vegan cupcakes can be delicious and the Pacific Northwest is pretty amazing

Lately, someone has been bringing the cutest cupcakes to work (see crappy cell phone photo below) and I have happily indulged in a couple of them. They weren’t that tasty, but sure made up for it in adorable-ness. During a recent dinner-making party, I decided to look up a chai based cupcake. Why would anyone ever think of putting chai into a cupcake? BECAUSE, internet, it’s like rainbows touching your tastebuds. While I didn’t have all of the raw ingredients to make chai, I had some nice Stash Chai tea bags, so I decided to go the chai frosting/chocolate cake combo – heavenly.

I promised you all a recipe for cupcakes that will knock your knickers off and here they are:

RECIPE: http://kokoskitchen.com/occasional-indulgence/vegan-chocolate-chai-tea-cupcakes/

Sadly, this is not my photo (or recipe) because, well, I’m not an experienced vegan baker and the cupcakes were eaten so quickly I didn’t even have time to snap a photo. Yeah, they’re that good.

Pro tip #1: I used vanilla-flavored, unsweetened, almond milk. It adds a more flavorful twist to the cake.
Pro tip #2: Add a little extra cocoa powder, I used closer to 1/2 cup as opposed to the suggested 1/3 cup. It makes for a more dense cake.
Pro tip #3: I don’t have the patience to learn how to properly frost cupcakes, so mine never look like the perfectly piped ones in the photo.  Also that isn’t really a pro tip but I thought it was applicable.

I also took the most amazing trip around Northern California and later spent a week in Oregon (for work). I tried to soak up all of the crisp air, mountainous views, and sky-high trees, but I already want to go back. The food in Napa & Sonoma valleys was spectacular, the views near Lake Tahoe were breathtaking, and Cannon Beach in Oregon was one of the mistiest, most magical places I have ever seen. Photos to come in my next post!

Trying to be a hip traveler,

M

PS: Here’s a great quote I heard while watching TV this evening. I feel that it resonates with my whole life motto (however,I am trying to move more towards acceptance and less of a battle over control).

“I believe in controlling everything and putting cheese on stuff”
– Sutton Foster’s character Michelle in the ABC Family Series “Bunheads”.

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City of Colors

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Apparently, the way I post on this blog is the way I write in journals: sporadic and only when I’m settled enough to put some thoughts together. So I hereby announce that, upon publishing this post, I’m going to add “blog posting” along with my other midsummer resolutions. Midsummer resolutions are kind of like New Year’s resolutions but not as daunting because a. I just made them up , and b. summer is warm and comforting and full of ice cold drinks that make me chock-full of happiness. Other resolutions include eating less, taking advantage of the California sunshine before I head back to grey-skied Pittsburgh, and kicking butt at my internship.

Now, on to my real blog post. Last week I visited what I think is the coolest city I have ever seen. Sure, some people can argue that I lack reference levels when expressing my love for things, but San Francisco has a magical, quirky ambiance that I might (just might!) want to be a semi-permanent part of after I graduate.

The people are a mix of cool, fun, educated, and bat-sh** crazy, and the neighborhoods I visited were truly awesome. A couple of intern buddies and I stayed in a great hostel on Post Street that offered all kinds of entertainment as well as a day walking tour that was worth the muscle fatigue after trekking up San Fran’s iconic hills. The photo opportunities were numerous and the food was delicious, but the best part was meeting up with friends from school on different street corners. I’ll be back soon, SF!

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I pulled out my nerdy-looking zoom lens for this view of Alcatraz from Pier 39

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Shady balconies towering above Chinatown. According to an eccentric fellow named Jackie Chan who lives in an alley in Chi-town, this is where the word ‘hooker’ originated.

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I wish I was as cool as this hipster-chic lady. Behind her is some historic bar.

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No post about a new city is complete without a photo of mouth-watering food. These are pastries at an Italian cafe in North Beach.

Cheers,

M

Be there, the Fair!

This summer, I’m looking forward to exploring the beautiful, sunny, West coast of the US! In between work days, I’ll be blogging about different places and experiences. This past weekend was my first adventure starting with….Wal-Mart! While being bargain heaven was lovely, I was happy to get out of there with some friends and explore the local county fair. All of the cowboy-esque activities  made me a little confused at first, because I always connect boots, horses, and cattle to Texas and the Mid-West, but I never realized that “Western” also extends to California! It’s the silly epiphanies that make life so ridiculously funny. After I’d had my share of pigs, chickens, and hay, we decided to explore the plethora of food options. Having become a pescatarian (the only ‘meat’ products I eat are fish/seafood) last September, I’m still getting adjusted to the lifestyle and encountered some temptation in all of that slow roasted barbecue. In the end, I settled for some buttery corn on the cob and a platter of deep fried veggies with homemade ranch. Along with the greasy goodness, we also rode the “Starship” (a crazy, smelly, g-force ride that made us laugh uncontrollably), and saw a great country singer! Doing something a little different than the usual dinner or movie was really fun, and I’d definitely recommend everyone to check out community events like this one!

I rarely like zucchini, but this one was fried to perfection! The mushrooms and artichoke hearts were also delicious – I will definitely be attempting something like this in my own kitchen soon.

This bright blue sky still gets me every time I walk outside.

A really chubby bunny that looks angry in a really cute way. 🙂