Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Chocolate Irish Cream Cupcakes

As I have been saying, I am completely and totally on a cupcake kick right now. So when my husband and I were invited to a St. Patrick's day party a couple of weeks ago I offered to make some cupcakes. Since this was an adult-only bash, I knew that the dessert needed to be some drunken cupcakes! And since it was an Irish party I knew that I needed to find a way to get my favorite liquor, Bailey's Irish Cream, into the cupcakes.

When I coming up with the recipe, not only did I find a way to add Irish Cream to it, but I also decided to fill it was a wonderful surprise: Irish Cream Chocolate Ganache.

The cupcakes turned out absolutely decadent and rich. And they were a hit at the party...Enjoy!

Chocolate Irish Cream Cupcakes

Makes 24 cupcakes

Ingredients for the cupcakes:

1 package devil’s food cake mix
1 (5.9 ounce) package instant chocolate pudding mix
1 cup sour cream
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs; lightly beaten
1/2 cup warm water
1 teaspoon of vanilla

Instructions for cupcakes:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Line (2) 12 cup muffin tins with paper liners.
3. In stand mixer, mix together the cake and pudding mixes, sour cream, oil, beaten eggs, vanilla and water.
4. Evenly divide the batter amongst the prepared pans.
5. Bake for 18-22 minutes, or until top is springy to the touch and a wooden toothpick inserted comes out clean.
6. Cool cupcakes thoroughly on wire rack.

Ingredients for Chocolate Ganache:
8 oz. bittersweet chocolate - chopped
2/3 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons butter at room temperature
2 teaspoons of Irish Cream

Instructions for Chocolate Ganache:
1. Heat the whipping cream until simmering and pour it over the chocolate in a heat safe bowl.
2. Let it sit for one minute and then stir until smooth. (If this has not sufficiently melted the chocolate,  microwave for 20 seconds and stir until melted.)
3. Add the butter and Bailey's Irish Cream and stir until combined.

Filling the Cupcakes:
1. Let the ganache cool until thick but still soft enough to be piped (the fridge will speed this along but you must stir it every 10 minutes)
2. Meanwhile, using an apple corer, cut the centers out of the cooled cupcakes. You want to go most of the way down the cupcake but not cut through the bottom, about 2/3 of the way.
3. Put the ganache into a piping bag with a wide tip and fill the holes in each cupcake to the top.

Ingredients for Frosting:
3 sticks unsalted butter
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 small pinch of salt
2 lbs powdered sugar
4 tablespoons Bailey's Irish Cream

Instructions for Frosting:
1. In large mixing bowl whip butter until light and fluffy (a few minutes should do the trick)
2. Slowly add in the powdered sugar, mixing well between each addition.
3. Add in the salt, vanilla, and Irish Cream with mixer at low speed until these ingredients are incorporated.
4. Beat frosting at high speed until it is smooth and fluffy.

I frosted my cupcakes with a Wilton 1M Star tip and garnished it with green sanding sugar. Cupcakes will stay fresh for up to two days in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

I am linking up to: Blue Cricket DesignThe Trendy Treehouse, Sugar & Dots, Someday Crafts, This Weeks Cravings, bouffe e bambini: Handmade Hog, Night Owl Crafting, Fireflies & Jelly Beans, Transformation Thursdays, Strut Your Stuff Thursday, Recipe Swap Thursday, It's a Keeper Thursday, Simply Sweet Home, It's A Hodgepodge Friday, Feature Yourself Friday, WhipperBerry, Foodie Friday

Monday, March 28, 2011

A Fabulous Find

On a little search today I came across an Etsy site by Benign Objects and I fell absolutely in LOVE with one of her products:

Aren't these amazing customizable handkerchiefs just to die for? What a great idea for a party invitation, wedding invitation or save the date. I am completely swooning over them and my head is swirling with ideas for how I can have an event that I can use them for. Make sure to check them out!

Happy Monday!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

What I am loving right now

1) Pitas & hummus. Yummmmm

2) Good books--I have been on a reading kick and have finished three books in the past week and a half. (A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness, Barefoot by Elin Hilderbrand & Suzanne's Diary for Nicholas by James Patterson)

3) My iPad--To read above books on and keep my sick toddler occupied when he is not whining about being sick.

4) Beautiful Weather--Living in the desert, while hot in the summer, has absolutely beautiful weather in the spring. And right now the weather is just about perfect. 80 degrees everyday and nice and cool in the mornings.

5) American Idol--O.M.G. do I love the new judges. It is like the show is new all over again.

6) Twitter--I am completely addicted and I love all of the funny that I find on there. It can seriously brighten my day when things are completely sucking.

7) Restaurants that get "it"--I love going out to eat at a kid friendly restaurant that has something to keep my kiddo occupied so that the experience is relaxing for everyone involved. (I love you Oregano's!)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

I wonder where he gets it from?

Lately it seems like every other time I go to take my kiddo's photo he has to make a funny face for the camera. I used to get upset and beg him to smile "normal" for me so that I could get a "good" shot.

But then I realized that I was looking at it all wrong. Those funny face photos are just a part of him. A wonderful, fun glimpse into who he really is. What he really is...because my Caleb is just a ball of fun energy. A kid full of smiles, goofyness and sillyness.

And I absolutely love every funny face that he makes!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Snickers Cupcakes

So lately I have been on a cupcake kick. A BIG cupcake kick. I have been sampling recipes I have found in the interwebs and from cookbooks. And let me tell you that I have been very popular with my co-workers, family and neighbors as they have been helping me by "sampling" what I have been making.

I found this recipe over at my favorite baking site, My Baking Addiction. They are incredibly easy to make and when presented they have a definite "WOW" factor! Everyone loved these cupcakes with a few people claiming that they were the best cupcakes that they have ever eaten.

The cupcakes are made with a cake mix, but are doctored up to be incredibly moist and dense. The surprise that you will find is the Snickers candy bar baked inside...making this cupcake a candy bar lover's dream! They are then topped off with homemade caramel buttercream frosting and garnished with more caramel and Snickers. YUMMY!

They are definitely a keeper and are something that I will pull out whenever I need to impress some guests...I hope that you enjoy them!

Snickers Cupcakes
Inspired by My Baking Addiction

Makes 24 cupcakes

Ingredients for the cupcakes:

1 package devil’s food cake mix
1 (5.9 ounce) package instant chocolate pudding mix
1 cup sour cream
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs; lightly beaten
1/2 cup warm water
1 teaspoon of vanilla
24-30 frozen Snickers Miniatures (must be frozen!)

Instructions for cupcakes:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Line (2) 12 cup muffin tins with paper liners.
3. In stand mixer, mix together the cake and pudding mixes, sour cream, oil, beaten eggs, vanilla and water.
4. Evenly divide the batter amongst the prepared pans.
5. Gently push a frozen Snickers Miniature bar into the center of the batter and smooth the surface making sure to cover the candy bar with batter.
6. Bake for 18-22 minutes, or until top is springy to the touch and a wooden toothpick inserted comes out clean.
7. Cool cupcakes thoroughly on wire rack.

Ingredients for the buttercream frosting:
3 sticks butter; room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 pounds confectioners’ sugar
1/3 cup caramel topping; plus more for drizzling
12 Snickers Miniatures, cut in 1/2 diagonally to garnish

Instructions for the frosting:
1. Cream the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the vanilla extract and caramel syrup and combine well.
2. Add the sugar in slowly, thoroughly mixing after each addition. For thicker frosting you can gradually add in a little more sugar.
3. Frost your cupcakes. I used a Wilton 1M star tip for my cupcakes.
3. Garnish with Snickers bars and a drizzle of caramel of caramel syrup. Make sure that you add your Snickers bars to the frosting shortly after applying it or they will not stick in the frosting well.

(Cupcakes will last for 2 days in a well secured container. Any longer and they will start to get stale.)

I'm linking up this week to: Fireflies & Jelly Beans, It's a Keeper, This Week's Cravings, Prairie Story, Somewhat Simple,Tip Junkie, Cupcake Tuesday, Someday Crafts, Sweet Tooth Friday, I'm Lovin' It, Food on Fridays,Simply Sweet Home, Fingerprints on the Fridge, WhipperBerry, It's a Hodgepodge Life, My Romantic Home

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Our First "Real" Family Vacation

This past week we took our first "real" family vacation. By real vacation I mean a vacation as a family that didn't involve going to see family...all of our previous trips have always been about going back up to Washington State to visit our hometown and see the grandparents and friends. Don't get me wrong...I love those trips, but it was such a great time to finally go on a vacation that was all about us. All about us doing what we wanted, when we wanted on our own schedule. A vacation that was all about having fun!

And lots and lots of fun was had!

Last Saturday we loaded up a rented van, picked up my sister-in-law and two nephews and headed on the road to Disneyland! We had three amazing days in both of the parks, California Adventure and Disneyland and I have so many great memories. It was the perfect age for Caleb's first visit...he loved just about everything, except the Haunted Mansion. (Which he keeps talking about..."no windows, no doors, no way out...I never want to go back to that place mommy, not even when I get old!")

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

What is Playing Wednesday

Ok...I will admit that I completely love me some good pop music! (hanging my head in shame, but let's try to keep this little tidbit between you and me ok?)

Check out this video, 'cause I just love Avril...and this song is so much fun and had me dancing along from the first time that I heard it. And just because I need some fun in my life these days!

Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Caleb update

For those of you that have been following the ongoing saga of trying to find out what is wrong my my little one I just wanted to give you an update.

We had an appointment with the specialist yesterday to talk about the findings of all of the tests so far. And while we were hoping for a definitive answer and diagnosis, instead we were just told that my son is an enigma. (Heck...I could have told you that without a dr.'s note!) She just doesn't really know what to do with him. The diagnosis is leaning towards celiac disease, but all of my son's tests seem to keep contradicting each other. One test will be a positive marker for celiac, while the next is a negative marker.

So we took him for some more blood tests yesterday afternoon. (And let me tell you that taking a toddler to get blood taken is a special kind of hell...and anyone that has even taken their child in for one will probably agree with me on it!) We should get a call from the doctor before the end of the week with those results, so for now we are in a holding pattern until we hear anything.

The best thing that has come out of all of these tests is the news that my son does not have Crohns disease. It's the one thing that both my husband and I have been worried about since this all hubby has the disease and he was just sick thinking that he passed the gene onto my son. It was such a relief to get the news that it wasn't that disease causing the stomach problems for my son!

So here we stand...just waiting. And let me tell you that waiting sucks. Totally and completely sucks!

Friday, March 4, 2011

That sneaky thing called depression

You may have noticed that I haven't been blogging as much lately. I log on, post a little fluff & I disappear again, and for that I am sorry. But I have been feeling overwhelmed by things in my life and I could feel myself slipping down that very slippery slope called depression.

Anyone that has been there understands how quickly all can go downhill. Or how slowly it can creep up on you. Depression can be extremely quiet and sneaky...and that is how it is for me. The last time that I went down this road it was a combination of postpartum and an unstable marriage. It was easy to diagnose...I was constantly crying, sad, exhausted, detached. I knew I needed help and I got it. I went to weekly counseling sessions and became friends with Zoloft. It took about a year to get my head on straight and wean myself off the pills, but I did it and I felt stronger and more in touch with myself than ever before.

But this time the depression snuck up on me. It was something that started small and over the course of six months became so big it consumed me. It started off with a little trouble sleeping, that eventually morphed into only sleeping two to three hours each night. A little nagging feeling of hopelessness that became feeling detached from everything because of the hopelessness that engulfed my entire being. A little emotional teary-ness became an overwhelming sadness that kept me from crying becuase I wasn't sure if I could stop.

The change from the small feelings to the big overwhelming ones didn't happen overnight. They grew in such a minuscule way that I didn't even notice what was happening. I've been through a lot of things son not feeling well, my husband's Crohns disease rearing it's ugly head, my father being diagnosed with prostate cancer and my step-mom having heart failure and subsequent heart surgery. These things just kept hitting me one after the other.

I didn't even notice the depression until earlier this week when I felt like I couldn't even function anymore. My sleep exhaustion had me almost delirious, my sadness finally engulfed me and I felt like the tears would never stop. And , finally I drove home imagining how much easier things would be if I wasn't around.

That last feeling was the one that scared me the was the one that made me realize how much I had to lose if I didn't get myself some help. I saw my doctor and went back on anti-depressants. I have weekly appointments set up with my lifesaver of a therapist. And I admitted that I need help. I told my husband and a few close friends that I can't do it all alone and I some support to help me fix me.

I'm trying to heal. It will take some time, but I will eventually be back to "me."

4 things I love...

1 - My amazing son. He has been such a trooper during all of the tests and doctor’s office visits that he has had to endure over the past month. His strength and ability to rebound just amazes me!

2 - Adele – I have been listening to her new album since it came out last week on repeat and I’m still not sick of it. I love, love, love her

3 - Subway flatbread chicken cordon bleu sandwiches. It’s my new fave quick thing to get for lunch at work. (Good thing there’s a subway 4 doors down from my office…yummy!)

4 - My network of friends both online and in person. Everyone has been so amazing and supportive while my family has been going through everything with my son. I love you all and am so thankful to have you in my life!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

New Logo Creation - Tease Salon

I just wanted to share a new logo that I just designed for a good friend of mine's salon:

I think that it turned out great and she was super happy with the design!

Blog Design by Likely Lola