Monday, March 18, 2013

St. Patty's Day treats: chocolate zucchini "cupcakes" with bailey's buttercream icing

Zucchini Bread and Bailey's buttercream icing

Moist chocolate zucchini bread is the answer to your prayers. Your prayers for a satisfying snack that is rich, arguably "healthy" and easy to freeze. Perhaps even the perfect snack while you are nursing one mean hangover.

I made an adapted version of chocolate zucchini bread from this wonderful recipe.

I wanted to be able to share this lovely bread at a bake sale so I adapted the recipe to make single serving "cupcakes". To celebrate St. Patrick's day, I made a green bailey's buttercream frosting to top it all off.

Grate baby grate!

Wet ingredients

Yes, you do need to add chocolate chips

1 & 1/2 Cups Shredded Zucchini (use the medium hole side of a box grater)
1 Cup All Purpose Unbleached Flour
1/2 Cup Unsweetened Cocoa Flour
1 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1/4 Teaspoon Baking Powder
1/4 Teaspoon of Salt
1/2 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
1/2 Teaspoon Ground Nutmeg
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1/2 Cup Sugar
1/2 Cup packed Dark Brown Sugar
2 Eggs
1/2 Cup Canola Oil
1/2 Cup Dark or Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips (optional)
Pack of rolo chocolate (optional)


Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

1. Combine wet ingredients (oil, both sugars, vanilla) in a bowl. I used my hand mixer.

2. Add your eggs one at a time and add in the shredded zucchini to your wet ingredients.

3. In a separate bowl sift your dry ingredients (flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt) together. For the cocoa powder, you will see little chunks in your sieve - give it a little nudge and it should sift right through.

4. Slowly add the dry ingredients into the bowl with the combined wet ingredients. Fold into combined.

5. Fold in chocolate chips. Your batter should be very thick and dense. 

6. Using a ice cream scoop, fill your cupcake liners 3/4 of the way full. I tried pouring from a bowl with a spout and it got way too messy! 

7. *Optional step: Add a rolo to the middle of your cupcakes so your cupcakes have a pot of gold in the middle! 

8. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes until a knife or toothpick comes out clean. 

9. Allow your cupcakes to cool on a cooling rack and enjoy! 

* If you would like to make a loaf of delicious and moist chocolate zucchini bread, pour into a greased loaf pan and bake for 45-50 minutes until a knife or toothpick comes up clean. 

For the buttercream Bailey's icing:

1/2 cup butter, softened at room temperature (you can cheat by popping it in the microwave)
1 & 1/2 cups icing sugar
2 Tbsp. Bailey’s Irish Cream
1 tsp. vanilla extract
10 drops of green food colouring

1. Cream the softened butter in a large bowl with a hand mixer.

2. Alternate adding portions of the dry ingredient (icing sugar) and wet ingredients (the Bailey's and vanilla extract). 

3. Using the hand mixer, beat the icing until light and fluffy. 

4. Add a couple drops of green food colouring at a time until you achieve the desired green colour. 

5. Pipe or spread the icing with a knife onto fully cooled cupcakes.

6. Add some sprinkles for some irish luck!!! I am still on the look out for shamrock sprinkles like these.

Readers - how did you celebrate St. Patrick's day this year?

Monday, December 3, 2012

Shift Dress: 3 Way Layering

A good quality silk shift dress is a great investment. It's not only super flattering - keep it short to lengthen your legs and a bit loose to hide all the bloat - but it's also extremely versatile. What I like best about it, though, is the layering capabilities.

Don't believe me, you say? Well then, let me show you..

The Dress
The Dress: Club Monaco silk shift dress (bought it on sale last year for $139) // necklace: Forever 21

Look 1: Wear it with a Blazer

Whether you want to wear it with a boyfriend blazer or something more structured, pairing your shift dress with a blazer is a great way to add some dimension and break up a single pattern.

left: boyfriend blazer from Club Monaco // right: structured blazer from Urban Outfitters

Look 2: Wear it with a Pencil Skirt

If your office is as conservative as mine, you can't really get away with wearing a short shift to work. Why not pair it with a pencil skirt? Maybe if your crazy, add some faux fur to your faux blouse!

left: red pencil skirt vintage from Talize (also worn here) // right: velvet polka dot pencil skirt from TopShop

Look 3: Wear it with a Sweater

A shift dress can be a great alternative to a mini skirt for when you want to go out for a drink with friends or even if your office is a bit more casual with their dress code. Keep the sweater fitted for a prim and proper look or baggier for a some edge.

left: purple sweater from the Gap // right: baggy sweater from my boyfriend's closet, necklaces from Club Monaco

To get even more outfits out your dress, why not do a sweater and a blazer, or a blazer and a skirt? or maybe even a longer shift dress underneath? The shift dress is your layering best friend!! Maybe even your real life best friend.

Oh yeah, check out my second pair of Roots boots! What do you think? A good buy?

Hey You, Buy a Shift Dress!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Holiday Gift Guide: Nerdy Blogger edition

The holidays are fast approaching! Although, I love receiving clothes and jewelry from my generous family and friends, sometimes it's nice to be surprised with something I wouldn't buy for myself.

Here's our nerdy holiday gift guide for that blogger/food-and-fashion-obsessed friend in your life. With these gifts, sizing doesn't matter. It's one size fits all!

(1) ONA's the Palma camera bag to make all her dreams come true ($319)
(2) Photojojo's Bamboo solar iphone and ipad charger for the instagram obsessed ($35)
(3) Drake General Store's Toronto Brunch Map for the brunch lover ($12)
(4) Smitten Kitchen's cookbook and Oh Joy's Blogging handbook for blogger appreciation ($21.95)
(5) Anthropologie's vintage-inspired measuring spoons and cups for hosting dinner parties ($18+)
(6) Diptyque's Holiday candle set ($62.56)
(7) Etsy's Personalized Journals for jotting down daily inspirations [jonmerrymanstore shown here, but there's tons to choose from!] ($25)
(8) Kate Spade's Monogrammed Stationary paper for sending personal notes ($26)
(9) City and coffee lovers will rejoice over the Indie Coffee Passport ($25)
(10) Modcloth's peas in a pod salt and pepper shaker for food lovers and shakers ($21.99)
(11) The Bay's classic multi-striped mug for braving Canadian winters ($7)

Rose and I will happily accept any of the above!
Readers, any other suggestions?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A little taste of Italy in Chinatown

Strada 241 

The restaurant opened by the Rubino brothers, is named in reference to "underground home dining". Strada 241 offers home cooked Southern Italian cuisine in a beautiful open and modern space.

Their dinner menu boasts antipastis and lots of oven-baked pizzas.

I ordered the linguini puttanesca pasta, which featured little-neck clams. I love clams in pasta and puttanesca pasta, so it was the perfect combo! Typically, puttanesca pasta is made with spaghetti and means "whore-style pasta". At another restaurant, a little Italian cook stressed that I should order something else off her menu, whispering what puttanesca meant. I love it! It's salty, full of garlic and lots of flavour. Why would I let a little Italian slang change my mind?
Linguini Puttanesca

The meatball pizza was delicious, featuring fresh and local ingredients. They also provided their own chilli olive oil for dipping. yum!
The Alessandro Pizza - tomato, Strada 214 meatballs and lots of cheese!
Beautiful open concept kitchen
The restaurant is beautiful, featuring high ceilings, original floors, exposed brick, lovely light fixtures and tabletop foosball games!

Love this space!
The service was fantastic and the menu prices were quite reasonable. Everything is made in-house, and next time I can't wait to try their antipasti and in-house gelato! The menu offers simple Italian cocktails and emphasizes rustic Southern Italian cuisine. In the heart of Chinatown!

The room is great for groups and is also an all-day cafe. I look forward to trying it again. Anyone want to join?

Strada 241 // 241 Spadina Avenue, Toronto // 647.351.1200

Monday, November 26, 2012

Emerald tones

Readers, did you brave the Black Friday sales? Or are you saving up for Cyber Monday today?

I only made it to Ann Taylor for its store-wide 40% off sale! I picked up this emerald silk top which I love because it's easy to pair with a suit and with a casual day outfit. Purchasing clothing that can function for both work and play is like getting an extra 50% off (completely false, but I tell myself this).
I think emerald is such a timeless colour.

Ann Taylor blouse // Durumi faux wrap skirt (similar: here) // Kelsi Dagger booties // H&M socks  // Jayu earrings
Suzy Draper

New necklace!

Readers, let me know what you picked up this weekend!

Update: My favourite online retailer, ASOS, is having an un-advertised sale today. Use the code  "CYBERMONDAYSPECIAL" you'll recieve 30% off all full-price and sale items. Thanks to Refinery29 for the tip!

Hey you, get the look!