A Birthday Cupcake Tasting

Every year I typically try to do something fun for Jill’s birthday. It usually involves a small party with multiple variations on a type of food. One year I made three types of pizza from scratch, one year I made three different types of brownies, and one year I made four types of macaroni and cheese. Unfortunately, due to schedule conflicts, we did not have a party last year. Not wanting to let the opportunity pass un-celebrated this year, we decided to pick the tradition back up. This year Jill requested a cupcake tasting.

We ordered three 20 inch pizzas from Decent Pizza: a cheese pizza, a pizza with Bradley’s Sausage (a locally made sausage) and fresh mushrooms, and a pizza with eggplant and spinach. The pizza was served, of course, with a selection of Cupcake Vineyard wines, including chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, cabernet sauvignon, and merlot.

Decent Pizza makes delicious pizza

I made a spinach and blueberry salad with the most delicious spinach (grown in my parents garden), organic blueberries from New Leaf Market, and freshly grated parmesan cheese. My parents always grow this amazing, hearty, dark green spinach; it makes the spinach from the grocery store seem flat and tasteless.

A spinach salad
Garden fresh spinach, organic blueberries, and parmesan

Following the pizza and salad came the cupcakes. I made a selection of regular-sized and mini cupcakes in four flavors. The wildflower honey cupcakes were made with honey from the bees Jillian’s family used to keep to pollinate the orange groves. Sunflower seed butter cupcakes were a more subtly flavored spin on peanut butter cupcakes. Chai tea cupcakes were a boldly spiced cupcake to contrast the more delicately flavored wildflower honey and sunflower butter cupcakes. The red velvet cupcakes, a cupcake standard, were made with natural red food coloring made from beet and hibiscus extract. The natural food coloring did not give the cupcakes the same intensely red color traditional red velvet cupcakes have, but they tasted great. While we liked each of the cupcakes, Jill and I both agreed that the sunflower butter cupcakes were our favorite.

Happy Birthday, Jill!

Assortment of cupcakes
An assortment of cupcakes

Tasting Plate for a Hungry Girl

Anyone who is my friend on Facebook or follows me on Twitter knows that for the past six months I have been enthusiastically riding my bike, preparing for the Miles for Miley ride 🙂  I feel like I’ve come a long way: my first ride in May was a slow 10 miles and two days ago I rode a speedy, solo 40 mile ride (which would have been 50 miles if I hadn’t run over a piece of glass and popped my back tire).  One thing I’ve noticed about training for an endurance ride is that I am hungry (well, not right after a long ride but during the next day or two, my belly is growling)!  Food is fuel for my long workouts.  Today, my belly has been rumbling since right after breakfast but I wasn’t hungry for anything in particular, so I made what I consider a blog-worthy tasting plate:

My lunch nibbles included (clock-wise from top):

A few thin slices of sharp white cheddar cheese

Crackers: two sweet and two savory

A spoon of sunflower nut butter (read about my love for nut butter here)

A Honeycrisp apple (best apple variety ever!), cut into slices

1/2 of a medium avocado, cut into slices

2/3 of a red bell pepper, cut into slices

A small pour of Annie’s Goddess dressing (so yummy!)

Served with my favorite beverage: grapefruit flavored La Croix

What a fun lunch!  I enjoyed putting together different yummy bites: apple with sunflower butter on a sweet cracker, apple slice with cheese, avocado with cheese on a savory cracker, red pepper dipped in dressing, red pepper dipped in sunflower butter, etc.  I didn’t finish the avocado, cheese, or sunflower nut butter, but everything else was eaten up!  On the nutrition side, this was a great combo of fruits/veggies, carbs, and healthy fats.  I’m not sure why I don’t eat meals like this more often – it was easy, affordable, versatile, and fun.