Monday, May 28, 2012

Tie Dye Cupcakes

I am extremely sunburned as I type this. My bra straps feel like they are going to melt through my shoulders. My face feels like leather. Have I painted an attractive enough picture for you yet? I'm not sure there's anything more uncomfortable than being this red-faced. Next time, I'll use more sunscreen.

I'm hoping your Memorial Day weekend was a little less painful than mine. {i kid, i had a ball this weekend!}

One of my favorite "hippie" pals had a birthday on Sunday and I wanted the cupcake to reflect his free and fun spirit. I decided to play with my batter and give it a tie dye look. Everyone needs a little color in their life.  I swear, if my friend Michael was a cupcake, he may have looked just like this.

rainbow!! weeee!!!

I went with a basic vanilla cupcake and topped it with a vanilla buttercream, although you could really use any flavor you like. The process is pretty simple, just a tad time consuming, but the end result is pretty rad.

Preettttyyyy grooooovy if you ask me!

The How To:

1. Start by whipping up your favorite vanilla cupcake batter. I used this one. If you're short on time, you can always use a boxed cake mix, although I guarantee you they will taste better from scratch!

2. Have 1 packet of assorted food colorings or gels on hand. I used purple, green, red, blue and yellow for my batter colors.

3. Once your batter is mixed up, separate the batters into bowls so you can mix each color you'd like to use. For mine, I ended up with 5 bowls/colors.

4. Tint each bowl with a few drops of food coloring or gel. I used anywhere from 5 to 8 drops of food coloring to get my batter the right shade. Don't over mix your batter in this step, because you’ll develop the gluten in the flour and be left with a very tough, bread-like cupcake.Try and mix with minimal stirs.

5. Layer spoonfuls of each colored batter into the cupcake liners until they are 3/4 full. When all the liners are filled, use a toothpick to swirl the batter a few times.

5. Bake your cupcakes according to the recipe you're using.

6. Cool cupcakes completely before frosting.

I used this vanilla buttercream recipe and tinted my frosting orange with food gel. I iced the cupcakes and then garnished with rainbow sprinkles and peace signs.

The whole gang really loved the way they turned out. I'm sure these would dazzle at any kid's birthday party as well.

Have any fun, bright recipes I should know about? Hit me! & happy baking!

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Sunday, May 20, 2012

Buffalo Chicken "Cupcakes"

cupcakes dinners seem to be a regular thing in our house lately. i just can't resist. they're so stinkin' cute and the options for ingredients are endless. if you're really eager to try some yourself, i highly recommend checking out Emily Bites for some genius recipes! this chick has the most creative dinners mashed into cupcake form. just awesome. i am officially obsessed.

anyone who knows me is fully aware of how much i adore spicy things. if we're being completely honest, i actually tote around a bottle of Texas Pete in my lunch bag when i head to work. guys, you never know when you may need to toss some of that heavenly sauce on top of something. i load it on chips... on eggs... on spaghetti... the list goes on and on.

this spicy buffalo chicken "cupcake" is superb. it's gooey with layers of cheese. it's got that zing from the buffalo sauce. plus the crispiness from the wonton wrappers.  if you haven't gotten familiar with a wonton wrapper, i strongly suggest keeping a package in your fridge at ALL times. you won't be sorry.

these would be great at your next football party, cookout, book club meeting.. you name it. just be careful and don't go too hot with the buffalo sauce. i had a moron moment and bought the "red hot" buffalo sauce and had my husband in tears after he ate the first one of these. oops.

(recipe adapted from Emily Bites)

2 cups cooked boneless, skinless chicken breast, chopped up into small pieces (to make it even easier, you could buy a rotisserie chicken!)
4 Laughing Cow Blue Cheese wedges, chopped into small bits
3 T Buffalo wing sauce (I use Frank's Red Hot Buffalo sauce in "Classic Buffalo")
16 wonton wrappers (typically found in the produce section)
1/2  shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 pepper jack cheese

The How To:

1. Pre-heat the oven to 375. Lightly mist 8 cups in a muffin tin with cooking spray and set aside.

2. In a microwavable bowl, combine the chicken, cheese wedges and wing sauce. Microwave for 1 1/2 minutes on high. Stir to combine until chicken mixture is fully coated with cheese and wing sauce.

3. Push a wonton wrapper into the bottom of each of the eight sprayed cups in the muffin tin. Using about half of the chicken mixture, spoon evenly into the wonton wrappers. Sprinkle about half the cheddar and jack cheese evenly over the top of each cup. Press another wonton wrapper on top and repeat the layering steps with the remaining ingredients.

4. Bake for 18-20 minutes until golden brown. Let cool 5 minutes before removing from muffin tin

There's a few more dinner cupcakes on the horizon. One for the next post and who knows when else. Maybe one I can add Texas Pete to?!?

Anybody have some awesome Buffalo Chicken recipes I should try? Love to hear from ya! & happy baking!
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Monday, May 14, 2012

Chocolate Almond Cupcakes For Two

Whenever I want to try and make a new flavored batter, I always like to try the "two cupcake" route before I go all out and do a full recipe. I figure if the batter ends up tasting like chalk, then I only ended up wasting two cupcakes for it. Sometimes it's hit or miss. This one was a hit.

Mother's Day was this past weekend and I wanted to make something special for my giver of life. My mother is the reason I turned out to be such a functional human being (although that's debatable at times). She is also one of those gems that has an extreme addiction for chocolate. When I asked her what she'd like me to make for her, that was the first word to come out of her mouth. She'll kill me for telling you this, but she's a true champion of chocolate. She can demolish a family size bag of Raisinets in ONE sitting.

Sorry Mom.

But hey, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

In honor of my fabulous mother, I present to you chocolate almond cupcakes for two. I ended up making more for her later on, but if you're short on time, these are the perfect treat and don't take much of your day. It's a double chocolate cake with a chocolate almond buttercream. My hubs thought they had sort of a cherry taste to them. It's amazing how much almond, especially when it's extracted, can remind you of a cherry. I promise that you can't go wrong with these. Get to it!

3 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons cocoa powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda (just eyeball half of a quarter-teaspoon and it will be fine)
a pinch of salt
2 tablespoons cold water
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/16 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons semi sweet chocolate morsels (i used mini!)

The How To:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Whisk all the dry ingredients together in a small bowl. In a second small bowl or spouted measuring cup, combine the wet ingredients and the chocolate morsels. Add the dry to the wet and stir til combined, whisking well. Divide batter between two cupcake liners. Bake for 18 minutes or until a tester comes out clean. Allow to cool before frosting.
Chocolate Almond Buttercream
1 1/3 cups powdered sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 tablespoon milk
1/2 tablespoon of Duncan Hines "Chocolate Almond" cupcake flavoring (you can find this in the boxed cake mix section of your grocery store. it's the best evverrr.)
Beat butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add milk and frosting flavoring and mix  until smooth. Pipe onto cooled cupcakes.

Did any of you guys make some delicious for the amazing mother in your life? & happy baking!

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Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Spaghetti and Meatball "Cupcakes"

Savory stuff doesn't make it here too often. But there's just something about dinner in cupcake form that gets me all warm and fuzzy inside. This post was no exception. I wanted to hug these "cupcakes".

But that would have been messy.

Spaghetti and meatballs is a classic. It's comfort food. And what could be better than being able to pick up your dinner by HAND and eating it?!? Come on, people. There is nothing better than that.

I will just cut right to the chase. These are yummy. They aren't so bad for you either. I used whole wheat pasta and ground turkey for the meatballs. You won't feel guilty eating 3. or 27. Although the recipe doesn't make that many. I promise if you don't gorge, there will be some to bring to work the next day. It will be like opening a Christmas present in your cubicle.

Spaghetti and Meatball "Cupcakes"
(Thank you Emily Bites for this awesome recipe!)

1 lb 95% lean ground beef (I used turkey meat.)
¼ cup seasoned bread crumbs
1 large egg
1 T skim milk (I used 2 percent. It was fine!)
8 oz whole wheat spaghetti, broken into 2-3” pieces
3 egg whites
2 oz Parmesan cheese, freshly shredded
¼ cup 2% shredded Mozzarella cheese
1 ½ cups + 3 T marinara sauce, divided
Parsley or chopped fresh basil (optional garnish)

The How To:

 1. Pre-heat the oven to 350. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil then lightly mist it with cooking spray and set aside.

2. In a large bowl, combine the bread crumbs, egg and skim milk and stir until mixed. Add the ground beef and stir in until thoroughly combined. Split the meat mixture into 12 equal pieces and roll them into balls. Set the balls on the prepared baking sheet and put them in the over to bake for 25 minutes at 350.

3. While the meatballs bake, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the broken spaghetti pieces according to package directions. Drain the spaghetti and set it aside to cool (I actually stuck mine in the fridge for a few minutes. It doesn’t need to be cold, but you don’t want it to be too hot to handle when you press it into the cups).

4. When the meatballs are done, remove them from the oven and place them in a saucepot with 1 ½ cups of marinara sauce. Bring the meatballs and sauce over low heat on the stovetop, just to keep it all warm. Stir occasionally. Turn the heat on the oven up to 400 degrees.

5. When the pasta is cooled enough to handle, whisk the egg whites together in a large bowl and then add the pasta. Stir to combine and then add the Parmesan, Mozzarella, and 3 tablespoons of the marinara sauce. Mix together until thoroughly combined.

6. Lightly mist a 12 cup muffin tin with cooking spray. Place about 1/3 cup of the spaghetti mixture into each cup in the muffin tin. Using your fingers, press down on the center and up the sides of the spaghetti, forming cups. Slide the tin into the pre-heated oven and bake for 15 minutes at 400.

7. When the spaghetti cups are done, remove them from the oven and let them cool for a moment before removing them from the tin. When ready to serve, pour a tablespoon of marinara sauce from the pot into the center of a spaghetti cup, top it with a meatball, and follow it with another tablespoon of marinara.

If you make these, I'd love to know how they turned out. Does anyone have other "dinner cupcakes" they have tried out? & happy baking!
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Friday, May 4, 2012

Margarita Cupcakes

Tomorrow is the 5th of May. You should drink a margarita. Or you could eat one.

I ate two.

These cupcakes take me to place I'd much rather be... Like the beaches of Mexico or a speedboat in Aruba. I need to win the lottery. Yesterday.

Do yourself a favor and add these boozy buddies to your Cinco De Mayo festivities. I can't tell you how much they taste like an actual marg. It's retarded.

My neighbor, who is blessed with having the majority of my baked goods end up on her doorstep described these cupcakes as "stupid good". She added, "I'd like to go back in time and eat it again."  I don't think I've received a better compliment. Me thanks you neighbor friend :)

It's true though. They are ridiculously, stupidly good. The sharpness of the tequila comes pouring out the minute you bite into this cake. And the tequila lime frosting? Oh please, this stuff is boss. It's sweet and tangy and positively tantalizing.

Start your weekend right with a dozen of these. Please and thank you.

(recipe from Brown Eyed Baker)

1½ cups all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs, at room temperature
Zest and juice of 1½ limes (I used a little more. Maybe about two limes. One large, one small.)
2 tablespoons tequila
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup buttermilk

1 to 2 tablespoons tequila (to brush on the cupcakes)

The How To:

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line a standard muffin tin with paper liners; set aside.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.

3. In an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat the butter and sugar together until pale, light, and fluffy (about 5 minutes).

4. Reduce the mixer speed to medium and add the eggs one at at time, mixing thoroughly after each addition.

5. Scrape the sides of the bowl and add the lime zest, lime juice, vanilla extract and tequila. Mix until combined. (The mixture may start to look curdled at this point, but don’t worry, it will all come back together.)

6. Reduce the mixer speed low. Add the dry ingredients in three batches, alternating with the buttermilk in two batches. Mix only until just incorporated, using a rubber spatula to give it one last mix by hand.

7. Divide the batter between the muffin cups. Bake for approximately 23-25 minutes or until just slightly golden and a skewer shows only moist crumbs attached, rotating the pan at the halfway point. Mine were in the oven for 23.5! ;)

8. Allow cupcakes to cool for 5 to 10 minutes, and then remove to a cooling rack. Brush the tops of the cupcakes with the 1 to 2 tablespoons of tequila. Set the cupcakes aside to cool completely before frosting them.

Tequila Lime Frosting

1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
2¾ cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon lime juice
2 tablespoons tequila
Pinch of coarse salt

Whip the butter on medium-high speed of an electric mixer using the whisk attachment for 5 minutes. Reduce the speed to medium-low, and gradually add the powdered sugar, mixing and scraping the sides of the bowl until all is incorporated. Give it a mix on medium speed for about 30 seconds. Add the lime juice, tequila and salt mix on medium-high speed until incorporated and fluffy. If the frosting appears a bit too soft, add some additional sugar, one spoonful at a time until desired consistency is reached.

Frost cupcakes and garnish, if desired, with lime zest, an additional sprinkling of salt and a lime wedge.

What special things are you making for this feisty fiesta of a holiday? Arriba! :) & happy baking!

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Tuesday, May 1, 2012

White Chocolate Lemon Truffles

Ever have that "go to" recipe you always turn to when you need to make something on the fly?

I haven't. Until two weeks ago.

Sure, I love to bake cupcakes and cookies. I especially like eating them. But sometimes they can be so time consuming. Just the thought of having to attempt one of those recipes on short notice makes me lazy. Besides, whenever I rush a recipe, I end up completely tanking. (example: pouring 2 tablespoons of salt into a batter when it CLEARLY says teaspoon and not finding out until after i bit into it.)

So every now and then I like to switch things up. Make something sweet that requires no baking and very little of my attention span. Truffles are the best way to go!  My mother in law's oreo truffles spawned the obsession. I also dabbled in some strawberry cheesecake truffles a few weeks back.

I stumbled upon these white chocolate lemon beauties on Pinterest (I don't know what I would without this website sometimes) and knew I had to make them. It was love after first bite. Corny, but true. The list of ingredients is minimal and the final product will dazzle you. The texture of these truffles are silky smooth. Hints of lemon ooze out of this velvety white chocolate. The best part is they are so easy to make. Melt all the ingredients together and cool for about two hours and you have yourself a delectable dessert that will impress everyone. (I have made these 3 times already!)

     (recipe from Kitchen Simplicity)

1 cup white chocolate
5 Tbsp. unsalted butter
3 Tbsp. heavy cream
pinch salt
1 tsp. lemon extract
icing sugar, for dusting

Melt chocolate, butter and cream over a double boiler or in a microwave. Stir until smooth.

Stir in salt and extract. Allow to cool slightly before covering with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 2 hours or until firm enough to handle.

With a melon baller or small spoon scoop out mixture and form into 1 inch balls. Toss with icing sugar to coat.

Store covered in the fridge for up to one week. Freeze for longer storage.

**Baker's Note** --- I had several taste testers for this recipe, all of which loved them. But some came up with a few flavors you could add to this recipe if you wanted... Like cherry, orange or raspberry. Yumm. Not gonna lie, I will be trying one of these soon!

What's your go to recipe for a quick and easy dessert? I'd love to know!  & happy baking!
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