Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Thankful Thursday

My friends Carina and Cami are both hosting Thankful Thursdays on their blogs & I'm feeling inspired to focus on the wonderful things I'm thankful for right now!

#1: This sweet sweet face. Holy cow I'm so in love with this precious baby.


#2 Booking my first wedding for this summer!! These are the cupcakes I made the cute couple for their tasting :) So fun!!!


#3 This hard-working, sexy, supportive man that I'm blessed to call husband and best bud ;)


#4 Exciting Sugar Mama opportunities that are coming up. (New storenvy store front coming soon!)


Have a blessed day!! What are you thankful for?
a punk, a pumpkin and a peanut

Monday, February 27, 2012

Peanut Butter Cookies

Listen, since we're on the subject of comfort food...
I really think I need to bring up peanut butter cookies.
I don' t know if these are on anyone else's comfort food list?
But no matter how many fancy schmancy desserts I find (or make),
Plain old peanut butter cookies always seem to stay at the tip top of my very favorites.


Here are some elements that make up good comfort food to me:

-Nostalgic. These always take me back to 12-year-old Ashley whipping up cookies for my brothers after school :)

-Simple. I know that lots of people want triple-death-by-chocolate-overload-t0-the-max when they're looking for some lovin' from the oven. But not me. I just want something I can mix up without much thought. I actually love to stir these by hand without the trusty kitchen-aid. Part of the comfort for me comes from the whole creation process, not just the tasty outcome!

-Delicious. Yeah, this one goes without saying. I just wanted to make sure you knew. These are dang good. Do a test. Make a batch & give them to your friends, but don't them they're gluten free/ vegan until AFTER they rave about the goodness ;) I bet they'll be surprised.

Oh yeah, you want the recipe right?


Peanut Butter Cookies
(I made you a printable version.)

  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup Earth Balance vegan butter (or Spectrum shortening)
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 1/2 cups gf flour blend (I love Bob's Red Mill)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp xanthan
  • organic cane sugar
  • in a small bowl whisk together flour, soda & xanthan and set aside
  • with electric mixer combine all other ingredients and mix until smooth
  • slowly mix in dry ingredients
  • roll dough into balls and roll in cane sugar
  • flatten cookies with palm or use fork to make traditional cross marks
  • bake at 375 for 6-8 minutes
  • Enjoy!

Well, there you have it.
My thoughts on comfort food.
By the way, this recipe won me a front page feature at The Flaming Vegan.
Have you hear of it?
You can add your favorite bloggers and vote for the posts you'd like to see featured!!
I would love for you to check it out and add me to your blogger list.
I'll be posting new recipes there before they even show up here so you'll be like VIP ;)
So what are your comfort foods?

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Recipe Party

It's party time!!

(ps- Sugar Mama's peanut butter cookies are linking up tomorrow! Woo!)

-Remember: Link any & all recipes but label it if it's:
gluten free (gf)
vegan (v)
sugar free (sf)
or any other specialty :)
-Link up your recipes ALL week long.
-Link up as many as you'd like!
-Don't forget to follow The Sweet Shop & Sugar Mama Bakeshop so you can see if you are featured later in the week.
-Hop around & be inspired!
-Please link back in your post or grab a button to share the love :) The more the merrier, remember?

Mommy's Idea

Friday, February 24, 2012

The Recipe Party {it's a link up!}

I'm excited!
For awhile now, I've been really wanting to host a recipe link up.
It seems so fun! Like hosting a PARTY right here on the blog!
You all know how I looooooove parties :)

(Um, I also love cookies shaped like cupcakes. But that's not the point. Nice work by Bridget Bakes.)

I wasn't exactly sure how I wanted to do it because obviously I'm all about the gluten free & vegan baking around here...
BUT I don't want anyone to be excluded on ground of ingredients.
In my opinion, more is definitely merrier when it comes to parties... and dessert.
Plus I get most of my inspiration from non allergy friendly recipes.

And that's when I found Paige.

Paige has a fabulous blog called The Sweet Spot where she shares delicious dessert recipes and her beautiful pictures that will make your mouth water!
Paige hosts a weekly recipe link party.

The Sweet Spot

Paige likes to feed her family fresh, healthy, organic food when possible.
Her recipes aren't gluten free/ vegan but they are AMAZING.

(See. Seriously amazing. Told ya.)

So are all of the recipes that get linked up at her place.
Paige also has 3 little boys and is building a house. (aka she's B.U.S.Y!)

So what I'm trying to say is I'll be co-hosting The Recipe Party!
Hooray!!! I told you, it's exciting :)
Each Sunday evening a new Recipe Party will start and you can link up all week here OR at The Sweet Spot & your recipe will show up on both blogs.
We're even adding a key so that you can label your recipes Vegan, Gluten Free, Dairy Free or Sugar Free.
And then I'll be featuring my faves over here on Saturday.

I hope you're as pumped as me.
Get your recipes & your party shoes ready for tomorrow night!

We have a winner!!!

So it's about time for a winner from last week's giant giveaway huh?!

First of all, thank you again to all of the wonderful contributors!
You are all wonderful & lovely :)

And congratulations to Sarah V!!
You won this whole fabulous loot!
Email me so I can get you in touch with these ladies.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

How Sweet It Is {Natalie @ Take the Cannoli}

Today is my last love story in the How Sweet It Is series... for now ;)
I've gotten a lot of great feedback and I've had SO much fun doing the series!
So if you would be interested in having your love story & recipe featured please email me.
I'm considering extending it.
Anyway, today is all about Natalie from Take the Cannoli.
Her blog is super sweet & remember that awesome artwork from the giveaway?
Yeah, she's talented too :)
I'll let her tell you a little about her lovely love story and the most delicious looking cupcakes ever!

Who does this punk-rocker think he is? Those were the exact thoughts I had as I withdrew my hand after being slapped away from the chocolate mints.
The Setting: A surprise party for a mutual friend's mom. I say mutual friend but it was some guy I knew from years before who just happened to be the lead singer of HIS band.
It was a catered event and there were chocolate mints in dishes all around. I couldn't stop eating them. I was nervous. Our eyes kept meeting across the crowded room, so I told myself; just stay in conversation with the people you know, keep hand in bowl eating chocolates to look casual and everything will be fine.

He overheard me tell someone that I must stop eating all these chocolates and took it upon himself to come over and slap my hand as I went for more.
With the thickest southern accent I had ever heard (in real life that is, I mean I live in SoCal and he was like the beverely hillbillies in the flesh) he said, "That is enough for you Missy!"
I was flabbergasted. "Excuse me" I blurted in the most unflirtacious way possible because I was taken off guard. "I mean, what did you say", smiling at him trying to come back into reality which meant I was talking to him face to face. He didn't acknowledge slapping my hand but instead asked "What college do you go to?" What College do I go to? Who asks that? With an accent like that I knew he wasn't from around here and wouldn't even know of any local colleges.My response was smooth as I let him know I was 19 and that if he wanted to know how old I was he should've just come right out and asked.
The witty banter continued for a good 15 minutes or so but it felt like I had talked to him all night. My head was spinning afterward. He was so funny, so different, so sweet. Though I could hardly understand most of what slurred through his lips I remembered laughing at everything that came out.

I stalked, I mean, I kept in contact with him over the next seven months while he was on and off tour. During one of his short breaks back in California we hung out. Just he and I, and I knew I was going to marry him one day. We didn't officially "go steady" until he called me a week later from tour and he asked me to be his girlfriend over the phone. I felt like I should have gotten to wear his class ring or something because he was so old fashioned about it. HAHA!

Fast forward six months into our relationship as we were driving out to his family's house in a small town called Ruidoso, NM to celebrate Christmas. The whole drive there (13 hours to be exact) he had me convinced that he wanted to finish up another big tour and complete his degree before even thinking about getting married. I remember kind of being crushed and wanting to turn back home to celebrate Christmas with my family and friends. It was only a day later, Christmas Eve 2002 in front of all of his family (parents, siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents) that he had saved the last gift for me. Feeling uncomfortable in a new setting for the holidays I didn't pay any mind to the fact that they were "pretend" recording us opening gifts throughout the evening only to really catch on film what was about to take place. I hadn't even noticed that Micah was on one knee, but instead thought he was just all up in my business while trying to open the said "special gift". I pulled out a Clear Christmas ornament that he had purchased from Disneyland that had the word "princess" inscribed on it. I didn't even see the ring hanging down inside of it until he nervously started to pull it out.
Now picture me; Deer in Headlights. Turned into blubbering mess, barely got the word Yes out and then continued to cry while calling my mom who already knew (now it all made sense why she let me leave for the holidays in the first place).

Four months later, on May 10, 2003 I married my favorite person in the whole world. Did you catch all that. Dated six months. Engaged four months. Celebrated our One year of being together a month after our wedding. When you know, you know. Young love, ahhh, so sweet.
Here we are nearly nine years later, one home bought and sold, two precious babies and a Basset Hound, and I am still proud to say that he is my very best friend. We have grown to be so much more. We share each others dreams and create new ones together. We have grown into adulthood together and if I had it to do all over again, I would still choose him.

Natalie and Micah love these Salted Caramel Cupcakes. She even blogged all about them here.
These look absolutely FABULOUS... I think I've got my work cut out for me trying to make them gluten free & vegan, but I will give it my very best effort because now they're all I can think about :)

One box chocolate cake mix and ingredients to make it
4-5 Skor bars
(Heath bars will suffice, but Skors take the cake hehe pun intended.)
Salted Caramel Sauce recipe from good ol' Martha or just get the Salted Caramel sauce from Trader Joe's. ( I blogged about that goodness here you would enjoy that post)
Vanilla Bean Buttercream
(Recipe below)
Squeeze bottle

Bake your cupcakes according to package directions.
When cupcakes have finished baking, Pour the warmed up salted caramel in to a squeeze bottle.
As soon as the cupcakes come out of the oven,
inject caramel into each one.
Then move them on to a cooling rack.
While the cupcakes are cooling it is time to smash the Skor bars. Just leave them in their wrapper and hammer away. Or just crush up in a bowl.
Prepare Frosting
1 stick of butter at room temp
1 lb powdered sugar
1 1/2 tsp. Vanilla extract
3 tbls whole milk
pinch of salt
Cream butter & sugar; add milk, vanilla and salt. Mix until thick and creamy and if you want to make it extra special scrape some vanilla bean into it.
After the cupcakes are cooled, frost them with the buttercream sweetness, roll or sprinkle (I totally sprinkle) them with the Skor bar goodness, then drizzle more of the salted caramel crack on top.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

I get around...

Ok, minds out of the gutter :)
All I'm saying is that you can find Sugar Mama recipes here & here today.
First, Tricia has invited me & my vanilla cake recipe over today.

One of the reasons I love to share my creations is because of the joy they can bring to someone with a restricted diet.
I still remember the first time I walked into an all gluten free, vegan bakery and was able to choose ANY fabulous pastry I wanted!
(I'm pretty sure I ate Flying Apron cinnamon rolls until I was sick but that's beside the point :) )
The other day Tricia from Mama Marchand's Nest tweeted that she was giving up gluten from a trial period and needed help.
Now we're friends!

Also, my Almond Joy Truffles are being featured by Emily at 52 Mantels!

So fun! Thanks ladies :)
(PS I just learned how to take a screenshot. Love ya google!)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

How Sweet It Is {Mary @ Mary in Marriedland}

It's time for another love story :)
I have been SO enjoying sharing all of these love stories and sweet treats with you this month!
Today Mary from Mary in Marriedland is sharing... Actually her husband, James, wrote it.
So sweet :)
Anyway, Mary's blog is precious!
It has been so fun getting to know her & her blog through swapping!
I'm pumped to make those Olive Oil Cakes with Lemon & Thyme too. mm mm mmm!

Exactly five years before I proposed to Mary, she, her roommate, and I drove eight hours from Carson-Newman to Maryland together for spring break. I was headed home to Germantown, and they were headed to her roommate's home in Frederick. Since I didn't have a car that year, I needed a ride home. I met Mary's roommate, Kristen, through a mutual friend, and she agreed to let me tag along. The morning of March 3, 2005, they picked me up outside of Alumni Residence Hall. Kristen and I followed Mary to her house, so she could drop her car off before we left. For the next eight hours, we were stuck with each other, whether we liked it or

Fortunately, we liked it.

After we got back from spring break (neither of us can remember how I got back, but we did not drive back down together) we ran into each other outside the cafeteria, or, as it's known around campus, 'The Caf'. We talked about how we had a good time on the trip to Maryland,
and that we should hang out again sometime. Over the break, I had written a song about Mary. I left it for her anonymously in her school mail box. She was kind of freaked out, to be honest, and thought it was a prank by her girlfriends. When she found out that it was from me, she was very excited. That is when we started hanging out, and that is when our grades started going down. Back then, we spent all our time together, and now we are sharing the
rest of our lives with each other.

Olive Oil Cakes with Lemon and Thyme

taken from: The Pioneer Woman

These are so good! I shared this recipe on facebook when I made them for the first time right after getting married. I wanted to share again and to tell you that these are wonderful for when you want something delicious and comforting. Remember, balance people!

Once they come out, let them cool. Then drizzle the yummy glaze.


ENJOY, like I just did!

  • 1 Tablespoon Melted Butter
  • 1-⅓ cup Sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons Grated Lemon Zest
  • 2 whole Eggs
  • ¼ cups Olive Oil
  • ⅔ cups Whole Milk
  • 1 cup Flour
  • ½ teaspoons Baking Powder
  • ½ teaspoons Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Minced Fresh Thyme
  • GLAZE:
  • 1-½ cup Powdered Sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons Melted Butter
  • 3 Tablespoons Fresh Lemon Juice, Or More As Needed

Here’s what you do:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a muffin pan with melted butter and then dust with a little bit of flour. Pulse the sugar and lemon zest in a blender until combined. Add the eggs one at a time, then gradually pour in the olive oil and milk, pulsing until emulsified into a thin batter, about 30 seconds. Don’t overblend or the cakes will be too puffy.

Whisk one cup flour, the baking powder, salt and thyme in a small bowl. Add to the blender in 2 batches until just combined. Pour the batter unto the prepared pan and bake until the cakes just start to pull away from the sides of the pan and spring back when lightly touched, about 25 minutes depending on your oven.

In the meantime, make the glaze: whisk the powdered sugar, melted butter and lemon juice until smooth, adding more lemon juice if too thick. Drizzle over the cooled cakes and garnish with a thyme sprig.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Banana Bread {sans sugar}

**I posted about how I sell mixes for this banana bread... but forgot to add a link. Oops :) Just click here if you're interested!**

Let's talk about banana bread for a minute, shall we?
I believe it to be a truly essential baked good.
The ultimate in comfort food, a fresh loaf of banana bread can say
"I love you"
"I'm sorry"
"Feel Better"
"Good Luck"
and so much more.
It is perfect warm or cold, with chocolate chips or walnuts, buttered or not.

(This recipe is also GREAT as muffins!)
But what if you took out the gluten, dairy, eggs and sugar?
I'm glad you asked :)
Because it's wonderful!
I'll even dare to say that this delicious, wholesome banana bread might just be better than your mama's (but your secret's safe with me).
In fact my husband, who happens to be a gluten and dairy lover (& is not a big fan of banana bread), requests this often!
So without further ado...

Banana Bread {sans sugar}
This recipe is brought to you by my 5 day sugar fast. It's the one and only reason I'll survive ;)

-1 3/4 cup Bob's Red Mill gluten free flour
-2 tsp baking powder
-1 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp xanthan gum
-1/4 tsp salt
-1 TBSP flax meal
-1/4 cup spectrum organic shortening (or vegan butter)
-1/2 cup agave nectar
-1/4 cup vanilla coconut or soy milk
-1 tsp vanilla
-1 1/2 cups very ripe bananas (about 3 medium)
-optional: 1/2 cup walnuts or chocolate chips

-preheat oven to 350
-whisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, xanthan gum, salt & flax (set aside)
-(in a separate bowl) with electric mixer cream: shortening or butter, agave, soy milk & vanilla
-mix in bananas
-add flour mixture slowly
-stir in optional ingredients
-bake in a greased loaf pan for 55 minutes OR muffin tin for 20 minutes

PS if you're looking for quicker and easier I also sell mixes for this bread. All you add is butter, agave and bananas :)

(Linking up here.)

Friday, February 17, 2012

Fiesta Friday {Ada's Valentine Birthday}

Today I have a special Fiesta Friday feature.
This week I came across Amanda's blog A Lovely Place to Land.
I saw this post about her daughter's first birthday party & I fell in love!
It is a vintage valentine-y, heart filled, sweet-as-can-be party full of DIY goodies.
I asked Amanda to share a little about the party and some of her awesome pictures,
but make sure you head over to her blog to get the DIY details!!
You'll also want to read this sweet post about why it's worth it to go all out for the first birthday party (even if she won't remember it). I love it!

When I started planning my daughter, Ada's, first birthday party, like most mommas, I was very nostalgic. Though I had been told over and over again during my pregnancy and Ada's first months that the time would pass quickly, I had no idea that it would pass in what felt like a heartbeat. That's what inspired the theme "One in a Heartbeat."

It was really important to me that Ada's party give our friends and family an opportunity to pause their busy lives and just enjoy the moment. To achieve this, we created a vintage-inspired photo booth where guests could take time for a family photo or silly shot with friends. We also decorated the tables with notepads and mailboxes where our guests could leave love notes for a time capsule that Ada will get to open on her 18th birthday. From the dessert bar to the play area, every detail was designed to remind our guests that life is sweet and certainly worth celebrating.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

How Sweet It Is {Carina @ A Punk, A Pumpkin & A Peanut}

Happy Thursday my friends!
What do you think of the new banner up top?
(Be honest because I'm not that great at design & I can easily go back to the old one... it's just that I widened the blog and the banner didn't fit anymore. So I'm seriously looking for some feedback here. I asked Hunter and he said: "uh...yeah. I like it.")
It's LOVE story time!!
Ya'll entered the giveaway yesterday right? If didn't, GO! Carina is giving away store credit to her fab shop!
Then come straight back and fall in love with Carina.
She is darling and genuine and so funny. You will love her blog.
Now I will let her get to it and tell us about her sweet mama.


When Ashley asked me to share a story about someone I love and a dessert we share,
so many people came to mind.
I could tell you about my husband, but we don't discriminate when it comes to sweets.
We eat it all.
With my dad, it's chocolate peanut butter ice cream.
My sister: a skillet cookie warm from the oven.
My grandparents: vanilla ice cream with strawberries on top.
My kids: currently, lollipops. Or donuts.

But none of those involve recipes in my arsenal or even require one, in fact.
No, the person I thought of, someone dear to my heart: my mom.

My mom is an amazing lady: filled with love for her family, a giver, super crafty, smart,
a good listener, an encourager, a fellow night owl and reality tv extraordinaire, and one of my favorite people on earth.
Some of my favorite memories growing up include fun nights at home with my mom.
She made everything special - birthdays and skipping school and staying up late to watch movies.
And when we watched movies, we had to have her caramel popcorn.
I remember watching her pull out the air popper, mix up the ingredients and cover the popcorn in caramel.
And then the torture of waiting for it to cool before filling our bowls.
Maybe sneaking a bite or two while it was still hot and gooey.
And now, every time I make caramel corn (which is way too often), I think of those super fun nights at home with her.
The recipe is as easy as it gets, and simple to make gluten free and vegan with the right margarine.

Microwave Caramel Corn

8 cups popped popcorn
4 tablespoons butter or margarine
2 tablespoons dark corn syrup
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Combine butter, corn syrup, sugar and salt in a glass bowl.
Microwave for 90 seconds and stir.
Microwave for another two minutes.
Add in baking soda and vanilla, stir well and pour over popcorn.
Stir to coat, microwave for one minute, stir again, microwave for another minute.
Turn out onto wax paper to cool.

Pop in a movie, fill up a bowl or two, and enjoy.

Happy month of love to you all! Hope you can find someone special - a kid, a spouse, a parent or grandparent, a dear friend, a sibling - to share a sweet treat and a sweet moment with.

Thanks for having me, Ashley!

No, thank you Carina!
Ps- all you have to do is use Earth Balance or another vegan butter and this fab caramel corn is gluten free & vegan :) Yuuuuuuuum!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Crazy Awesome Giveaway!

My goodness. I have met some lovely ladies through this blog.
Many of them are right over there on the right... Have you checked them out?
Today several of my faves are offering an AMAZING giveaway!!
Maybe you didn't get everything your heart desired yesterday?
Here are my suggestions for where to treat yourself to a late valentine :)
One winner gets ALL of this goodness!
Check it out.

Carina is one of my very favorites. Her blog is super fun & her sweet shop is adorable!

I just recently met Jacky in the Valentine's Day swap (see yesterday's post) & she is wonderful! She just opened a new store envy site for her cute Petunia Blooms.

Natalie is just precious. She is on my new favorite reads and her embroidery hoops are to die for :)

I found Jennifer on etsy recently and fell in love with her cute stud earrings. She also sells other jewelry and supplies!

Ashley's blog is full of fun DIY projects and crafts. My favorite is Wedding Wednesdays!In her shop you'll find beautiful cards that feature her original photographs.

Kelly's shop, House 129, is filled with handmade vintage-y goodness! It is the perfect place to find a special gift :)

Alyson's blog is so fun & she is just the sweetest! Check out her shop for more of her awesome coffee cuff designs.

Click read more below for all the ways to enter to win these fab prizes!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

How Sweet It Is {Jacky @ The Sweetest Petunia}

I LOVE blog swaps.
They are seriously so so great!
This month I did The Valentine Swap, made another sweet friend AND got more presents :)


Jacky, from The Sweetest Petunia, is the sweetest.
I'm so glad I was paired with her!
Check out how cute her shop is: Petunia Blooms.
SO CUTE right?!
Make sure you come back tomorrow... She might just have something for you in the big giveaway ;)
Anyway, here is what Jacky sent me:


Thank you again Jacky :)
I love it all!

And now for Jacky's love story.
She also agreed to be part of the How Sweet It Is series so enjoy :)

I always have a hard time deciding what our "love story" actually is. H & I have know each other since we were kids, so sometimes it seems like we've always been together. ;)

There are things I do remember clearly. I remember the first time he told me I had beautiful eyes. I remember the 16 page, hand-written letter he sent me once when I was away. I remember how adorably shy he was when he was younger (now he's one of the most outgoing people I know!). I remember how I didn't like him at all, didn't want to be his friend, the year I was 15. And I remember how he never gave up on me...I think that's what I fell in love with.

We've been officially together since January 6th, 2007 - 5 years now! We've been married for about 4 months, and I must say, it's the best. :) You can read about the day we got engaged & our wedding day on my blog!

((after just a couple months being official. 2007))

One of my favorite dessert recipes has to be these dark chocolate espresso cookies - so yummy!

I can't wait to make these cookies gluten free & vegan. I will share them SOON. Yum! -Ashley


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