Friday, May 25, 2012

Last Week in a Kitchen Far, Far Away....

Well, duh, what would YOU have named a post about Star Wars cupcakes? These were from the second order I received a week and a half ago from a repeat customer for her 5 year old son's birthday party. Thankfully, since these were ordered the same day as the Wonderland cupcakes and for the same weekend, she was fine with the same flavors. Again, I used fondant and gel food coloring for the decorations, hand molded the light sabers, and cut the stars out with cutters.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Alice's Cupcake Wonderland

Last weekend, while on vacation, I received two custom cupcake orders and I'm sharing the first one with you today. I have to tell you...this was probably the most fun I've had making cupcakes so far! I've already shared with you the Mad Hatter Wedding Cake I made for my sister last year and that experience made these cupcakes pretty easy. I already had the how-to figured out for the decorations so this was familiar territory. The customer wanted 4 dozen cupackes in a variety of flavors: red velvet (for the Queen of Hearts - how appropriate!), dark chocolate, vanilla, and marble. The icings were cream cheese, chocolate buttercream, vanilla buttercream, and a swirl of chocolate and vanilla buttercreams for the marble cupcakes. Most of these recipes are familiar to you by now but you'll find the new ones posted below. For the decorations, I used fondant and gel food coloring, and hand molded or cut out the desired shapes. Here they are....

A Cupcake Wonderland
Cupcakes for a tea party
Cupcakes fit for the Queen of Hearts
The Mad Hatter's Cupcake - my favorite!

A Caterpillar's treat....I love these mushrooms!
Of course, it's not Wonderland without that grinning Cheshire Cat :) The grins were made by piping black royal icing onto parchment paper, letting it harden, then filling in the "teeth" with thinned white royal icing.
Another cupcake for a tea party

I hope you love them as much as I do! The customer was very pleased and said that everyone at the party was raving over them so that made my day!! Here are the new recipes:

Cream Cheese Icing:

3 8oz pckgs cream cheese
1 lb unsalted butter
1 lb (approx. 4 cups) confectioner's sugar
1 t vanilla

Cream butter and cream cheese until light and there are no remaining lumps. Add vanilla and combine. Mix in sugar, one cup at a time, whipping well after each addition. Once all sugar has been incorporated, mix icing until smooth and creamy. Refrigerate when not in use.

Chocolate Buttercream: (adapted from here)

1/2 cup shortening
1 stick unsalted butter
3/4 cup dark cocoa
1 t vanilla
1 lb (approx. 4 cups) confectioner's sugar
3-4 T milk

In large bowl, cream shortening and butter with electric mixer. Add cocoa and vanilla. Gradually add sugar, one cup at a time, beating well on medium speed. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl often. When all sugar has been mixed in, icing will appear dry. Add milk and beat at medium speed until light and fluffy. Keep bowl covered with a damp cloth until ready to use. For best results, keep icing bowl in refrigerator when not in use. Refrigerated in an airtight container, this icing can be stored 2 weeks. Rewhip before using.

For the vanilla buttercream, follow the above recipe, omitting the cocoa, and only use 2 T milk.

For the chocolate-vanilla swirl icing on the marble cupcakes, just fill 1/2 (vertical) of your piping bag with chocolate and the other with vanilla. The two will swirl together as the come out of the tip. For an even cleaner swirling result, go here. This was my first time using the swirl technique. Next time I'll try the way that is shown on the link. It looks really clean and beautiful!

Marble Cupcakes:

1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 t baking powder
1/4 t baking soda
1/4 t salt
3/4 cup butter
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 t vanilla
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup cocoa

Combine first four ingredients and set aside. Cream butter and sugar in mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Then add eggs to creamed mixture, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add vanilla and mix to combine. Add sour cream alternately with dry ingredient mixture, then divide batter equally into two bowls. Add cocoa to one bowl and mix til combined. Drop into cupcake liners one tablespoonful at a time, alternating between vanilla and chocolate, until 2/3 full.

Here's what they look like when they're baked.

Later this week I'll share the Star Wars cupcakes with you plus a special post on our newest family member, Jax! Let's just say...we LOVE him!

Me and Jax at Petco, waiting to sign the adoption papers and take him home! :) Don't you just love that face??

Don't forget to visit my previous post and enter the giveaway for a Cupcake Love Prize Pack, ending in 5 days! As always, happy reading and, more importantly, happy cupcake-ing!

Friday, May 18, 2012

100 {Awesome} Followers & a Giveaway!!

Wow. I can't even begin to express what I'm feeling right now. I started this blog 3 1/2 months ago because I wanted an outlet for my creativity - a place where I could create, experiment, and express myself without fear, totally free and comfortable enough to just be me. Little did I know, others would want to follow along, giving support and encouragement, offering guidance, and giving me a feeling of purpose! I am so grateful to all of you  for coming back post after post, with your kind words, laughter, and friendship. I love what I do. I love my life, the family and friends God has blessed me with, and the freedom to share it all with you. Yesterday I reached a small milestone and to thank you for staying with me this far, I'm giving you the chance to win a fun giveaway. Before we get to that though, let's take a walk down memory lane...

My first ever attempt at experimenting with my own recipe was a success - Sweet & Sour Strawberry Cupcakes! 
Triple Chocolate and German Chocolate Cupcakes for my dad's bday. These were so decadent and delicious!

Who could forget these double treats? Coffee & a Donut Cupcakes....Yum!

The ever popular Strawberry Lemonade Cake that, for whatever reason, has become my most frequently viewed post thanks to that awesome search engine we all know and love - Google!

I love these little guys! My favorite color and cake flavor - Green Velvet Cupcakes for St. Patty's Day :)

The perfect treat for summer - Coconut Cream Cupcakes

My favorite so far - Strawberry Rhubarb Pie Cupcakes. If you haven't read this post, do so now! These are so cool and I can't wait to try them with a multitude of different pies!!

These were fun and delicious - Blueberry Pancake Cupcakes

Oh wow...just seeing this again makes me drool. Decadent Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake *sigh*

And, my two most recent posts...

The only fruit "cake" I'll ever eat. This was so delicious and refreshing. I'm so glad I came across this idea and will make it many more times!

Last, but not least - Rose Cupcakes for Mother's Day. Just beautiful and classic.

Well, there you have it. I can't wait to see what other fun and delicious treats I bake up and share here. I'm having so much fun and am so glad that you all have chosen to join me! Now on to the giveaway...

The Cupcake {Love} Prize Pack:

1 box cake mix (flavor of winner's choosing)
1 can frosting (flavor of winner's choosing)
1 decorator icing tip
various cupcake liners
1 bottle sprinkles
$10 Michaels gift card

Rafflecopter will walk you through the entry process. Good luck to everyone who enters!! This is just the beginning....

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Some exciting personal news for me. Some of you may remember back in February when my family suffered the loss of our beloved dog, Buddy. It has been three months and we have grieved pretty heavily. The littlest things remind us of him on a daily basis. Well, I'm happy to say that God has turned our loss and sadness into something good. We just had an adoption application approved for a rescue Beagle puppy and we pick him up tomorrow! We are so excited to welcome this little guy into our family and I can't wait to share some pics with all of you. I know Buddy would approve. We have a lot of love to give and I'm so thankful to know that we are rescuing this dog and giving him a loving, stable home.

Be watching this weekend for a post on Alice in Wonderland and Star Wars cupcakes - the two custom orders I've been working on all week - as well as some pics and the name of our newest family member! As always, happy reading and, more importantly, happy cupcake-ing!

Monday, May 14, 2012

A Bouquet of Rose Cupcakes for {Mother's Day}

Hey all. I hope the mothers out there had a fantastic Mother's Day! I know my mom did. We've been on vacation since Thursday and it's been wonderful. Dad rented a really cool vacation home right on the water with a pool and the use of a boat. We've spent the last 3 days swimming, relaxing, fishing, dolphin's just been amazing. The best part has been all the quality time spent with my family! Mother's Day started off with me making breakfast - eggs, sausage, bacon, biscuits, fruit, orange juice, and coffee. Mom and my mom-to-be sister opened their presents and a few tears were shed (always a bonus in our family if we can strike that chord). :) Then, we spent the day out on the water and in the pool. The crowning glory, though, was the Rose Bouquet of Cupcakes I made for them. These are really beautiful and so very simple to do.

The recipes I used are the chocolate cake from my Decadent Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake post and my favortie icing - Wilton's White Chocolate Buttercream. For the tutorial on how to make the roses, go here. The short of it is, instead of starting on the outside and piping in like you normally do for cupcakes, you start in the middle and pipe outward, making one layer of icing instead of layering as you go. I'm really not very good with the explanations; it's something I'm working on. If you don't understand what I just explained, follow the link above. She even has pictures to show the work as she went.

There you have it. Cupcakes for my sweet mama and my fabulous sister. I can't wait to welcome my niece or nephew this fall! This child is gonna be spoiled! 

I received two custom cupcake orders for this week, so there may not be a new post until the weekend (we'll see). BUT, these are gonna be fun orders and I'll be telling you all about them when they're finished! Also, if you haven't yet, visit my post on the fun summer reading challenge I'm participating in. I'm having a blast with it so far! Until then, happy reading and, more importantly, happy cupcake-ing!

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Friday, May 11, 2012

Fruit {Cake} for a Summer Birthday

Ever wondered what to make for someone on a diet for their birthday? Well, wonder no more; I have the answer for you here. One of the sweet ladies in my office (I call her Granny) is on the South Beach Diet and asked me to please not make a cake or cupcakes for her birthday. I'm sorry, what?? But, I'm a pastry chef. It's kinda what I do!

How gorgeous is that??

So, of course, I hit up Pinterest for ideas. Oh man. I was not let down. This idea is so great that I would make it for a summer barbecue, a brunch, or, well, to be an honest, an afternoon snack. If you know a fruit lover you have to make this. I mean it. If you don't, you're just plain mean. It's so easy. At first, I thought, "I don't carve fruit. How do I tackle this watermelon?" Don't even worry. Beginners, don't think it's not for you. If I can do this, you can too.

So sad I missed this white spot! 

You start with a large watermelon, as smooth as you can find, with minimal lumps and bumps. I literally moved every single watermelon that Walmart had in the bin to find the best one from the bunch. Sorry I don't have a step-by-step picture tutorial. I never think about that until after the fact so I'll do my best to explain in words.

First, I cut off each end of the watermelon. Then I turned it to stand up on one end and started carving down each side with a large, sharp knife, turning as I cut, making sure to get as much rind and white off as I could. Then I went back around, carving until I was satisfied with the "cake" shape. Next, I peeled and sliced kiwi and used it for the bottom border. I washed and dried the strawberries, cut them in half, then used them to decorate the top border, securing each one with a toothpick. I used one large, beautiful strawberry for the center of the top of the cake. Granny LOVES butterflies so, with the help of my sweet mama, I hand cut butterfly shapes out of cantaloupe and used a sliver of strawberry for the body, also using a toothpick to secure them to the sides of the cake. I hope that makes sense. I read it out loud to one of my sisters and another sister's boyfriend. :) If you have any questions or need clarification, please feel free to ask!

There you have it, folks. A delicious, nutritious treat for a special (or just because) occasion. Hope all you mothers out there have a wonderful Mother's Day! My family and I are currently at the beach and loving life.  Family fun, relaxing at a vacation home on the water....oh yeah! Until next time, happy reading and, more importantly, happy cupcake-ing!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

2012 Summer Reading Challenge

Hey friends! I came across this fun challenge today and, book lover that I am, decided to join in! Megan over at Semi-Charmed Kind of Life is hosting and you should head over and check out her blog! Here's the low-down on the challenge:


  • The challenge will run from May 1, 2012, to September 1, 2012. No books that are started before May 1 or finished after September 1 will count.
  • No re-reads! I want you to experience new books with this challenge.
  • Each book must be at least 200 pages long, unless otherwise noted. Audiobooks are fine, as long as the print versions meet the page requirements.
  • A book can only be used for one category. If you want to switch the category later, that's fine, just be sure to account for that in your point total.
  • The highest possible total is 200 points, and the first three people who finish the challenge will win a featured/guest post on my blog. If less than three people finish, the participants with the three highest scores will "win." Good luck!

The Challenge:

5 points: Read a book chosen for the U.S. 2012 World Book Night.
10: Read a book you were supposed to read in school, but either bailed on or Cliff-Noted. (If you were super studious and never did this, then read a book most people were assigned to read in high school but you weren’t.)
10: Read a memoir or narrative nonfiction book. (Examples: Friday Night LightsWhen the Game Stands TallThe Devil in the White City, etc.)
15: Read a book in one calendar day. (Must be at least 150 pages long.)
15: Read a book that you've always wanted to read but haven't gotten around to yet.
20: Read a pair of books that have antonyms in the titles. (For example: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and The Boy in the Suitcase, or The Unbearable Lightness of Being and Heart of Darkness, etc..)
20: Read a book that is set in a place you've never been but want to visit.
25: Find a book written the year you were born that was later made into a movie. Read the book and watch the movie; compare. Or find a movie released the year you were born that was based on a book. Do the same thing.
25: Go into a bookstore or library. Pick any bookshelf. Read the third book from the left on the fourth shelf from the top. (If it's not at least 200 pages, pick the next book to the right.)
25: Read a book about which you’ve heard bad things. (Hey, you can’t knock it ‘til you’ve tried it, right? And I’m upping the points to make it worth your while.)
30: Read a trilogy (or any three consecutive books in a series). Total page count for all three books together must be at least 500 pages. (Remember, you can’t have read any of the books before! Suggestions: The Robert Langdon seriesThe Hunger GamesTwilight...)

I'm joining in a little late, but if you know me at all then you'll know that I'll have no trouble catching up! I spend way too much of my time late at night reading any and every book I can get my hands on so this challenge is right up my ally!! Well, I gotta go find me some new books to read....Until next time, happy reading and, well...yeah, that's it. Usually I say "happy cupcake-ing" but this time, the reading is more important! :)

UPDATE 5/14/2012:

My reading so far for the challenge ~

30 points - Read a trilogy - Sisters of the Quilt by Cindy Woodsmall, 881 pages
15 points - Read a book in one calendar day - Say You Love Me by Johanna Lindsey, 287 pages

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Happy Cinco de Mayo ~ Tres Leches Cupcakes

It's official. Mexican food is my favorite and Cinco de Mayo is now officially my new favorite holiday! :) I decided to try Tres Leches cupcakes and was pleasantly surprised! I've had good tres leches and bad tres leches so I took awhile before deciding on which recipe to try. This one is fantastic! The cake is a perfect sponge cake - light, fluffy, and delicious - and soaks up the three milks perfectly. Topped with a fresh whipped cream, these cupcakes are the perfect ending to a spicy Mexican night!

You start with a sponge cake from The Pioneer Woman....

1 cup AP flour
1-1/2 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
5 whole eggs
1 cup sugar
1 t vanilla
1/3 cup milk

Then add the traditional mixture of milks....

1 can evaporated milk
1 can sweetened, condensed milk
1/4 cup heavy cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Fill muffin pan with liners.
Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Separate eggs.
Beat egg yolks with 3/4 cup sugar on high speed until yolks are pale yellow. Stir in milk and vanilla. Pour egg yolk mixture over the flour mixture and stir very gently until combined.
Beat egg whites on high speed until soft peaks form. With the mixer on, pour in remaining 1/4 cup sugar and beat until egg whites are stiff but not dry.
Fold egg white mixture into the batter very gently until just combined. Pour into prepared pan and bake until lightly golden brown and tester inserted into each cupcake comes out clean. 
Combine the three remaining milks. When cupcakes are cool, poke holes in each one and slowly pour small amounts of milk mixture over each. (I took the papers off each one and then poured mixture 1 teaspoonful at a time, let it soak in, and repeated pouring for a total of about 3 teaspoons of mixture for each cupcake.)
Let cupcakes sit about 30 minutes to soak up the milk mixture and top with whipped cream. I made mine by whisking 1 pint of heavy cream with about 1/3 cup of confectioner's sugar and 1 teaspoon of vanilla. If you like, you can top the cupcakes with a maraschino cherry. 

These cupcakes are seriously good and I hope you give them a try. They have a slight caramel taste and are just wonderfully light and fluffy. 

If you guys have been paying attention on Facebook, you've seen an announcement about a future giveaway.  Well, I need 15 more followers and I'll be giving away a sweet Cupcake Love Package: 1 box cake mix, 1 tub frosting, a decorator tip, sprinkles, assorted cupcake liners, and a surprise! So, spread the word and tell your friends to join us with either Google Friend Connect or BlogLovin! 
Next weekend, my family and I are going on a little vacation so, in honor of summer and the beach, I'll be making S'mores Cupcakes this week. Yum! Until then, happy reading and, more importantly, happy cupcake-ing!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Another Award ~ I'm a {Versatile} Blogger!

Hey friends! Some fabulous bloggers have done it again and I am overwhelmed. Three lovely ladies have nominated me for this award and I wanna say thank you to Teri @ TheFreshmanCook, Jill @ CreateCraftLove, and StayAtHomeAdventures. Thank you, ladies, for you support and encouragement.

Now, I need to do a few things...

First, some random facts about me:

1. I love the color green. Just about every shade of it. There's just something so beautiful and fresh about it that draws me in.
2. I have a strange love for Lifetime movies. I know, most of the time they're predictable, sometimes lame, and not always well-written or acted. But, for whatever reason, on a lazy or sick at home day, you'll inevitably find me curled up on the couch or in my bed, watching LMN.
3. While I love beautiful shoes, I hate wearing them. I have a closet full of gorgeous shoes: high heels, low heels, flats, boots, sandals, pointy toes, open toes, slingbacks...yet, I'd much rather walk around in my comfy black flip flops or, even better, without any shoes on at all.
4. I usually keep my hair short - shoulder length or in a bob - but secretly long for my own hair team to follow me around, keeping my long lustrous locks in check like the celebrities. *sigh*
5. My favorite smells are coffee, old books, B&B Works Japanese Cherry Blossom and Black Amethyst, Armani cologne, my mom (she ALWAYS smells good), the smell of rain right before or after a storm, and babies. All of these things will put a smile on my face every time!
6. I love to sing. I've been doing it as long as I've been able to talk and can't imagine ever stopping.
7. I can't sleep without a fan on. I need the background noise. I grew up in a household of six and there's something eerie about a night without any steady noise in the background. Can't do it.

Next, I get to nominate other fabulous bloggers who I believe deserve this award. Now, I'm fairly new and still learning about this blog thing. So, from me, this award may not mean quite as much and they may have received it earlier on in their blogging careers, but these ladies have been an inspiration to me and I feel the need to thank them for their encouragement and support and let them know that I appreciate their efforts, their example, and their hard work. So, without further adieu, here are my nominations for the Versatile Blogger Award....

{Kara} @ HappyGoLucky
{Amy} @ OneArtsyMama
{The ladies} @ SixSistersStuff
{Lisa} @ FlourMeWithLove
{Terry} @ ThesePeasTasteFunny
{Melanie} @ BearRabbitBear
{Kadie} @ SevenAlive
{Dorothy} @ CrazyForCrust
{Sarah} @ LifeOnWalnutStreet
{Katie} @ PincushionCreations
{Vicky} @ SleepingInAnUnmadeBed
{Cortnee & Cari} @ TwoSasters

Thank you, ladies! This blogger is grateful that you went before her! :)

Here are the rules to accepting the award:

~Thank the person who nominated you and include a link to their blog.
~Pass the award on to at least 10 other bloggers you believe deserve this award. (I say at least 10 because I've seen the rules read anywhere from 5 - 15)
~Include 7 random things bout yourself in the post.
~And, last but not least, notify the bloggers you've nominated by leaving a comment on their blogs.

That's it. Again, thank you to the three ladies who nominated me. I had no idea back in January where this was gonna lead, but I certainly am enjoying the journey! I'm so glad you're following along and hope you will continue to do so. As always...until next time, happy reading and, more importantly, happy cupcake-ing!

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