Sunday, January 30, 2011

Chocolate Cream Cheese Cupcakes

I adapted this recipe from and they have quickly become a favorite. I enlisted my friend Mark to help out with this fabulous recipe. It's a perfect blend of chocolate and cream cheese. A perfect 'beat the mid-winter blues' kinda recipe. It's just the kind of sweet treat I need to make it through the final winter stretch.

Printable Recipe


For the chocolate cupcakes:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup packed brown sugar
5 tablespoons natural unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the cream cheese filling:

8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
2 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped


1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a 12 cup muffin tin with paper muffin cups.

2. In a large bowl combine flour, brown sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Combine well. Create a small well in the center of the mixture.

3. In a separate bowl combine water, vegetable oil, vinegar and vanilla extract. Pour into the the center of the flour mixture. Slowly stir, combining the flour and liquid. Do not over-stir. The batter will look a little bubbly and even just a little lumpy. That's okay as long as the dry and wet ingredients are blended.

4. In a separate bowl with a mixer, beat the cream cheese, sugar and egg. Fold in the chopped chocolate.

5. Divide the chocolate cupcake batter evenly between the 12 muffin cups.

Mark, evenly distributing the chocolate batter. What a great job he's doing!

6. Evenly distribute the cream cheese mixture, on top of the chocolate mixture, between the 12 muffin cups.

 Me, distributing the cream cheese batter. I'm also doing a good job. Ha!

7. Bake on the center rack for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

These are really delicious. Print this recipe, go get the ingredients and make them! Yum.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Fenn Valley Winery Tour

I've been meaning to post this blog for months. Back in October Rob and I went to Saugatuck Michigan for my birthday weekend getaway. The entire weekend was picture perfect. The leaves were at their autumn peak and the weather was amazing. Aside from all the miscellaneous wine tastings and good foods my absolute favorite part was the winery tour at Fenn Valley Winery. When we arrived in Saugatuck we stopped for a bite then headed to the bed and breakfast to check in. When we walked into the room there was a bottle of champagne and tickets to the winery tour at Fenn Valley. Rob had set it all up as a surprise...I had no idea! It was the best birthday present.

The tour consisted of a tractor ride through the winery with 12 different samples (some of us snuck a few extra smaples...shhhh) and some frolicking in the vineyard. There were maybe about 18 people on this particular tour and it happened to be the last tour of the season. What luck! We headed over to the Grape Train Station...choo-choo....

All the people on the tour were friendly. I think some of them had been doing some tasting prior to the tour, particularly this group of 3 friends. They were rather loud gals and they were ready to chug some samples. Whoo hoo! We also met a lovely couple that knew the owner of the winery. They had been on the tour like 500 times and knew everything by heart. If there are winery tour trophies I'm sure they have a whole shelf of them. There was also another couple that honed in on us from the moment we stepped into the Grape Train Station. Coincidentally they are from the Chicago area and we found out they were staying at our bed and breakfast. I wish I could remember their names....Heather and Keith maybe...or Brad and Angelina...or...hmmm well anyway she reminded me of Sarah McLaughlan-just the way she looked. She chatted with us the entire tour and had lots of witty remarks. She was quite fun. Later that night they were hanging out at the bed and breakfast when we came back. They were drinking Dom PĂ©rignon and playing some board games. They insisted we share the bottle of Dom. We couldn't pass that up! We had some good conversation and hung out for quite a while. Then off to bed we went and we didn't see them again. I guess we were just two ships that passed in the night...ahhhh...okay back to the tour...

We stopped and checked out some vines. Isn't this thrilling?! Well it is after about 4 samples....

Adjacent to the vineyard was a little pine forrest, also quite thrilling!

The obligatory photo of the Fenn Valley sign:

And, the most amazing part was the sunset! Just as we were leaving and after many samples I couldn't resist snapping photos left and right of the beautiful sunset. An amazing way to end the tour!



Fenn Valley Winery...we will be back!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

So much to blog about!

Wow the holidays are over already. It's really hard to believe. And I have so much blogging to do! I've been somewhat consistently blogging for the past few months and I plan on keeping up the momentum and maybe changing things up a bit in the new year. Oh and speaking of...I thought I'd post a pic of me and Roberto's yummy New Year's Eve spread of delicious foods!

We went to our favorite Italian market a few blocks up the street - Piatto Pronto. We got some mild and hot sopressata, imported prosciutto, artichoke salad, a big chunk of pecorino romano and some bread. Oh I made my bruschetta too. Deelish! I also made a new winterized logo with snowflakes. I'm doing my best to accept that there's still at least two months of hard winter...let it snow! errrr maybe not....