10.4.15

My Favorite Things!


Embarking on this cupcake adventure two months ago has convinced me that anyone who is unhappy needs a cupcake in their life.   Cupcakes and tea.  And daffodils. We would all be much happier people if we took some time each month to measure a sand castle of flour, crack some golden eggs, and inhale the mood-lifting powers of vanilla extract, don't you think?  

I certainly do!  And since our theme for the month melds two of my favorite things--cupcakes and tea--I am a happy girl!  

How did I arrive at my Green Tea with Peach Buttercream Frosting flavor for my cupcakes, I can just hear you asking?  It was simple, really.  I decided that since peach green tea lattes are like nectar from heaven, it would only be logical that a cupcake version would be just as delightful! 
My gluten free flours! (Not quite a sandcastle, but you can use your imagination, right?)


The stars of the show!  I used 1 1/2 tablespoons of matcha powder (Japanese powdered green tea) in the cupcake batter to give it the green tea flavor.  Although you can't tell in the photos, the flours and batter were distinctly green!  Once baked, the green color faded, and the green tea flavor was subtly present.



These cupcakes turned out more crumbly and dry than I liked, so I took inspiration from a favorite cake of my childhood.  I poked the cupcakes with a fork, and then spooned some of the peach syrup over top to moisten them.  It definitely improved the texture!  


Next up: frosting!  Why is it that I always spend more time looking for the decorating bags and tips than I do actually frosting?  Please tell me I'm not the only one!


Topped with dried peaches and sprinkled with matcha powder, the little darlings are picture perfect!  Note my adorable spring cupcake liners!


The Verdict
My instincts were spot on with the nectar from heaven inspiration, and the flavor was amazing!  This particular cupcake recipe, however, definitely let me down on texture.  I'm going back to my tried and true almond and coconut flour recipes next time for the moistness and flavor they pack in!  However, I will definitely be adding matcha powder to more baked goods, as well as making this delectable frosting recipe again!  

Do you ever bake with tea flavors?  I'd love to get some of your favorite tea recipes!


Green Tea Cupcakes with Peach Buttercream
Recipe adapted from this one
Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups sorghum flour or brown rice flour
1 1/2 cups potato starch (not potato flour!)
1 1/2 cups white sugar
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 1/2 tablespoons Matcha Powder
1 1/2 cups  milk
2 eggs
Heaping 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1 1/2 tablespoons bourbon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 cup peach syrup

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line cupcake tin with 18 paper or parchment liners.

In a mixing bowl, whisk the flour, starch and dry ingredients together. Add in the milk, eggs, coconut oil, vanilla and lemon juice. Beat with a mixer until the cake batter is smooth. Do not over-beat.

Scoop 1/4 cup of batter into the cupcake tins.  Smooth out the tops with wet fingers.

Bake in the center of a preheated oven until firm and dome shaped, about 15-18 minutes, depending upon your particular oven and altitude.

Cool the pan on a wire rack briefly, then gently pop out the cupcakes and continue cooling on a rack (this avoids steaming the bottoms).

When cupcakes are entirely cool, poke the tops with a fork and spoon the peach syrup over top.  Let sit while you make the frosting.


Peach Buttercream Frosting
From The Cupcake Diaries by Katherine Kallinis and Sophie Kallinis LaMontagne

16 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon whole milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup peach syrup 
Toppings: matcha powder, dried peaches

Combine the ingredients in a mixer and whip together at high speed until light and airy, approximately 3 to 5 minutes.

Scoop the frosting into a large piping bag fitted with a  large round tip and frost each cupcake with a swirl.  Sift matcha powder over each cupcake, and top with half a dried peach.

Cupcake Party: Chocolate Edition

Lauren's Double Peanut Butter Chocolate
Sarah's Chocolate Chunk Lava Fudge
Mikaela's Hazelnut Mocha

Cupcake Party: Savory Edition

Lauren's Spinach Feta
Mikaela's Cupcakes & Croutons 
Sarah's Carrot Ginger Coconut Muffins

1.4.15

My Favorite Ways to Use Essential Oils


My mom taught me how to use Young Living essential oils for everything from earaches to helping our pets. I've loved using them in my own home now--in fact, they make an appearance almost every day!

1. Headaches

I use essential oils most often to ease headache pain. I've heard it said that the type of oil that works for you depends upon what is causing your headaches. As one who has found headache relief through chiropractic care--diminishing my headaches from three a week to one or less--the oils that help me may not help you. But I've found myself especially grateful for oils since becoming pregnant, as I'm trying to avoid pain medication! The oil combination, which I apply to the base of my neck and wherever the pain seems to be most prominent, is:
  • Stress Away
  • Valor
  • Pan Away
  • Deep Relief
  • Peppermint
This has been the only "concoction" that diminishes my discomfort--succeeding sometimes when pain medication won't even help!


2. Colds

Just last week, Joel was battling a cold. With lots of internally ingested oils, vitamins, and diffusing oil at night, his bad cold fizzled within three days. I took smaller amounts as a precaution and amped it up when I began to get a sore throat, certain that I was in for an unpleasant illness. I was delighted to wake up the next morning feeling completely fine! Who ever heard of a one-day cold? Some of the oils we took internally to strengthen our immune systems were:
  • Thieves
  • DiGize
  • Lemon
  • Oregano
  • Euclyptus radiata
Some of the oils I diffused were:
  • Thieves
  • Eucalyptus radiata
  • Raven

3. Mold

Oh yes. We found mold. In our bedroom. Last fall. It's a long story that includes ripping up the carpet and replacing our mattress. Maybe I'll tell it sometime. But for now, let me just say that diffusing Thieves in the room for 48 hours was my go-to approach for killing any unseen, unknown mold spores. 

4. Bruises and cuts

I love putting a drop of lavender on the wound! It is soothing and helps disinfect and heal!

5. Hot Chocolate

Have you had lavender hot chocolate? It's amazing. Especially for this pregnant mama who is craving chocolate all the time. One drop is usually too much--try dipping a toothpick into the oil and then into the hot chocolate. Stir and taste. This amount provides the perfect balance of chocolate and floral for me! 

Obviously, I'm not a doctor (unless your doctor prescribes hot chocolate!). These are just my own experiences from daily living, but I hope that they help you! Feel free to leave a comment for me if you'd like more information, and if you're interested in purchasing oils from Young Living, I'd love for you to use my member number in both the sponsor and enroller boxes: 1981538 

Wondering why I use Young Living's essential oils? Here's a good, succinct summary on my choice.




Photo Credit

24.3.15

Single Jesus



Last week I took a selfie of my heart and wrote honestly of the selfishness that plagues many of us, but especially young unmarried women.  This week I want to ask, "Have you ever considered Christ's singleness?"

I can almost see many of you purse your lips, squint your eyes, and ponder that question.   

We consider Amy Carmichael's singleness, we consider Corrie Ten Boom's singleness, and we consider Paul's singleness.  But we never quite stop to consider that the only perfect example we have was also single!  The realization that Christ was single on earth, still looking ahead to the glorious day when He could receive His bride, the church, was paradigm-shattering for me.  (Click here to read what I wrote when I first recognized this.)


What does this mean for me?

If Christ was tempted in every way that I am, then that means that He too was tempted to discontentment and selfishness .
Hebrews 2:17-18 provides two of the most comforting verses in Scripture: "Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted."

When Pity attempts to throw you a party, remember that Jesus admitted in Matthew 8:20 that He had "nowhere to lay His head." 

When Selfishness attempts to suck you in to put "Me Me Me" at the top of the priority list, remember that Jesus only had 33 years on earth to accomplish His purpose.  I fear these are the years that we singles waste the most, using them to grow up in the world rather than to change the world.

Jesus was not defined by singleness, but by His Sonship to His Father.  So I should not be defined by my relationship status, but by my daughtership to the King!
Nowhere in Scripture is Christ called "unmarried." 
Nowhere in Scripture is Christ called "single."

So while, yes, it is encouraging to consider that Christ is our perfect example in singleness, it is telling to understand that He is called Son of God at least 45 times, and that He refers to God as His Father even more than that.  

The beauty and mystery of each of our life stories will come into focus only from the vantage point of eternity.  For then we will realize that even the God-ordained relationship of marriage is only temporary, and the fullness of eternity brings with it the marriage of us, the Bride of Christ, to Christ Himself.  

With an engagement like that, who could waste this betrothal period of life in selfishness?



“Camargue Horse,” © 2008 wolfgang staudt, used under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

19.3.15

Cupcakes and Croutons


My savory cupcakes started out with nothing more than my imagination--what taste combination sounded most appealing? Almost immediately, I thought of kalamata olives and sundried tomatoes. Explosions went off in my head--and thanks to Ratatouille, I'm hopeful that you'll think I'm completely normal, instead of officially obsessed, to experience mental explosions over beautiful food combinations.



But alas, mine is a cautionary tale. As in--don't make my cupcakes. As in--make Lauren's cupcakes. Make Sarah's cupcakes (coming next week). But don't make mine. I spent several hours putting them together, and was delighted to take them along for a portable lunch as Joel and I toured the Portrait Gallery in Washington D.C. But I found them to be dense, heavy, and with a flavor I didn't like (far from attributing this unpalatableness to the afore-mentioned brilliant pairing of olives and sundried tomatoes, I rest the blame squarely upon the shoulders of the gluten free flours I chose). Joel helpfully offered that the chunks of sundried tomatoes were perhaps too big, but that the cupcakes were really not all that bad. So here, I present to you the lessons learned from this experience:


  1. I loosely based my recipe upon this recipe which did not call for eggs. I don't recommend egg-free gluten free baking if you can at all help it.
  2. If you include olives and sundried tomatoes in your next savory cupcake venture, mince the sundried tomatoes (I slivered them, thinking that chunks would be pleasant to bite into, but I must agree with Joel that the chunks were not pleasant).
  3. Include more starches and less flours in your gluten free combination (I did 1 cup sorghum flour, 1/2 cup cornmeal, and 1/2 cup gluten free flour mix).
  4. Do try my savory cream cheese frosting on your next batch of savory cupcakes! It made them look good and taste somewhat better.

Savory Cream Cheese Frosting

4 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
4 TB butter, room temperature

Combine ingredients and whip for five minutes, or until smooth and fluffy. Add herbs if desired. Frosts 12 muffins.



Thankfully, my tale has a happy ending. Last night, I cut all the remaining cupcakes into chunks (because neither of us could bear to eat them), tossed them with melted butter, salt, and garlic powder, and baked them in the oven until they were crispy. The previously inedible cupcakes transformed into deliciously golden-brown croutons which married perfectly with a green salad. And they lived happily ever after.



The End.



Cupcake Party: Chocolate Edition

Double Peanut Butter Chocolate
Chocolate Chunk Lava Fudge
Hazelnut Mocha

Cupcake Party: Savory Edition

Spinach Feta

18.3.15

Selfie of a Single





Are all your friends getting married, but you've resigned yourself to the fact that the only way you'll ever find The One is if Prince Charming drops from the sky onto your windshield?

Did you spend Valentine's Day in pajamas?

Did you move your purity ring from your left hand to your right because you were tired of people asking if you were engaged?

If you answered yes to any of the above questions, then I hate to break it to you, but you are probably single!

Sarcasm aside, if God has you single right now, you can trust that you are in the best place possible to fulfill His will through you.  And the moment that changes, it won't take men dropping from the sky for you to notice!

In the meantime, I have noticed a troubling trend in myself as well as in other single girls.  It is a problem found both among unbelievers and believers.  It is a disability that threatens to blind us to the beautiful purposes for which God has us single right now, and render us unfit in God's army.

Wake up, my single sister, and  smell the odor of selfishness.  

As singles, we are particularly prone to this sin. 
Let's face it: you really have no choice but to die to self when you're waking up for 2 am and 6 am feedings every night (have fun, Mikaela!).  

You have no choice but to die to self when facing a mountain of chores and housework and entrepreneurial endeavors and homeschooling all at once!  

While not all married women are supremely selfless, marriage tends to refine you in that area rather quickly!  On the other hand, just like our shower seems to be the perfect Petri dish for mildew no matter how hard or often I scrub it, so the single years seem to be the perfect breeding ground for selfishness.  

But they don't have to be if you discover a few important truths.

Realize that isolation and insulation are the greatest allies of selfishness. 
Picture this: sweat pants on, bowl of ice cream in hand, your favorite movie or book at the ready, and you are set for a single's date night.  

I find that it is always at this juncture that a family member bursts into my room with a world calamity/English question/announcement that I have a pile of dishes to wash that rivals the Eiffel Tower in height.  And of course I respond, "Why thank you for giving me this sanctifying opportunity to deny myself!"

In all seriousness, though, my response when I pull my face out of that bowl of ice cream is the best gauge I know of for testing where my heart is at and who is on its throne.  And this is a huge part of why I continue to live at home.  As an adult under my parents' roof, I have freedom and adulthood, but I am also brought face to face daily with my own ugliness: I am selfless only as long as my own plans are not thwarted or my own comfort is not threatened. 

While I recognize that living on your own takes its own set of responsibility and dishwashing skills, there is really nothing like living in close quarters with fellow sons of Adam and daughters of Eve to bring selfishness to the surface, ready to be rooted out!  And there is nothing like isolating and insulating yourself from relationship for breeding selfishness like rabbits.

So seek out accountability.   Seek out opportunities to immerse yourself in relationships and service.  These are the greatest enemies of selfishness.
 
Check back next week for the conclusion of this post!

Blog Widget by LinkWithin