Category: Cupcake Rehab news!

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!

Continue reading

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.

“Shake it like a Polaroid picture”: Cupcake Rehab got a new look.

In case you haven’t noticed the obvious; things look different around here. I revamped the entire website, from soup to nuts (haha, pun intended). If you’re lost, here’s the rundown: on the main page each polaroid is a blog post. You can access them just by clicking the polaroid or blog title underneath it, and the post will open. To access the main page again, simply click ‘Home’ above or the header image itself, both will bring you back. For anything else, just scroll down. You’ll see the search box, categories, archives and links down at the bottom of the page. The other pages, such as ‘About Me’ and ‘Press’ are still located at the top, just under the header image, like the ‘Home’ button. The categories & links don’t open in a new page, they open directly below the title, then you click the title and they go away again. Easy! The best way to figure it out is just to go around clicking on stuff. If anything looks off or funky, don’t hesitate to shoot me an e-mail. I can’t promise it’ll be fixed, because these things do tend to sometimes look different on various browsers/computers/resolutions/etc, but I’ll try to remedy the issue.

In the meantime, enjoy it. It’s simpler, cleaner, and there’s less information shoved in your face the minute you log on. Coming here and seeing all that text that looked like a novel was kind of overwhelming for some people, it was kind of a person with ADD’s nightmare. Yeah, it’ll take some getting used to for all of us, I’m sure, this blog hasn’t had a complete layout change in a very long time. Probably since 2008. And I didn’t plan on it, but it happened thanks to a stupid mistake I made that was, to use a phrase I hate: a blessing in disguise. I really needed a change, anyway, and I think it’s for the best. But the absolute best part? That it’s all done now so we can all sit back, relax, and take it in. And I can start with new posts!

In addition to all that, I added about a gazillion new links. All of them are “internet friends” of mine from way back when (over 10 years, some of them) who’ve either revived their blogs, started new ones, or were recently re-discovered by me. So if you’re bored with this site (HOW FREAKIN’ DARE YOU), then feel free to sort through my links. I guarantee there’s something for everyone in there, and most of them are run by incredibly cool, incredibly interesting people. When I say “internet friends,” for most of them that’s a poor description implying they’re nothing more than a name on a monitor & that is so not true.

And now for something completely different…

 

That’s one of my favorite things to use as decoration in the summer. A vintage Ball jar (or a new one), a vase, candle holder or goldfish bowl (or any other interestingly shaped clear glass vessel), half filled with sand and then topped with seashells, starfish and/or filled just with sea glass. You can buy a bag of sand at a toy store, or just bogart some from the beach. Same with the seashells- you can buy them in a craft store or you can just take some home with you from a day at the shore. It’s a fun project to do! Me & my mother made like 60+ of them one year as favors for my aunt’s birthday party, and I have tons of them around here at home. When those come out, I know it’s officially summertime. They look so pretty and they’re outdoor friendly too. You can even add tealights to them. Do you have any summer traditions or decorations that kick off the season? Or any fancy little things you do with seashells? Tell me!

It’s definitely summer, everyone. Get your flip flops and beach towels ready. And don’t forget to enter the Sourpuss Clothing cupcake cookie jar giveaway! It ends midnight EST on June 19th. So go enter! You know you want to.

SHABBY APPLE APRON WINNER!

As promised, the giveaway ended today and I picked a winner earlier this morning. Drumroll, please…

CONGRATULATIONS TO  TANIA FROM LOVE BIG, BAKE OFTEN! According to random.org, she won the Wildberry Pie apron from Shabby Apple! Okay, now Tania is a blog-friend of mine, but her number actually came up, no kidding. Just so you know that the winner was picked fair & square and that there’s no shenanigans, here’s the proof (in the form of screenshots).

I always play fair and square, and the winner is the winner. But really, that’s a perfect example of why you enter more than once, people! Tania won because she used all five of her possible entries! This is the lovely prize she’ll be getting in the mail shortly:

Huge thanks to Shabby Apple for hosting this giveaway, big thanks to everyone who entered, and congrats again to Tania. Seriously, my readers are the effin’ BEST blog readers/fans ever. EVER. You make me so happy, I love you all & I wish I could give every one of you a hug, a cupcake & an apron. But for everyone who didn’t win, don’t forget- there’s a coupon code so you can buy your own apron (or dress, or whatever) for 10% off. The code is “cupcakerehab10off” and it expires in a little less than a month (July 24th). Treat yourself!

I’m planning on doing a lot more giveaways in the future, and I usually do one for Cupcake Rehab’s blogiversary in September, so I expect you all to come back & enter again. To all my fellow Americans, have a great holiday weekend! See you guys back here next week.

A not-too-shabby giveaway from Shabby Apple!

When Darla from Shabby Apple asked me if I’d be interested in doing a giveaway, my response was pretty much HELL YES. Well, that was my internal response, externally I attempted to be a bit less extreme. But I was so incredibly excited to share this website with you guys, my awesome-amazing-fantastic-terrific-wonderful readers and not only just share the website… but actually GIVE YOU something from the website! Before I get to that- how cute is the name Shabby Apple?

Shabby Apple, in case you aren’t familiar with it, sells the most beautiful clothing & vintage-y retro inspired clothing, (and aprons, which I’ll get to in a minute); dresses & maternity dresses, little girl’s clothes, swimwear, fitness wear and gorgeous jewelry & accessories. I was just talking a few days ago about how “old fashioned” I am, and then bam! I find out about this site. Talk about kismet. My personal favorites: this adorable retro navy blue sailor dress, this super cute striped jersey dress, and of course, this black one (with a great name, Mary Jane Watson!). Lucky for you, this awesome site found me, liked my blog and wanted to share some of the delightful-ness of their merchandise with my readers!

So, I chose, just for you, my lovely readers/fans/followers/stalkers/etc… my favorite of the aprons, the Wildberry Pie empire waist apron, which was featured in USA Today. Yes, the winner of this giveaway will receive this gorgeous apron, retail value: $38.00 US.

Super adorable, right? And oh, oh, what’s that on the wall? Oh yeah. That’s right- a cupcake!


A bright patch of colorfully printed poplin provides the perfect backdrop for your wildest culinary creations. Detailed with contrasting pattern at the tie-back waist and halter straps, and pleating at the empire waist, this full bib apron will keep your sundresses spotless while you conjure up another kitchen miracle.

That’s us, right readers? Whipping up kitchen miracles. And the apron. I know. Totally & completely cute. Even cuter? The little story that’s included with the apron on the website:

Clutching the copy of The Joy of Cooking I had pilfered from my great aunt’s bookshelf as if it would somehow protect me, I walked up to the door of the guest house with all the grace and courage I could muster, and opened the door. A fresh breeze blew in off Lake Michigan, filling the airy entryway with the bouquet of scents that make up Door Country limestone beaches, smoking fish, pitch pines and midwest tradition. I breathed it in. This was not a vacation; this was a test.

I had prepped for weeks for this, the first encounter with the future in-laws and their extended family a whole gaggle of gracious ladies and hungry gentlemen from scattered points around flyover country as they descended on Sturgeon Bay for the Fourth of July. It was a longstanding family tradition of lounging, fishing, and eating obscene amounts of the women’s blue ribbon prize-winning home cooking, culminating in the family’s giant Independence Day feast, where the best of the best was on display for everyone’s viewing, and eating, pleasure.

I was assigned the pie. The test to see if the girl from the big city could be a proper wife and keep their loving son fed. (Apparently my vast knowledge of the best and cheapest places to eat out in New York didn’t count) The only small problem was I had never actually made a pie. So for weeks I practiced, watching YouTube videos of Julia Child or Martha Stewart whipping up extraordinary pastries and following along in my tiny galley kitchen, only to turn out crusts that could chip your teeth or filings so sticky you could barley swallow them. None of this was helped by my fiancee’s constant whistling of “Can she bake a cherry pie?”

I made my way down the hallway of my bungalow and into the kitchen, the sense of fear and dread welling up inside of me. But there on the counter was a little bundle tied up with string, my name handwritten on the outside of an envelope. I opened it.

Someone wise once said, “Approach love and cooking with reckless abandon.” I think the trick is to look good doing both, thought these would help. Good Luck! Aunt Sue

I undid the bundle. Inside was a sweet, handmade vintage apron, and two index cards stapled together, with “TOP SECRET: 4th of July Boysenberry Pie” written at the top. I put on the apron, tying its rick-rack apron strings behind my back in a big bow, pulled the butter from the fridge, and took a deep breath.

Did that story draw you in? Make you want to know more? Make you want to make a wildberry pie of your own? Especially while wearing this apron?

Thought so.

Me too. But what I bet is that right about now you really want to know how you can win this Shabby Apple apron, dontcha? I bet you’re dying to get your hands on it. I don’t blame you. Here’s one more view, from the back, for you to revel in the cuteness. Polka dot trim!

Yeah, you want it. Okay, so here’s the deal. This giveaway is open to U.S. residents ONLY (sorry international peeps, I’ll get ya next time). What you eligible U.S. residents are going to do is the following:

  1. Leave a comment here stating (briefly) why you relate to the apron’s story above. Short & sweet is good, no novels please! Also, make sure you leave me a valid e-mail address, I’ll need it to contact you if you win!
  2. Optional ways of getting additional entries: Follow me on Twitter, follow Shabby Apple on Twitter and become a fan of both Cupcake Rehab & Shabby Apple on Facebook, then come back here & comment again.
  3. You have exactly one week from today to do so. Comments will be closed as of midnight EST, July 2nd, 2011.
  4. Then, thanks to random.org, I’ll choose a winner. Ta-da!
  5. For those of you who do not win, since there will only be one winner… there’s a coupon code for you, so you can buy your own apron, 10% off. The code is “cupcakerehab10off” and it expires in one month.

That’s all. Easy peasy. So go on, get to entering!

Ra-ra-rugelach.

Thank you all for your kind words & sympathy. While I’m back posting recipes, they’re recipes I had made and written up last week before my uncle’s passing. So my heart still hurts, and of course none of us are “over it”…  but yes, I’m “back” to posting. My uncle loved to cook and loved desserts, even though he was on a strict diet, so he wouldn’t want me to stop posting or hold off on anything. So here’s a new delicious recipe I want to share with you all, and I also really wanted to share the photos of my friend John’s beautiful little baby girl, Angelina, in her Cupcake Rehab bib. So freakin’ cute!

Look at her, all ready to beat someone with her whisk! Or make cupcakes, whatever!

If you want cuteness like that, and by cuteness I mean the bib not the baby- I don’t think John is willing to share her… then you can go to my Cupcake Rehab webstore and buy stuff. I have an assload of things for sale from hoodies to bibs (duh) to coffee mugs to dog bowls! Seriously. Buy some stuff, take pictures, and send me the pics. I’ll add ‘em to the C.R.my page & you’ll be (quasi-) famous. But I can’t promise it’ll make you as cute as Angelina.

Back to the eats. What’s fair is fair, and while it’s Easter time for Christians, it’s Passover for the Jewish people. Each holiday & religion hold to their own traditional foods & desserts, as do the specific ethnicities and races within each religion, just as they hold to the traditions of the religions themselves. I myself am neither Christian nor Jew, but I certainly don’t discriminate against delicious food items. I embrace them all!

Hamentashen is more traditional around this time of year, but honestly, since when have I been traditional? Actually that’s not true, I’m very old-fashioned. At any rate, I don’t happen to like hamentashen at all, so rugelach it is!

Rugelach is one of my absolute favorite “cookies.” I like the chocolate ones, and I like the filling to have a touch of cinnamon. I also like the cinnamon sugar. I’m not into the fruit filled version. I used to love the ones from the 2nd Avenue Deli… Jay used to work right near it, but that was before the two of us got together (unfortunately). And back when my dad was still working, he’d randomly pick up a bunch in a 2nd Avenue Deli tin and I’d eat all the chocolate. Once he got them as a gift for someone, and I finagled it open, ate two chocolate ones and resealed it. Shh, don’t tell.

Rugelach aren’t difficult to make. It’s similar to rolling a croissant, or a chocolate croissant. This particular dough is made with cream cheese, although there are many different varieties.

Rugelach (Yiddish: רוגעלך) (other spellings: rugelakh, rugulach, rugalach, ruggalach, rogelach (all plural), rugalah, rugala (singular)) is a Jewish pastry of Ashkenazic origin.

Traditional rugelach are made in the form of a crescent by rolling a triangle of dough around a filling.[1][2] Some sources state that the rugelach and the French croissant share a common Viennese ancestor, crescent-shaped pastries commemorating the lifting of the Turkish siege in 1793[3] (this could be a reference to the Battle of Vienna in 1683). This appears to be an urban legend however, as both the rugelach and its supposed ancestor (the Kipfel or Kipferl) pre-date the Early Modern era, and the croissant in its modern form did not originate earlier than the 19th century (see viennoiserie).

An alternative form is constructed much like a strudel or nut roll, but unlike those, the rolled dough and filling is cut into slices before baking.[4]

The name is Yiddish, the Jewish language of eastern Europe. The ach ending (ך) indicates plural, while the el (ל) can be a diminutive, as, for example, shtetlekh (שטעטלעך, villages) is the plural of shtetl (שטעטל, village), the diminutive of shtot (שטאָט, town). In this case, the root means something like “twist” so the translation would be “little twists,” a reference to the shape of this cookie.[3] In this context, note that rog (ראָג) means corner in Yiddish,[5] so it is possible that a more accurate translation would be “little corners.”

Alternatively, some assert that the root is rugel, meaning royal, possibly a reference to the taste.[6] This explanation is in conflict with Yiddish usage, where the word keniglich (קעניגליךּ) is the dominant word meaning royal.[7]

Finally, in modern Hebrew, they are known as roglìt (רוֹגְלִית), a postbiblical Hebrew word meaning “trailing vines”.[8] The Yiddish word ruglach probably came first. The modern Hebrew is probably a neologism, chosen for its similarity to the Yiddish and its descriptive meaning.

Rugelach can be made with sour cream or cream cheese[1][2][3] doughs, but there are also pareve variants with no dairy ingredients,[9] so that it can be eaten with or after a meat meal and still be kosher. Cream cheese doughs are the most recent, probably American innovations, while yeast leavened[9][10] and sour cream doughs[11][12] are much older.

The different fillings can include raisins, walnuts, cinnamon, chocolate, marzipan, poppy seed, or fruit preserves which are rolled up inside.

I’ve been wanting to make rugelach for a long time. I sort of combined 4 or 5 recipes I found to make one of my own. I think it turned out fantastic! Except one word of advice: if you don’t have a stand mixer, this dough is not going to happen for you. It’s so thick that it slowed Lola down and she made all kinds of “Rrrrrr” noises. But she can handle it. And there’s no way you can mix it by hand, you need to cream the butter and cream cheese together and even using a hand mixer isn’t gonna work out well for that. You know how cream cheese is… many a mixer has broken under it’s wrath.

Chocolate rugelach

CHOCOLATE RUGELACH

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2 sticks (½ pound) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • ½ vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup and 2 tablespoons sugar, divided
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • ½ cup melted bittersweet chocolate, cooled but still “liquidy”
  • 1 egg, beaten

Directions:

  1. Beat softened butter and cream cheese in large bowl on medium speed of mixer until blended and smooth. Gradually add flour and ¼ cup sugar and vanilla, beating on low speed until well blended. Divide dough into 3 equal parts; wrap individually in plastic wrap. Refrigerate anywhere from 1 to 4 hours or until firm enough to roll.
  2. Heat oven to 375°F. On lightly floured surface, roll one piece of dough into 9-inch circle (keep remaining dough in refrigerator). Cut circle into 12 wedges. Place about 1 teaspoon melted chocolate at wide end of each wedge; spread about three-fourths of the way up wedge. Stir together 2 tablespoons sugar, cinnamon and cocoa powder; sprinkle over melted chocolate, sprinkle over melted chocolate. Starting at wide end, roll toward the point. Place cookies, point sides down, about 1 inch apart on a sheet of parchment paper covering an ungreased cookie sheet. Brush with beaten egg.
  3. Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until golden. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely. Repeat procedure with remaining dough and filling.
Cinnamon sugar rugelach

The dough I made is a sweet dough, if you’d like a not-sweet version just remove the sugar and vanilla. If you’d like to add a little something extra, sprinkle with some sugar after brushing the dough with the beaten egg. Other options for fillings are apricot (1 cup apricot preserves plus ¾ cup chopped walnuts), cinnamon sugar (4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, ½ cup sugar, 2 teaspoons cinnamon) or raspberry-raisin (1 cup of raspberry jam and ½ cup raisins).  Or you can be totally rebellious and come up with your own filling!

(Psst… wanna know a sweet shortcut to the chocolate filling? Bosco chocolate syrup plus a sprinkling of cinnamon. Trust me, it works and it’s delicious. Just don’t use too much syrup, you’ll end up with a gooey mess.)

To me, they’re perfectly sweet, not too sweet, plus the cream cheese adds a little something special. I devoured way more  in one sitting than I should’ve. A little basket of these is a perfect hostess gift.

The “Happy 3rd birthday, Cupcake Rehab” giveaway!

***** AS OF 12:00 A.M. SEPTEMBER 26TH THE CONTEST HAS ENDED! CONGRATULATIONS TO THE WINNER: IRIS FROM MY LIFE IN PURPLE! And thank you to everyone for entering! *****

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Today marks the third year of my officially having this blog! I can’t believe it- time flies. I’m really happy that three years ago I started doing this, because through this I’ve met some wonderful, beautiful people, and found some awesome stores on the web (who’ve sent me some amazing things to try!); i.e. Sweet Cuppin’ Cakes Bakery & Cupcakery Supplies, Sutton Gourmet Paper, sweet estelle’s baking supply, Cupcake Crafts 4 U, and Sourpuss Clothing. Not to mention the amazing stores that I’ve found just by clicking links on other blogs: Two Lumps of Sugar, Fancy Flours, Bake It Pretty, and Pop Deluxe! I love all my readers and fans and Twitter followers, and I hope the next three years are just as fun as the last three were.

It’s funny because when I started this blog, I had no idea what it’d become. I had no idea I’d end up with over 600+ views a day and almost 400 fans on Facebook. To me, someone who started this on a lark, that’s a big deal. I remember when I had my old wordpress.com blog, I remember my first post there (it transferred to the dot com when I imported my entries, you can see it here), and then I remember when Jay surprised me with the dot com- it was so exciting! And here we are now.

Last year I had a big giveaway in honor of my blog baby’s birthday, and this year it’s no different. Well, it is sorta different, because the rules are different this year. But first, lets talk about the prizes, shall we?

THE PRIZES!

First off, Yoyo from Topstitch.org is donating a cupcake print half-apron as well as a cupcake print tote, headband, pouch and key fob! You can view her webstore here and check out her awesome merchandise (and maybe buy something?). Please note: these items pictured are not the items you will recieve- Yoyo is CUSTOM MAKING the items for the giveaway, these are just examples!

And then, Lyns from Sweet Cuppin’ Cakes Bakery & Cupcakery Supplies is donating cupcake liners & some cupcakery supplies to the lucky winner as well. Isn’t that cool? Who doesn’t love cupcakes? And cupcake liners? Lunatics, that’s who. From Sweet Cuppin’ Cakes Bakery & Cupcakery Supplies the winner will get:

100 pack of rainbow cupcake liners (regular size)!

…and Sparkling confetti-colored sugar!

….

And wait- I’m not done! The winner will also get a cookbook with 150 home recipes from Brianne at Iron Chef Mommy. Her daughter’s playgroup every year sells the cookbooks to raise money, and this year she’s kindly offered to donate one to the winner of my giveaway!  The cookbooks won’t be available until October 3rd or around there, so Brianne will send it out as soon as it comes in!

HOW TO WIN!

So the winner will be getting something like 8 prizes, maybe more, of well over $50.00 in value. Probably closer to $100.00! Lucky bastard. So I know, you’re all wondering, “How do I win all this neato swag, daddy-o?”

Well this year the giveaway is way easier than last year. All you have to do this year is:

  • Leave a comment telling me what your favorite CUPCAKE recipe is that I have posted on this blog. It could be from way back in 2007, from last week, or it could be the Neapolitan cupcakes I made for Cupcake Rehab’s first birthday, or the cupcakes I list here tomorrow- whatever! Just tell me which one, if you can, please link to it, and tell me why it’s your favorite. It’s that simple.
  • If you want to up your chances of winning, you can follow me on Twitter & become a fan on Facebook as well (just make sure you send me a tweet/leave a comment on the Cupcake Rehab Facebook wall telling me you entered and your name!). Each time you do one of those things, you can comment again, so you get counted another time, so you have up to three chances of winning. Again, it would be nice if you linked to the recipe.
  • But wait… there’s one more way! If you have a blog, and you blog about the giveaway, or mention it (with a link to this post) in your blog, you’ll be entered a fourth time. Just come on back here and comment again with a link to your blog post! Remember, you don’t have to do all four things, if you don’t have a blog, or a Twitter, or a Facebook page, that’s totally fine. You can still enter by commenting & telling me what your favorite recipe on the blog is & why. But if you do have those things, then by all means, come & get your extra chances of winning!

It will be chosen by a randomizer, so it will be totally and completely objective and unbiased, anyone can enter, anyone can win. Totally easy, right? Yep. But the thing is… you only have two weeks to do it. On September 26th, the giveaway ends. So get to searching the archives, everyone! In between now and the 26th, the blog will continue. I’ll be posting other recipes, etc. On the 26th I’ll close the comments here, pick the winner, and edit this post to announce who won. I’ll then send the winner an e-mail asking for their full name, address, etc.

What are my favorite recipes I’ve made? Oh lord.

Hmm… what’s my favorite cupcake recipe?! (apron from Two Lumps of Sugar)

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Well, if I’m being honest (and boring), vanilla cupcakes (frosted with almost anything) is always a favorite of mine. I always say my favorite cupcake recipe is the Magnolia Bakery vanilla. And that’s true. But I do have others, and to be frank, any vanilla recipe is good to me. I love a good white cupcake, either Martha’s or not. I also like Billy’s Bakery’s vanilla cupcake recipe & Amy Sedaris’ recipe ain’t bad. However…

I love love LOVE this recipe for mocha chocolate cupcakes made with coffee. My favorite chocolate cupcake recipe is here. My favorite fruity cupcakes are these lemon yogurt ones (which were really lemony & delicious) and these coconut & lime cupcakes. Speaking of coconut- Ina Garten’s coconut cupcakes are beyond amazeballs and  have to be one of my favorites, especially with a coconut buttercream. My favorite alcohol based cupcakes? I’d have to say the chocolate stout cupcakes, with the Bailey’s Irish Cream cupcakes a very close second. As far as the most delectable & decadent? S’mores cupcakes, by far. The marshmallow fluff frosting is teeth-achingly good. The most sophisticated cupcake- tea cakes with Earl Grey icing. The cupcake that most surprised me, flavor-wise, was the recipe I made for Mardi-Gras, based on King’s Cake. The lemony-nutmeg combination was so good.  My favorite cupcakes, decorating-wise are definitely the pointsettia cupcakes I made for Christmas.

I could go on, and on, and on… but I won’t. I’ll stop there and let you all take it from here. So what is YOUR favorite cupcake recipe that I’d made/posted, and why? Tell me * & you might win some awesome prizes.

*Note: picking the same favorite as one that I picked will NOT get you any brownie points. Like I said, the winner will be chosen via a randomizer on the web, so no favorites!