Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting


Oh hey chocolate fans, today I'm sharing with you a cupcake recipe that is going to blow your mind. To start off, I'm not a huge fan of beer. I really want to get more into it - maybe that will be a new goal for the year! But even though I'm not there yet, I loooove these Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes. The dark beer adds a deeper flavor to the chocolate, and makes these stout cupcakes taste even more chocolately.

Also check out my Triple Chocolate Guinness Brownies with Baileys Ganache recipe! Believe me, it's just as decadent as it sounds! Soooo good!


These are actually my most requested cupcake from friends and family! They're so easy to throw together, and are perfect for a St. Patrick's Day party dessert, but let's be real - I eat them all year round!

FYI - I'm going to be sharing a recipe video for these cupcakes in the next few days on Instagram!







Cupcake Ingredients: 

1 cup flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking sod
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 oz Guinness (or other stout beer)
1/2 cup melted butter
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 egg
1/3 cup sour cream

Frosting Ingredients:

8 oz cream cheese
1/2 cup butter
3-4 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Cupcake Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, and line a muffin tin with cupcake liners. Whisk together dry ingredients, flour through salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine egg and sour cream until well mixed. Add butter, vanilla and Guinness and mix again until combined. Mix in the dry ingredients until just combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

Fill each cupcake liner to about 2/3 full, and bake for 16-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out with moist crumbs.

Frosting Directions: 

Beat together the butter and cream cheese in the bowl of your stand mixer or with a hand mixer. Add the powdered sugar a cup at a time until smooth and creamy. Beat in the vanilla extract.


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Kirsten Bell
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Traditional Soda Bread

Traditional Soda Bread


Today I'm sharing one of my very favorite bread recipes with you - soda bread! Whenever we go to an Irish pub, I always make sure to order this! Soda bread, unlike most breads uses baking soda and buttermilk to make it rise instead of yeast. The soda gives the bread a very slight tangy and sweet taste, which makes it even more delicious dipped in stew or spread with butter.

If you've ever shied away from breads because you're nervous about yeast, give this bread a try! It's very quick and easy, and perfect for your St. Patrick's Day meal!


A fun little fact: it's traditional to mark a cross into the top of your soda bread loaf before it's baked. According to Irish folklore, this either wards off evil spirits or lets the fairies out! 





Ingredients: 

4 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup butter, cold and cubed
1 3/4 cups buttermilk
1 egg

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 425 F, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Whisk together the flour, salt and soda in a mixing bowl. Cut the butter into the flour mixture until it's evenly distributed. I used my fingers, and moved quickly so I didn't melt the butter. You can also usea pastry cutter or two forks, or pulse briefly in your food processor! So many options haha!

In a small bowl, whisk together the buttermilk and egg. Make a well in the middle of the butter/flour mixture, and add the buttermilk mixture. Mix well, first with a wooden spoon and then with your hands. The dough will be soft and sticky, but shouldn't be too wet. If necessary, add a bit more flour.

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured counter and knead lightly and briefly. Shape into an 8-10 inch round. Put the loaf onto a lined baking sheet, and using a sharp knife, cut a cross into the top of the loaf.

Bake for 40-55 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the middle comes out clean. When it's done, the loaf will sound hollow when you tap the bottom. Let cool for 10-15 minutes before removing from the baking sheet. Serve warm with salted butter.

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Kirsten Bell
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Gruet Sips and Bites: Sparkling Wine and Food Pairings

Gruet Sips and Bites: Sparkling Wine and Food Pairings


What better way to kick off the weekend than with some delicious bubbly! I am so excited to share this post with you - it's one of my favorites I've written (and researched) to date! I mean who doesn't want to taste champagne all day! Someone had to do it.

Now let me just say: whether you spend every other week in Napa or are just dipping your toe into the wine world, this post is for you! This is for my wine-loving friends who are always wanting to try something new. Learn more. Explore palettes. Have fun. In my book, that's what wine is supposed to be all about! Are you with me? Then pull up a chair, pour some bubbly, and let's talk food and wine pairings!


Jordan and I have been on a major sparkling wine kick lately, and discovered Gruet Winery. They're located in New Mexico, and make sparkling wines using the Champagne method (or méthode Champenoise, which you can learn about here). Their founder was originally from France, and decided to plant an experimental vineyard in New Mexico in 1984. You can read more about the fascinating story here!

Their wines have become a favorite in our house. We love that the quality rivals some of the biggest players in the Champagne game, and yet they're not so expensive that we feel guilty popping a bottle on a Wednesday. It's all about that balance, right?

For the sparkling wine, we will focus on the Gruet Brut, Sauvage, Blanc de Blancs and Brut Rosé. When you're doing a food and wine tasting, I recommend a strategy that I learned on our recent trip to Bordeaux: taste the wine first and try to pick out any familiar flavors and/or tastes. (Ex: Maybe green apple? Maybe you're not sure which fruit, but you know it's tart.) Then taste the food. Then take another taste of the wine. It's fun to see how the flavors change with the food - how some characteristics might become more subtle, while others become more pronounced. 

For the food: I tried to keep the food pairings as simple as possible. If you want to recreate this sparkling wine and food tasting at home (which I hope you will!), the food will take you max 35 minutes to prepare all of it. And then, if you want to explore each wine further with fancier food options, please do!

 

Pairing 1: Brut with Fresh Bruschetta and Balsamic Glaze

Let's start with the Brut! This is a really traditional sparkling wine that's bright and citrusy, and I get some hints of nectarine or peach. I feel like this wine is really forgiving and would pair well with a variety of food. I loved the Brut with a fresh tomato bruschetta, drizzled with a balsamic glaze. Sometimes acid needs acid, and this wine pairs really with the acid in the tomatoes and balsamic.

To make the bruschetta: I made a really simple version with fresh tomatoes, basil and mozzarella, piled onto slices of fresh baguette and drizzled with a balsamic reduction. I didn't even bother toasting it, because I loved how light and fresh it was! 

 

Pairing 2: Sauvage with Truffled French Fries

The Sauvage sparkling wine is described as "bone dry", and that's an accurate description! This is a very dry sparkling wine, and I loved pairing this with a high fat food. The fat in the fries really helps to cut the acidity, and brings out more flavors in the wine. I think this would also be really great with a macaroni and cheese or buttery lobster!

To make the truffled french fries: Preheat the oven to 450 and line a baking sheet with foil. Spray with baking spray (I love this coconut oil spray). Cut a russet potato into thin (1/4 inch) slices, and then cut them again so you're left with long and thin "fries". Toss them in a bowl with 1 tablespoon olive oil, 2 tablespoons white truffle oil, 2 teaspoons garlic powder and salt and pepper to taste. Bake on the lined baking sheet for 20 minutes, and then turn the fries over. Sprinkle 1/4 cup parmesan cheese on top, and bake for an additional 8-10 minutes.

 

Pairing 3: Blanc de Blancs with Smoked Salmon Bites

I love the bright lemon flavors in the Blanc de Blancs! I first tasted this wine with a lemon sorbet which was way too intense and overpowered the more subtle flavors in the wine. Oops! That's a great example of a "bad pairing" haha! So I slept on it, and in the morning I decided to try it with my salmon bites. This ended up being my favorite pairing! The crisp citrus taste of the wine is so complimentary to the freshness of the salmon.

When I was thinking about what food would pair best (in my opinion) with the Blanc de Blancs, I thought about what I most like to use lemon in, since that was the primary flavor I personally got from the wine. And I loooove a lemony salmon! So voila!

You can find my Smoked Salmon Bite recipe here!

 

Pairing Four: Brut Rosé with Fresh Strawberries

No recipe needed! This Brut Rosé is so versatile, and can be paired with sooooo many things! We enjoyed this with pork tenderloin for Jordan's birthday, and strawberry macarons! It was delicious with pretty much everything we ate with it, but I really loved it with the simplicity of fresh strawberries. Sometimes a really good wine pairing happens with you pair the wine with a contrasting flavor, and sometimes complimentary flavors. The strawberries really help to bring out red berry tastes, and show off this wines creaminess. 

Remember - 99% of the fun in wine pairings is experimenting and seeing what you like! Everyone's palette is different, and maybe you'll love the Brut Rosé paired with fried chicken! What matters most is that you love the wine you're drinking, and I know you'll love all of these Gruet sparklers! Cheers!
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Kirsten Bell
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Coconut Curry Butternut Squash Soup

Coconut Curry Butternut Squash Soup


This coconut curry butternut squash soup is healthy, delicious and perfect for cold days! It's super easy to make, naturally healthy, gluten-free and easily vegan. Usually butternut squash soup is a fall staple, but I love it year-round. Especially with what feels like a hundred feet of snow on the ground outside and frigid temps, we're all about the warming soups!


Used in this post: 

I looooove Thai food, especially curries! My mom and I always love to order pumpkin curry, which is what inspired this new twist on the traditional butternut squash soup recipe. I love the red curry flavor, and that it's not overly spicy. Try serving this with Cheesy Pesto Rolls and a Winter Salad!





Ingredients: 

2 tablespoons butter
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, diced
2-3 lb butternut squash, cut into 1 inch cubes
4 cups chicken stock
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
2 tablespoons red curry paste
1 (14 oz) can full-fat coconut milk

Directions: 

Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium low heat. Add the onion and garlic, and cook until soft and translucent - about 10 minutes. Add the butternut squash through red curry paste. Bring the ingredients to a boil, then reduce temperature to low, and simmer for 20-25 minutes or until the butternut squash is fork-tender. Remove from heat, and stir in coconut milk.

Move half the mixture into your Vitamix blender, select the hot soup setting, and start your machine. Continue with the other half of the soup, and serve with a squeeze of fresh lime!

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Kirsten Bell
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Fresh and Healthy Winter Salad

Fresh and Healthy Winter Salad


In the summer, I'm obsessed with salads. They're so light and fresh - perfect for warm evenings on the patio. During the winter I definitely crave more comfort foods like macaroni and cheese or cheesy pesto rolls haha! But we've been making an effort to up our veggie intake, which has meant a lot more salads!

I've been trying to keep our salads new and exciting, experimenting with different ingredients and flavors. I love everything about this salad! The juicy pear is delicious with the tart cranberries, and toasted pecans are delicious with a hint of salty feta cheese. Topped with homemade shallot and basil vinaigrette, this is a winter salad that we'll be enjoying all year long!  

In this post: 



Side note: I recently got these to-go dishes from Villeroy & Boch, and I am obsessed. Aren't they so pretty?? The dishes work perfectly for my salads, and I love that they're not plastic. We've been purging our plastic storage containers, so I really like that these are porcelain. Also eating off of a real bowl is just so much more enjoyable, don't you think? I use the small dish for my dressing, but it would also be perfect for dips and sauces!


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Makes one salad, and about 1/2 cup dressing

Salad Ingredients:

2 cups romaine lettuce
1/2 pear, sliced
1/4 dried cranberries
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
2 tablespoons pecans
Optional additions: boiled egg slices, bacon, sliced onion or avocado

Basil Shallot Vinaigrette Ingredients:

2 tablespoons champagne vinegar
1 tablespoon agave
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
2 tablespoons finely chopped shallot
2 tablespoons dijion mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Vinaigrette Directions:

Combine all of the ingredients in the bowl of your food processor or blender (I used my Vitamix). Blend until smooth, and add any additional salt and pepper as needed. Serve!





If you make this recipe, be sure to tag me on Instagram (@thiscelebratedlife)! I love to see and share your creations!

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Kirsten Bell
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