5.04.2015

bee cupcakes + tips for packaging cupcakes


Just try and tell me these are not the cutest little cupcakes you've ever seen. Can't do it, can you? I'm finding myself obsessed with all things bee-related lately, so I was thrilled when one of my co-workers asked me to make bee cupcakes for her daughter's birthday party. Apparently her daughter is a big fan of The Hive (which I had never heard of before) and so bees were only fitting.


These bee cupcakes took a little time to make but were overall pretty easy and straightforward. I used my favorite chocolate cupcakes as the base, and whipped up some marshmallow buttercream to go on top. For the bees themselves, I was inspired by these cute bees on Girl. Inspired. I found yellow jordan almonds, black jelly beans, and decorating gel at my local party store, but they are all available online as well. I didn't have wafer paper like Stef used, so I used Wilton Sugar Sheet instead, and it worked out great.


This was also my first time using a grass tip (Wilton tip #233) and it took a little bit of practice to make it perfect, but it was really fun to learn a new technique!


Bee Cupcakes

24 yellow jordan almonds
12 black jelly beans (I used Jelly Bellies)
Wilton black decorating gel
Wilton Sugar Sheet
24 chocolate cupcakes (I baked mine using this recipe)
1 7 ounce container marshmallow fluff
8 ounces butter, room temperature
6 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1-2 teaspoons half and half or cream
1/4 teaspoon green gel food color, more or less as needed (I used this kind)

To make the bees, cut the jellybeans in half. Stick each half onto the front of a jordan almond to form the bee's head. Using the decorating gel, pipe stripes onto the back of each jordan almond. Cut wings from the sugar sheet and place on top of the almonds. I found that the easiest way to make wings was to cut rectangles that were approximately 1/2 inch by 1 inch, then gently fold in half and cut out a half circle shape. If you are very gentle with them, the sugar sheet won't break in half and then the wings will stand up nicely on the back of the bees. Let the bees sit out for a while so the decorating gel will firm up.

To make the frosting, beat the marshmallow fluff and butter together until light and fluffy. Add the powdered sugar, vanilla, and one teaspoon half and half, and mix until smooth. Add more half and half as needed to form a smooth frosting. Beat until light and fluffy. Add the green food coloring and beat until well distributed. Pipe onto the cupcakes using a grass tip (Wilton tip #233). Top each cupcake with a bee and enjoy!

And now for my packaging tips! I find myself making cupcakes for parties more and more often lately, so I thought it might be fun to share some of my favorite tips for packaging them. I love to use disposable foil baking pans with lids for transporting them. 12 cupcakes fit perfectly inside and the lids are tall enough that you can pile the frosting high and it won't get smushed. They're also very inexpensive (I paid $2.50 for a two-pack) and reusable as well.


I always line the inside with a coordinating napkin to make it a little more fun and festive, and they are good to go. How cute is that?


Just for fun, here's the small Buzz Bee cake I made for my friend's daughter:


I'm definitely way more comfortable decorating cupcakes than full-on cakes, but I felt like it turned out reasonably well. I used two 3 inch chocolate cakes for the body and cut down one side to make it lie flat, then frosted with yellow buttercream and made stripes with black buttercream. I pressed black sprinkles into the black buttercream to add a little fun texture contrast. The antennae are licorice wheels and the eyes are chocolate chips and slices cut from marshmallows. The mouth is sugar sheet that I colored with food coloring markers. Cute, right? I still get pretty nervous whenever I'm asked to make cakes for other people, but so far they've all turned out well. Hope you enjoyed the bee inspiration!

4.29.2015

glazed lemon blueberry muffins


Because when life gets crazy, what you really need are some delicious glazed lemon blueberry muffins, right? My posting has been a little hit and miss the last couple of weeks, but for good reason. First, our apartment complex switched internet service providers, and for the life of me I can't get my laptop to connect to the internet anymore, which means that I have to tether it to my phone, which ends up being a big frustrating mess. It's kind of amazing to realize just how much I use the internet (and what a whiny baby I am when it's not working). Second (and much more important!), I got a new job! I've been working in assisted living for the last couple of years, and while it has been a really good experience for me and I have learned a lot, I've been wanting to start making some progress toward my goal of earning a DNP in midwifery and women's health. I had a job opportunity come up on the maternity unit at a nearby hospital, and decided to take it. I wrapped everything up at my previous job on Saturday and started orientation at my new job on Monday, so it has been quite a busy week! I am so excited to work with moms and babies and to learn more about women's health. Yay!


Anyway, I'm sure you know by now that I am totally a stress baker, so these lemon blueberry muffins were the natural result of all the stress I've been feeling in switching jobs! I already have a really great bakery-style blueberry muffin recipe on the blog (and they are totally fabulous) but I kind of like that these lemon blueberry muffins are completely different, both taste-wise and texture-wise. Where the bakery-style muffins are super light and fluffy, these are a little denser and moister, while packing a ton of flavor. I'd be hard pressed to say which muffins are my favorite, but thankfully I don't have to choose! :)


Glazed Lemon Blueberry Muffins

for the muffins:
2/3 cup sugar
zest of one lemon
1/2 cup (4 ounces) butter, softened
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons milk
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries

for the glaze:
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 cup powdered sugar
1-2 teaspoons milk (more or less as needed)

Preheat the oven to 350. Line 12 wells of a muffin tin with paper liners. In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the sugar and lemon zest, and rub the mixture with your fingers to release the oils in the zest. Add the butter, eggs, vanilla, sour cream, and milk, and mix to combine. Add the flour, baking powder, and salt, and mix until just combined. Gently fold in the blueberries. Scoop into prepared muffin tin, filling 3/4 full. Bake 18-20 minutes, or until lightly browned on top and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow to cool for 10 minutes. While the muffins are cooling, whisk together the glaze ingredients, adding enough milk to make a glaze that easily runs off the back of the spoon. Dip the tops of the muffins in the glaze, then let cool completely. Enjoy!

adapted from Yellow Bliss Road


4.24.2015

taco chicken


Happy Friday! If you're following along with me on Instagram (which you totally should be!) then you know that we as a family are trying not to eat out for the next two weeks. I know that sounds like such a small goal, but between work, school, activities, and trying to keep the household running, we end up picking up fast food at least a couple of times each week. I'm so tired of wasting money on junky food, and I really want us to develop healthier habits as a family. So far we are five days in and doing well!


I actually made this taco chicken a few weeks ago and put it in the freezer for those nights when I just don't feel like cooking. (Hopefully doing a little prep work in advance will pay off in the end.) This chicken was super easy to make and so flavorful too! It's perfect for tacos, burritos, nachos... you name it! I used my new stovetop grill pan to make it but you could make it on an outdoor grill or even just sauté it on the stove. I have to confess, though, I'm kind of in love with those grill marks.


Taco Chicken

3-4 large chicken breasts (about two pounds), trimmed and cut into strips
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
juice of one lime

Preheat a grill pan (or an outdoor grill or hot skillet). In a small bowl, whisk together the cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, salt, and black pepper. Sprinkle the spice mixture over the chicken and rub it in. Squeeze the lime juice over the top and toss to coat evenly. Cook on preheated grill pan 8-10 minutes per side, or until cooked through.


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