We had fun making and decorating lots of cupcakes for our last Halloween party. Half were pumpkin cake with vanilla frosting, and half were chocolate cake with chocolate frosting. All were vegan and gluten-free!
And here was the full spread of snacks! In addition to cupcakes, we had kettle corn, ghost- and pumpkin-shaped cheese slices (you can see them in more detail in these photos from a previous party), pumpkin sugar cookies, pumpkin seeds, and cantaloupe and blackberries.
Crash Cuisine is a fantastic vegan restaurant in Loveland, Colorado. They have lots of gluten-free options, and everything I’ve ever eaten there (sandwiches, soup, dinner specials, cookies, muffins…) has been top notch. But for me, the most exciting thing about Crash Cuisine is their amazing selection of gluten-free cupcakes!
Most of the time they have several varieties of gluten-free cupcakes available. The chocolate strawberry cupcake above was a delight, and I also love their chocolate cupcake with peanut butter frosting and banana cream inside. I’m looking forward to trying them all!
When we were on vacation in Westfield, Massachusetts this summer, the little one and I stopped by Mama Cakes for a treat. She had a “baby” birthday cake cupcake and I had a “mama” gluten-free chocolate cupcake with dairy-free vanilla frosting.
The cupcakes were delicious, and there’s a great little play area for kids, but what really stood out for me about Mama Cakes was the fantastic customer service. As soon as I paid for our cupcakes and we picked up our plates to head to a table, the kiddo dropped her cupcake on the floor. As we picked it up from the floor, the staff immediately replaced the dropped cupcake at no cost, and just like that, a little kid’s crisis was averted.
I made these adorable sheep cupcakes for Easter, based on these directions.
I used my favorite chocolate cake recipe (German chocolate cake from the Babycakes Covers the Classics cookbook), and store-bought frosting to save a little time.
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!