Thursday, August 30, 2012

GF Chocolate Cherry Cheesecake

Hey friends! Today I'm sharing another delicious gluten free recipe. And, seriously, I mean delicious. It was for another birthday at work and the birthday boy loves cheesecake, chocolate, and cherry pie. Sooo...I decided to put them all together into one fabulous dessert!

Doesn't that look heavenly? It consists of a brownie crust, creamy cheesecake, cherry pie filling, and a milk chocolate drizzle. Now, a fellow co-worker and myself are both eating gluten free so I wanted to make sure that we could partake. I turned to my new favorite baking mix company - Pamela's - and used the Chocolate  Brownie Mix for the crust.

Image Source
I followed the regular brownie recipe on the package and poured it into a springform pan. 

For the cheesecake I followed a fabulous Ina Garten recipe, only using the part for the filling...

Cheesecake (adapted from here)

  • 2 1/2 pounds cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 5 whole extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 extra-large egg yolks, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest 
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Cream the cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Reduce the speed of the mixer to medium and add the eggs and egg yolks, 2 at a time, mixing well. Scrape down the bowl and beater, as necessary. With the mixer on low, add the sour cream, lemon zest, and vanilla. Pour over unbaked brownie batter.

Bake for 15 minutes. Turn the oven temperature down to 225 degrees F and bake for another 1 hour and 15 minutes. Turn the oven off and open the door wide. The cake will not be completely set in the center. Allow the cake to sit in the oven with the door open for 30 minutes. Take the cake out of the oven and allow it to sit at room temperature for another 2 to 3 hours, until completely cooled. Remember, cake will NOT be completely set in the center at this point. It WILL set up in the refrigerator. Wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Remove the cake from the springform pan by carefully running a hot knife around the outside of the cake. Leave the cake on the bottom of the springform pan for serving. Top with your favorite GF cherry pie filling ( I used Lucky Leaf ) and drizzle with melted milk chocolate.

Yes, this cheesecake IS as good as it looks. And, GF-ers, feel free to indulge without any repercussions. Well, at least, gluten-related repercussions. I can't account for your scale reading changing or clothes not fitting quite right. I'm not a miracle worker after all! :) Enjoy!

Until next time, happy reading and more importantly, happy cupcake-ing!!

Monday, August 27, 2012

She's Ready to POP ~ A Baby Shower for My Sister

That's's time for the big shower reveal. SO much work was involved in making this day special for my sister but it was completely worth it!

Me & the Mommy-to-Be

We are so excited and can't wait to meet Skylar Jayde in about 8 weeks or so! About 40 women gathered together to celebrate her anticipated arrival and lots of fun ensued. We had tons of "POP" themed food....

Can't believe I didn't notice the foil over the POPcorn chicken before taking this picture!

The savories...

Stuffed Mushroom "POP"pers

Ham & Swiss and Turkey & Cheddar "POP"py Seed Sliders

"POP" Some Veggies - had to get creative with that one!

As was mentioned before we also had popcorn chicken but I didn't get a picture of that.

The sweets....

Blow "POP"s, "POP" Rocks, and "POP" some Bubble Gum

Fruit "POP"s

Lemon "POP"py Seed Muffins

White Chocolate "POP"corn

Pretzel "POP"s

Snap, Crackle, and "POP" Treats

We also had Soda POP, Mini Cupcakes topped with Bubble Gum, and bottles of water in a cooler with frozen pink and green water balloons as ice. Unfortunately, I was so busy that day that I forgot to get photos of these things. 

The decorations...

Above the food table

For the centerpiece above the table I made tissue paper pom poms and hung them with fishing wire. The "S" was made using a large white wooden letter from Michaels that I decorated with pink and green washi tape. The inspiration came from this post over at One Artsy Mama.

"Skylar" Bunting in background

I'm so mad at myself that I forgot to snap a photo of the "POP on in" sign that we hung on the front door. My mom and I made it using a sheet of chalkboard "paper" I got from PYP. We framed it with a white wooden frame from Michaels and then put a fancy pink lace tape border around the chalkboard and decorated the border with pink and green flower stickers. The description doesn't do it justice!

We also played a few games. The first was a party standard that, I'm sure, will be familiar to you all. I filled a pink bottle with green M&Ms and had the ladies write down their guess of how many were in the bottle. The winner got to keep the bottle of candy. Next was the "He Said/She Said Pop Quiz. This was so fun. I asked 10 questions about Skylar and my sister and BIL both answered each one. The ladies at the party had to guess who gave which answer. The winner of this game got a $10 Publix gift card. An easy game was a Thank You envelope raffle. We had each guest write their name and address on an envelope that my sis can later use to send her thank you cards and then put them in a bowl and I picked a winner. This winner got a stationary and pen set. The last game was Things That POP. Guests were given two minutes to write down everything they could think of that POPs. This was too funny! The winner had 14 items and got a POPcorn gift pack as her prize.

I got lots of inspiration from all over the internet and am so happy with how it all turned out. My sis had a blast and knows beyond a shadow of a doubt that she, my brother-in-law, and that precious little baby are truly loved and have plenty of support for the days ahead!

Until next time, happy reading and more importantly, happy cupcake-ing!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Muffins & Sliders That POP!

Hey there! It never slows down around here but I hope you guys are having a great week! I've been praying about a specific area in my life recently and God may have opened a door today which is really exciting! Even if that specific door isn't quite where I'm supposed to go, the possibility has caused me to find some exciting things and my life is going to be getting a lot more busy soon - scary....but exciting! More on that later......

For now, I'm sharing with you two more recipes from the baby shower. First up - Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins. Sweet and tangy. Moist and fluffy. They're the perfect on-the-go summer breakfast - paired with your favorite cup of coffee. Or, in the evening, a refreshing end to that summer picnic. Who doesn't love one of these? They're beautiful to look at and delicious to eat! They also happen to be a favorite of mine and my sister's.

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins with Lemon Glaze (original here)

2/3 cup sugar
grated zest of 2 lemons
juice of 1 lemon
2 cups AP flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sour cream
2 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 tablespoons poppy seeds

For the icing:

1 cup confectioner's sugar
2-3 tablespoons lemon juice

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and prepare muffin pan. Rub together lemon zest and sugar until sugar is moist and the smell of lemon is strong. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt with sugar-lemon zest mixture until well blended. In another bowl, whisk together sour cream, eggs, vanilla, lemon juice, and butter until blended and pour over dry ingredients. Stir gently with spatula, being careful not to overmix. Gently stir in poppy seeds. Fill muffin pans (each liner about 2/3 full) and bake about 18-20 minutes until lightly browned and tester inserted in center comes out clean. Leave in pans 5 minutes then remove and cool completely before icing.

To make the icing, put the confectioner's sugar in a small bowl and add about 1 1/2 tablespoons of the lemon juice.  Stir with a spoon to moisten the sugar, then add enough lemon juice, a dribble at a time, to get an icing that is thin enough to drizzle from the tip of the spoon. Then drizzle lines of icing over the tops of the muffins or coat the tops entirely.

Here's what they looked like at the party:

Sorry they aren't clearer. I forgot to take a close up of them at the party. Don't you just love those polka dot liners? I think they are super cute. PYP had them in four different colors and, yes, I bought all three! :)

Second, we have Ham & Swiss Poppy Seed Sliders and Turkey & Cheddar Poppy Seed Sliders. Again, sorry about the unclear photo. I was so busy that day that I didn't get close-ups of everything. Most things. But not everything.

Poppy Seed Sliders (source)

24 good white dinner rolls
24 pieces good honey ham
24 small slices Swiss cheese
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup miracle whip

Poppy seed sauce:

1 Tablespoon poppyseeds
1 1/2 Tablespoons yellow mustard
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 Tablespoon minced onion
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

In a small bowl, mix together mayonnaise and miracle whip. Spread onto both sides of the center of each roll. Place a slice of ham and a slice of Swiss inside of each roll. Close rolls and place them into a large baking dish or heavy cookie sheet. Place very close together.

In a medium bowl, whisk together all of the poppy seed sauce ingredients. Pour evenly over all of the sandwiches. You do not have to use all of the sauce! Just use enough to cover the tops. Let sit 10 minutes or until butter sets slightly. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes or until cheese is melted. Uncover and cook for 2 additional minutes or until tops are slightly brown and crispy. Serve warm.

Tomorrow I'll share a few decoration projects I did (I know, me, the non-DIYer) that will make you all proud. Be sure to stop by Wait Til Your Father Gets Home where I'm guest posting today and read about these delicious Salted Caramel Apple Cupcakes just in time for back-to-school!

 While you're there, don't forget to enter the awesome giveaway hosted by a TON of fabulous bloggers. Until next time, happy reading and, more importantly, happy cupcake-ing!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Stuffed Mushroom "POP"pers

Hey friends! Sorry I've been MIA this past week. I threw my sister a baby shower on Saturday and was super busy all week cooking, baking, and making decorations. I've gotta say...this definitely stretched my talents. I'm not really a DIYer outside of the kitchen. I am, however, extremely pleased with how everything turned out.

So, this week, I'll be sharing with you bits and pieces from the shower, leading up to the big reveal.

Today we have stuffed mushroom "POP"pers. The shower theme was "She's Ready to Pop" so all of the food had "POP" in it. (I had to get creative for a few items.) The colors were pink and green with lots of polka dots.

1 lb fresh mushrooms 
1/4 cup celery, finely chopped
2 tablespoons onions, finely chopped 
2 tablespoons red bell peppers, finely chopped 
1/2 lb crabmeat 2 cups oyster crackers, crushed 
1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded 
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder 
1/2 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning 
1/4 teaspoon black pepper, ground 
1/4 teaspoon salt 
1 egg 
1/2 cup water 
6 slices white cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.Wash mushrooms, remove stems, and set caps aside. Chop half of stems and reserve for next step.

Saute chopped mushroom stems,celery, onion and pepper in butter for 2 minutes. Transfer to a plate and cool in refrigerator.

Combine sauteed vegetables with all other ingredients except cheese slices and mix well. 

Place caps in a sprayed baking dish, stem side up. Spoon 1 teaspoon stuffing into each cap and cover with cheese slices (I broke them up into appropriate sized pieces). Bake for 12-15 minutes until cheese is lightly brown.

These were so yummy and tasted just like the ones you get at the restaurant! You definitely need to try them! Stay tuned for more fun "POP"able ideas and recipes!!

Until next time, happy reading and, more importantly, happy cupcake-ing!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Just Me....and GF Blueberry Muffins

Hey friends. Today I have a post about me. Ok, there will be a recipe at the end but, first, me...This year has been a trying one for me health-wise. I was born with asthma and have struggled with lots of different allergies for as long as I can remember. I've always been able to manage these with an albuterol inhaler, allergy medicine, shots, and the occasional visit to the doctor/pharmacy for antibiotics. I would suffer from the typical change of weather symptoms and you can forget about rolling around in the grass or having a real Christmas tree.

However, up until this year, it's been manageable. I never had to give up being a kid or playing sports. Working out wasn't an issue unless I was sick (who actually works out when they're sick anyway?) Outdoor picnics and visiting people with cats were do-able as long as I remembered to take a pill and bring my inhaler. Of course, over the years, I've had some issues. The occasional asthma attack or sinus inection. A few bouts with bronchitis and, once, pneumonia as a child. But these were spread out over thirty years and, for the most part, controllable with the proper methods.

This all changed in January of this year. I had my first sinus infection at the beginning of the month. I went to the doctor, was prescribed steroids and antibiotics, and sent home. Over the next month I had two more sinus infections and went through two more rounds of antibiotics. Since then, I've had countless ear infections, and I can't even remember the number of times I've woken up congested or with a severe headache. I already watch my MSG intake because too much of that causes migraines. This was something else.

I found an allergy specialist and started immunotherapy (allergy shots) to no avail. In fact, every time I got a shot, I just got sicker. Enough was enough. Something had to change. I spoke to one of my coworkers (the wife of my boss who shed the light on my MSG allergy - for more info read this post) and she told me about a book called Foods That Fight Pain by Dr. Neal Barnard. This book is so great! It contains the Elimination Diet - essentially, a detox plan that empties your system of all toxins and foods that are common triggers for pain, allergy attacks, headaches, etc., and then slowly allows those trigger foods back into your diet, one at a time, to help you figure out which ones are causing problems for you. Trigger foods are different for every person. Reading this book and following this plan helped me figure out that my trigger foods are foods with gluten in them.

Yep. You read that right. I'm a pastry chef with a gluten sensitivity. Let me tell you - this is not cool. Don't get me wrong. I'm truly thankful to have some answers and know that there is hope for a healthy life. It's just a little sad for me to think of all the cupcakes I'll have to give up. Now, I don't believe that I have Celiac's Disease. I can eat gluten in small amounts as long as I'm prepared to face the consequences. Sometimes I'll probably decide that that dark chocolate cupcake is worth the pain and suffering. :) But, for the most part, I will be living a gluten-free life. Thus, I'm looking at a LOT of change around here. Don't can still expect to find delicious, "normal" desserts here. There will just be the occasional GF recipe to share that says, "yes, having a gluten allergy is livable!" In fact, I'm sharing a yummy muffin recipe with you in this very post that is gluten free without missing any of that muffin-y goodness.

I'm also extremely blessed with a family, friends, and coworkers who are so supportive and cheer me on every step of the way. In fact, my mom wants our family to adapt to a more GF lifestyle and our meals, as a family, are going to start reflecting that! Thank you, Lord, for these people!!

So, without further ado....

GF Blueberry Rice Muffins (adapted from here)

Streusel Topping:

2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons white rice flour
1 teaspoon vegetable oil (or melted salted butter or margarine)

For the Muffins:

1 egg
1/2 cup vanilla rice milk (you can use whatever milk you prefer)
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup white rice flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
3/4 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Lightly grease (or line with liners) a 6-cup muffin tin. For the streusel topping, in a small bowl, whisk together the sugar and flour. Add oil (or butter or margarine) and mix together until fluffy and incorporated. Texture will be sandy. Set aside.

For the muffins, in another small bowl, combine rice flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and lemon zest. Carefully stir in blueberries. In a medium bowl, mix the egg, milk, oil, vanilla, and lemon juice until well blended. Add in the dry ingredients and mix just until combined.

Pour batter into prepared pan and sprinkle with streusel topping. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until edges are starting to brown. Allow muffins to cool 5 minutes in pan before removing.

I really love these muffins and am going to experiment with the recipe for different flavors! It was so encouraging for me, especially this early on, to find things that are ok for me to eat, while still tasting good and having the right texture. I think I'm gonna be ok! :)

Don't forget to stop by and enter the giveaway here to win 12 awesome prizes!

Until next time, happy reading, and more importantly, pay attention to what your body is trying to tell you!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

It's Party Time @ A Cupcake Love Affair

Woohoo! It's here! The fabulous giveaway to celebrate reaching over 200 followers here at A Cupcake Love Affair!! I can't thank you all enough for your support and encouragement. I have some awesome prizes that have been donated by some truly incredible bloggers. These ladies have all been instrumental in some way since I started this thing back in January. From html help and graphic design, advertisement and growth,  to friendship and support, each one has contributed in her own way and I feel so blessed to know them all! You've been meeting them all week and now it's time to win! One person will win it all so, without further ado, here are the prizes...  

How awesome is that? I am also giving away one month featured ad space, including the top sponsor spot & a featured solo post with optional giveaway and media shout-outs, cupcake mix, and a $20 gift card to either Michaels or Starbucks (winner's choice)! Again, thank you to my readers and awesome prize donors! Without you all, there wouldn't be a reason to celebrate! 

Rafflecopter will walk you through the entry process....Good Luck!

Be sure to stop by Pamela's Heavenly Treats today where I'm guest posting! Until next time, happy reading and more importantly, happy cupcake-ing!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

More Awesome Prizes From My Fabulous Friends

Hey there! Today I'm introducing you to Jenny from Jessie Street Designs and Salena from A Little Piece of Me.....

Hello Everyone!  I'm Jenny from Jessie Street Designs and I thrilled to be here with Heather to help to celebrate her 200 readers at A Cupcake Love Affair :)

Square Logo125x125.jpg

I am a stay-at-home mom to three children - a four year old boy and three year old twin daughters. To pass the time "while my pretty ones sleep" I love to sew and work on DIY projects. Eventually, I decided to take this love of sewing and DIY up a notch and my etsy shop - Jessie Street Designs - was born.

The shop name, Jessie Street Designs, was inspired by my incredibly talented grandmothers - my maternal grandmother lived on Jessie Street and my paternal grandmother's first name was Jessie! In addition to many other things, they taught me that nothing beats a handmade item and many of the dresses and sweaters they made for our family have been cherished and handed down through generations:)

I love to find fun patterns and fabrics for my projects and each item is handmade by me in my smoke-free studio.
In addition to creating items for my shop, I also have a little blog called Jessie Street Designs where I share my decorating, cooking, organization and crafting adventures!  If you like to read, I also co-host a monthly "Ready, Set....READ" book link party.  I hope that you will stop by and say hi!!

Jenny is offering one item from her shop to the winner of the giveaway. How cool is that? Head over here to take a look...

Blog  //  Etsy


Hi, my name is Salena!  I'm a wife, mother of 6, and a grandmother of 3.  I am a stay-at-home mommy to my 3 little girls.  My blog centers around my daily life, marriage, parenting, things that interest me, what I'm passionate about and basically just where my heart thoughts lead me.  In my shop you can find handmade accessories.

Salena is a fantastic woman and awesome friend! She is offering a medium ad space on her blog for one month! Check her out here:

Blog  //  Facebook  //  Twitter  // Shop

Thanks, ladies! Make sure you stop by on Friday and enter the giveaway for your chance at the awesome prizes! Here's the button for your side bar! Share with your friends!!

A Cupcake Love Affair

 Until next time, happy reading and more importantly, happy cupcake-ing!

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