Monday, September 26, 2011

Death in the Family

Well, the blogging gods are punishing me. The last couple of posts have been way overdue, and I'm four or five cupcake jobs behind. So, the karmic cupcake forces of evil decided to take its wrath on my computer. And by my computer, I mean my hard drive. And by my hard drive, I mean my photographs. And by my photographs, I mean the last ten years of my life. gone. And by gone, I mean gone. So, there's been a death in the family. And it was my Dell. RIP.

So, I'm shipping it up to the Gainesville computer mortuary (aka, my Uncle Don's house) to see if there's any hope for divine ressurection. To my loyal and loving followers: If anyone can fix my laptop and recover said pictures, it's my uncle. He's a computer genious.

Until then, please bear with me. I've learned my lesson: no more cupcake porn. ALWAYS, always, always "back up" the files on your computer. Don't be a fool. It can, and it will happen to you. Don't say I didn't warn you.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Seeing Red

Well, I'll admit that it's been far too long since I've blogged. So, today I decide it's time to post the cupcakes I made a whole month ago! I logged on, and was so delighted to see more followers! And Comments! (From people I don't know!!!!) You guys have made my day. I'm so excited that there are folks out there that I can relate to, and hopefully make smile. (Even if you're laughing at me, not with me!) In fact, I think I'll go home and make cupcakes tonight just so I can blog again!

In my last post, I shared with you my Red Velvet defeat.
I am now happy to report that I am victorious.
That's right, I successfully made RED red velvet cuppies!

They were one-half of the cupcake creation I made for a celebration for my Uncle. The end of June marked a very special second anniversary for him, so we had a small party to celebrate! The party had a casual beach theme, so I took that and ran. Red velvet is his favorite flavor, so I knew I couldn't let him down. Presenting: red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting, with hand-poured-and-painted chocolate seashells and brown sugar/graham cracker sand on top! I wish I had better pictures of the shells, they turned out pretty remarkable. You'll get the gist.
The cupcakes pictured here (not red!) are pistachio flavored: a box-mix-turned-heavenly creation! (The secret? Club soda.) They added a nice variety for those who aren't red velvet fans. (Yes, they're out there). They're topped with a whipped cream cream cheese frosting, which taught me a valuable lesson: Don't turn your back on whipping cream. Ever. One second it's flat, the next, it's butter. It took me three takes to get it right. But, it was totally worth it!
I had fun putting together a presentation and decorating the board, also! I wish I had more excuses to do things like this. The nautical theme brought me back to my pre-dysautonomia days.. Boy I miss fishing/diving/boating/living.

For those following my health, I've got good news and bad news:
The Good: The pacemaker install went well and the incision is healing like a champ (and no more sling!). I went FIVE WEEKS. Yes, you read that right... five whole weeks without fainting. That's amazing. No, phenomenal. I haven't gone just one week without fainting in almost a year.
The Bad: On the anniversary of five weeks faint-free, I fainted. Murphy's Law at its finest. Three days later, I fainted again.
The Good, Part 2: I haven't fainted since then. In fact, I'm feeling good... better than I have all year. I'm exerting myself and starting to test my boundaries. Admittedly, I'm exhausting myself and using a lot of "spoons" (spoon theory-google it.), but I'm so happy to have some liveliness that I don't even care. Hopefully, when it catches up to me, I'm not taking one step forward and two steps back.

Either way, I'll keep you posted. And, I'll make cupcakes. :)

Monday, July 18, 2011

Fourth of July Cupcakes!

So, my "about me" section (to the right) says I'll share the good, the bad, and the ugly. I'm still trying to determine where this next cupcake creation fits. I tried making red velvet, which I've tasted only once and never cooked before. It tasted great, looked... eh... not red. (see below). These were baked for a family get together on the Fourth of July.

I guess I should preface all of this with some big news. I had a pacemaker put in on June 30th (the "bedrest" in "Cupcakes on Bedrest"), and baked cupcakes on July 3rd. Am I crazy? Probably. My left arm was strapped to my side so my boyfriend's mother helped with much of the grunt work. I used a random recipe with good ratings off the internet, and will look for another one or use my friend's recommendation the next time I attempt red velvet. As you'll see in the not-so-professional, last minute photographs, the cupcakes are brown. Did I use too much cocoa powder? too little food coloring? I simply don't know. The bottom line: the cupcakes tasted good, looked patriotic, and would've passed as german chocolate if I didn't tell anyone otherwise!

I topped them with the traditional cream cheese frosting, some sprinkles, and homemade (from the package) sugar cookies (which were decorated with one hand, an interesting experience).

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Confetti Cuppies

This post will be short and sweet, and it is well overdue! I made these babies a few weeks ago when my boyfriend, Martin, received some good news at work. Funfetti is his favorite, and I'll never know why. He could walk away from a vanilla cupcake but if there's little sprinkles in it, sign him up! (Especially when they're swimming in chocolate frosting and more sprinkles.) I made these from a boxed mix, but used my own chocolate frosting and some sprinkles I had around. They're adorable, yummy, quick, and easy!

(Aren't the cupcake liners adorable?)

I made some cupcakes last weekend for Fourth of July, I'll blog those with pictures soon! They were interesting to make, because I had a pacemaker put in on the 30th and my left arm was strapped to my side. In retrospect, I really should've videotaped the whole process for your viewing pleasure. C'est La Vie!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Just in Time for Fourth of July...

My Memorial Day Cupcakes! I created these beautiful babies for a memorial day barbeque with my boyfriend's family. I knew I wanted to make something summer-y and patriotic, and picked up some beautiful fresh berries at the supermarket. When I came home, I decided that I would make a vanilla bean cake and fill it with berries. So, I cooked down some strawberries in a simple syrup and pureed them, and it turned out runny. I mixed in some of the cream cheese frosting I made and it came to a pretty decent consistency and a wonderful taste! I filled the centers and topped it with the cream cheese frosting, some berries, and these great red, white, and blue sprinkles I picked up. The cupcakes went over really well, as did I, when I fainted in front of Martin's extended family :) I've learned to take the good with the bad.
If you look closely, you can see the little vanilla bean flakes, it was deee-licious!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Guilty as charged.

I've been bad. I've baked without blogging. I promise to catch up, starting now! I wish I had an excuse- I especially wish that I'd been too busy to blog because I've been feeling so great and my dysautonomia spontaneously cured, but that would be a lie. I've been feeling... normal. I have, however, spent some quality time with my mixer lately... including, but not limited to, cake pops.

It was my first time making cake pops, and if I have anything to say about it, it'll be my last. I used boxed cake mix because I wasn't sure how it was going to turn out, and I knew the process would be labor intensive. (Labor intensive? More like working in a Chinese sweat shop!) If you've never heard of cake pops, it's a combination of cake and frosting, molded into a ball, stuck on a lollipop stick, and covered in candy coating. Much more fun to eat than to make! Here's some pictures:

The stick is dipped into the candy coating,
then it's frozen to get nice and firm for dipping!

This is what the finished product looks like!

I know they don't look so evil. They look cute and delicious. Here's the clincher: the candy coating- it's impossible to work with. Maybe I need some more practice, maybe I won't bother trying. It stays the perfect consistency for no more than 90 seconds, then it gets too hard or too thick to coat. So, you've got to keep putting it in the microwave, taking it out, dipping a few, repeat. That's not fun. But, WAIT! There's MORE! The freakin' pops don't stay frozen long enough to keep them intact through the whole microwaving torture process. So, the candy coating gets too hard, the pops get too soft, and remedying all of this requires lots of standing and walking and sitting and running and all sorts of other activities that aren't always possible with dysautonomia. Final verdict? I'll stick to cupcakes. Unless you're willing to pay a lot, a lot, to make me make cake pops again.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Apple Spice and Everything Nice

When I started cupcaking (cupcaking? sure.), my mom recalled her Aunt Opal's Apple Spice Cake. So, for mother's day, we tracked down the recipe and I turned them into cupcakes. I've never actually tried the cake, so I can't judge whether I did justice to my great aunt. I can, however, attest to the beautiful, aromatic cake with sweet caramel frosting that it turned into. I purposely made these cupcakes for Mother's Day so my own mother could be the judge. Naturally, she took one look at the cupcake and said, "The frosting is the wrong color!". I already knew this, and I'm considering it to be a mother's day gift to her. You see, if I'd left the frosting the way my Dear Aunt Opal had intended it, the only gift my mother would be receiving would be three route canals and a shot of insulin. Her recipe called for a cup of brown sugar melted with a cup of water, mixed with two cups of powdered sugar. I have a new cavity just from tasting it. So, I threw in a little of this and a little of that, about a half brick of cream cheese, and finally! it wasn't just palatable, it was good. I just wish I'd remembered to write down the new recipe!!

The words on top were just a little something for my mom, piped from melted chocolate.
(I love you, Mom!)

Monday, April 25, 2011

Cupcakes and Crown Royal

The Easter Bunny has arrived...
... and he brought cupcakes!
I'm a legal adult and the youngest in my whole family, so Easter is no longer about chocolate bunnies and colored eggs. In fact, it's about bacon and Crown Royal (for breakfast!). What better cupcake to accompany our Easter brunch than a carrot cake... and Boy! They were GOOOD. Before we get into the cupcakes themselves, I'll back up and explain why we booze up on Easter morning. My dear Uncle Don, whose family is from Czechoslovakia (I think?) brought us his tradition of Speck/Schpek/Shpeck.. shoot. It's a delightful meal which is so sinful that we probably would die if we ate it more than once a year. It's a simple process:
1. Make bacon, save grease.
2. Make more bacon, save more grease.
3. Think you have enough bacon? Make more.
4. Yes, keep the grease.
5. Light your grill and open up a big, crusty loaf of sourdough bread.
6. Bread? Where? The Grill? YES.
7. Just put the bread on the grill? HELL NO. You must brush your bread with bacon grease first!
8. Grill your bread- not for too long, though! Make sure both sides are fully covered in bacon grease.
9. Chop up some raw vidalia onions and put your salt on the table. Don't ask any questions.
10. Pour a glass of Crown Royal for everyone there. Make the glass extra tall for your Dad and Uncle.
11. Assemble Speck.

Place a piece of grilled sourdough on your plate, then add your raw onion (don't be shy! The Crown will mask the onion smell), add bacon, add more bacon, salt heavily. Follow with Crown Royal!

Let's move on to the cupcakes! Carrot Cake with traditional Cream Cheese frosting, rolled in chopped walnuts and accented with modeling chocolate carrots and bunnies :) They're precious and delicious. My new go-to Carrot Cake recipe is adapted from AllRecipe's Sam's Famous Carrot Cake. I also topped with Cream Cheese Frosting (lot's of cream cheese flavor.. only 2 cups of powdered sugar in this one!)

They were delicious, and the more perverse members of my family really enjoyed eating the heads of the modeling chocolate bunnies. All in all, it was an overwhelmingly successful and fun holiday with awesome cupcakes! What more can I ask for?

Oh, yeah. I can ask for good health. <sigh> On a side note, I've had two severe episodes in the last few days, one of which ended in a trip to the ER. I'm heading up to the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville next month, hopefully they'll have some better treatment ideas.
Until then, I'm sticking to the best medicine: CUPCAKES! :)

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Cookies and, erm, cookies?

Oh no, you didn't. Oh yes, I did.
Confession: I love all things cookies and cream. Cookies and cream candy bars, cookies and cream ice cream, and- apparently- cookies n' cream cupcakes!
I experienced a lot of inner turmoil over these bad boys. Do I make a gooey chocolate cupcake with cookies n' cream frosting, or cookies n' cream cupcake with cookies n' cream frosting? It was a tough decision. I raked my mind and... AH HA! An image of a cupcake with a cookie in the bottom popped into my brain. (The part of my brain that actually works, oh dysautonomia.) I'd seen it before, and I made a mental note to try it... So here began, "Operation: Cookies n' Cream Cupcake With an Oreo Cookie in the Bottom and Cookies n' Cream Cream Cheese Frosting."
Several good things came from this:
First, I was able to use my beautiful black and white swirly damask cupcake liners. See pictures, they're precious.
Second, I got to kill two birds with one stone. My wonderful grandparents were in town for the weekend and they came over with my mother for brunch in the morning. Then, Martin's parents and aunt and uncle came over for a barbeque dinner. Two families: one cupcake recipe. LOVE IT!
(DISCLAIMER: No birds or stones were actually harmed in the making of these cupcakes.)
Third, the cupcakes are dreamy. The Oreo cookie chunks baked up into these soft, chocolate, cake like nuggets of love folded into a beautiful, light white cake. The cream cheese frosting balanced the sweetness perfectly, and the little flecks of oreo said "cookies and cream".

Well, yes... They are as delicious as they look.
PS, wanna play a game?
Take a shot for every time I said "cream" in this post.

Thats, twelve shots. Have fun! :)

Monday, April 11, 2011

Lemon Berry LOVE!

Could I have a new favorite? I think I do. Last weekend, I asked my Dad what cupcake flavor he would like, and he said Blueberry. What every happened to chocolate or vanilla? Even red velvet if you're feeling really crazy. But blueberry? I've heard of blueberry pancakes and blueberry muffins, but never blueberry cupcakes. Not to mention, blueberries really don't come into season until later in the summer. But, he's my Dad, and what he wants, he gets.

This is one of those recipes where nothing came out the way I intended. Yet, the finished product was absolutely phenomenal. I knew from the begining I wanted to do a lemon cake with a blueberry frosting. That happened... kind of. The finished product was, officially, a "lemon cupcake with blueberry filling and a lemon cream cheese frosting, garnished with a blueberry drizzle, lemon sugar, and a candied lemon"... That title is entirely too long, so Lemon Berry is it! :) The lemon cake is particularly nice, and a good contrast to the sweet blueberry and syrupy lemon garnish. I used Better Homes and Garden's Lemon Cake Recipe and was very happy with the outcome. (Note to self: next time I want to make anything lemon, do it on a day when I don't have numerous unexplained cuts on my fingers. ugh.) Now, things got tricky. I started making my cream cheese buttercream frosting and adding frozen blueberries that I'd thawed and sent through the food processor. Things started to go south, quickly. The frosting got so thin, there was no return. I added powdered sugar, I added corn starch, I added more cream cheese. I tried everything. So, I hid it in the center of the cupcake as a filling, not a frosting. I went back to my go-to cream cheese frosting and added a little bit of lemon extract, and it turned out very well. What to do with the leftover blueberry goo? Drizzle it over the top! I also rubbed some lemon zest with some granulated sugar and sprinkled it over the top. The piece de resistance is the candied lemon slice- a pain in the patootie but totally worth it. I followed Martha Stewart's instructions and simmered my lemon slices in a simple syrup for about a hour and a half. They were gorgeous!
The finished product :)

The blueberry filling

Definately some of my favorites!

After I piped in the blueberry filling.

slice the lemons....

simmer in simple syrup!
Well, guys, I think these turned out pretty well. What do you think?