Category: Cupcake Rehab news!

“A little party never killed nobody…” (whoa- I’m married!)

Marilla + Jason | Pixel Perfect Photography | New York City Hall wedding #bridesinblack #offbeatbrides

Union by Robert Fulghum

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Holy crap. Yes, we’re married. I’m a Mrs.

First kiss as a married couple! | A New York City Hall wedding (Photo by Janai McNeil of Pixel Perfect Photography)  #bridesinblack #offbeatbrides #nycbrides

We finally did it. After almost 12 years together, knowing each other for almost 15 and with  almost 2 of those years being engaged, we tied the knot/jumped the broom/took the plunge/bought the cow/hooked up the ball & chain/got hitched on Friday, April 3, 2015. And what a beautiful day it was.

Not so much weather wise. It was definitely still a mixture of “March” & early April (April showers & all that) in New York City weather time. And so it was rainy, but not heavy, just an annoying off-and-on drizzle that made NYC look even moodier than usual. It was gray, but it wasn’t even that cold (around 60° F), despite getting snow less than 2 weeks before. I didn’t so much mind the weather, to tell the truth. No one did. I actually quite liked it.

Dancing in the streets | A New York City Hall wedding (Photo by Janai McNeil of Pixel Perfect Photography)  #bridesinblack #offbeatbrides #nycbrides

We planned this wedding in roughly 2 1/2 months. A little less. That’s it. Granted; I had already bought my dress a year before and we basically knew exactly what we wanted. But after I was so sick in December & hospitalized for two days, I realized we were stupid to wait any more. I mean, why? Add to that the deaths of the two NYPD police officers on December 20th, combined with the fact that the doctor told us about a patient with what I was close to- a thyroid storm- going into cardiac arrest and being resuscitated, I thought, WE ARE STUPID FOR WAITING. Why the hell didn’t we just do it right after we got engaged? No clue.

But we did it.

And we did it our way. Click on through to read EVERYTHING! And I do mean everything, so be prepared- there are a LOT of pictures here… A LOT. So here goes: my big fat wedding post!

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Wow, its been a while.

I knew it was a long time since I last posted, but seeing the date on that last post… wow. It really has been a long time!

I wanted to write up a quick post (or not so quick) to explain my absence in a bit more length. I think it’s important to do so because, well, maybe one of you feels the way I felt and maybe I can help you. No, this will never turn into a “health” blog, ever. I just wanted to give a little background on what happened to me.

I had been feeling really lousy in September 2014. I went through a two-week period of nausea/vomiting and lethargy. Being that I am stubborn I did not seek medical attention and assumed it was some kind of flu/stomach bug/virus/etc. October was better, I was applying for some side jobs and second jobs (graphic design being my first). I was still very tired, though, and couldn’t even get up the energy to make everything anything I wanted to make or post more on the blog. Halloween was great, albeit quiet since Jay worked and I was still feeling meh.

By November, I was feeling tired ALL the time. That feeling progressed into feeling exhausted all the time. I was also getting hot flashes, or rather, I couldn’t tolerate the heat in the house or in stores. I was constantly lowering the heat and Jay would come home and freeze (it’s NY, in late November). I had just started a new job and tried to write everything off as holiday or new job stress. Around the middle of November, my legs started to feel weak. I couldn’t go up and down the stairs as fast as usual, they ached and my calf muscles felt tight. Almost as if I couldn’t stretch out fully. This, too, got worse. Add to that everyone telling me I was losing weight- which I didn’t see. My dad (ex-NYC EMS) told me I was a classic case of hyperthyroidism. This didn’t seem urgent to me, so again I just dealt with it.

When December rolled around, I was pretty much acting as if I was a 90-year old woman. Jay insisted I go to the doctor, but I had just switched and my new doctor couldn’t see me until February. So off to urgent care I went. And at urgent care, they gave me an EKG and wouldn’t touch me. They told me to go immediately to the hospital. My heart rate was 160.

IV line in my arm at the hospital.

And so to the hospital I went, unfortunately.

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Happy 6th birthday, Cupcake Rehab.

Happy 6th birthday, Cupcake Rehab!

Wow. I’m a terrible, terrible blogger. It almost completely slipped my mind that my blogiversary was coming up, & I almost let it go by without a word. Isn’t that awful? It’s pretty awful. It’s like a mom forgetting her kid’s birthday. Or a wife forgetting her wedding anniversary. And if you don’t understand those comparisons- you’re definitely NOT a blogger. All the work that goes into this. Six years of doing this blog… the least I can do is mention it’s birthday!

So I made a giant cupcake & lit some candles. Isn’t that what everyone does for their blog’s birthday?

Well… I do.

Every year, I make it a point to thank all the people who have helped me with Cupcake Rehab since the beginning. It may sound cheesy to you, but I appreciate a thank you for being there for someone, so I always a make a point to do the same for others: thank you Jay & thanks to my parents who made baking requests that challenge me & who have eaten more than their fair share of treats (I know, what torture!). Thanks to my friends who have promoted my blog as if it was their own. Thanks to those who sponsor me & provide items for reviews & giveaways throughout the previous; like Yoyo, Sourpuss Clothing, the Washington State Stone Fruit Commission, Milton’s Craft Bakers, Duchy Originals, etc. And of course… my readers! You’re the reason I’m still going after 6 years! Despite Google changing things in favor of big business & despite blog hits going down across the board because of it, you’ve been there from the jump & I love you for it. And those of you who haven’t & who are new? I love you too. Anyone who reads my posts, repins my stuff on Pinterest, comments on the Facebook page, or answers me on Twitter- you’re all amazing. I love you. I appreciate each & every one of you, whether you read the blog regularly or just popped in once for a recipe. I swear I do.

Things around here have changed so much since that first post! My photography has gotten much better, thanks in (major) part to Canon’s EOS Rebel t4i. My writing has definitely improved, as has my recipe-writing. Also? I’ve expanded my repertoire so much; it used to be cupcakes 24/7, now it’s canning, cooking, candy-making, etc. I’ve enjoyed it all so very much, I can’t even tell you. I’ve grown so much, & in some ways a lot of you have grown with me. I love that I can look back at those old posts. I can cringe, or laugh, or maybe even get misty-eyed. It’s like having a big ol’ journal slash recipe book out there for the whole world to read.

SIX YEARS of recipes, laughs, questions, failures, successes, giveaways, reviews, and deliciousness. And some sadness. But mostly happiness. Filling our bellies & making lemonade out of lemons. Birthdays, deaths, engagements, celebrations, holidays. Six years of life at it’s most lived. Because really, isn’t the kitchen the heart of any home?

Let’s keep it going, eh?

I’m not ready to leave yet!

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Happy December.

©Ralph Hulett

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The annual Cupcake Rehab blog snowstorm is here!

Alright, alright, so it’s been going on since the weekend after Thanksgiving. But you know what that means? That means it’s officially Christmas-time. And of course, there are loads of things on the blog that can give you some holiday inspiration. The Christmas category is a great place to start, and if you’ve got more time or want to look at recipe names, the Recipe Index is also great. But if you’re lazy, or you just like me to cut to the chase, then check out my holiday compilation post from last year; it’s not inclusive, it’s mainly cupcakes (with a few other things listed at the bottom). But it’ll give you a kick in the pants if you need a holiday boost. And who doesn’t, really?

But around here, we’re gonna ease into Christmas this year. A few things are coming up this week, but it’s a slow week recipe-wise. Next week… we’ll kick it into second gear.

I’m going to sit & go through all these foodie magazine Christmas issues while I catch up/refresh my memory watching Downton Abbey season 2. So for now, you enjoy the snow. I’ll work on the other stuff.

White chocolate peppermint cookies from the December Food Network magazine

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Five years of sugar, flour, butter & shenanigans.

WOW. I honestly can’t believe I’ve had this blog for 5 years.

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FIVE YEARS. Of blogging, 3-5 times a week. Roughly 636 posts.

3,000 comments.

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More recipes than I can count.

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That equals a lot of words. A lot of recipes, yes. But a LOT of words.

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But I often have a lot to say. And not always just about baking. To quote Bobby Brown, (who, admittedly, frequents a very different kind of rehab than my site) that’s my prerogative. Which, speaking of, brings me to something I’ve thought about a few times since becoming a blogger (again) back in 2007.

I consider myself to be a pretty good blogger. I’m not one of the most popular bloggers EVER, I don’t get rich off of this by any means. But that isn’t why I’m here. I’m here because it’s fun & I enjoy it. I try to post often, I make sure the recipes are workable to the best of my ability, I bust my ass to come up with creative stuff & good content, I don’t do a lot of needless “paid posts”,  I’m not uber controversial (well not usually), etc. However I do rule with an iron fist around here.

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If you’ll indulge me a quick tangent, most bloggers at some point or another, incur the wrath of a crazy internet troll and end up with a mean rant or two, or at the very worst- an entire horrendous thread of vile comments ( to those not in the blogosphere: a “thread” is also known as not just one, but a continuous slew of comments). It’s occurred to me a few times that I’ve never incurred such wrath; save for one time when a psycho bitch went racist on me because the United States of America elected a half-black president in 2008. Because apparently, that was all my fault (?). I love a good debate, and I love people to give their opinions and ideas here. Just as long as it’s respectful. If you want to act crazy and let the world wide web read it- go ahead. Start your own blog, they’re free. I bet there’s tons of trolls that would love to read it. Just don’t bring it here and we’re cool. And recently a blog I’m a big fan of, Hot Pink Apron, had a similar situation featuring a mindless idiot & an offensive comment. Why do people feel the need to do that? I don’t know. I just know I’m lucky I haven’t had to deal with a lot of it.

So yes, I’m incredibly lucky: I have not only excellent spam filters, but more importantly, excellent readers. So on today, the FIFTH birthday of Cupcake Rehab, as I eat these beautiful vanilla blogiversary cupcakes (this recipe)… topped off with a delicious dark chocolate/sour cream frosting made with Supreme Dark Lindt chocolate (this recipe)… and pink sprinkles, of course…

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But anyway, I’m getting distracted. Where I was going with this was that as I eat these I want to say…

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Thanks to you all.

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You’ve been awesome, you’ve been great, you’ve been the best readers anyone could ask for. Back in 2007, when I started a little blog on WordPress.com, I never thought it be anything more than a fun little diversion that my friends would read. I had no idea it would become what it has. I’m both grateful and awed. You’ve all grown with me, from my silly first posts and my awful pictures, to what the blog is now, which is (I hope) a far better version of that. And I hope it continues to grow and evolve as I do. I also hope you’ll all still be following me, reading my posts, and traveling the strange journey of life with me. I love that people have embraced the fact that I gave my mixers little monikers; Lola & He Who Must Not Be Named. I love that other people started naming theirs, too! I love seeing my photos pinned & re-pinned on Pinterest. I love seeing people pin my blog logo & say “My favorite blog!” I love that so much, you have no idea. I love that people e-mail me and ask me questions about cookies.I love that I get Facebook comments like, “Hi, I’m obsessed with your blog!” I love that you guys buy t-shirts & mugs that say Cupcake Rehab!

It makes me so incredibly happy. Happy to know you’re enjoying all the work I put in.

I know, this is starting to sound like a cheesy speech at the Oscars, but really, I mean it.

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People think blogging is easy. They think it’s a way to make a quick fortune, that they’ll get tons of hits & comments right away, that everyone will LOVE what they write because their friends tell them they’re funny, etc. It’s not like that at all. It’s a lot of work to make a blog not only beautiful but worth reading. It takes time, patience, knowledge of HTML/CSS, the ability to take good photos (and edit them). It takes a sense of humor and most of all the ability to draw people in. But it is anything but easy. Is it worth it? Sure. But I didn’t get into this for money or internet fame or anything. My stars aligned in such a way that I somehow became pretty popular & had a few awesome opportunities given to me because of that. But can I retire at 31 with all the dough I’ve made? No. And that isn’t the point. Anyone who’s in it for that is a fool. I’d do this no matter what the result, because I enjoy it. I genuinely enjoy every single aspect; from the creation, to the photos, to the readers, the PHP and CSS coding, even the battles with database connection errors & MySQL. I enjoy it all.

Especially the food.

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And that won’t stop. As long as I’m able to, I’ll still be here blogging. So I really hope you’ll still be here reading. From me & from Lola… thanks for hangin’ in there with us for five years, or five minutes, whatever! However long it is you’ve been a reader- thank you, thank you, thank you.

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Here’s to another 5 years!

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Snackle Mouth part 2: frozen yogurt parfaits.


Remember my Snackle Mouth post from a few days ago?

I was so excited to use it to bake something, and I did (coffee cake), and it was glorious. But if I’m being 100% honest- that wasn’t my first idea.


See my first idea was to make some homemade frozen yogurt and top it with some Snackle Mouth granola nut clusters and some homemade conserves I made. You might remember them, one is cherry, cranberry, dark chocolate & almond and one is fig, plum and walnut. Kind of like “build your own ice cream sundae” time except more like “build your own healthier version of an ice cream sundae by using frozen yogurt” time. It’s also reminiscent of those famous fast food fruit/nut yogurt parfaits, except much healthier & homemade, obviously.


I wanted to do that because the Snackle Mouth arrived on a really hot day, and it was way too hot for me to face an oven. So I figured I’d use it to make yogurt parfaits. But then the weather changed, it got very cool and rainy, perfect baking weather. And so I decided to make the coffee cake first. However, it soon got pretty damn warm again, and frozen yogurt parfaits were back on the menu.

First things first… the fro-yo. I used a tried and true David Lebovitz recipe I’ve made before in my KitchenAid ice cream maker attachment. It’s easy, delicious, and quick. Then, once that was made & ready, I put it in some Ball jars, alternating with some Snackle Mouth granola, and topped it off with some conserves. It was pretty awesome. We loved it. The most popular combination? The yogurt topped with the double C dark chocolate almond conserves and the peanut cranberry Snackle Mouth. Needless to say it was a success.


FROZEN YOGURT

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups (24 ounces) strained yogurt (see below) or Greek-style yogurt *
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)

Directions:

  1. Mix together the yogurt, sugar, and vanilla (if using). Stir until the sugar is completely dissolved. Refrigerate 1 hour.
  2. Freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions (for mine, it’s just 20-30 minutes in the bowl being mixed by the “dasher”). For a firmer set, freeze for 20-30 minutes before serving.
  3. If you aren’t using Greek yogurt, you have to strain regular plain yogurt. To make 1 cup of strained yogurt, line a mesh strainer with a few layers of cheese cloth. then scrape 16 ounces or 2 cups of plain whole-milk yogurt into the cheesecloth. Gather the ends and fold them over the yogurt, then refrigerate for at least 6 hours. For the above recipe you’ll need to start with and strain 6 cups of yogurt.

I used Greek-style yogurt, I didn’t feel like going through the pain of straining regular yogurt. I also opted to use the vanilla, but that’s 100% optional. You can also add fresh fruits to the yogurt itself, if you wish, or add some jam or preserves or even lemon curd to it as it’s being mixed. I’m sure you could experiment by making all kinds of different flavored fro-yo if you want. And you can also use the granola with fresh fruit instead of conserves or preserved fruit.

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The coolest thing about making yogurt parfaits in a jar is that if you don’t finish it, you can put the lid on and pop it in the freezer, and it’ll keep it’s fresh taste. Is there no end to how cool Mason jars are? Methinks not. I even used them to store the granola once I opened the packages so it would stay fresh.

Again, I tell you: go get yourself some Snackle Mouth. It isn’t available in stores (yet!) but you can get it at Abe’s Market.


OH! And Cupcake Rehab now is now print friendly! You asked for it, you got it. Directly below this, you’ll see a little printer icon and the words “Print Friendly.” Click on those and you’ll be brought to a printer friendly version of this post. Perfect for printing the recipes! There are plenty of options, i.e. print with photos or without, and it’s very easy to use, so get on it. Print out your favorite recipes from Cupcake Rehab with a few clicks! Now you can share this on Facebook, Twitter, e-mail, Pinterest and you can print it, too. Do I give you options or what?

Tutti frutti clafouti (or really, Earl Grey nectarine jam clafouti).

Last summer when my Nana died, I went crazy with the canning. I felt as if it was the most constructive way I could keep my sanity. And it kept me sane, it did. It also kept my cupboard completely stacked. So stacked that I have to use up a ton of stuff before the summer ends. You may remember my Earl Grey nectarine preserves. I made four jars of it, gave one away to my aunt, one to my mom and kept two. My aunt & mom ate theirs fairly soon and mine were pushed to the back of the cupboard. And forgotten about, admittedly. Until I got an idea to make clafouti. And I really, really wanted to make peach or nectarine clafouti, but I was feeling really icky & couldn’t go out and buy any fresh peaches or nectarines. So I had to use my ol’ bean & come up with an alternate clafouti plan.

If you’re unfamiliar with clafouti:

Clafoutis (French pronunciation: [klafuti]; Occitan: clafotís [klafuˈtis]), sometimes in Anglophone countries spelled clafouti, is a baked French dessert of black cherries arranged in a buttered dish and covered with a thick flan-like batter. The clafoutis is dusted with powdered sugar and served lukewarm.

A traditional Limousin clafoutis contains pits of the cherries.[1] According to baking purists, the pits release a wonderful flavor when the dish is cooked. If the cherry pits are removed prior to baking, the clafoutis will be milder in flavor.

The clafoutis comes from the Limousin region of France and while black cherries are traditional there are numerous variations using other fruits including red cherries, plums, prunes, apples, cranberries or blackberries.[2] When other kinds of fruit are used instead of cherries, the dish is properly called a flaugnarde.

The dish’s name derives from Occitan clafotís, from the verb clafir, meaning “to fill” (implied: “the batter with cherries”). Clafoutis apparently spread throughout France during the 19th century.

Wikipedia

Basically, it’s a batter baked with fruit in it. As it bakes, the fruit “rises” and the entire thing cooks up into a smooth, soft, puffy custard-y thing that’s kinda heavenly. Confession time- I always thought clafouti was Greek. It is not. Moving on… since the only fresh fruit I had at the time was citrus, I decided I’d throw caution to the wind & make a jam clafouti. Are you tired of the word ‘clafouti’ yet? I kinda am.

It was pretty friggin’ amazing. Technically not a clafouti, though. Flaugnarde would be the proper term, since it’s not made with cherries, and certainly not made with fresh fruit, but clafouti is much more fun to say than flaugnarde. And since I’m not even using fresh fruit, it probably isn’t even considered a flaugnarde. But who cares. I’ll call it what I want and I say it’s clafouti.

And the best part? It takes no more than 10 minutes tops to make, and then just 30 minutes in the oven. Done. That’s literally it. I swear! I’m not lying. It’s a dessert for the non-baker if I ever saw one. Or made one… whatever. No mixer required, no complicated steps, no difficult to find ingredients. And great for the summer because you can use fresh fruits, jam, or preserves. Or fresh fruit and preserves. Whatever you like. Also great for summer because it’s not labor-intensive, you won’t be sweating over a hot stove all day, and it just bakes quickly too. Great for the fourth of July.

I used this particular preserve because I had to use up some of my larder before the summer, and also because it’s such an interesting flavor. The Earl Grey tea works so well in preserves, probably because of the bergamot. I still have a jar of it left to play with before this season’s preserving starts up, so I’m thinking of maybe doing thumbprint cookies (this version with pecans looks especially delicious). But back to the clafouti: you can really use any preserves or jam you have. Sour cherry, blackberry, peach. Pretty much anything works. Same thing with fresh fruit: sliced strawberries/peaches/nectarines, cherries, any kind of berries really. Just plop ’em in there.

EARL GREY NECTARINE JAM CLAFOUTI

Ingredients:

  • 3 large eggs
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • ½ cup whole milk
  • 6 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • pinch of fine salt
  • 1 jar Earl Grey nectarine preserves (or any jam or preserves you want to use)
  • Confectioner’s sugar, for dusting

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 375˚ F. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and flour until combined.
  2. Add sour cream, sugar, vanilla and salt; whisk to throughly combine. Pour mixture into around five 4-oz. ramekins (you may make 6 or even 3, depending on the size of your ramekins). Don’t fill it up to the top, fill it maybe ⅔ of the way, but leave some room. Place a round heaping tablespoon of jam in each. Place ramekins on a baking sheet and bake. You might have some overflow, that’s totally fine. (also they’ll puff up like souffles, then settle as they cool and they might have a hole. Just add more jam while they’re hot).
  3. Bake until custard is browned and/or fully set, about 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly. Serve warm, with whipped cream if desired, dusting with confectioner’s sugar before serving.

This is probably the easiest dessert I ever made. Make it, you’ll see. Have I ever lied to you? No. So go make some clafouti. I should also say here that you can double this recipe (just use 5 eggs, not 6) and use a 2.5 or 3 quart baking dish to make one large clafouti if you so desire. The possibilities never end! I’m thinking about trying a chocolate clafouti. Hm.

Oh, and you like my little Le Creuset mini cocottes? For more about them, go here.

Before you leave, though, and go off and buy tons of mini cocottes and make clafouti… please, please, please do me a favor. Especially if you’re an animal lover like me. Go check out TOPSTITCH.org and buy a handmade fabric-covered composition book because 100% of all the proceeds will be going towards The Remi Project. It always feels good to do something for someone (or something) else, and in this case you get an awesome conversation piece of handmade goodness.