Vanilla Lemon Cupcakes

Mmm, I love cupcakes, especially dense/wedding-eque ones. But I don’t like them to feel too heavy in my stomach. So I like to lighten them up with a not-so-intense frosting. Well, technically lightened up isn’t the best term, as when is frosting ever really light?

When deciding on the perfect cupcake for our gender reveal party, I sifted through my recipe file and decided to tweek a previously pinned recipe.

Clearly, I couldn’t have the raspberry frosting, as that would be a dead giveaway. But the cupcake itself was fair game.

Vanilla Lemon Cupcakes

I am not an adept froster.

adapted from  this recipe


1 cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
3 cups unbleached flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
3 TBS lemon juice
1 cup 2% milk


Pre-heat oven to 375 and line 24 muffin tins with liners/cooking spray, or set up your silicone liners.

In a large bowl, beat butter for 1 minute and add sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time. This process should take about 5 minutes. Yes it is tedious, but it is worth it.

Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Blend until smooth before adding the next. Beat in vanilla.

In medium bowl, mix flour, baking powder, and salt. Add to large bowl, alternating with 1/2 the milk and 1/2 the lemon juice. Beat until fully combined.

Pour 1/4 cup at a time into lined muffin cups and bake for 20-22 minutes. Let cool on a cooling rack.

Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting


6 oz cream cheese, room temperature

4 TBS unsalted butter

4 cups powdered sugar

3 TBS lemon juice


Combine all ingredients and blend until smooth. Pipe onto cupcakes with decorating bag, or pour frosting into a large ziplock and cut the tip off to pipe onto cupcakes.

What is your favorite cupcake recipe?

WIAW travel edition: Oregon

I’ve been a bad blogger. I’ve been traveling a lot lately, which means most of my pictures never make it to the desktop. This isn’t the end of the world, but it does mean I’ve had a lot of fun eating experiences that are sitting on my camera waiting to be unleashed. Until then, I have another traveling eats edition of WIAW for y’all. Get excited

Friday morning I hit the road with my friend, and co-worker, Rhonda. Our destination is one of my all time favorite towns: Hood River, Oregon.

Hood River, the windsurfing capitol of the world, is about an hour east of Portland, OR and is full of cute shops, eateries, wineries and breweries. We started the weekend off right at Full Sail Brewing Company.

We decided to split the artichoke dip app (with delicious whole wheat pita bread) and a sampler.

After enjoying all but the hoppy brews, Rhonda and I found a table at a Cancer fundraising event that happened to be going on up the street.

A hoola hooping contest started shortly after our arrival…
I didn’t enter, but I did enjoy a little hoola hoop action.
Impressive, no?

The next morning we found Doppio, a cute little coffee shop on the main downtown road. The line was very long, but it was worth it for a table in the sunshine and local organic ingredients.

After a little shopping, we headed to our next destination: Newberg, Oregon. The half-marathon was located in Dundee, Oregon, six miles down the road. Our dinner Saturday evening wasn’t the best, but we made up for it with a stop to Sweetest Thing, an adorable cupcake shop near our hotel.

I couldn’t decide on one flavor, so I wound up getting two! On the left is the s’mores, a chocolate cake with a ganach center and marshmellow buttercream frosting (omg, yum!) and on the right is the raspberry lemon drop.

They were heavenly, and helped us avoid our SMOKING room. Sigh. I waited too long to book a hotel room, and thought I was booking a non-smoking one, but after clicking back and forth between websites too many times, the non-smoking rooms had been booked and somehow I didn’t notice. We opened the window, put both fans on high blast and used half a bottle of fabreeze. The room smelt like clean smoke for about twenty minutes. It was a miserable experience (I’m allergic to smoke), and my run may or may not have been affected by the third-hand smoke conditions. But, luckily, we were able to check into a non-smoking room the next day.

After racing and showering, we ventured into Dundee, Oregon, a small winery driven town with one stoplight, and opted to have lunch at Dundee Bistro.

I ordered a side of truffle oil fries for the table,

and the fungi pizza for myself.spinach, oyster mushrooms, sweet onions & chevre

After lunch we decided to use some of our free tasting coupons from our race swag bag. First stop was Winter’s Hill. I wound up purchasing a case of their 2007 Pinot Blanc. Reese and Rhonda were slightly more economical and split a case. But it was a rockin’ deal at $99, and Oregon doesn’t have sales tax. Win, win!

Only after we had driven there did we notice you can go on a horseback wine tour!

The second stop was De Ponte.

We actually ran through the vinyards of Winter’s Hill and De Ponte had one of the water stations on their property. It was much more enjoyable to visit them AFTER the run then when we were actually on the course 😉

After wine tasting we decided to go to Panaderia y Taqueria, a cheap, hole in the wall Mexican restaurant, and it was a very good choice. The homemade chips and salsa excited our taste buds as we waited for our meals to arrive.

I also entertained the ladies with the contents of my purse while we waited.
What, you don’t need 8 lip gloss/stick/chapstick options? Two bottles of lotion aren’t in your bag? You don’t need a supply of bandaids, pepto bismol, advil, beano, pamprin, lactaid or other random pain relievers? Psh, you’re the weird one.

After lots of laughter, our meals arrived. I could barely eat half of my super burrito, but it was very delicious!

Rhonda left Oregon vowing to start a blog about me blogging, and I left Oregon with my camera full, my body sore and my belly stuffed 🙂

Have you been to Hood River or Dundee, Oregon?

Weekend update

How is it already 6:39 p.m. on Sunday?

I totally skipped out on posting yesterday, and I can’t make any guarantees for how many posts I’ll be able to publish this week. I’m in the midst of writing my first-ever grant, and it is quite the arduous process. Between that and this being conference week I can make no promises in the blog department.

So I’ll leave you with a little weekend update, mostly via pictures.

Friday night I attended the 4th annual Gift of Golf fundraiser.

And although my friend Jenny told me the dress code was jeans and a cute top, I decided a wine tasting was the perfect excuse to wear this little dress I’ve been waiting to debut.

With my favorite, too tall to teach comfortably in, Cole Haan boots.

Upon arriving we purchased some raffle tickets.

And I won! Not the grand prize of 2 rounds of golf + overnight accommodations at the Coeur d’Alene Resort, but I did win See’s chocolate. My friend Karen won a $25 gift card to O’Dohrety’s Irish Grille and Marla won a hat 😉

I must have been starving, because after I finished eating I noticed I completely neglected to take a photo of the spread. Tons of local restaurants donated food, and Celebrations donated cupcakes! I did not neglect a cupcake photo-op!

No, I did not devour two cupcakes, although I totally could have. The hubs enjoyed the chocolate peanut butter one, and I nibbled away at the cherry.

Saturday involved a lot of errands and cleaning for me, and raised garden bed making for the hubs.

One errand was a trip to Celebrations to pick up happy hour cupcakes, when all cupcakes are $1. Unfortunately, I got the date wrong for happy hour cupcakes, but it didn’t stop me from walking out with a few!

The champagne cupcake has edible sparkles on it!


I decided appetizers for dinner would be the perfect complement to the Lady Zags game that evening. Who, by the way, are the first 11 seed team to make it to the Elite Eight – Go Zags!

To complete my appetizer menu I hit up my local fromage shop, Saunders.

I walked away with 4 tasty selections, courtesy of our friend Kate, and assembled quite the vegetarian friendly spread.

Cheese board

Vegetarian meatballs + homemade marinara

These tasted nothing like meatballs. They actually tasted like a Morningstar Farms veggie burger. Not exactly what I thought I would be biting into.

Artichoke + jalapeño dip


And LaBrea bread

Today I added leftover bruchetta and truffle cheese to my scrambled eggs. It was a brilliant idea. I gobbled them right up.

I’d tell you more, but wordpress is being a pita. It took me over an hour to write this much. Arrgh!

What is your favorite appetizer?

Coo Coo for Cupcakes.

Today was a very exciting day, but it all started with yesterday’s cupcake trivia. Every Friday Celebrations Sweet Boutique throws a trivia question up on the ‘ol fb. Yesterday the owner was stumped for a question, so the first 50 people who responded with their favorite cupcake flavor won happy hour prices all day long ($1 per cupcake – no limit!). I was number 46 -score!

We purchased a few (ahem, 9) and will be storing nearly all of them in the freezer for some tasty treats later on. But later tonight I will probably give into temptation and dive into this little banana/chocolate/bacon number.

Prior to cupcake purchasing I attempted to re-create my 3-day oats by assembling my oatmeal and allowing it to sit for an hour and a half before I cooked it. The oats turned out quite well if I must say, (and no explosion in my microwave!).

Don’t oats look so much prettier prior to adding liquid?

Today’s mix included oats, almond milk/water, cherry craisins and chia seeds. Nothing crazy, but I am loving these cherry craisins. I really should have titled this post coo coo for craisins.

I ate ‘em while I watched a little Jersey Shore. I’d never seen Jersey Shore and decided it would be like an indulgent Saturday morning cartoon for adults. Which, by the way, cartoon characters are really sending the wrong message to kids these days.

Umm Garfield’s dad, what the fudge have you been doing?

Lunch was spread throughout the day and included a Kashi Crunchy! bar and a few Costco samples, (umm yes, we go to Costco A LOT). While at Costco we picked up this beauty.

So excited to play with it!

This afternoon I had a little girl date with my buddy Crissy. We stopped by Fringe & Frey to check out their one-year anniversary sale.

I didn’t find anything, as I was in just one week ago, but I did enter into their drawing. Crissy scored some cute 7 jeans and some fun tops.

But they did have cupcakes! Double the cupcakes, double the fun.

While waiting for her to pay I snuck over to The Rocket for a little afternoon pick me up.

I love that their fixin’s bar is an old dresser, so homey. I used to live in a super cute apartment across the street and would spend hours sipping away and utilizing their free wireless internet.

Then on over to Vintage Carousel, where Crissy again scored and I walked away with nothing.

Sigh. I did see some very cute Betty Drapperesque dresses, however, and I may be picking one come wedding season this summer. Oh wait, I don’t know anyone getting married. Ok, maybe I will just get one to wear around the house to cook’n’mix cocktails in.

I was totally in love with this (not my size) dress.

And I tried on another in the ever so cute dressing room.

Then I had to meet my mentor Marla because we switched debit cards last night! We have the same credit union and didn’t think twice when our waitress brought our tabs at Left Bank last night. She discovered this accidental swap when she tried to pay for something this morning and her card was declined. Woops!

Since I was already out and about I decided to swing over to Sun People Dry Goods, a new organic store in a less-than-savory area of downtown. Spokane has really been trying to transform its downtown over the past few years. When I moved here nine (wow, nine!) years ago I hated Spokane. I was here for one reason only: school. But over the years I have come to love Spokane and am thrilled people are supporting all of these new local businesses that seem to be springing up every day.

I am also a sucker for free parking.

And for bike racks made from recycled bike frames.

Inside I found some fun (but overpriced) items.

I know these prints are for a kids room..but I really want them in mine.

Free coffee while I shop? Yes, please.

I also accidentally stumbled into a staging area for next week’s First Friday, and was allowed a sneak peek at the art. I’m really loving this Oh, I have a blog response when people ask me why I am photographing random things.

After arriving home I assembled this kick-arse salad of mixed greens/spinach, goat cheese, avocado, tomato and cherry craisins. YUM!

I only recently discovered that goat cheese is lactose-free. I’ve been missing out for years!

Tonight the hubs and I have some fun plans with our friends John and Kim. We’re having a late sushi date at, which ironically does not have its own website. After some cheap (but definitely delicious) sushi we’re heading over to Nectar for Last Sip. I had so much fun last weekend I wanted to go back as soon as possible. Sadly we will miss their Coeur d’Alene Olive Oil tasting (it ends at 6), but I’m sure our taste buds will still be tempted with other treats.

Happy Birthday Libb!

Today Libb, (Live-in-basement-brother), aka Jake* turned the big two-three.

*I would like to point out the normalness of my brothers name: Jacob, and the abnormalness of my name: Leila.

Jake moved in with us in June so he could attend college in Spokane. One perk for him living with his foodie sister is that he gets an extra-special birthday dinner.

When I asked Libb what he wanted for his birthday dinner his immediate response was Potstickers! One family tradition is that everyone chooses what they want to eat for dinner on their birthday. Every year my brother and I would ask for potstickers. Just potstickers. My mom always tried to talk us into also choosing a vegetable side dish, but no, we really just wanted the potstickers.

My response, ummm yes! The hubs response? Ick! Libb thought about it for a while and changed his mind. He wanted steak burgers. Then the hubs saw a commercial for Burger King for their new jalepeno steakhouse  burgers. He decided he had to make Libb that for his birthday. My suggestion was to just take him to Burger King, but that was a no-go.


Not my style, but the boys were sure excited about this prospect.

We didn’t make it to a specialty meat market, so the boys had to settle for regular ground beef. I’m sure they will survive. I decided against eating this monstrosity and instead opted for a gardenburger.

And what did I eat before my gardenburger consumption?

Brekkie: some of the tastiest oatmeal I’ve had in ages: oats, almond milk/water, chia seeds, brown sugga, pecans and dried apricots.

Lunch: hard boiled egg sammie with a laughing cow wedge, dijon ‘tard on a whole wheat english muffin.

Snackie: a tart’n’sweet pink lady apple and a babybell cheese

plus lots of H20 out of my super cute new water bottle.

I am a firm believer that cute water bottles help you to consume more water.

Some homemade toasted sesame hummus with baby carrots,

which needs a tad more salt and something else that I can’t quite put my finger on yet.

And a little afternoon pick me up.

Numi Vanilla Black Decaf is very tasty, tasty.

But back to that gardenburger. I put bacon on it. Yes, this goes against everything the gardenburger stands for. But when the boys were making their bacon I couldn’t resist the waffs coming from the kitchen.

I expected to say Holy yummoly! But instead it was sodium overload! I ripped that bacon slice right off of that gardenburger, dignity intact.

The hubs made some bomb(dot)com onion rings too.

The boys burgers looked like this prior to grilling.

And after, Libb topped his burger with jalepeno, cheese, pineapple and bacon.

He declared himself full after 4 bites.

But we had to save room for dessert!

I picked up these babies at Celebrations.

Peppermint mocha, red velvet and 2 lemon vanilla’s.

Plus an extra large chocolate one for the birthday boy.

I think we are actually going to save these until a later date though.

What did Libb get for his birthday?

Food of course.

My parents got him some Mexican snuff*, which can also be used for cooking.

*Growing up in Yakima we got spoiled by real Mexican food and products. Spokane does not have these fun items, and it is a crying shame.

And my parents and I obviously know Libb’s taste in dessert well…

fruit snacks from mom and dad.

and generic from me.

My grandma sent us gummy frogs every year, so when I found these I had to purchase them.

As well as some really, really, cheap beer. Which Libb got very excited about and opened immediately…it was warm.

My parents dogs Bachelor and Zoey sent Libb a card, complete with a paw print signature.

And in honor of my friend Lindsay, who is participating in the no-pants week challenge, I am wearing a skirt today.

I think I can manage rockin’ no pants during the work week, but no way I can take on the week long challenge. Major props to those girls who are taking on this challenge in January. If it were July I could totally do this 🙂

Sassy Sunday.

Today’s excursion to Schweitzer Mountain did not happen. When we checked the weather for today it said: 50 degrees and raining.  Not exactly great weather to learn how to snowboard in.

Yet what did we find today? 50 degrees and BLUE SKY!

Meh, no worries. This just means I had more time to do what I love…clean out the freezer and get ready for a week of cooking. We had some questionable beef that needed to be tossed. And I also discovered 3 loafs of Dave’s Killer Bread, 4 La Brea demi-baguettes, 1 1/2 La Brea Rosemary Olive Oil loafs, 1 1/2 La Brea multi-grain loafs and some Oroweat sandwich thins. Hi, I’m Leila, and I’m a carboholic.

With all this newly acquired space in the freezer I’ve decided to actually do a freezer-meal month. I’ve been scoping out Once a Month Mom for a while now, but I’ve never actually made any of her dishes. My friend Kelly did a month of freezer meals and saved a ton of moola at the grocery store. After hearing about her awesome savings (and she uses all organic too), I decided I needed to get on the wagon. ‘

Today, however, was freshtastic, in the moment cooking.

Brekkie consisted of too many cups of coffee w/raw sugar and ff half&half (I actually prefer the ff stuff to the regular stuff…odd? Yes. But I think the chemicals cancel out the lactose because it doesn’t bother my stummy at all). I also had a “fried” egg (I totally suck at frying eggs), 2 slices of thick cut bacon and 2 spinach pancakes. YUM!

Have you ever had Dr. Praeger’s spinach pancakes? I love them! And I am fairly positive I can recreate them with ease. And yes, that would be a Christmas paper plate.

After brekkie the hubs and I took Rilo on a walk. It was so nice out I decided to jog a bit, (as the hubs’ walking stride is pretty much the same as my jogging stride). We wound up doing a 2.89 mile loop according to Not too shabby considering my recent treadmill experiences.

After returning home the hubs decided to break into our garage. Remember how I said it was broken? Well after researching our options the hubs decided to cut a hole a tad bit smaller than the size of a window (which he plans to install in the spring). Thankfully my father-in-law had the necessary tools and he came by to help out.

Rilo looks concerned.

The boys wanted me to crawl in through the hole to investigate what the issue was. Luckily Libb wanted to take my place.

I was much happier photographing the event and sipping on a lunchtime green monster.

The mix: 1 frozen nanner (cut up), 2 handfuls fresh spinach, 1 cup Almond Breeze unsweetened vanilla and 1 scoop unflavored GNC whey protein powder. If you are lactose intolerant and cannot stand soy, like me, give Almond Breeze a try. It is tasty, tasty.

After the kitchen was clean and the garage door was fixed I set to work determining what dessert to bring to E’s for our Golden Globe viewing dinner. I was pretty excited about our menu as E made some black bean burgers and was planning to test out my kale chips. I said I would bring salad and a dessert I could cobble together out of my pantry.

Enter Lemon Sassycakes. OMG, how I’ve missed these in my life. I lost the recipe and couldn’t access my old gmail account, where I knew I had emailed them to someone at some point. But I finally found the recipe and have now bookmarked it in three separate locations (including this post), so have no fear, I will never go sassycakeless again.

The key to cute frosted sassycakes? Throw your frosting in a ziplock baggie and cut a tiny hole in the corner.

Squeeze from there and you’ve got a perfectly dressed sassycake, (or any cake/cookie of your choice).

And eat that overdressed one in the back corner first, clearly he doesn’t make a good first impression on your friends and needs to be disposed of right away.

But before we ate the sassycakes (ok maybe we had one or two first), we ate a little kale chip goodness…

with salad and black bean burgers. Mmmm pleasantly full.

Did you watch the Golden Globes? While Jane Fonda can still rock it, I don’t think her 1982 dress can.