To ease us through the doldrums of January, we hosted a Trolls themed party for eight four-year-olds. The highlights of the party were a make-your-own troll hair headband craft, strawberry cupcakes, and dancing to music from the Trolls movie.
For the troll hair headbands, I mostly followed the instructions I found here. I figured it would be more fun – and less work for me – for the kids to make their own headband (with help from a parent) during the party. So I just did a little preparation by cutting lots of strips of the tulle (roughly 5″x22″) in advance. Then I laid out the tulle, headbands, ribbon, and decorations on a table so everyone could make their troll hair headbands whenever they wanted to. Pretty soon there were a lot of Poppy-inspired trolls running around our house, and a few more unique trolls as well!
We also printed out some Trolls coloring sheets to provide another party activity for the kids, and handed out Trolls goody bags as the guests headed home.
We had a tea party for several four-year-olds in early September. This was a really easy, but fun, party to host.
We served two kinds of (caffeine-free) tea, sparkling pink lemonade, grapes, and lemon cupcakes with vanilla frosting, sprinkles, and maraschino cherries on top. The kids enjoyed their late-morning snack time on the deck, which was also a practical location in the likely event of spilled tea or lemonade. After they were done with the tea and snacks, the kids blew bubbles and played in the yard.
These chocolate cupcakes with mint chocolate chip frosting were devoured by adults and little five- and seven-year-old taste testers alike, and nobody suspected that the cupcakes were secretly rather healthy.
For the chocolate cake, I used my chocolate zucchini muffin recipe, with a little less sugar than usual since I was planning to frost them. For the frosting, I made this really simple coconut cream-based mint chocolate chip frosting. I didn’t have any powdered sugar, so I just used regular granulated sugar, and using a hand mixer resulted in surprisingly fluffy frosting. Despite the mint flavor, you can still taste the coconut in the frosting, but we all liked the way it tasted.
Burlington, Vermont is a cute little city on the shore of Lake Champlain. At the shore, you can see the Adirondack mountains in the distance across the lake.
We started off our visit to Burlington by getting lunch at Zabby and Elf’s Stone Soup. This restaurant is known for having creative vegetarian dishes, as well as some omnivorous options. On the day of our visit, almost everything in their buffet was vegan and gluten-free! I took some falafel pie, barbecue tempeh, saffron rice, tomato salad, and a few strawberries and grapes for my sweet tooth. There were some good-looking bakery items there too, but I was holding out for gluten-free cupcakes – I’ll get to that soon. We took our lunch to go and headed to City Hall Park, where we found a bench in the shade and enjoyed some live music and people-watching while we ate. My lunch from Stone Soup was probably the most flavorful buffet food I’ve ever had, so I definitely recommend eating there if you’re in Burlington.
After strolling around by the lake and checking out some shops on this very warm afternoon, the various ice cream shops were starting to beckon to me. Since Ben and Jerry’s was founded in Burlington, we figured it would be appropriate to stop in their scoop shop on Church Street. Jeff had a dish of Greek frozen yogurt and I had a dish of lemonade sorbet, which was very refreshing.
We also had to check out New Moon cafe because my pre-trip research turned up that this cafe has vegan, gluten-free, and one flavor of vegan AND gluten-free cupcakes. In fact, they call their petite cupcakes “cupcake kisses.” I think these smaller cupcakes with a smaller price are a great idea since I find most bakery cupcakes to be larger than I want to eat in one sitting. And with smaller cupcakes, it’s easier (and less calorie-intensive!) to sample more flavors! So I bought two cupcake kisses for the road instead of the one cupcake I had planned on. I didn’t see the vegan and gluten-free flavor, so I settled for two gluten-free cupcake kisses: hazelnut heaven and cranstachio. The flavors are very creative, but to be honest, I found these little cupcakes to be rather dense and oily. Still, they were definitely far better than no cupcakes!
While we were in Boston, I was keen to try one of the gluten-free cupcakes from Kickass Cupcakes, a small cupcakery on Highland Avenue in Davis Square. The variety of gluten-free cupcake flavors surpassed my expectations – they had chocolate, vanilla, mojito, and choco-mint gluten-free cupcakes, as well as many flavors of regular cupcakes, a few flavors of vegan cupcakes, and even cupcakes for pets! There was no indoor seating, so I took my choco-mint cupcake to go in a compostable take-out box. The $3 cupcake was about the same size as the ones I make at home, rather than one of those jumbo cupcakes that some bakeries sell. But the cupcake was tasty and moist and not too crumbly. I would love to try out their other flavors the next time I am in town!
I made a few Christmas presents this year, and now that they’ve all been gifted, I can share them here!
With the gelatin in most marshmallows, milk in most chocolate, and gluten in most graham crackers, it’s safe to say that it’s been a while since I’ve eaten s’mores. So I’m pretty excited about these s’mores cupcakes that have the essence of s’mores, but in cupcake form: graham cracker-ish cake with a chocolate center and marshmallow topping! Yum!
If you want to make the cupcakes even more s’more-y (and sugary), you could frost them with chocolate frosting, and then drizzle with the marshmallow topping. Here’s what I did:
- 1 cup gluten-free all purpose flour
- 1 cup brown rice flour
- 1 cup corn starch
- 1/2 cup arrowroot
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon xanthan gum
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 3 tablespoons cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons ginger
- 1/2 cup canola oil
- 7/8 cup agave nectar
- 1/3 cup honey
- 7/8 cup unsweetened applesauce
- 3 tablespoons vanilla
- 1 cup hot water
- chocolate chips
- Smucker’s marshmallow topping (surprisingly vegan!)
Preheat oven to 325ºF and prepare muffin pan. In a large bowl, mix together dry ingredients. Add in wet ingredients and stir until batter is smooth. Place a heaping tablespoon of batter into each prepared cup. Place a few chocolate chips in a clump in the middle of each cup and add another heaping tablespoon of batter on top of the chocolate chips. Bake for ~22 minutes and allow cupcakes to stand in the pan for ~15 minutes. After the cupcakes have cooled completely, drizzle with marshmallow topping. Makes 24 cupcakes.
For Veggie Thanksgiving (Canadian edition), I made these pumpkin spice mini cupcakes based on the BabyCakes recipe. I made half of the batch pumpkin spice cake with vanilla frosting and the other half was chocolate chip pumpkin spice cake with chocolate frosting*. Everyone loved them, and I thought the candy garnishes were pretty cute, although the candy corn wasn’t vegan (no gelatin, but they contain egg whites).
Also, we had so much amazing food at Veggie Thanksgiving! Jeff made an unturkey stew, I made curried mashed sweet potatoes, and our wonderful guests brought stuffing, zucchini ratatouille, chickpea curry with quinoa, perogies (spinach and cheese), curried cauliflower, homemade cranberry sauce*, and ginger cake. It was fantastic!
*Later, I made a batch of pumpkin spice muffins filled with the leftover cranberry sauce! This is a delightful flavor combination, if I do say so myself.