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Triple berry maple bourbon jam.

Triple berry maple bourbon jam!

Boy, berries can be messy.

I forget this from year to year, until I have some & I’m making jam & it splatters everywhere & it looks like I’ve been doing illegal surgeries in my kitchen sink.They’re so pretty though. So I forgive them their trespasses, for they know not what they do. And they’re summery, so it stands to reason I’m ready to start using them.

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Opium cakes.

Opium den images courtesy of Retronaut

Opium used to be the big drug back in the day. I guess it was the crystal meth of the time, around the turn of the century/1920′s. It contains something like 12% morphine, and codeine & hydrocodone are derivatives of the same family of drug- hence the name opiates. It’s serious stuff. Laudanum was made from opium & alcohol & was used to treat a variety of stomach ailments fairly regularly back then. But in modern times, all we know about it is what we read from an Edgar Allan Poe story or William S. Burrough’s novels, not to mention glib pop culture references. We all remember that Seinfeld episode where Elaine’s urine test comes back positive for opium because she ate a poppy seed bagel, right? I always thought such a thing couldn’t happen, unless you eat 1,000,000 poppy seed bagels in one day. But I was wrong: eating poppy seed muffins, cakes or bagels can indeed land you in a heap of trouble. As a matter of fact, back in January of 2005, Anahad O’Connor wrote in the New York Times Science section that “eating just two poppy seed bagels heavily coated with seeds can result in morphine in a person’s system for hours, leading a routine drug test to come back positive… [therefore] because of this possibility, the federal government recently raised the threshold for opiates in workplace testing to 2,000 nanograms a milliliter, up from 300.” And by that reasoning, this cake could possibly get you fired from your job or make you lose custody of your kids. It’s loaded with poppy seeds. Loaded. Both in the cake itself and on top.

Which is fine with me. I love me some poppy seeds. Poppy seed bagels are my favorite bagels ever. So when I was reading one of the (many, many, many, as you can see here) books I got for Christmas, Cake Ladies by Jodi Rhoden, and I saw this triple layer poppy seed cake with almond icing, I just had to make it. I never make cakes, as you probably know. This was an exception. It’s a huge cake: a pound of butter & a half-dozen eggs. But worth it. However… I ended up halving the recipe & making two dozen cupcakes instead. I know, I know.

But it just seemed so big. So many eggs, so much butter, etc. And it is big, because if half the recipe makes two dozen cupcakes, the whole recipe must make FOUR DOZEN. That is huge. And crazy. And ¼ cup of poppy seeds is a lot of poppy seeds. It’s a wonder I didn’t get high off it. As far as the taste goes, they were pretty unique, I have to say. Very different, but I loved them. Cardamom, nutmeg, cinnamon, poppy seeds, almond extract & the tang from the vinegar-milk combination; all very subtle but what flavor! A surprisingly delicious winter cupcake. Moist cake filled with tons of warming spices, albeit subtle like I said, and then some crunch from the seeds. I topped them with the almond buttercream from the book and then some little flowers made of almond slices with poppy seeds for centers. Really cute, I thought. Next time, however, I’d make little red poppies out of fondant. ‘Cause that’d be doubly cute.

Of course, I’m giving you the adapted cupcake version of the recipe that I made. For the full cake recipe, you’ll have to buy the book. Bwahahaha.

POPPY SEED CUPCAKES WITH ALMOND BUTTERCREAM ICING (adapted from a recipe by Lisa Goldstein of Celo, NC, from Cake Ladies by Jodi Rhoden)

Ingredients:

Cake:
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature, separated
  • ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened, at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 1 cup milk at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons pure almond extract
  • 1 ½ cups all purpose flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • pinch salt
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • a pinch of ground cardamom
  • ¼ cup poppy seeds
Icing:
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened, room temperature
  • 2 ½ – 3 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon pure almond extract
  • 2-3 tablespoons half-and-half (plus more if needed)

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350° F. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites together with the cream of tartar on high speed, until soft peaks form. Set aside.
  2. In a separate bowl of the stand mixer, this time fitted with the paddle, cream the butter, sugar and honey together until light and fluffy. While beating on low speed, add egg yolks, one at a time. Beat after each addition. Scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl, and beat again until the mixture is smooth, light and creamy.
  3. In a glass measuring cup, combine the milk, vinegar and almond extract. Set aside.
  4. In a separate bowl, sift the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, cardamom and nutmeg. Add that mixture to the creamed butter mixture in three parts, alternating with the milk mixture, and mixing lightly but thoroughly between each addition, until ingredients are just combined.
  5. Add the poppy seeds, folding them in by hand until combined. Quickly re-whisk the egg whites by hand if they’ve separated, then fold them into the batter gently, in three batches.
  6. Add cupcake liners to muffin tins and fill each with batter, around two-thirds full. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in each cupcake comes out clean. Allow to cool 10 minutes in tins, then remove to wire rack. Cool thoroughly before frosting.
  7. To make the icing, cream the butter and confectioner’s sugar together in the bowl of a stand mixer until it makes a thick paste. add and combine the vanilla & almond extracts. Then add the half-and-half, one tablespoon at a time, blending on low speed until fully incorporated.
  8. Add more if needed to achieve a creamy, fluffy consistency. Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the paddle, bottom and sides of the bowl. Re-mix until no lumps remain.

Excuse the frosting job on the back left one; I was trying to find the best way of doing it

They came out really rustic-looking. So much so I almost wish I had one of those cake stands made of an old tree. They’d be so sweet on one of those. Dammit, I wish I had one now! I’m going to have to get my hands on some cut down trees & get Jay to start cuttin’ it up! He’s a big, handy fella. He can do it. Why buy when you can DIY!

If you’re looking for a unique recipe to try, this is it. It’d be fabulous as a triple layer cake, too, of course. And in case you’re wondering, I got a lot of cookbooks for Christmas, so you’ll be seeing a lot of recipes from them in the coming months. And I’m not into New Year’s resolutions so they’ll be loaded with butter & eggs & sugar. I’ve got to maintain my girlish figure somehow.

And if poppy seeds don’t interest you, later on this week there’ll be a post featuring a giveaway I’m doing together with Yoyo from Topstitch, so keep your eyes peeled.

Perfectly irregular little Christmas trees.

Most people know I’m a New Yorker. I’m a New Yorker through & through- I like my clothes black & my coffee expensive, I walk fast & hate eye contact with anyone unless I know them. What most people don’t know is the history of one of New York’s most beloved traditions: the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree.

When I was little, my Aunt Winnie bought me a book called the A Perfectly Irregular Christmas Tree. It told the story of a little tree that grew to become the tall, beautifully lit Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center, and at the back of the book, it told the story of the origins of the tradition. Ever since then, I’ve been totally in love with the concept. Not that I wasn’t before that… but it wasn’t until that book that I really even thought about it. It was sort of like I just assumed the tree was always there or something. I know, silly, but come on, I was like, what, 7 years old?

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Basically there’s a very important history behind the origins of that big ol’ tree, and not many people know it.

Although the official Christmas tree tradition at Rockefeller Center began in 1933 (the year the 30 Rockefeller Plaza opened), the unofficial tradition began during the Depression-era construction of Rockefeller Center, when workers decorated a smaller 20 feet (6.1 m) balsam fir tree with “strings of cranberries, garlands of paper, and even a few tin cans” on Christmas Eve (December 24, 1931), as recounted by Daniel Okrent in his history of Rockefeller Center.[10] Some accounts have the tree decorated with the tin foil ends of blasting caps. There was no Rockefeller Center Christmas tree in 1932.

The decorated Christmas tree remains lit at Rockefeller Center until the week after New Year’s Day, when it is removed and recycled for a variety of uses. In 2007, the tree went “green,” employing LED lights.[11] After being taken down, the tree was used to furnish lumber for Habitat for Humanity house construction.[12]

Anyway, in addition to all that New Yorker-ish stuff about me, I also love to bake, as is evidenced by this blog. And occasionally I get an urge to do so randomly, or I get inspired by something. So it happened one night that I wanted to make some frosted (or iced?) cookies, and I got the idea that they just had to be gingerbread. I had a few recipes already, stashed in cookbooks or ripped from magazines, most of which were supposedly awesome, but I thought I’d check Twitter & see if anyone had any they really liked. Gabrielle from The Punk Housewife responded super quick with a vegan version from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar by Isa Chandra Moskowitz & Terry Hope Romero.

Now, I’m not vegan. I’ve made awesome vegan cupcakes before, and even made a dip entirely with vegan-friendly cheese & other non-dairy products (which I can’t say I’d do again, really). I have no problems with vegans or anything, but I myself can’t do it. I have a hot, dirty love affair with butter & cheese… & I like it. So I don’t usually have things like soy milk on hand, & if I’m going to bake something I’m usually going to go “whole hog” so to speak. However, by sending me that recipe she gave me a sort of kick in the pants to use that recipe as inspiration & then build on it with a few non-vegan tweaks. Sure, I could’ve just made it by substituting the soy milk with regular, but where’s the fun in that?! Basically, it forced my hand to do my own little gingerbread cookie thang. And that’s just what I did. So thank you, Gabrielle! I totally de-veganized that puppy. I made up my own little gingerbread cookie recipe as I went along, and then what did I do with that dough? I cut out little trees, as my homage to the big 74-foot guy in Rockefeller Center who just so happened to be having a little party & “lighting” in his honor last week. Of course mine weren’t lit- but they were all iced up with some royal icing & sprinkles.

Yeah, at this time of year EVERYONE makes cookies, especially gingerbread, & everyone seems to be in on the “fancy royal icing decorating” craze now as well. But I’m not aiming to be like everyone else, so hopefully mine are not only perfectly imperfect (more on that in a bit), but unique.

GINGERBREAD COOKIES CUPCAKE REHAB-STYLE

Ingredients:

  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour, sifted
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 2 ½ teaspoons ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup molasses (I personally like Brer Rabbit full flavor, even though that & Grandma’s are now owned by the same company)

Directions:

  1. Unroll a fairly large piece of plastic wrap & sprinkle lightly with flour. Set aside.
  2. Cream the butter & sugar until light & fluffy. Mix flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, allspice & ginger together in a medium bowl; set aside.
  3. Add egg & molasses one at a time to butter/sugar mixture, beating after each until combined.
  4. Add flour mixture gradually, until a sticky dough forms. Form dough into a ball the best you can & place on plastic wrap, rolling it up tightly. Chill for anywhere from 1 hour to overnight (but no longer than that).
  5. Remove dough from fridge & if too firm, let sit for 20-25 minutes before rolling out. The dough will be quite sticky, so have flour on hand. Preheat oven to 350° degrees F, meanwhile roll out onto lightly floured surface to about ¼ – ½” thick. Using cookie cutters, cut out shapes & using a thin spatula, carefully place onto cookie sheet lined with parchment paper (they will be very soft!!! BE CAREFUL HERE). Re-roll the scraps left over until you haven’t got enough left to use, then just lay the pieces on the sheet (they make for nice nibbles later while you’re decorating your cookies).
  6. Bake for 7-8 minutes. Remove from oven & allow to cool on the sheet for 5 minutes, then move to a wire rack to cool completely.

ROYAL ICING

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 4 tablespoons milk or water
  • 4 tablespoons meringue powder

Directions:

  1. Mix all ingredients together in a medium bowl. If too thick, add more liquid, if too thin, add more sugar. Add food coloring as desired. Ta-da!

There are tons of different recipes for royal icing- some include pasteurized egg whites, some using regular old egg whites, some meringue powder, some just cream of tartar. Any of them work just fine as long as they’re the right consistency for what you’re using it for; i.e. outlines, flooding, etc. This particular recipe can be halved, quartered, doubled, tripled, etc. to suit your needs.

So once these babies are 100% cool, you can decorate them all fancy-like using that royal icing there. I obviously made little trees, so I decorated them like trees (duh). You can make anything from snowflakes to bells to holly to whatever. And then just decorate them using the icing & top it with quins, jimmies, sanding sugar, dragees- anything! The icing part can be a bit tricky if you’re not used to it. I’ve been icing cookies with royal icing since my mom made gingerbread & sugar cookies when I was a kid & let me decorate them. Now, I’m far from an expert on this, my main decorating niche lies within the cupcake sphere, so I’ll leave the explanation of how to decorate/frost cookies like a pro to Marian at Sweetopia who really is the expert. She not only does it way better than I do, but her explanation of how to decorate the cookies is probably way better than I could write. Not that mine came out terrible… I mean they’re cute, fairly neat & most importantly they taste great. So they’re not perfect, they’re ‘perfectly irregular’; like the tree in the book. But thats totally cool with me. I’m not perfect either. What in the world is perfect, exactly?

Well, cookies & tea are pretty damn close.

Amazing. There is nothing, NOTHING like a good cookie. I have to say I really, really loved these. I had like 8 of these the first night, with a cup of Licorice Spice tea. So after that one batch of trees were such a success, the next night I made some little Christmas wreaths. I used green royal icing this time, along with red tie-dyed looking marzipan for the bows, and some round pink sprinkles in different sizes that Lyns sent me back in October. I wasn’t 100% pleased with how these came out though. I think I like the trees better. Oh well. It was a cute concept, poor execution.

It was almost disgusting how good they were. The dough is very soft. VERY. Which admittedly can make it very hard to work with. It will definitely be a tricky dough, but the flavor is so amazing & perfect, and the texture is also so amazing & perfect, it’s well worth it. Just right for a cold December night while looking at how pretty your tree looks under a blanket on the couch. The best chewy gingerbread cookie I’ve had in a while; not hard as a rock & teeth-breaking, not flavorless nor overpowering. They’re just the right amount of soft, sweet & spicy.

But at this time of year, you can’t keep ‘em all to yourself. Or rather you can… at the risk of being compared to Ebenezer Scrooge. I prefer to share the wealth (to an extent). I put them in a little box (originally a cupcake box, I just removed the insert) courtesy of Bake-A-Box that was perfect for showing them off. And how cute is that gingerbread ornament?

As if you haven’t noticed, I’ve been including vintage postcards at the bottom of all my holiday posts. This one is just so pretty I had to share it, plus it’s eerily perfectly appropriate for this post; it’s a big, beautiful tree & the baubles on it look just like the ones on my cookie wreaths.

Got an excess of pickled items? Well then read on…

I’m guessing that around this time of year most people who like to preserve foods or “can” end up with a plethora (or a bunch) of jars of pickled & preserved goodness. Now if your family is anything like mine, you end up with quite a few open jars in your fridge any given time. Everyone wants to taste everything at once!

“Ohh what are those? Pickled carrots?! I need to try them…”
“Mmm those habanero pickles look good, I think I’ll try one!”
“Holy crap- you made dilly beans?! I haven’t had one of those in years… lemme get one…”
“Wow lemon marmalade. Is it good? Can I try some?”

And then all the jars sit in the fridge getting picked at here and there, taking up space. Except for the regular cucumber pickles; the pickles go like hotcakes. I can barely keep a jar for longer than a week or two tops. So after the successful potato salad I made with dilly beans, I brainstormed this macaroni salad to incorporate and use up some of the pickled goodies sitting open in my fridge. I had some pickled carrots, dilly beans, peppers in oil & regular dill pickles, so that’s what I used. Of course, you can definitely substitute plain slivered carrots, chopped fresh Bell peppers and some chopped fresh green beans too… but it’ll be a totally different taste & flavor profile.

Keep in mind also that pretty much anything could be added: pickled zucchini, cauliflower, etc. Whatever you have open & whatever tickles your pickle (pun intended). Just chop it up & toss it on in there. You can adapt it to suit you in any way, including removing the mustard or removing the red wine vinegar & using all white, etc. Also, you can adjust the ratio of vinegar to mayonnaise as you like it.

Everyone loved it. LOVED IT. It was requested for lunch quite a bit that week.

The pickled carrots come from Molly Wizenberg‘s book, A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table. I mentioned that lately I’d been reading through it again a few posts back, well I also saw the pickled carrots while re-reading it & became intrigued. They took no time to make, seeing as how they were really a form of “refigerator pickles” & were a welcome addition to not only this salad, but my refrigerator. I subbed fresh sprigs of rosemary for the thyme because my mother has an allergy to thyme, so I try to avoid using it in anything she’ll be eating. Now I understand that if you already have an excess of pickled vegetables, you might not want to add to it by making pickled carrots. And I really do understand. But in case you’re intrigued like I was, or you’d like to make them for your salad, I’m including Molly’s exact recipe. Mine differs slightly; I used rosemary instead of thyme, omitted the peppercorns & mustard seed but added freshly ground black pepper, and didn’t add the red pepper flakes either. But that’s something you can figure out for yourself. Same goes for the amount, I made one pint jar by adjusting the ingredients to accommodate it, which is certainly something you can do. If you used a variety of different colored heirloom carrots, it’d make an even more beautiful jar. Next time, that’s what I’ll do.

By the way, this is in the gluten-free category for the pickled carrots, not the macaroni salad, although you could definitely use gluten-free pasta. Same goes for whole wheat pasta or any kind you’d prefer. I like the tri-color because it adds to the prettiness, but that’s just a purely aesthetic reason.

They look gorgeous in the jar.

SPICY PICKLED CARROTS WITH GARLIC & THYME (from A Homemade Life)

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups apple cider vinegar, plus more off topping jars
  • 2 cups water, plus more for topping jars
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 6 (5-to 6-inch) sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 5 large cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 ½ teaspoons black peppercorns, cracked
  • 1 ½ teaspoons red pepper flakes
  • Heaping 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • Heaping 2 tablespoons mustard seeds
  • 1 ½ pounds small (finger sized) carrots, or standard or baby sized carrots cut into sticks about ½” inch wide and 3 inches long

Directions:

  1. In a medium saucepan, combine 1 ½ cups apple cider vinegar, water, sugar, garlic, thyme, black peppercorns, red pepper flakes, salt & mustard seeds. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce to a simmer & cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, and let cool for 5 minutes. Stir in the remaining ½ cup vinegar.
  2. Put the carrots in a large, heatproof bowl, and pour the warm brine over them. Cool to room temperature. While they cool, wash 2 quart-sized canning jars and their lids in warm, soapy water.
  3. When the carrots & brine are cooled, distribute the carrots evenly among the jars, arranging them snugly. (Hands & fingers work best for this; tongs make a mess). Using a ladle, ladle the brine evenly among the jars. The carrots should be covered completely. If not, add a mixture of 2 parts vinegar and 1 part water to cover.
  4. Seal firmly & refrigerate for at least 3 days, or preferably a week. Carrots are dense & take time to absorb the brine. Carrots will last indefinitely (in theory) but try to eat them within a month or two (unless you give them a 10-minute waterbath, then they’ll probably last longer*).
* That’s my 2 cents.

PICKLED & PRESERVED MULTICOLOR MACARONI SALAD

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound tri-color pasta, cooked
  • 1 ½ cups mayonnaise
  • 5 teaspoons spicy brown mustard
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 4 teaspoons white vinegar
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced
  • ½ cup slivered pickled carrots (or regular baby carrots)
  • ¼ cup chopped dilly beans
  • 4 or 5 sweet Bell peppers in oil, chopped
  • 1 pickle spear, cut into ¼” pieces
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • 3 hardboiled eggs, sliced then quartered
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Mix shallot and vinegars together in a medium bowl. Set aside.
  2. Combine the mustard, mayonnaise, salt, pepper and paprika thoroughly in another medium bowl. In a third and larger bowl, add the cooked pasta and mayonnaise mixture together. Mix completely.
  3. Add the vinegar mixture and pickled vegetables and again mix thoroughly. Finally, add the eggs and gently toss.
  4. Place in refrigerator until chilled. Add more mayonnaise or vinegar right before serving if too dry.

Yeah. That’s one colorful, bright & happy macaroni salad. How could you not smile while eating that?

Contact me!

…With all your questions and comments.

You know I’ve had this blog for almost SIX years now. And because of that, I’ve gotten a lot of e·mails from my readers, all over the world, and I love it. I’m always up for answering your questions, receiving feedback or getting a letter that just says “Hi!” I promise, I don’t bite. So if you’ve got something to say or something to ask… please do. Just check the F.A.Q. first, because I do answer a lot of questions there. If you’ve got one that isn’t there- or that’s in reference to a specific baking problem- then contact me!

The best way to contact me is through e-mail* at: cupcake.rehab@gmail.com (if you aren’t clicking on it and plan on writing your own e·mail, please don’t forget the ‘.’!)

Shoot me an e-mail!

I’m always interested in doing interviews, guest posts, or giveaways/reviews. I have a media kit for any interested PR companies as well, all you have to do is ask!

If you’d like to catch up with me on social media, just look to the right. You’ll find links there to all of Cupcake Rehab’s pages & accounts: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. If you find me on another social media site, it’s probably NOT really me. And yes, I have had some fakes pop up here & there.

If you’re ever unsure just shoot me an e-mail & ask!

(And if you wish to discuss graphic design or illustration, then please use my other e·mail: marilloca@gmail.com)



I’m part of the Foodie Blogroll, you can find my profile here: http://www.foodieblogroll.com/members/cupcakerehab

I’m also a member of FoodBuzz, so check me out there too: http://www.foodbuzz.com/foodies/us/new_york/cupcake+rehab

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I’m also a contributing writer at textdrivebys.com, an online publication by a collective of women located all over the U.S.

* If English is not your first language, and you aren’t sure that you’re fluent enough to ask me or comment on something, in order to help me understand and help you convey your meaning, try using a translation website such as freetranslation.com.

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CUPCAKE REHAB ARMY

AKA THE “C.R.MY”

To be drafted, send me a photo or two of you in your Cupcake Rehab gear. Or, drinking out of a CR mug, or pointing to your CR magnet… whatever. As I get them, I’ll post them. No nudies please.

(By the way,”C.R.MY” is not to be confused with MCRmy, which is a completely different animal and has nothing to do with cupcakes)

Me, in the Women’s dark Gangster shirt.

Sami

Samantha, in the Gangster hooded sweatshirt. So gangsta.

Jen

Jennifer, stylin’ & profilin’ in the Jr. ringer t-shirt (discontinued color!). Super fly!

Beautiful baby Angelina in the Cupcake Rehab bib! Start ‘em out young, I say *wink*

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Everything you always wanted to know about me…

(but were afraid to ask.)

“Some people like to paint pictures, or do gardening, or build a boat in the basement. Other people get a tremendous pleasure out of the kitchen, because cooking is just as creative and imaginative an activity as drawing, or wood carving, or music.”

-Julia Child

This blog is about so much more than cupcakes.

And it’s not JUST cupcake recipes. It might have started out that way, maybe way back when. But it’s grown into something far bigger. It’s about independence, individuality, self-reliance, not needing to live 100% off the crap preservative-filled boxed food & pre-packaged baked goods you over pay for in stores. It’s about absorbing as much as you can and loving every aspect of your life, including the messy clean-up. It’s about realizing that feeding your family, making the food from scratch, & growing some of it yourself is so gratifying you’ll wonder why it ever went out of style. It’s not about being preachy, or making everyone else feel inadequate for using a Duncan Hines brownie mix or for eating anything other than grass-fed or organic foods (I do eat McDonald’s- and pizza, and fried chicken, and hot dogs! HORROR OF HORRORS… & nope, I will not apologize… sometimes you just need some salty fries, non-chicken chicken nuggets & a sodium coma). I never make people feel guilty for using frozen store-bought pie crust or Bisquick.

I will never make you feel horrible for your food choices.

THE GIRL:

I’m in my early thirties, which is a hard pill to swallow seeing as how I truly wake up & feel like I’m sixteen most days (except for the pesky backaches). I’ve lived in New York my whole life, it’s in my blood. I enjoy punk rock/hardcore/metal music for the most part, but I also enjoy a lot of classical music & my iTunes has songs from a range of people like Elton John and Shakira to Dion & the Belmonts and NIN. My fiancé, Jay, is a superhero by day and a bassist in a death metal band by night. Together, we’re the parents of a four-legged monster/rescue dog named Indy. He’s a stellar combination of Labrador Retriever, Staffordshire Bull Terrier & English Coonhound, and he keeps us laughing (& on our toes!). I’m quite political, I’m not religious/I don’t identify with any specific religion at all, and I’m opinionated. I change my haircolor & style drastically just about every 6 months. I love to eat. I love to cook. I love to bake. I like good beer & red wine. I like the color pink (obviously). By trade, I’m an artist who went to the Fashion Institute of Technology for fashion design & illustration. I also do freelance graphic design. I have an extensive art background; I’ve been drawing and watercolor painting since I was a child and about 13 years ago I got into digital art (drawn with Adobe Illustrator) which is probably my favorite medium as of now. When I was 17 years old, I interned in the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, NY- one of the most famous museums in the world. In addition to fashion design and illustration, which I was schooled for, I’ve taught myself webdesign. I’ve been doing webdesign for over 17 years now, and I’ve come a long way since my first free website on Angelfire.com.

“Like a hurricane in the heart of the devastation,

She’s a natural disaster,

she’s the last of the American girls.

 

THE BLOG:

Cupcake Rehab is one rockin’, rollin’ & reelin’ kinda blog. It’s not the same old boring snoozefest that you’ll see on a million other blogs all over the web. I love baking and cooking- it relaxes me & excites me at the same time. I’m not a pro, I never went to school for it, and I’m not making anything groundbreaking, but I do hope at least someone will get something out of what I share in this little corner of the internet. I started cooking & doing domestic things when my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer in August of 2006. After cooking almost every night, I decided I’d start making dessert too. The first thing I ever baked from scratch that year was Amy Sedaris’ vanilla cupcakes with buttercream frosting tinted pink. It was such a success, and I got such great feedback from them, that I just began going cupcake crazy. By the next summer I was full-on baker mode.

I started an informal private friends-only blog on my personal MySpace page (wow I’m dating myself by saying that!) in September of 2007, and created a blog at wordpress.com in December of 2007 after everyone pushing me to do so, telling me it’d be a big hit. By February 2008 I’d gotten over 3,000 hits at that blog, which encouraged me to take it a few steps further. The domain name was purchased for me courtesy of Jay the next spring and here we are! The rest is history. I’ve since added some Cupcake Rehab© clothing and other miscellaneous items, so if you’re interested in that visit my store!

Like I said, I’m not a pastry chef. I’m not the best baker in the world, I’m not a Master Preserver, and I’m no Mario Batali. But I love this & it makes me happy. Any complaints can be directed to the complaint department. Oh wait, there isn’t one.  The blog speaks for itself.

“It’s like Heavy Metal meets House & Garden!”

- Jim Carrey

(as The Riddler)

The main thing I’ve learned in my fairly short life so far is that you really can’t care what anyone else thinks about you. I certainly don’t. For better or worse, this is who I am. Take it or leave it. I curse, I swear, I make light of things that may not be funny to you, I’m irreverent and sometimes a bit self-centered at times … but the beauty of all this is that you can click that little “x” up in the corner and never come back here again, and I can continue to be brash and abrasive and honest. That’s part of what this blog is about- being yourself. So what, I like pink-frosted cupcakes. I also like Agnostic Front & I’ve had a mohawk.

A friend of mine had this to say about this blog:

“I love it …

it’s like Martha Stewart and

Sid Vicious had a blog love child.”

If that appeals to you, then welcome. If not… I assure you, there are no Ozzy Osbourne bat-biting incidents here, it’s pretty tame. I MAKE CUPCAKES & PICKLES, FOR GOODNESS’ SAKES. But if you’re still turned off, there are plenty of other blogs to keep you amused.

THE INSPIRATION:

Jay purchased the domain for me, as I stated above. Having him around to bounce ideas off of has been awesome… and there’s always someone to eat all the pickle experiments I make! (I hate pickles.) The fact that there’s someone that loves talking about food as much as I do in my life makes me so happy. And not just talking, but eating too!

My nana Agnes was my biggest fan. There are a few others who’d want to fight her for that title, but believe me she’d put up a hell of a fight! Everything I did- no matter what it was- she was the first one to get excited about it. She thought my whole blogging thing was awesome, and although she might not have fully understood the concept, it didn’t matter. She was very pleased to taste-test recipes, too! I miss her a lot.

And of course my mom, she’s the reason I love being a cook and baker, and not just because of what I said above. She baked all the time when I was growing up. From her I learned (almost) everything I know, and I still ask her advice and help for recipes when I’m a bit lost. Or when things go wrong, which, when you’re as “recipe rebellious” as I am, can be fairly frequently. From homemade sugar cookies and pfeffernüsse to regular day to day meals and cupcakes for my birthday at school, she was always making something. Not to mention the infamous last-minute late night chocolate chip cookie crusade or the “customized” Hostess cupcakes for the last minute bake sale that fooled everyone. So its all because of her… (and Jay, and of course some inspiration from some other amazing cupcake and food blogs on the ‘net) that gave me the kick in the ass to create Cupcake Rehab. But without those Christmases in the kitchen, I’d never know all those little tricks and fixes, and I wouldn’t have that confidence to turn a baking mistake into something spectacular. Thanks Mom ♥

THE STAR:

The real star of the show here, though, is the ever elegant, ever classy, always beautiful Lola. Who is Lola? Well Lola is the name I gave my gorgeous pink KitchenAid Cook for the Cure® Artisan stand-mixer. Jay bought her for me for my birthday a few years ago (I know, I know, he is awesome). She’s amazing, a powerhouse, and I adore her more than a human should adore a machine. Seriously. Besides, my meringue-making has greatly improved since I received her. My dream is to get a Professional KitchenAid mixer 600 Series in Caviar Gloss and name it Don Corleone, and have the two of them sitting side by side on my counter. Ah, a girl can dream, can’t she?

(Pssst… have you SEEN the latest Raspberry Ice & Watermelon colors!? Be still my heart. Four mixers isn’t too over the top & crazy, right? RIGHT?)

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The rest, as they say, is history…

Psst… usually you can find me in the kitchen; in my glasses with frosting smeared on my cheek, and batter all over my apron or clothes (or pajamas), reading books (always) or geeking out on my Macbook or iPhone. But don’t be fooled: whether dressed up & painted up all pretty-like or in flannel cupcake pajamas, I can kick your ass either way.

 

Questions? Comments? Complaints? I’m happy to help. See the FAQ page or the CONTACT page.

   

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