix until just combined. Fold in 1/2 of the coconut and all of the fresh pineapple.

Fill each liner to the top with batter. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, until the tops are brown and a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Remove to a baking rack and cool completely.

Meanwhile, make the frosting:

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, on low speed, cream together the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla and almond extracts. Add the confectioners’ sugar and mix until smooth.

Set aside the remaining 1/2 cup shredded coconut in a shallow bowl.  Frost the cupcakes and top with coconut, by ‘dipping’ each cupcake into the bowl of coconut until covered completely.  Sprinkle the remaining coconut onto the cupcakes once they’ve been transferred to your serving platter or dish.

Enjoy!

Buttermilk Ingredients:

  • Milk (just under one cup)
  • 1 Tablespoon white vinegar or lemon juice

Preparation:

1. Place a Tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice in a liquid measuring cup.

2. Add enough milk to bring the liquid up to the one-cup line.

3. Let stand for five minutes.