Category: ideas

Simple summer cocktail: Woodchuck shandy.

Keep it cool with a Woodchuck shandy!

When I was asked to try some summery recipes involving Woodchuck Hard Cider, I couldn’t possibly say no. Hard cider is one of my FAVORITE drinks. I could drink hard cider all day long & never get tired of it! However I usually associate it with autumn or the colder months.

Which I’ve now learned is a really silly idea, because Woodchuck has some amazing spring & summer ciders!

Continue reading

Linzer tart cupcakes.

Ohhh, Valentine’s Day is here. Time for hearts. Hearts everywhere. Heart-shaped everything! And of course, here that includes… cupcakes.

I go batty for holidays ’round these here parts, in case you didn’t know notice.

These particular little cupcakes are inspired by Linzer tarts, or Linzer tortes. In America, you low them as the cookies with a hole cut out of the top piece… its filled with a red or pink colored jam or jelly and dusted with confectioner’s sugar. However in Austria those are considered Linzer sablés (Linzer Augen or “linzer eyes”). They’re also a riff on the cupcakes I posted last year; which were chocolate cupcakes filled with pink frosting, all in a heart-shape.

Linzer tart cupcakes for Valentine's Day.

There are a few ways of doing this neat little heart-shaped hole trick, but I just use the method I find easiest: I push the cutter down into the middle of the completely cooled (preferably refrigerated for a few hours) cupcake. After some wiggling, the heart-shaped piece should pop out when you remove the cookie cutter. Another way: cut the top of the cupcake off, add a layer of jam, then cut the hole out of the top and stick it back on.

Linzer tart cupcakes filled with strawberry jam.

Whatever way you choose, the end result is adorable. And sweet.

Continue reading

Spinning a web of sweetness.

BOO!

 

Not sure what your day is going to consist of come the 31st, but mine? Candy, candy, and more candy. Maybe candy corn vodka. Maybe trick-or-treat Halloween candy cupcakes. Maybe none of the above- maybe just handfuls upon handfuls of chocolates & bubble gum & sugar. These cupcakes here are just an early treat!

Oh and pizza. There will most likely be pizza.

See, I’m determined to enjoy this Halloween. Being that it’s my favorite holiday, I am DETERMINED to not let anything ruin it this year. So determined, I made these JUST to snack on in anticipation! Last year my Halloween was ruined when that bitch Sandy blew in here & wrecked everything- knocking out my power for a week. So this year I am sitting on my ass, eating junk with my TV playing all the horror movies I want… but anyway, let me get back to the cakes.

Easy spiderweb cupcakes for Halloween!I know, the cake stand rocks…

 

These cupcakes are just vanilla cakes with vanilla frosting, topped with black “spiderwebs” I made from Wilton Candy Melts. See? You don’t have to go crazy or over the top to make cute Halloween cupcakes!

Continue reading

DIY: Creepy candy specimen jars!

DIY’d jars are all over the place. Well, jars are all over the place in & of themselves, however lately it seems people are gluing all kinds of crazy shit on top of jar lids & then painting them… with adorable results. I personally glued some knobs on jars last year & made some super cute candy jars. But some other things I’ve seen: little dinosaurs, bunnies, cats, etc. All of these little knick-knacks just glued onto the lids, then painted, then the lids are screwed back on to make a completely different looking candy jar/thread holder/toy container/etc.

So why not capitalize on it for Halloween?

Easy DIY Halloween specimen jars (or candy jars).

I decided there was no reason not to. So, ladies & gentlemen, here are my creepy little “candy specimen” jars for Halloween! You can fill them with candy, with plastic eyeballs, with rubber snakes, with whatever you want. Use them as part of your “laboratory” for a Halloween party.

Oh- & It’d be lame if I didn’t acknowledge that A Pretty Cool Life, It All Started With Paint & Joy the Baker inspired these.

Creepy DIY specimen jars for Halloween!

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.

Find the gold at the end of the rainbow cupcake.

Something I always loved was the way layered, multi-colored cupcakes look. I thought I’d give them a shot a while back (I think when New York passed the gay marriage bill thingy) and never did. I know they’re all over the internet, and there are a gazillion bajillion ways to make them. And I know this blog post is really nothing new.

But it’s cute, right?

I think it’s cute. And what better occasion (other than gay marriage legalized, I mean) could there be than St. Patrick’s Day? You know that old legend, finding a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow:

Dating back to Old Europe, the legend of the pot of gold is claimed enthusiastically by the Irish. They’ll tell you that fairies put the gold there and then the leprechauns guard it. This folklore has become part of the symbolism of St. Patrick’s Day, a holiday that celebrates everything Irish including the hope and luck it takes to find that elusive pot of gold.

The famous Irish lore is based on a bit of eye trickery. In case you didn’t know, there really is no end to a rainbow. The way the physics work, rainbows are actually full circles, except the Earth itself gets in the way of us seeing the complete circle. As humans, our vision is limited to only as far as the horizon.

One of the biggest signs that a Leprechaun is near by is from the rainbow shining from the leprechauns’ pot of gold.

One good tip, a leprechaun is sure to be found near his pot of gold. One needs to be careful when approaching any leprechaun as they are extremely quick and will vanish at the sight of any humans close by, but you can manage to creep up behind him with a net in hope to get the pot of gold or three wishes. Be careful what you wish for though, as Leprechaun’s are smarter than us humans and are known to trick people.

To protect the leprechaun’s pot of gold the Irish fairies gave them magical powers to use if ever captured by a human or an animal. Such magic an Irish leprechaun would perform would be to grant three wishes or to vanish into thin air!

When the Vikings inhabited Ireland, they stored hordes of treasure all over the land. According to the legends, when they left, they forgot to take several stashes of gold with them.

The leprechauns found the gold and divided it among themselves. But they knew the riches of the Vikings had been collected through wicked deeds, and this deepened their mistrust of humans.

The leprechauns decided that humans could not have the gold because of what their greed would make them do. They stored the coins in pots and buried them deep underground where humans could not find them. However, according to the stories, a rainbow will end where a leprechaun has hidden his pot of gold.

- Mystical Mythology from Around the World

 

And I can’t really think of a better representation of a rainbow than a rainbow cupcake. There are a few ways to top them, you know, to keep with the “pot of gold” theme. I chose a less obvious way- gold crystal sugar & edible gold pearl dust with some shamrock sprinkles (you can use edible glitter, too). Another way would be to get those little chocolate gold foil-covered coins (or even individually wrapped Rolo’s) and put one on top of each cupcake, or you can get even more literal and get actual little pots of gold (edible or not). Oh! You know what else would be cute? Lucky Charms. You could put some Lucky Charms cereal on top of them.

But no matter how you top ‘em, you have to make the rainbow itself the same way:

1. One yellow cupcake or white cupcake recipe, divided into 6 bowls and then tinted. Each bowl ends up a different color- red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple. If you want to get really crazy, you can follow ROY G. BIV to the tee, including not just blue but “indigo”, or you can throw in some pink. I kept it simple- as it is, the red and orange weren’t very different once baked. That was user error, aka my fault. Not enough yellow in the orange. BAD TRADITIONALLY-TRAINED ARTIST! I should know better.

I didn’t think you needed photos of all that. I figured you could handle it on your own.

Six bowls, equally divided vanilla cupcake batter in each, then each one colored a different color. Simple.

(Pssst- I used white liners so the color could be seen through them, but black liners would be awesome, kinda like a black pot of gold. Plus that way it’d be like a surprise when they’re unwrapped!)

2. After you’ve got your bowls all colored to the shades you want, then you start making your cupcakes. Line your muffin tins, then get six spoons ready. I say six spoons because you’re not going to want to use the same spoon in, say, both the blue and yellow batters, etc. Now you’re ready to make a rainbow.

3. Spoon the first color in to the liners. I’d say about a teaspoon of each color is fine, but do a “test cupcake” just to see how they rise, etc. I did one and it helped me figure out how much of each color and also showed me that the darker colors looked better on the bottom. Therefore, I did it in reverse ROY G. BIV; violet, blue, green, yellow, orange and lastly the red. Try and spoon it in evenly, so that the bottom is covered. Don’t use more batter than you need to, just smooth the batter out with the spoon. My rainbows aren’t perfectly lined up, but that’s okay. Who needs perfect!? Once every cupcake liner is filled, tap the tin on the counter just to even the batter out a bit. Pop ‘em in the oven and that’s it.

Once they’re out, cool ‘em, frost ‘em, and decorate ‘em. I used this tip & a plain vanilla confectioner’s sugar buttercream.

However you choose to do it, I guarantee you your audience will enjoy these. They just make anyone- even the most hard, cold or miserable among us- smile.

Fill your heart with frosting.

I wish I could say I love surprises, but I really don’t.

Deep down inside somewhere, I kinda do; I kinda do get excited about being surprised. But more often than not, it’s just an overwhelming sense of “What am I missing out on?!” and it drives me bananas. I hate not having control over things. I like knowing what’s happening, what time it’s happening, and where it’s going down… I like being dressed appropriately & I like being mentally prepared. Jay can tell you numerous times when I almost ruined birthday gifts, Christmas gifts or trips with this twisted way of thinking. I think the problem is when I know I’m going to be surprised. If you just spring a surprise on me, then I don’t have time to over-analyze or try & figure out what it is. Yeah I know- I’m a f#%!ing wack job who ruins everything. It’s not that I’m a control freak, though, not at all. I’m extremely laid back when it comes to most things. You can plan anything, take me anywhere, give me any gifts, etc, and I’ll be totally cool with it. I just really prefer to know ahead of time.

All that said, however, a cupcake surprise is a different story.

See, these cupcakes aren’t frosted traditionally. Instead, they’re filled with a surprise. And by that I mean they’re filled with a light, fluffy pink-colored vanilla buttercream through a convenient little cut-out heart shape. I used a little heart-shaped cookie cutter from Sur la Table that cost me a whopping $.76. I know, it almost bankrupted me.

Just bake your cupcakes, whatever kind you want, and when they’re all cooled cut out the shape using a small cookie cutter. I went down pretty deep so the entire cupcake would be filled, but you can just do a bit from the top. Then fill the cut-out shape with frosting using a piping bag & small round tip (for the size of my cookie cutter, Wilton’s 2A tip was perfect). Donesky. If you want to do the confectioner’s sugar thing, just dust them AFTER cutting out the shape but BEFORE filling with frosting. That would look awesome with a red velvet cupcake, too. Any & every combination works: chocolate with vanilla filling, red velvet with chocolate filling, red velvet with cream cheese filling, vanilla with strawberry filling, chocolate with strawberry filling, vanilla with chocolate filling, strawberry with chocolate filling… etc, etc. The sugar dusting just won’t be very visible on a vanilla cupcake, though. But that’s okay… it’s pretty without it, too. On that note, I’ve seen it done as a vanilla cupcake with lemon curd filling as well, which would be nice for spring.

*heart cake stand also from Sur La Table

You can use any flavor cupcake, any flavor or kind of frosting, and any shape cookie cutter. Stars, snowflakes, shamrocks, etc. Even just a circle! Here are some recipes, if you need them:

I used Wilton’s heart-shaped silicone baking cups to bake the cupcakes in. Any kind of shape will do, you don’t have to use hearts, nor do you have to use the same shape as your cookie cutter. A round cupcake with a heart cut-out is just as cute! Another excellent idea: letters. Cut out letters on top to spell out a message, or someone’s name, or just use one letter; maybe your kid’s initial for a birthday party. I’m partial to hearts, and the color pink, so obviously I was going to make ones like this for Valentine’s Day. But of course, this idea can extend far past Valentine’s Day.

I like the spelling out of a message idea, myself. Like maybe…

“Happy Valentine’s Day.”

Just a thought.

printable-valentine-cards-cupid-inside-red-heart