Have you ever heard of a blessingway? I hadn’t either and then was invited to one a few weeks ago for my friend Natasha. Natasha’s good friends LeAnn and Angie hosted the blessingway and it was an incredible event to be a part of.

By definition, a blessingway is a women-centered ceremony emphasizing a women’s strength, dignity and her metamorphisis as she goes through the process of bringing new life into the world.

A blessingway is nothing like a baby shower. Instead of focusing on the soon-to-come baby, you focus on the mother-to-be. All the guests were asked to bring a bead or a charm and include a note that reminds Natasha what the meaning of the bead is. The beads are then made into a bracelet which Natasha will wear when she gives birth (which could be any day now!).

The champagne cupcakes were made for the blessingway. I know Natasha likes champagne, but obviously hasn’t been able to enjoy it for the past 9 months. The cupcakes give the slightest hint of champagne flavor, as it is both in the cake and in the frosting. Don’t worry, all the alchohol is cooked out of the champagne.  I loved how moist the cake is and how light and fluffy and champagne buttercream is.  These are a must-try!

The blessingway had a springtime theme and had lovely paper and real flowers everywhere.  The baby bump above is a mold of Natasha at 8 months.
My cupcakes in action.  I was thrilled that the mom-to-be loved them.
Delicious goat cheese and tomato baguettes.

LeAnn and Angie (the hosts) thought of everything, including photos of Natasha’s mom and sister, who live in Russia and were unable to attend the blessingway.  They also asked Natasha’s mom and sister to write letters to Natasha, which were read out-loud during the event.  Things got a bit emotional, to say the least.
As you can see, Natasha is a beautiful pregnant woman.  Her belly is adorable!  Part of the blessingway included pampering the mom-to-be.
I couldn’t resist snapping a couple maternity photos as the lighting was lovely (as well as Natasha, obviously).

Champagne cupcakes (recipe adapted from Sprinkles Bakes blog)

Cake:

1/2 cup butter softened
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 3/4 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup champagne, prosecco or your choice of sparkling wine (I used Prosecco)

Frosting:

1 cup plus 1 tbsp. champagne or prosecco
2 sticks of butter softened
2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time beating well after each addition. Add vanilla and mix. Whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt, set aside. in a medium sized bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup champagne and 1/2 cup sour cream (mixture will fizz and bubble a little). Add flour and champagne mixture alternately, beginning and ending with flour. Batter will be thick.

Fill cupcake papers with 1/4 cup level measures of batter. Bake for 17-22 minutes. Set aside.

To make the frosting, Place 1 cup of champagne in a small saucepan. Simmer over medium-high heat until reduced to 2 tablespoons. Transfer to a small bowl or condiment cup and allow to cool.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, cream softened butter and powdered sugar together. Once the frosting is thick and fluffy, pour in the reduced 2 tbsp. champagne plus 1 tbsp. champagne from the bottle and mix well.

To embellish I used blue cupcake liners (Natasha is expecting a boy) and added white nonpareils.  Pretty!

I hope you all have a happy Monday!

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I had a lovely Sunday morning baking these pumpkin spice muffins, sipping coffee, and catching up on some blog reading while the sun streamed through my kitchen windows.  We had a spectacular fall day in MN, the kind of day that when you are outside you just want to stand still with your eyes closed, face toward the sun.  I’m not exaggerating, it was really that great of a day.

The muffins filled my kitchen with a warm, cozy smells and I was thrilled to be baking and not be rushed for time.  It’s been so long since I’ve had a weekend day thad didn’t consist of running from place to place, you know how it is…

These muffins are lovely, plain and simple.  They become amazing when topped with cream cheese frosting.  The muffins themselves are not that sweet but one important lesson I have learned from baking a lot of muffins is that you will never regret sprinkling sugar on top before placing them into the oven.

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These red velvet cupcakes are delicious. I went a bit overboard and made normal sized, minis and even tried cupcakes in a jar. How cute are they?? This recipe is awesome and was sent to me by my sister-in-law, Nikki. Very easy, too!

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My mom loves carrot cake so my sister and I decided to express our love and adoration for her through good ol’fashioned baking. The first batch was a bust, we should have taken them out of the oven a good 5-8 minutes before we did. They were a bit hard and kind of crunchy. Not fabulous at all.

Second batch was much better. Best part? They were adorable! We piped tiny orange carrots with green leaves on each cupcake. And they taste great, too. We used an Ina Garten/Barefoot Contessa recipe from Food Network (minus the raisins and walnuts).

Carrot Cake Cupcakes

2 cups sugar
1 1/3 cups vegetable oil
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 extra-large eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
3 cups grated carrots (less than 1 pound)
1 cup raisins
1 cup chopped walnuts

For the frosting:
3/4 pound cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 pound confectioners’ sugar

Directions
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Beat the sugar, oil, and vanilla together in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add the eggs, 1 at a time. In another bowl, sift together the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. With the mixer on low speed, add 1/2 of the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Add the grated carrots, raisins, and walnuts to the remaining flour, mix well, and add to the batter. Mix until just combined.

Line muffin pans with paper liners. Scoop the batter into 22 muffin cups until each is 3/4 full. Bake at 400 degrees F for 10 minutes then reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F and cook for a further 35 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool on a rack.
For the frosting, cream the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add the sugar and beat until smooth.
When the cupcakes are cool, frost them generously and serve.

We celebrated Mother’s day at my parent’s house and my mom ooohed and aaahed over the cupcakes and didn’t believe us (or did a good job pretending) that they were homemade versus store bought. Love my momma!

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