Lemonade Cupcakes

Last week I posted pictures of my sweetheart themed party and all of the food that I made for it.  Today, I'm going to give you the recipe to make those amazingly good lemonade cupcakes that you can top with the freebie heart toppers.  These are the perfect way to say "hello" to the coming Spring or celebrate a special event.  The cupcakes are light with a cream cheese frosting that compliments the cake very nicely.  Your sweet tooth will thank you for these!

Lemonade Cupcakes


  • 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 6 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon rind
  • 3 tablespoons thawed lemonade concentrate
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • large eggs 
  • large egg whites 
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt 
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/4 cups fat-free buttermilk
  • Cooking spray 
  • Frosting:
  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
  • 2 teaspoons thawed lemonade concentrate
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 8 ounces 1/3-less-fat cream cheese
  • 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar

  1. * Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. * To prepare cake, mix sugar, butter, lemon rind, 3 tbsp lemonade, and vanilla with a mixer at medium speed until well blended (about 5 minutes). Add eggs and egg whites, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. 
  3. * In another bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda; stir well with a whisk. 
  4. * Add flour mixture and buttermilk alternately to sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture; beat well after each addition.
  5. * Pour batter into cupcake tins sprayed with cooking spray.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans 10 minutes on a wire rack; remove from pans. Cool completely on wire rack.
  6. * To prepare frosting, place butter, lemon rind, lemonade, vanilla, and cream cheese in a large bowl.  Beat with a mixer at high speed until fluffy. Add powdered sugar, and beat at low speed just until blended (do not overbeat). Chill 1 hour.
  7. * Frost cupcakes and store loosely covered in the refrigerator.
  8. * Enjoy!
(Recipe from Myrecipes.com)


Sweetheart Party with Free Printable

I recently hosted a party for some military spouses in the area as an opportunity to chat and catch up on what everyone had been doing.  Since Valentine's Day is fast approaching, I gave the party a sweetheart theme and based my party goods on the little candy hearts that are so ubiquitous every year.  The luncheon came together nicely with some turkey wraps, sides, and lemonade cupcakes.  I made toppers for the cupcakes, wrapped them in heart papers, and designed food and drink labels to match.

If you like the sweetheart theme, here are some free (for personal use) cupcake toppers that are ready to print.  Just print them, cut out the squares (or the hearts if you prefer), tape each one to the top of a toothpick, and stick into the middle of a cupcake.  Enjoy!


Soft Pretzels with Cheddar Cheese Dip

Anything dipped in cheese has to be good, right?  Soft pretzels are an especially fun snack to make and eat.  These are a great replacement for popcorn on a movie night or even as an appetizer for that Super Bowl party coming up.  Planning ahead for this recipe is key because there are a few steps involved.  Make sure you've got some time to prepare the dough early in the day or the night prior.

Soft Pretzels with Cheddar Cheese Dip


Soft Pretzels:
1 1/2 cups warm water
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 package active dry yeast
3 ounces unsalted butter, melted
2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
4 1/2 to 5 cups all-purpose flour
Vegetable oil
3 quarts water
3/4 cup baking soda
1 whole egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon cold water
Coarse sea salt
For the cheese sauce:
½ Tablespoon unsalted butter
½ Tablespoon all-purpose flour
½ cup milk
8 ounces Cheddar cheese, grated
* For the Pretzels: Combine the water, sugar, yeast, and butter in the bowl and mix with a mixer dough hook until combined. Let sit for 5 minutes.
* Add the salt and flour and mix on low speed until combined. Increase the speed and continue kneading until the dough begins to pull away from the side of the bowl. If the dough appears too wet, add additional flour, 1 tablespoon at a time. Remove the dough from the bowl, place on a flat surface and knead into a ball with your hands.
* Spray a bowl with cooking spray, add the dough, and lightly spray the dough as well. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot for about 1 hour.
* Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
* Bring the water to a boil in a medium-sized pot and add the baking soda.
* Remove the dough from the bowl and place on a flat surface. Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a long rope measuring about 20 inches. Cut the dough into one inch pieces to make the pretzel bites. 
* Boil the pretzel bites in the water solution in batches for about 30 seconds. Remove with a large slotted spoon and place on a baking sheet that has been lined with parchment paper.  Brush with the egg wash and season the tops with the salt. 

* Bake for 15 to 18 minutes until golden brown.

* Remove to a baking rack and let cool while making the cheese sauce.
* To make the cheese sauce:  Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and cook for 1 minute. Whisk in the milk and cook until slightly thickened. Remove from the heat and stir in the Cheddar cheese until smooth and completely melted. 

(Recipe from Two Peas and their Pod)


Making a Cozy Home

I just read an old article on the Care2 website that talked about making a cozy home by pleasing all of the senses.  It talked about the reduction of chemicals, adding natural elements, bringing in soft fabrics, cooking something tasty in the kitchen, and even positively altering the mood of the people in the home.  All of the elements made perfect sense in the way they promote comfort, wellbeing, and relaxation.  After all, your home is where you should feel your most secure and at ease.

The article got me thinking about how doing just one minor thing each week to improve your living environment can make a huge impact to your wellbeing.  If you light a couple candles when you come home from work one night, it may help calm you down after a stressful day.  Baking a batch of cookies on the weekend can fill your home with comforting smells that bring back memories and put a smile on your face.  Adding a wind chime to your patio brings peaceful sounds into your home.  Any of these little things can be incredibly meditative and comforting if you open yourself and your home up to the possibilities.  Try it by adding one of these elements into your home each week and feel how good it can be to have your own little hideaway.


Peanut Butter Cookies

Well, this recipe marks the end of my holiday baking for the year.  These tasty peanut butter cookies were a little treat I boxed up for those that needed a special thank you for their hard work throughout the year.  The recipe is really easy to whip up, and the cookies can be wrapped up in all kinds of ways.  I chose to pop them in a bakery box, add a little twine to the top, and stick a homemade label on the front to add a little warmth.  They're such a great gift to show your appreciation to someone.

If you're just looking for some comfort food, try filling your cookie jar with this recipe.  The intense peanut butter taste will definitely satisfy anyone's sweet tooth.


  • 2 cups peanut butter (Jif or natural peanut butter work well)
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease cookie sheet.

In a medium bowl, stir peanut butter and sugar together until smooth. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then stir in the baking soda, salt, and vanilla. Roll dough into 1 inch balls and place them 2 inches apart onto the prepared cookie sheets. Press a criss-cross into the top using the back of a fork.

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

* Enjoy with a glass of milk.

(Recipe from Allrecipes.com)


Overnight Cinnamon Rolls

Cinnamon rolls are part of the weekend breakfast rotation at my house.  They're the perfect sweet treat for a lazy morning spent lying around the house. Here's a recipe that can be made the night before to sit in the fridge overnight.  Even the icing can be made the night before and just reheated in the microwave the next morning.  This way, however late you decide to wake up, you can just pop them into the oven and await the warm, gooey bliss.

Overnight Cinnamon Rolls


  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 eggs
  • For the filling:
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • For the glaze:
  • 1 teaspoon light corn syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
  • 2 tablespoons half-and-half cream


* Heat the milk in a small saucepan until it bubbles, then remove from heat. Add the butter and stir until melted; let cool until lukewarm.

In a large mixing bowl, dissolve the yeast in the milk mixture. Add the sugar, 3 cups of flour, salt and eggs; stir well to combine. Add the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring well after each addition. When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and supple, about 8 minutes.

* Lightly oil a large mixing bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.

* Deflate the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and roll into a 10x 14 inch rectangle. Lightly brush the far edge with water. In a small bowl combine the cinnamon and 3/4 cup brown sugar and sprinkle over the rectangles. Then sprinkle the raisins and chopped nuts over the dough. Roll up the dough into a log and seal the seam.

* Cut the dough into 12 equal pieces; place the pieces in a greased 9x13 inch baking pan, or 12 inch deep dish pizza pan. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to rise overnight.

* The next morning, preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Take the rolls out of the refrigerator and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.

*Bake the rolls for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden. Meanwhile, combine the corn syrup with the vanilla in a small bowl. Whisk in the powdered sugar and enough cream to make a thick glaze; set aside. Drizzle the glaze over the rolls 
and serve warm.

(Recipe from Allrecipes.com)


Fresh Baked Bread

I've never made a loaf of bread from scratch before, but I decided that it's time to start.  I don't go for the usual white bread loafs from the grocery store that stick to the roof of your mouth.  Oh no, this girl likes her carbs to be hearty.  The loaves I can find at the farmer's market are good, but I know I can make one just as good at home. What's better than warm bread any time I please?  Not too much, I would think.

I found the perfect starter recipe from the authors of the cookbook, Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day.  The recipe allows you to mix a large amount of dough for the week, store it in the fridge until you need it, and then bake off as much as you'd like for a warm, fresh loaf or rolls.  The bread turned out fantastically well, and it was so easy to make.  You can bet that I'll be doing this regularly from now on.


Settling in at the Edge of the Cotswolds

My husband and I just had a little weekend getaway in the Cotswolds.  The tiny villages feel so warm and inviting.  They are all walkable little towns surrounded by rolling hills of sheep and bright green grass.  It seems like everyone is decked out in a quilted jacket and their favorite pair of boots, ready to head out on the footpaths through the fields.

The pace of life is leisurely, and the people are unapologetic about it.  What a perfect attitude for sinking into the remains of winter.  Just grab a cup of hot cocoa, curl up in a warm blanket next to the fire, and read a book that's been on your list for quite some time.  This is the right way to enjoy the season and not worry about rushing toward Spring.


Orange Currant and Cherry Scones

Scones are something that my husband loves to make, and the America's Test Kitchen recipe he uses makes the best scones that I've ever had.  That's really saying something because we live in England, a scone mecca.  These, however, are not dense biscuit scones.  They're filled with soft, flaky layers of buttery pastry dough and are amazingly light.

This time I helped him make these gems in two different flavors. We mixed orange zest into the batter with currants from our vegetable box in half of the dough and cherries in the other half. The result was perfection as usual.


8 TBS unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups currants or cherries
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup sour cream
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsps baking powder
1 1/2 tsp fresh orange zest
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda

For browning the tops:
2 Tbs melted butter

raw sugar, for sprinkling


* Freeze the butter either the night before or a few hours before starting to bake.  Put a couple mixing bowls into the freezer with your currants/cherries in them for use later.

* Preheat oven to 425 deg. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Set aside.

* Grate 8 TBS of butter and put back into the freezer.

* Whisk the milk and sour cream together and refrigerate until needed.

*Whisk the flour, 1/2 cup sugar, baking powder, orange zest, salt, and baking soda.

*Add the grated butter and toss until completely combined coated.

*Fold in the milk mixture until it is just combined. 

* Turn the dough onto a floured cutting board. Flour your hands and the dough and knead for about 30 seconds. It should barely hold together in a wet ball. Sprinkle a bit of flour over the dough as necessary for working with it.

* Roll dough out into approximately a 12 x 12 square. Fold the top and bottom of the dough over toward the center.  Then, fold the sides into the center.

*Put the dough in the freezer for about five to ten minutes.  While the dough is in the freezer, cut your fruit into bite-sized pieces if it isn't already.

* Flour your countertop and roll the chilled dough into a 12 x 12 square again. Sprinkle the top with your fruit and press the pieces gently into the dough.

*Start on one long end and roll the dough in a log, jelly-roll style.

* Flour each side of a knife and cut the dough in 4 small rectangles. Cut each rectangle in 2 triangles.

* Put the scones on a sprayed baking sheet. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with some raw sugar(or regular).

* Bake for 18-25 minutes until light golden brown. Let cool for five minutes after taking out of the oven.

* Enjoy!