Sunday, May 13, 2012

Cupcake Bouquet

A while back I discovered cupcake bouquets and filed the idea in my memory as an awesome Mother's Day surprise. Last year I made brunch for my mom and purchased tulips (her favorite flower) for the center piece. Now that I have a Wilton cake decorating class under my belt I knew I could tackle this beautiful and life like creation. I planned another brunch for this year and was excited to see my mom's reaction to the center piece.

Couple of months before May I purchased 12" wooden dowels, semi circle shaped floral foam, a flower pot, green tissue paper, and Wilton Color Mist. As Mother's Day approached I became nervous and doubted my abilities. I realized that 12" wooden dowels would not work even though I remember it being mentioned in a blog. Thursday before Mother's Day my coworker said, "You should have had your skills down last week." I knew I would assemble the cupcake bouquet an hour before my mom arrived which would not give much time for any emergencies or accidents. Quickly I began searching the web and You Tube for techniques on how to produce this amazing bouquet for my wonderful mother.

The following are suggestions that I comprised from my search on the world wide web with some of my modifications:
1. You can use any size container or pot.
2. Ripping green tissue paper will create pretty leaves. Use a knife or dowel to "tuck" the leaves between the cupcakes.
3. Frost your cupcakes the day before or several hours a head of time so the butter cream crusts and will stay in place when it is time to assemble.
4. Place the cupcakes in the fridge an hour or more before you assemble so the cupcakes are firm and not as moist.
5. Wrap the floral foam in plastic wrap so you don't get pieces of foam on your cupcakes.
6. Use toothpicks! Two toothpicks for regular size cupcakes and one cupcake for mini cupcakes.
7. With a knife poke the under side of the cupcake so that the cupcake easily slides onto the toothpicks.
8. Tip 2D makes fabulous roses. Other flower options are out there and it just depends on what you like.
9. Watch You Tube videos and research images, etc online to calm your nerves and help you prepare for the assembly process.

Let me just say that Color Mist Food Color Spray from Wilton is amazing!!! I find that tinting icing is tedious and when I saw this at a craft store I knew it would be awesome for roses. However, I had another freak out moment when I read the instructions. It is basically like spay paint for frosting so don't ignore the cover your workspace instruction. It made them look natural which I know sounds weird but it took my mom a few minutes to realize the bouquet on the table was really cupcakes.

For Christmas my parents gave me The Big Book of Cupcakes from Betty Crocker. I tried the from scratch vanilla cupcake recipe. They are delish but of course the parents like the other vanilla recipe I've made in the past because it tastes like wedding cake. So hard to please. Geez!

Assembling the bouquet was easy so all my time researching paid off. Of course the look on my mom's face when she realized the bouquet was made of cupcakes was PRICELESS! Truly, you can all make cupcake bouquets and wow your friends and family.

Mother's Day Brunch:
I think I have shared my love for the Food Network in the past. I decided to make all of these recipes after seeing them on Paula's Best Dishes and Barefoot Contessa. My mom and I love the zucchini and sun dried tomato quiche from the DeKalb Farmer's Market so it made it's appearance at this years brunch too.

Baked Blintzes with Fresh Blueberry Sauce

Quiche and Blintz

Strawberry Butter served with croissants

Berry Parfait

Happy Mother's Day!!!

Creamy Fruit Salad

So I get bored with yogurt and the various snacks I pack to eat at work. I decided to start trying recipes from my fav blogs to help liven things up during the week. I love trying the recipes on the Six Sisters' Stuff blog. One day Creamy Fruit Salad popped up in my Google Reader and I thought it would be a great alternative to yogurt and add another serving of fruit to the day. Oh yeah!

Of course I freaked out just slightly when I read that one ingredient is sour cream. I like sour cream. No bad feelings towards it but I wondered how it would be with fruit. Thankfully they urged readers to not worry and suggested yogurt as alternative. I decided I would put on my 'big girl panties' (my mom says this a lot - weird) and go for it. You can't even tell it is sour cream. I wouldn't lie to you. I promise.

We had a breakfast to show our appreciation for the our nurse on the team for Nurses Week. I considered a Lemon Blueberry Muffin Cake (also from Six Sisters' Stuff) but after I made this salad on Monday I knew it would be a yummy breakfast treat. Needless to say I did not hear any complaints from my coworkers.

The first time I made it for myself I added 2 cups of marshmallows but I must say I like it better with 1 cup. That may just be me so try it and see what you think.

Side note: I asked my mom about recipes she has from her grandmothers and what recipes we have from my grandmothers. One of my great grandmothers made the best biscuits but rarely wrote down her recipes. My mom to this day is still trying to make biscuits like her grandmother. Last weekend she was pretty close! I may need to search out these recipes just like the sisters from Six Sisters' Stuff.

Grandma's Five Cup Creamy Fruit Salad
1 (11 ounce) can mandarin oranges, drained
1 (8 ounce) can crushed pineapple, drained
1-2 cups miniature marshmallows
1 cup flaked coconut
1 cup sour cream (light works great)*

*Don't be scared of the sour cream! I know it sounds weird. I promise that all the sweetness from the other ingredients evens it all out. It's delicious!

Make sure your fruit is VERY well-drained or you will have a watery salad. Combine the oranges, pineapple, marshmallows, coconut, and sour cream. Stir until all mixed together. Refrigerate for 4-8 hours before serving.

-Use vanilla yogurt in place of sour cream.
-Use Pina Colada yogurt in place of sour cream.
-Add 1/2 cup maraschino cherries.
-Add chopped pecans for a crunch.
-Top with corn flakes for a crunch.
-Use Cool-Whip in place of sour cream.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Tres Leches Cake

Saturday was Cinco de Mayo and I was considering baking Tres Leches cupcakes but I decided to just make the cake. I've been watching the Pioneer Woman on Food Network and thought it was time to try one of her recipes. Low and behold she has a recipe for Tres Leches Cake. It was easy to make and tasted great. My mom made the cake before I arrived and together we made the milk mixture and whipped cream. Punching holes in the cake was fun!

I served it with marachino cherries one day and strawberries the next. Personally I think the strawberries taste the best. Of course my chocoholic father had to basically turn it into strawberry shortcake with chocolate syrup. Crazy!

Saturday night was also the night of the super moon. The moon was 30% brighter and 14% bigger - per the meteorologist.

Maybe one day I will try the cupcakes but cake was just right for our Cinco de Mayo celebration by the pool.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Review of Duncan Hines Frosting Creations

I keep seeing commercials for the new Duncan Hines frosting. Every time it comes on I think "I need to try that" and every time I go to the grocery store I forget to buy it. Ugh! The Target near me was renovated to now include more grocery items so I finally remembered to pick up this frosting. If you haven't heard about it, then you are in for a treat. The frosting is plain white and they sell "mix ins" in different flavors. Not sure I want bubble gum or cotton candy frosting but they have more "normal" flavors like Mint Chocolate and White Chocolate Raspberry. I selected Chocolate Almond to go on top of my Strawberry cupcakes. Please don't judge me for serving up frosting from a can on top of a box cupcake. It is tasty I promise! Anyway, you make a hole in the frosting and pour in the powdery mix and then stir. All of a sudden you have chocolate frosting! Amazing! My only gripe is that the frosting is a bit runny (my opinion). I'm just accustomed to the stiffness from the meringue powder in butter cream I guess. I was able to spread on the frosting but it is not likely that you can pipe this frosting. The next time you are in a pinch for frosting or want to try something new then check make your own Frosting Creation!