Five on Friday: Five Fun things to do in the Twin Cities

As a way to get myself back into the swing of blogging, after taking a short break to go visit my family in Minnesota, I thought I would start five on Friday.

I have seen this on other blogs. So, it’s not an original idea but hey most things aren't these days!

My Five on Friday’s will mostly be about foodie things because yes this is a foodie blog. But I am not going to limit myself to only foodie things. This is going to be a way for you my readers to get a better idea of me! Sound fun?

Well, it does to me! If you are also taking part in a Five on Friday or Five for Friday or whatever else it can be called please leave a link below in the comments so I can have a look! Or Tweet me @unitedcakedom I do like to re-tweet! 

Here it goes my first Five on Friday (drum roll) and the topic is……..

Five Fun Things to do in Minneapolis/St. Paul Minnesota 

1225 Estabrook Drive, Saint Paul, MN 55103

Go after you've had lunch so that you can spend any extra money on Sno-Cones and Cotton Candy or (Candy Floss if you are British). Also look online ahead of time for feeding times and seal shows! We managed to skip the ride parts by telling the girls that it was for big kids. You can always reverse that and tell your big kids it’s only for little kids, but they will probably be less gullible.

2. Science Museum of Minnesota (not free unless you know someone who works there)
120 W. Kellogg Blvd., Saint Paul, MN 55102 aka Planet Earth, Latitude: 44° 56' 34" N, Longitude: 93° 05' 54" W

Make sure you have a whole day to explore here! There is just so much to do and see. Check out the performance times for the stage on the lowest level as they have some short fun performances that are all about science! Like the picture below shows two very talented people teaching kids about the water cycle! 

3. Lakes: Lake Nokomis (free)
4955 West Lake Nokomis Pkwy. Minneapolis, MN 55417

Tip for swimming in lakes: Do Not Take your Phone swimming with you! As long as you keep that in mind it’s a lake with a sandy beach. Bring a picnic and let the kids go splash and play in the water! Best day ever according to my girls! They don’t care if it’s not a tropical beach somewhere in the Pacific! I did a little. But hey you take what you can get!

1750 Hennepin Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55403

The home of the iconic Cherry and Spoon sculpture it’s definitely a place to see and let the kids loose. The girls climbed on everything they could. We didn't visit the Walker, but I have been in the past and if you like Modern Art I would suggest going in (there is an admission charge). If you cross the bridge there is a big park for the kids to run around in too!

920 E Lake St #G10, Minneapolis, MN 55407, United States

When you visit here go hungry! It’s like a massive food court with authentic global cuisines! Including a bakery called The Salty Tart. It had good bread! We took our baguette in our picnic to the beach! Plus it had other tasty looking treats and as I was in line a lady was ordering a massive amount of cupcakes, so I assume they do events too! There were other stalls/shops as well, but I was looking at the food! 

And that was my ... 

... next Friday there will be Five more fun things so until then! 

note: all opinions and pictures are my own! 

Lemon Mess Cupcakes

I bake. No shit right? I mean I wouldn’t be writing a blog called United Cakedom if there wasn’t cake and cakes are baked.

Basically I bake and I use my baking skills to make things for friends and family as gifts.

I like to think they appreciate it. If they don’t… well I don’t want to know because I like baking things for gifts.

These were made for the teachers and staff at my girl’s school as a thank you for educating and watching my girls for a good portion of the year.

They were a bit fiddly to make and very sticky, but totally refreshing and delicious!

The reason I know this is because I stole one before giving them to the school. There is nothing wrong with stealing my own baked goods. I don’t think?

This recipe was adapted from Jamie Olive FoodTube Presents The Cake Book by Cupcake Jemma. Which is a great little cupcake book that I would recommend to anyone.

Lemon Mess Cupcakes

250g self-rising flour
250g golden caster sugar
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
270g unsalted butter, room temperature
4 large eggs
zest from 4 unwaxed lemons
1 ½ tbsp lemon juice
1 ½ tbsp full fat milk

Heat the oven to 170C fan/ 375F/ gas 5. Line 2 cupcake pans with liners. Sift the flour and bicarb together into your stand mixer bowl before adding the sugar, butter, eggs, zest, and lemon juice. Beat on medium for about a minute, scrape down the sides before adding the milk and then beat again for about a minute. I use an ice cream scoop to add my batter to the cases. These only need about half of an ice cream scoop to fill each cupcake liner ¾ full. Bake for 20 minutes or until the sponges spring back when pressed, leave to cool and make the frosting….

Buttercream Frosting

300g unsalted butter, room temperature
670g icing sugar
4 tbsp lemon juice, about 1 lemon
4-6 meringues, store bought or homemade

Beat the butter in the stand mixer until it’s soft, remove about half of the beaten butter and then sift the icing sugar into the bowl. Beat until crumby and then add the rest of the butter and beat until smooth before adding the lemon juice and beat until combined. Then crumble the meringues on top and fold in.

to finish:
Jar of Mackay’s Lemon Curd or homemade

Using an apple corer or cupcake corer take out the middle of the cupcakes once they are cool. Fill with a teaspoon of lemon curd and place the cupcake bit that was removed back. I used my ice cream scoop again to top the cupcakes with frosting before using a spatula to rough up the frosting. Drizzle any left over lemon curd on top of the cupcakes.

notes: I apologize if I have offended anyone by swearing above, but I am writing this when I am over tired. I bought my own copy of The Cake Book by Cupcake Jemma. Mackay’s Lemon Curd was given to me to use in my baking. Please see my contact/policy page above and my post where I talk about the book here! 

Moose Maple Butter Bars

When I attended Food Blogger Connect I was introduced to Moose Maple Butter!

They were giving us samples of it on a square of toast and I kept going back for more! It was sweet and delicious!

The Moose Maple butter consists of exactly 3 things: Grade A Maple Syrup, oraganic butter, and sea salt. The less ingredients the better it usually is!

After talking to the ladies there they gave me a tub to take home! Ever since I have been thinking of ways to use it in my baking before I ate it all on my breakfast toast.

First I thought for sure I would use it in a frosting to top cupcakes, but I have been making a lot of cupcakes lately and it just wasn’t how I wanted to showcase this delicious butter!

So, eventually I decided I wanted to make a cookie/brownie like bar and so I did. They turned out better then I could image.

They are thin like a cookie, but gooey like a brownie and completely irresistible! 

Moose Maple Butter Bars:

130g plain flour
½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
120g Moose Maple Butter
170g light brown sugar
1 large egg
½ vanilla extract
1 tablespoon Maple Syrup
50g white chocolate chunks

Heat the oven to 180C/350F and line your brownie pan or 8 inch square tin with baking paper. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside and melt the butter and light brown sugar on a low heat until the butter is completely melted and it’s a bit grainy still. Then gently whisk in the egg, vanilla extract, and maple syrup before folding in the dry ingredients until just combined. Pour into your prepared pan/tin and sprinkle the while chocolate chunks on top. Bake for 20-25 minutes until it has a nice light brown color and it starts to come away from the sides a bit. Cool before cutting into squares. Then enjoy!

notes: Moose Maple Butter was given to me to try. Please see my contact/policy page above for further information.

My Summer Reading List

It’s officially the summer holidays! As a mom I look forward to the summer as much as my girls do! I love spending time with my girls and I won’t miss the school run!

This summer is different for two reasons 1. The girls are now big enough that when I go to the park I can bring a book with me while they play! 2. We are in America visiting my family and friends for 5 out of the 6 weeks! We will be out and about visiting and seeing things, but there will also be a lot of down time, which I am really looking forward too!

In that down time I plan to catch up on some books I have been meaning to read! Here are those books: 

Life after Life by Kate Atkinson (e-book)
synopsis: What if you had the chance to live your life again and again, until you finally got it right? During a snowstorm in England in 1910, a baby is born and dies before she can take her first breath. During a snowstorm in England in 1910, the same baby is born and lives to tell the tale.
What if there were second chances? And third chances? In fact an infinite number of chances to live your life? Would you eventually be able to save the world from its own inevitable destiny? And would you even want to? Life After Life follows Ursula Todd as she lives through the turbulent events of the last century again and again.

- I am a big fan of Kate Atkinson; if you want to read her you must definitely read Behind the Scenes at the Museum and Case History (plus the 3 books that follow them!) There are so many twists and she’s one of the few authors that I actually don’t guess the ending before the end! I am really looking forward to the twists in Life After Life!!

The Story Teller by Jodi Picoult (e-book)
synopsis: For seventy years, Josef Weber has been hiding in plain sight. He is a pillar of his local community. He is also a murderer. When Josef decides to confess, it is to Sage Singer, a young woman who trusts him as her friend. What she hears shatters everything she thought she knew and believed.
As Sage uncovers the truth from the darkest horrors of war, she must follow a twisting trail between terror and mercy, betrayal and forgiveness, love - and revenge.

- Jodi Picoult has written a lot of books and I have read several of them. They all have a basic moral conundrum and/or a philosophical argument. I find it interesting how she handles all the different situations and this book isn’t any different. I am sure I will be thinking about it for weeks once I’ve finished reading it!

Pretty Good Number One: An American Family Eats Tokyo by Matthew Amster-Burton (e-book)
synopsis: Everyone knows how to live the good life in Paris, Provence, or Tuscany. Now, Matthew Amster-Burton makes you fall in love with Tokyo. Experience this exciting and misunderstood city through the eyes of three Americans vacationing in a tiny Tokyo apartment. Follow 8-year-old Iris on a solo errand to the world's greatest supermarket, picnic on the bullet train, and eat a staggering array of great, inexpensive foods, from eel to udon.

- I have had a copy of Matthew’s first book Hungry Monkey for years now and I hadn't realized that he wrote a second! When I did realize I added it to my Kindle App for my summer reading list! I have always wanted to visit in Japan and I look forward to reading all about Matthew & Iris’s foodie journey through Tokyo!

Custard Tarts and Broken Hearts by Mary Gibson (e-book)
synopsis: They call them custard tarts - the girls who work at the Pearce Duff custard and jelly factory. But now the custard tarts are up in arms, striking for better conditions. Among them is Nellie Clark, trying to hold her family together after the death of her mother. She has the most desperate struggle to make ends meet, often going hungry to feed her little brothers. 
Two men vie for Nellie's love. One is flamboyant, confident and a chancer. The other is steady, truthful and loyal. But the choice is not as easy as it might seem. 
Looming over them all - over Bermondsey, over the factory, over the custard tarts and their lives and loves - is the shadow of the First World War. And that will change everything and everyone.

 - This was a sort of random addition to my reading list. The title caught my eye; food and love always make for a good story! I also enjoy novels set in the past, so I can’t wait to get into this book!

Ice Creams at Carringtons by Alexandra Brown (e-book)
synopsis: The third book in the delightful series set in Carrington’s Department Store.
Georgie Hart and Carrington’s Department Store have got the world at their feet. Since a reality TV series put them both on the map, life has been amazing! Carrington’s profits are in the pink, Georgie has carved herself a place in the nation’s heart and even better, her romance with Tom, the store’s boss, has finally blossomed after a shaky start.
Now summertime has come to Mulberry-on-Sea and Georgie is in great demand. The town is holding a big summer festival and she and her mates from Carrington’s are planning on making sure that Mulberry puts on the show of its life!
But Georgie is about to get the offer of a lifetime – one that is just too good to turn down and something that will test her loyalties to their limits… Will Georgie be able to pull off it off once again, or has her luck finally run out?

- As it says above this is the third book set in Carrington’s Department Store and I have read and wrote about both books here on the blog (links in the notes). I have had a hard time holding off on reading this since I downloaded it! I just wanted to save it for the summer; I won’t be surprised if this is the first one I read. I just need to know what happens next!

I Heart Paris by Lindsey Kelk (e-book)
synopsis: Angela is in the city of love – but romance is taking a nose-dive…
When Angela Clark’s boyfriend Alex suggests a trip to Paris at the same time as hip fashion mag Belle asks her to write a piece, she jumps at the chance.
But even as she’s falling for the joie de vivre of Paris, someone’s conspiring to sabotage her big break. And when she spots Alex having a tête-à-tête with his ex in a local bar, Angela’s dreams of Parisian passion all start crashing down around her. With London and her old life only a train journey away, Angela can’t decide if should stay and face the music or run away home…

- For the last three years I have participated in World Book Night and this year I had an email from Amazon saying that to celebrate they were giving away a handful of titles free to download. Out of the handful of titles this is the one I decided on. I have never read anything by Lindsey Kelk, so I am always up for finding a new author I enjoy!

My Berlin Kitchen by Luisa Weiss (paperback)
synopsis: Chocolate and Zucchini. 101 Cookbooks. The Julie/Julia Project. In the early days of food blogs, these were the pioneers whose warmth and recipes turned their creators’ kitchens into beloved web destinations. Luisa Weiss was working in New York when she decided to cook her way through her massive recipe collection. The Wednesday Chef, the cooking blog she launched to document her adventures, charmed readers around the world. But Luisa never stopped longing to return to her childhood home in Berlin. A food memoir with recipes, My Berlin Kitchen deliciously chronicles how she finally took the plunge and went across the ocean in search of happiness—only to find love waiting where she least expected it. 

- I met Lusia at Food Blogger Connect back in June and it’s where I picked up my copy of her book and she signed it for me! It’s the only paperback I have packed. I am looking forward to read of her adventures of moving around the world. I also hope to try out some of the recipes at the end of the chapters!

That concludes my summer reading list! What are you reading this summer? Are there any books I should have added to this list? Please leave a comment below!

notes: I purchased all of these books; for more information please see my contact/policy page. All of the synopses were taken from the back covers or Amazon, pictures of the covers were also taken from Amazon. 
Review of Hungry Monkey can be found here
Recipes inspired by Alexandra Brown’s Carrington’s series can be found here and here
World Book Night posts can be found here, here, and here
Food Blogger Connect post can be found here

Turtle Cupakes & OXO Good Grips Giveaway!! (closed)

In the USA we have this caramel pecan chocolate that is called a Turtle. It’s called a “turtle” because when DeMet’s Candy Company created the delicious chocolate treat one of the workers pointed out that it looked like a turtle!

I would have to agree it does sort of look like a turtle, but even if it doesn't look like a turtle or not it is irrelevant! Because the combination of chocolate, caramel, and pecans is amazing!

If you ever are in the Mid-West (where I am now!) and you are able to visit a Culvers they do a Turtle Sundae and it’s very good! It’s vanilla frozen custard topped with caramel sauce and chocolate sauce and topped with pecans!

I've based this cupcake on that. So, I have a chocolate cake, filled with caramel sauce, topped with vanilla buttercream, drizzled with caramel and chocolate sauce and pecans!

Seems like a lot, but it’s totally worth it! Trust me!

Turtle Cupcakes

100g plain flour
20g cocoa powder
140g golden caster sugar
1 ½ tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
40g unsalted butter, room temp
120ml whole milk
1 egg
¼ tsp vanilla extract

Heat the oven to 170C and line your cupcake pan with 10 cupcake cases. Beat the flour, cocoa, sugar, baking powder, salt, and butter until it’s a bit crumby! Combine the milk, egg, and vanilla together before gradually adding it to the crumby mixture. Once combined beat on high for a minute or two to make sure there aren’t any lumps and the mixture is smooth.

Using a trigger scoop fill each of the cupcake cases just about half way. Bake for 20-25 minutes. A skewer should come out clean. Leave to cool completely before using the Cupcake Corer to take out the middles and add about a teaspoon of the caramel to the middles. Put the sponge bit back in and top with the vanilla frosting!

vanilla frosting:

250g icing sugar, sifted
80g unsalted butter, room temperature
2 tbsp whole milk
½ tsp vanilla extract
100g pecans, chopped
chocolate sauce
caramel sauce

Beat the icing sugar and butter together until it's completely combined. Add the milk and vanilla extract and beat until smooth and at your desired constancy! Top each cupcake with the frosting before drizzling over the chocolate and caramel sauce and sprinkling the chopped pecans on top!

To help me make these cupcakes I used an OXO Good GripsTrigger Scoop to fill my cupcake liners, an OXO Good Grips Cupcake Corer to take out the middle of the cupcakes, and an OXO Good Grips Cupcake Icing Knife to ice my cupcakes!

If you would like a chance to win these items so you can make these cupcakes at home follow the instructions in the Rafflecopter below! Good Luck! I look forward to reading your comments! 


a Rafflecopter giveaway

notes: In association with OXO Good Grips, please see my contact/policy page above for further information! Recipe is adapted from the hummingbird bakery cookbook