Some Patriotic Goodness

Red-White-and-Blue-Cupcake

Red, White, and Blue Cupcakes from Skip To My Lou.

Can you believe that it is almost July? This year has flown by so fast.  I just barely realized that Sunday is the 4th of July.  Due to a change in my work schedule, I’m off for the 4th, which was completely last minute.  I think we are going to have some kind of get together or party that day, plus our Homeowner’s Association always has a fantastic fireworks display. But now, I think the panic has set in. I’ve been trying to find some great ideas for our little celebration, and I thought I would share some of them with the lovely people who come to visit me here.  That is, if you haven’t forgotten about me, have you?

Tasty Treats

Red, White and Blue Cupcakes

Cindy adapted the rainbow cupcake recipe that I posted to make these wonderful cupcakes.  She is quite creative, and even added stars to the top.

Red, White and Blueberry Trifle

I found this delicious Martha Stewart dot com recipe on Delish.  It looks so easy to make, and tasty too.

Summer Salad

My friend Kelly posted this summer salad which includes fresh fruit, and cinnamon candied almonds.

Lemonade with Berry Ice Cubes

This non-alcoholic drinks screams summer. It sounds so refreshing.  I’m sure you could find some booze to add to it also, like rum or vodka.

Party Planning

Red, White, and Blue Centerpiece for the 4th of July

This is so simple.  A vase, rice, and food coloring.  I could even do this!

Festive Ice Cubes

All you need is a star shaped ice cube tray and some colored juice.

Balloon 4th of July Wreath

This is a time consuming project, so start NOW. But the end result is quite awesome.  You could use this for other Holidays also. Think of the possibilities.

4th of July Printables

I met Kim in Arizona, and I’m amazed at her creativity.  I want her to come out here and plan all of my parties.  She pays so much attention to detail.

I hope everyone is enjoying summer so far.  It has been quite gloomy and overcast here in Southern California.  We haven’t been able to get much pool time, as we would like to.  I hope everyone whom is traveling also has a safe trip!

It is already a summer of fun!

DSC_0007

Running Along The Beach

i heart faces Challenge, Week 23: Play

DSC_0015

This is Angry Kid. This is Angry Kid after his first jaunt in the ocean.  Yea, I know, we live in Orange County.  We have never taken Angry Kid to the beach before. Angry Husband loathes the sand, the beach, the beach traffic, and the parking. I had an impulsive moment, go figure, and jumped in the car.  We headed towards Huntington Beach.  It was immensely crowded.  The AVP Tour was going on this weekend.  I obviously didn’t get the memo with my spontaneous beach trip.

Oh and by the way, Angry Kid loved the ocean.  Even after a medium wave came up and smacked him to the ground. He wants a surf board.  I told him that he needs to learn to swim first.  Did you notice all the sand in his hair? He had also just spit out a ton of salt water and sand that he ingested.  He is a boy. He will survive.

Fruit and Yummy Fruit Dip

My parents came over for dinner on Memorial Day. We fixed up some last minute hamburgers and hot dogs. I will say last minute, because I picked up some things from the grocery store at 4pm, on Memorial Day, on the way home from work.  I was tempted by all of the goodies aka cupcakes, cookies, and other sweet goodness.  By I actually chose to be a little bit healthy, who knew!  I bought some fruit to cut up, because it looked delicious and practically screamed, “summer”.

I had to make “the dip” for the fruit though. It is a very simple and “not so healthy recipe”.  8 oz. of cream cheese plus a jar of marshmallow cream.  You mix it together.  It is that simple, seriously.

DSC_0075

I had to throw in another beach photo.  Angry Husband was burying Angry Kid in the sand. Do you see the jeans and t-shirt? I said it was “spontaneous”.  Angry Husband finally gave in, and sat down.  He even made some castles with Angry Kid.  He may have been a little angry about the sand getting anywhere.

It has been awhile since I’ve gone to the actual beach. You know right down where the sand meets the ocean.  I forgot about all of the interesting outfits that people wear the beach.  I saw some inappropriate bathing suits, bikini bottoms with hoodies, people wearing clothes in the ocean, and biker shorts under a one-piece woman’s suit.  I just gave Angry Husband “that look” several times.

photo

Since I’m writing about summer, I thought I would include my lunch from today.  I could not think of anything to eat for lunch. It was way too hot and nothing sounded good.  I decided to go with the “Yogurt” food group, along with the strawberries, gummy bears, and Butterfinger food groups. Yea, I need to go to the gym this week, alot!

And it is just the beginning of June.  I can’t wait to see what the rest of summer brings us!

P.S.  I think I’ve tried all of the local Frozen Yogurt Shops.  Yogurtland is my fav!

Camouflage Cupcakes

Inside of camoflauge cupcake

Angry Kid’s 5th birthday party was last Friday.  We did a Star Wars theme, even though it was held at a bounce place.  I’m pretty Type-A, and need to follow through with my themes.  You are thinking, what does camouflage have to do with Star Wars? Well nothing really, but they are quite boyish, and I thought they looked pretty cool.

This recipe is just an adaptation of the Rainbow Cupcakes that I made for Easter. I just used different colors for the camouflage effect. For the colors in these cupcakes, I used the following Wilton Icing Colors: black, green, and brown.

I made my own frosting for the Rainbow Cupcakes, but I did not have time to do that this time.  I had an extremely busy work week.  I comprised with my OCD and bought frosting in a can.  I made it look a little fancy, and piped it on with a 1m star tip though. I used a chocolate frosting, and a vanilla frosting. I used green icing coloring to make the vanilla frosting green.

Camoflauge Cupcakes with Lego Star Wars Toppers

With the right presentation, even I can look like I’m doing something right.  I placed the cupcakes on two-tier buffet server from Crate and Barrel and stuck Star Wars toppers in the middle of the cupcakes.  I had the help of Cindy from Skip to my Lou with the cupcake toppers. She designed them for me and gave me the step-by-step process on how to make them. I borrowed a circle punch from Kelly and printed them out on white card stock with a colored printer.  I added a popsicle stick, and glued it all together.  It was pretty simple once I got the hang of it, but I got frustrated in the middle of it all.

Close-up view of Star Wars cupcake toppers

Here’s the recipe for those folks who want to stay on this post, and not go to my original rainbow cupcake post.

Perfect Cake-Mix Cupcakes from Hello Cupcake

Yield: 24 standard cupcakes

18.25-ounce box cake mix (French vanilla, devil’s food or yellow)
1 cup buttermilk, in place of the water called for on the box (the box will call for more water than the buttermilk you are using)
Vegetable oil (the amount on the box)
4 large eggs (in place of the number called for on the box)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 24 muffin cups with paper liners.

Using substitutions above, follow the box instructions to mix all ingredients in a large bowl. Beat with an electric mixer at low to medium speed until moistened, about 30 seconds. Increase speed to high and beat until thick, 2 minutes longer.

Spoon half of the batter into a zip-top bag. Snip a ¼-inch corner from the bag and fill the paper liners 2/3 full. Bake 15 to 20 minutes until tops are golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove cupcakes from baking pans, place on a wire rack . Cool completely.

I used Duncan Hines White Cake Mix for my cupcakes.  Kristin said that I need to use white cake mix as the color stands out better. I also adapted parts of this recipe to make the camouflage cupcakes.

After mixing the batter, I separated it into three different bowls.  I used three bowls, because I was going to use three different colors for my “camouflage effect”.

I used Wilton’s Icing Colors to get the desired effect. The colors that I used were Green, Black, and Brown.

If you want detailed instructions, including the step-by-step pictures, go to my Rainbow Cupcake post.

P.S. I would like to give a big thanks once again to Kristin who originally helped me with this recipe and Cindy for helping me with the cupcake toppers. She is SOOOO patient.

Spotlight Saturday: 05.09 to 05.15.10

Spotlight Saturday

Here are FIVE of my favorite posts from the past week. Each week I will be highlighting some of my favorites. I have many blogs in my reader, as I have many friends with all different types of “niches” or “non-niches”. I will post serious stories, fun stories, pictures, recipes, etc. They will most likely be in a random order.

1.  Mama’s Losin’ It-How To Grow Your Blog

Some great tips there.  Her tip “titles” are pretty hilarious too. Who wouldn’t laugh at, “And Most Importantly…Write Gooder.”

2. Mommy Niri-5 Reasons Big Bloggers Need to be Nice to Small Bloggers

The blogging world can sometimes be like high school with cliques and mean girls.  She outlines why everyone should just be nice to each other.

3. Life with my 3 Boybarians-Sweet Shot Tuesday

Darcy hosted a photo carnival every Tuesday. She always has great prizes too. You do not have to be a professional photographer.  It is a great blog/post if you want to show off some great photos that you took.  I’m always up late Monday nights trying to get my photo post done.

4.  Let’s have a cocktail-Homeade Peanut Butter Cups

One word: YUM! Don’t these sound delicious.

5.  Momfluential Media-Fashion Haul Friday, Share Your Shopping

Ciaran talks about a new trend-Fashion Hauling. She does a vlog (video blog) showing some of the things that she recently bought.  This is a great way to get into vlogging, as you have a topic to easily vlog about. And really, who doesn’t like vlogging?

Spotlight Saturday 04.11 to 04.17.10

Spotlight Saturday

Here are FIVE of my favorite posts from the past week. Each week I will be highlighting some of my favorites. I have many blogs in my reader, as I have many friends with all different types of “niches” or “non-niches”. I will post serious stories, fun stories, pictures, recipes, etc. They will most likely be in a random order.

1. Petit Elefant-Make Homeade Bath Bombs

Allison shows the step-by-step process on how to make homeade bath bombs.  They would make greats for a girlfriend or a baby/wedding shower.

2.  Tip Junkie-Teacher Appreciation Gifts

It is almost the end of the school year. Laurie shows some great gifts to give that teacher in your life.

3.  A Southern Fairytale-Blackberry Lemon Coffee Cake

I will always Rachel for her Tervis Tumbler.  She was carting it around at Blissdom this year.  When she posted this recipe, I almost died and passed away in blackberry heaven.  I still need to get a proper pan to make it, but I will soon.

4. Blissfully Domestic-How To Make A Custom iPhone Icon For Your Blog

This is a great tutorial. It was done by my favorite blog designer too, Judith Shakespeare.

5.  The Vintage Pearl-Feather Babies

The pictures of the goslings are adorable!

Spotlight Saturday 04.04 to 04.10.10

Spotlight Saturday

Here are FIVE of my favorite posts from the past week. Each week I will be highlighting some of my favorites. I have many blogs in my reader, as I have many friends with all different types of “niches” or “non-niches”. I will post serious stories, fun stories, pictures, recipes, etc. They will most likely be in a random order.

1.  Musings of a Housewife-Random Reader Questions Vol. 11

Jo-Lynne answers some questions that she gets from blog readers.  She also designs blogs.

2. Extraordinary Mommy-Visiting The Los Angeles Regional Food Bank

Danielle attended an event in Los Angeles for Child Hunger Ends Here with ConAgra Foods.  She makes excellent videos and posts them on her blog. This video is a must-see.

3.  Centsational Girl-Grown Up Girl’s Room

Kate recently re-decorated her daughter’s room, and it is beautiful.

4.  Full Circle-Garlic Cheddar Biscuits

Kimmie makes the “famous” Red Lobster Style Drop Biscuits

5.  Twenty Four at Heart-Photographing People: Photography Friday: Week 3

Suzanne is featuring photography tips every Friday. Suzanne is a friend of mine and she really cracks me up. She is super shy in real life, and quite frisky on her blog.  I love her for that.

Making Rainbow Cupcakes

After cupcake wrapper removed

I think I shocked my family and friends last night when I posted pictures of the cupcakes last night on my Facebook account.  There was quite some shock and awe going.  I can pretty much follow a recipe, if I like it. As a toddler would say, “I just don’t want to.” But really, my friend Ruth summed it up best, “The cupcake looks so good. Kudos to you Jules…who knew?? All of these years you have been playing the “I can’t cook or bake” card.  What you really should have been saying was, “I DON’T WANT to cook or bake.”

I’ve seen many people bake these rainbow cupcakes online.  I thought, “why not” and wanted to give it a try.  I rarely bake, maybe once a month. So I had to do some supply shopping before I even started.  I headed straight towards my local Sur La Table, which is way too convenient.  I also asked my friend, Kristin for some help.  Kristin has been a big help in this project.  She basically provided me with supplies, recipes, and advice.  Without Kristin, I would have nothing.  I would have had plain ole’ cake mix with frosting from a jar.

Prepping to make cake mix

Perfect Cake-Mix Cupcakes from Hello Cupcake

Yield: 24 standard cupcakes

18.25-ounce box cake mix (French vanilla, devil’s food or yellow)
1 cup buttermilk, in place of the water called for on the box (the box will call for more water than the buttermilk you are using)
Vegetable oil (the amount on the box)
4 large eggs (in place of the number called for on the box)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 24 muffin cups with paper liners.

Using substitutions above, follow the box instructions to mix all ingredients in a large bowl. Beat with an electric mixer at low to medium speed until moistened, about 30 seconds. Increase speed to high and beat until thick, 2 minutes longer.

Spoon half of the batter into a zip-top bag. Snip a ¼-inch corner from the bag and fill the paper liners 2/3 full. Bake 15 to 20 minutes until tops are golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove cupcakes from baking pans, place on a wire rack . Cool completely.

I used Duncan Hines White Cake Mix for my cupcakes.  Kristin said that I need to use white cake mix as the color stands out better. I also adapted parts of this recipe to make rainbow cupcakes.

Placing the cake batter in different bowls for colors

After mixing the batter, I separated it into four different bowls.  I used four bowls, because I was going to use four different colors for my “rainbow effect”.

After the colors were mixed in

I used Wilton’s Icing Colors to get the desired effect. The colors that I used were Leaf Green, Violet, Pink, and Lemon Yellow. I was going for a more muted effect, but obviously they are quite bright. You just need to use a teeny tiny bit of the icing color for the batter. It was my first time so I got carried away.  Like I said, it was my first time. I had no clue on what I was doing.

Getting ready to go in oven

I didn’t take a picture of the filing the cupcakes phase. It was a complete mess and I had colored batter everywhere. My kitchen is small and there are only so many places to put stuff.  I pretty much layered the batter and it sloshed around.  I started by putting it into bags and trying to drip it into the baking cups. Yea, that was an epic fail.  I gave up and used a spoon. My theory is, “as long as it looks somewhat rainbow layered, it’s good enough.” Kristin told me that when you do rainbow cupcakes, you need to use a little less batter in your cups. She said that the layered colored batter rises differently.  I didn’t know how far to fill them up.  I filled them up someway between 1/2 and 3/4 full.

Warm rainbow cupcakes

These are how the cupcakes looked after popping them out of the muffin tin. They are on the cooling rack.  They were not as big on top as I would have liked.  I was a bit apprehensive when filing the baking cups.  Next time, I will fill them up a little more.

I let the cupcakes cool for about 30-45 minutes before I started working on the icing/frosting.  I’m using a recipe that Kristin gave me for icing.

Making cream cheese frosting

Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting

Depending on how many cupcakes you are making, you might want to double or reduce by half.

10 oz cream cheese softened
10 oz butter unsalted room temp
1.5 lbs of powdered sugar
1 tbsp of lemon juice
2 tbsp of cream (heavy or whipping)
1.5 tsp of vanilla

Beat cream cheese and butter on med until fluffy, about 3 mins. Add powdered sugar, then liquids. Beat on med-high/high for about 3 more minutes. Taste. If it still tastes sugary, beat for another minute.

This makes about… 1.5 qts so I can usually frost about 2-3 dozen cupcakes depending on how much I pipe.

I split this recipe in half because I was just doing a test batch.  I would have brought out my bigger mixer if I was making the whole recipe. It got quite fluffy when I added in the powdered sugar. I also used whipping cream for my recipe.  I added the Wilton pink icing color once again, to color my icing/frosting.  I could have done several colors, but I was only making a dozen.  I added the icing color into the bowl and used the hand mixer on low for about a minute to make sure it was thoroughly mixed.

I did not get a picture of myself icing the cupcakes because well it’s pretty hard to ice cupcakes and take photographs at the same time. Plus, Angry Husband went to the store while I was doing this.

I purchased a Wilton 12-Piece Cupcake Decorating Set to pipe on the icing.  I used the 1M Star Tip on my cupcakes. Seriously, it was so easy. I just tossed some icing into the bag with the tip and swirled it around on the cupcake.  I swear, I have never ever done this before.

Iced Cupcakes 2

Not bad for a first timer, right? I’m pretty impressed with myself.  I even let Angry Kid help me out.  He thought that it was the coolest thing ever.  He kept wanting to eat the cupcakes also. I told him that he had to wait.  Angry Husband came home from the store after I had finished icing them. He was rather impressed.

But you know I’m not finished, right? I had to add some sugar to the tops of my cupcakes.  I used a pink sugar the Kristin bought for me, at a baking supply store.

Sugaring the cupcakes

Here’s a close-up of a cupcake after being sugar-dusted.

Cupcake Close-up

By the time I finished everything, it was almost 11pm. I’m such a night owl.  But Angry Husband wanted to see the center, so I cut one open.  I let Angry Kid eat the actual cake, and no frosting. I have no clue why he was up that late. Probably because he wanted to see the middle of the cupcakes also. Like I’ve always said, “I’m mother of the year!”

Center of rainbow cupcakes

I tasted one this morning. It was yummy.  This was my practice run for Easter.  I’m going to try to make the colors a little lighter for this weekend.

I want to thank Kristin for all of her hand holding and especially the recipes.  I think my text messaging probably drive her crazy, but she is rather helpful with the baking handicapped people like me. She also picked up some supplies for me too. Kristin lives in Orange County, CA and has a cupcake business. She makes some beautiful cupcakes, and they are tasty too.

Also, big cyber hugs to Rachel for her support of me even attempting this recipe!

Also check out i heart faces for Week 14: My story in photos: Dessert Recipe Edition”.

Easter Crafts and Food Ideas

Easter 2009 Crafts at Preschool

The Easter Bunny will here in a week.  I’m working on a cupcake recipe this weekend. If it turns out I will post it. Believe me, I’m not a foodie at all.  I’m a hot mess when it comes to being in the kitchen. But I read tons of great blogs and websites. So I thought I would share some of the fun stuff that I’ve found.

Recipes

Reeses Peanut Butter Egg Cookies from Picky Palate

Colorful Easter Egg Layered Cake from Picky Palate

Easter Menu Planning: Ham Recipes from A Southern Fairytale

Strawberry Sensation from Hoosier Homeade

Easter Recipes from Family Fun Magazine

Crafts

Kid’s Crafts for Easter from Makes and Takes

Coloring Rice Green for a Springtime Display from Makes and Takes

Free Easter Printables from Living Locurto

Easter Round-Up from Living with Lindsay

Chalkboard Easter Eggs from Skip to my Lou

Photo taken at last year’s Easter Egg Hunt at Angry Kid’s preschool.  Angry Husband is much better at crafting than me.