Recipe: Woman Crush Wednesday

With this being the first Woman Crush Wednesday of the second year in the life of Yankee Doodle Paddy, I knew we had to honor someone special.  A chef that has made a difference in the lives of others and has charted new food territory.  For us foodies who are in awe at the legacy she has created, we just can’t get enough of the beautiful way she puts together top quality ingredients to create a perfect symphony of flavors.

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Ruth Rodgers opened The River Cafe back in 1987 with her late business partner Rose Grey. They ventured into new territory for female bosses in a male dominated profession. But they let their food do the talking.  Italian inspired and beyond delicious, their London restaurant eventually won a Michelin Star.  And so many chefs have gone through the kitchens, that Ruth can proudly say she has created something beyond the River Cafe.  Names such as Jamie Oliver, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingsdale and April Bloomfield are just a few who were lucky enough to cook the incredibly creative yet unfussy dishes.

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With six award winning books, it was hard to choose a recipe to make.  I always do a recipe on WCW I’ve never done before but the inventory of dishes in Ruth’s arsenal is thick!  But since one of her specialties is the clever yet simple ways she makes pasta come alive, I decided to try the Tagliatelli. When Hubby and I went to The River Cafe for our anniversary back in 2012, I could have eaten every pasta dish on the menu.  But for today, we’ll give this one a go.  And I”ll be doing the tutorial live on my Snapchat account (username:  blissbkakery).

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Tagliarini al Bosco (Tagliarini with Asparagus and Herbs)

Ingredients:

675 g (1 1/2 lb) thin asparagus stalks, tough ends trimmed

sea salt and freshly ground pepper

250 ml (8 fl oz) double cream (called heavy cream in U.S.)

4 garlic cloves (peeled 3 whole, 1 chopped)

2 Tbsp olive oil

50 g (2 oz) butter

4 Tbsp finely chopped fresh mixed herbs (basil, mint parsley, oregano)

250 g (9 oz) tagliarini or tagliatelle (I used penne pasta)

120 g (4 1/2 oz) Parmesan, freshly grated

Method:

Cut the asparagus stalks into 2 cm (3/4 in) slices at an angle.  Blanch the stalks in boiling salted water for 1 minute. Blanc the tips for seconds only.  Drain well.

Bring the cream to the boil in a large saucepan with the whole garlic cloves and simmer until the cloves are soft. Remove from heat, and discard the garlic.

Heat the oil and butter in a separate saucepan and fry the remaining garlic until light and brown.  Add the herbs and stalks, and cook briefly just to coat them in the butter and oil, then pour in the flavored cream.  Bring to the boil, reduce the heat, and simmer until the cream behind to thicken, about 6 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.

Cook the pasta in a generous amount of boiling salted water, then drain thoroughly.  Add to the sauce along with about half of the Parmesan and the asparagus tips.  Serve with the remaining Parmesan.

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This pasta was a big hit tonight.  Hubby loved it and even though it is cream based, it actually tasted quite light. The ratio of asparagus to pasta was just right too.  And it was an easy to follow recipe that could be put together even after a long days work.  Since there’s only two of us in the house we will look forward to left overs for lunch tomorrow.  The recipe says it serves 6 people, but we sure made a good dent in it because of the fresh and flavorful taste.  I used a combination of herbs but if one only had basil that would suffice.

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While I have been calling Ruth by her given name, she is actually now know as Lady Rogers. She received the MBE from Queen Elizabeth II in 2010. Pretty amazing considering she was born in New York and lived in America through her college days.  After a move to London where she met her husband, she spent time in France and Italy were she honed her culinary palate for the unctuous Italian food. That was the cuisine on which she and partner Rose Grey chose to base their restaurant when it opened. With an amazing wood fired pizza oven, minimalist interior design, and open kitchen plan, The River Cafe was a step ahead of any other dining establishment at the time.

Even nearly 30 years later there is still a wait to book a table as the legacy has continued to flourish. And Lady Rogers has carried on without her beloved pal and partner Rose.  But likely her spirit is forever there with the whole of The River Cafe team. Truly a remarkable food experience infused with the love of two gorgeous gourmet gals!  And lucky for us they paved the way for other ladies to carve their way into the culinary world.

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Thank you sweet Lady Rogers (and indeed posthumously Lady Grey) for your contributions to the gastronomic world. We are forever in your debt!

River of LOVE,

YDP

Happy One Year Birthday!

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I’ve already mentioned in a few recent posts that this day was approaching. The one year birthday, or as some call it “blogiversary”, of my Yankee Doodle Paddy home.  I am so excited and also overwhelmed with emotion.  But later today there will be a free give away competition to celebrate over on my Snapchat account (username: blissbakery).

I just wanted to share with you a few of the top posts of the year.  Because in these 365 days this is the 222nd  post!  So for many that might have just started on the journey it would be hard to catch up.  And for those who have been here from the start, it might be good to look back at a few posts that have resonated with you in some way or another.

Obviously, this is categorized as a “foodie” blog because I am a chef and post recipes.  But I also share stories of my years working in Hollywood as an actress, as well as stories from my childhood and divorce that were very traumatic.  Not to moan on about them, but to let others know I can relate to their struggles and to open up some conversation about very real and human issues. Sharing stories is a beautiful way for our souls to connect.  It allows us to support and encourage each other in this earthy existence.

  1. Soul Dog– Most people seem to have had a dog at some point in their lives.  If not they have had a cat or some other pet that has touched their hearts.  Jack was one of many pets in my life.  But he stole my heart.  And when he passed it left a hole.  It is still there and that’s okay.  Because it is a reminder of just how much another (even an animal) can enter into our lives and make it better!  If you haven’t read this one, make sure to have some tissues at hand.  Not because of my particular story with Jack.  But because you will have a beautiful cathartic experience thinking about your own special creature that has stolen your heart.  It is good sometimes to have a cry.  It’s a beautiful reminder we are indeed alive!

2. Peanut Butter in the Pocket– My obsession with peanut butter is well documented. But not only will you have a chuckle at my love letter to peanut butter, but also be surprised to know I was once a thief! But there is the most amazing recipe for chocolate peanut butter bars. You have my permission to skip the story and go straight to drooling over these delish treats!

3. The Dog Ate the Pot Brownies– Another dog story true, but a different dog. Only this one is a unique because it features one of the episodes that relates to my mom being a drug dealer. But there is actually a delicious recipe for sweet potato brownies. Totally sugar and gluten free and no worries about a drug bust if you make them!

4.Spaghetti Sticks and Mayonnaise– People have said for years I should write a book. There are many unbelievable but true stories in my 51 years of life, but as a chef a cookery book is more up my alley. If that ever happens I wouldn’t mind this blog post’s name being the title. True, it is an unusual name for a cookery book. But when you read this short post (which was early days of the blog) you’ll see why cooking has been so important to me. I might not have been old enough to read the package instructions to cook the spaghetti at the time. But I’ll never forget the taste of spaghetti sticks dipped in mayonnaise.

5. Head Banging Tiramisu–  Since tonight I’ll be doing the give away as I mentioned above, I thought I would share the first give away I ever did for Snapchat. But it is really the story around it that is so, well, so me. I am the world’s biggest klutz. And this story is from my early days of snapping, when I nearly killed myself.  I thought it might give you a chuckle to read this cracking story!

6. Jagged Little Pills– So many people I meet are surprised to know I dealt with depression. I am such a happy person so how could that be? Well if you read this post you will understand. And I think you might find that it isn’t so hard to talk about a natural human response to grief or a chemical malfunction in our brain. It actually takes more work and energy to hide it.

7. Mancrush Monday in the Morning– If you are as much of a Marty in the Morning fan as I am, then you’ll love this post. If you like delicious cookies, then you’ll love it too. There’s a great cookie recipe and an even better love story for the nicest man I have never met! But please God some day I will. Yep it is on my bucket list!

8. Tripidation:  Serve– Finally, I had to add one of the posts from our trip to Africa. I did a whole week long series of reflections in fact and received so many amazing comments I could have listed any of the posts on here.  But for me, this one sums it up. Because in reality, we all need to be of some sort of service in our lives. Whether at home, work or the community. Humans need to have a life of purpose in order to be fulfilled. And while I was once a guest contributor to a blog, I haven’t officially had one on here.  However, in this particular post , the majority of the text and all of the photos were actually done by my Hubby.  Since my blogging and snapping and all of this wouldn’t be possible without his unfailing support, I hope you read this one if you read any of these listed. He is my rock and I am so grateful to be his wife.

So there you have it!  Eight posts from a year in the life of Yankee Doodle Paddy.  Please God there will be many more fun times, fab adventures, and yummy recipes to come.  Most of all I hope we can continue this experience together.  I don’t like to use the term “my followers” as I have mentioned previously. That would imply I am the leader, walking in front with my back to you.  I am possibly a tour guide at times.  But I prefer to think of us as family.  We are in it together, holding hands, side by side!

Thanks for the LOVE and support!

YDP

 

Recipe: That’s a Wrap

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While trying to maintain the balance of naughty and nice, I have a recipe for you today that would definitely fit into the nice category. It is gluten free and filled with veggies and yummy smoked salmon. It is easy to make and very refreshing on a hot summer’s day as we’ve had here in London lately. And if you don’t mind the gluten, why you could always put all the bits and pieces into a flour tortilla and make it into a wrap. But I like to do things a bit differently ,as you know, and have used the cucumber itself as the wrap! You just need to have good knife skills or else a mandoline slicer.

Smoked Salmon Cucumber Wraps

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Ingredients:

1 cucumber, sliced lengthwise into thin sheets

1 pkg 100 g smoked salmon

4 Tbsp Philly Cream Cheese

Handful of Rocket (arugula)

2 Tomatoes sliced into strips, removing seeds

1 Avocado, peeled, de-stoned and mashed

Small squeeze of fresh lemon juice

Fresh chopped or dried dill

Salt and Pepper to taste

Toothpicks

To assemble:

Place cucumber sheets in between (kitchen) paper towels to soak up a bit of moisture while you prep other ingredients. Then on a clean cutting board place one cucumber sheet and spread it with cream cheese. Spread avocado on top of cream cheese. Place the smoked salmon on top of that. Season with salt and pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice. Place the tomatoes and rocket leaves on top. Carefully roll from one end of the sheet to the other and secure with toothpick. You should have enough to make 8 rolls. Put on platter and sprinkle with dill.

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This Smoked Salmon Cucumber isn’t the only wrap. Our time with Quincy Jones here in London is over.  And in showbiz when a event is finished they say, “That’s a wrap.”  He was here for the weekend for his Royal Albert Hall concert and we were so blessed to be with him. I mentioned our visit with him on Saturday evening.  But to be at The Royal Albert Hall (our first time there) and see him perform was phenomenal.  At 83 this dear friend just keeps on inspiring.  Not just with his talents of course, but his LOVING spirit.  Not sure if we will see him next back at his place in L.A. or other parts unknown.  We were with him at the Montreux Jazz Festival a couple of years ago and have also met up at the Karlovy Vary Film Festival in Czech Republic.  But no matter where or when, we just want to wrap our hearts around each other in gratitude!

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LOVE Wrap,

YDP

 

 

Recipe: G&T at GMT

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Even though I am a foodie, I am a drinkie too.  If that is even a word.  I was late to the game of drinking alcohol of any description. Of course for obvious reasons because I spent my early years pregnant or nursing babies.  Which was fine, I never felt like I missed out on the partying I saw going on around me.  I was a happy designated driver.  That continued on even after the kids weren’t so little anymore as I never really had a taste for alcohol.  Then my dear friend Quincy Jones changed that. When I was going through my divorce there were some very dark days indeed which I’ve shared on here. Quincy was a great support and on one occasion in particular surprised me.

I was about to get into a bubble bath with the candles lit and my favorite Tony Bennett CD playing.  Quincy called on the phone to check on me.  When I set the scene of my night he said, “Sounds like something is missing”.  The next thing I knew, the doorbell rang.  It was Quincy’s driver who handed me a bottle of red wine.  But not any red wine.  This was a super fancy bottle of Chateau Mouton Rothschild.  Even though I didn’t drink at the time I said, well if Quincy went through the trouble of having this hand delivered, I guess I’ll pop it open.  Ever since then I tease him that he is a corrupter.  I don’t drink red wine everyday but I have learned to appreciate it.  And I have even ventured onto trying other spirits.

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I haven’t done many drinks recipes on here, but today I am sharing a lovely recipe for a Slushy G&T that I made for this week’s Snapchat Takeover of CookReel’s account.  I actually made a few things for a culinary creation “picnic”.  First off I baked some healthy flapjacks, a version of the Megawatt Breakfast Bars with a few tweaks.  Then I put together a tasty and simple, Salad on a Stick.  But it was the Liquid Libations that made the theme of the day so fun.

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Since I mentioned on my last post that CookReel have asked me to do a weekly spot in their line up, my unique Yankee Doodle Paddy offering each episode will be a culinary creation and a gastronomic expedition. I put together a little healthy sweet and savory picnic and Hubby and our doggie Stella and I headed over to the Royal Greenwich Observatory.  At the top of the hill in Greenwich Park this historic treasure was commissioned by King Charles II in 1675.  British astronomers worked tirelessly to move time keeping beyond sun dials to what we now use as modern time keeping.  Hence, Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) is where most of our clocks are set. What does GMT have to do with food?  Well, as a chef, ingredients are most important.  But timing is also key.  And how lucky are we that we live so close to the very spot where time starts!  Only a boat ride away along the River Thames. So we had our G&T at GMT!

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Slushy G&T

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Ingredients:

1 cup gin (chilled)
2 cups ice
3 cups tonic water (chilled)
¼ cup freshly squeezed lime juice

Place everything in a blender. When it’s nice and slushy pour into a glass and garnish with a lime or lemon.

Salad on a Stick

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Ingredients:

12 oz Cooked Italian Style Poultry Sausages, cut into 1 in pieces (or you can substitute mini mozz cheese balls for vegetarians)

½ cup lightly packed basil leaves

1 jar of sundried tomatoes, cut into 1 in pieces

1 jar of roasted peppers, drained and cut into 1 in pieces

1 jar artichoke hearts, drained and quartered

24 skewers or cocktail toothpicks

1 cup Balsamic vinegar

2 Tbsp brown sugar

  1. Heat a nonstick skillet and cook the sausages until done.
  1. Thread 1 small or a ½ of a large basil leaf onto a wooden skewer. Add a piece of roasted pepper, sundried tomato, artichoke, and ending with the sausage. The skewer will stand up on the sausage end. Continue to finish all the skewers using remaining ingredients. Serve with the balsamic reduction sauce.
  1. To make the balsamic reduction: Combine 1 cup of balsamic vinegar and 2 Tbsps brown sugar in a small pan over medium high heat and bring up to a bubbling boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook until the liquid has reduced by half and is thick and syrupy, about 10 minutes.

The Salad on a stick is very adaptable and one could substitute mini mozzarella cheese balls for the sausages if wanting to stay all veggie. As well, a lovely pesto sauce would be nice drizzled on them as an alternative to the balsamic reduction.  And the flapjacks are so easy to tweak depending on what ingredients are available. Since we were going to be spending dinner with Quincy Jones who happens to be in London, I wanted to bring him a sugar free treat. So the flapjacks were perfect!  The last time I saw him in Los Angeles a few months back I brought him my famous poppy seed cake, his fav, along with a bottle of red wine.  Little did I know he had given up sweets and alcohol!  So he called me a corrupter when I walked in the door!  He got me back!  We’re even. So tonight no corruption just LOVE!

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Whether you are a corrupter or not, there is something in this simple picnic menu for you to enjoy.  You can go whole hog and have it all, or if you are a vegan non alcohol drinking health nut, you can just enjoy the flapjacks!  And you can do it in whatever time zone you happen to live.

Uncorruptable LOVE,

YDP

 

Positive Moments and a Past Post

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Though the shortlist has just been announced and I am not on it, I felt it was time to share some news with all of you.  My funky little corner of the internet was on the longlist of nominations for Best Food and Drink Blog in the LittleWoods Ireland Bloggies.  Mine was one of sixty nine blogs.  And the forty one that made the shortlist are beyond worthy. So to be on the long list is still a massive achievement for mine isn’t the typical foodie blog.   I don’t know who nominated me but I gave some PDA (public display of appreciation) on my Snapchat story yesterday (username: blissbakery) to that sweet and anonymous person.   As I said in yesterday’s post, this nearly one year journey has been amazing.  I honestly don’t know how I do it some days as it is like finding my way in the dark with all the technology.  But I am persistent and keep consistent with posting so it will improve I hope.

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Looking back at this past year I am also grateful that CookReelTV recently asked me to join them on a regular slot each Saturday for a takeover of their Snapchat account.  The first time I did a takeover it was all cooking here at home, and last week I incorporated a little foodie adventure along with some baking. The later seems to be the popular choice amongst the viewers and so each Saturday I will do both a culinary creation and a gastronomic expedition.  I am beyond excited to meet more people and share my passion for food.  As well, I really want to thank CookReel for what they are doing for chefs by providing us this platform.

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Lastly, while we have eyes on the front of our heads for a reason, I believe it is also good to reflect on where we have come from so that we have a better understanding of ourselves.  That being said,  I am going to share a past post.  But it isn’t from this blog, it’s from my first blog (which was only for the 12 weeks I was at the Ballymaloe Cookery School).  It warms my heart to read it and remember how excited I was to not only be there immersed in food 24/7 but also to be in Ireland, my soul home.  And like being nominated along other Irish bloggers, I am proud to drape myself in the tri-colors of the Emerald Isle!

FEBRUARY 2007:

Now that I am officially halfway into my cookery course here in Ireland, I have a better vantage point with which to assess this journey. There are many things I’ve learned, loved and longed for.
I have learned to have a greater connection to food. Living on a working farm I have seen where it all starts; from the seed, the soil and Mother Nature’s gift of rain and sun. How food is prepared is something I already knew from my years of cooking experience, but I have a deeper appreciation now that I have learned new recipes. Because this farm is organic there is no such thing as waste. Everything is put back into the land through compost. Feeding the hens is more than an assigned duty to get rid of “trash.” What the hens eat is given back through the eggs they produce. Through first hand exposure to this “cycle of life” I have learned to have a more complex palette. When I taste food now I take time to savor it and think of all the work, seen and unseen, that went into it.
I have loved the beauty of the Irish landscape; the one hundred different shades of green, the soothing rain, the colorful sunsets, the brooding Irish Sea and the most amazing rainbows I have ever witnessed.
I have longed for potholders. Yes, potholders! For some reason, they don’t have potholders here, only “tea towels” (dish towels) which don’t seem to protect the hands from red hot, just out of the oven casserole dishes.  AND OF COURSE I have longed for my loved ones. It is a long time to be away and I have been feeling homesick.

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**NOTE: This photo was taken by me one afternoon on a break from demonstration. I stuck my camera out of the school window. In no way shape or form has this been photo shopped (not that I would know how to do that anyway). Can you see the double rainbow?

I get tears in my eyes when I re-read that post. And they are partially from laughing so hard that I still don’t know how to use photo shop (as I say there regarding the rainbow pic).  While I have admitted on the ABCs of YDP,  I must APOLOGIZE for the archaic and basic blog.  But I do feel I have BALANCED the life stories with recipes over these 52 weeks.  Lastly my CAVEAT still holds true, I am not a writer, editor, food stylist, photographer or a professional blogger.  I am a chef.  I am here to share my story of how cooking is not only my passion, but has also been my therapy.  Hopefully I am inspiring others in the process.  Bottom line, I am me, and that is all I can be!  I have never fit into a specific category in my life.  And guess what?  I am okay with that!

Thanks to everyone who reads this, who has commented, and who has supported me along the way.  I am forever and eternally grateful!

Reflecting with LOVE,

YDP

 

Blogging

Next week will be the first year anniversary of my blog. It’s hard to believe in many ways.  But it has been an amazing journey. Yesterday I actually had to renew my domain name. Where does the time go?

One of the best things to have happened this year was being featured on Claire Kane’s blog ClaireByReverie in a Spotlight Interview.  She is a well known Irish blogger and she knows her stuff about the digital realm.  In fact she has a recent post called “The 8 Things Bloggers Don’t Tell You“.  My fav is number 3: Starting a blog is actually easy, running a blog is hard.  In my case however it was also hard to start a blog due to my tech challenges.  While much can be said of the need for improvement in my blogging abilities, one thing I am proud of is that I have been consistent in posting.  Most importantly I have been sharing the LOVE!

Today I am going to share the interview Claire did with me as there might be some who haven’t read it. It might give you insight into my world, the blogging world, and indeed Claire’s world. She is a renaissance woman with so many interests, and she always tells it like it is!  And when she told me I loved Ireland more than anyone she knows, nothing could have been more sweet to hear. Hence it goes down as one of my all time highlights this past year. Thanks Claire!  Being part of this blogging community has truly enriched my life!
Irish Blogger Spotlight: Yankee Doodle Paddy
The Irish Blogger Spotlight is rounding off with a very special participant!

Everyone on Snapchat LOVES this week’s blogger, she is officially Irish (yay!) and also officially one of the kindest, genuine people I have ever come across so it is an absolute honour to be able to feature her on Clairebyreverie.com. I hope you enjoy Karen’s answers as much as I do!

1.Tell us your name: Karen Geraghty

2.What’s your blog: www.yankeedoodlepaddy.com

3. How long has it been up and running? I started the blog at the end of August 2015. In saying that I did have a blog for three months when I did the 12 week Ballymaloe Cookery course back in Jan/Feb/Mar 2007 however that was early days in the blogging world. Now everyone and their dog have a blog. But a dog’s blog should be called a Dlog! Anyway it was more like a travel diary. But it is still up in cyber space and I go to it now and again and relive those amazing memories (it is called: www.karenincork.blogspot.com )

4. Do you blog full time, if not what do you do alongside blogging?: Well, not sure what “full time means” in that some professional bloggers (ones that are sponsored and paid) may only write once per week. I’m not professional. And I don’t call myself a writer but a “sharer”. Just because I lived in Ireland for seven years doesn’t mean I soaked up the Irish talent for writing. I post as often as possible. For the first 33 days I posted every single day, then 6 days a week, then 5 days a week, etc. It was like a horse being let out of the starting blocks. Then I realized that it’s a marathon not a sprint in this journey so I post now about 3-4 times per week. I share about life, travel and of course food. I have am a professional chef and cookery teacher. Before I moved to Ireland, I lived in Los Angeles and was in the entertainment business. People always love my posts about the Hollywood days!
5. What has been the best thing to come out of blogging for you so far?: The cathartic aspect of sharing my story has been one of the best things to come from blogging. Not just for me but people reading. I have experienced many challenges and traumas in my life, along with some amazing joys and blessings too. Different ones have resonated with people who have longed to have someone put a voice to their suffering. But because food is not only my passion, it is also my therapy, I usually include a recipe within each story. It adds a bit of comfort to say, “okay that happened lets get in the kitchen and make something of it!” Also the connections I’ve made with other souls (who are inhabiting their “meat suits” as I call them) on this earth have been amazing. I am grateful that through blogging I have met people like you who have inspired me, taught me, and supported me along the way!
6. What’s your one rule for blogging?: Well, for me it is all about the LOVE. My purpose in life is to spread love. I happen to be a chef so I do it through my food, but also through my words on the computer screen. It isn’t a rule as such, but my hope is that with each post whomever reads it actually feels my love coming through their computer or mobile screen. And I always end my posts with some form of a loving sign off. Where as some bloggers have the same sign off each time, mine is dictated by the theme of the story. And LOVE features prominently in my Snapchat stories as well.
7. How do you think people perceive bloggers, and is it the reality? Since I haven’t been in the blogging world for very long I’m not privy to how people might perceive “us” but I can say one thing. I just attended my 1st blogging event (the IBA conference and awards in Dublin this past weekend) and it was one of the most invigorating experiences for me. The people I met and the information I gleaned will stay with me forever. I think we all have a story to tell, this one is mine. And I am truly honored and humbled to be a part of this amazing community.
8. What’s your favourite aspect of blogging? My favorite aspect about blogging is the nuts and bolts of it really. From beginning to end. To start, I like to take time to reflect on my different stories or themes and let them marinate a bit. I create a list of things I might want to share and have a fluid editorial calendar. By fluid I mean I am not tied to it 100 % I allow fate to shift posts depending on what is going on. While I am normally very social, when I am in blogging mode I am more introspective. But that time is very important. So when I actually turn on the computer and start typing, the words come pouring out. As you know from watching my Snapchat stories or reading my blog, my faith is a central part of my life. Therefore I trust that the truth will prevail and everything happens when it happens for a reason.

9. How much time do you dedicate to blogging every week? Just based on my last response there, it is hard to gauge since I often spend hours in thought about a post while I am out walking my pretty pit Stella (the dog who hates the bad singing and dancing I do for the Woman Crush Wednesday cooking tutorials, but loves the yummy treats at the end). The actual “writing” as you would call it doesn’t take that long, but because of my “tech-disabilities”, incorporating photos etc. takes me forever! Let’s say that I am often sleep deprived because of it! But it is so worth it that I don’t mind!

10.  What’s your favourite post you’ve written so far?  Wow, that is so hard to say, like saying which of my children I love the best, cuz of course I love both my kids equally and completely. But there are two that seem to resonate with readers the most. The one called “The Dog Ate the Pot Brownies” is about my mom being a drug dealer and our family dog eating her marijuana. I know it sounds unbelievable, but all of my stories are true experiences in my own life. However, there is actually a fab recipe in there for some healthy brownies, but the magic ingredient is actually sweet potatoes not pot! And the other popular post is called “Soul Dog” and it is a gut wrenching but poignant love letter to our dear dog who is in heaven now. I guess lots of folks out there have gone through similar experiences with their dogs passing away, so they can relate. P.S. those two stories I just told you about, both have dogs in them, but they aren’t the same dog!
11. Who are your biggest blogging influences? My two biggest blogging influences are my daughter and my daughter in law. My daughter no longer blogs as she is a mommy of two little girls and a full time student getting her masters in social work. But her blog is still up in cyberspace (https://inherchucks.wordpress.com) and is still an influence on me. It is a mommy and food blog and in fact I have used some of her recipes on my blog. Heather is an awesome photographer too. I hope one day she gets back into it if she can. Also my daughter in law (www.kokolikes.com) inspires me as well. She is great with design and blogger networking. She is the reason I joined the Great Blogger Cookie Swap at Christmas time. It was so fun to bake and exchange cookies with bloggers from all over! Koko is a fashion and food blogger. But her experience as the wife of someone in the military (my son) makes her blog unique and popular. I love them both so much!

12. What’s your favourite Social Media Platform? HELLLOOOOO I mean do you even need to ask me that my friend? LOL! Snapcrack, like it’s totally addictive and totally fun (hence I call it Snapcraic). But that is why I do the Sunday Spotlight Snap Sista series. There have been 27 honorees so far and it is fun to spread the love through our Snapland Family, just like what you are doing on your spotlight. Social Media CAN and should be supportive and kind!

13. The main focus of your blog is obviously food, do you have any favourite foodie places to go in Dublin and London? I do! Yes I have actually posted a list of top places to stay, eat and things to do in both Dublin and London. But specifically, in Dublin my “happy place” on the entire planet is Avoca so defo have to have something good to eat there (plus some awesome shopping) and for London I am a walking/talking advert for anything Ottolenghi. I did a Foodie Fieldtrip Friday to a couple of their restaurants. Amazingly crafted sweet and savoury dishes with fresh ingredients, it is to die for, literally! If any of you are coming to London I will offer my services as your tour guide free of charge!

14. You run a Woman Crush Wednesday every week where you feature a recipe from a famous female chef; have you got a favourite so far? Though I have done 40 #WCW and I absolutely adore each and every one of them, I have to say that Darina Allen was my favourite because she was my teacher at Ballymaloe and continues to be my mentor. What she has done for the Irish food scene is phenomenal. And it took me weeks of Wednesdays to get around to honoring her because I knew it would be quite emotional for me. I knew I would cry because I’m a sentimental sap like that. And my cooking tutorials are meant to be fun and festive. By the time I did do her crush I held it together! But she means so much to me I really love her! And I admire and respect her food ethos and her culinary passion.

15.  You are queen of snapchat, that is a fact! Do you have any tips for anyone who wants to get the most out of snapchat? What? Queen? That is hilarious! What until my Hubby hears that! Well I am really useless with technology, and as a chef I can do wonders with pots and pans but computers and smart phones, yikes! As well at 51 years old, I’m so late to the social media game. I am still not on Facebook! But Snapchat, though tricky to navigate for me, just works. I love the interaction and that is really how you get the most out of it. Simply by being social. Even for people who don’t want to post much themselves, if you are watching others’ stories, comment every now and again. Interact, if you feel safe with someone you follow. You might be surprised that you can strike up a friendship, or simply find common ground on a subject. I spoke of this and other aspects of snapchat manners on my Snapchetiquette story (and subsequent blog post). It was very well received because having manners is important in life, even on social media.

16. Two words: Marty Whelan. A national treasure, of course, but can you tell us why you love him so much? Great question you know me well! Okay here goes: Two words: Mancrush Monday! Not to be funny with my response but honestly, I have only done and will only ever do one Mancrush Monday and it was for Marty Whelan. I love him. And my hubby doesn’t even mind my saying that. I am happily married to my best friend and don’t even notice other men. But Marty attracts me like he does anyone who admires him. Marty is similar to a fragrance and it is called JOY. It permeates the air when you listen to him and stays with you long after his 7-10 am Monday to Friday slot on RTE Lyric Radio ends. I know it isn’t Thursday (cuz you know I like my #tellthetruththursday on Snapchat) but, here is a truth for you. Top of my bucket list is to meet Marty Whelan one day!

17. Finally, you are officially an Irish Citizen and you love Ireland more than anyone I know; what do you love most about our little island? Okay, Claire, I am actually crying reading this question because I miss Ireland so very much. Nothing against London, it is a lovely place. And nothing against America where I was born, I love the USA. But Ireland is my soul home. I love everything about it, the people, the environmental landscape, the history, the food and agriculture, the intellect and humor…how long can I go on here with this Q&A is there a max number of words? Cuz I could talk for Ireland about Ireland. But I will sum this all up with a short little story. My first trip back to Dublin after our move to London I was in my happy place (Avoca) having a bite to eat with a friend. But I wasn’t eating; I was looking around at all the patrons/customers/diners. I was staring at them and my friend said, “Are you okay?” I said, “Look, do you see all these people, they are so familiar to me” She said, “Oh do you recognize them because they were customers of yours or your cookery students?” I said, “No, it’s just this is where I belong, this is my soul home and I know them, I love them, they are familiar to me because they are my family.”
I love you Ireland, and I belong to you! Always and forever! No matter where I lay my head at night, I dream in green!

If you aren’t following Karen, eh, WHY?! See below for details on where you can find her:

Snapchat: @blissbakery
Instagram: @blissbakery (food/family/travel etc)
Instagram: @yankeedoodlepaddy (ONLY food)
Twitter: @yankeedoodlepad
Facebook: None, but I have a blog post explaining why I’m not. It is called Recipe: Blame it on Napolean Dynamite.

And also Youtube: Yankee Doodle Paddy (at the moment there are only five cooking tutorials, but hoping more to come soon).

 

Blogger LOVE,

YDP

Recipe: Woman Crush Wednesday

Hey Y’all it’s that time of the week again. Yes it is Woman Crush Wednesday.  Which means first off,  one incredible chef is getting some love. Second, we all get a fabulous recipe! And third my dog is going to be sulking all day as I do my live tutorial on Snapchat (username blissbakery). Because I have a propensity to do a bit of bad singing and dancing and at the ripe old age of 11 she just can’t deal.  However, she will get a teeny tiny little taster and that will temper her frustrations a bit.

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This week we have the awesome Paula Deen to adore. Yes she is the famous television chef, best selling cookbook author and owner of “The Lady and Sons” restaurant in Savannah, Georgia. I had the pleasure of eating there and I loved it.  And it was the first time I ever tasted fried green tomatoes. It was a miracle I actually got in, as there was a line literally around the whole of the building.  But once you taste the food you can see why.  It is Southern food done right. Everything tastes so homemade and delicious.  I was quite full when I left but really wanted to stay there camped out until the next meal just to keep eating.

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One of the most quintessential Southern treats is cake smothered in cream cheese frosting, so I thought how perfect to make one of Paula’s signature cakes.  Hummingbird Cake is so light and the sweetness of the bananas with the pineapple is a perfect summer delight. Plus, pecans are definitely a Southern delicacy so anything with them would drive one nuts (pun intended). So let’s get to it!

Hummingbird Cake Ingredients

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Cake:

3 cups (430 g) self-rising flour

2 cups (400 g) granulated sugar

¼ cup (2 oz) vegetable oil

½ cup (60 g) finely chopped pecans

2 very ripe large bananas, mashed

One 8 ounce can (228 g) of crushed pineapple with the juice

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp ground cinnamon

4 eggs, beaten

Icing:

One 1 pound box confectioners sugar

One 8 oz (228 g) pkg cream chees, room temp

6 Tbps (3/4 stick or 90 g) butter, softened

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 Tbsp milk, or more if needed (I actually didn’t use any milk at all the frosting was on the runny side as it was)

½ cup (60 g) finely chopped pecans

  1. Preheat oven to 325 F
  2. Grease and flour three 8-inch round cake pans. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, oil, pecans, bananas, pineapple, vanilla, cinnamon, and eggs. Stir well with a spoon until the batter is smooth
  3. Pour the batter in the prepared pans. Bake for 26-28 minutes, until the tops sprinkle back. Cool in the pans for about 10 minutes then loosen from the pans and invert onto wire racks to cool completely.
  4. To make the icing, mix the sugar, cream cheese, butter, vanilla, and 1 Tbsp milk in a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer until the icing is smooth. If needed, add more milk, 1 tsp at a time to achieve the proper spreading consistency. Ice between the cake layers, and on the side and top of the cake. Sprinkle the top with the pecans. Refrigerate until ready to use.

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Can I just say this may be the nicest cake I have ever tasted!  It was super easy to make and is beyond flavorful and moist!  I was a bit concerned as the frosting was more runny than I am used to making myself.  But once I popped it into the fridge it firmed up just in time for tasting!  A great recipe and I am totally feeling like a Southern Belle ready to entertain guests out on the veranda!  Only I made hot tea to go along with mine and likely I’d need an iced tea with the weather in Savannah this time of year.

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Besides her fab food Paula is well known for her comforting Southern accent and gorgeous smile.  She has two sons Jamie and Bobby that have worked with her for years.  After her divorce from their father she set up a catering company from home.  She suffered from agoraphobia so she sent her young sons out to deliver the food at lunchtime in paper bags.  As the business outgrew her kitchen and the boys grew up they opened The Lady and Sons in 1996.  Other restaurants followed and as her popularity reached new heights from the Food Network show, including an Emmy award,  they too got their own show.

Paula is now happily married to her husband Michael and they live in Savannah. It is a gorgeous town, dripping with Spanish moss covered ancient trees, literary richness and a huge amount of Irish pride. Why they have the third largest St. Patrick’s Day parade in the world!  My brother who was in the Army Rangers stationed at Hunter Air Base marched in that parade. Speaking of brothers, Paula’s brother Bubba also has a restaurant. Food is just a family affair around Paula’s home!

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Thanks Paula for showing the world that you can overcome challenges, set backs and hardship and still be a Lady! You’re zest for life and cooking shows and we have all benefitted. Sure Southern food is known for some things that are “naughty” but every now and again it is worth it cuz it tastes darn good!  Now I’m gonna go back and finish my slice of Hummingbird Cake! I think I might have died and gone to cake heaven!

Humming LOVE,

YDP

Foodie Fieldtrip Friday: Good and Proper Tea

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One of the great things about the Foodie Fieldtrip Friday series is that I get to travel to different places that I might not ordinarily go to.  Such was the case this past Friday.  I took my Snapchat friends along as well (my username is blissbakery) and while the story has since expired, I hope this post will continue to inspire folks to go to Good and Proper Tea in London. With three locations, one on Leather Lane that I visited, another on Old Street and a third at the Brockley Market, this business is doing things right.  They also have a G&P Tea Van that travels to festivals.  In fact I remember seeing them at Jamie Oliver’s Feastival in the Cotswolds when I went last summer.  Their aim when starting was to source and brew the best tea possible.  They have succeeded.  And on top of that, their crumpets have been touted as the best in London.

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While their crumpets are square as opposed to the usual round variety, they serve them the traditional way, buttered, or many other sweet or savory choices. They even have a vegan option!  As well they have numerous cookies, bars and cakes to tempt, but I went specifically for the crumpets. For some reason I’ve always associated London with tea and crumpets. And when I came upon a great article on the Londonist with a list of the city’s best, I decided I must do it for a Foodie Fieldtrip Friday outing.

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I arrived later than planned but for good reason. I had a lovely surprise meet up with some fellow Irish Snappers.  But I made up for lost time when I arrived at Good and Proper Tea. Ashely and Freddy welcomed me with warm and friendly smiles.  They answered all my questions and offered suggestions about what to order.  I decided since I hadn’t had lunch I should order two crumpets!  One sweet and one savory (okay well I only ate half of each taking the rest home for Hubby to taste).  It was so hot that all I wanted was an iced tea to start!

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It was quite literally the most refreshing iced tea I have ever had. This coming from an American who lived in Los Angeles for many years.  Ice tea is more popular there than water! But this iced tea was so good in part because it wasn’t too sweet and I loved the grapefruit juice tartness.   I really felt like I was drinking liquid vitamin C gold!  I thought a savory crumpet would be best with the iced tea and indeed it was.  I ordered the avocado with cream cheese and chill flakes. It was very moreish I could have eaten the whole thing.  I loved the spongy home baked square crumpet.  There wasn’t a hint of stodginess!  I could taste the sourdough in each bite and there were loads of lovely bubbles perfectly baked inside!  It sure got the thumbs up from me!

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Now time for round two, sweet crumpets!  I ordered the weekly special which was peanut butter and banana with sunflower seeds. Since I am a self professed peanut butter addict you could only imagine my delight!

 

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I actually think I died and went to crumpet heaven!

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But then it was time to wash it all down with the real McCoy!  Some perfectly brewed tea, and not just any tea!  Only the most popular tea available at Good and Proper!  Even though the temp was warm outside (and London is notorious for not having air conditioning inside of buildings) I went for it.  I LOVED it and the little bottle of milk on the side (so cute) helped cool it down for me!

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I love the interior space of Good and Proper Tea.  It is clean, bright and well laid out. With free wifi, nice music and comfy seating I can imagine it being packed at peak hour. Because I was late in the day it wasn’t too busy. But it gave me a chance to chat with Ashly and Freddy about the business and all things tea and crumpets!  I also loved perusing the gorgeous teaware selection on offer.  Most certainly great gifts for a tea lover in your life!  Though I didn’t buy any thing myself other than my tea and crumpet feast, I definitely want to return with Hubby. However,  I wasn’t alone on this trip, as I said my Snapchat friends loved it too!

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The comments I received from those watching were in alignment with my thoughts about this little adventure.  First off, square crumpets, totally cool!  It is always great to break the ordinary mould in life and make things even better.  Next, the care with which each crumpet was made, the toasting and the spreading of butter prior to the toppings was actually an art form!

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Lastly, the method of brewing the tea was new not only to me but those watching. It seems to be engineered in such a way as to infuse the tea to perfection as in a scientific laboratory.  In fact Freddy told me the equipment they use is called a steam pump which was originally used for making coffee. They were able to convert it to their needs for the tea.

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I really appreciate an idea that is so passionate that someone would go to great lengths to achieve it.  The owner Emile has done that and with the help of her crowd funding support she can be proud of this wonderful business!  In a country known for centuries as tea drinkers, while the coffee culture may have picked up steam, at least they all know where to go for a good and proper cup of tea. Thanks Emile!

Crazy for Crumpet LOVE,

YDP

My Cheerleader

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Everyone needs a cheerleader in life.  Someone who picks you up when you are down.  Someone who supports you if you get weary while working towards your dreams.  Someone who does flips when you finally score.  That person could be a family member,  friend or soulmate.  But if you are lucky enough, that person is all three in one.

I never had a cheerleader before, but I was pretty good at being one myself.  I love it!  True I was never a “real” cheerleader, you know the kind with pom poms from high school or college days.  The cool girls on campus who dated the football players?  Growing up we could have never afforded for me to be a cheerleader.  Those uniforms were expensive. But guess what?  To be a cheerleader in life, it doesn’t cost a thing.  All you need is LOVE in your heart and you’ll be able to “Rah, rah sis boom bah” for others.  And it actually lifts you up while you do it!

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My cheerleader’s birthday is today.  I love this day!  I adore making a fuss for people’s birthdays and since my cheerleader is not one for the limelight or in need of material things  it is the one day I get to really go overboard.  Last year for my cheerleader’s birthday we were in France. Yep!  We went to spend August 14th in Giverny, at Monet’s Garden.  It was one of my Bucket List trips.  That is the kind of cheerleader I have!  THEIR birthday at MY bucket list locale.

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I am so grateful everyday that my cheerleader is my Hubby, my best friend and my soulmate. And I love this day because God blessed me by bringing this man into this world on this day. It took many years before our “broken roads led us straight to each other”. I talked about it a bit on here before, but it wasn’t easy!   I am going to savor the day, each minute.  Now he hasn’t lifted me up over his head with one hand like they do on those co-ed cheerleading squads. But he did carry me across the finish line when we represented Ireland in the World Championships of the Wife Carrying Competition.

Happy Birthday Hun, I LOVE you so much and thank you for everything!

2-4-6-8 who do I  appreciate? My cheerleader, Yeah!

YDP

P.S.

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This is the famous lily pond at Monet’s Garden in Giverny, France. That is the gorgeous Japanese Bridge so often a subject in Claude Monet’s paintings. As much as I love those paintings it can’t beat this pic. If you look closely that is my husband standing on the bridge taking photos.  I was on the others side of the lake taking this pic. Which was hard to do because I was in tears. But they were tears of joy that some how I was lucky enough to have found my cheerleader!

 

Recipe: Reese’s Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes

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As much as I love living abroad and feel grateful Hubby and I get to travel all over the world, there are many things I miss about America.  Of course number one is family and friends. But I also miss some good old fashioned ‘Merica style food items.  And nothing says red, white and blue more than peanut butter.  In my opinion anyway.  I’ve openly shared about my peanut butter obsession on a regular basis and have made numerous peanut butter inspired treats on here before:  Peanut Butter Cookies with pretzels and chocolate, Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars, Peanut Butter Chocolate Bars.  But this recipe today might take the blue ribbon!

I found the last two packs of mini Reese’s peanut butter cups in the Tesco world foods America section. When I say last, I mean LAST!  They are discontinuing their world foods section all together. So the next time I see these lovelies will be when I am back on U.S. soil in September. Therefore, I had to honor them well with this recipe creation.

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Reese’s Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes

Ingredients for the Cupcakes:

6 Tbsp (85 g) unsalted butter, room temp

1 cup (250 g) smooth peanut butter

1 1/3 cups (270 g) firmly packed brown sugar

3 Large Eggs, room temp

1Tbsp vanilla

3 cups (406 g) flour

1 Tbsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

1 cup (8 oz or 225 ml) milk

 

Ingredients for Frosting

1 ½ sticks (170 g or 5.9 oz) unsalted butter, room temp

pinch of salt

2 ½ cups (250 g) powdered sugar (icing sugar) sifted

¼ tsp vanilla

3 oz (85 g) dark chocolate melted and cooled

Reese’s Chocolate Peanut Butter Spread for filling (or Nutella)

Mini Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups for topping

 

To make the cupcakes:

Preheat the oven to 350F/180c. Line a cupcake pan with paper liners.

In a large bowl of stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, peanut butter and brown sugar until fluffy about 3-5 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time and beat well. Scrape in between each addition. Add the vanilla and beat until incorporated

In a separate bowl combine the flour, baking powder and salt.

Add the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture, alternating with the milk. Mix well.

Fill the cupcake liners with the batter using an ice cream scooper.

Bake for 15-20 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center of cupcakes comes out clean.

Cool cupcakes in the pan. When fully cooled then pipe the inside with the Reese’s chocolate butter. Then top with the frosting and garnish with the mini Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups

To make the frosting:

In a bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and salt on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 mins.

Reduce the speed to low and gradually add the powdered sugar and mix until it is all incorporated.

Add the vanilla and beat until smooth and creamy. Stop the mixer, scrape down the sides and then add the chocolate. Beat just until incorporated.

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As you can see if you’ve gotten this far, I also found some Reese’s Peanut Butter and Reese’s Chocolate Peanut Butter Spread. Seriously you probably think I am doing a commercial for them but I am not. I just decide to go full out and use these complimentary finds and I must say the cupcakes turned out amazing!  The cake is very peanut butter-y but still light and spongy not stodgy at all.  And the filling is the surprise bonus that makes it all worth while. Like having a pureed Reese’s inside!

Of course the creamy chocolate buttercream frosting and the mini Reese’s on top really is the “icing on the cake” as the saying goes.  I am delighted with these and am feeling less homesick.  Plus tomorrow is Hubby’s birthday so we will have our fill of cupcakes that is for sure.

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I made these cupcakes for a Snapchat tutorial. However not for my own (blissbakery) account but for Cook Reel TV (their Snapchat username is: cookreel)!  They kindly asked me to come back and do another take over.  I had a blast, and while last time I made a full menu, this time because we went on a little gastronomic excursion for the first half of the takeover, I only had time to make these cupcakes.  In saying that, this might be the only recipe one needs for a night of pure bliss!

Cupcake LOVE!

YDP