Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Into the woods...

So this past weekend we went on our first family camping trip to Hillsborough River State Park. It was actually the first time I camped with Shawn as well. I think we did pretty well for first timers, but it just wouldn't be a Daniels' family vacation if there wasn't a little humor involved. Don't believe me? Read my post on the cruise we went on! First let me start with the packing situation...

I am not a good packer. I always get a good start at doing a good job. I lay out my outfits, planning for each day appropriately, but as the departure times gets closer panic sets in. I start running through all the "what-if's". What if it rains? What if I fall and get dirty? What if a coyote eats my favorite sweater? It doesn't matter where I'm going, or if I've been there before I always get panicky. So in order to put myself at ease enough to avoid a full blown anxiety attack I pack EVERYTHING. Think I'm kidding...we went camping for 2 nights at a campsite 45 minutes from our house and 20 minutes from the closest Wal-Mart but having such amenities within a short drive didn't stop me. Oh no...just the pharmaceuticals I took was out of control. I took Calamine lotion, 2 different anti-itch creams, antiseptic spray, regular children's Tylenol, day-time and night-time cold-medicines, a thermometer, and a small first aid kit with band-aids and gauze. I packed 5 pair of pants, 5 pairs of shoes and enough shirts for a week. Two different hoodies (remember the coyote's could eat one) and at least 5 tubes of chap-stick. Sick...I know!

But I'm not the only one with packing issues. My husband also suffers from OPS (over-packing syndrome) and I think because he knows I'm panicking his need to "take care of his women" kicks into over-drive and he tries to be prepared for anything that might make me totally spaze out :). Anywho, after loading everything into the truck THIS is what it looked like.

Remember it's only for two nights we'll be camping. And you can't even see what's on the inside of the truck!

Shawn was taking a TV with us until I asked him if he had packed his digital converter box as well!

So, no TV, but we did have the lap-top and apparently free wi-fi. So Shawn and Allan (husband of Denise) watched an afternoon movie and took advantage of some of the free showings on Hulu (love Hulu!)

On Saturday, everyone went canoeing, we have our own John Boat which is nice as it also has a battery powered motor which means NO PADDLING!! Only trouble is, for being Hillsborough RIVER state park the only access to the river is via hand portage...meaning you carry your vessel to the water!! I suppose this really only sucked for Shawn since he did the carrying while I took the little one for a potty break and waited patiently (okay, so I complained briefly about being the last ones out onto the was only briefly though).

Here's our captain preparing our ship.

Here I am sunning myself while the little one helps daddy by paddling the boat backwards :)

Here's a cool looking tree...which also shows how low the water levels are!!

Here's the little one...


Oh Captain, my Captain...

It was pretty and peaceful on the river, and the weather was perfect.

The ginormous gator we saw sitting on the bank.
The tree my little one asked daddy to drive the boat under. He of course couldn't say no!

Me taking a picture as we passed under, secretly hoping the flash would go off and prevent any spiders from jumping on my head!

The sweet look of success. I think he was actually waiting to see if I was going to yell at him :)

All in all it was a good weekend. We were with a group of friends that we always have fun with so it was bound to be a good time. Not sure how quick I will be to reserve my next camp-site but I won't say never.

And just for the record I wore 3 of the 5 pair of shoes and 4 of the 5 pairs of pants I there!

On the baking front....I've been busy baking and will only get busier as the Holidays get closer. I have some things I'd like to share so hopefully I'll get to it soon.

Sugar coated kisses.



Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Happily Ever After

Monday was my grandparents 63rd wedding anniversary. Now, I don't know about you, but I just think that is the coolest, most special, way to rare these days kind of thing. I mean - Sixty-three years!@%! So in honor of their wedded bliss I made them dinner and a special little cake.

I had had the idea of making them a cake for some time but it was while at one of my favorite stores, Homegoods, that I settled on the idea. I found the most precious little figurine of a dancing bride and groom (I also scored hugely in the sprinkles department, I'll share when I take some pictures). The figurine reminded me of my grandparents wedding picture which is black and white with shades of pink and gray. It hangs on the wall in their living room and has for as long as I can remember, it's one of my favorite things. I decided immediately to use the figurine as a cake topper. I'd also been wanting to practice at making gum paste flowers and since the brides dress on the figurine had flowers at the base it was just perfect.

I recently received a recipe for a lemon cream filling in the mail and was anxious to try it so I paired it with vanilla buttercake that I brushed with a lemon syrup. Then I iced it all with a traditional vanilla buttercream. The result was delicious. It was moist and lemony and sweet, and when I say lemony - it might make some pucker.

I painted the flowers with a little luster dust mixed with Vodka. The alcohol evaporates and the flowers come out shiny and a little sparkly. The center of the flowers were little edible pearls (part of my sprinkles score at Homegoods), next time I may attach them differently. I used a dot of buttercream but it squished out around the pearls and it bothers me. I really liked this little cake, I think it's pretty. And the happy couple thought it was fantastic :)

Lemon Cream Filling
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 Tbsp. butter
1/4 cup sugar
2 egg yolks
1 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
1/2 cup whipped cream
In small saucepan, bring lemon juice and butter to boil. Mix sugar and egg yolks together. When lemon mixture comes to a boil pour half of it over yolk mixture and mix well. Pour warm mixture back into pan and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat and cook and stir 2 minutes more. Pass cooked cream through a strainer and stir in lemon peel. Cover surface with plastic wrap and place in refridgerator to cool. When cool, fold in whipped cream and chill.
Lemon Syrup

1/4 cup water

1/4 cup sugar

lemon juice to taste

Mix water and sugar in saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring until sugar dissolves.
Remove from heat and stir in as much or as little lemon juice as you like. Use to brush cakes and before icing.

I hope that in 57 years my hubby looks at me like my grandpa still looks at my grandma. And I hope someone makes me a cake :)



Sunday, July 26, 2009

Because I Love You.

I like to sing...I'm not good at it, but I like it. To my ears I sound fantastic; I could hold my own with Celine and Christina no problem. To the poor souls who are subjected to my random serenades I sound more like a rooster with bronchitis being struck by a car. But I don't let a little thing like tone deafness hold me back. Why just the other day I was inspired to sing.
Remember all that niceness I was sharing with you the other day. Well I decided I wanted to do something nice for my hubby. A few weeks back I had planned on making a home-made version of the Hostess cupcake, but I never got around to it so I decided to surprise him with some when he came home from work. As I was whipping up the fluffy, marshmallowy goodness that was to be the delicious center of these babies I found myself singing a song from my youth. Now, I'm a product of the 90's so don't judge me to harshly when I tell you what it was I found myself singing was Stevie B's, Because I Love You.

I know, I know, I know. I know what your thinking (at least I can imagine what your thinking..."Stevie B... sound of crickets...really???"). I can't help it...this song was like an anthem for at least a summer during my middle school years. I was a cheerleader for the local P.P.A.L league and every Saturday night our parents would drop us off at the rec center for the weekly P.P.A.L dance. I can vividly remember slow dancing to this song, having the chaperons (the poor adults with nothing better to do with their Saturday night then to stand around monitoring a bunch of hormonal, tweens stumble their way awkwardly through puberty and the beginnings of blossoming romances) step in anytime we got to close to one another. So say what you must, but I was feeling the love when I was making these and this song brings back fond memories for me as does the Hostess cupcake.
I can remember being a little girl and how excited I would get if my mom picked these up at the store, and how I would eat them first by peeling the chocolate fudge from the top, saving it for last. Then I would eat just enough cupcake to expose the fluffy center which I would eat around saving one big fluffy cake crumby bite for last. Then I would devour the icing and wash it all down with a big glass of cold milk...good times I tell you, good times!!
So with Stevie B playing on repeat in my head and visions of marshmallow fluff enrobed in chocolaty goodness running through my mind I proceeded to stuff the cupcakes by cutting out a small section from the center, then injecting the cream and replacing the cake section.
Then I glazed them and added the traditional white swirl using royal icing.

Next, was the hardest part of all (sigh)...taste tasting.

My first instinct told me they were the bomb...but I had to be sure.

And I couldn't leave my fingerprints and teeth impressions behind as evidence. What? What's that you say? This, isn't, a, crime scene? Well it WOULD be a crime to not finish this cupcake!

So good, so so so good. I usually don't care for a ganache glaze preferring a sweeter more fudge like version but paired with the sweetness of the marshmallowy center it was awesome. It was moan inspiring (yes, sometimes I moan when food is really good...especially when it involves chocolate and cake and fluffy get the point). My hubby loved them and I love him and it's all just love over here.

Marshmallow Cream

1 stick unsalted butter

2 cups powdered sugar

1 cup Marshmallow Fluff

2 TBSP heavy cream

Beat all ingredients unitl smooth and fluffy.

These really are worth the several step process it takes to assemble them. Start with your favorite chocolate cupcake. You could skip the royal icing at the end and just use a powdered sugar and milk icing. I just happened to have left over royal icing so I used it. And if you prefer a sweeter chocolate glaze add some powdered sugar. After making these I'm tempted to try some different flavor fillings like a fluffy carmel center, a lemon curd, a whipped hazelnut filling...the possibilities go on and on and on!

I better go make a list (that I'll ultimately misplace and spend way to much time looking for)

Sugar coated kisses,


Saturday, July 25, 2009

Now that's nice

Have you ever seen that bumper sticker that says " Mean people suck"? I feel there should be a counterpart sticker that says "Nice people rock"! It seems we're always so focused on the negative in the world...which celebrity is headed for rehab, how bad is the economy today, that jerk just cut me off, etc., etc., etc. I'm a believer that negativity breeds negativity, you get back from the universe what you put out there. That being said I wanted to share a little bit of nice with you, maybe it will make you smile and in turn you will be nice to someone else. Lord knows the world could use a little bit of nice right about now!

Okay so first, about a month or so ago my Aunt Becky surprised me with a little package. She sent me some cookie cutters and silicone cakelett pans. There was no reason to send them other then she saw them, thought of me and bought them for nice right! As a way to say thank you I decided I wanted to do more then the traditional card, so I made her some sugar cookies with one of the cutters she sent.

I can't decide if I think they look more like sunflowers,

Black Eyed Susans.

What do you think?

I hope that they reached her in good condition and brought a smile to her face!

Okay, next nice thing: last weekend I received a totally random email from a gentleman in CA who had seen the Mickey Mouse cupcake tower I made. He one, described it as a "masterpiece" and two, wanted to know how much I would charge for something similar if not the exact same thing. How flattering is that!!? I unfortunately, had to tell him I don't ship; but I was sure to tell him Thank you. I told him "baking is my passion and it brings me great joy to know that what I do makes other people happy." and that's the truth!

And last but not least my hubby asked me this week to makes some cupcakes for the ladies in his office. Things have been pretty hectic there lately and he thought it would be a good way to end the week. Nice right? He left the "what to make" decision up to me, and an easy decision it was. I decided to make my version of a Rocky Road cupcake. I call it "Malfunction Junction". Those of you from Tampa know exactly what Malfunction Junction is, for the rest of you...let's just say it's a section of I-275 that sucks beyond suckage. They just seemed appropriate for the occasion...the perfect way to end a rocky week!! For my Malfunction-Junction I start with a devil's food cupcake, I ice it with a marshmallow buttercream and then top it with toasted walnuts, coconut and a drizzle of chocolate. For the ladies I made them pink...and I just love them!

Pretty little things aren't they?

Marshmallow Buttercream

1 stick unsalted butter - room temp

1 cup marshmallow fluff

1 cup powdered sugar

4-6 tbsp. heavy whipping cream ( you could use milk, I happened to have cream so I used it)

Beat all ingredients until light and fluffy. Add as much cream as you need to reach the consistency you would like.

Go play nice.



Saturday, July 18, 2009

A Busy Week...

It's been a long and busy baking week for me. I had 5 dozen custom decorated sugar cookies for Friday and a birthday cake for Saturday. I doesn't seem like that much when you type it, but anyone who's ever made this variety of sugar cookie knows, they are a labor of love. You have to make , roll, cut, chill and bake the dough. Then you have to cool, outline and fill the cookies. And then finally after they have been left to dry for hours, (yes, hours. They take hours for the royal icing to completely dry) you can do what is my favorite part...decorate them. It's decorating them to be special for an event or occasion that makes them worth the time and effort. I mean an iced cookie as an iced cookie, but when they're unique to you and/or your event they're...well...special.

This particular order was for a baby shower. They asked for pink, lavender and yellow cookies, with Lily on them. I just love babies, and the mom-to-be is a first timer which is awesome so I was super excited about making these. The colors were really pretty and the sprinkled sugar added just a little bit of sparkle.

I did some with just a letter "L"

and for the first time I used fondant, in the form of tiny flowers.

Here they are on pink on a black background. I'm never quit sure how to take a picture of cookies. So I tried a bunch of different stuff.

And here they are all bagged up and ready to go.

My tips for making sugar cookies is to roll and cut the dough when it's warm. I roll mine between sheets of wax paper. Chill it, then remove scraps and bake the cookies. I outline mine with a medium consistency royal icing and then flood them using thin icing in a squeeze bottle. I outline them again once they're dry and then decorate . They are best kept in the refrigerator and can be stored in the freezer. You can find a good recipe for sugar cookies and royal icing at Fancy Flours

Hope you like.


Friday, July 3, 2009

Back with a BANG!

So it's been a while since I last posted here. No excuse really. I have the tendency to get a little sidetracked, starting new projects only to get bored after the initial excitement of the whole venture wears off. It's not that I haven't been baking, believe me I have. I just haven't been taking pictures and blogging about the experience. But lately the itch to share my sweet treats has returned and when I made blueberry scones yesterday I knew it was time.

I've been wanting to make blueberry scones for some time now. I had never even tried a scone until recently and yesterday was the first time I made them. I used the blueberry streusel scone recipe from Since I didn't hunt down any devonshire cream to go with them I made a mascarpone whipped cream also found on the I ate one immediately after they came out of the oven and a second one not long after the first.

It's one of those things where when your done eating it you use your fork to mash up any bits of crumbs left on the plate, it's that good.

Here they are right out of the oven. Look at how the cream melts and oozes all down the sides of the scone. YUM,YUM,YUM!!
I sprinkled a little of the streusel topping and a few extra blueberries I had left over on top. Who doesn't love a little extra yum!
And here it is after given a few minutes to cool off. No oozing cream but just as big on the YUM factor. And look how festive they are, perfect for the 4th wouldn't you say.
Close-up of delicious blueberry goodness...

The key to mixing these is to NOT over mix them. I mixed them completely by hand and just until the flour was incorporated. Over mixing will yield a tough scone. Be gentle when folding in the berries so they don't burst before baking and I didn't use all of the streusel topping. But you can sprinkle it on afterwords or even save it for your pancakes, either way it's delish!

Next time I think I will add a little more lemon zest to the cream, I only used half a lemon this time. The lemon compliments the blueberries so well and gives the cream a really fresh taste. I'm telling you, from the way the blueberries pop in the scones during baking spreading their delicious juices throughout to the rich and creamy, sweet goodness that is the mascarpone whipped cream these babies are a must try. Not to mention how festive they are for the 4th. What better way to start your Independence day celebrations then with a fresh blueberry scone...YUM!!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

ICE: April - They Give You Wings

I wasn't going to compete in this months ICE challenge (which is soda-pop) for a number of reasons, one being that I just couldn't come up with a recipe idea that included soda (or Pop for those of you in the mid-west) and still sounded appealing. But all of a sudden this afternoon it came to's the scoop.
After a busy morning of errands I was tired and I still had several household chores to do and was majorly lacking in motivation. You see I finally decided to jump on the Twilight bandwagon (after weeks of listening to my MOTG friends swoon over it) and while at Sam's club picked up a copy of the 1st book. So I was anxious to dive into it, but the laundry was spilling over and my floors HAD to be cleaned so I did what I always do when I need a little pick-me-up...I had a Red Bull. I figured it would give me the energy I needed to do my chores plus I'd be able to stay up past my usually bed-time of 9:30 PM to do a little reading. It was when I went to the fridge to get it that the idea hit me...MAKE RED BULL CUPCAKES!!! That way I will be able to enter the April ICE challenge, snack AND stay awake late at night to read Twilight (which I have heard happens frequently, I've heard stories of reading at red-lights, waking up in the middle of the night to read just one more chapter, etc. etc. etc.).
So I sucked my Red Bull down and proceeded to buzz around the house in a fashion that would have made the Tasmanian Devil proud; I mopped, windexed, dusted, vacuumed and laundered. Choring done I tackled my next task...the cupcakes. I went with my favorite, devil's food, for a few reasons. 1) it's my favorite and 2) I already had some baked (after all I'm gonna need all the time I can get for reading). I started by brushing the cupcakes with a little Red Bull.

I made some buttercream icing substituting Red-Bull for the milk. I choose to make the icing blue so it would match the can.

I was going to top the cupcakes with some wings made from red candy melts but when I entered "wings" into the search field in clip art the cutest freaking picture of a little vampire bat came up. I was going to trace the wings with the candy melts but after I found the little vampire I choose to make some super cute picks instead. I must say the results are better than I expected...I thought the icing would be way to sweet but it's actually rather nice and the Red Bull flavor is can definitely tell it's there...which I imagine will come in handy these next few days.

So without further adieu I present to you what I have dubbed the "They have wings" cupcakes. I hope you enjoy them.

Now, if you'll please excuse me I have some reading to do :)

Voting will begin no later than Wednesday, April 29 at 8 p.m. at No One Puts Cupcake in a Corner

Our April ETSY PRIZE-PACK is from artists:
A creation by FRUITFLYPIE
a pair of cupcake earrings from LOTS OF SPRINKLES
a sweet surprise from Sweet Cuppin' Cakes Cupcakery
PLUS, IronCupcake:Earth can not forget our good friend, CAKESPY, who is now going to be doing a piece for our winner each month until further notice - sweet!

Last and certainly not least, don’t forget our corporate prize providers:


HELLO CUPCAKE by Karen Tack and Alan Richardson



a t-shirt from UPWITHCUPCAKES.COM.

Iron Cupcake:Earth is sponsored in part by 1-800-Flowers,

Red Bull Buttercream

2 sticks butter - room temp.

1/2 cup Red Bull ( I used sugar free)

8 cups powdered sugar

pinch of salt

Cream indredients until smooth and creamy. Ice as desired

Devil's Food Cupcakes