Friday, December 18, 2009

December Cupcakes

So here are the recipes for the December cupcakes.  Malt came in as the favorite, just edging out the cherry cordial, sugar cookie, then peppermint.  So I'll give you the recipes in that order.

Malt Cupcakes
I got the recipe from here and made a few adjustments

1 Devil's Food Cake mix
1 pkg Devil's Food Jell-O pudding mix
1/4 c. Carnation malt powder (chocolate or vanilla)
1 Tablespoon Hershey's cocoa powder
4 eggs
1 1/8 cup water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 Tablespoons vanilla
Pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Mix all ingredients to moisten, then scrape sides of the bowl and beat on medium for 1 minute. (Batter will be THICK!) Scoop into cupcake liners or nut cups. Place in oven and immediately drop oven temp to 350 degrees. (If you bake in multiple batches, raise temp back to 400 between batches.) Bake for approximately 28 minutes, or until done. Yields 24-28 cupcakes.

Put about 1/2 cup Hershey's Chocolate Malt liquid into a bowl and add powdered
sugar until a very thick paste, almost a dough is formed.

After the cupcakes have cooled cut a cone out of the top. Place a whopper sized ball of filling into each hole and replace the cone of cake on top.

Frosting from here
Vanilla Malt Buttercream

2 sticks butter (room temperature)
6 tablespoons malt powder
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup milk
6 - 8 cups confectioners sugar


1. Beat butter on low speed
2. Add in malt powder, vanilla extract, milk, and 4 cups of sugar. Beat on low speed for 1 minute.
3. Add in remaining sugar 1 cup at a time and beat on medium speed for a few minutes.

*To decorate these cupcakes I tinted most of the frosting red and made a swirl, I topped it with a holiday whopper and used the white frosting to make a rim around the bottom of the red swirl to look like a santa hat. I have no pictures because I didn't add more powdered sugar after the coloring so the frosting was too thin and they were a mess. Still the favorite, but not the prettiest! Although the actual cupcakes were amazing! Chocolate and malt and perfect!

Cherry Cordial Cupcakes

I got the recipe from here. It is a popular recipe but I couldn't find any reviews. Turns out they are the best out there. I tried filling these with a real cherry cordial or even a cherry cordial Hershey kiss, but they just sank to the bottom, even if I baked them half way first. Here is a picture of them finished.

Recipe with changes


1 pkg. (8-oz.) cream cheese, softened
3 eggs, divided
1/2 cup sugar
1 (21-oz.) can Comstock® or Wilderness® More Fruit Cherry Fruit Filling, divided
1/2 cup chocolate chips (mini or chop the bigger ones)

1 pkg. (18.25-oz.) chocolate cake mix
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup water
confectioners sugar


1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. In small bowl, beat cream cheese, 1 egg and sugar until smooth. Stir in 1/3 cup cherry fruit filling, liqueur and chocolate chips; chill.
3. In large mixing bowl, combine cake mix, 2 eggs, oil, water and 1 cup cherry fruit filling. Using electric mixer; blend on low speed for 30 seconds until moistened. Beat at medium speed for 2 minutes.
4. Fill paper-lined muffin cups 1/3 full. Top each with 1 Tablespoon of cream cheese mixture. Spoon remaining batter over cream cheese mixture, filling muffin cups 2/3 full. (this takes a little practice, but make sure the liner is not filled more than 2/3 full or it overflows the liners!)

5. Bake for 30 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
Makes 21 servings
Prep time: 15 minutes
Bake time: 30 minutes

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup butter or shorting
1/2 cup cocoa or to taste
1/2 cup Merichino cherry juice or more to taste

4-6 cups Powdered sugar

Beat butter and shorting until light and fluffy.  Add in cocoa.  Beat in sugar and merichino cherry juice, alternating between the two and ending with the powdered sugar.

Here is a little tip and take it to heart.  If you ever need to flavor something with cherry DO NOT use cherry extract, at least the cheap stuff.  It tastes like medicine, so always just use the juice from Merichino cherries:)

*To decorate these I just made a swirl using a star tip and topped with a merichino cherry. Classic.

Sugar Cookie cupcakes

  These cupcakes really do taste like a sugar cookie.  They have a harder crust on top which gives them a lovely chew and texture that remind you of a cookie.  The bottom of the cupcake is moist and has the texture of a cupcake.  I chose to decorate these to look like a Christmas tree.  The lights and star are cookies made with the recipe from my previous post found here.

I got the recipe from here
Sugar Cookie Vanilla Cake

    * 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temp.
      2 cups cake flour
      1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
      2 tsp. baking powder
      3 1/4 cups sugar
      3/4 tsp. salt
      1 Tbs. vanilla
      1 cup large eeg whites ( about 8) 1/2 cup milk, room temp.


   1. Preheat oven to 325 Butter a 9×13 cake pan and line bottom w/parchment paper.
   2. Sift together flours and baking powder.
   3. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
   4. Add salt and vanilla, beating until combined.
   5. Gradually add egg whites on low speed of mixer.
   6. Add flour mixture in two parts alternating with the milk.
   7. Mix until combined; increase speed to high for 20 seconds.
   8. Pour into lined muffin tin and bake for 15-20 min until a toothpick comes out clean.
   9. Let cool

To Decorate:
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup butter or shorting
1/2 cup milk or whipping cream
4-6 cups powdered sugar
green food coloring

Whip the butter and shorting until light and fluffy.  Add in extract to taste.  Add in sugar and milk, alternating and ending with the powdered sugar until the desired consistency is reached.  Add in green food coloring and more powdered sugar if needed.  Using a large star I made stars all over the top of the cupcakes and added a cookie to the top.  Arrange the cupcake to look like a Christmas tree.  Everyone really seemed to enjoy these cupcakes!

Peppermint cupcakes
These cupcakes turned out beautiful.  The peppermint aroma was heavenly but the taste was not too powerful. If you plan on topping with a candy cane, do so at the last moment as the moisture from the cupcakes will make them sticky and the color will start to drip. 

I found the recipe here
Pretty-in-Pink Peppermint Cupcakes

1 box white cake mix
1 1/3 cups water
3 egg whites
2 T veg. oil (or melted butter)
1/2 t. peppermint extract
3-4 drops red food coloring

-Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin pans with baking cups
-Beat cake mix, water, egg whites, oil, and peppermint extract with mixer for 30 seconds on low. Then beat at medium for 2 min.

*My change*  Take out half the batter and place into a different bowl.  Add food coloring to one bowl.  Fill the cupcake liners 3/4 full with both the red and white batters and swirl together.

-Bake 20-22 min. Take out and let cool.

Mix together about 2 blocks of Vanilla Almond Bark and melt in the microwave, stirring occasionally.  Add in peppermint extract.  Add in about 1/4 cup oil.  Now add in powdered sugar until it forms a dough.  Let cool.  This should still be pliable when cooled, if it is not, heat until pliable and add more oil and powdered sugar if needed.  It should taste similar to a candy cane flavored Hershey Kiss but softer and without the little crunchy pieces.  

After the cupcakes have cooled cut a cone out of the top and into the middle.  Place a whopper sized ball of the filling in the middle and replace the cake cone on top.  

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup butter or shorting
1/2 cup milk or whipping cream
4-6 cups powdered sugar

peppermint extract to taste
red food coloring
crushed candy cane flavored Hershey Kisses (optional)
Small candy canes (optional)

Whip the butter and shorting until light and fluffy.  Add in extract to taste.  Add in sugar and milk, alternating and ending with the powdered sugar.  Seperate out about a heaping cup and tint red with the food coloring and add more powdered sugar if needed.

To frost the cupcakes place the red frosting along the side of a ziplock freezer bag.  Add in the rest of the white frosting trying to not let them mix too much. Cut off a small piece of the bottom corner of the side that has the red on it.  Make a swirl on the cupcake. Top with crushed Hershey Kisses and place candy cane on top.

These cupcakes had a lovely swirled look down to the cake themselves. 

Have a Very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year filled with wonderfully yummy cupcakes!!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

A little holiday cheer:)

For this month's cupcakes I decided to make one recipe sugar cookie, because let's face it, sugar cookies and Christmas go together!  I also decided to decorate and arrange these cupcakes to look like a Christmas tree.  So what should I put on a sugar cookie cupcake? A cookie of course!  I was thinking of using a sugar cookie, but then Mom brought home a plate of cookies from work and on that plate was a wonderful trip back to childhood!  Remember those pink and white circus animal cookies (crackers) with sprinkles on top? You know what I'm talking about right? Please tell me yes! If you need a refresher here is picture to jog your memory.

Yes, THOSE cookies, well these cookies were in the shape of a star and brought back those wonderful circus animal memories.  So I decided I wanted to replicate those cookies.  Mom said they were store bought, but I didn't find any at our local Wally World.  So my wonderful husband suggested shortbread cookies and I topped them with vanilla almond bark, and they are YUMMY!  So if you feel like making some grown up circus animal type cookies, give these a try!

I got the shortbread cookie recipe out of my mom's vintage cookie book by Betty Crocker.

1 1/4 cups butter softened
1/4 cup sugar (+ 1 TBS sugar, this is my addition and I think it's the perfect amount of sweetness!)
2 cups flour

Cream together butter and sugar until well blended.  Add in the flour and knead like bread dough.  Chill dough before rolling.  Roll and cut. Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes.  The bottoms brown but the tops do not.  These cookies to not rise and do not change shape AT ALL!  I used a candy mold to make mine look like Christmas lights.

Let the cookies cool then cover in melted Vanilla Almond Bark and top with sprinkles.  Enjoy and let the memories flood back!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

December cupcake Preview

Here is a sneak peek at the December cupcakes.  I made these particular ones up for a friend's birthday and took the picture in the car right before I delivered them:)  This month's cupcakes are Cherry Cordial cupcakes with a cherry flavored fondant cherry on top.  Sugar Cookie cupcakes that I want to arrange to look like a Christmas tree, so they have cookie lights on top.  Chocolate Malt cupcakes that are made to look like a Santa hat, the white ball on top are Holiday Whoppers. Lastly there is peppermint cupcakes with crushed candy cane flavored Hershey's kisses and an upside down mini candy cane as a "J" for Jesus!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Thanksgiving Turkeys

Here are some Thanksgiving turkeys that I made for our Mommy and Me class and Chris's class.  I made little ones for the kids and big ones for the adults.  I think they came out rather cute!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Ideas for Mallory and Cameron's wedding cupcakes

Aunt Nikki, Mallory and Cameron,

I am honored that you would let me help with your wedding cupcakes.  Aunt Nikki, I know that you wanted to do the cupcakes for Mallory and Cameron, and if I'm taking over too much just tell me.  I want you to know that I'm only here to help, and I don't want you to feel that you have to frost cupcakes the day of your daughter's wedding! I think you will have much better things to do with your time, like enjoying being the Mother of the Bride:)  This is Mallory and Cameron's wedding, and I want to help make it everything they want, even if that means butting out;)  That being said I've been thinking quite a lot about what I could do to make the cupcakes special because I think that you two are special!  Here are some ideas I have for your wedding cupcakes.  If you just want to stick with what you have already come up with that is great too.  I just wanted to let you know what I've been thinking about. If there is anything else you would like me to try just say the word and send me a picture.  I'll do my very best to replicate it.

This is the first idea that I had, it's called a cupcake bouquet. (The following picture is one I found on the web, not mine, but I'll post mine right after it is finished.)

Here is the second one I did.  I put some shimmer dust in the frosting to make the cupcakes pink which is an option (it's a dust so it shouldn't stain.) I can also add in fondant leaves like the second one, or almond bark leaves and/or butterflies like the first one.  Also note the frilly petals vs the smooth petals, I can easily do either, it's just a matter of how thick the frosting is. 

Now I have to admit that as of this moment, I don't know how to make a butter cream rose.  I plan on learning and making a sample of these this weekend so we'll see how it goes!  UPDATE!!!  I have now taught myself how to make a butter cream rose!  Here is the second one I made, and I'm getting better with every one I make.

If you like this idea, I will practice like crazy until I can do it!  We can also put the bouquet in any sort of container you want, it doesn't have to be a flower pot and they can also be larger to hold more cupcakes.  I have a crazy vision of 2 large cupcake bouquets on either side of a modest cupcake tower (only 3 tiers) with the large cupcake cake on top!

Here is another version of a rose:

I call these swirl roses as the concept of making them is similar to the large swirl you were already thinking of.  These tend to be a bit of a hit and miss from the pictures I have found, but again, if this is what you like I will practice until I get it right for you!

The other option is to place a fondant rose on the swirl of icing. I make my own fondant so it typically tastes like a marshmallow. I can also add any other flavoring that you desire as long as it comes in an extract such as strawberry or rootbeer.  This could add some color to the cupcakes with out them being as prone to staining.  I plan on letting Helen eat the one I made, after I take a picture of it, to see how messy she is to give you an idea of the mess factor, which I think is very very little as parents can always just take it off as well.  If you choose any of these options I can make them ahead of time and just bring them to KS with us.  It would look kinda like this: the first picture is off the web and the second picture is of two roses that I made without leaves. The one on the left is a replica of the rose in the picture on the left, the rose on the right is a more realistic rose, but if that is what you decide on I can buy a kit to make them really realistic.
This is one kind of rose I could do, I could also do what is called a rolled rose which looks like these:

And here is a picture of larger rolled roses on a wedding cake:

I made a rolled rose last night and here is a picture of it. 
I could also do a more realistic looking rose like this: (The picture below is from the web, my first try at it is above.)

Let me know what you think! Love you all!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

better late than never!

So here is at least a quick update for the recipes I used for the November Life Teen cupcakes and also a quick tutorial on how to decorate the October cupcakes.

Let's start with the recipes....

Egg Nog cupcakes adapted from here

I found these cupcakes to be a big hit with the adults especially. I also wonder if they had too much sugar in them as they had a crisp and chewy crust to them, but like I said they were still a hit.


For the cupcakes:

1 cup eggnog

¼ cup vegetable oil

1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar

1 tsp. vanilla extract

¼ tsp. ground nutmeg

1 cup sugar

1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

¼ tsp. baking soda

½ tsp. baking powder

½ tsp. salt

For the frosting:

¼ cup butter, softened

3 tbsp. eggnog

generous pinch of nutmeg and cinnomon

2 (or more) cups confectioners’ sugar


Preheat oven to 350° F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners. In a small bowl, mix together the rum, eggnog, vegetable oil, apple cider vinegar, and vanilla extract. In a large bowl, mix together the nutmeg, sugar, flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients and whisk until just combined. Divide evenly between prepared muffin wells.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and the cakes spring back when lightly pressed. Cool in the pan 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the frosting, cream together the butter, eggnog, rum, nutmeg and confectioners’ sugar. Add in more confectioners’ sugar if needed to make the frosting stiff, but spreadable. Frost the cooled cupcakes.

Apple Cider Cupcakes adapted from here

---there is a orchard and market named Atkins Farms in the area where Chris comes from...they make Apple Cider doughnuts all year long! These doughnuts are amazingly yummy and a special treat when we go to visit Chris's family. My goal with these cupcakes was to replicate those doughnuts, while they are not an Atkins cider doughnut it is close, but not "really" close as my wonderful husband agreed to.

* 2 C all-purpose flour
* 1 1/2 t baking powder
* 1 1/2 t baking soda
* 1/2 t salt
* 2 t ground cinnamon
* 1/2 t grated nutmeg
* 1 large egg, lightly beaten
* 2/3 C packed brown sugar
* 1/2 C apple butter
* 1/3 C pure maple syrup
* 1/3 C apple cider
* 1/3 C plain yogurt
* 3 tbsp hazelnut oil, plus extra for coating the pan (If hazelnut oil is not available, you can substitute with macadamia nut oil or vegetable oil.)
* approximately 3 tbsp sugar for baking pans

1. In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg; set aside.
2. In another bowl, whisk together egg, brown sugar, apple butter, maple syrup, cider, yogurt and hazelnut oil.
3. Add dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir just until moistened.
4. Brush cupcake liners with oil and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar. (This is a really important step as it adds a lot of flavor and crispness to the cupcakes helping with the doughnut feel.
5. Fill cupcake liners about 3/4 full.
6. Bake at 375 F for 10 to 15 minutes (doughnuts) or 20 minutes (cupcakes) or until the tops spring back when touched lightly.

Honey Glaze and Cinnamon/Sugar Topping

I topped each apple cider cupcake with a honey glaze and then topped with cinnamon and sugar. For the honey glaze, simply combine and microwave two parts honey to every one part apple cider (i.e. 4 T honey and 2 T apple cider) until hot.

Chai Tea Cupcakes
These Chai Tea cupcakes are a variation of my own, and better I think. I was unable to find the same brand of Chai tea mix as in my first post and I used a recipe from scratch rather than a box so here is the new recipe. I started with this recipe, then I added some chai to it!

o 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
o 11⁄2 cups sugar
o 1 Tbsp baking powder
o 1⁄2 tsp salt
o 4 large eggs
o 1 cup milk
o 2 tsp vanilla extract
o 2⅔ cups all-purpose flour
o 2-4 cups of any instant Chai tea mix (this will look like a hot cocoa mix)

Heat oven to 350ºF. Place cupcake liners into the pans

Beat butter, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl with mixer on high speed 1 minute or until well blended. Add eggs; beat 2 minutes or until fluffy. Reduce speed to low and beat in milk and vanilla (batter may look curdled), then beat in flour just until blended.

In a coffee cup heat 2 TBS of water in the microwave until hot, add in the Chai tea mix until you have a mixture with the texture of dough (really we want to release the Chai flavor by adding a tiny bit of water, but we don't want it too liquid or it may mess with the batter. I needed a plain vanilla cupcake for a kiddo who is HIGHLY allergic to peanuts so I didn't add the Chai tea until after I had taken out the batter for her cupcake. I would think you could also add the Chai in before the flour than a more liquid mix would be less likely to mess with the batter.)

Fill the cupcake liners 2/3 of the way full ( a handy trick is to use an ice cream scoop) and bake for 15-20 or until a toothpick comes out with a crumb or two sticking to it. Let cool and frost.

Chai Frosting

2 sticks unsalted butter at room temp
4 cups powder sugar
2-4 cups instant Chai mix
2 TBS Vanilla extract

Beat the butter until light and fluffy. Add in powder sugar until frosting is thick. Heat 1 TBS of water in the microwave until hot and add Chai mix until a thick syrup is formed. Add vanilla extract and the Chai to the butter and sugar, mix well. Add more powder sugar or Chai until the desired texture is reached.

I find that I'm always messing with my frosting and a recipe is just a starting point, so if the EXACT recipe is too strong or not strong enough just add more or less Chai. You can also add the Chai powder directly to the frosting without adding it to water, this can make the frosting a bit crunchy as there is regular sugar and dry milk in the mix, but it also seems to give a stronger flavor.

Hot Cocoa cupcakes
I started with this recipe and went from there!

Ingredients (only 12 cupcakes with this recipe so double if you need 24 cupcakes)

* 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
* 1 cup brown sugar
* 1/4 cup unsweetened baking cocoa (sifted)
* 1 teaspoon baking powder
* 1 teaspoon baking soda
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1/8-1/4 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
* 1 cup milk or half-and-half cream
* 1 egg, slightly beaten
* 1/3 cup salad oil (use Canola or vegetable oil)
* 1 teaspoon vanilla (can use 2 teaspoons)
* 1 bag milk chocolate chips ( or 12 dove Chocolates or something similar)
* 1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)


1. Set oven to 350 degrees.
2. Line 12 regular size muffin tin with paper liners.
3. In a medium-size mixing bowl, mix together the flour, brown sugar, sifted baking cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon (if using); mix with a wooden spoon to combine.
4. In a two-cup measuring cup or bowl whisk together the milk, egg, oil and vanilla.
5. Add the milk/egg mixture to the dry ingredients; mix very well with a wooden spoon to combine well.
6. Mix in the chocolate chips and nuts (if using).
7. Divide the batter evenly between the lined muffin tins.
8. Bake for 22-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean (don't overbake!).

9. Cool, and spread a thin layer of marshmallow cream on top, cover the marshmallow cream with mini marshmallows and add a Pocky stick for a cool "straw."

That just leaves the October cupcakes...and as far as the recipes I'll need to do some digging, it wasn't so much about the taste as the decorating with these, except the pumpkin one. I'll also add pictures when AOL starts cooperating with me!


I used my recipe for WASC Although I usually halve the recipe for only 24 cupcakes
White Almond Sour Cream Cake (WASC)

* 2 boxes white cake mix
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 teas. salt
8 egg whites
2 2/3 cups water
4 Tbls. vegetable oil
2 cups (16oz carton) sour cream
2 teaspoon clear vanilla flavor
2 teaspoons almond extract


Mix all dry ingredients by hand using a whisk in a very large mixing bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients and beat on low speed for 2 minutes. Bake at 325 degrees

Then use the frosting recipe from Martha's Hi-Hats with a little change

# 1 3/4 cups sugar
# 3 large egg whites
# 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
# 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
# 1/2 teaspoon almond extract

1 package white Almond bark

# Prepare the frosting: In a large heatproof bowl, combine sugar, 1/4 cup water, egg whites, and cream of tartar. Using a handheld electric mixer, beat on high speed until foamy, about 1 minute. Set bowl over a pan of barely simmering water. Beat on high speed until frosting forms stiff peaks, about 12 minutes; frosting should register 160 degrees.on a candy thermometer. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla and almond extracts, and beat for 2 minutes more until frosting thickens.
# Transfer frosting to a large pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain pastry tip. Leaving a 1/8-inch border on each cupcake, pipe a spiral of frosting into a 2-inch-high cone shape, using about 1/2 cup of frosting per cupcake. (try to have a more rounded top than a sharp point) Transfer cupcakes to a baking sheet, and refrigerate while preparing the chocolate coating.
# Prepare the almond bark coating: melt the white almond bark in the microwave, mixing often.
# Holding each cupcake by its bottom, dip cupcake in the almond bark to coat frosting, allowing excess to drip off. Transfer to a baking sheet fitted with a wire rack. Spoon more coating around edge of cupcake and any exposed frosting; none of the frosting should show. Let cupcakes stand at room temperature 15 minutes.


Roll out fondant until 1/8 inch thick.

cut out a large circle for every cupcake using whatever you may have (I cut the rim off a sour cream tub so it was a sharp edge rather than the dull one.)

Give every circle another go with the rolling pin until it is as thin as you are comfortable with or the fondant will cover the frosting but not touch the table when placed on top (it doesn't need to be a perfect circle, in fact I think it adds more to it when it is not.)

Place the fondant circles on top of the almond bark covered hi-hat frosting.

Use a food pen or frosting or melted chocolate to draw faces on your ghost.


Add pumpkin and nutmeg to your'll thank me for this one!
Add Orange food gel to get the nice bright orange color.
Frost cooled cupcakes and score with a knife to make the lines of the pumpkins. (This is very subtle, but really makes all the difference in the final look of your cupcake.)
Make stems out of fondant (roll out a piece and bend it like an 'L', place in the cupcakes upside down.)
Add vines with very thick green frosting (just add some powdered sugar and green food coloring to 1/2 cup of shorting until you get the right color and very thick frosting-this is what allows it to stand up in a curvy parts)


For my witches hats I bakes cupcakes inside a sugar cone (the ones that are pointy.) This did not go over so well with some of the teens so if you aren't a fan of the crunchy cone you can check out what Martha suggests in her Christmas Tree cupcakes.  After you have your cone shaped cupcake (in the cone or out) attach it to a sugar cookie with your favorite frosting.  Dip the whole thing in dark chocolate with added black food gel.  Cut thin strips of fondant of your desired color to make a hat band.  You can also affix a small decoration.  I found these adorable little pumpkins at Wally World (aka Wal-Mart).


Print out a picture of a simple spider web that is about the size of a cupcake. (My wonderful Hubby did this for me, putting 6 webs on a sheet of paper) Cover the paper with wax or parchment paper.  Melt white almond bark and let cool a bit.(You don't want it too runny, so cool until it will keep it's shape when piped.)  Place in a ziplock bag. Cut the very tip of one of the bottom corners and trace the webs.  Be careful not to make the lines too thin or it will not be sturdy enough.  Experiment with what size lines you need to make (if they break you can always melt (or eat) them and try again.) Let the spiderwebs harden and carefully remove from the parchment paper. You can also draw on little spiders using melted chocolate and cutting a TINY corner off the ziplock bag.  Frost cooled cupcakes with any frosting  (I used chocolate) adding black food gel if desired and lay a spiderweb on top.

I was originally going to use the hi-hat frosting with these and I think they would have given the spider webs more 'pop' if I had so if you want to follow the recipe for the hi-hat frosting but dip in dark chocolate instead of white almond bark.  Then while the dark chocolate is still wet attach a spider web to the side so is standing up against the frosting. Here is a picture of my test cupcakes when I did this.

I'll update more when I have more time and find the pictures/recipes I need:)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Here is a sneak peek at cupcake number 4, pumpkin!

The actual cake didn't have the pumpkin flavor I was going for, it was much too subdued, so I kicked it up a notch by adding pumpkin to the frosting! As an extra bonus, I don't need to color the frosting orange! It is a beautiful light orange color on it's own, I may add a little color just to make it a wow pumpkin orange, but we'll see!

October Lifeteen cupcakes

I've started the process of making the Life Teen birthday cupcakes!  They are turning out really well in my opinion:)  Here are 3 of the 4 variations I plan on making.  The witches hats are going to be changed some, I'm not going to dip the whole thing in chocolate, just the sugar cone, it was too much chocolate and messy too!  I will probably but a hatband on them also to jazz them up a bit.  The spider webs will also be changed from being on a high hat to being flat...I think it will make them pop a little more, but I'll have to try it out to be sure:)

I'm really pleased with how they are turning out!  I'm going to try out the pumpkin cupcakes soon, hopefully tonight, but we have to wait to see how my baby is feeling, she hasn't been feeling well.  I'll post recipes and instructions along with more pictures soon.  But if you are like me you won't want to wait, so I'll explain quickly.  The witches hats are a sugar cone with cupcake baked in it, I flipped it over and used melted chocolate to attach it to a chocolate sugar cookie.  I then dipped the cone in more chocolate, you can add a fondant or frosting hatband for a bit of pizzaz.  I used melted white almond bark to make the spider webs.  I traced out a pattern that I printed off the computer and added a little dark chocolate spider for whimsy.  These were attached to high hat cupcakes (you can google a recipe, I used Martha's).  The Ghosts were also a version of a high hat but instead of a chocolate cupcake I used a vanilla and I covered the topping with white almond bark.  I then rolled out some marshmallow fondant into a rough circle, I placed it over thee whole cupcake letting it fold and wave to make it appear as if the ghost is floating.  I then used dark chocolate to put on the eyes and mouth.  Hope you enjoyed this little preview!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Good soup!

For dinner a few nights ago I made a very yummy soup.  Now my family is not really the soup eating type, my dad adds crushed crackers until all broth is absorbed, while my husband doesn't care for anything that could pass as "baby food."  So the butternut squash soup experiment began!  So I finally found an almost winner, it still requires the crushed crackers, but everyone agreed it was very tasty!

Butternut Squash soup with black beans and chickpeas

2 med. size Butternut squash
1 stick of butter
2 cans chickpeas well drained and rinsed
2 cans black beans well drained and rinsed
chicken flavoring(optional)
Water (or Chicken or vegetable broth)

Bake the Butternut squash in a low heat oven (250-350) until the skin is slightly browned and pulling away from the flesh of the squash.

Peel, seed, and chunk the squash after it has cooled enough to handle.

I then cooked the squash further in a crock pot for a few more hours.

Place the pieces into a blender adding water (or stock) to help it reach the desired consistency.

Repeat the blending process until all chunks are blended and are now soup.

Add chicken flavoring and any other seasonings( I used two packets of Ramen Chicken flavoring because that was what I had in the house and it worked very well!)

Pour the soup back into the crock pot and add in the chickpeas and black beans.

Heat and enjoy!

My family of course still added crushed crackers, but it would also be great with bread.  I think the chickpeas can be omitted if you wanted, it is the black beans that really give the contrasting flavor and make the dish interesting.

Friday, October 2, 2009

A most wonderful dinner!

So tonight I made these two wonderful recipes from The Pioneer Woman, and they were insanely good!  First is this one grilled ribeye steak with onion blue cheese sauce.  This was amazing!  So rich, so creamy...SO GOOD!  I had issues with the gas grill so my Dad ended up grilling them and I forgot to tell him to NOT use season salt, so this time it was too salty but still SO DELISH!!  We also had Rosemary and onion bread with blue cheese topping. This bread was tricky, but worth it! When the recipe says it's sticky, it's not kidding! I thought this was going to be a total bust because I couldn't handle the dough without it sticking to everything...and not just a little! But when all was said and done it was amazingly moist and full of flavor! I also made a few changes to the bread recipe. The recipe calls for 3 cups of bread flour. I only had 1 1/2 cups of all purpose so I used that and 1/2 cup soy flour and one cup whole wheat flour. I added a bit more water also, but I'm not sure it was necessary (it could be why it was so sticky for me), but then again the bread ended up moist and wonderful! So if you are looking for a fairly easy and incredibly delicious meal for any special occasion, or just because it's Friday and pay day was Wednesday..then try these recipes!

Monday, September 28, 2009

So the birthday party for my little niece went very well! I ended up not doing a cake because of financial restraints and since my brother was doing a cake I felt it was okay to let that one go. I will post pictures of my niece's house as soon as I figure out where my husband hid them on the computer!

In the mean time I found some pictures of a tropical rain forest that I quickly threw together for my older niece's party about 2 years ago. I was pregnant with my little guy and we ended up taking the kids to Dave and Buster's for a majority of the party. I had wanted to do a spectacular party because it was her golden birthday. Since the scavenger hunt around the world wasn't going to happen, I decided to decorate our living room and dinning room as her favorite place which was a rain forest.

We covered as much of the furniture as we could with green plastic sheeting.

The walls, windows, and ceiling were all covered with green butcher paper as well.  We also made tissue paper flowers and used rope for vines.

We cut out leaves and made the tree out of butcher paper that I bought on-line.

We cut up some fake plants with big broad leaves that we bought from Wal-mart or Hobby Lobby.

We also hung all of my niece's monkeys and other rain forest appropriate stuffed animals around.

The girls all had a wonderful time and enjoyed the decorations very much. That is the whole reason I do it, to see all the happy smiling faces and to make those I love feel special:) The pictures really don't do it justice as is always the case!  I'll post other parties I've done as I come across the pictures. Also I'll be posting pictures and a how-to of the 100 cupcakes I'm making for Life Teen at the end of October! Happy creating!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Hello all,

A little bit about me to help you get to know me. I am married to a wonderful man who is working very hard on becoming an elementary school teacher, we have two beautiful children, and I am blessed to be able to stay home with them. That said I more often than not feel a bit disconnected from the rest of the world and I'm hoping that this blog will help me meet some other people. I have found a new creative outlet which is baking and decorating cakes and cupcakes which I'd like to share with you! I have volunteered to make cupcakes for the Life Teen program at my church, which is going to be about 100 once a month. I also have been doing my nieces birthday parties. My little niece is turning 4 later this month so I'm planning and decorating a Disney Princess party for her. My brother is a chef but has recently become ill and is no longer able to work. He is supposed to make her castle cake so I was planning on making a second Cinderella's Pumpkin Carriage cake. Unfortunately the budget is being unforgiving and I don't have the money for the new pans that I'd need, or for anything else for that matter. Since my brother is already making a cake I had to let go of my plans for a second cake which was quite crushing for me. My little niece is only interested in her castle cake, so if my brother is unable to make her cake, I'll make the castle.

I've been reading food blogs and getting ideas and was just dying to make something! It had to be something that I already had all the stuff for. One of the cupcakes that I want to make for Life Teen are Chai Tea cupcakes. I found some recipes and they looked really good. But I didn't have all the stuff to make them, and trying to make a complicated cupcake with a teething 7 month old and a 2 year old...well, it just doesn't happen! So I fell back on my favorite cupcake trick which I learned from the book Cupcakes! from the Cake Doctor by Anne Byrn which always starts with a mix. I know there are people out there who just cringed, but they have always tasted quite good once they have been doctored up a bit. The basic trick to making moist yummy cupcakes from a mix is to add a pudding mix to it. I also had a wonderful Chai Tea mix that a wonderful friend gave to me almost a year ago that I have been slowly working on:) So armed with a white cake mix, a vanilla pudding and my Mystic Chai Tea mix I dared on my first adventure of making my own recipe! Now all the recipes I have seen for Chai Tea cupcakes started with tea bags or the liquid mix, so I was on my own as the mix I have is a powder! Well, they turned out FABULOUS! Hubby LOVES them! I even gave one to Joe, the man who came to our house to do oil changes on both our cars and is wonderful, and he really liked them also! He said they were just what he needed, and Chris proclaimed that these cupcakes have even beaten out his mother's spice cake in his book! My little man was also begging for them quite a bit:) (as an update, in less than 48 hours they are all gone...ooops! There is no self control, they are TOO YUMMY!)

Here is the recipe below for any who care to try it for themselves!

One white or yellow box cake mix (or I'm sure you could use your favorite mild flavored recipe)
3 eggs
1/3 cup water
1 cup milk
2 TBS oil
1 vanilla instant pudding mix
9 TBS Mystic Chai Tea mix (my friend works at Sam's club and got it for me there)

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line cupcake pan with paper liners

2) Microwave the 1/3 cup water until boiling and add the 9TBS of Chai tea mix, stirring until dissolved (be careful as the water always boils up on me!)

3) Blend the cake mix and all the ingredients together until smooth. This makes a really thick batter!

4) Scoop into cupcake pan until 2/3's full (I use a ice cream scoop another wonderful trick I learned from the Cake Doctor!)

5) Bake for 18 minutes or until a toothpick comes out with just a few crumbs on it.

6) Make your favorite Vanilla icing mix adding another 3TBS of the Mystic Chai Tea mix into it for a wonderful Chai frosting that really takes the cake! I didn't have enough shorting or butter or sugar to follow a recipe, so I just added what shorting I had left (maybe 1/4 cup and a large spoonful of (gasp) Country Crock, a tsp or so of Vanilla and added powder sugar until the consistency was right and one scoop of the Mystic Chai. I also added a bit of water to make is spreadable. This recipe didn't require much in the way of frosting, so go easy on it! Also because of the regular sugar in the Chai mix the frosting is a little crunchy, if you want a smooth frosting try dissolving the chai mix into as little boiling water as possible and letting it cool before adding it to the mix (use this instead of the water in your recipe.)

Like I said, these turned out really well! There is a good strong Chai flavor especially in the frosting, a beautiful honey color, and the cupcakes were moist. I made tiny cupcakes and regular size cupcakes. The regular size cupcakes I baked for 20 minutes like the box said and the toothpick came out clean. They ended up with a dip in the middle and a crispy crust. I baked the tiny cupcakes for only 8 minutes and the toothpick came out with just a few crumbs sticking to it. These had a lovely dome or were flat (depending on how full they were) and a soft top. I like them both ways! I plan on making these again in November for the Life Teen group and will try to take pictures then:)

So I'll post pictures from my little nieces Princess party. At the end of October I will be making Pumpkin spice cupcakes decorated like pumpkins, I am going to make vanilla High Hat ghosts, chocolate High Hat spider webs, and witches hats (I'm the most excited about these!) For the witches hats I plan on baking the cupcake in sugar cones, frosting them upside down onto a sugar cookie and dipping the whole thing in dark chocolate to look like a witches hat!

Perhaps in between I'll post pictures of past parties. I warn you I am not a photographer and all the pictures are pretty bad...but I hope to improve on that as well!