April Showers Brought May Flowers

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I quickly tire of swirls of icing, so I am always looking for new ways to decorate those small pieces of wonderful called cupcakes. When I saw McCormick’s Hello Flower Cupcakes, using sliced marshmallows and colored sugar, sprinkles, and coconut to create flowers on cupcakes, I knew I would give them a try. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

Have you ever heard the adage that it requires the same amount of energy to go from 0 to 90 percent that it does to go from 90 to 100 percent? I am great at the 0 to 90, but the 90 to 100 gets me every time. I am definitely motivated by seeing my progress, so those final details just don’t provide the same boost as creating something overall. This is a problem because it’s the 90 to 100 that really makes things look nice!

My cupcakes simply looked more messy than awe-inspiring, but sometimes it is the experience that counts. Or at least that is what I am telling myself.

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I was slightly skeptical I could color the sugar, sprinkles and coconut as nicely as store-bought decorations, but the color took to the ingredients very easily and looked very vibrant. My tendency was to set the marshmallow on its flat end and cut, but you actually want to lay the marshmallow down like a small log and slice it into rounds. I found it helpful to coat my knife now and again with non-stick cooking spray to get a smooth marshmallow slice.

Way back when I wrote (see part 2) vegan baking would be making an appearance on the blog, I had these Vanilla and Agave Nectar cupcakes from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World April Showers Brought May Flowers in mind. The recipe stated, “agave nectar makes an exceptionally fluffy and tender cupcake”, but I thought the cupcakes were fairly dense.

Tender? Most definitely. Fluffy? Not according to how I define fluffy. The agave nectar provides a unique flavor that I don’t yet love but also don’t dislike. For me, it is a flavor that requires a little getting used to, and I liked these cupcakes more bite by bite.

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While sacrificing the cleanliness of my teeny-tiny kitchen to make what I hoped would turn out to be cute cupcakes, I couldn’t help but wish I lived closer to my two-and-a-half-year0ld niece. I really could have used some help dipping those pedals, and I’m pretty sure she could have done just as good of a job as her 33-year-old aunt.

If you don’t believe my claim of a messy kitchen during this project, check out the Messy Me post at The Sweet Adventures of Sugarbelle. My kitchen is pictured in thumbnail 13 (told ya so). But if Sugarbelle and the other decorators pictured can create the beautiful cookies and cakes that they do in their messy kitchens, then maybe I’m on to something.

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Vanilla and Agave Nectar Cupcakes
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 12
  • ⅔ cup soy milk (I used vanilla)
  • ½ teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • ⅔ cup light agave nectar
  • ⅓ cup canola oil
  • 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon almond extract
  • 1⅓ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  1. Place the soy milk and apple cider vinegar in a bowl and allow to sit two to three minutes to curdle.
  2. Once curdled, beat in the agave nectar, canola oil, vanilla extract, and almond extract.
  3. Sift in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  4. Mix until smooth.
  5. Pour batter into the wells of a muffin tin lined with cupcake papers, about ⅔ of the way full.
  6. Bake at 325 degrees F for 20-22 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the centers come out clean.

Thank You to Mom & Breakfast in Bed

IMG 3610 Edited Thank You to Mom & Breakfast in Bed


Thank you waiting to give birth to me until December 26. I really don’t think I would have liked being born on Christmas.

Thank you for always buying me new clothes at the start of the school year. I know my new clothes often meant you went without.

Thank you for making me enroll in typing my freshman year of high school despite my adamant protests. Typing is a skill I use nearly every day, and I can’t imagine having to peck out emails, documents, and blog posts key stroke by single key stroke.

Thank you for not making me enroll in typing II. One semester was enough.

Thank you for coming to all of my volleyball and basketball games, and in my springs of experimentation, track meets and softball games.

Thank you for paying for my college tuition. A college education is the single most valuable thing I have ever received. Not just because it literally was expensive, but because college taught me how to really think.

Thank you for not getting upset in front of me when I moved away. I’m sure it was hard to watch your child drive about as far south as she could. I wanted to get away from snowy, gray winters, not get away from you.

Thank you for letting me use your ticket to the first Ohio State vs. Penn State game after Penn State joined the Big 10.

Thank you for letting me use your ticket to the 1995 Ohio State vs. Notre Dame game. (And on behalf of Laura, thank you for staying home to prepare for her birthday party.)

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A vintage photo of Mom & Me

Thank you for not getting overly pissed off when I pierced my ears multiple times…and then pierced my tongue. As I’m sure I reassured you multiple times, these were just phases. Today I wear a very socially acceptable one pair of earrings. Shoot, your son-in-law wears a pair of earrings! Considering that probably makes me look tame. It really wasn’t the piercings that should have been a concern. It was the tattoo you should have raised hell about.

Oh wait, you did raise hell about the tattoo. In that case, thank you for loving me for me and not for what I look like.

Thank you for letting me quit the school band even though you really liked band when you were in school.

Thank you for driving Kristin and I to dance lessons every week. And thank you for driving us through the McDonald’s drive-thru for cookies and orange drinks afterwards!!

Thank you for cooking a meal for your family nearly every night and for doing the laundry every week.

Thank you for helping me with ideas for my 4-H club presentation. I’m pretty sure I’m the only person in the history of our 4-H  club that gave a presentation about the importance of wearing sunscreen to prevent skin cancer.

Thank you for being patient when I refused to wear anything with a flower pattern or bows.

Thank you for trusting me to make my own decisions and having the courage to let me fail when you knew those decisions were not right.

Thank you, Mom, for everything I haven’t remembered to say thank you for.

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When I was very young – think elementary-school age – I used to make my mom breakfast in bed for Mother’s Day. Thinking back, this makes me laugh because the breakfasts I served could not have been anywhere near good. Breakfast definitely consisted of a bowl of Cheerios and toast, but I don’t remember what else I made.

I can’t imagine those Cheerios were anything but soggy and the toast anything but cold by the time I carried it up to her room. Though I likely thought I was surprising Mom with breakfast in bed on Mother’s Day, I’m sure she heard me banging around in the kitchen  and used the ample warning to steel herself for a few bites of soggy cereal and cold toast.

I have no idea what possessed me to do such a thing like serve Mom breakfast in bed, and I don’t know why I quit. Probably because as I aged she woke up before me up in the mornings, or I realized I wasn’t such a great cook. At any rate, I brought the tradition back today and made Mom a virtual Midnight Breakfast from the Sweet & Skinny Thank You to Mom & Breakfast in Bed cookbook.

This dish, called a Midnight Breakfast because it is half breakfast (cereal and bananas) and half dessert (ice cream and caramel sauce),  is meant to be eaten as a midnight snack. I wrote the recipe as seen in the cookbook, but I also played around with it a bit, using various caramel and chocolate sauces, and substituting Kahlua for bourbon in a few parfaits. All of the versions were delicious.

“Sweet & Skinny” is probably my new favorite cookbook, and I can’t wait to make some more desserts from its recipes. More importantly, I can’t wait to wish Mom a happy Mother’s Day. So, happy Mother’s Day, Mom! Thanks for all you do.

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My favorite photo of Mom & Me


Midnight Breakfast
Recipe type: Dessert...or breakfast?
  • For the Coffee-Bourbon Caramel Sauce
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup water, divided
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon bourbon
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • Bananas
  • Vanilla Ice Cream
  • Cap'n Crunch cereal
  1. Place the sugar and the water in a small saucepan and stir until the sugar is moistened.
  2. Bring to a boil over medium heat.
  3. When the sugar is fully dissolved (the mixture will be clear) raise heat and continue to cook for 5-10 minutes until the mixture is a deep caramel color.
  4. While the mixture cooks, dissolve 2½ teaspoons instant espresso (or coffee) powder in ¼ cup water.
  5. Remove from heat and pour in ¼ heavy cream and the coffee mixture.
  6. Like all caramel sauces, this one will sputter and bubble when the cream and coffee mixture is added.
  7. Stir in the milk, bourbon, and salt until well combined.
  8. Set aside to cool.
  9. When the caramel sauce is warm (no longer hot), stir in some banana slices.
  10. Place the caramel sauce and banana slices in a parfait (or wine or other) glass.
  11. Top with ice cream, another layer of caramel sauce and banana slices, and Cap'n Crunch cereal.

2012′s 12 Months of Giveaways {Giveaway 5: Whitley’s Peanuts} CLOSED

263 514 popup 2 2012′s 12 Months of Giveaways {Giveaway 5: Whitleys Peanuts} CLOSED


If you have not yet selected a gift for Mother’s Day tomorrow, I cannot help – you are on your own. What I, along with Whitley’s Peanuts can do, is make sure you don’t find yourself left scrambling for a Father’s Day gift next month.

Whitley’s Peanuts has offered to give the father of one lucky Love & Flour reader their Father’s Day Duo gift set. The duo’s salted Virginia peanuts and jumbo cashews are sure to make Dad happy!

Need more gift ideas? Be sure to check out Whitley’s Peanuts other great Father’s Day Nuts! They have wonderful gift packages available that are sure to please every man you wish to honor on Father’s Day.


{Required Entry} Leave a comment on this post telling me about your dad or how you plan to spend Father’s Day on June 17.

{Optional Entry} Like Whitley’s Peanuts on Facebook.

{Optional Entry} Like Love & Flour on Facebook.

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-The giveaway will run until Sunday, June 3 at 12:01 pm EST.
-Item will be shipped by Whitley’s Peanuts to the winner’s father.
-This giveaway is open only to readers whose father has a U.S. mailing address.
-Winner will be generated via a random drawing powered by Rafflecopter.
-Winner will be notified via the contact email provided on the comment contact form.
-Winner will have until 6/5/12 to claim their Father’s Day Duo {$44.95 value} or another winner will be chosen.

Good Luck!!!

***This giveaway is now closed.  Thank you for entering!***

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