Another Year, Another Birthday

I love the first few months of a new year. The holiday chaos is over and fresh starts are quite welcoming, even if they don’t last very long. What I really enjoy though is birthdays! Tim celebrated his in January and I celebrated mine last week. We definitely get our fair share of sweet treats and full day adventures during birthday time. It’s not uncommon to let our small festivities last longer than a day. That’s normal, right?

Anyway, I turned 36. Even though I am creeping slowly toward the big 4-0, I still feel like a kid. I doubt I will ever feel like an adult – well, except when I have to pay bills and make serious decisions about stuff. But otherwise, I still love swings, cookies, throwing snowballs, and sleeping late.

We set off early on my special day for a hike in the always gorgeous Oregon wilderness. While we didn’t expect to encounter snow, we did. It wasn’t enough to deter our hike. We even brought along birthday cupcakes. Tim was a champ and baked the cupcakes with my gentle supervision (heĀ almost forgot the salt!). I frosted them and we ate the entire dozen over the course of a week. Here are a few highlights from the hike:

Amy Hiking 02

Starting off on our hike in the snow.

Salmon River 02

The Salmon River, which parallels nearly the entire hike.

Nurse Log 02

A nurse log: Nurse logs are fallen trees that provide nutrients for new forest growth! You can see three trees have grown on top of this one. It’s so fascinating!

Cupcakes 02

Birthday cupcakes on a log! These were orange cupcakes with vanilla frosting and they were delicious.

Amy and Cupcake 02

Enjoying a cupcake

Tim and Cupcake 02

I’m not sure who loved the cupcakes more! After our hike we went out to dinner and then home for a relaxing night of watching Cheers and eating more cupcakes. Perfect day.

For the Love of Cupcakes!

Today I rode my bike home from work in a downpour. I was stubborn and decided not to put on my balloon-butt rain pants. As a result, I arrived at my apartment with wet feet, wet pants, and a wet head (because I was too dumb to put up my hood). All I wanted was a cupcake. Sadly, my pantry wasn’t properly equipped for such satisfying treats. Do you want to know what I had instead? Tofu scramble. That’s hardly close to a cupcake. Which got me to thinking about how much I love cupcakes. Here is a photographic jaunt down cupcake memory lane:

That’s a lot of cupcakes.

 

Army of Cupcakes

Believe it or not, these Pumpkin Cheesecake Cupcakes document my first time using pumpkin this season. I know most folks are finished with pumpkin, but I got off to a late start. And while I only made a dozen, it sure seemed like an army of cupcakes when I lined them up on the table! Four down, eight to go!

Pumpkin cupcake + cream cheese frosting + graham cracker crumbs = cheesecake in cupcake form!

Pumpkin Cupcakes (adapted from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World)

1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 cup unrefined sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ginger
1/8 teaspoon allspice
1/8 teaspoon cloves
1/2 cup soy milk
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup canned pumpkin
1/3 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and fill a muffin tin with liners. Set aside.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together dry ingredients (flour through cloves).
3. In a glass measuring cup, stir together soy milk and vinegar and let sit for a few minutes to curdle. Stir in pumpkin, oil, and vanilla extract.
4. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients. Mix until no flour remains.
5. Distribute batter evenly amongst muffin liners and bake for 18-22 minutes or until tops spring back when lightly touched.
6. Allow cupcakes to cool for a few minutes in tin before removing and placing on a cooling rack.
7. To assemble cupcakes, pipe cream cheese frosting on tops and sprinkle with graham cracker crumbs. Voila!

A few notes:

*I used the cream cheese frosting recipe from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World.
*I used the graham cracker recipe from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar and ground them in my food processor. I didn’t use the entire batch of graham crackers.

Happy Pumpkin Season!

 

Birthday Cupcakes

My attempt to reduce my sugar intake isn’t going as well as planned:

Purple Cow Cupcakes (grape cupcakes with vanilla bean frosting)

Today was my 34th birthday. I am not one to have big celebrations. In fact, I am quite the opposite. Tim and I enjoyed a long bike ride under sunny skies and lunch at our favorite vegan cafe. We visited with our good friend, Kittee. We played Bananagrams. And we made Purple Cow Cupcakes. Tim baked the cupcakes (prettiest cupcakes I’ve seen in a long time!) and I took care of the frosting. I wanted a birthday treat that was different and these cupcakes happily filled my wishes. The recipe is in The Vegan Girl’s Guide to Life, courtesy of Hannah Kaminsky.

My day is slowly coming to a close and I hardly feel any older. I mean, I got tater tots, a wind-up toy snail, maple syrup, bubble gum lip balm, and hair holders for my birthday. Seriously, I will always be a kid at heart :)

Knock, Knock. Who’s there?

Tahini.

Tahini who?

Tahihitoo!

Ah hahaaa! Lame (not really a joke) joke. Goodness, it’s been awhile, huh? Let’s catch up on the last month, shall we?

First, Tim and I celebrated his birthday with cupcakes and lots of laziness:

Jaffa Cupcakes: Chocolate-orange cupcakes with orange frosting and drizzles of chocolate ganache. These were yummy.

Next, I attended an inspirational talk given by Jasmin Singer (big thanks to the Let Live Foundation for organizing this event!). The talk focused on how we can extend our advocacy beyond just the food on our plates, and speak up for animals in our daily lives. It was really wonderful to sit in a room full of people with a passion for animal activism. It’s easy to get lost in the shuffle and forget that we can all do more than just eat vegan food. Watch the talk and learn how you can use your talents to further help those without a voice:

Then, I baked up a few storms for Portland’s Vegan Bake Sale for Haiti. The sale made over $3,000!!! Woohoo!! Here are a few photos of the treats I made (with plenty of help from Tim!!!):

Rocky Road Cookies: Chocolate cookies with toasted almonds, dried sweet cherries, and vegan marshmallows.

Savory Soft Pretzels: Chewy, soft pretzels sprinkled with lots of yummy seeds.

Chocolate Almond Sandwich Cookies: Dark chocolate sandwiched between chewy almond cookie wafers.

And finally, Tim and I visited Out to Pasture Animal Sanctuary in Estacada, OR. There was a big open house and lots of people showed up to meet, feed, and play with the resident animals. This was my first time visiting an animal sanctuary and I absolutely LOVED the experience!! My favorite animal was this sweet lil’ piggie who walked right up to me and gently snorted his wet snout in my face:

Here are some more photos of the animals we met:

My favorite part of the day was feeding the pigs lettuce and seeing just how happy they were waddling around in the mud!

My birthday is Wednesday, so stay tuned for photos of the cupcakes Tim will be baking!!!