Friday, March 30, 2012

A Few of My Favorite Things....

Is that song running through your head right now like it is in mine? Every time I read the name of this post, I can't get it out of my head. Anyway, I've been racking my brain as to how to stay active in the bloggy world without an oven and I decided to tell you about some of my favorite things so that you can get to know me a little better....

#1 The beach. I don't really care for swimming in the ocean but I could just sit on the beach (properly sun-blocked, of course) all day with a book and the sound of the waves in the background. It's just so beautiful, peaceful, and oh so soothing!

I wanna be here right now!

#2 Bare Minerals make up. I will never go back to regular foundation again! Never! This stuff is amazing. If you've never tried it and think, "It's just a bunch of hype for a more expensive product." Wrong-o! This stuff works miracles. Flawless, radiant skin every time! It also helps clear up skin problems when used regularly. (No, I wasn't paid or asked to say these things.) This is 100% my opinion!

Foundation & brush, concealer & brush, and blush

#3 Vera Bradley bags. I love all things Vera Bradley! I don't have a favorite print, I have lots of prints that I love. I can't choose just one. I think I've mentioned before that I have a bag addiction. Well, I'd say that 85% of the blame goes to Vera Bradley. I'm obsessed. My family and I went on a weekend beach trip one time and I used my large duffel bag. Dad was getting everything out of the back of the Yukon and I yelled, "Stop! Vera does NOT go on the ground!" To which, he responded, "Who's Vera?" When I pointed to my bag, he rolled his eyes and held my bag hovering over the asphault, waiting for me to take her off his hands. :)

That's 2 duffel bags, 3 purses, a lunch bag, a lunch cooler, 3 wallets, 1 wristlet, 1 lrg cosmetic bag, 1 small cosmetic case, a lrg tote, medium tote, apron, and tin and the prints are Java Blue, Buttercup, Baroque, Hello Dahlia, Twirly Birds Navy, Pirouette, Raspberry Fizz, Peacock, and Classic Black

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

A Baker, a Blog, and No Oven? It's time for a giveaway!

It is a sad day, indeed, when a pastry chef and author of a cupcake blog has no oven! Yes, folks, it's true. My oven is out of commission and I don't know when it's gonna be fixed. Seriously, I'm at a loss. I'm like a singer without a song, a doctor without medicine, or an author without a pen. How am I supposed to entertain you lovely folks or bring smiles to hungry faces? Well, I'm hosting a giveaway! That's right. For the next week you can enter to win a $10 gift card to Michaels! I don't know about you but I can spend hours in this store without noting the passing of time!! One of you lucky readers will win this fun prize by following the instructions below. What would you spend it on? Here are a few of my favorites:

Adorable Spring liners!

Daisies are my favorite and these sprinkles are just too cute!

LOVE this pan!

*These pictures are all taken from

Alright. Follow the steps below and good luck! I'll notify the winner next Tuesday and announce it here on the blog! *Update: The winner of this giveaway is Cari from, chosen by! Congrats, Cari, and thank you to everyone who entered!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

"I Do" With Tiramisu

Mmm...tiramisu...literal translation - "pick me up" - so appropriate. The very word inspires visions of lavish surroundings, faraway elegance, and a quiet moment of indulgence all to myself....

I think I love freehand piping decorations! They all come out so different and unique!!

....ok, I'm back. The second cupcake I served at the bridal shower Tuesday night was a Tiramisu Cupcake from Martha Stewart that I found on Pinterest. The bride's two favorite desserts are anything minty and Tiramisu. You've already read about the mint chocolate chip cupcakes and now I'm gonna share these beautiful little treats with you. First of all, the cake is absolutely fabulous - light and spongy- and very reminiscent of ladyfingers. In fact, I will probably use this cake again as a base for other flavors. For the coffee, I used a dark roast (is there any other kind) Folgers and brewed it extra strong for a full-bodied, rich flavor. The icing is a whipped mascarpone creation that basically melts in your mouth. Finally, the cupcakes are dusted with cocoa (I used dark). Now, normally I would dust them much more liberally but since these were for a shower and the colors were pink and green, I didn't want to put that much dark brown on top and take away from the theme or decor. The overall result was....well, it was a treat for sure. Such a great representation of the traditional dessert. The bride said that it was probably the best cupcake she had ever eaten. High praise, indeed! The looks on the faces of the ladies - surprise, excitement, and pure joy - when I told them about the cupcakes is the very reason I do what I do!

The recipe (original found here):

  • Tiramisu Cupcakes
  • 1 1/4 cups cake flour (not self-rising), sifted
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 vanilla bean, halved lengthwise, seeds scraped and reserved (I used 2 teaspoons vanilla extract)
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into pieces
  • 3 large whole eggs plus 3 egg yolks, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • Coffee-Marsala Syrup
  • Mascarpone Frosting
  • Unsweetened cocoa powder, for dusting

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

A Luck o' the Irish Month o' Cupcakes #2 - Mint Chocolate Cupcakes for the Bride

The second cupcake in my tribute to St. Patty's Day series is Mint Chocolate Chip. I am so excited to introduce you to this cake! Remember my post about random things a little while back where I told you all about my favorite chocolate cake recipe? Well, scratch that! I found my NEW favorite and it is to die for! I mean it. Unbelievably, ridiculously, slap-your-mama good! Trust me. Even my mama would agree. She loves this cake so much and that, my friends, is HUGE! I think I've told you before how picky she is. Well, she was licking her lips over this cake. I found it in a cookbook that my parents got me for Christmas. This book is so cool and has so many recipes that I can't wait to try. It's called Baked Explorations and I love it! The chocolate cake recipe that I am referring to is their Devil's Food cake. High quality dark chocolate (I used Ghirardeli Intense Dark 60%), dark chocolate cocoa, and strong hot coffee are the secret ingredients in this decadent, oh-so-scrumptious cake. Try it. You will be hooked, I promise!!

Love this book!

For the icing on these cupcakes, I used a recipe I found on, you guessed it, Pinterest. This mint chocolate chip icing tastes just like the ice cream. No kidding. In fact, my sister whose favorite ice cream flavor is mint chocolate chip and who also happens to be lactose intolerant, said that she could freeze the icing before eating it and never feel deprived again! I will say this, though. I don't think I will ever use it for cupcakes again! Piping this stuff is a nightmare. One of the reasons I love cupcakes so much is because they are just about the cutest things ever! Well, these babies are not at all cute. I tried two different sized round tips. Then I tried just piping through an open piping bag without a tip. Ugh! So, in the end, I just had to flatten it out and smooth it with a spatula. Thankfully, these were for a bridal shower and I had cute toppers to go on them. From now on I'll just be using this one for cakes - not cupcakes!

Ugly but oh-so-delicious icing! :)

The bridal shower colors were pink and green (spring wedding, of course) so the mint chocolate chip icing was the perfect color. I piped the letter "W" (for the couple's last name) and hearts with green candy melts and I think they turned out quite adorably. We also had carrot cupcakes from the previous post (I made a double batch because I knew we had the bridal shower) and tiramisu cupcakes (you'll get to read about those in my next post). These may seem like strange combinations that have nothing to do with the other and, well, you'd be right except for one important thing. The bride's two favorite desserts are anything minty and tiramisu. Therefore, that's what I made. Hello! What the bride wants...the bride gets!! :)

Carrot, Mint Chocolate Chip, and Tiramisu Cupcakes (post coming soon) 
The recipes:

Monday, March 19, 2012

Carrot Cupcakes and a Purple Velvet Birthday

Well, friends, I survived the weekend! How sad is it that I'm glad it's Monday so that I get a break from my weekend? It was fun but oh so very busy and today is the first of many celebrations this week! First, it's the birthday of one of the ladies I work with (who also happens to be my pastor's wife and mother of my friend Michal from previous posts). For her, I made carrot cupcakes - her favorite cake flavor. Let me tell you, finding the perfect carrot cake recipe has always been a struggle for me. There are so many different versions out there and so many people who say they have the best one! It's actually quite frustrating and someday when I have the time I think I'd like to get a bunch of different recipes and make them all and decide for myself what the best recipe is! Anyway, for these cupcakes, I turned to my new favorite website for wasting time, Pinterest. I found one that sounded pretty good and am pleased with the outcome. I don't know if I'd say it's the best I've ever had but it's tasty and moist - my two requirements for a good cake - and they were well received. I dipped the cupcakes in ganache, iced them in that fabulous whipped cream cheese icing from the Green Velvet post, and topped them with chopped walnuts. Yummy!

Carrot Cupcakes: (adapted from here)

2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
4 eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
3 cups chopped carrots
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour two 8 or 9-inch round cake pans.  In a large bowl, combine sugar, oil, eggs, flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, carrots and walnuts. Bake in prepared liners until toothpick comes out clean. 

Cute little cupcakes!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Happy Birthday Brunch & What's Coming Up.....

Birthday Muffins
Hey friends! This has been a busy week and next week isn't looking any slower! I wanted to take a few minutes and give you all a heads up about what's goin on in my life and what you should expect to be reading about in some upcoming posts. First, remember I told you that we'd be taking a few detours from cupcakes this month because of birthday celebrations at work? Well, today is my second birthday with two more - one on Monday and another on Tuesday - next week. For today's birthday girl, Debbe, we're having a surprise birthday brunch. I made Glazed Spice Muffins that I found on Pinterest (the recipe I used calls them Glazed Doughnut Muffins, but I don't get the correlation between these and doughnuts so I changed it), Breakfast Casserole, and a fruit salad with a Marshmallow Cream Cheese dip. Now, this sweet lady's birthday is actually on Saturday - St. Patrick's Day - but the office is closed on Saturday so we celebrated a bit early.  The muffins were wrapped in birthday themed liners with a candle in one so that we could sing to her and she could make a wish and blow it out. Let's face it, a birthday isn't a birthday without candles , singing, and wishes! We also had juice and coffee and lots of fun! I love surprises!!

Fruit with Marshmallow Cream Cheese Dip (equal parts marshmallow fluff and cream cheese)
The spread :)

Let's see...this week we've had missions conference at church and tomorrow morning is our ladies' breakfast and then church-wide missions banquet in the evening - yes, lots of food. Also, I have friends moving out of state so I'm meeting up with them Sunday night; I have to get things planned for the two birthdays next week - one of which is my BFF, Michal's (from my Lemon & Raspberry post); and I have a bridal shower Tuesday night which will bring us back to cupcakes - Tiramisu and Mint Chocolate Chip - YUM! Oh yes, and two other friends are coming into town over the weekend with lots of plans and fun to be had for all throughout the week!! Whew...I'm tired just typing all of that!

So, what can you be expecting to read next week? Well, first there will be the aforementioned Tiramisu cupcakes in a post titled "I Do with Tiramisu" and "A Luck O' the Irish Month O' Cupcakes #2 - Mint Chocolate Chip for the Bride". There will also be a post about the two special birthdays next week but I don't want to give any surprises away so you'll just have to wait and see....don't let the suspense kill you! ;) Anyway, I'll be happy when life settles down a little bit because I have some really exciting ideas for cupcakes and can't wait to share them with you!

Some fun and exciting news - Terry over at These Peas Taste Funny featured the Green Velvet Cupcakes from my previous post on her Facebook page so head over and check out her fun blog! Thanks, Terry, for the shout out! Also, Kara over at Happy Go Lucky just featured the Lemon & Raspberry cupcakes from last week (thanks to all of you wonderful "clickers") so head on over and check them out on her blog! Thanks, Kara and Amy, for a fun party!

As you can see, great things are happening in my little corner of world and I'm loving every minute! Talk about blessed! As always, happy reading and, more importantly, happy cupcake-ing!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Luck o' the Irish Month o' Cupcakes #1 - Green Velvet!

This is the first in a series of green cupcakes for St. Patty's Day in honor of the Irish and my heritage - not sure how much, but I am part Irish - and to start, I'm going to confess something to you. I could have dedicated an entire blog to my love affair with red velvet cake. I don't know what it is about the stuff but I LOVE it! Is that terrible of me to admit? I know the red food coloring isn't the best thing for me and recently I've been thinking about trying more natural ways of making the batter red without all the yuck, but I just can't get enough of this cake. There's just something about the tartness of the buttermilk and vinegar in the cake combined with the sweet creaminess of the cream cheese icing - oh, I'm drooling now! I've made it red (standard), blue (for a winter wonderland wedding), and now I'm gonna go green! Everyone else is, why not me too? :)

Can someone please explain to me why, 5 days before St. Patty's Day, I couldn't find cupcake liners or sprinkles to go with the theme anywhere?? I looked at Publix, Sweetbay, Target, and Walmart. Today I went to Michaels (where I probably should've started in the first place) and finally found some. Even Michaels was almost out so I stocked up for next year!

My cute little liners I found at Michaels - Standard and Mini :)

So, here it is - the best red velvet cake recipe I have ever tried, adapted for St. Patty's Day and made into a slightly healthier version of the original. I filled the cupcakes with a light green cream cheese filling and iced them with a FABULOUS whipped cream cheese icing - best ever! Then I freehand piped some 3 leaf clovers with white chocolate (dyed green, of course) and voila! Green Velvet Cupcakes for St. Patty's Day!

Piped 3 leaf clover

Green Velvet Cupcakes: (original recipe found here)

2 cups sugar
1/2 pound (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 2 ounces red food coloring
  • 2 1/2 cups cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Tag! You're It! - 11 Things...

Here's the Deal!

Post a photo and 11 random things about yourself.
Answer the questions that the person who tagged you asks.
Create 11 new questions for the people you tag.
Contact them and let them know they have been tagged!

I was tagged by my beautiful friend, Sarah at Life on Walnut Street. If you haven't seen her blog, check it out! She is super talented and I am blessed to know her.

This is me, catching the bouquet at my sister's wedding :)

And now for 11 random things about me! Here goes.....

1. I firmly believe that chocolate and coffee fix most things! When I'm having a bad day nothing soothes me more than a cup of strong coffee and a piece of good quality dark chocolate. *sigh*

2. My all-time favorite movie is The Princess Bride. So many quotable lines! It has everything - adventure, romance, comedy...LOVE it!

3. I'm deathly afraid of bridges over water. Gephyrophobia is the fear of bridges and the closest I can come to putting a name to it. Mine isn't just a fear of bridges themselves, though. It's not about the height - I can go to the top of a mountain, ride in a trolley, fly, and ride roller coasters. It's not a fear of water itself - I can swim like a fish. I have no problem on an overpass or bridge over land. However, put me in a car and combine all of these things - bridge...high...over water - and forget it. I'm crying and closing my eyes til we're over it. I know it's irrational but it doesn't matter. I'm getting nervous just typing this. Some of my worst nightmares involve me, in a car, approaching some monstrous bridge that disappears into the clouds! Crazy, I know!

4. I tell people my favorite food is Mediterranean or sushi but if the truth were known, my true love is cake. If it had more nutritional value (& wouldn't go straight to my hips) I'd eat it at every meal. I do love Mediterranean and sushi but if I could choose one food to get fat on - cake - hands down! Red velvet, almond, hummingbird, chocolate....the list goes on. I just love it!

5. My favorite animals are monkeys and I have a collection of sock monkeys that sits on my bookshelf. 

They're just so darn cute! :)

6. While I love the beauty, peaceful sounds, and tranquility of the beach, I'm more of a cabin-in-the-woods, cold weather kinda girl. I know, what am I doing in Florida then??

7. I love A-1 on almost any kinda meat! I even like it on a baked potato. Yes, I went to culinary school. Yes, I'm a foodie. We'll just keep this little tidbit between us! ;)

8. My absolute favorite time of year is fall. I love the crisp air, falling leaves, warm colors, smells, and flavors of the season. In fact, it's my favorite time of year for baking! Pumpkin, apple, cinnamon, ginger....oh my!

9. I can lose myself for hours in a good book. I put myself into the story and become one of the characters. It's my great escape. I love all things about books. Their look. Their smell. I don't dog-ear pages and I don't break their bindings. I shudder when I see someone mistreat them. In fact, someday I'd love to have a library just like the one in Beauty and the Beast (Disney version) - ladder and all! *happiness*

10. I love wearing dresses! So comfy and girly at the same time. Trust me - I love a good pair of jeans as much as the next girl, but a cute dress with some strappy sandals = fashion love!

11. Last but not least - I usually keep my hair short because it's easier and low maintenance. However, I secretly dream of having long, luxurious hair that is wavy (mine's naturally super curly) without frizz. And, if I could pull it off, I'd be a redhead. In fact, if I could bottle my friend Sarah's hair color (the same Sarah who tagged me in this fun post) I would! :)

Thursday, March 8, 2012

A Lemon & Raspberry Friendship

As promised, this post is all about lemons and raspberries. When I started this blog I wondered if I would have a hard time coming up with ideas for cupcakes or interesting topics to write about. Silly me. I should have known that my life, by nature, is crazy and quite interesting so how could I possibly have any problems with this? Case in point - my friend, Michal, when I told her about the blog, immediately asked me to start working on Lemon Raspberry Cupcakes to practice for her future wedding. No, she's not engaged but, as any woman knows, you can never start planning your wedding too early!

First, let me tell you a little about what this girl means to me. I believe that God literally made her to be my friend. Truly. Our dads are both Baptist preachers and actually, my dad assists hers as the Associate Pastor at the church we both attend. They both have four daughters, look uncannily alike, get along way too well, have the same birthday, and are probably brothers separated at birth. Michal and I met in 2005 when we started working at the same ministry in central Florida. We got to know each other at work and through our church and discovered that we're basically the same person. So many things about each of us are mirrored in the other. There are few people in this world that I consider a kindred spirit and she is most definitely one of them. You could say that she's the yin to my yang, the pea to my pod, or the raspberry to my lemon. :)

Me and Michal - an oldie but a goodie :)

Now, the reason you're here - the cupcakes. I decided to do these a couple of different ways to give her options. The first is a lemon cake - light and moist - filled with a thick raspberry sauce. Second, a raspberry cake (a tweaked version of my Sweet & Sour Strawberry Cake) filled with a tangy lemon curd filling. The icings are a Lemon Cream Cheese Buttercream and a Raspberry Buttercream. I mixed and matched these cakes, fillings, and icings in order to find the combination that best reflects our friendship - sweet & lovely with just a little bit of sass!

These cupcakes aren't for the faint of heart! For me, they're a little too strong in taste. I think I'd prefer to have a neutral flavor mixed in with all the lemon and raspberry. Maybe next time I'll try a vanilla cupcake with lemon and raspberry fillings and icings or the fruity cakes but with a vanilla icing with the sauces on top. I'm definitely not a fan of the result of adapting my S&S cake to raspberry. I don't know what got lost in translation but something definitely did! My coworkers agreed that the cupcake combination they liked was the lemon cake, raspberry filling, raspberry buttercream, and lemon drizzle - Michal really liked that one. So, it's back to the drawing board for the perfect raspberry cake.
The good cupcake :)

Here are the recipes:

Lemon Yogurt Cake ( adapted from ):

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar, divided
  • 3 extra-large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
Preheat the oven to 350*.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt into 1 bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the yogurt, 1 cup sugar, the eggs, lemon zest, and vanilla. Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. With a rubber spatula, fold the vegetable oil into the batter, making sure it's all incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared liners and bake until a cake tester placed in the center of the cupcakes comes out clean.
Meanwhile, cook the 1/3 cup lemon juice and remaining 1/3 cup sugar in a small pan until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is clear. Set aside.
When the cupcakes are done, allow them to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Carefully place on a baking rack over a sheet pan. While they're is still warm, pour the lemon-sugar mixture over each cupcake and allow it to soak in. Cool.

*Makes about 20 standard size cupcakes.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Cupcake & Baking Q&A

Good morning! Yesterday, on my Facebook page, I asked my friends if they had any questions or ideas that they'd like me to answer or try out. So, now I'm asking you, my blog readers, the same thing. Is there a baking question you have that you've been dying to ask someone? A specific flavor combination that you'd like me to try and then tell you about? If so, either leave a comment here or on my Facebook page, or go to my "Contact" tab and send me an email! I'd love to hear from you! Tomorrow be looking for that much-talked-about post on Raspberries and Lemons. :) As always, happy reading and, most importantly, happy cupcake-ing!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Strawberry Lemonade Birthday Cake

I know, I know. This is a cupcake blog. However, I'm taking a break from the norm for a coworker's birthday and decided to share it with you. If it makes you feel any better, this cake could very easily be turned into a cupcake! Whew! Now you're relieved. I'd hate to let my awesome readers down. I promise this post won't disappoint, despite it's lack of respect for the integrity of the almighty cupcake.

This week my boss asked me to take over the employee birthday celebrations. Now, let me tell you. I have never worked at a place that took better care of its employees...ever! They tend to go all out for our birthdays, personalizing the whole celebration as much as possible. So, needless to say, I have big shoes to fill. And, funnily enough, I just realized the reason for the timing of this change. There are FIVE birthdays in our office in March!! Yep, five. Which means we may just have a few more detours from our cupcake path in the next few weeks. But, back to this post.....

My first birthday girl is Ms. Rita. A sweet, funny, caring lady who makes me smile every time she laughs. She runs our shipping department. Well, to be honest, she IS our shipping department! She has a big job and does it well. In trying to figure out the right dessert to celebrate this sweet lady's birthday my options were wide open. She's not at all picky and has a child-like excitement over sweets that I just love! Hello! What baker wouldn't?? So, I decided to do a little investigative work on this cake that will help me with my next cupcake post. Remember how I kept promising Raspberry-Lemon cupcakes then posting about Triple Chocolate, cupcake liners, and oh yes, Doughnuts? Well, the very next post (after this one) will be the promised Raspberry-Lemon. Again, back to this post....

The cake that I've chosen for Rita's birthday is going to use one of the cake recipes that I'm hoping to use for the next cupcakes. Added to that is my Strawberry Cake recipe from my Sweet & Sour Strawberry Cupcakes post. Ready for it? Strawberry Lemonade Birthday Cake! Yum-my! I'm so excited about this one. It's such a classic flavor combination. Pinterest addict that I am, I came across the Lemonade cake recipe on that fantastic site (Pinterest) and decided to use it here. So, the cake goes like this - 4 alternating layers, 2 each of Strawberry Cake (see link above) and Lemonade Cake, filled and iced with a light Lemon Cream Cheese Buttercream. I "messy iced" the cake (my favorite!), put a rosette/fresh strawberry border on top, and drizzled with a homemade Strawberry Lemonade Sauce that I threw together in a pot on the stove.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Cupcake This & That...Oh, and These Too!

I'm writing this post just to give you a few bits of information and to share a few of my favorite things. First up - a friend asked me today, "How DO you eat a cupcake?" Such a funny question and one I never thought about before! How DO I eat a cupcake? Well, I suppose this is like the "favorite way to eat an Oreo" question or "how many licks to the center of a Tootsie Pop" question. I know some people lick the icing off first then eat the cake. Some save the icing for last and eat the cake first. My sister gets rid of most of the icing *sigh* because she's not much of an icing fan. My answer? I take a bite from top to bottom first in order to taste all of the flavors together as they were meant to be. If it's a new cupcake flavor combo or someone asks me to taste something that they baked, the pastry chef in me cannot help but take a bite of each element (cake, filling, frosting, topper...) by itself to truly know if I love it! Baking is a science, people, and so the eating can be as well! 

Next, I wanted to let you know that my cupcake liners from (see "Cupcake Liners At a Steal") came in last night and I couldn't be more pleased! So worth the effort (all of 30 seconds) to find them online. I received all 900 liners in good condition and as promised. The striped ones are so cute! This company has made a loyal customer of this blogger!

Now for a few of my favorite things. I wouldn't be the baker that I am without my KitchenAid stand mixer. Seriously, folks, if you don't have one of these, invest! You will NOT be sorry. Yes, I still have my trusty hand mixer (see below about how I got started with baking because of one of these things) and I use it when it's convenient, but the majority of my mixing is done in my gorgeous stand mixer. Well, to be honest, I'm using my mom's and mine is safely tucked away in storage, just waiting to make its debut someday! My parents bought mine for me - shiny, black, beautiful - a few years ago for Christmas. We were in Kansas visiting family and dad ordered it online so that it was waiting for me when I got home. About a week or two after our vacation, mom and dad went garage sale shopping and, lo and behold, a green KitchenAid mixer, hardly used, was for sale at a steal! All parts included!! Its home is on our kitchen counter and it gets lots of love and attention! 

Another favorite of mine is my apron that my Grandma, Tommie Jean Welch, gave me a few years ago. This lady was the epitome of the baking grandma people talk about growing up knowing. Most of my memories of my grandma involve her in the kitchen, up to her elbows in butter and flour. I can't smell biscuits and pork tenderloin without thinking of Saturday morning breakfasts at her house. She bought me my first hand mixer and taught me her basics in the kitchen. When I finished culinary school in '08, I took a cross-country drive from Florida to Maine where I spent 3 months on my externship before graduation. On the way up, I stayed with my Aunt and her family in Virginia and my grandma and her husband were living with them at the time. Grandma told me that she was taking credit for all of my future success because of that hand mixer and she just knew big things were in store! Seeing the pride on her face was enough success for me and the memory of her, waving me off as I headed to new places with a big smile on her face...priceless! After my externship was over my family headed up to VA for a big family Thanksgiving and I remember Grandma standing in the kitchen watching me do what she had done my whole life. By this time her health was failing and we knew it was probably her last Thanksgiving with us. Sure enough, her suffering ended and she went home to be with her Lord about 2 months later. Every time I'm in the kitchen I think of her. She was right. She is the reason I love the kitchen and I'll never forget the impact she made on my life!

My all-time favorite chocolate cake recipe is next. Some of you are gonna laugh. It seems so simple. I was introduced to this cake by my dear friend, Tina, a fellow baker and lover of all things cake! One bite and I was hooked. Truly, if you love decadent dark chocolate like I do, you MUST try this cake. Are you ready? It's the Hershey's Deep Dark Chocolate Cake and it is to die for! No joke. Moist, heavenly, rich, chocolate cake that just melts in your mouth!

Hershey's Deep Dark Chocolate Cake Recipe:

Ingredients - 

2 cups sugar
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
Photo courtesy of
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water

Directions - 

1. Heat oven to 350uF. Grease and flour two 9-inch round pans or one 13x9x2-inch baking pan.
2. Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add eggs,
milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of electric mixer 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water
(batter will be thin). Pour batter into prepared pans.
3. Bake 30 to 35 minutes for round pans, 35 to 40 minutes for rectangular pan or until wooden pick
inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool
completely. (Cake may be left in rectangular pan, if desired.)


Well, there you have it. A few odds and ends about cupcakes, baking, and me. Here's a look at the upcoming posts:

Strawberry Lemonade Birthday Cake
A Lemon & Raspberry Friendship
Samoas, Thin Mints, & Girl Scouts, Oh My!
A Luck o' the Irish Month o' Cupcakes

And, on it goes....

As always, happy reading and, most importantly, happy cupcake-ing!

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