Tuesday, December 11, 2012

It's been a while....

So I'm a pretty pathetic blogger. I don't update nearly enough as I should. I had my Carolina Girls conference at Myrtle Beach and gave everyone my blog address and didn't even update it! SORRY GIRLS! College and work and my spare moments with family and friends has consumed my life and as a result my blog has suffered. But I can't really say that my baking has! Here's an update of what's been confected since we last talked..

Let's start with these guys baked in September. My big sister Lauren had a birthday in September and since she shares my love of Mint Chocolate, we decided to throw together the best of both worlds - Oreos and Mint. In the bottom is a mint oreo baked into devil's food cake topped with a mint buttercream with oreo bits, topped with another mint oreo. These were SOOO good and minty.

 Remember me mentioning Carolina Girls? It's a North & South Carolina Acteens Conference held every other year. This year Myrtle Beach hosted it and asked Lindsay and I to do a conference. We decided to mix our two loves - Running and Cupcakes and talk about how they relate to our spiritual lives. Being the cool conference leaders, we had to have some sweet treats so we baked up nearly 200 of these fall-themed mini cupcakes in cute-sy polka dot wrappers. We did vanilla and chocolate cupcakes with an orange buttercream and they were delicious. Many people couldn't limit themselves to just one!

That same weekend (Sunday) we ran our third half-marathon, The Myrtle Beach Mini Marathon. It was the hardest race I've run yet due to the fact that I was sick and unable to train the two weeks before the race and my free runs had finally bit the dust (realized this at about mile 6 when my feet were already throbbing). We all finished, me 2 minutes slower than my last race and Lindsay and Sharon over 15 minutes faster! We got awesome Surfboard medals (The largest on the East Coast). Next up, the Charlotte Motor Speedway Half in March.

These guys made their debut last Thanksgiving  and were a huge hit so we made them again this year. Pumpkin whoopie pies with cinnamon cream cheese filling. Enough said.

  My sister Lauren who does not cook, much less bake brought these gems to our family's Thanksgiving dinner and I was AMAZED at how good they were (and the fact that she made them with no glitches...just kidding LDC. LOVE YOU!). I ate like a gazillion so I decided to make some more for the bridal party at my best friend's wedding, along with some Oreo truffles. They are deemed Chubby Hubby Truffles and I snatched the recipe from my girls over at Six Sisters' Stuff (love their blog! Check it out!). So yummy. Peanut Butter, Pretzels, and Chocolate -- doesn't get much better!

I've decided to do a little holiday baking this year to make some extra Christmas money and my first customer was my sister, Ashely. She needed three dozen cookies for a cookie exchange and I had just the thing: The NY Times Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe. I tried these over the summer and they are amazing. Rich, dark chocolate chips and sea salt makes them so decadent and so yummy. A must try for any cookie lover. If you are in the Southeast NC area and need anything baked for the holidays I am available. Really good rates. Contact me with ideas!

Lastly, Sunday night's gems. Red Velvet Cake Balls. I have been eyeing these at Bakerella and decided to give them a go. I had leftover Ghiradelli 60% Cacoa Chips so I melted them and dipped the cake balls in them. Really good if you like rich chocolate! Tasted like expensive truffles. I'm still a fan of the plain old vanilla cake balls (Mikey agrees and was disgusted at these), but if you like red velvet, these are for you!

So that's it for now! I'm already finalizing Christmas baking plans, so be on the lookout for more goodies. Follow me on Instagram for pictures first (mc4unc). Anyone with any sugar cookie/royal icing tips, I NEED THEM! I've also purchased my first springform pan so there will be a cheesecake in the works!

Exams are done Friday and my GPA is looking spectacular at the moment. Ready for some downtime with my family and friends and my birthday in January. Here's some foodie inspiration for you -- my dream birthday cake......

cheetah cake.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Peanut Butter Blues

I'm obsessed with Peanut Butter. I think I've mentioned this before (Reese's Cupcakes?), but it's worth mentioning again. I find any excuse to use PB in any and everything. So when big sis Lindsay came home for the weekend and wanted to bake, there was no doubt what I would use. We both have a love for Reese's so this cake just made sense.

I used a basic chocolate cake recipe. My favorite is The Best Chocolate Cake Ever recipe that I used in my S'Mores cupcakes, but I didn't have all of the ingredients so I made this cake from It was okay, but turned out a little dry (I did forget I left the mixer on and had a panic attack after it had mixed for a minute too long so that may have been the cause). I used a normal PB Buttercream similar to the one from the Reese's Cupcakes a few posts down. (Salted Butter, Shortening, LOTS of PB, Powdered Sugar, and Whipping Cream) I've been adding Whipping cream to my buttercream just because it makes a great consistency. Throw in some chopped Reese's in the layers and on top and sides for garnish and you have a great cake. It's very rich though so a glass of milk will most likely be needed!

I took a little 3 day trip to Atlanta with Mikey and my best friend Jessica and her boyfriend, Jeremy, this past week. We had some Six Flags fun and got to see a Braves game, which they won, of course. We did realize that we are getting a little too old for Theme Parks unless they institute an Adult-Only Day because if you are not really into kiddos like me, it's pretty much torture. At the Braves game, we had the awesome opportunity to meet Walter, an usher for the franchise for 47 years who is an Atlanta native. Walter was extremely generous and so friendly. When given any number from 1 to 100, Walter could tell you tons of random facts dealing with that number. Some facts included Presidents, geography, previous Olympic winners and results, as well as tons of baseball trivia. (The #10 is the best, his knowledge of Chipper Jones is IMMENSE). Walter said that he loves talking to people and learning about them and will often listen to fans conversations merely because he's "nosey." Walter had decided that if he made at least one friend every year that he ushered, he would have 47 new friends. I'm sure he has made MANY more than that. He also knows when to stop talking to people. He said if the eyes start wandering then they've had enough because the eyes don't lie. Walter gave us so much information about everything else that I wanted to know one very important thing about him: What's his favorite kind of cake?

His answer: "Plain. I'm a basic guy. I like the simple things in life. There's no point in going for all the fancy things."

Well said, Walter. Well said.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Will You Eat My Cupcake?

There's just something about weddings. All little girls dream of their wedding day and most of us have ours pinned to every last detail (literally, ahem Pinterest). I had a little dose of weddings last summer with two of my very best friends saying "I Do" and my oldest friend (We saw Mouse Hunt in the movies together when we were's THAT serious) is tying the knot this December. Another of my dear high school friends is saying her vows today and I'm so sad that I'm missing the ceremony (thanks a lot Land 'O Lakes, but Congrats Andy & Amanda!). With weddings comes the infamous "Wedding Cake." The recent trend has been cupcakes and now even Cake Pops. No cutting, no plates, essentially no mess. My uber-unique best friend Jennifer, who scoffs at anything sweet unless it's cookies (and has the abs to prove it!) had a cookie tier at her wedding last summer, which I thought was so perfect. The ideas are endless, but nothing says "wedding" like a classic white cake with white frosting. 

And maybe throw in some pearls. 

I decided to do these cupcakes after multiple requests for "Plain Vanilla Cupcakes." Ahem, Hannah. First of all, what is fun about a plain vanilla cupcake? I mean REALLY. But, I figured I would see what talents my baking bones were capable of and maybe even use this as potential portfolio material. Problem: Camera still sucks.

I did another spin on these once I ran out of my white buttercream and made something to indulge another female dream. Here's a hint: It's a shade of blue that may or may not be best known for involving a box.

You've seen it. Sweet Home Alabama...Patrick Dempsey takes Reese Witherspoon into a dark room...turns on the lights - she's at Tiffany's. Oh and she gets to pick out any ring she wants. NOT. fair.

I took these cute little tokens of marital bliss to my softball team (who else?!) and told them it was to celebrate our new union with victory. That's right, we finally won a game. I gave Caroline one of the Tiffany blue cupcakes and after eating it she said she felt like I should have got down on one knee and proposed when I gave it to her. Maybe my wedding cupcakes can lead to a wedding?

Here's hoping ;)

Monday, July 16, 2012

S'mores & Sunshine

This past weekend, the missing piece to my being came to visit. Katie, my roommate from my first two years of college hasn't seen the beach in 2 years. TWO YEARS. 712 DAYS! I know I know, it's not healthy and I don't know how she is still alive, but she made it. Since I was so fortunate to have the weekend off, Katie came down for a little fun in the sun and her much needed salt water therapy session. We turned it into an affair and had some of my bff's from home, plus Michael and James come along for the fun.

Katie and I went random for our freshman roommates and by God's sweet grace ended up together. We're two peas in a pod, sisters that were separated for the first 18 years of life. Our undying love of Carolina Basketball and our unhealthy hatred of Duke University makes things that much sweeter. We have our handful of strange traditions and started a new one last semester during our Thursday night Swamp People episodes. Microwave s'mores. Sure, it's not as great as the real thing by a campfire, but it sufficed. Thanks to Uma for the Marshmallows, by the way.

I felt it was only fitting that this week's cupcakes be S'mores Cupcakes. I have been looking at S'mores cupcake recipes for forever and ended up collaborating as usual and making up as I go. The chocolate cake recipe I used is known as "The Best Chocolate Cake Ever," which could really be just that, and the Hershey's center and graham cracker bottom made them that much better. As for the Marshmallow Buttercream......we're not friends. Normal buttercream is a guessing game, you make it up as you go and add until it's just right. When you throw sticky, gooey marshmallow fluff in the mix, things get messy. Some cupcakes were topped with just buttercream, others with marshmallows on the buttercream, and others with toasted marshmallows. I mixed it up and they were actually kind of cute. Kind of....not really.

All in all, our beach weekend was a success. Friday was a nice day of relaxing, pizza, and putt putt with some entertaining interruptions added in (aka Jean). We spent Saturday on the beach then finished the night off with dinner at Cheeseburger in Paradise and shopping in Myrtle Beach. Soon Katie and I will be reunited for another year in the Happy Chappy except no longer roommates :( Unfortunately, that means summer will be over. Only 1 month left to soak up some sun and enjoy the salt water while it's still warm.

S'mores Cupcakes
adapted from Cookies & Cups and Kevin & Amanda
Graham Cracker Crust
1 1/2 cups of Graham Cracker Crumbs (use Food Processor to make fine crumbs)
1/4 cup sugar
5 tbsp butter - melted

Melt butter in microwave. Combine Sugar and Graham Cracker crumbs. Add butter and stir until mixed.
Best Chocolate Cake Ever
1 box devil’s food cake mix
1 small pkg Jello instant chocolate pudding mix
1 cup sour cream
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups mini chocolate chips

In a very large bowl, mix together everything except chocolate chips until well combined. Batter will be thick. Stir in the chocolate chips.
*I was able to make 30 cupcakes with this amount of batter. It will depend on how deep your tins are. 
Marshmallow Buttercream
1/2 cup butter - softened
1 cup Marshmallow Fluff
2 cups Powdered Sugar
2 tbsp Milk 

Mix Butter and Fluff together on medium speed until smooth. Slowly add Powdered sugar with mixer on low. Add milk then beat contents together on medium until smooth. 
*You may need to double this recipe depending on how many cupcakes you have to frost. 

Cupcake Assembly 
4 Hershey Milk Chocolate Bars
Jumbo Marshmallows or Mini Marshmallows
1. Place a heaping tablespoon of graham cracker crumbs into the bottom of each cupcake tin. Using a small glass or back of a spoon, press the crust down to make it solid. Bake at 350 for approx. 5 minutes.
2.  Add a heaping tablespoon of batter to each tin. 
3. Place 2 squares of a Hershey Chocolate Bar on top of the batter in each tin. 
4. Cover with another heaping tablespoon of cake batter.
5. Sprinkle leftover graham cracker crumbs on top if you wish. 
6. Bake Cupcakes at 350 for 18-22 minutes.
7. Let cupcakes cool then top with Marshmallow buttercream or toasted marshmallows.

**To Toast Marshmallows, place under broiler in oven for a few seconds until the top is brown. Be careful not to burn them! If you use this type of garnish, microwave for a few seconds before serving.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Catching Up

I haven't updated this thing in a while, which defeats the purpose of why I started it in the first place! I've been baking like a fiend, but not putting the work online! So here's a recap of what has been concocted since my last post!

First, I tried my hand at Cake Pops. I ordered Bakerella's new uber-cute book and decided to give it a whirl. They are adorable and quite tasty, but SO time consuming! I enlisted the help of my bff Hayley (and future business partner ;) ) to experiment with these guys. Mikey is a huge fan & declared that they have trumped everything, including his beloved Macadamia Cookies & Strawberry Cupcakes.

Then there were Cookies & Cream Cupcakes. I followed Your Cup of Cake's Cookies & Cream Cupcakes recipe with a little deviation here & there and they were pretty good. I was scared to do a Chocolate cake because I was worried it would be overload, but I wasn't really crazy about the Vanilla Cake, but everyone still seemed to like them! Forgot to take a picture of these guys before they were devoured. 

Next, for Father's Day, I made my Daddy's favorite: German Chocolate Cake, except in cupcake form! I followed Your Cup of Cake's (I just love her, okay?!) German Chocolate Cupcakes recipe and found these so fun to make. We've always whipped up the boxed & canned German Chocolate Cake for him because he isn't very picky, but these have made me a believer. JP3 had a birthday yesterday (GO HEELS GO AMERICA!) so due to Fourth of July commitments elsewhere, we had a family get-together Tuesday night and because I was unprepared, I whipped up a boxed cake we already had. And I dare say I turned my nose up at it, would not eat it. Canned coconut pecan frosting is really disgusting when you've made it from scratch. So, I hereby pledge to never buy it in a can again. Amen, Hallelujah, Motion Carries, etc, etc.

My softball team got the Reese Cupcakes of my last post, so I've been hounded at every game about the need for more sweets. My little BFF Jessica requested Red Velvet, so we gave it a shot! I used a box mix and souped it up and then made a typical Cream Cheese icing. I had a lot of fun with these because I finally got to try out the rose technique, which I love and is SO easy. These were a huge hit. Michael's reaction pretty much sums it up: "Something about these cupcakes just says Love." 

And then there was Cookie Dough Cupcakes. I had been dying to try these and combined about 209285093759 recipes to make them how I wanted. While everyone loved them, they were a pain. I later saw at Hobby Lobby that they make cupcake corers - I shall immediately invest in one because an Apple Corer just doesn't work. I made an eggless cookie dough to fill them with, but honestly, they store bought kind is soo much better. Anyways, these were also a hit despite their richness. Butter Cake with Chocolate Chips, Cookie Dough Filling and Cookie Dough Frosting with Chocolate Chip Garnish. Cookie in a Cake. Ta Da.

And lastly, Cake Balls! These are essentially Cake Pops sans sticks for you common folk out there. I saw this cool American Flag display on Pinterest and decided to try it for Fourth of July. Again, cake pops are a pain. The coating never gets thin enough despite the amount of shortening you put it in. Bakerella says to try Paramount Cystals but where do you find those things? Anyways, I managed and was able to make the display despite the strange shape of some of the balls. I sent it with my parents to our church's Fourth of July Cookout and the leftovers ended up in the hands of Mikey. Are we surprised? Not really.

If I have any readers, I hope summer has been treating you well. The heat is finally here, but enjoy it because soon it will be freezing and school will be in - NO FUN. My mother just bought a snazzy new SLR Camera so hopefully my photography will be getting better if I can enlist her help. More news, not sure if I've mentioned it, but we have a new addition.
Meet Miss Daisy

Here she is looking all cute in the kitchen watching me bake. Don't let her fool you. She's Marley from the book/movie reincarnated. If she can tear it up, she will find it and she will do it. She's gotten away with a lot so far just due to lack of time and consistency, but Puppy Bootcamp starts Monday so she better get ready. Here's proof of her misbehavior.

I also wanted to let everyone know that I am available to bake for birthdays or special events. I'm trying to learn more & more and experience is the best teacher. I love a new challenge so if you have an idea, let me know and we can work something out! And with that, Daisy & I say so long. 
Go Get Muddy or Something!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Surprise Cupcakes

So I LOOOVE Peanut Butter. and I LOOOVE Chocolate. So it's only appropriate that Reese's was my first love.

Whoever Mr. (or Mrs.) Reese was, deciding to put Chocolate & PB together is almost as genius as PB & J. It just works.

I've had my eye on these cupcakes from Stop Lookin'. Get Cookin'. for quite some time now & decided to finally give them a go. I tweaked them a little bit and even though they weren't quite as aesthetically pleasing as the originals (check out her pics by the way -- food photography > my cell phone), they were still delicious! I am now in love with PB Buttercream.

I cooked a nice hot supper of Slow Cooker Chicken BBQ which is a Mikey fav along with slaw and some squash casserole, which I had never done before but we had boo coos of squash so I decided to give it a whirl. To my surprise, even Sticky Vicki loved it (who normally does not like anything that is not in it's raw, healthiest form. I even said at the dinner table with my Daddy, sister, and Mikey as my witnesses that she wouldn't like it. AH-MAZING! Maybe I'll post that recipe sometime.

I took the cupcakes to a church softball game to get as many of them out of my house as possible and my feedback was positive! Although I did get lots of funny looks and exclaims when they found the Reese in the middle. Like I said, I love baking for other people, but my diet does not need 24 cupcakes hanging around in my house. I did eat one for breakfast though....Guilty.

I decided to use THE BEST Chocolate Cake recipe from Kevin & Amanda, minus the chocolate chips because I forgot them and I'll have to admit -- it might be the best.

Then you just drop a Reese's Miniature Peanut Butter Cup in the middle of the batter, bake at 350 for 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean, cool & frost with Peanut Buttercream. Be sure to check out Stop Lookin'. Get Cookin'.'s photos. I didn't do all of the prep shots that she did, so hers will give you the idea of what it will all look like before and after.

Shoutout to big sis Lindsay who bought me the adorable Leopard Print Tins. She knows how I feel about animal print (It's my second favorite color). I hate she wasn't home to enjoy one after taking the CPA exam last night -- she probably could've used some chocolate therapy ;)

Peanut Buttercream Frosting

adapted from  Stop Lookin'. Get Cookin'.

Yield: About 4 cups of frosting – enough to ice a 9” layer cake or more than 24 cupcakes
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
You can make this frosting from scratch or you can just add some peanut butter to a can of store bought frosting or some regular butter cream icing. Add about ¼ to ½ cup of peanut butter at a time to see if you like the taste. Be careful not to add too much though. If you do, it will get too thick and become more of a filling rather than a frosting. If it does get too thick, just beat some milk into the mixture until you get the desired consistency.


• 3/4 cup vegetable shortening
• 3/4 cup salted butter - softened
• 1 cup creamy peanut butter (more if you want a stronger peanut butter flavor)
• 2 teaspoons of vanilla
• 6 - 8 cups (approx. 1 ½ - 2 lb.) powdered sugar
• 6 - 8 tablespoons milk


1. Cream shortening and butter together with an electric mixer.
2. Add peanut butter and mix well.
3. Add vanilla.
4. Gradually add powdered sugar, one cup at a time, beating well after each cup.
5. When all sugar is added, stir in milk, 1 tablespoon at a time until you get the desired consistency you are looking for.
Store left over icing in an airtight container. Rewhip before you use it next.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Will Run OFF Cupcakes

Hey ya'll! Long time without a post (okay only a week really) but I've been super busy! No specialty cupcakes last week, but I did make something extremely fun & cupcake related -- a cupcake cake! Mikey, my adorable boy toy, is celebrating his 22nd birthday today (HAPPY BIRTHDAY BOO!) so his mom had a party at their house Friday night with all of the family and friends. I offered to bake his cake since I'm "obsessed," according to Michael. I have been eyeing a golf course cake on Pinterest for quite some time and figured now was as good a time as any to finally make it! I had some help from my bff Kristen who was so kind to make a Micheal's run with me and Bo's run for me, as well as baking the cupcakes and icing them.

It really was a lot easier than I expected except for a few malfunctions that were my fault. I was short a decorating bag and the only one I had was cut much wider for my big cupcake tips so my tiny little grass tip wouldn't fit. :( So about 3 ziploc bags later, the cake was finally piped. I started with basic yellow cupcakes from a box mix and added a little pudding mix to moisten them up and topped them with a homemade buttercream. After my last buttercream fail, I've spent my days scouring blogs for the perfect recipe that would be successful. One such blog, I can't remember which one, gave you the ingredients, but no measurements because she said that the perfect buttercream couldn't be measured -- and she was right! After a lot of adding and tasting, I finally achieved a perfect icing using salted butter, shortening, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract. The shortening makes all the difference if you ask me. Throw in some green food coloring and you've got yourself the perfect grass color, ready to be piped!

I arranged the cupcakes how I wanted them in a golf course shape (I called it Hole 22) and then covered them all in a green base icing. Then I piped on grass using a Wilton #233 tip. This was new for me but is super easy once you get the hang of it and it really doesn't take long at all. I left a space for the "green" and a sand trap, which I made out of graham cracker crumbs, added a marshmallow golf ball and a flag made from a coffee stirrer and paper. I customized the flag using your basic Paint software. I copy and pasted a black checkered image and wrote "Happy Birthday Michael" on it with a 22 in the middle. I was super proud of this cake and the family loved it. I think it really surprised Michael and he talked about it all weekend.

Now, how did I spend my weekend you ask? Oh, just ran a half-marathon, that's all! I ran the North Myrtle Beach Diva Half-Marathon Sunday and it was a blast! I had some lovely Diva's that ran with me including my sister Lindsay, Michael's mom Wendy, my best friend Hayley and her mom Sharon. My mom also went and did the 5k. She ran the Rock 'N' Roll Half-Marathon in Savannah, GA last November so she decided to play chauffeur and cheerleader for this one. Lindsay and I were the only two that had run a half before so nerves were high Saturday and Sunday, but as expected they all did great! I finished in 2 hours 12 minutes and 28 seconds which was almost 30 minutes faster than my last half so I was happy about that. Lindsay and Sharon finished around 2:50 with Wendy right on their heels. Hayley finished next and had an awesome time considering she didn't train due to softball! We were given boas & tiaras as we neared Mile 13 and our medals were put on by none other than shirtless firemen and knights in shining armor from Medieval Times! We finished up our day with pizza, Dairy Queen, and some sunshine on the Myrtle Beach strand. It was such a great weekend and we're already planning our next one! I couldn't help but thinking while I was running how blessed we all are to have the health and endurance to run such a long race and the support of each other as we did it.

So here's your first taste of how I balance this lifestyle. Now I'm going to go collapse on the couch and rest my sore muscles until the birthday boy gets off of work! I plan to bake again later this week so be on the lookout for a new post!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Back in the Day Monday

Summertime is here ya'll! Still not back in my routine yet but I'm loving all of this freedom. So what better way to pass the time than to bake? Strawberries are in season here in NC and I've tried to eat as many as possible. Gotta get them while the gettin's good! I've been eyeing a Strawberry Cupcake recipe from the Back in the Day Bakery in Savannah, GA, so when my big sister Lauren brought me a quart of strawberries Sunday, I knew it was time to try these babies out. I made a Wal-Mart trip beforehand to get some things I was out of and stopped by the Kitchen Gadgets isle - BIG mistake. I've always seen on other baking blogs where they use an ice cream scooper for the batter to make it easier to pour and more even cupcakes. So I picked on up, along with another 12 cup cupcake pan and a citrus zester.

Once I began to bake these, I was sure to follow the directions to a tee (Don't want another baking disaster) and was very disappointed when an extra half an egg yolk slipped in while I was separating my egg whites. But, these guys still turned out great! They came out of the oven just right but a few were still uneven (haven't mastered that ice cream scoop trick yet). I took it way back in the day and just greased my pan instead of using tins. While they were cooling, I made the frosting. The bits of fresh strawberries made it taste so good and my Mama really loved how light and fluffy the frosting was. By the time Mikey got a hold of one, he was in heaven. He raved all night about how great they were and how these "are going to make me famous." And he was sent home with 8 of them to share (or eat all by himself). This recipe is great for Spring/Summer and the fresh strawberries make them so tasty. Mikey really liked the cake consistency as it is more of a muffin texture than cake.

Another side note, I am really appreciative of everyone that has been so supportive in this venture and has encouraged me to actually do it - my sisters especially. While sitting at work Saturday, my sister Lindsay texts me a picture of Ah-Dorable Cheetah tins at Michael's and picked me up a few packs until I can get to a store (Kind of secluded from those types of places in the ol'BC....You're not in Orange County anymore). And she has began to pick the brain of her expert baker friend, Leanne (SHOUT OUT!) who has been so kind as to send me some of her favorite blogs & baking tips. Sunday night when I finally get home from a long weekend at the golf course, I have a package from my sister Ashely with the cutest Journal (pictured right) and a sweet note encouraging my blogging. And without Lauren's strawberries, these cupcakes would not have went down. I'm really excited to continue baking and sharing my cupcakes with others. If anyone else would like to have some the next few times I bake, please let me know. Mikey doesn't need 10 cupcakes every week ;)

Here's the recipe & Happy Baking Ya'll!

P.S. - Promise I'm working on getting a new camera soon. Cell Phone pics are NO GOOD.

Strawberry Cupcakes with Fresh Strawberry Frosting
from The Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook
Adapted from Eat, Live, Run.
makes about 24 cupcakes
for cupcakes—
3 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/3 cups pureed fresh strawberries (from about 2 cups whole strawberries—puree in a blender until smooth)
1/2 cup milk
2 tsp vanilla
2 tsp lemon zest
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
4 egg whites
for fresh strawberry frosting—
4 sticks unsalted butter, softened (1 pound)
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp sea salt (original recipe calls for fleur de sel, which you can find at specialty shops)
8 cups powdered sugar (from two 1-lb boxes)
1/2 cup pureed strawberries (about 1 cup whole strawberries)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line or grease 24 cupcake tins.
Sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
Whisk together the pureed strawberries, lemon zest, milk and vanilla in another bowl. Also set aside.
Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs and egg whites gradually, beating after each, until combined. Alternate between adding the dry ingredients and the wet strawberry ingredients to the butter mixture, starting and ending with the dry ingredients. Mix until just combined.
Scoop batter into prepared cupcake tins, filling up 2/3 to 3/4 the way full.  Bake cupcakes for 25 minutes or until golden. Be sure to test using a toothpick to make sure they are completely done in the center. Let cool.
While the cupcakes are cooling, make the frosting! Beat the butter until creamy then add the powdered sugar, lemon juice, sea salt and pureed strawberries. Continue beating (ideally with an electric mixer but you can do this by hand if need be) until very light and fluffy.
Pipe or spread frosting on each cupcake. Enjoy!
2 hours (includes time to cool)

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Practice makes Perfect...I hope.

Well....I made my first batch of cupcakes since starting this blog and my second batch from scratch ever.

My first batch was "Skinny Girl Red Velvet Cupcakes" which should have been named "Bite Size Pieces of Cardboard." This was around the time that I realized you couldn't skimp on dessert. Unless it's fruit & yogurt or something of the sort, if you're gonna cheat - do it right. My nephew enjoyed licking the frosting off of these & then the rest went in the trash.

This weekend I made Sugar Cookie Cupcakes. It was one of the low points in my life. Where you spend all of this time preparing for it and then you work really hard and the results are terrible (kind of like my Stats exam this time last year -- but we won't go there). All last week all I could think about was getting home to bake. I'm a stress baker and considering this is the last week of classes - stress is high. I stopped at Kitchenworks in University Mall in Chapel Hill (WHICH IS AWESOME BY THE WAY!) and picked up some decorating tips (Ateco 809 (first picture), 825 (second), & 866) and a 12" decorating bag so that I could start experimenting with icing techniques. Proceeded to make Mikey go grocery shopping with me when I got home and laid out all of my ingredients at midnight Friday night. I had decided on Sugar Cookie cupcakes because the recipe seemed fairly simple and I figured it was a good idea to start off simple. And Mikey LOVES sugar cookies, so why not incorporate the best of both worlds? Woke up bright & early Saturday morning, went for a run (Have to run to get the cupcakes. That is my motto after all!), then got to work in the kitchen. I followed the directions to a tee and was uber excited when my batter was thick like the recipe said it would be. Filled my muffin tins and popped them in the oven. Once the timer went off I was a little skeptical when some appeared more brown than others but figured it was due to using two oven racks and hot spots. I left them on the counter to cool while I took care of some other things. I didn't have time to frost them on Saturday so I put them in a container and enjoyed the rest of my Saturday.

I took a nibble of one when they came out of the oven and it seemed pretty good, but now I'm questioning whether or not everything tastes better hot? Finally, after church and lunch with my family today, I was able to bust out my homemade buttercream and my new decorating equipment and go to work on some cupcakes. At this point, I was coming to terms with the fact that Sugar Cookie Cupcakes are not that great and what's meant to be a cookie should be left a cookie, so I figured why not just get some decorating practice? Which I did, not very much however because I had no idea just how much frosting you need for 30 cupcakes. About 20 didn't get frosted if that tells you anything! And my buttercream was well....buttery. It just wasn't sweet enough.  All in all, this baking experience was a FAIL! But again, Caleb licked the icing off & gave Papa John the cake part (which he ate...maybe he likes tasteless cupcakes?)

I took some pictures anyway so I would have a record of this tragedy. The pictures are a little blurry (yeah just add that to the list) because I took them with my cell phone but they give you an idea. I would like to add that I also made a bath of homemade White Chocolate Chip Macadamia Nut Cookies from The Girl Who Ate Everything which were AMAZING! These are Mike's other favorite cookie so he was especially happy that these didn't end up in the trash with their cupcake counterparts. Click the hyperlink to go to the recipe!

I guess this was God's way of telling me to slow down a bit. I've been pinning & researching cupcakes like a mad man the last few weeks and this was a bit of a reality check. Don't design your storefront before you've mastered the flour. I may be a boxed cake mix extraordinaire but I still have a lot to learn about baking from scratch. So it's back to the drawing board for this chick. Fingers crossed that the third time is the charm!

Happy LWOC, LDOC, & Finals College Students! 2 weeks til freedom! And Happy Week to everyone else!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Finding a Balance & Learning to Blog

So here goes nothing...Isn't that how everyone starts these things?

Anyways, most of the ones reading this first post probably know me. You either watched me grow up or grew up with me and you know what I consist of. As many college students know, (especially those at UNC) procrastination is the root of all evil; or is it? Thanks to my dear friend Courtney, I discovered Pinterest last semester and suddenly found an escape from all of the piles of work that professors enjoy assigning me. And with Pinterest came desserts.....lots and lots of desserts.

I love to bake. It started with pre-made cookie dough and licking the batter from bowls when my mom was baking and has escalated to an outright obsession. I love to bake for other people. I would probably bake a complete stranger a birthday cake. In high school I baked every week for my basketball team and told my coach not to tell them it was me (that's right Lady Knights - I was the mystery baker). After baking my nephew a birthday cake this January -- which was fabulous by the way, see picture -- my mama looks at me and says "You're going to make someone a fun Mommy one day." ....... Umm for those of you who don't know the infamous Cabe, Sticky will be lucky, blessed, SMILED UPON, if you will, if she ever has any other grandchildren. Her other kids are scarred from reproduction. And pregnant bellies freak me out...just saying. Anyways, my best friend and I have always joked about opening a bakery and with finals looming in the near future I've seriously contemplated dropping out and pursuing that dream (KIDDING Daddy). Maybe someday...

I also love to work out. I'm a gym rat, a fitness guru, a health nut. I love the weight room and I even enjoy running in nice weather. I ran my first half-marathon last November with my Mom and sisters and am running my second this May with a wonderful group of ladies. As I'm writing this, I'm also trying to subdue nerves about my Group Fitness Instructor audition that is taking place in t-1 hour. I have to counteract my time on the "Food & Drink" Board on Pinterest with adequate time on the "Fitness" board so I don't have cravings. This doesn't always work however. These two lifestyles often bump heads but after a recent strict fitness program and the stress that followed it, I've learned that I've got to find a balance.

Recent studies show that sugar is toxic. This may be true considering the huge amounts of it and other chemicals in processed food and sweets. But many have learned that in moderation, it isn't such a bad thing. Fitness models have always said that they saw the fat melt off once they cut sugar below 35 grams per day. Well that's great and everything, but without sugar cake just wouldn't be cake. Sugar makes people happy. I often find that after days of depriving myself of comfort food that a nice dose of sugar can do the body (or my mind) good.

So I have formulated a plan for this Summer. Who wants to sit around with nothing to do all summer? Not this girl. Sure there's the beach, and my job at the golf course, and my online class, but I want to do something productive and therapeutic. So I'm going to bake. For those of you who follow me on Pinterest, you've seen my insane amount of Cupcake recipe pins lately. (And now the lightbulb comes on -- "Your Pinterest board name is the same as your blog!" DING DING DING!) So here's the plan: I'm going to bake a different kind of cupcake every week this summer.

Genius right? But really, bear with me here. There's a method to this madness. I've always admired the amazing cupcakes on "Cupcake Wars" and in the new plethora of "Cupcakeries" and always wished I could make cupcakes just as beautiful. Well here's my time to learn. Not only am I going to learn a lot of new recipes, I'm going to learn about decorating basics and skills and figure out what works and what doesn't. What about my waistline you ask? Well, my boyfriend Mikey and I have already pledged to eat clean this summer (much more so than last year -- Honeymoon phase of the relationship = added lbs) and my girlfriends and I are planning some group exercise sessions. These cupcakes are more of a learning experience and a challenge for myself. I'm working on finding a venue to distribute these morsels of dessert goodness through so that my family (who also lives a healthy lifestyle) isn't forced to eat them all and hopefully so that I'm not footing a cupcake bill every week. If anyone has any ideas that would be much appreciated, by the way. If not, I may just force all the poor pitiful golfers to eat them all -- Watch out Land 'O Lakes -- cupcakes coming your way!

So this blog will not be a boring, endless account of everyday of my life. It's going to be full of recipes that I've acquired, my reviews of them, and what I did or should have done differently. And there will probably also be some fitness things mixed in. It's just how I roll. So thanks for reading this first post & stay tuned in for lots of Dessert Goodness!
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