Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Like a snowflake

Snowflakes are unique, little imperfect pieces of perfection, unless they're cookie-cutter designs (perfect in shape) like the ones found in this month's Eco-Emi box. Yes, they still were beautiful, bringing a smile to my face as they sprinkled out of the package (I really was grinning from ear to ear when I saw them), but they are all exactly the same. They also don't melt like true snowflakes, so I felt the need to make them my own and find a way to reuse them.

I hate to waste anything, saving random items in my craft closet for little DIY projects like this. My first thought was to make a pair of snowflake earrings, as this is the time of year for snow (although we are enjoying 60 degree temps today).

I quickly grabbed some earring hooks and a broken beaded necklace to make one of the simplest and faster pairs of earrings ever. Just check out this dangling style, which I literally tied together using a tiny section of the beaded necklace (I used pieces of this necklace in various other jewelry, and still have more left for future designs).

An even faster version of these wintry earrings would be to take a basic stud (something sparkly would be nice), punch the post through the center of the snowflake and wear it as a removable embellishment. No need to commit, much like my next idea.

I try to keep the safety pins that sometimes attach the tags to my clothes when I buy them (and I must confess that I also keep pieces of cord, floss, twine or ribbon from tags). I especially like the ones with this streamline shape. When hooked together into a chain, they can be worn as a necklace or a bracelet.

For this look, I opted to adorn a safety pin chain with some of the snowflakes to look like a charm bracelet. It's easy to thread a snowflake onto every other pin, as you can see in the photo to the left. You can make it in seconds before walking out the door (that's what I did).

As for any extra snowflakes, I think I might use them to decorate some stationary. If you received these snowflakes in an Eco-Emi box, what do you plan to do with yours?


The next part of today's post is very personal. I had considered not mentioning what's been going on in my life lately, for fear it wouldn't mesh with my blog's more positive vibe. However, I always pride my myself on being honest, so I just can't keep it bottled up inside.

January has been a difficult month for me, which surprisingly is the reason I've been blogging more frequently. I decided to bury myself in these posts, rather than dealing with my true emotions.

In the beginning of the month, Matthew's grandmother took a turn for the worse and slowly slipped away from us. On Friday the 13th, I got the call that she passed away. Then, my grandfather ended up in the hospital. I went to see him for the last time last week, feeling like I had just gone through the same experience with my grandmother-in-law. He took his last breath early Sunday morning; today would have been his 91st birthday.

I've gone through a lot of emotions, mostly crying, but I know he's in a better place. Today, I should celebrate their lives, and remember the good times. They've meant and still mean so much to me, so I'm sharing this personal information with you. I hope you understand.


Okay, now that's out; I can continue with a more positive spin on things. Thanks for listening (or in this case, reading).

My hubby Matthew wanted to cheer me up yesterday (at least temporarily) by giving me my Valentine's gift early. Knowing how much I adore Nina Cortes (here's the Q&A I did with her on my site, if you missed it) and her jewelry designs (Nina Loren is named for her and her business partner), he took it upon himself to contact her about the necklace she was custom-making for me, as well as a pair of earrings I had my eyes on. He wanted to make sure the items would be ready for Valentine's Day.

Well, they both arrived in the middle of my funk, so Matthew didn't wait to give them to me (he hates seeing me like that and was hoping to brighten the mood). He also had some really kind words to say about Nina, which backs up how sweet I always say she is (she really is).

Just like a snowflake, her jewelry is unique, as it is made by hand. Her gemstone and wire designs sparkle in the sunlight and are special works of art, much like each and every one of us.

This morning, I read a post from The Paper Mama about one negative comment in a sea of positive ones still causing so much hurt, and how to overcome it. Specifically, she was referring to one about her looks, mainly her nose. At first it got to her, but then she came up with a self-portrait contest idea to empower all her readers (I don't think I'll enter, but was still inspired by it).

I can totally relate, as I have had my share of negative blog and YouTube comments (the latest was about my screaming child), not to mention being self-conscience about my nose, too (one day, I'll grow into it). But, when it comes to our looks, these unique features are part of who we are and who we came from. I have my dad's nose, and while looking at pictures of his late father (the one I mentioned in the mid-section of this post), I saw a resemblance in him, too. I may not be a model, but I'm proud of who I am.

So, in honor of what would have been my grandfather's 91st birthday, I posed in my necklace and earrings (worn separately, of course, as I didn't get all "matchy matchy" with them) for some self portraits with an outstretched hand (it's amazing how many pics of me on this site are taken that way). Poppy (that's what I called my grandfather), so what does Nanny (she's his wife/my late grandmother, who's been waiting for him in Heaven; she's also the one who gave me my fashion sense) think of my new bling?

Thanks Nina, for having such perfect timing (the jewelry did make me think of my Nanny and how Poppy would finally be reunited with her), and to The Paper Mama (I now see that just by looking in a mirror and/or photo, late and living relatives are right here with me) and Ela of Ulterior Harmony (who sent me a very thoughtful e-mail right before I posted this), as well. I'm now viewing things in a better light.

Happy birthday Poppy. I'll always love you. Tell Nanny I love her, too.

*BTW, Nina did not ask me to do this post (actually, I haven't even told her about it yet). I'm just a big fan and wanted to show her beautiful work to you. The part about my grandfather, The Paper Mama, etc., were spontaneous additions/modifications to this post. Sorry that my thoughts are all over the place; it's just reflects my emotional ups and downs at the moment.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Inside my first Eco-Emi

Hi everyone! If you follow me on Twitter, you might have caught my tweet about receiving my first Eco-Emi Box late Friday afternoon. I was so excited to announce its arrival and anxious to open it. I can't believe I was able to wait until the next day to see what was inside, so I could capture my true initial reaction in this video for you.

Unfortunately, I had a lot of trouble uploading the video to YouTube on Saturday, and therefore, ran out of time to post about it. Thank goodness I found a moment today to review what was inside.

First of all, let me tell you a bit about Eco-Emi for those of you who don't already have a subscription. I'm a little late signing up, as the service has been available for nearly a year (I believe it will be a year old next month), but that's okay, as it seems to just keep getting better.

A woman named Christine created Eco-Emi (named for her dog, Emilia; you can find the whole story in the About section on the Eco-Emi site) as a way to inform others about organic, natural, eco-friendly products on the market and provide a fun way to try them. Basically, you pay $15 per month (which includes shipping) to receive a "mystery box" full of 5 to 10 samples of natural, organic, green, eco-friendly or Fair Trade products, mainly beauty related, but also including food and cleaning products. Some are just small samples, but others are actually full-size products.

The best part is getting the surprise box in the mail. You have no idea what products are inside until you open it (unless someone else posted their box contents online first, and you couldn't resist watching it; I know I've viewed my fair share of videos showing what was sent in past months).

So what did I receive in my January Eco-Emi Box?

If you watched our video at the top of this post, you already know, but for those of you who didn't, here's an overview, as quoted from the note card from Christine inside, and followed by my personal thoughts:

Lip Tint by JR Watkins: "We are pleased to feature 6 shades of Lip Tints by JR Watkins. Each person will receive one lip balm in a surprise shade from the following colors, Stardust, Scarlet Sunset, Tickled Pink, Strike-a-Rose, Simply Mauve-Laus and Berry Charming. These lip tints are packed with awesome ingredients and are naturally flavored with pure peppermint oil!"

This lip tint reminded me of the ones by Burt's Bees and has similar ingredients. I was taken back to my childhood visits to see family in Minnesota and bringing home JR Watkins products like their vanilla extract (the company is located in Minnesota). I received Scarlet Sunset, which is the perfect burnt orange glow for my skin tone.

Endangered Species lip balm by Merry Hempsters: "Endangered Wildlife Lip Balm is simply the finest certified organic herbal lip therapy on the market. Eco-friendly and healthy, USDA certified organic lip balm in concert with philanthropy make a winning combination. Merry Hempsters hope is to nourish lips, as well as educate. We are featuring 3 different balms featuring an endangered animal. You will receive one surprise balm about either the Right Whale in peppermint, Monk Seal in lavender orange or the Polar Bear in vanilla."

We received the Monk Seal in lavender orange. I happened to really like the scent, but Hayden's reaction was priceless in our video. She really wanted the lip tint instead, but now she's claimed this one as her own.

Sprouted Organic Quinoa by Tru Roots: "TruRoots produces the finest quality quinoa in partnership with organic family farmers on the high plains of the Andes in Bolivia. This tiny seed is one of nature's most healthful and rejuvenating foods - delightfully sweet, fluffy and moist. TruRoots Organic Sprouted Quinoa is the perfect blend of traditional ancient wisdom and modern technology and convenience. Rich in nutrition and taste, quinoa has it all and is great paired with stir-fried veggies!"

I don't really eat a lot of grains, but when I do, I prefer gluten-free options, such as quinoa. I especially like the fact that it's a good source of vegan protein. This quinoa is already sprouted, which really compliments my high raw diet.

Herbal tea by TeaGschwendner Acerola Fruit Tea - no caffeine & Herbal tea by TeaGschwendner Marani Green Tea: "The Marani tea has been a popular flavored green tea for many years in Europe and the US. This is a tropical paradise of fruit flavors spiked with pineapple and green tea from Japan and China. The Acerola Fruit Tea features a tart hibiscus joined by the cherry-like acerola fruit. This sweet, sour flavor is enhanced by candied pineapple and papaya pieces. Excellent iced and incredible hot. We have included two empty tea bags for you to make your tea in."

I was so excited to see this loose tea in my Eco-Emi box, because I'm a huge fan of loose tea. I have a special tea pot for brewing it, as well as tea infuser mesh pincer spoon for making individual cups. I thought it was nice to find the empty tea bags included, which reminded me of this blog post Kelli of Animal-Friendly Eating did as a gift-giving idea.

Organic Fair Trade Coconut Oil by Kelapo: "Harvested from exclusive coconut palms in Sri Lanka, this 100% organic, trans fat free oil can be used as an all-natural, flavorful and energy-packed, butter alternative. Coconut oil is fantastic to cook with or bake with, it's ideal for taking off waterproof mascara and is a wonderful moisturizer for your body and face. Coconut oil is also a fantastic conditioner for your hair. Just rub a pea-sized amount in your hands and apply to dry hair, combing it through with your fingers for super soft, shiny hair!"

It's no surprise that I'm already a big fan of coconut oil, as I used it in my rawified Cupcake Wars recipes from my last couple posts. I also use it to remove makeup, moisturize my skin, deep condition my hair and make my own natural beauty products, like this fresh beet lip stain and these lip balms. This sample packet makes it convenient to take this coconut oil with me anywhere.

Honeydew Spearmint Lotion by Deep Steep: "Deep Steep's Body Lotion provides a light, everyday moisturizer while boosting your skin's natural ability to rehydrate. A detoxifying infusion of organic herbal extracts blended with organic oils, butters, and vitamins, makes this light lotion the perfect anytime moisturizer of choice."

This time of year, my hands get so dry. I can't wait to try this cruelty-free, vegan lotion. I think I'll keep it in my purse for some emergency moisturizing on the go.

Organic Eyeliner in black brown by Lauren Brooke Cosmetiques: "Made of 100% organic oils and butters, including jojoba oil, caster oil and shea butter. This eyeliner pencil has been specifically formulated with all vegan-friendly ingredients and application is quick and easy with the convenience of a pencil! I LOVE this product!"

I was in need of a new eyeliner pencil, and this one was just right. It's organic, natural, vegan and is the perfect shade. I'm so happy to have found this in my Eco-Emi box.

Grapefruit Seed & Orange Peel Liquid Laundry Detergent by Biokleen: "Biokleen products are 3X concentrated for the best value and smallest environmental footprint. Experience superior cleaning results from natural ingredients including extracts of lime, orange, grapefruit seed, essential oils and soy."

This product was not new to me, as I've received samples of it in the past. I'll probably hold on to this one for a trip. While I'm mentioning Biokleen on my site, I have to add that the company's all-purpose cleaner is a staple in this house. It comes in a very concentrated bottle, which lasts a long time. I just add a little to a spray bottle, filled with water. Talk about saving a lot of packaging.

Organic Hand Purifier by Dr. Clean Green: "Dr. Clean Green's Instant Hand Purifier is one of a kind. A unique blend of purifying essential oils eliminated the need for excessive alcohol, hazardous chemicals or artificial colors and fragrances. Simply a naturally sweet-smelling, germ-killing lotion that goes on smoothly and works quickly, gently and effectively."

As a busy mom, its nice to carry this germ-killing product with me in my purse. I feel much better about applying this to my kids' skin (as well as my own) when we are out and about this cold season. It's a creamy, moisturizing lotion that's scent and texture reminds me of some of Pangea Organics products (have loved that company for years). Recently, I found some great recipes for making natural hand sanitizer, but this is even easier to have on hand.

*Just to let you know, I paid for my subscription to Eco-Emi. I did not receive any compensation for the review. I thanked Christine in the video, because I was satisfied with my purchase and what she selected for this month's box.

In case you missed it:

Friday, January 27, 2012

"Rawified" Cupcake Wars bases

When you are in a Cupcake War, you've gotta have a base, and it this case, I'm giving you four.

If you caught my last two posts (a preview pic and video, followed by the prep work), you already know about my "rawified" versions of Sticky Fingers Bakery's winning cupcakes from a recent episode of "Cupcake Wars." Yesterday, I showed you how to make date paste, Raw "Butterdream" (with four variations for today's mostly raw cupcakes) and the garnishes, and today, we'll put all the elements together with recipes for the bases.

Just like on the show, we'll start with the Rolling Stones Brown Sugar Cupcake. I didn't use brown sugar, but I incorporated a hint of blackstrap molasses and maple syrup powder to mimic the flavor. I also found some maple sugar flakes to sprinkle around the outside rim of the frosting for added flavor and texture.

And, remember how I said I'd share a funny story about the frosting? Well, it is supposed to be a spiced rum frosting, which presented a dilemma: should I use rum (although I don't drink) or a rum extract (which contains alcohol anyway, as well as corn syrup and other yucky ingredients)? I went with the actual rum, since I'd only be using a little bit.

I was using such a small amount that I snagged some from my parent's house (they only have a bottle on hand for entertaining). No one was home when I stopped by, so I helped myself. Unfortunately, I didn't know what to put it in, so I grabbed a shot glass and drove it home in the "open container." Thank goodness I didn't get pulled over. How would I explain that to the officer? Do you think he'd believe me that I don't drink and that I was just taking some of my parent's rum to make a raw vegan cupcake? Ridiculous!

Anyway, here's the recipe:

Brown Sugar Cupcake

*a mostly raw vegan version of Sticky Fingers Bakery's Rolling Stones Brown Sugar Cupcake
In a mini food processor or blender, grind the almonds into a flour-like consistency (you can also substitute some of the almonds for leftover nut pulp from making nutmilk to result in a lighter cake texture), and transfer the "flour" to a bowl.

Next, add the date paste, molasses, apple cider vinegar, maple powder, vanilla and sea salt. Whisk to combine (a whisk helps keep the "batter" fluffier). The batter should be moist, but not so damp that it requires "baking" in a dehydrator (although you could if you desire).

Form the batter into a cupcake shape, leaving a melon ball size valley in the center and a small amount to the side to top it off. Fill the cupcake with raw "butterdream" and top it with the excess dough. Carefully blend in the seams.

Frost the cupcake with Spiced Rum "Butterdream" Icing. Then, sprinkle the edges with maple sugar flakes (optional) and top with a piece of Raw Brown Sugar Nut Brittle. Enjoy!


Now, moving on to the next recipe, I "rawified" Sticky Fingers Bakery's Man in Black Johnny Cashew Cupcake. It's described in the episode as a black cocoa cupcake, topped with cashews, dark chocolate frosting, more cashews and a chocolate cowboy hat and boots. In the final round of the show, a caramel, turtle-like filling was added, so I reserved half of the Raw Brown Sugar Nut Brittle recipe (but mixed with cashews instead of pecans. I hate to waste anything) to use for the center of my mostly raw version.

I refer to these recipes as mostly raw as they do contain ingredients that are not technically raw, yet often used in raw vegan recipes. This one, in particular, also contains dutch-processed cocoa, which is not the most nutritious option. Yes, I could have used raw cacao powder, but I went with the dutch-processed to achieve a much more similar flavor to profile when compared to the baked original.

I also used the dutch-processed cocoa in the Raw Cowboy Boot Cookie. I decided to make a cookie, since I didn't have a chocolate mold in the shape of a cowboy boot (or a hat, which I opted to omit from the recipe). Here's how it turned out:

"Rawified" Dark Cocoa
& Cashew Cupcake

*a mostly raw vegan version of Sticky Fingers Bakery's Man in Black Johnny Cashew Cupcake
In a mini food processor or blender, grind the almonds and cashews with the cacao or cocoa powder into a flour-like consistency (you can also substitute some of the almonds for leftover nut pulp from making nutmilk to result in a lighter cake texture), and transfer the "flour" to a bowl.

Next, add the date paste, vanilla, maple syrup and sea salt. Whisk to combine (a whisk helps keep the "batter" fluffier). The batter should be moist, but not so damp that it requires "baking" in a dehydrator (although you could if you desire).

Form the batter into a cupcake shape, leaving a melon ball size valley in the center and a small amount to the side to top it off. Fill the cupcake with the raw brown sugar cashew filling and top it with the excess dough. Carefully blend in the seams and submerge some cashews pieces into the top of the cupcake.

Frost the cupcake with Dark Chocolate "Butterdream" Icing. Then, sprinkle with more cashew pieces and top with a Chocolate Cookie Cowboy Boot. Yum!


Sticky Fingers Bakery's Salt-N-Peppa-inspired Cupcake really brought back memories of my friends and I singing along with their raps/songs. Actually, I still have fun listening to them.

I also got a kick out of the chocolate fondant headphones (I made mine out of raw cookies), which make the cupcake look a little like Princess Leia. I'll have to remember that, if I ever make Raw Star Wars Cupcakes again.

Take a peek under those headphones, and you'll see why this is a Salt-N-Peppa-inspired Cupcake. There is a raw salted caramel (I just quickly mixed some date paste with pure maple syrup and sea salt) drizzled on a Vanilla Bean "Butterdream" that frosts the top of a chocolate smoked pepper cupcake. It's essentially a salt and pepper cupcake.

So, what did I do for the smoked pepper flavor?

Well, I have to admit that I saved one of my Punk Rawk Labs nutmilk cheeses in the freezer "for a rainy day," as they say. It wasn't raining when I made these, but it was nice to have it in a pinch. I literally pinched about 1 Tbsp. of the Punk Rawk Labs Macadamia Smoked Nutmilk Cheese off from the outside edge (that's where the smoked peppercorns can be found). It was exactly what I needed to give this chocolate cupcake some personality and an unexpected kick.

Speaking of kick, please don't forget about Alissa of Punk Rawk Labs Kickstarter campaign that will be ending soon. Check out her page to lend your support. Thanks!

Alissa's nutmilk cheese has also been a star ingredient in this Raw Chocolate Pomegranate Vampire Bite Cupcake I made around Halloween time. You'd be amazed how good it tastes.

Anyway, back to this cupcake, you can also substitute some "butterdream" for the nutmilk cheese, but you'll have to add in some fresh ground pepper and liquid smoke (or smoked peppercorns). Here's how it all comes together:

"Rawified" Salted Caramel
& Smoked Pepper Cupcake

*a mostly raw vegan version of Sticky Fingers Bakery's Salt-N-Peppa-inspired Cupcake
In a mini food processor or blender, grind the almonds with the cocoa powder into a flour-like consistency (you can also substitute some of the almonds for leftover nut pulp from making nutmilk to result in a lighter cake texture), and transfer the "flour" to a bowl.

Next, add the date paste, smoked nutmilk cheese, vanilla, maple syrup and sea salt. Whisk to combine (a whisk helps keep the "batter" fluffier). The batter should be moist, but not so damp that it requires "baking" in a dehydrator (although you could if you desire).

Form the batter into a cupcake shape. Frost the cupcake with Vanilla Bean "Butterdream" Icing. Then, drizzle the top with raw salted caramel sauce and garnish with the Chocolate Cookie Headphone pieces. Mmmm!


Okay, you made it to the fourth and final cupcake of the war, Sticky Fingers Bakery's Chuck Berry-inspired cupcake. It is described as being an orange cupcake (I used orange zest to flavor and color my raw cupcake) with blueberry cinnamon filling (orange and blueberry is SO GOOD together) and topped with raspberry frosting and fondant decorations, including a guitar and musical notes.

Hayden immediately suggested using freeze-dried strawberries (one of her favorite snacks) to turn our "butterdream" base into a scrumptious berry pink. I know it's not raspberry, but it looks the same and still compliments the flavor of the cake and filling.

Since we were already grinding the freeze-dried strawberries into a powder to color and flavor the icing, we also decided to use it in our fruity fondant (a combination of freeze-dried fruit, coconut flakes and coconut oil) to make our guitar garnish. We then substituted freeze-dried pineapple to make the musical notes (we also added a tiny bit of pineapple to the strawberry fondant to give the guitar some sparkle). Here's the result:

"Rawified" Orange, Blue
& Pink berry Cupcake

*a mostly raw vegan version of Sticky Fingers Bakery's Chuck Berry-inspired Cupcake
In a mini food processor or blender, grind the almonds, coconut flakes and orange zest into a flour-like consistency (you can also substitute some of the almonds for leftover nut pulp from making nutmilk to result in a lighter cake texture), and transfer the "flour" to a bowl.

Next, add the date paste, vanilla and sea salt. Whisk to combine (a whisk helps keep the "batter" fluffier). The batter should be moist, but not so damp that it requires "baking" in a dehydrator (although you could if you desire).

Form the batter into a cupcake shape, leaving a melon ball size valley in the center and a small amount to the side to top it off. Fill the cupcake with Blueberry Cinnamon Filling and top it with the excess dough. Carefully blend in the seams.

Frost the cupcake with Strawberry "Butterdream" Icing. Then, decorate with Fruity Fondant Musical Notes and Guitar. Rawk on!


Hope you made it through the Cupcake War okay, and that you have a lovely weekend. Don't forget to watch Blythe Raw Live today. I know I'll be watching :-)

Streaming video by Ustream

BTW, congrats to Nina Cortes for reaching her Kickstarter goal. Thanks for all your support!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Prepping for cupcake battle

I must apologize for the brief tease of a post last night. I was so excited to share our "rawified" versions of Sticky Fingers Bakery's second win on "Cupcake Wars," but did not have time to post how I did it or any info about my inspiration.

First of all, let me tell you about the show. As you know, I'm a huge fan of Food Network's "Cupcake Wars," despite the fact that I wouldn't actually eat all of the cupcakes (or ingredients) presented by its contestants. I'll admit that I sometimes indulge in the baked ones, if they are vegan, and especially when they are from Sticky Fingers Bakery in D.C. (gotta root for the home team, although the kids and I really like Chloe's cupcakes, as well). However, most of the time, I just make raw vegan versions of the cupcakes to try in my own kitchen.

When Sticky Fingers won "Cupcake Wars" initially, I "rawified" just the one cupcake that was posted on the Food Network and VegNews websites. When I heard this vegan bakery would be back for an All-Stars episode, I opted to make mostly raw versions of all four winning cupcakes (these are still, in fact, cupcakes, so I made a few not-so-stellar ingredient exceptions for authenticity's sake; please remember these are not meant for eating daily).

If you watched my preview video yesterday, you already know what the flavors were that I "rawified" from the American Music Award episode. They're Sticky Fingers Bakery's Rolling Stones Brown Sugar Cupcake, Man in Black Johnny Cashew Cupcake, Salt-n-Peppa-inspired Cupcake and Chuck Berry-inspired Cupcake. I'll tell you more about each one, when I post their full recipes. For now, here's the prep work (best to do the day before your personal Cupcake War), including making the date paste, "butterdream" (rather than traditional buttercream) and garnishes:

Date Paste: soak dates overnight and then blend into a paste.

Raw "Butterdream" Base
  • 1 cup macadamia nuts
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 4 small dates
  • squeeze of fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • dash of sea salt
Blend all the ingredients in a high speed blender until smooth. Pour into a container and chill in the fridge overnight until ready to use.

*If making the "butterdream" frosting for the four "rawified" Sticky Fingers cupcakes in this post, here's how to prep them for each cupcake:

Spiced Rum Icing: mix 1/4 cup of the "butterdream" with 1/2 Tbsp. of rum (remind me to share the funny story that goes with that in my next post) or 1/2 tsp. rum extract, and cinnamon, allspice and cloves, to taste

Dark Chocolate Icing: mix 1/4 cup of the "butterdream" with 1 Tbsp. dark cocoa powder (raw cocoa powder or dutch-processed, but only for the authenticity of this recipe)

Vanilla Bean Icing: mix 1/4 cup of the "butterdream" with the seeds from 1/2 a vanilla bean

Strawberry Icing: mix 1/4 cup of the "butterdream" with 1 or 2 Tbsp. of finely ground freeze-dried strawberries (just use a personal blender or very clean coffee grinder to turn freeze-dried strawberries into a powder)

Garnishes, etc.

Brown Sugar Nut Brittle & Johnny Cashew Filling: In a small cup or bowl, mix together 1 Tbsp. date paste, 1 Tbsp. of the "butterdream," 1/2 Tbsp. maple powder, touch of vanilla extract and a dash of sea salt. Divide the mixture in half. Add some chopped pecan pieces to one half of the mixture and chopped cashews to the other. Spread the pecan mixture on a piece of parchment in a thin square or rectangular shape to look like brittle and freeze until firm. The cashew mixture will be used to fill the Johnny Cashew Cupcake.

Chocolate Boot Cookie and Headphones: In a mini food processor, combine 1/4 cup almonds, 1 Tbsp. coconut flakes, 1 Tbsp. cocoa powder and a dash of sea salt. Process into a "flour." Add 1/2 of a date, a touch of vanilla and a drizzle of pure maple syrup, and process to form a dough. Flatten the dough as you would when baking cookies, and use a small round cookie cutter to cut out two circles for the headphones. Then, with a knife, cut out a strip for the top of the headphones and a cowboy boot shape. Bend the strip like a rainbow and set all the pieces in the fridge until ready to use.

Fruity fondant: For the guitar, finely grind 2 Tbsp. freeze-dried strawberries (for some sparkle, include one piece of freeze-dried pineapple) and 1/2 Tbsp. coconut flakes in a personal blender or very clean coffee grinder. Add the powder to a small cup or bowl, and stir in about 1/2 Tbsp. of coconut oil to bind the powder together (you may need to add a tiny bit more, if necessary, but be careful not to add too much). Finish mixing with your hands and then flatten the mixture into a thin layer on a piece of parchment. Use a knife to cut out a guitar shape.

For the musical notes, follow the directions for the guitar, but replace the strawberries with freeze-dried pineapple. Cut into musical note shapes.


Okay, so now you know how to prep for cupcake "unbaking." Hopefully, I'll get a chance to post the bases and assembly tomorrow :-)