We had a few stressful weeks at work waiting for some budgets to be passed and funding to come through. I thought we could all use a cupcake to cut the tension. I've been wanting to try some more recipes from my Magnolia Bakery cookbook, so I made vanilla mini cupcakes and their white chocolate cream cheese icing. So delicious and simple. I think that's why I love their recipes. Simple, fresh, and very few ingredients. I didn't have any white chocolate on hand, but I did have pink chocolate wafers that I used for Everly's Christening Cupcakes. I figured it would help me skip the step of adding food coloring I love the way they turned out. I topped them with jewel colored glitter jimmies that I found at HomeGoods a few weeks ago...Gotta love HomeGoods!
As I was looking through old pictures online today, I found a cake and cupcakes I had made two years ago that I can't believe I haven't posted. Remember Holly? Well, before we knew she was Holly, we had a book themed shower for her mommy, Claudine. We asked everyone to bring a book for Holly's library. I found an adorable little icon of a little girl reading a book and we used it on EVERYTHING!
I found a Wilton Cake pan in the shape of a book, and took the photograph to the local grocery store bakery, and they printed it out on an icing sheet for me to use on my own cake. I've since found out that they will not do this anymore. If you do want to try the icing sheets, there are a few vendors on Etsy.com that will print things for you. This cake isn't my best as I was still learning to pipe and decorate, but ok for a first shot, right?
For the cupcakes, we tinted the icing purple (Claudine's favorite color) and printed the little girl graphic on labels then wrapped them around toothpicks. Again, towards the beginning of my cake decorating exploration.
It was a fun shower, and its strange to think that we didn't even know how adorable and sweet Holly was yet!
That was the best moment of my life. I had finally married the most wonderfully handsome and loving man in the world in front of our entire HUGE families in my childhood church. I cannot believe it has been four years since that awesome day. Who knew that in only four years, we could already become the "Old Married Couple?" That, we are. Some people may celebrate their anniversaries with gifts, fancy dinners out or vacations, but we're a little more low key than that. Matt took the day off from work, and I took a half day. We spent the afternoon reading, watching the World Cup, playing cards, and sitting on the front porch watching a thunderstorm roll by. The weather was the exact weather we had four years ago...hot, humid and thunderstorms!
We knew that we'd make dinner together, and Matt suggested homemade pizzas on the grill...sounded great to me! I found a recipe for basic pizza dough on the food network website. EmerilLagasse's Basic Pizza Dough recipe was so simple to make that I don't think I'll buy frozen pizza dough ever again.
I don't know why but the science of rising dough always makes me laugh because I think of Alton Brown's explanation of yeast and how it works. I keep picturing the burping molecules.
As you can see, our pizza dough tossing skills leave a little to be desired. We decided to make four different types of pizza so we could sample each. Needless to say, we have plenty of leftovers now.
My first one had olive oil, garlic, tomatoes, green peppers, mozzarella, Parmesan, and basil.
Matt's first was a buffalo chicken pizza...BBQ sauce, roasted chicken, mozzarella, and garlic.
Matt's second had tomato sauce, tomatoes, basil, garlic, and mozzarella.
My final pizza was plain...just tomato sauce, mozzarella and Parmesan.
We decided to try the pizzas on the grill. I read somewhere that it makes it taste more like brick oven pizza. It was a nice night out (after the thunderstorm passed) so we went for it. We used our pizza stone instead of putting them directly on the grill...we weren't that confident in our pizza making skills to not make a mess!
The results were fantastic! The dough was perfectly cooked. I think we'll use the grill all the time now when we make pizza!
How great does that dough look?!
For dessert, I made some Black Forest Brownies from a mix my mom got us on clearance at Target last week. My mom is super thoughtful and knows how much Matt loves brownies and cherries. Finding a mix that combined both, she couldn't resist :) I have to tell you, they were so fudgey and delicious! I've become sort of a brownie snob since I started making Martha Stewart's Fudge brownies from her Baking Handbook, but these were great.
Can you see the juicy sour cherries? The combination was so unique and scrumptious. If you find these at target, BUY THEM!
Anyway, it was a fun and relaxing anniversary...just the way we like it. Matt broke the rules a little bit and bought me some flowers. When I yelled at him, telling him he wasn't supposed to, he said, "Big Whoop. I bought you flowers." I thought it was a big whoop! They are beautiful. Thanks, Matt, for a wonderful day and a fun four years. I love you!
Jackie (aka Robot Boy) turned three on June 1st but his party isn't until tomorrow. Jack has been asking for months for cupcakes with robots on them. Matt and I had a whole idea ready to go last night about how we were going to make a robot shaped cake and cupcakes. Well, when I went to bake today, my oven was not cooperating. It kept turning off in the middle of baking, which caused two of the small cakes I was making to collapse in the center. I got super frustrated and decided to go with a much simpler idea. I used his invitation as inspiration....
I made a chocolate half sheet cake and swiss meringue butter cream. I cut the letters and robot out of leftover fondant. I also decorated around the edges of the cake with chocolate buttercream that I made for the cupcakes.
It wasn't what I originally wanted to make, so I'm a little disappointed. Hopefully Jack will like it anyway.
I did not think that the cake would be enough for the large party tomorrow, so I decided to make cupcakes as well. I made chocolate cupcakes with chocolate meringue frosting. I had found silver jimmies (sprinkles for those of you not from Philly) at HomeGoods a few weeks ago, so I thought they'd be perfect for the robot theme. I dipped the cupcakes in the silver jimmies, then I had no idea what to do. My mom and Matt helped me stare at the cupcakes to come up with an idea. We tried putting eyes and a mouth on them that looked like the eyes on the cake just in a smaller form. Well, the eyes ended up looking more like deviled eggs. Then we tried to put red instead of yellow at the center of the eyes. Then it looked the GEICO money. Finally, my mom had the idea of doing robot silhouettes on each of the cupakes. I think they turned out pretty cute.
It is supposed to be VERY hot tomorrow, and I'm a little worried about the cupcakes and cake melting on the way over to the party. What do you do to keep cakes from melting and falling apart in the summer time?
My cousin Molly graduated on Friday from Bishop McDevitt High School and will be attending LaSalle University in the fall...our alma mater! LaSalle is where Matt and I met twelve years (eeek!) ago, and I think Molly will do great there. Molly's mom asked me last week at the family reunion to make 2 dozen cupcakes--half Bishop McDevitt themed, the other half LaSalle themed. I thought, "No problem!" Little did I know that the baking gods were not working with me this morning. I baked 2 dozen vanilla cupcakes and while cooling, the cupcakes pulled away from liners. CAKE FAIL! After a little bit of googling, there are two possibilities as to how this happened. Either, the cakes weren't fully cooked or the oven is heating evenly. My guess is that its a combination of both. I'm always worried about over baking cakes, and our oven has been acting weird lately.
Needless to say, I had to start over and make another batch. This time, I made sure to bake them a little longer and rotated the cupcake pans more often. The results were much better! I made swiss meringue butter cream icing and tinted half of it yellow for the LaSalle cupcakes. Have you ever had an idea in your head that you just couldn't make happen in reality? That's what these cupcakes were like for me. They turned out cute enough, but just not what I had in mind. I've seen lots of cupcakes rimmed with sugar, and I thought it would be fun to try. Somehow, it just didn't turn out the way I wanted them to.
Sorry the pictures are so dark. It started to storm like the world was ending right as I was finishing up, and I just could not get the lighting right. (Not-quite-right seems to be the theme of the day).
The cupcakes, luckily, tasted pretty good. Molly said they tasted very fresh, which I always like to hear! Holly really liked the icing and even conned her Poppy into giving her his icing...Poppy just ate two plain cupcakes! After devouring the icing, Holly said, "These are good. Matt made them!" She proceded to tell everyone that Matt made the cupcakes and kept thanking him! Needless to say, Matt didn't correct her!
Congratulations, Molly! You'll have a great time at LaSalle!
I work at a not-for-profit agency called CORA, which provides emotional, educational and prevention services for children and families in need. Like most not-for-profit agencies lately, money is always an issue. Therefore, CORA is sponsoring a Beef & Beer fundraiser tonight at a local bar. If you aren't from Philly, you probably have never heard of a beef & beer. Its self-explanatory really. Roast beef sandwhiches and beer are served at a local pub or union hall and partying ensues. It is a great way to raise money, and we are hoping tonight will help our budget at CORA out a little bit. CORA employees are providing desserts, so I thought I'd make some cupcakes with a CORA theme.
I made devil's food and butter vanilla cupcakes with fluffy vanila icing. I had leftoverblue fondant and tinted some leftover white fondant a burgandy color. If you check out CORA's website, you'll see that I took inspiration from our CORA emblem.
I hope people enjoy them after a long night of drinking, dancing and donating!
We had a small family reunion on my mom's side today. Lots of cousins that we haven't seen in years. Despite being 85 degrees in a park, it was a good time. I had a ton of strawberries left over from the cake I made the night before, so I thought I'd try Martha Stewart's swiss meringue buttercream. I used the same recipe for Strawberry cupcakes from Patricia's birthday, which Matt has been begging me to make for a few months now. Too bad he's out of town until Monday (I saved him one). I also wanted to try out some Food Tattoos I picked up at Michael's a few weeks ago. They were really easy to use and very cute; although, I think they would have looked cuter on vanilla icing.
The pureed strawberries in the frosting really made it taste fresh and summery.
These are the tattoos I bought at Michaels. Very easy to use. I saw that Duff from Ace of Cakes started a line of cake baking items including cake tattoos. I'm dying to try all the cute designs.
Kate and Jack liked the look of the cupcakes. Jack tried the icing and said, "YUM!" But a few seconds later he said, "I don't want it, I don't like strawberry." So, I don't think I can trust Jack's critique.
Our friend Timmy is turning 30 this weekend, and his wife decided to throw him a surprise party. Although, Matt definitely cannot make the party, and I may not be able to, I wanted to make a cake for him. His wife, Jess, clued me into the fact that his favorite cake is strawberry shortcake. I was very excited at this news as I have been dying to make a strawberry cake of some sort. Matt helped me decide on the theme of the cake, which is the logo of the Philadelphia Union Soccer team. Timmy is a big soccer fan and has gone to several games of the new team. I really hope he likes it!
I made a basic pound cake recipe, used fresh strawberries with a little sugar for the filling, and made a swiss meringue buttercream frosting. The fondant took a long time to tint to the appropriate colors. Who knew navy was such a hard color to dye? To finish it off, I dipped some strawberries in white chocolate and surrounded the bottom of the cake with them.
My name is Alison, and I'm married to an impossibly handsome man who makes me laugh constantly. He's super supportive of my baking endeavors as he gets to be my taste tester and have the "messups." And there are plenty of cake disasters!
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