Thursday, April 24, 2014

Casino Themed Cupcakes for a Vegas Party

Last weekend, my friend Mandy had her 30th birthday.  For eons, she has talked about us going to Vegas for our 30th.  However, that girl went and had herself a sweet baby boy in January and so a long weekend in Vegas wasn't in the cards.  Her husband, being the darling that he is, threw her a surprise, Vegas themed party.  I got to be the lucky one to make the cupcakes.

The dice were made with sugar cubes that were piped with royal icing dots.  All other toppers were gumpaste piped with royal icing details.  There will be more detailed tutorials coming your way soon.

Cupcakes were red velvet with cream cheese buttercream and chocolate with chocolate peanut butter buttercream.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Easy Orange Cake Mix Sandwich Cookies with Honey Cream Cheese Filling

Easter in my family has always been a cause for a family celebration.  My grandma would host a big egg coloring party for all the kiddos on Good Friday.  She would boil up dozens and dozens of eggs.  Her entire farmhouse table would be covered in newspaper and lined with every mug in her cupboard.  Plop, fizz, we would help drop the tablets into the cups, my aunt pouring in the vinegar and water.  To this day the smell of vinegar makes me nostalgic for coloring Easter eggs.

We would drop our eggs in one by one.  The little kids pulling theirs out as almost as soon as they had touched the dye creating the palest colored shells.  Us older kids would wait  and wait and wait trying to get the deepest, darkest color.  We would scratch our names and the names of everyone we knew with white crayon onto the surface of the egg before tossing it into the dye.  

My grandma would always have a big spread of appetizers too, snackies, she would call them and we would fill up while waiting for the Easter egg hunt to begin.  Even though my grandma is no longer with us, we still all get together for the next generation to color eggs.  These sandwich cookies were for the snack table, easy and kid friendly, the perfect end to a wonderful party.

Orange Sandwich Cookies

  • 1 box orange cake mix
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 stick butter at room temperature

Beat together cake mix, egg, yogurt, and butter.  Batter will be thick.  Scoop by the teaspoonful onto a greased cookie sheet.  Because we are making sandwich cookies, try and make them about the same size and an even number of cookies.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes.  Allow to cool completely.  Fill with Honey Cream Cheese filling.

Honey Cream Cheese Filling

  • 1/2 stick butter (4 tablespoons) at room temperature
  • 8 ounces cream cheese 
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 3 cups powdered sugar

Beat together butter and cream cheese until smooth and fluffy.  Add in honey and beat until combined.  Slowly add in powdered sugar and beat until combined.  Pipe or spread filling on one cookie.  Top with another cookie.  If your filling seems too runny, add a bit more powdered sugar to thicken (about 1/4 at a time until desired consistency is reached).

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Pretzel "Salad"

Salad would probably be a misnomer for everyone except those of us who live in the midwest.  It's probably more of a dessert and by probably, I mean definitely.  But for those of us in the midwest, salad means any mixture containing jello, Cool Whip, or mayonnaise and we're really impressed if you can manage all three.

Nonetheless, this "salad" is just plain good whether you serve it with your main course or after.  It's a great potluck contribution and you'll have everyone at the party walking around asking who made it.  Plus it only takes about 15 minutes to put together.

Pretzel Salad

recipe adapted slightly from Sue Davies who got it from Linda Gonnerman who got it from Diane Valentine

  • 1 cup coarsely chopped pretzels
  • 4 teaspoons melted butter
  • 20 ounces crushed pineapple or thawed frozen strawberries, drained
  • 8 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 8 ounces Cool Whip

In a small bowl, mix together melted butter, 2 tablespoons sugar, and pretzels.  Spread on a baking sheet covered with parchment and bake at 400 degrees for about 6 minutes.  Cool completely.

In a separate bowl, beat cream cheese with sugar.  Add in the fruit.  Using a rubber spatula, fold in the Cool Whip.  Fold in the pretzels just prior to serving.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Whole Wheat Blackberry Mini Muffins

These little guys beg the age old question:  when do you call it a muffin and when do you call it a cupcake?  They are packed with whole wheat flour and no frosting so I believe they sit firmly on the side of muffin, but Martha Stewart disagrees (maybe it's all the sugar??)

At any rate, these whole grain cuties will satisfy your sweet tooth without feeling like you ate 3 days worth of butter.  Not that I am opposed to copious butter usage, but you know, sometimes something lighter for breakfast/snacking is what your looking for.

Whole Wheat Blackberry Mini Muffins

adapted from Martha Stewart Cupcakes
makes 20 mini muffins
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour ( I used white whole wheat)
  • 1/4 cup masa (corn) flour (or finely ground cornmeal
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon powdered buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 container blackberries
  • 1-2 tablespoons raw sugar

In a microwave safe bowl, melt butter in the microwave.  While the butter is melting, stir together whole wheat flour, corn flour, baking powder, and powdered butter milk in a large mixing bowl.  Add in the butter, milk and egg.  Stir until just combined, the batter will be thick.

Line a mini muffin pan with mini muffin wrappers or grease the pan.  Scoop 1 teaspoon batter into each muffin wrapper.  Press one blackberry into the top of each muffin.  Sprinkle raw sugar over the top of the muffins.  Bake for 12 minutes at 375 degrees.  Allow to cool and enjoy!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Pineapple Upside Down Ice Cream

A brilliant foodie  cousin of mine gave me the idea for this ice cream and a sweet aunt whose favorite cake is pineapple upside down cake gave me the reason to try it.

I love it because it's a Philadelphia style ice cream (read: easy) but had great depth of flavor because of the brown sugar.  And I love me any ice cream that has mix ins!  Maybe the only thing I would try differently next time is to roast the pineapple prior to mixing it in to add even more flavor.

Pineapple Upside Down Ice Cream

  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 8 ounce can pineapple tidbits, drained
  • 1/4 cup maraschino cherries, diced fine
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Pour 1 cup of cream into a medium sauce pan.  Add sugar.  Heat over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved.  In a separate bowl, stir together milk, remaining cream and vanilla extract.  Add in warm cream and sugar mixture.  Cover with plastic wrap directly on the cream mixture.  Pop in the fridge for several hours or overnight.

Churn according to your ice cream makers directions.  In the last 5 minutes of churning add in pineapple and cherries.  Move ice cream to a freezer safe container and freeze.  Enjoy!

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