Saturday, May 28, 2011

Summertime Cupcakes!

♥ Beginner
We had a fantastic Enrichment Activity at church last night!  Of course I didn't get ANY pictures of the event, and all of the fun ladies that were there (I'm kicking myself now!) but we sure did have a blast, or at least I did. We talked about some simple appetizers ideas that were great for an easy quick get together, and I'm hoping that I can get the recipes for them so I can share them with all of you also.  

All of the cupcakes below were made of French Vanilla cupcakes, but if you're in a really creative mood, you could flavor them to the decorations.  I'll add my flavor suggestions along the way, and would love your feedback as well! 

Butterfly Cupcakes! 
What you'll need: 
2 Colors of Frosting
Pull and peel Twizzlers

How it's done: 
Frost your cupcakes. Cut two small slits in cupcake on left and right of center. Put pretzels in the slits and cover with a skinny strip of different colored frosting down the middle.  Add an M&M and two small twizzlers for antennae. 
Snow Cone Cupcakes! 
What you'll need: 
White Frosting
three colors of sprinkles (preferably bright colors!)
Styrofoam Cups
Straw and paddle (optional) 

How it's done: 
After baking your cupcakes, frost the tops and drop into the cups. If the cupcakes are smaller than the cupcakes, just cut down the cups until the cupcakes fit correctly.  Once the cupcakes are in the cups, 'get your sprinkle on'!  
Beach Cupcakes! 
What you'll need: 
Blue Frosting
Crushed Graham Crackers
Small Round Peppermints
Drink Umbrellas

How it's done: 
Cover your cupcakes with the blue frosting.  Make waves! Dip your cupcake in the graham cracker crumbs, and top with a beach ball and umbrella.  I think these would be great with a strawberry cupcake! 
Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes!
What you'll need: 
Cake Batter
Ice Cream Cones
Rice (optional) 
White Frosting

How it's done: 
Fill your muffin pans 1/2 with rice.  Fill your ice cream cones 1/4th full with cake batter.  Put cones into the rice for stability, and bake for 20-25 minutes at 350*F. Once out and cooled, frost with an extra large tip to look like ice cream and top with sprinkles! 
Corn-on-the-Cob Cupcakes!
What you'll need: 
3 Similarly sized Cupcakes
Yellow, White, and clear Jelly beans
Yellow Frosting
Black sprinkles
Yellow gum paste/Fondant (Optional) 
Cob Holders (optional) 

How it's done: 
These were my favorite because they were so cute.  Frost all of your cupcakes with the yellow frosting and apply rows of jelly beans to them, mixing up the colors.  Make sure all of you rows match from cupcake to cupcake.  Sprinkle a few black sprinkles for pepper, and stab each side with cob holders.  Make butter out of yellow gum paste (or a yellow starburst!).  Wahlah!! Corn on the cob for the sweet tooth.  
Popcorn Cupcakes! 
What you'll need: 
Popcorn Bucket
Mini Marshmallows (White and yellow)
White frosting

How it's done: 
Frost your cupcakes with the white frosting.  Cut each marshmallow in half with your knife, and squish them back together.  Place on top of the frosting, and cover the cupcake! Place in the popcorn bucket, it's that easy! 
Shark Cupcakes!
We didn't actually make these at our activity, but since we have the rest of them up here, and these are so easy, I figured I would add them.  They really are cute if you're making the beach themed ones as well! 

What you'll need: 
Blue candy disks 
Blue frosting 

How it's done: 
Melt your candy disks in the microwave (generally it's 30 seconds at a time), and pipe the candy onto wax paper in the shape of a shark fin.  Once cooled and hardened, place them on top of your already frosted cupcakes. (You could also just make the fins out of blue cardstock paper if you wanted to go an easier route!) 

Friday, May 20, 2011

Volunteers Needed - Test Kitchen!!

Because I make so many tasty treats, as often as I do, I'm having a hard time getting the same people to taste each creation.  Obviously it's just too many sweets to force on my family - especially if they're trying to lose weight, not gain it.

I'm looking for a few (or a lot!) of able bodies who would be willing to taste test my creations and then post their honest reviews here on the blog. It's that simple!  Eat & post.

If you're interested in joining me, please just comment below (and leave me your email address).  Everyone will be put on a rotating list, and when it's your turn to test the treats, I'll be in touch.  The more people who join, the less sugar one person will have to consume! It's a win-win!

Leave me a comment...

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Cheesecake Balls - A twist off of the Cake Ball!

♥♥ Intermediate
We've had endless conversations about Cake Balls, Cake Pops, Cupcakes, etc.  And honestly, I was beginning to feel like cake was getting tiresome, and we needed to try something new and fresh. (As if!)

So last night, I decided to try making cake balls with cheesecake instead, and it was AWESOME! And because I'm the "Queen of Ease" this was actually even easier than if I had made cake balls.  I bought a pre-made cheesecake (so I skipped the entire step of making it myself), and we were good to go in about 30 minutes!

If you love cheesecake, like I do, you'll LOVE these little bites!

What you'll need: 

  • 1 Cheesecake (Already made!) 
  • 4 Graham Crackers
  • 1 Bag of Candy Melts (I chose milk chocolate, but any would work) 
  • Extra: I also used red candy melts for the design, but you can use any color you want or none at all.  You could also use sprinkles, etc. 

How it's done: 

1. Get your pre-made cheesecake ready (I cheated and brought one home from the freezer section of the grocery store, sshhh don't tell.) Mine was a small cheesecake - serving 8 people - and it made about 4 dozen balls.  

2. Crush your graham crackers.  Place them in a ziplock bag, and then smash them with the back of a large spoon.  Pour them into a small bowl. 

3. Scoop out cheesecake with your cookie dough baller, and then roll slightly in your palms. Drop them into your graham cracker crumbs and roll. 

4. Place the balls onto a wax paper lined cookie sheet.  Stick them in the freezer for 20 minutes to harden. 

5. Just before your balls are ready to come out of the freezer, melt your candy melts (not your decorative candy melts)  Place them in a tall narrow container to dip your balls in, and melt usually 30 seconds at a time. 

6. Take balls out of the freezer, and dip them carefully in the chocolate.  Place them on another lined cookie sheet to harden. (Only take about 1 minute) 

7. Once all of your balls are covered in chocolate, you can now decorate any way that you would like.  I chose the melt some red candy melts, and drizzle them over the balls.  **Melt them in a small bowl, then pour them into a ziplock bag and cut a small corner of the bag off to drizzle. 

I couldn't resist!! 
ENJOY!  They are fabulous if you ask me! I packaged them up and gave them to friends and colleagues.  They make wonderful gifts (because no one can figure out how they are made, nor do they look easy) so your friends will thank you! :) 

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Best Chicken Salad Sandwich

♥ Beginner
For anyone who has ever gone on a lunch date with me, you would know that I'm a sucker for two types of sandwiches. One of which is a Chicken Salad Sandwich (the other is a club sandwich!) and sometimes I'm even picky about the way my sandwich is made.

I know that this is typically a baking blog, so don't think you'll get a ton of foods that aren't full of sugar and carbs (yay us!), but I did think it would be a fun and easy recipe to share since it is one of my absolute favorites.  ... and a great summertime lunch or dinner!

What you'll need:
1 Rotisserie Chicken (You can get them at any grocery store)
2 C. of quartered grapes (or more to taste)
3/4 C. Chopped Pecans (or more to taste)
3/4 C. Celery (I didn't add it this time, but I usually do!)
1 1/2 - 2 C. Mayonnaise
Lettuce for your sandwich
Baked Rolls

How it's done:
1. Quarter your grapes! (And cut up your celery if you choose to add it.  I like the added crunch) I like to add a lot of grapes, I love a sweet chicken salad, so feel free to add a few more.

2. Pull your chicken off the bone - I make Jared do this because I don't like to, haha.  Once it's off of the bone, I like to shred it and get it as stringy as possible, I'm not a fan of a chunky chicken salad sandwich.

3. I didn't buy chopped pecans because I already had a bag of halved pecans for something else. So if you're in the same situation as me, and need to chop your pecans, there are two ways to go about it:

Chop them on the cutting board with a knife... 

OR, putting them in a bag and hitting them with the back of the spoon (my preferred method).... 

4. Once you're done shredding the chicken, chopping the pecans, and quartering the grapes, you're ready to put it all in a bowl and mix it all up with the mayonnaise! 
5. And whalah!!!  Once it's all mixed up, throw it on a roll with a leaf of lettuce and you're good to go! EnJoY!! 

(This picture looks like a bad menu photo, hahaha!) 

Monday, May 9, 2011

Simple Cake Pops - Red Velvet!

♥ Intermediate
Who doesn't love cake?  Who doesn't like suckers?  Well, now we can have both!!!

My sister actually gave me a recipe book for my birthday that were ALL Cake Pops.  I thought they were cool, and wanted to give them a try, and then forgot about them!  Until a few weekends ago when I was out with a very good friend, who insisted that I try one while we were out.  It was great, so I just had to make them.  Thank goodness my sister had given me that recipe book!

There are a MILLION ways to decorate these little guys, many of which are too cute for words, but for now I just tried something simple. And they were FABULOUS!!! I actually tried them off the stick (Cake Balls) first, and then put them on the stick on my second batch.  I preferred them off of the stick for myself, but on the stick they make great gifts.  I handed them out to a few of my favorite mothers at church on Mothers Day, and they were a big hit.

What you'll need: 

  • Red Velvet Cake Mix 
  • 3 Eggs
  • 1/3 C. Vegetable Oil
  • 1 1/3 C. Water
  • One container of Cream Cheese frosting
  • One bag of Wilton Candy Melts (Any color will work, I like the milk chocolate brown - NOTE: YOU CAN NOT MIX WITH FOOD COLORING TO CHANGE THE COLOR!!) 
  • One bag of lollipop sticks - they come in packs of 50 at your local Walmart or craft stores. Only needed if you make the suckers. 
  • Tall slender plastic bowl (Made for easier dipping)
  • 2 Cookie Sheets
  • Wax Paper 
  • Styrofoam Block (Only needed if you make the suckers) 

How it's done: 

1. Preheat your oven to 350*F (or whatever your box mix calls for). In large mixing bowl, combine your cake mix with your eggs, water, and oil.  (NOTE: Follow all measurements on your cake mix, my measurements are specific to Duncan Hines.)

2.  Grease a 9x13 inch pan, and pour in batter. Bake for approximately 30 minutes until toothpick comes out clean. Let the cake cool for 10 minutes, then remove from pan and let cool completely on a wire rack. (To speed up the process, I cut my cake into several pieces so that it will cool more quickly - I'm a cheater.)

3. Once your cake is completely cool, be sure to set aside a good amount of time for crumbling, rolling, and dipping.  This took me (on my first try) about two hours.  The cake balls are a little quicker than the cake pops, but it just depends on how quick you work.  Take each piece of your entire cake and crumble into a large mixing bowl.  Get the cake crumbles as fine as possible, no large chunks should be present.  I ended up carving off a tiny bit of the edge that was burnt on mine because it was too hard to crumble.

4. Once the cake is entirely crumbled, add 3/4 of the container of frosting to the cake crumbs and mix by hand.  (Literally, use your hands if necessary! ...they're going to get dirty anyway so don't be shy.)  Once the frosting is completely mixed in, your cake should be a pretty moist but firm dough.  It will be firm enough to hold it's shape, but not moist enough to be gooey.  Be careful not to add too much frosting, too much will make it impossible to roll and coat.

5.  Roll 1 1/2 inch balls by hand (or use a cookie dough scoop), and place onto a cookie sheet covered in wax paper. It can make roughly 48 cake balls.

6. Once all of the cake balls are rolled, place in the freezer for 15 minutes.  Don't freeze too long, if you do they will crack their candy coating once they defrost, you just want them cold enough to be firm while coating.

7. When your balls have about 5 minutes left in the freezer, start melting your candy melts.  If you're using Wilton brand, you'll microwave 1 minute, stir, 30 seconds, stir, 30 seconds, stir... and it should be done.  :)  Anything else, and you'll have to read the directions.  Make sure you use a tall thin bowl, so you can use as much as the coating as possible and make it easier to dip.

8. Remove your cake balls from the freezer.  Take each sucker stick and dip them into the candy coating about 1/2 inch.  Stick the covered end of stick into the cake balls.  By the time you stick them all, the first ones will be dry.  Take the first sucker you made, and dip it into the candy coating. Roll them gently over the edge until excess candy falls off, do not tap on edge!

9. Stick the sucker into the Styrofoam to dry!  (About 3 minutes, and your suckers are ready to eat!)  You can decorate even more if you have the time and energy too! Repeat until every sucker has been dipped completely.

*If you notice your suckers getting to soft to dip in the chocolate, you can re-freeze them for a few more minutes.

ENJOY!!  I wrapped them in suckers wrappers, tied with a bow, and added a name tag to describe the cake inside.  They made great treats for friends!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Peanut Butter Cup Cake

♥ Beginner

This isn't the prettiest of all of my creations, but it still tasted good.  If you want yours to be pretty, it's certainly possible - I just didn't have the time or energy.  My husband LOVES Reese's Peanut Butter Cups.  It doesn't matter what time of day it is, he's happy with one or two of them in the cabinet.  So for his Birthday this past Sunday, he asked me to make him a peanut butter cake and I was happy to try it out.

I found a recipe online, and altered it some to make it as similar to a peanut butter cup as possible.  I like filled cakes too, so this one has a nice creamy peanut butter center.

What you'll need:
  • 1 Package of Yellow Cake Mix (or a Butter cake mix works really well too!)
  • 1 Package Vanilla Instant Pudding and Pie Filling
  • 4 Eggs
  • 1 C. Water
  • 1/4 C. Oil
  • 1 C. Peanut Butter 
  • 1 Package Reese's Peanut Butter chips
  • 1/4 Heavy Cream
  • 1 Can of Chocolate Fudge Frosting 
How it's done:

1. Preheat your oven to 350*F (or whatever temp your box mix calls for) and grease your cake pans.  If you're using a 9" or larger, make sure you invest in some Cake Baking Strips for evenly cooking your cake.

2. Mix together cake mix, pudding mix, eggs, oil, water, and peanut butter in large mixing bowl. It will be thicker than the normal cake mix because of the added peanut butter.

3. Pour the mix into the cake pans, and cook for 20-25 minutes (or whatever you box mix suggests).  Once baked, allow to cool completely.

4. Cut off tops of cakes to make them even.  (If you're like me and can never get a perfectly even layer, you should invest in a cake leveler!) Pipe chocolate frosting around the edge of the top of one of the cakes.

5.  Melt Peanut butter chips in small saucepan on low heat with cream, until creamy. Pour some or all, into the center of frosting on top of the cake layer. Allow to cool for 2 minutes.

6. Stack the other layer on top of the filling.  Frost cake completely.  If there was some melted peanut butter chips left over, then you can drizzle the remainder of them over the top of the cake. (Add more cream for a thinner drizzle.)

Mine may not be pretty, but it sure did taste good!  The next time I make this, it will be a much smaller cake, it was so rich that you can only eat a small slice at a time.  Feel free to add your own flair!  (Just make sure you share with me too!)