A sprinkle of this…A sprinkle of that…

During Mother’s Day last year our sweet baby boy was dedicated at our church. He slept through the whole thing, but it was a moment that we will never forget. It’s amazing to me that in about a year our baby boy has gone from this…

To this…

As I was doing my daily blog catch-up after I finished lesson plans (haha), I was excited to see that Natalie from Natalie’s Sentiments is doing her Mother’s Day giveaway. And it includes a giveaway from the cupcake tree, a shop on Etsy. You really can’t get away from cupcakes can you? Or maybe just I can’t!

In addition to all of the other products Natalie is giving away copies of Rebecca Wells’ new book. Rebecca Wells wrote Little Altars Everywhere and The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood. I happen to have some insider knowledge (wink, wink 🙂 ) on the family that Wells bases her books upon, so I always find them interesting reads.  Go check out Natalie’s blog to see all the other products!

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Liberty of London

I have literally been waiting months for the new collection that Target has brought to its stores. It is called Liberty of London and obviously it is from London. It’s a complete collection from clothes to home decor…what I love about it is that they specialize in actually making textiles (not just creating collections, but also designing fabrics). Much of their products look similar to items that you find at Anthropologie, etc., but at a much more reasonable price! Almost all of their home decor has already sold out on-line, but I’m sure you can still find some things at your local Target. They are supposed to be continuing to get more things in stock coming soon. I am hoping that it is popular enough that they will decide to carry the brand longer than their usual month or so. Here are some of my favorites of their products!

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Cupcake Updates

A new background…in my favorite color pink! I have also updated some of my blog and website links. I do not have as much time as I would like to cook these days, and many of the recipes I make I am still testing out and do not want to post until I have tested them several times…so expect more updates of recipes this summer! However, if you are still hungry (of course you are!) I want to pass along my knowledge of great blogs and websites that I have found and get many of my dinner recipes from.

In addition if you may have noticed I do not post many baking recipes, I mainly post about my baking mishaps (HA!). However, I named my site not because of my love of baking. I named my site because of my love of cupcakes and my quest to always find the most delicious cupcake out there. Some of my favorite places to find cupcakes are now included on my sidebar (and many of them deliver, even across the country!). I also want to include some of the cupcakes and dessert recipes that I have made successfully.

So on the note of success, I tested out Ina Garten’s Chocolate Ganache Cupcake recipe last weekend. I loved them for two reasons. First, they are delicious, lingering between a cupcake and a brownie, with a topping that is reminiscent of eating chocolate fondue that has just slightly hardened. Second, they are truly simple and only include a few ingredients. And look at the picture of them! Yum!

Chocolate Ganache Cupcakes

*Oh and on a last note of the chocolate ganache cupcakes…if you see the episode about them on food network, Ina makes them with and without the coffee (and you can also use ground espresso, as stated in the episode). Which means that if you do not want to add the coffee you do not have to. The coffee is added as a factor to heighten the taste of the chocolate.

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Yellow and Gray

Over on Natalie’s Sentiments she is having a week of yellow and gray, and lots of fun giveaways. I don’t usually blog about other blogs, but I made an exception with this one because while I was looking at all the gray I realized how much I love gray and have incorporated it into our house. It started with a few Ansel Adams prints that I got when I was in college and has turned into our entire bedroom. While our house is definitely still a work in progress, the one thing that ties our bedroom together is the Ansel Adams prints with the gray in our bedroom.

See these few prints…

Became the reason that I got these blinds…

And this bedspread…

(I could have taken a picture of our bed, but it is unmade because my mini cupcake was using the sheets as a fort earlier)

I still haven’t picked a wall color…but now I’m thinking yellow would be a nice complement 🙂

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Oh Cornbread…Why do I even try baking?

So for years all I knew of cornbread was the kind from the box. You know the Jiffy kind with one egg, some milk, stir, bake, finished. I always liked this cornbread, so I’m not sure why I’m messing with it. Well I do know. One day about two years ago I was happily eating my left over Jiffy cornbread during my lunch break. One of my co-workers came in and asked me what kind of cornbread I was eating and proceeded to tell me how I should really make my own because it is super easy and better than the box. Well I took this as a challenge…perhaps I should have remembered that I am not a good baker. Or iced drink maker. That’s a story for a different time though. Anyway, I have tried several cornbread recipes over the past few years, but have never found one I liked. Plus the fact I always run in to the same problem…you have to melt butter and add it to eggs. Sounds easy enough. Not so, for me. I always end up scrambling the eggs no matter how long I think I have let the butter cool.

Anyway. I have tried several recipes including the Neely’s honey cornbread, and Ina Garten’s Cheddar Dill Cornbread, and Rachel Ray’s Cracked Corn and Cheddar Cheese Squares, but I have yet to find one that I like as well as the box. So as I have my new cookbook (as previously mentioned) I was excited to try Katie Lee Joel’s cornbread recipe. While it was different than the others (I got to use my cast iron skillet), it wasn’t quite sweet enough for my liking. Although my husband and little cupcake ate it up! So my quest continues.

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Stocking Stuffers

Last minute shopping anyone? Thankfully all of my Christmas shopping is done, except for a few select stocking stuffers. It is a tradition in my family for my Mom, sister, and I to do all the stocking stuffer shopping together. Since this year our stocking stuffer shopping will be early morning on Christmas Eve, I began putting together a small list of stocking stuffer items. I don’t usually have a list, but in my continuing quest to be organized I was putting one together. So that got me thinking of a few of my favorite items that would fit nicely in my stocking this year :). So if you haven’t completed your shopping and need a few items here are some ideas that I thought I would pass along.

Because my hands in the winter age twenty years and this helps revive them….

Almond Oil Intensive Hand Rescue

So I can mark that recipe I found in my cookbook with something other than the envelope I just got in the mail….

Chef Set Page Flags

Because if you are going to wear socks they should be fun (and tall!)….

Anthropologie Striped Spectrum Socks

Because I could always use more of my favorite nail polish (the only one I run out of!)….

Essie Nail Polish in Wicked

Because they make ones that match your hair color and they don’t have metal to tangle your hair….

Goody Color Collection Elastics

Because I am a California baby and it would just be wrong to not choose my hometown’s chocolate (plus it’s my favorite!)….

Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate with Raspberry Filling Squares

Because Oprah recommended it years ago and it is still terrific today…

Philosophy's Gingerbread Man Salt Scrub

And lastly because it would fit so well in the foot of the stocking….

Nikon D3000
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The Best Thing I Ever Ate: Desserts Edition

As you may have realized from my actual cooking blog, I don’t always stick with the different blog categories I set up. This stems from my own history of having stream of conscious type writing. I usually write exactly as the thoughts play out in my head and this tends to me having eureka moments and then constant months of writer’s block. Perhaps it’s why it took me so long to write papers in college. Anyway how does this lead me here? I am inspired by the new Food Network show The Best Thing I Ever Ate. While watching the show it got me thinking about really good things I have eaten at various places around the country and I feel the need to share.

I would love it if you shared your favorite desserts, etc. as I will try to update each week! So here is my first edition. The best dessert I ever ate came from Louisville, Kentucky. It was the Spring of 2007 and I was at a convention. Several of my colleagues and myself went to one of the famous eateries near our hotel called Maker’s Mark. Appropriately named for Kentucky! The food was fabulous, but the item I remember most is the dessert. I have a passion for Dunkin Donuts. I know you may be rejecting my claim right now, with a desire to express the reasons why Krispy Kreme is better, however I can tell you this. I have tried many selections of both and I still love Dunkin Donuts. Their light and airy donuts feature a plethora (many, a lot, a whole bunch..why couldn’t I think of these while writing my thesis?) of selections, however, I have two favorites in particular, sugar raised, and chocolate (not chocolate frosted, chocolate).

So how does this relate to Maker’s Mark. While I was mulling over whether or not to get a dessert, one of my colleagues told me “to go for it”, and the waitress pointed to one on the menu the “Wide Awake”. “Try this one, you won’t be disappointed” she stated. After reading the contents, chocolate espresso torte, I decided that it would be worth the try. I made my colleagues promise to share it with me, as I was pretty full from dinner. When our waitress brought the torte out it looked unassuming. However, after one bite I was hooked. I ate every last bite of the torte and would have ordered seconds, except I wasn’t paying. It had the taste of the chocolate Dunkin Donut I mentioned earlier, except with an extra kick of espresso and something that made it chocolatier, “more chocolatey?”. And even though I woke up two hours after going to bed ready to get up and go for the rest of the day (I did say espresso were in the contents), I think if the restaurant hadn’t closed for the night I would have marched back over there and ordered a second. And that is the best dessert I ever ate.

Sidenote: If you ever happen to go the Maker’s Mark: Bourbon House and Lounge in Kentucky I believe the dessert is now called Homage to Keller.

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Banana Bread

Those who know me well will find it interesting that I am posting about making banana bread for two reasons. The first is I don’t eat banana bread, and the second is I’m not the best baker. I named my blog after cupcakes because I like to eat them, not particularly because of my skill of making them. This story begins with three overripe bananas and my plan to make banana bread for some of my family. See, whenever I am making banana bread I am never making it for myself. In fact I won’t eat bananas in anything but their plain straight from the grocery store form, and only at a certain ripeness. Once they past that point I refuse to eat them, hence I end up making quite a lot of banana bread for someone who doesn’t like to eat it.

Perhaps I should give a quick story of why I don’t like banana bread or foods with banana in them. It all stems from a 1994 (95?) celebration of my great-grandmother’s 90th birthday. While it was a joyous occasion some of us unfortunately got food poisoning. Before we realized we had food poisoning I ate about six little Debbie banana breads (they were miniature. I still shutter a bit as a I write this). So without giving all the unnecessary details, I don’t like banana bread now. In fact I didn’t even eat bananas up until about five years ago, and the smell of baby banana food (I shutter again). Anyway, that is neither here nor there, but it brings me up to date on making my latest banana bread. I don’t have my own special recipe, but I do have one I recommend. It’s from Food Network’s website. It’s the Banana Walnut Bread (I leave out the walnuts) made by Food Network’s Kitchens. It’s simple and easy, it only has about six ingredients.

I have made this banana bread several times, but despite making it over and over I still run into trouble occasionally with my cooking. I ended up having half of the banana bread stick to the pan and pieced it together. This is just an example of one of my many baking debacles that I run into, however I continue to bake figuring one day my food will turn out the way I expect. Despite all this my family members that I delivered the bread to enjoyed it, with one of my favorite little food critics stating “It was yummy, it was like lovin’ in my tummy”. I’m not sure if I can give a recipe a better recommendation than that.

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Why I Cook Cupcakes Wednesdays

– Because they take less time to bake than cake.

– Because you can decorate them according to each individual person’s preference. For example, this year for my husband’s birthday we will be having both peanut butter icing and vanilla icing.

– Because you can buy cute cupcake containers and put them in your kids’ lunch for school.

– Because you only have to frost the top of a cupcake, not the sides (which can be difficult and normally causes my cakes to lean).

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