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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