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Fluffy Corn Cake with Guava Frosting + Photos from Colombia

Cakes, Desserts

A few weeks ago, Nespresso invited me to Colombia to learn more about how their farming practices deliver high quality coffee in a sustainable way…You all know how huge of a fan I am so how could I say no?!!

I overnighted some rain boots and hopped on a flight to Medellín, Colombia. From there we all jumped on a helicopter (I was maybe a little nervous about it—heights are not my friend!) to Jardín, a small town about 2 hours south of Medellín. It’s a coffee town, surrounded by coffee farms, which sprinkle the region.

When we arrived in the town center of Jardín, it was early Sunday morning and the town was full of people coming in from their farms for a day of church and relaxation.

The town of Jardín is quaint, colorful and abundant with roses. Farmers and their families drink coffee in the square, gossip with their friends, buy groceries for the week and spend a day of leisure. So, we did that too. We had a chill breakfast and began to learn about Nespresso’s sustainability story…

I was lucky enough to sit with the US President and CEO of Nespresso, Guillaume Le Cunff, and Director of Expocafé, Juan Carlos Ardila, and his wife, Davi. I loved all of them so much. Juan Carlos, whose own father was a coffee farmer, told us the story of the Nespresso AAA Sustainable Quality™ Program, developed together with the nonprofit the Rainforest Alliance.

I learned that there are so many more components to creating a sustainable company and industry than just environmental. Socio-economic sustainability is important, too!

A lot of coffee farmers, specifically small coffee farmers, are susceptible to so many things that are out of their control: mainly weather and market volatility. Meaning if one year the weather is erratic and makes a farmer’s crop unsellable, the farmer makes little to zero money that year. This obviously makes it incredibly difficult for a farmer to support their family.

Nespresso is exploring ways to help farmers deal with extreme climate impacts, including providing crop insurance for farmers in Colombia. In addition, Nespresso is working with a number of local partners on a pension plan for Colombian farmers, making retirement and financial stability a possibility.

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Carrot Sheet Cake with Buttercream Flowers and Brown Butter Cream Cheese Frosting

Cakes, Desserts, Holiday

It’s Easter this Sunday. As a child, we were not Easter Basket people. We went to church for mass and that was it. We always had a nice meal but my mother didn’t believe in treating that day as a day for gifts and money. As a child, I didn’t even know what I was missing. I talk to my friends now and they all got money, candy, baskets, Easter eggs full of cool stuff. WTF, mom?!?!

I was not a deprived child so I can’t really complain at all. I really can’t. One thing that I always loved when spring time came around was carrot cake. I think my mom would buy it from this local Italian market and theirs was SO good and fluffy.

Years ago, when I first started baking, I made a recipe from Southern Living and it was incredible. Since then, I’ve made other versions and frankly, they just weren’t that good. So this recipe is basically theirs but with more spices, walnuts instead of pecans and more salt.

And the directions have been rewritten to be a bit more streamlined. But I can’t say a bad thing about the recipe. I didn’t know how to improve it—I tried. We made this thinking we would be like oh we definitely have to make it more moist, we definitely have to change this or that.

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Mojito Cupcakes

Cakes, Desserts

I realize that my happy place is really simple: after a workout, I love to eat dinner, take a shower and then put on fluffy sweats (I currently live in a Vans sweatshirt my brother got me for Christmas). And then I like to get in bed and edit tons of photos while I watch trashy reality TV (right this second: Real Housewives of Atlanta). I do this and am usually like, “This is happiness.” It’s my favorite time of day!

As I was about to post this, I realized that I’m one cupcake recipe after another—very unlike me! But I know you all will forgive me because these taste dramatically different from the espresso cupcakes. And they’re a million times easier to decorate!

These are mojito-flavored, so they’re bright and zesty and a lil’ bit boozy. These cupcakes are from Jessica’s new book, Pretty Dish.

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Cappuccino-Flavored Rose Cupcakes

Cakes, Desserts, Spring

I learned a lot of lessons from making these cupcakes. The number one thing: if you’re a creative person, surround yourself with people who will be brutal with you. It’s important.

After attempting to make buttercream roses last year and getting super frustrated, I gave up. But last month, I decided to do my research, get the right piping tip (hello Wilton #104 is your friend) and try again. I piped out one “rose” and I thought it looked pretty good. I texted it to Billy and asked him how it looked. I was assuming he was gonna go, “GREAT! YOU’RE SO TALENTED!” Instead, this man goes, “these look like foreskins.”

UMM OK! THANKS!

But the more I looked at them, the more I agreed. The more I was thankful to my friend for telling me the truth before I put a whole dozen of foreskin-looking cupcakes out into the blogsphere. He saved me, you know? Very grateful.

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Mini Chocolate Sheet Cake for Two with Raspberry Frosting

Cakes, Chocolate, Holiday

I’m currently in a small mountain town in Colombia called Jardin. I’m sitting on a balcony at the hotel while it pours that damp, humid rain that is so lovely. It’s so beautiful, quaint and lush. I arrived Saturday night, after a very full day of travel. And yesterday morning I took a helicopter ride, which I was actually terrified of, to Jardín. The helicopter ride ended up being so smooth and chill, I realized about two minutes in, I had zero to worry about. ALSO, I cracked open the new book club book which I’m announcing tomorrow! YASSS.

I can’t wait to tell you more about my trip and the book BUT today we’re still in the depths of Valentine’s Day content. V-Day is Wednesday!

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Red Velvet Heart-Surprise Cupcakes

Cakes, Desserts, Holiday, Winter

Hi hi hi!

These were so fun to put together. I failed…SO HARD the first time I made these. A few of you might’ve seen it on Instagram. But the first, first time I tried to make them was actually a few years ago.

I bought this heartbreak cookie cutter in hopes of making “heartbreak surprise cupcakes.” BUT OMG that did not work at all. Now I realize the biggest problem that I kept encountering was that the cookie cutter needed to be the perfect size.

I finally figured it out and went to Michael’s and picked up this heart-shaped cookie cutter that’s about 1-inch big. It was only, like, a dollar and I believe now it’s on serious sale because Valentine’s Day is next week and Michael’s is already moving onto Easter/4th of July and most likely Halloween. They move quickly!

I will be very forthright and say that this recipe takes a bit of time. You basically make a 8-inch red velvet single layer cake. After it bakes, you punch out the hearts.

This layer can easily be made the night before and you can wrap it tightly and keep it in the fridge.

And then the white batter is made. The hearts are placed right in the center of the cake batter.

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Strawberry Conversation Heart Cake

Cakes, Holiday

Not going to lie to you, this is way less exciting than the Kim Kardashian chocolate conversation hearts that all the famous people on Instagram have been smashing. I want one!

This cake is still really amazing. It’s strawberry because we all know that conversation hearts are really gross. I bought a variety bag for this shoot (to use as props) and ate a few and omg they were so terrible!!

It reaffirmed my decision to make the cake a yummy strawberry cake. Remember when I made this strawberry sheet cake? It’s that recipe and made it into a two-layer heart cake. I topped it with strawberry frosting and a little message of LET’S GET COZY!!

It took me exactly a whole lot of hours and curse words to be able to write LETS GET COZY in buttercream. I will say that I can use some buttercream-writing-practice.

I was very close to taking it to the nearest grocery store where I was gonna plead with the woman who works at the bakery to write it for me. But then I thought, NO! This is a learning experience.

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Blood Orange Pound Cake

Cakes, Desserts, Winter

I posted this recipe on the Instagram yesterday but figured I’d put it right here too so it’s easily printable and readable.

I also wanted to say hello and tell you that I’m currently knee-deep in finalizing my Valentine’s Day content for this year and am INCREDIBLY excited about it all. There is a sheet cake for two, some cupcakes with a fun surprise inside and a few other cute and delicious things. I’m thinking of adding something savory in the mix. But then I’m done! I can’t wait.

When I walk around the neighborhood, I’m sort of surprised that a lot of the houses are decorated for Valentine’s Day. I’ve never seen such a thing before. I dunno if these people are bored or just really good homemakers. WHO KNOWS. But I’m here for it. They have heart wreaths hanging on their doors.

Another thing that is thriving in the neighborhood is all the winter citrus hanging from the trees. It’s all gorgeous. Everything from blood oranges to cara caras to little kumquat bushes. They’re all so pretty.

I didn’t steal these blood oranges from a neighbor—I bought them—but feel free to take some from a neighbor and make this cake! I said it’s ok!

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10 Cozy Things to Make in February

Cakes, Winter

I’m concentrating on two things right now:

1. Get the kitchen (FINALLY!) in photo-ready shape to get her final school photo taken for this blog. I’m almost done! I purchased a whole lot of new and pretty things from the Urban Outfitters home sale last month and now I’m rearranging everything trying to make it nice.

2. And I’m currently trying to watch all of the Best Picture Oscar nominations before the award show in early March. This weekend was spent convincing everyone around me that I, Tonya was a movie that is important and we should go and see. And you know what?! It did not disappoint. I’m going and seeing Phantom Thread tonight and I will report back! Paul Thomas Anderson’s interview on Fresh Air was wonderful.

February is inching closer and closer to us, after a very long January. It wasn’t a bad start of the year and I finally feel ready to dive in a bit more.

I figured I’d start by sharing some thing that you should make and eat in the month of February.

February is inching closer and closer to us, after a very long January. It wasn’t a bad start of the year and I finally feel ready to dive in a bit more.

Veggie Baked Ziti with Burrata (for two!) – Because Valentine’s Day is in February. And regardless of your relationship/love situation, these are so good. The melty burrata on top is a beautiful addition.

Baked Nashville Hot Chicken – This is one of my favorite dishes EVER because it’s like Shake n’ Bake Chicken but spicy. If you love Nashville Hot Chicken, you’ll love this. And of course, since it’s baked, it’s so much easier; no fryer and no hot oil.

Bacon Western Cheeseburger Sliders – There’s this football game everyone loves to watch happening soon (this weekend!) and these would be a wonderful thing to make. They’re sliders so they’re mini-sized.

How to Make an Edible Stadium – A few years ago, I got inspired by Reddit (again) and set out to make an edible stadium just for fun. It involved lots of arts and crafts and piping with sour cream. I loved it!

Heartbreak Cookies – More Valentine’s Day content. I loved making these chocolate sugar cookies for the population of singles. I’ve been single and happy and I’ve been single and miserable. I wish I had these cookies in both instances.

Breakfast Tacos – It’s hard to explain why I love breakfast tacos. I mean, there’s not much I need to explain, right? I love these breakfast tostadas because I love eggs and chips and this combines my love for both.

Breakfast Corn Dogs – Instead of regular hot dogs inside, these have breakfast sausages and they are SO good. Eat them with maple syrup and a little butter. Breakfast indulgence.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies – I know I posted these last week but WHATEVER. I love these cookies and I feel like we should all make them. In the month of February, the weather can still be crappy and people are sick of it. Eating cookies helps.

Rose Chocolate Cake for Two – Easiest chocolate cake ever. And it’s made that much better with chocolate fudge-y frosting on top. A little salt makes it ultra good!

Aguadito – Everyone and their mom is sick. I’ve been trying to avoid all the sick people but it’s super difficult. Instead, I’ve been making this soup because it’s perfect when you need a bit of healthy chicken soup in your life.

Horchata Una Leche (Like Tres Leches but Different!)

Cakes, Desserts, Holiday

Hiiiii!

Now that work has started to slow down and I can concentrate on being festive AF, I have decided to list some of my favorite Christmas/Holiday movies. And then maybe you can tell me your favorites because for the next couple of weeks I am preparing myself to just chill and watch movies. And maybe bake a few things, sparingly.

1. Little Women – Winona Ryder at her best. Kirsten Dunst SO YOUNG. Annie McDowell love her!
2. It’s a Wonderful Life – I maybe know every word to this movie. Take a wild guess who currently reminds me of Mr. Potter? Lol.
3. Elf – I mean, it’s just a classic.
4. Home Alone – I still kinda almost cry at the end when he sees the old man in church.
5. Love Actually – Hugh Grant at his best—I miss him, wish he was still acting.

Am I missing any? I feel like I must be. Oh I was going to put The Christmas Story on there but honestly that movie always creeped me out. The dad and his creepy-ass obsession with the leg lamp; the mom washing out the kid’s mouth out with soap; and them having a depressing Christmas. That movie is a bummer. Maybe it’s more honest than most Christmas movies but I need some magic.

Anywayyyzzz, welcome to the post where I’m reorganizing the beloved “tres leches cake.” I like to think that maybe I simplified it with uno leche. Lol. The only leche that’s in this cake is the horchata. In case you are unfamiliar with horchata, I will break it down for you in a list (because I love lists):

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