Category: cupcake related

New Year’s Rockin’ Eve.

A vintage NYE! (click through for NYE recipes)

Well it’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve, as Dick Clark would say. In just a few short hours, 2014 will be here. In case you’re lacking recipe ideas for today, I figured I’d give you some. Consider it a belated Christmas gift. Most of them require nothing more than a bottle of champagne & a quick run to the grocery store.

  • Champagne parfaits: A delicious & easy “champagne jell-O” that takes absolutely no time to make. A grown-up jell-O shot, if you will. Click here for the recipe.
  • Champagne jelly: Excellent melted on roast chicken, or as a topping on a chicken sandwich. And also excellent with cheese on crackers. But I’m sure you can come up with other uses! Recipe can be found here. (FYI: these jars were also a 2011 Well Preserved Pimp That Preserve winner!)
  • Champagne cupcakes: No explanation needed! Champagne cupcakes with sweet champagne frosting. Get the details right here.

This year I knew I wouldn’t be around; I’m presently packing to go to Connecticut. Jay is playing a show tonight at The Webster in Harftord, so I’m going with him. I’ll be back tomorrow afternoon.. so therefore no NYE recipes for me this year. Boo hoo. But also kind of exciting- it’s the first time he’s been off for NYE since 2009! And that means it’s also literally a New Year’s Rockin’ Eve.

I hope you all have a fantastic New Year’s Eve, and an even better 2014. See you next year…

Happy New Year... A NYE recipe compilation! And most things don't even require more than an extra bottle of bubbly.

Happy, happy, happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween! Last minute ideas are right this way...

Ahh. Well, it’s the big day. Halloween! Hopefully you’ve got your costumes & treats all sorted by now. But just in case…

If you’re in need of some (pretty fast & easy) last minute ideas:

▪ Pumpkin muffins made from the cut out jack-o-lantern pieces ▪ Roasted pumpkin seeds ▪ Spiced brown sugar pumpkin seeds ▪ Halloween candy cupcakes ▪ Pumpkin cupcakes with whipped cream frosting ▪ Spiderweb cupcakes ▪

If you want something a bit more… dramatic, try these:

Dexter’s blood spatter cupcakes ▪ True Blood velvet cupcakes ▪ Black velvet cupcakes with hand-painted white chocolate sugar skulls ▪ Monster cake balls ▪ Chocolate stout cupcakes with white chocolate “bones” ▪

And before you go… here are my jack-o-lanterns for this year! Sally from The Nightmare Before Christmas & a kitty, hanging out on the stairs.

My jack-o-lanterns this year!

Be good to all those little creeps that knock on your door tonight.

See you in November, my little monsters!

 

 

The wicked witch of the cupcake.

Vintage postcard: flying witches.

Yeah. That’s right. Today we’re talking about witches. Because in case you’ve been living under a rock, it’s October, and that means one thing to me: Halloween.

Ohh, Halloween. My favorite time of year. The leaves changing (hopefully) & crunching beneath my boots, the air getting brisker, the wind kicking up. The costumes & makeup start appearing in stores earlier & earlier nowadays, but I reserve my Halloween excitement for the first week in October. I refuse to do ANYTHING Halloween-related before October 1st. Yes, it’s my favorite holiday & yes, I’m excited. But it’s like buying Christmas decorations before Thanksgiving; it’s just wrong to me. I’ll wait until October to celebrate Halloween… & I’ll wait until December 1st for Christmas, thanks.

That being said, I was super psyched to post this little cupcake topper how-to. I couldn’t wait any longer! I didn’t come up with this idea myself (unfortunately) but I did somewhat modify it from the original directions. I did that because I didn’t have matching mini cupcake liners & regular liners. I don’t do many mini cupcakes, so I never buy the liners. I adapted the directions to suit me & my materials, and with just a little bit more work put in I think they look just as cute. Ladies & germs, I give you…

Cupcake…

liner…

witches’

hats!

Easy DIY witch hat cupcake toppers made from cupcake liners!

Continue reading

Internet inspiration: cupcake liner storage.

There are a couple of things I’ve learned over the past few years that I honestly never would have thought of nor realized if it weren’t for this wonderful thing we call the internet. They aren’t really important things, not for the most part, but I thought I’d share them with you just the same.

  • The internet taught me that not everyone who CAN make a website SHOULD. Yellow text is just never acceptable.
  • Pinterest taught me that there are a shit ton of alfredo chicken pasta recipes & enchilada recipes- everyone’s husband LOVES them & all of them are “top rated”! (are they really, though?)
  • Pinterest also taught me most people do not buy Ball® jars to preserve food. Silly me.
  • Facebook has taught me the most unattractive people love to post the most photos of themselves. Usually in “da club.” Usually drinking. Usually wearing inappropriate clothing for their weight/age/etc.
  • Facebook also taught me that people who didn’t like me in HS want to be my friend now, after not seeing or speaking to me for 13 years. Strange isn’t it?
  • Instagram taught me I really, really, really love to see what other people are eating & drinking. Maybe too much.
  • Instagram also taught me that there are chicks who do that “duck face” thing seriously, not joking. Woops.
  • Twitter has taught me that I like people better when they’re limited to only 140 characters.
  • Twitter also taught me that people still prefer to follow rather than lead. (whoa- DEEP THOUGHTS)
  • Blogs taught me that everyone thinks they’re funny, clever, and either a professional photographer, makeup artist or chef.
  • Blogs also taught me that most of them are none of the above.

But one of the most important things I’ve learned- aside from the fact that there are a lot of really cool people out there, who sadly, do not live anywhere near me- is that anything you want to do, or things you’ve never dreamed of doing (particularly involving the re-use of every day household items)… the instructions on how to do these things are all right at your fingertips.

And so I made these.

DIY cupcake liner storage that's display worthy! Made using mason jars & chalkboard paint.My chalkboard-writing skills only apply to larger pieces… obviously…

I have a problem with pretty cupcake liners. I always have, really, but before I baked it wasn’t as big of an issue. Before I baked, I’d see them in a store & say “Oh how cute!” then I’d promptly pass them by and pick up a frozen pizza & a bag of Totino’s pizza rolls. But once I started using them it became a thing. I bought so many I had nowhere to actually put them. For awhile, I had some out on a few cupcake & cake stands, but they were getting dirty & dusty from being in the middle of all that kitchen-witchery. So then I bought plastic shoeboxes at Bed Bath & Beyond. And I filled those up real quick, but they got overloaded and in the process began crinkling & eventually ruining the shape of my beautiful liners. Wahhh.

What’s a girl to do?

(Psst… I’m sharing this with you because if you’re here reading this, you might very well have the same problem.)

So one day I was browsing Pinterest, as one is wont to do, and I happened upon this. Genius. Why didn’t I think of that?

Well actually, I had, but I thought of it using Ball jars; and you see, based on what jars I had at my disposal I realized that regular mouth jars aren’t wide enough, and aside from that… pint jars are a bit too shallow and don’t hold as many as you’d like. But this time it just so happens that when I saw that pin, I had literally just finished cleaning out & de-labeling two 25 oz. Victoria pasta sauce jars. And as I scrubbed them I was wondering what exactly I was going to use them for. I had already made candy jars out of old sauce jars, so I didn’t want to do that again (a girl can only have so many candy jars).

Cupcake liner storage jars!

And so there I am, washing these jars & seeing this pin on Pinterest. And like I said, I had all these pretty liners… all wasted by being hidden away… it just made sense. So I made some cupcake liner storage jars out of ‘em! The Victoria jars are the PERFECT SIZE for this. Basically, you need a jar with a mouth opening of around 3″ in order to accommodate the liners comfortably. And it should be a pint & a half at least in order to make it worthwhile- you really can’t fit many in a pint jar. It just so happens the Victoria jars are 6″ high (not including lid) with a 3″ wide mouth. Wide mouth quart-sized Ball or Kerr jars would probably work as well.

The thing with these is that there really isn’t any “tutorial” involved- just get jars that the liners fit into without getting squished, and do whatever you want with them. I painted the lids with black Martha Stewart acrylic chalkboard paint (2 coats), and put chalkboard label stickers on the front. This way, if you wanted to split the liners according to holiday or color, use the labels or chalkboard lids to mark them; i.e. “Christmas”, “pink”, “stripes”, etc. The chalkboard paint comes in just about every color you can imagine, so you can match your appliances, your KitchenAid, your kitchen, you name it.

Done. Counter-ready, aesthetically pleasing cupcake liner storage, at your service!

 

*And if you wanna make some more “Pinterest Projects”, head on over to textdrivebys.com and check out my other DIY posts.

Chocolate bunnies are always a good fall-back plan.

Just in case you aren’t aware, I’ve been busy lately. Really busy. And on top of that? I got wicked sick last week and I was in bed for about 6 days with something way worse than your average cold but just short of bronchitis. It was gross. Jay had a milder version of it the week before, and try as I might to avoid getting it, I was walloped. And boy was it a fucking doozy! Even when I could finally get out of bed after 6 days, I was still a mess & a half. And it really set me back; blog wise, too. There just wasn’t enough time this year between St. Patrick’s Day & Easter for me to plan anything unique, not to mention then I got hit with this stupid germ-fest. Really- I had no energy at all, I was still coughing & my nose was running like a faucet (and still is as I type this) and I just couldn’t come up with anything original or fun. I was at a loss. I was like a zombie.

I had just enough inspiration when dying my Easter eggs to come up with this: HTML hex code eggs! (for those of you uninitiated into the world of HTML, here’s an explanation as to what the hell that means).

I know, I know. I’m a geek. And it was very easy; just dye half your eggs. You can use any type of dye you want: natural dyes, food coloring dyes, Kool-Aid dyes, Paas or Dudley… there’s an HTML hex code to match any shade & any color. When they’re dry, find the HTML code that matches from this very comprehensive chart and write it with a thin black Sharpie, or if you’re more anal-retentive, print out decals on decal paper to stick on. Ta da! It’s a spin off of those Pantone Easter eggs that are everywhere right now. So anyway- that was my lone inspiration this year. The only spark that came to me.

But as far as baking goes? I had no idea. Even the almighty Pinterest wasn’t helping.

Then I saw a little bag of chocolate bunnies I had bought and never opened, and I figured, hey- those are always a good thing to fall back on! Who doesn’t love itty bitty chocolate bunnies? Especially when on top of cupcakes?

No, it isn’t very “different” and it probably isn’t going to go viral on Pinterest. But you know what? I DON’T CARE. Maybe it’ll give you an idea, or at the very least reassure you that a regular ol’ cupcake is just fine for Easter. Or maybe not. Maybe you can commiserate. Or maybe you’ll click the x in the corner & travel on over to a blog with better, cuter, more “original” ideas this year. Lord knows there are plenty.

Whatever you do, I hope you see that that’s pretty much the entire point of this blog. That you don’t have to be perfect or come up with “the next big thing” in order to have fun in the kitchen.

Who cares if you make 16 pints of plain ol’ strawberry jam just because it’s your favorite? No, it isn’t glamorous nor will it garner collective oohs & aahs from the blog world. But it’s your thing. Who cares if you like pound cake, and you make it 6 billion times a year? It’s nothing new but does that mean it isn’t delicious? Hell no! So what if I can’t come up with anything better than cupcakes with tiny chocolate bunnies on top. Who’s going to bitch about it? Nobody, really. Except me.

But see, this is my dilemma. I want to encourage you to cook, bake, experiment, eat homemade when you can, and to put effort into your meals. I want you to not be afraid of the kitchen. I want you to feel good about what you put on your plates, both visually and taste-wise, and create something NEW. Because you deserve to not be ashamed that it’s shriveled up overcooked chicken & instant microwave rice for the fourth night in a row. I want to empower you to bake from scratch & not feel that you can’t do a fancy frosting technique because it’s too hard. I want you to know that you can make a cake from scratch and not have it take ALL DAY. I want you to try making cake pops or canning and not feel like it’s beyond you. But on the other hand, like I said above I feel as though I’m part of a culture (food blogging) that’s pushing people towards perfection… and perfection that can never be achieved, at that. Which is why I will never have fake backdrops, or photographers backgrounds, or light boxes or professional lights just to take photos of cake. Never. You can count on that. Yes, I have a “fancy shmancy” brand-spankin’ new DSLR. And yes, I love it & I love the photos it takes. But trust me: you’ll always see my real house in the background. My real stove. My real counters, etc. Maybe a pet running around (if my photo editing skills are particularly lousy that week). The pots are mine, purchased by me. It will always be real. I will never phony it up just for a good photo op. All of those plates, napkins, tea towels, cake stands, etc? They’re really mine. Not just a one-off bought for a photograph. This is my real life. I buy plates because I use them. I buy tea towels because they’re pretty & I always loved them, even in my pre-blogging days. I like pretty napkins & cake stands & that hasn’t changed. My fresh flowers? I buy those because I like having them in the house, not just for pictures. And as far as plates or cutlery? Most of my things are vintage, anyway, and from my family… so they’ve always been here. I didn’t go out & buy them to impress anyone on the internet when posting a photo of food. But most importantly- it’s real in that it’s what I do because I love it. Not because I’m rolling in dough from it. I genuinely LOVE doing this blog.

So, see, I want to empower you with all of that knowledge, but at the same time deliver you content that you deserve, and show you that you do not have to be perfect or have the perfect kitchen. So when I fall behind or when I don’t meet those standards, I feel bad. When I shouldn’t. Because I know you’re all grown-ups and you understand that blogging does not equal my job or my entire life. I know you understand that I’m a human being, I get sick & I have other obligations & other things going on… that maybe this blog would have to take a backseat to. I’m not a blogging machine or a baking machine. I know you understand all that. It does make it sting a little less when I get “stuck” to know that you all get it.

And that also you understand that sometimes, a simple dark chocolate cupcake with a store-bought chocolate bunny on top will just have to do. Recipe for the cupcakes can be found here, recipe for the frosting can be found here (I colored it violet).

Happy Easter, Happy Eostre, Happy Passover, Happy Spring or happy whatever it is you celebrate.

Black velvet, sugar skulls & a Sourpuss giveaway!

COMMENTS ARE NOW CLOSED! THE GIVEAWAY IS OVER!

and the winner is…#50!  Kate G!

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*** Congrats Kate! I’m e-mailing you right now. And thanks to everyone else who entered. I hope to do another giveaway soon… ***

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BOY, are you all lucky this week. Cupcakes the other day, cupcakes today. It’s a cupcake-palooza around here… which is appropriate, given my blog name. But I will admit that in general, I haven’t been posting as many cupcakes as I should lately. I’ve been distracted with other goodies & yummies & I’ve kinda been neglecting the cupcakes.

Before I start going off on my tangents, lets get one thing straight right away: this entire post is going to be a big lovefest. It’s ALLLLLL about things I love. You’re going to see me write that over and over and over again, and I do apologize. Both for my repetition, my lack of other suitable words for the circumstances and also for beating you over the head with it. Are you ready?

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I love Dia de los Muertos, or the Day of the Dead. It’s one of my favorite things about this time of year; along with Halloween, spooky things, black cats everywhere, fall leaves, vampires, apples & pumpkins. Just in case you live under a rock:

Day of the Dead (Spanish: Día de los Muertos) is a Mexican holiday celebrated throughout Mexico and around the world in other cultures. The holiday focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died. It is particularly celebrated in Mexico, where it is a national holiday, and all banks are closed. The celebration takes place on November 1, in connection with the Catholic holidays of All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day (November 2). Traditions connected with the holiday include building private altars honoring the deceased using sugar skulls, marigolds, and the favorite foods and beverages of the departed and visiting graves with these as gifts. They also leave possessions of the deceased.

Scholars trace the origins of the modern Mexican holiday to indigenous observances dating back hundreds of years and to an Aztec festival dedicated to the goddess Mictecacihuatl. The holiday has spread throughout the world: In Brazil, Dia de Finados is a public holiday that many Brazilians celebrate by visiting cemeteries and churches. In Spain, there are festivals and parades, and, at the end of the day, people gather at cemeteries and pray for their dead loved ones. Similar observances occur elsewhere in Europe, and similarly themed celebrations appear in many Asian and African cultures.

The Day of the Dead celebrations in Mexico can be traced back to the Indigenous Pagan cultures. Rituals celebrating the deaths of ancestors have been observed by these civilizations perhaps for as long as 2,500–3,000 years.[1] In the pre-Hispanic era, skulls were commonly kept as trophies and displayed during the rituals to symbolize death and rebirth.

The festival that became the modern Day of the Dead fell in the ninth month of the Aztec calendar, about the beginning of August, and was celebrated for an entire month. The festivities were dedicated to the goddess[2] known as the “Lady of the Dead”, corresponding to the modern Catrina.

In most regions of Mexico, November 1 honors children and infants, whereas deceased adults are honored on November 2. This is indicated by generally referring to November 1 mainly as Día de los Inocentes (“Day of the Innocents”) but also as Día de los Angelitos (“Day of the Little Angels”) and November 2 as Día de los Muertos or Día de los Difuntos (“Day of the Dead”).[3]

-Wikipedia

Basically, it’s about life, despite the name. It’s about celebrating the lives of those we love who have passed on. What a beautiful concept. It’s bright, it’s colorful, it’s happy, it’s fun. It bridges that great divide between the dead & the living, and it keeps them in our thoughts through a celebration of their lives as opposed to the sadness of their deaths. I see nothing bad in that, at all. I find it to be a revelation, actually, compared to the stodgy, stuffy, overly melancholy grieving process of my Catholic childhood. I love to celebrate my ancestors & their lives, as opposed to just remembering them at the ends of their lives. In years past, I’ve not only made an altar, but I’ve celebrated by making tres leches cupcakes & Pan de Muerto. I have a hand painted Mexican sugar skull (Jay has one too, kinda like our version of Yin & Yang), and I have sugar skull printed pillows, etc. Suffice it to say I’m big into it, especially the sugar skull iconography.

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So that’s one more thing I love. Sugar Skulls. Any size, shape, colors, theme. I love them all. I want to collect a variety of them, but they’re hard to find here in New York. Hey, are you tired of what I love yet? No? Good, ’cause there’s more. Who’da thunk it that I actually do LIKE so many things?

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‘Cause you wanna know snother thing I love? Sourpuss Clothing. I’ve loved them for four years now, ever since they first contacted me to send me products to review back in 2008. I’m obsessed with their housewares department- don’t get me wrong, I love Crate & Barrel, I love Williams-Sonoma, and I love Pottery Barn too. But sometimes a gal like me, with my skull obsession & my mohawk, yearns for something more… offbeat… for my kitchen decor. And those mainstream stores will usually only carry creepy or “weird” things around Halloween. Well, that’s great, but what if I want a zombie cutting board in June? Or Frankenstein & his bride salt & pepper shakers in February? I go to Sourpuss, that’s what!

But you know, there’s one more thing I love: cupcakes. You knew that already, though. But sugar skulls on cupcakes? FORGET IT. Love it times a million. I’ve made cupcakes with little sugar skulls on them before, but why not repeat something when it’s a good thing? Thanks to Wilton for the awesome skull mold and beautiful food coloring gel that I used in this post. I made the frosting marigold color because marigolds are the traditional flowers of Dia de los Muertos, and are actually known as the flowers of the dead. (side note: they’d be great for Halloween too, with bright orange frosting)

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BLACK VELVET DAY OF THE DEAD CUPCAKES (taken from here)

Makes about 12 cupcakes

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 cups cake flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 ounce (1 tablespoon) of black liquid McCormick food coloring (or possibly less if you’re using Americolor)
  • 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk, room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon white vinegar

Directions:

  1. Line your cupcake tins with liners and set aside. Preheat your oven to 350° degrees F.
  2. In a large bowl sift the flour, baking powder, and salt. In a small bowl, mix the food coloring and cocoa powder until completely incorporated. Set aside.
  3. In a stand mixer (or using a hand mixer) cream the butter and sugar on medium high speed until light and fluffy. Add the egg, and beat until thoroughly combined, being sure to scrape down the sides.
  4. Add the vanilla and the red food coloring-cocoa mixture and beat well to combine. Add 1/3 of the flour mixture, beat on medium speed until combined, then add 1/2 of the buttermilk, and beat until incorporated.
  5. Add another 1/3 of the flour, beat well, then the other half of the buttermilk, scraping down the sides after each addition. Finish with the last 1/3 of the flour mixture and beat until just combined.
  6. In a small bowl, mix the vinegar and baking soda, and immediately add to batter. Mix on high speed for just a few seconds until evenly dispersed, and pour right away into lined cupcake pans, about halfway, maybe 2/3 full.
  7. Bake for about 20-30 minutes, until a toothpick entered into the center comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then remove to a wire rack.
  8. Cool completely before frosting.

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They’re beautiful, aren’t they? Deep, dark, black cupcakes. Bright marigold colored buttercream and a pretty little white chocolate handpainted skull. Delicious & pretty to look at, a great combination. And the inspiration for them ain’t too shabby either, right? Look at the pattern:

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Would you like your own set? I bet you would.

In this giveaway, one lucky winner will get the ADORABLE Skulls in Love apron. I’m sorry I couldn’t get a decent photo of it for you, but it’s hard taking self-portraits that are full-on body shots; even with my awesome camera & tripod. Either way, the apron is super adorable & the winner will love it. But it’s not just that, oh no. They’ll also get a matching kitchen set (oven mitt & pot holder) & tea towel as well as a skull bowl and a matching bank too. Perhaps for saving up to buy a KitchenAid mixer? Or to upgrade your old hand mixer? Use it to hold your latte fund? Or maybe the “bad language tax” collection for your kids? Whatever. It doesn’t matter what you use it for. It’s cute, that’s the point. And it all matches & coordinates with the bowl. A little girl skull bowl with a bow, and a boy skull bank with a top hat. I die (no pun intended) of the cuteness. I used the bowl to house my handmade tissue paper marigolds (like I said, they’re the traditional flower of Dia de los Muertos & it’s also tradition to make them out of paper), but you can use it for anything. Flowers, candy, a planter. So did you get all that? ONE winner gets an apron, tea towel, kitchen set, bowl and bank. Jackpot!

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ALL YOU HAVE TO DO TO ENTER IS COMMENT. Leave a comment here telling me why you love the Day of the Dead, too. What does it mean to you? Why can you relate to it? I’ll choose a winner at random via random.org on October 25th at midnight, EST. I’m doing this for ONE week exactly so that the winner has a better chance of getting their prize in time for Dia de los Muertos. As far as the winner goes: commenting on the Sourpuss blog or Facebook is invalid, as is a reply on Twitter. You must comment here to be entered. For an optional second shot at winning, tweet the following:

I just entered to win a Dia de los Muertos sugar skull apron/kitchen set/& more from @SourpussBrand & @CupcakeRehab! http://cupcakerehab.com/2012/10/black-velvet-cupcakes-sugar-skulls-a-sourpuss-giveaway/

Just copy & paste the above phrase, post it on Twitter, and then come back & comment a second time. That’s two chances to win. Optional third chance: share the link for this post (see the icon below) on Facebook and then come back & tell me. That’s three chances. Only the first one is mandatory to enter. The other two are just added extras.

But.. there’s ONE MORE thing. For an optional fourth bonus entry, get a friend to come here & enter. If you comment telling me who your friend is, you get a fourth entry, and they get an entry for themselves when they comment (maybe more, if they choose to use the Twitter and/or FB entries as well). So what are you waiting for? Go… get to commenting!

Sources & credits: Bakelite red-handled cutlery; vintage.

31 years.

As of 8:09 p.m. this evening, July 30th, that’s (officially) how old I am.

Boy- did that shit go fast.

I know kids never believe it, and if they did they wouldn’t be kids. But jeez. It really flew by in the blink of an eye. Sometimes I wonder where exactly the past 15 years went, because there are literally times I wake up and can’t imagine how it can be possible that I’m not 16 anymore. But I’m not. Thankfully. Not that those weren’t good times. They were. And I loved being young & stupid. But I never want to see another Regents exam book again in my life.

Kids today- you have it easy. I’m sure my parents thought that when I was a kid, and their parents thought that about them, and so on. But you spoiled brats really do. You guys get cell phones when you’re like, 8 years old. And most of the time they’e smartphones. I didn’t get a smartphone until I was 30! I was thinking the other day about  various birthdays I’ve had. I thought of my 17th birthday, and how I desperately wanted to buy a particular CD (it was Pinhead Gunpowder, “Carry The Banner”, if you must know) and I could not find it anywhere. I had to call 4 different “Record Stores” and finally found a Tower Records that had it like 6 towns away. There was no iTunes. There was no Napster (not yet, anyway) and there certainly weren’t any Bit Torrents. I had to call stores (on a landline phone! No cell phone!) and then go and find the actual Compact Disc in that store, and buy it with cash, face to face with a salesperson. And then listen to it on my Discman! Is your mind blown yet, little one?

Not to mention the fact that I had to physically go to a library after school and read encyclopedias and microfiche to do research for projects. There wasn’t really internet like there is today until my sophomore year in High School. And even then, it was mainly dial-up, and it didn’t matter what website you were in the middle of printing or getting information from… when your aunt called, your ass got booted. “Goodbye!”

At any rate, 31 may be young, but I’ve seen enough changes in those 31 years to realize that life really moves at breakneck speed. And like Ferris Bueller said, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you might miss something.” I don’t plan on missing anything. Not one single crumb.

As I do every year, no matter what, I made myself some cupcakes. It’s just something I like to do. I make 4-6 cupcakes just for me (although I usually end up eating maybe two tops & inevitably sharing the rest), in flavors I like and in fancy liners with pretty candles or pretty toppers. No matter how many cakes or cupcakes other people get for me or make for me…. I always make myself some cupcakes. It’s just a little gift I give myself. I make things for other people all year long, why not make something just for me?

I made my favorite cupcakes: vanilla cupcakes with a thick, sweet vanilla buttercream that tastes just like old fashioned bakery buttercream. You know the kind. The kind that Carrie & Miranda talk about in Sex & the City when they’re talking about the cake at Brady’s Christening party. Fat, thick, sweet and white. Reminiscent of childhood birthday parties & cakes from your local family owned bakery. The beautiful black & white striped liners & the mini-quins are from sweet estelle’s baking supply and the black & white candles are just from my local supermarket. You know how much I love black & white… but I had to add a little color. It is my birthday, after all. Even if your heart is cold & black, on your birthday you have to have some colored sprinkles, amirite?

They were magnificent. The cupcake recipe is my new favorite vanilla cupcake, made with sour cream, however you’ll have to wait for that one, ’cause I’m evil. But here’s the frosting recipe.

THICK BAKERY “BUTTERCREAM”

Ingredients:

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable shortening
  • 1/4 – 1/2 pound confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 – 4 tablespoons milk

Directions:

  1. Cream the butter and shortening in a medium bowl until smooth and fluffy. Beat in half the sugar, then add half the milk. Combine.
  2. Add vanilla extract and beat until incorporated. If not thick enough, add more sugar. If too thick, add more milk.

I’ll be back in a few days with some new recipes. Until then, tide yourselves over with looking at those awesome cupcake photos above. And speaking of photos- I got a new camera for my birthday: a Canon EOS Rebel t4i. So after the next couple of posts (I have a bit of a recipe back-up issue; I’m desperately trying to write ‘em all up!) you can expect my blog photo quality to go up exponentially. As soon as I figure out all the cool shit it can do *wink*

There’s an old poem, mainly used to teach children the days of the week, that lists characteristics of children born on each day. I was born on a Thursday, and according to the poem: “Thursday’s child has far to go.” I think it’s true- I do have far to go. Anyway, I hope that it’s true. I don’t mind the journey.

She sells seashell cupcakes by the seashore.

;

One of the things that just screams summer, especially when you live near an ocean and are apt to see them A LOT, are seashells. Once the seashells come out, I know it’s definitely summer. You start to see them hanging on wreaths, on restaurant tables, used as planters or candle holders, hanging on walls, on sandals, as earrings, etc. Most people don’t think of the ocean when they think of New York, they just think of “the city.” But New York boasts some of the most beautiful beaches in- dare I say- the world. Coney Island, The Hamptons, Jones Beach, Point Lookout, Brighton Beach, Rye Beach, Manhattan Beach, etc. All of those are not only beautiful but historic beaches. As a kid, going to to beach a few times a week was one of the glories of summer; I could be the little mermaid I was born to be all day long, collecting seashells & starfish, finding little crabs & tide pools, making sand castles and of course swimming myself silly. It’s still one of my favorite things to do. And I still love seashells. I can’t help it, I’m a true summer baby- born July 30th, the height of summer.


I bought these Mary Englebreit cupcake liners last spring, with all intentions of using them last summer. But that didn’t happen. I thought they were so cute, I couldn’t resist! I saw a whole summer cupcake theme going on in my head. Sadly, my summer last year was not how I expected. So this summer I decided I would definitely use those little seahorse liners. And I had an idea! I wanted to do a little seahorse on top of each cupcake. But I couldn’t find appropriate molds, nor could I find any edible toppers that were up to my standards. So I decided I’d buy a set of chocolate seashells, and put one on top of each cupcake. But then I saw the assortment of chocolate shells on the internet, and I wasn’t really pleased. I could’ve made my own, by buying some seashell chocolate molds, but then the weather got really hot.  And that’s when I said, “Self.. maybe chocolate isn’t the best material to use right now.” I was stuck, yet determined. I’d already put off using those liners for a year! I was GOING to use them.

And right about then is when I saw these cute little molded sugar shells at the Cupcake Social and they were perfect.


I brushed them with some gold Wilton pearl dust to give them a little something extra special. It also reminds me a little of sand.


I used an extra large open star tip to frost the vanilla cupcakes with a sweet but ever-so-slightly salty blue frosting (supposed to be reminiscent of saltwater taffy!). Then I topped each one with two seashells. And there you have it- the perfect beachy summery cupcakes.

VANILLA CUPCAKES

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325ºF. Line a 12 cup muffin tin with paper liners.
  2. In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Then add the eggs, mixing well after each addition, followed by the vanilla and almond extracts.
  3. Sift together the flour, baking powder and baking soda into a small bowl. Then, with the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture to the butter mixture, alternating with the buttermilk and ending with the flour.
  4. Fill each cup 3/4 full with batter. Bake for about 20 to 25 minutes, or until the center of the cupcakes spring back when touched. Cool completely before frosting.

SLIGHTLY SALTY “SALT WATER TAFFY” BUTTERCREAM

Ingredients:

  • 1 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 stick SALTED butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1/2 pound – 1 pound powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2-4 tablespoons milk (perhaps more)
  • food coloring, if desired

Directions:

  1. Place the butter and shortening in a stand mixer. Beat on medium speed until fluffy. Slowly add the first pound and a half of powdered sugar, a cup at a time until all is incorporated. Turn off the mixer and scrape the bottom of the bowl very well. Add the vanilla and mix again.
  2. Slowly add half of the milk while the mixer is on, and beat for one minute. Add food coloring. Blend.
  3. Add more milk or sugar as needed to achieve a frosting consistency that’s suitable to piping.

For this frosting color, I used regular McCormick liquid food coloring: two drops of green and three drops of blue. It was the perfect color, wasn’t it? And if you don’t have any salted butter, use a little bit of table salt. Just sprinkle it in, a teeny bit at a time until the desired saltiness is achieved. If you’re concerned about the possible grittiness, then just grind the table salt until it’s super fine. And I usually use homemade buttermilk for things like this; I just mix milk & white vinegar together in a ratio of 1 cup to 1 tablespoon (or 1/2 cup to 1 teaspoon). I mix it together and then just let it sit for 15 minutes. I just find the flavor is better, and this way I don’t have to keep throwing away buttermilk that’s been in my fridge too long or worry about the powdered kind getting all clumpy. Of course any kind of buttermilk works, but that’s just what I like to do.

That beautiful cake stand was a gift from my cousin and his wife who live in New Orleans; it’s from a store called Roux Royale, just in case you’re wondering.


Sometimes, you have to just make some pretty cupcakes for no other reason than to enjoy them, and put them on a pretty cake plate. Even on a random Monday. Or Tuesday… or Thursday. Whenever. Even if it’s pretty hot out. Even if it’s so hot you think your face is going to melt off. ‘Cause look at these! They’re so beautiful, you can’t help but smile.


They’re worth it.

And of course, they go perfectly with my grandmother’s vintage 40′s/50′s summer tablecloth that I recently found. How amazing is this? And how jealous are you? ‘Cause I bet you’re pretty friggin’ jealous right now. That’s okay, I would be too. Between my cake plate and this… pfft. You might as well give up. You ain’t got nuthin’ on me & my summer steez.

Anyway, I love you summer. ♥ Here’s to you & all your awesomeness.

America, hell yeah!

Happy 236th birthday, America. You look pretty good for an old broad. To celebrate; strawberry “shortcake” cupcakes for the 4th of July; vanilla cupcakes stuffed with chopped fresh strawberries (after baking; cut a hole out of each cake & fill with chopped strawberries), topped with fresh whipped cream and more fresh sliced strawberries. And of course- little American flags & pinwheels.

O beautiful, for soft whipped cream

On moist & tender cake

For bright red berries majesties

Atop the fruited cakes

America, America,

Bakers shed thy grace on thee

And crown thy cakes with buttercream

From sea to shining sea

Take it easy today, my fellow Yanks. If you choose to light fireworks, don’t blow any appendages off. And don’t drink too much.

Remember what today is really about, and please remember our soldiers who’d give anything to be home watching fireworks explode instead of roadside bombs.

Cookie jars, pink cookies, and a giveaway.

COMMENTS CLOSED & GIVEAWAY OVER!

Okay everyone… the winner is… SARAH! Comment #73 (the last comment)! Congrats Sarah! I’m e-mailing you now. Thanks everyone for entering.

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I have a kind of obsession with cupcake cookie jars. I love all cookie jars, actually, and one of my favorites- not to mention my pride & joy in this particular arena- is a vintage 1930′s Minnie/Mickey Mouse one that belonged to my great grandmother Mary (whom I’m named for, kinda sorta). But I really love ones shaped like cupcakes, for obvious reasons. I’ve got four so far: one pink & blue, one black/orange/white for Halloween, one that’s all patriotic & red/white/blue and then this, my newest addition from Sourpuss Clothing.

So… you wanna see my new addition?

HOW CUTE IS THAT. Adorable. I’ve been lusting over a cupcake cookie jar with a skull on top forever now! And one that isn’t in Halloween colors. That’s kinda hard to find, ’cause for some strange reason people associate skulls just with Halloween. Weird. Oh, and you see those super cute little pink gingham cupcake towels underneath it? Yeah, I got those too. And an apron to match! CCO. Crazy cuteness overload.

Me & Sourpuss Clothing go back a long way, back to when Cupcake Rehab was just a baby blog. They have the most unique housewares for the most unique homebodies among us. I love them. So much so, in fact, that in addition to a Cupcake Rehab sticker, Lola actually sports a Sourpuss sticker too!

So yeah, they’re pretty freakin’ awesome. And they sent me this awesome cookie jar. And when I get a new cookie jar, it makes me want to make cookies to fill it with. And what cookies would I fill it with but pink cookies!? And what’s better than cookies with M&M’s? And how about if they’re coconut M&M’s? Pretty much makes them automatically awesome. Yep, I braved the high humidity & to make cookies just to fill my new cookie jar. I’m kinda insane. But you knew that.

..

Now, you probably don’t need another cookie recipe (but I’m gonna give you one anyway). Come on. THEY’RE PINK.

PINK COCONUT M&M COOKIES

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups unsifted all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ cup solid vegetable shortening
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 4 egg whites
  • a dash of Wilton Rose or Christmas Red food coloring gel, or another color if desired
  • 1 small bag coconut M&M’s (for these I only used the white & brown colored ones) or regular M&M’s, or chocolate chips, or white chocolate chips… or whatever the hell you want!

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F degrees. Prepare baking sheets by covering them with parchment.
  2. Combine flour, salt and baking soda in a medium bowl.
  3. Beat together shortening, sugars and vanilla in a seperate, larger bowl until creamy. Add egg whites, beating until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Add food coloring, mix until combined. Adjust until you get the desired color. Stir in M&M’s.
  4. Drop batter by well-rounded teaspoonful on to greased baking sheets. Add more M&M’s on top, if desired.
  5. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until golden on the bottoms & puffy. Cool cookies on sheets on wire rack for 2 minutes. Remove cookies to wire rack to cool completely.

Side note: striped paper straws make everything, including milk, taste better. True story. Thanks Yoyo for sending me a bunch, I love them.

So maybe you didn’t need that cookie recipe.

What you do need, however, is that cookie jar. Amirite? You totally, 100%, without a shadow of a doubt need that cookie jar in your life. And I want to give it to you. I really do. ‘Cause I’m nice like that. And Sourpuss Clothing is nice, too, which is why they’re making it possible that one of you lucky dogs out there will in fact end up with a cookie jar.

You will not, sadly, get the cookies too. Those you have to make yourself. So… what do you have to do to get this cookie jar?

  • First, and most important, you have to tell me something: if you were to win this cookie jar, would you like it in aqua or pink? And why? ‘Cause it matches your mixer? Your kitchen? It’s your favorite color? Do tell.
  • Finally… tell everyone in your social network about it! Copy and paste the following into a tweet or post it on your Facebook page for an extra entry (then come back & let me know)-

I just entered to win a cupcake cookie jar from @SourpussBrand at @CupcakeRehab! And guess what? You can too: http://cupcakerehab.com/2012/06/cookie-jars-pink-cookies-and-a-giveaway

And that’s it. Super easy peasy. Two different chances to win for each of you. I’ll select a winner at midnight via random.org. This little giveaway ends at midnight on June 19th. I’ll announce the winner here and also e-mail them right away to let ‘em know the awesome news- so make sure you leave a valid e-mail address with your comments. ‘Cause I know you’ll be having trouble sleeping with excitement.