Sweet Bunny and Chick Round Up!

Okay, okay, it’s more than just bunnies and chicks.  But it’s a fun Easter themed round up, and it’s got some really cute ideas.

I really wanted to so a collection with a few things I think would be excellent for carting off to the school party.  It’s tough, being the class mom, but some ideas don’t need to be complicated to be impressive.

All of these are super cute, and I can see them turning you into a rockstar.

Bunny and Chick Cup Cones

Bunny and Chick Cup Cones

Candy Corn Flowers

Candy Corn Flowers

Caramel Easter Egg Filled Chocolate Cupcakes

Caramel Easter Egg Filled Chocolate Cupcakes

Chocolate Sandwich Bunny Cookies

Chocolate Sandwich Bunny Cookies with Marshmallow Buttercream

Easter Chick Nest Carrot Cake Cookies

Easter Chick Nest Carrot Cake Cookies

Easter Chick Strawberry Cupcakes

Easter Chick Strawberry Cupcakes

 

Seriously now, aren’t all of those adorable??

Yes.

Now you have no excuse not to be the hit of the Easter party.

Have a great one!

National Waffle Day…a Sweet Round Up of Waffles

March 25th…National Waffle Day.

Ever since starting my diet, I am ridiculously obsessed with Chicken and Waffles.  Not that I wasn’t before, but, gosh, now I realllly want them.  Or Duck & Waffles.  That will do, too.  With a runny egg on the side? Bourbon Aged Sweet Maple Syrup?

I must stop.  I can feel my hips getting bigger as I type.

So, instead of eating them all NOW, I’m making a little round up of all the waffle-goodness I can’t have now but will come back to once I have my diet under sontrol.  A little soething to look forward to, so to speak.  Ahh, waffles

So. Many. Waffles.

Dark Chocolate Waffle Cake with Mascarpone Whipped CreamFruity Pebble Waffles with Greek Yogurt!! - Little Dairy on the Prairie

Smores Waffle Sliders made with mini Eggo waffles and dipped in #Velata. Um, yeah. Doing this.Rich, fluffy chocolate liege waffles, dotted with sweet pearl sugar, and drizzled with creamy caramel sauceA little plate of heaven - Belgian Cookie Dough Waffles from The Cookie Dough Lover's CookbookBacon and Cheddar Waffles with Caramelized Apples

I had to round this out with these cupcakes from the Novice Chef.  Seriously?  Chicken and Waffles CUPCAKES?  Hold me back. Can’t breathe.  Can’t take it.  Just….ohhh.

Chicken and Waffle Cupcakes - I love this idea!  Roscoes Chicken and Waffles is practically a landmark here in the LA area, so I'd love to give these a try.

Diet, Schmi-et.  120 more days and I’m eating all the things. 

All.The.Things.

Happy Waffle Day!

Decorating Halloween Cupcakes…on Daytime Blue Ridge

IMG_9617

I’ve stepped way outside of my comfort zone lately, kids.

Like, way, way outside.

Me?  I like to hang out in my kitchen, barefoot, communicating via Facebook, text, and Twitter.  I am perfectly content to do so – I don’t really like leaving the house.

So what am I doing?

I’ve started appearing on Daytime Blue Ridge, doing cooking demos just about once a week.

That’s TV.  An NBC regional show.  Me.  On the TV.

IMG_9621

It makes no sense at all.

Luckily, the host, Heather Hutzler, is so sweet, and her co-host Natalie Founce is just as lovely.  They keep me calm, they laugh, they play along, so it all works out.

IMG_9683

Last Friday we jazzed up your ordinary cupcakes for Halloween, by adding things you can find at any Walmart, Food Lion or other store that sells Halloween candy.  Not a baker?  Use a box mix.  Not into making icing?  Use canned.  What Halloween Cupcakes are about is the kiddos, and they LOVE sweets.

You’ve got this.

IMG_9682

What I am going to teach you how to do is make them look like a pro made them.

But, if you want to watch the silly segment where I teach these two  lovely ladies how to do it…here you go.  We had fun!

WSLS 10 NBC in Roanoke/Lynchburg Va

How To Decorate Cupcakes Like a Boss:

I prefer “double icing” my cupcakes.  What I mean by this is I like to put one flavor or color of icing in a piping bag with a large tip, and use another color to spread the initial icing on top of the cupcake.

Remember how mom ices the cupcakes?  Just use a knife to spread a dollop of icing across the cupcake.  Now comes the fun part.

IMG_9678IMG_9680

Dunk that sucker in in sprinkles, glitter, jimmies, or sanding sugar.  Whatever your using is great, just dunk it.  I know you think “Oh, that’s going to get icing everywhere and make a mess.”  But you’d be wrong.  The sprinkles will just stick to the icing.  Promise.

Now that you’ve got that going on, take the piping bag with the other icing in it and pipe it right on top.  Make it fancy, or just whip it on there – the choice is yours.

From there, go to town with that candy.

At Halloween, you’ll find all kinds of great spooky candies in the candy aisle.  I found mummies, pumpkins, vampires, witches – all without even trying very hard.  No need to reinvent the wheel and make fancy toppers, the store already has them!  Just choose your favorite and plop it onto the cupcake.  So cute, right?

IMG_9619

Another fun thing I found was the eyeballs, but come on now, you can’t just throw an eyeball on the cupcake.  You need BLOOD!  I used a spoon full of cherry ice cream topping for my “blood”, and THEN I put an eyeball on it.  Voila!

The most important thing to remember is to have FUN.  Get the kids involved!  Use several paper plates and load them down with a variety of sprinkles and sugars.  Have bowls full of topping candies at the ready.  Show them how to dip the cupcakes, then you can pipe for them, and let them do the toppings of their choice.  They’ll love it!

IMG_9613

Here’s hoping you have a great Halloween!  Me, I’ll be trailing behind my Zombie Thriller Michael Jackson as we Trick or Treat….

Wish me luck.

Reese’s Peanut Butter Cookie Buttercream Topped Cupcakes

I love a challenge.

Take for example being sent a box full of the latest creations from Hershey’s and Betty Crocker, who teamed up to make a variety of packaged products together.  That’s right…together.

Now sure, I could have made exactly what was on the box.  But there’s no challenge in that.  No thought process happening.  No dare to be great mentality.

I NEED challenges in my life.

So when I see a box of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cookie Mix, what do I do?

I make cupcakes.

Or rather, I make an incredible buttercream for cupcakes.  Out of cookie dough mix.  With things I bet you already have in your fridge.

Yes, I did.

I know.  I am a genius.  Don’t worry, I am fully aware of my greatness.

Make these and you’ll know it, too.  It can be our little secret.

reese-cupcakes2

Reese’s Peanut Butter Cookie Buttercream Topped Cupcakes

Makes 24

Ingredients

  • 1 package Reese’s Peanut Butter Cookie Mix
  • 1 pound unsalted butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup heavy whipping cream
  • Pinch of salt
  • 24 Devil’s Food Cupcakes, prepared
  • Chocolate Shaving to decorate, if desired
  • 12 Reese Cups, halved, to top, if desired

Instructions

  1. Using a stand mixer, combine cookie mix and softened butter. Beat on medium high speed for 5 minutes.
  2. Add cream and salt to butter mixture and continue to beat an additional 5 minutes.
  3. Spread a small layer of buttercream to the top of each cupcake, then press into chocolate shavings.
  4. Pipe remaining buttercream to the top of each cupcake. Garnish with half of Reese Cup, if desired.

 

Disclaimer:  I was compensated for my time and recipe using this product.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.

The Greenwich Food and Wine Festival

I told you a few weeks ago that I was headed north to Connecticut, to spend a weekend in Greenwich at the Food & Wine Festival. I was excited, of course…but also nervous.

Nervous?  Yep.  You see, it’s rare I travel alone anymore.  And if you know me at all, you know I am PeoplePhobic.  Crowds scare the bejeezus out of me.  One on one conversations also make me uneasy.  Humans, in general, make me want to sit in a corner and shake.

Okay, maybe that was too much information.  But it’s true.  There is a reason I am a blogger.  I can type to you all the live long day, but talking?  Yeah, let’s not.  Send me a text, a tweet, we’ll get along famously.

But, I pulled myself together and made the 9 hour journey, stopping halfway to stay the evening with my best friend from highschool, as well as a pit stop in Hershey to visit my good friend Anna for lunch.  Anna is the best…and not just because she hooked me up with my favorite mints of all time – the DUOs.  Great goodness and mercy, you need these in your life. Trust me.  Strawberry is the best, but I’m told a Watermelon variety is forthcoming.  I MAY share them with you.  Maybe.

You may NOT, however,  have Anna.

After lunch and a drive through NYC rush hour traffic, I arrived in Greenwich in the early evening, in enough time to unpack, take a nap, and get a lay of the land.  After dinner, I checked out the cool rooms at the JHouse, the hotel I will definitely be staying at NEXT YEAR.  Modern. Cool. Funky.  The lights and curtains are all run from the provided in room iPad.  The bathroom has an incredible shower.  The TV in the room is hidden behind a gigantic mirror, as is the bathroom TV.  There is Star Wars Pop Art on the walls.  The pictures? Don’t do it justice.  In fact, you really need to see it at night, because it’s the lights in this place that make it so memorable.  There’s under the bed lighting, which makes the bed appear to float.  And that horizontal bar you see above the pillows?  Yeah, that glows too, kind of like an aquarium light.  It’s…funky. Fun. Unforgettable.

AccommodationsAccommodations

Yeah, I pretty much fell in love with the place.  That and the free valet parking did me in.

IMG_4858

But, that’s not the best part of the weekend.  Oh, no.  That would be the actual Festival.

IMG_3505IMG_3503

IMG_3491shrimpcake-greenwich

Imagine the most scenic seaside park you can, full of green grass, towering white tents, crisp linens, and food unlike any food you’ve ever tasted.  Pastries. Pastas. Wine and beer.  Cookies and sliders and apple pies.  Everything prepared by the best of the best, and that’s no exaggeration: the vendors hailed from New York and surrounding towns in New England, and the chefs brought their A games.

Speaking of chefs?  The festival hired a few you may recognize.  Bastianich.  Ted Allen. Graham Elliott.  And my favorite? Duff Goldman.  He’s also my least favorite, but, well, that’s because he put me on the spot.

IMG_5213

Yeah, that’s me, on STAGE.  With Duff.  Decorating cupcakes while he talked to the crowd and did some cupcake graffiti art.  He had told me before his presentation started to stay nearby.  So I did, as if he were the boss of me. As if.  But, when I saw his hand point my direction, well…To say I was stunned is a bit mild.

duffpointI was…drowning.  Drowning in a tent full of people staring at me, waiting for me to screw up.  And then something happened.  He made me laugh, he made me feel comfortable on stage, and honestly, I think I could do it again.  It was quite the experience.  Plus, it was for a good cause, as it allowed him to paint and entertain, which was important.  Later that afternoon they auctioned off his paintings to collect even more money for Paul Newman’s Hole in the Wall Gang Charity. What  a great idea!  I do hope whoever bought them will enjoy them!

IMG_5212

DuffandSusan-009DuffandSusan-017bw

BurgerBattleJudges_KG

Later that day there was a burger battle that the celebrity judges had the torture of judging.  So many of them looked incredible, and I have to admit, I was a little envious of the judges!  I made up for it though by digging in to an amazing Salmon BLT – Yes, a Salmon BLT – from Preppy Pig BBQ.  What a talented group they were, and so kind!  I was very impressed with the tenderness of the salmon, the slightly smoky flavor, and the overall way they thought outside of the box. So clever! (Gotta love that logo, too, isn’t that perfect?)

IMG_4893

I also meandered around and found my new friend Sam, the Dessertist.  She supplied us with a couple of jaw dropping desserts, my favorite being the Apple Pie Cake.  I’m hoping she’ll scoot me over her secret recipe to share with you all, as it was fantastic! Layers of flaky pie crust, buttery, sugary apples, caramel, whipped cream – everything good!!

dessertistappliepiecake

I can’t say I had a favorite part of the day, as it was all wonderful.  From the food, to the hospitality, to the setting, the music, and of course, hanging out with some of the most incredible culinary talent there is – the day was more than memorable.  It was one for the record books, and I can’t wait until next year!

A HUGE thanks to Serendipity Magazine for their spectacular festival and for having me attend, as well as for their hospitality. I had a wonderful time!

Getting Spooky with McCormick…Halloween Giveaway!

The best holidays involve getting dressed up in ridiculous clothes, pretending to be someone you aren’t, and eating your high school graduation weight in chocolate, am I right?

I am right.

Sure, we say it’s for the kids, but I defy ANY of you to say you don’t sit down and go through your innocent sleeping child’s trick-or-treat bag after the precious little vampire is tucked away in bed.  You DO. You dig out the good stuff and leave them with the Smarties.

Deny it.

That being said, Halloween is also a really fun time for making treats.  Even bad decorators are in the clear at Halloween – scary is IN.  Make a cupcake look hairy, add eyeballs or spiders, and you’ve got a winner.  Last year, I made these creepy cupcakes, and Seven’s class ADORED them.

Lucky for you, as I am one of McCormick’s Spooky Squad this year, I have a little help from my friends to assist you in those Spooky endeavors.  I happen to have an identical kit to this one I am giving away, and it’s just waiting for me to return home and put it to good use!  I’m still scheming up a plan, but…What would YOU do with it??

McCormick Halloween Spooky Squad Kit:

  • Expandable Cooling Rack
  • Set of 3 KitchenAid Mixing Bowls
  • Skull and Crossbones Apron
  • Customized Halloween Candy Mix
  • McCormick Products (all will be included)
    • Red Food Color
    • Black Food Color
    • Assorted Neon Food Color
    • Pure Orange Extract

To win, just let me know…what are you wanting to make?  Leave me a comment and you are entered to win!

For another entry:

McCormick has a several fun Halloween recipes on their site and on their Monster Mash Pinterest board…Go Follow their board on Pinterest, then return here letting me know you did, and you’ve gained yourself another entry.

Contest is open to US Addresses only, ages 18 and up.  Prize is provided and shipped by McCormick.  Winner will be chosen at random. Contest end 11:59pm EST on October 22, 2012.  Good luck!

Disclaimer: As I mentioned, McCormick supplied the giveaway as well as a kit for me to use in my creation.  I was also compensated to assist in my recipe development.  All thoughts are 100% my own.

Buffalo Chicken Cupcakes

Buffalo-Chicken-Cupcakes-3

In case you didn’t know it, I used to live in a commune.

Not like a hippy commune, with tents and guitars and hemp, but a nice 3 bedroom Cape Cod.  There were 3 couples, 2 of which were married. Don’t judge.  We actually rarely saw one another, and the rent was hard to beat.  Sad to think, my mortgage is now more than the rent we paid in total, divided up 6 ways.

Wow.  So that’s why I’m poor now.

Anyway, back then there was little cooking going on.  We lived in a college town, though none of us were actually still IN school, and it was just easier to order in than it was to cook.

One of our favorite places to get delivered was a little pizza place.  I’d name it, but I fear someone local may know the place I am talking about, and I’m about to get graphic.

It was delicious.  We’d order something that we affectionately dubbed “Chicken Cupcakes” – and they were divine.  Yeasty bread, rolled up with barbequed chicken and cheese.  Gooey.  Spicy.  Cheesy.  Ridiculous.  Lucky.  As in, lucky if you got them.

Buffalo-Chicken-Cupcakes-1

You see, the guys who ran the place were pot heads.  Pot equals two things.  One – great munchies, everyone knows this.  And Two, if the pot was powerful, you may or may not actually get your delivery.  Some nights, 20 minutes after calling you’d have a styrofoam container filled with hot chicken cupcakes.  Some nights, you’d realize 3 hours after placing your order that your chicken cupcakes were likely devoured after a smoke fest.  Once, the chicken cupcakes we ordered on a Saturday during the Hokie game were delivered the next day during the Redskins game. We still ate them.

To order was worth the gamble though.

Sadly, that place is no longer in business, but I still get a hankering for those melty chicken cupcakes.  So the other day I made some, and now you can, too.

Buffalo Chicken Cupcakes.

No growlights required.

Buffalo-Chicken-Cupcakes-2

Buffalo Chicken Cupcakes

Rating: 51

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

Yield: 24-30 rolls

Ingredients

  • 1 recipe Pizza Dough
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into small pieces
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup favorite Buffalo Sauce (I used Texas Pete Buffalo Wing Sauce
  • 2 cups fresh mozzarella

Instructions

  1. Saute chopped onions in butter over medium heat. Once transparent, add chopped chicken. When chicken is done, add Buffalo Sauce and heat for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 400. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper or non-stick spray, or, opt to use a prepared muffin tin. (I used muffin tins)
  3. Divide dough in half. Roll each half into a large rectangle roughly 1/4 inch in thickness.
  4. Spread chicken and cheese evenly across each piece of rolled out dough. Starting from long side of dough, begin rolling the dough up like a cinnamon roll. Pinch ends when done. Slice into 1 1/2 to 2 inch rolls. Place on the baking sheet or in muffin tins. Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until cheese is bubbling and dough is lightly browned. Serve and enjoy!
http://doughmesstic.com/2012/05/01/buffalo-chicken-cupcakes/



Kitchen Play…Monster Cupcakes with McCormick

 

I love Halloween.  When else is it perfectly acceptable to dress up as a pirate, or vampire, or Justin Beiber?  When else can you get away with eating all of your child’s “questionable” candy?  (I think there is a LOT of questionable candy, but maybe it’s just me.  I’ll take on the challenge of consuming it…because I’m a team player, that’s why.)

I also love being able to go all-out decorating cakes and cookies for this time of year.  Black cats, witches hats, ghosts and bats…it’s fun!  So when I was contacted by Kitchen Play to participate in the Sidecar Series using McCormick products, I happily jumped on board!

Seven is now four, and since I trained him early, he’s a real helper in the kitchen.  Our first video together making brownies was when he had just turned two, and he was already quite the sous chef!  For this fun project, he was more than game.  Plus, the fact that we were making eyeball cupcakes was right up his alley!

I think a lot of parents underestimate how adept their kids really are.  Seven can measure, mix, microwave, even pipe icing.  He loves getting in there and helping!  I highly recommend letting your kids jump in and help – I think you’ll be surprised at how awesome they really are!

cupcakehalloween

imageFor our cupcakes, we went BIG.  I used large muffin tins to make Devil’s Food Cupcakes (from a box mix, we were going for FUN!) and I let the little man do all of the mixing.  For extra flavor, we added 2 teaspoons of McCormick Pure Vanilla Extract – it adds just a little something extra! Once they were baked, we used a cupcake plunger (Oh My Word this thing is awesome) to hollow out the center, and filled them with blood… I mean, cherry jelly.  Nothing more gruesome than an oozing cupcake!

For the icing, I tinted my favorite buttercream icing gray, using the McCormick Black Food Coloring, and coated the entire cupcake in it lightly.  Then we rolled it in lots and lots of orange and black sprinkles.  But we didn’t stop there – oh, noooo.  I tinted some more icing orange using the red and yellow McCormick colors (look how vibrant – I was amazed!) and piped it using the grass/hair tip.  Easy and fun, and Seven got a kick out of it for sure!

For the final touch, we roughed up a few gumballs (just wipe them with a damp towel) and drew bloodshot eyes onto them with edible markers.  We placed those monster sized cupcakes into Halloween themed plastic cups (just for fun, plus, it makes them more of a treat for Preschool or grade school parties) and we called it a day!

Check out these results!

cupcakehalloween2

I intend to show up at Seven’s Halloween party with a tray full of these crazy cupcakes, and I just know all of the kids are going to love them.  The great part is how simple the whole project really is, and using the McCormick products made it even easier.  I know that I can always find their products in the grocery store and Wal-Mart, no matter what time of day or night, and they really worked! (Look at that ORANGE!)

Here are a few tips/tricks I think might help you out with a similar project:

  • Use a box mix.  It’s easy, it’s delicious, and quite honestly, kids are going to love it.
  • Invest in a couple of piping tips (they average about $1 each) and some plastic disposable piping bags.  You can find these in the specialty cake aisle at Wal-Mart or at Michaels.  They are pretty cheap and you’ll get a lot of use out of them if you keep decorating cakes, cookies, and cupcakes.  Just these two purchases will take your “mom-made” cupcakes to professional looking with little to no effort.
  • Don’t forget fillings! We used cherry jelly to imitate blood, but pudding, another icing flavor, or soft candy is always an option, and makes a world of difference!
  • Sprinkles.  You’d think it would make a huge mess, but trust me.  Pour all of the sprinkles out onto a plate or shallow bowl and ROLL the cupcake in them. Icing will not smoosh out everywhere, and the sprinkles will practically jump on to the cupcake.  You can always return the unused sprinkles back into the container…you’ll never get the cupcake coated nicely trying to shake them tiny suckers on.
  • Let the KIDS help! they want to , and honestly, it keeps them out of your hair.  I know that sounds odd but it’s true!

sevcupcakeGood luck with your Halloween projects, I hope this one inspired you a little!

Interested in partnering with great brands and being a part of fun blog events? Make sure to check out Kitchen Play, where PR Professionals and food bloggers connect!

McCormick is also sponsoring a wonderful giveaway at Kitchen PLAY. Simply recreate any one recipe from this month’s SideCar Series, post about the experience on your blog and provide a link to your post on Kitchen PLAY to enter. All qualifying bloggers in each course will be entered to win $50 (10 prizes total).  The deadline is October 31, 2011. Please review the complete contest rules before entering. Good luck!

This was a sponsored post, but all thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.

My Baby Turned Four Today…

I really have a hard time grasping it. Four.

Next week he starts Pre-School.

He’s potty trained.  He can dress himself.  Feed himself.  Make his own toast and sandwiches.  He can write most of the alphabet.  He could teach a class on mastering the dynamics of the iPhone.

But this is what he looked like just four short years ago…

image

And then he turned One.  The Monkey Cake was my first Wilton Course completed cake…just in time for his birthday party.

image

Twelve months later…the big boy turned two.  He had three cakes that year, but the main one was this farm inspired 3 tier cake.  We had over a hundred people at that year’s party.  Another first for me, as it was my first stacked cake.

imageimage

Last year he turned three, with a Monster Cake.  He still talks about that one.

image

And now, he’s four.  Which means, clearly…he’s a BIG BOY.  Today, he and I are off to do Big Boy things, including a movie, some bowling, some shopping, and probably Chuck E Cheese…if we make it as far as Roanoke.  He’s got a bit of birthday money burning a hole in his tiny pockets, and the kid wants Super Mario for the Wii.

We had his birthday party slash BillHilly Bash over the weekend, and his request was a “Pirate Cake with real skeleton on it.”  He got his wish, except the skull was actually a fondant covered potato.  He didn’t seem to mind.

sevenbday4

The bottom tier was Swiss Chocolate filled with chocolate mousse, caramel, and Snickers.  The top tier was yellow cake filled with whipped cheesecake buttercream and fresh strawberries.  As you can see, it’s in the design of an antique treasure map.  I hand painted it all, including a compass rose, landmasses, and a pirate ship (which you can’t see in these photos, sorry).  The top was just a marbled red, with a scroll lying over it.  Stacks of cannonballs were placed around the cake, and finally, the skull graced the top.  I sprayed a bit of gold luster over the whole thing and called it a day.

sevenbday4b

piratecupcakeAnother thing I made for the kids at the party was Pirate Cupcakes.  I was thrilled with these really cute cupcake wrappers from RoundAbouts.  They are reusable (if you so desire) and they fit our theme perfectly!  I posted a couple of cupcake pictures on Instagram the day of the party and had people asking where they are from…and RoundAbouts in the answer.  They have so many designs, I’m sure you will find something you love!

If you scoot over to my Facebook site and comment on the Roundabout post, you’ll be entered to win a package of cupcake sleeves for yourself…just tell me (on the FB site) which of the sleeves you think you’d like! Is it the pirates?  The winebarrels?  The spaceships?  Go take a look, there are so many cute ones!

 

I never, looking back now, considered that I would be the one making all of his cakes from year to year, especially cakes like this.  I feel like having readers to answer to keeps me motivated, at least cake-wise, and for that, I thank you.

 

I’m sure Seven does, too, he just doesn’t know it.  Maybe his smile will be thanks enough for now.

sevoverlay

Happy Birthday, Baby.

By: ifood.tv