Friday, July 6, 2012

July 4th: Cake and Fireworks

As mentioned earlier, the 4th of July is my birthday. Cake and fireworks are ALWAYS a part of the celebration. However, this year was a little different. This year was a milestone year for me, I turned 30. I wasn't really sure what to think about it. However, my daughter started my day off with some encouraging advice that put a spring in my step and a song in my heart! The exchange went  little something like this:

Daughter: Good morning birthday girl.
Me: Thank you sweetie. Good morning to you
Daughter: (singing) "Happy birthday to you....happy birthday to you...happy birthday Mommy...happy birthday to you." How old are you Mommy?
Me: 30 baby
Daughter: Ok let's clap to 30 (I think this is something they do in school when a friend has a birthday, but they are between the ages of 3-5. Not a lot of clapping needed.)
Me: Oh, um, ok
Daughter: (clapping and counting) 1, 2, 3,...........23 Wow Mom, this is a lot!
Me: Yeah baby it is
Daughter: 23, 24, 25, 26 ,27, 28, 29, 30! Happy birthday Mom

Then I hid under the covers for the rest of the day. Later she sang and clapped for me again, was she taunting me? Oh and to top it off, my husband decided to get in on the action this time.

Daughter: (clapping and counting) 10, 11, 12
Husband: Are your hands burning yet? That sure is a lot of clapping.
Me: *raspberry*

So to commemorate my "oldness" we had cake with fireworks. I bet you were expecting some fancy outdoor firework shots or something. Nope, not this time. The bountiful candles on this cake, when lit, offered a pretty shocking show all by themselves. You know there are a lot of candles on your cake when your husband says, "We should have figured out a better approach to lighting these. I am getting burned, there is wax on the cake and several candles still aren't lit."

I hope you had a safe and happy 4th full of family, friends, fun and fireworks! 

P.S. For my next birthday we are sticking to outdoor firework shows and I am buying the candles that are shaped into numbers.

Happy Baking,

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

4th of July: Ice cream

As mentioned in my last post, I am devoting a series of blog posts to my favorite 4th of July treats. We have already covered the drinks so now we move on to my next favorite, ice cream.

I recently found this recipe in a random magazine I was flipping through. With a few little tweaks I turned it into an ice cream ready for any 4th of July celebration, or any day of the week! The best part, it doesn't even require an ice cream machine!

Cheesecake Ice Cream:
  • 8oz cream cheese, softened
  • 14oz sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2c of fresh fruit, chopped (I used strawberries and blueberries)
  • 3 graham crackers, crushed
Combine first four ingredients into a mixer. Blend until smooth. Pour mixture into a container and put into freezer for up to 4 hours, or until mixture becomes solid.

Removed container from freezer and put mixture into bowl and add fruit and crushed graham crackers. Mix with spoon until combined. Put mixture back into container and freeze for up to 8 hours or overnight.

Happy Baking,

4th of July: Patriotic Granita

July 4th is one of my favorite holidays to celebrate. Not only because it is my birthday, but because everyone is so patriotic and comes together to celebrate America. I am a big sucker for creating red, white and blue treats to share on the 4th. From chocolate covered strawberries to cookies, I have tried all sorts of things. This year I want to focus a series of posts on a few things that I believe are staples of July 4th:
  • Drinks
  • Ice cream
  • Cake
  • Fireworks
In this post we will focus on a tasty patriotic drink, watermelon granita. I saw this on one of my favorite food sites, The Pioneer Woman, last year and it was a big hit the first time I made it. So go out and buy a watermelon so you can make some for your 4th of July celebration.

Watermelon Granita:
  • 8c of watermelon chunks (seeds removed)
  • 1/2c of sugar
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • Blue sanding sugar
Put watermelon, sugar and lime juice in a food processor and pulse untile it becomes liquid. Pour mixture into a 9x13 casserole dish and cover. My dish has a tupperware lid that goes on top. Put dish into freezer for 4-5 hours until liquid is frozen.

When ready to serve wet the rim of a glass and dip it into blue sanding sugar. Chop up the granita and spoon it into cup. Serve immediately.

NOTE: For those looking for an "adult drink" add vodka to taste before serving. Try to use vodka that has been in the freezer so it doesn't melt the granita.

Happy Baking,

Saturday, May 19, 2012

The Police Academy

My little sister was one of TWO girls to graduate from the Wharton County Police Academy yesterday. We all are so proud of her for completing such a challenging program. After all, did you get pepper sprayed, tazed or have to clear buildings when you went to school?

Here are some shots from the big event.


However, no celebration would be complete without cupcakes right? Right. I knew I couldn't whip up standard 2012 graduation cupcakes, police don't wear graduation hats. I Googled police cupcakes and didn't find much. Then I decided to make chocolate shields. It also just so happened that "Congrats Anna" was twelve letters, and I had twelve cupcakes.

After dinner everyone dug into the cupcakes. My sister's best friend asked for a second, not an abnormal request. Then she did something none of us were expecting...

It is all fun and games until someone gets cupcake on their face!

Happy Baking,

Saturday, May 12, 2012

To Mom, with love...

Mother's Day, that special day when Mom gets acknowledged for all of the hard work and sacrifices she makes for her children/family. Before I was a mom I never really understood the holiday, but now that I am a mom I think this should be a monthly event. :)

A client asked me if I could whip up some cupcakes for her to give to her mother this Sunday. I agreed and told her that I had the perfect design in mind. These cupcakes give the gift of flowers, chocolate and something handmade all in one package! Perfect.

You can't let these cupcakes go into any old boring box. So I shopped around and found this adorable cupcake box at my local Hobby Lobby. I added curly ribbon to fancy it up, and to keep little fingers from stealing mom's cupcakes!

The client was delighted when I delivered the cupcakes to her. I hope that her Mom enjoys them. If you are interested in making these cupcakes for your mom, here are the instructions:

  1. Prepare a batch of your favorite cupcakes. I used vanilla.
  2. Top them with a blob of butter cream frosting. I used a tip that had a large round opening at the bottom. You could also just snip the end of a piping bag for same look.
  3. Purchase melting chocolates for the daisies. I recommend sticking with white and yellow for the center and outline. It is up to you what color daisy you want. A mix of pink and purple would be pretty too.
  4. To make the daisies checkout this posting from Bakerella.

Happy Mother's Day to all of the mom's out there. Being a mom is a tough job. I think this cartoon sums it up pretty well:

Happy Baking,

Shark Party

My friend's son celebrated his 6th birthday today with a swim party. Not just any swim party, a shark themed swim party! Pretty cool huh?!? When she asked me to make his cupcakes I knew they were going to be fun. After all you don't see many shark cupcakes swimming around...

I whipped up my go to vanilla cake and topped it with aqua buttercream. I used a 1M tip to give it the wave look. To make the shark fins I traced a fin shape onto grey-blue card stock. After cutting each fin out I attached it to a toothpick with tape.

The cupcakes were just about the only thing that could get the kids out of the pool. After the cupcakes were handed out I saw one kid swimming with his! However, I was able to snap a quick shot of the birthday boy enjoying his cupcake before he dove back in. Yes, he is wearing shark swimmies! :)

Between swimming in the pool and taking a turn on the inflatable shark slide, these kids had a ton of fun. If you are interested in spicing your next swim party up, consider making it a shark theme. They even have cute invitations.

Available at
Thanks Kristin for letting me be a part of the celebration, and happy birthday Ian. I hope you enjoyed your party, and your cupcakes.

Happy Baking,

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Banana Nut Muffins with Nutella

I was browsing some of my favorite blogs today and I happened upon this yummy posting by Bake at 350 , Nutella-filled Banana Muffins. I ran to the kitchen with my laptop to do an ingredient scan and I had everything, score.

I whipped these up for dessert tonight.  If they last overnight we might even get to eat some for breakfast! Not likely, but we can hope...

Banana Nut Muffins with Nutella

2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
1 & 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 cup (1 stick) salted butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
2 medium bananas, mashed
1/3 cup milk

1/4 cup chopped walnuts
2/3 cup Nutella

Preheat oven to 350. Line 12 regular size muffin tins with liners and lightly spray with cooking spray (this will keep the muffins from pulling away with the liners). Set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices. Set aside.

With and electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until smooth. Beat in the egg, mashed banana, and milk. Scrape down the sides and bottom of bowl as needed.

With a spatula, gently stir the walnuts and dry ingredients into the wet. Divide the batter into the 12 muffins tins. Bake 13-15 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.  

Spoon Nutella on top of each muffin and sprinkle additional walnuts on top. 

Happy Baking,

Recipe adapted from Bake at 350:

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Strawberry Showcase

I have been asked to bake 6 dozen cookies for a church bake sale next week. I decided to take to the Internet to look up new enticing recipes that I could whip up. I found these Strawberry Cheesecake Cookies and then I was sucked into a strawberry nirvana!

Strawberry Cheesecake Cookies
Image by Lauren Lilling from Keep it Sweet Desserts
On the same page were all of these related strawberry recipes, and man do they look yummy. Check out what I found!

Strawberry Cake with White Chocolate Buttercream frosting
Image by Lauren Lilling from Keep it Sweet Desserts

Strawberry Lemonade Cupcakes
Image by Lauren Lilling from Keep it Sweet Desserts

All of the sudden I feel the urge to stock up on strawberries and whip up cookies, a cake, and cupcakes today! Happy Saturday, bake something!

Happy Baking,

Friday, April 13, 2012

Butterfinger Birthday Cupcakes

Butterfingers are one of my top 3 favorite candy bars. They also happen to be my friend Pam's favorite as well. Even my daughter knows it. Every year Pam goes trick-or-treating with us, and my daughter always sets some of her Butterfingers aside for Pam to take home. :)

Pam celebrated her birthday this week and I told her that I would make her some cupcakes. I had these on my "to bake" list, and I knew that it was finally time to try them out. The end result was a great cake with an out of this world frosting. You must put this on your "to bake" list immediately.

For the cupcakes:
2 large eggs separated, at room temperature
1 3/4 cups sifted cake flour
2 tsps baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup room temperature butter
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/2 cup milk
1/8 tsp cream of tartar

For the frosting:
8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
4 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
½ cup creamy peanut butter
3¼ cups confectioners’ sugar
1 cup frozen whipped topping, thawed
Top with chopped fun-sized Butterfingers

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare cupcake pans. Separate the eggs. Put sifted flour, baking powder, and salt into a bowl and set aside.
In a mixer, beat the butter until soft and creamy, about 1 minute. Add 3/4 cup of sugar and beat for an additional 2 minutes. Now add egg yolks, one at a time, until completely incorporated. Add vanilla and almond extract until combined, about 30 seconds.
Add 1/3 of the flour mixture and mix until incorporated. Now add 1/2 milk mixture, mix until combined. Add half the remaining flour, combine. Now add the rest of your milk and combine. Add remaining 1/3 of your flour mixture, and go ahead and mix until combined.
In a separate clean bowl with clean whisk attachment, whip eggs whites until foamy then add the cream of tartar. Beat until soft peaks occur, and then gradually add in your remaining sugar (4 tablespoons). Continue beating until stiff peaks form. Fold the eggs whites into the batter. Make sure they are fully incorporated, but do not over stir the batter.

Put batter into prepared pans and bake for 13-15 minutes.

To make the frosting, in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the cream cheese, butter and peanut butter until smooth. Slowly mix in the confectioners’ sugar, beating until smooth and well blended. Mix in the whipped topping until smooth and fluffy.

To assemble the cupcakes, place a candy bar half on top of each cooled cupcake.  Pipe frosting onto the cupcakes, covering the candy bar completely.  Sprinkle with chopped Butterfingers.

If not serving immediately, store the cupcakes in the refrigerator.

Happy Baking,

Cupcakes: I am Baker
Frosting: Annie's Eats

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Easter Cupcake Shooters

A while back I was browsing Pintrest and stumbled upon these things calls "Cupcake Shooters." Basically, they are mini-cupcakes layered between frosting in a plastic push-up pop. How cool is that?!?

With Easter approaching it gave me the perfect opportunity to make some. I ordered the pops from Etsy and plotted out my concept, Carrot Cake Cupcake Shooters. I layered mini carrot cake cupcakes in between yummy cream cheese frosting. I then topped each pop with green pipe cleaners made to look like the leafy green top of a carrot. To display them I put them in a container and filled it with Easter grass. NOTE: I kept them in position with a foam block.

When I delivered them to my daughter's school everyone thought they were so cute. I was really pleased with how they turned out and how easy they were to make. I have another dozen pop containers in my pantry. I have already started thinking of what to fill them with. Here are some of my ideas:
  • Neapolitan (strawberry and chocolate cake layered with vanilla buttercream)
  • Cake n' Ice Cream (any flavor cake layered between mini ice cream scoops)
  • Cookies n' Cream
The push-up pop containers are so versatile you can fill and present them in many different ways. The possibilities seem endless...

Happy Baking,

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Cream Cheese Puffs

Every weekend I try to make a special dessert, either an old favorite or a new experiment. This weekend I experimented with Cream Cheese Puffs. They were so simple to make, and they also serve as a great incentive for your daughter to eat her dinner! Especially when you put the platter on the table in front of her. The food on her plate will disappear like magic!

NOTE: This hasn't been tested on sons, but I bet it would work! :)

Cream Cheese Puffs
  • 1 can of buttermilk biscuits (10-12 in a roll)
  • 8oz of cream cheese (1 block)
  • 1/2 stick of butter (melted)
  • 3 tsp of vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 1 tbsp of cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Apply non-stick spray to cupcake pan. Combine melted butter and extract in a bowl. In a separate bowl combine sugar and cinnamon. Roll out each biscuit until it's a flat circle. Cut cream cheese into small cubes (1 for each biscuit). Dip cream cheese cube into the butter mixture, and then coat it with cinnamon/sugar. Place cube in center of biscuit and fold the sides up to enclose the cream cheese cube. Brush outside of biscuit with butter mixture and cover with additional sugar/cinnamon. Once prepared place the puff inside of the cupcake pan. Repeat until all biscuits are ready.

Place cupcake pan in the oven for 15 minutes, or until light brown. Serve with a side of fruit.

This recipe could be tweaked so many different ways. Here are a few other ideas:
  • Drizzle finished puffs with chocolate
  • Drizzle finished puffs with glaze
  • In addition to the cream cheese add a little pie filling inside. Be careful so it doesn't overflow
  • Only put pie filling inside and leave the cream cheese as a spread on the side
  • Hide the pan and tell the family they turned out terrible. After they go to bed eat them all. :)

Happy Baking,

Friday, March 9, 2012

One for my family...

My in laws are taking a road trip this weekend to go and visit family. Most of the time I only get to "see" them through Facebook. Often times they comment on my baking posts with responses like:

"Are you sending any of those our way?"

"Those look good, any for us?"

Since I haven't tried shipping, and virtual cupcakes just aren't as good, I am at a loss. So when my mother in law asked me about my cinnamon roll cupcakes I told her I would make them for her to take. Even better, I told her that I just flipped it to a cake last weekend and I was happy to make another one. So family, bring your forks because this one has your names written all over it!

I hope it travels well on its 6+ hour journey. My mother in law and I worked out a box, tape, and newspaper contraption that should get it there in one piece. If not, someone call dibs on licking the platter ASAP!
Happy Baking,

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Game Time Goodies

Our Houston Texans are in the 2nd round of the playoffs. Yay! We went to watch the game today at a friend's house. To help root on our team I whipped up some game time goodies.

Vanilla cupcakes with buttercream frosting and sprinkles.

Sugar cookies

I hope you and your family are enjoying the playoffs as much as we are. Aside from opening day, this is my next favorite part of the season.

Happy Baking,