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12.19.2012

Red Velvet Cocktail Cupcakes

holiday themed cocktail cupcakes!  peppermint red velvet cupcakes with marshmallow vodka cream cheese frosting.  i recommend you serve these at your family gathering to make everyone a lot more fun.



cake
know what i recommend?  red velvet cake mix from the store.  short of that, yellow cake mix with cocoa powder and red food coloring.  but if you insist on homemade, here's what i do:

mix 2.5 cups flour, .5 cup cocoa powder, 1 tsp baking soda and .5 tsp salt in medium bowl.

in another bowl, beat 1 cup softened butter and 2 cups sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. beat in 4 eggs, one at a time.  mix in 1 cup sour cream, .5 cups milk, 1 ounce red food color and 2 tsp vanilla extract. gradually beat in flour mixture on low speed until just blended.  mix in .5 cups finely crushed peppermints.  spoon batter, 2/3 full, into paper-lined muffin cups.

bake 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into a cupcake comes out clean. cool in pans on wire racks for 5 minutes before removing from pans to cool completely.



frosting
cream together, at room temperature, one 8 oz block of cream cheese with one stick of unsalted butter.  increase the cream cheese if you really like that flavor to stand out more.  (a ratio of 12 oz cream cheese to 5 oz butter is good for that)  then, one cup at a time, mix in 5.5 cups of powdered sugar.  once that is all mixed in, add between 3 to 6 tablespoons of marshmallow vodka and beat until fluffy.  this frosting holds up really well and is great for piping and for travel.

frost your cooled cupcakes, add some sprinkles, and enjoy!




11.29.2012

Whatever, I Was Always Cool

and wore a lot of velvet.  i give you a few "organizing my mother's photos" gems.








that is all, to get you through until friday.  you're welcome.


11.13.2012

Night of 1000 Jello Shots

so i was going to be all productive last night, work on the post regarding the awesome giveaway from my november sponsors.  but i watched bones, gossip girl, and teen mom 2 instead.  and as much as i love you all... i love Baaabwa and Keefah and Jaaaneelllle more.  but tomorrow i promise i will love you more again, and the giveaway from my sponsors will be live! (gift cards, pampered chef, skin care products and more!)

but then it hit me that i might be out of saved posts.  remember i went to vegas and i freak out on plane rides and instead of napping i wrote like 25 blog posts to save up?  yeah... i think i've used quite a few.  and i couldn't just not write anything because then i'd have to do actual work and actual cleaning of my apartment instead of reading blogs and responding to comments, and that's certainly not happening.  so i got an idea when i e-mailed Tiffany about new years eve 2011.  or i guess 2012.  i don't know how that whole thing works.  new years eve 10.5 months ago.  since i didn't have a blog back then, i never got to share with you the awesomeness that was the Night of 1000 Jello Shots.

yep, you read that right.  myself and my awesome best friend Jeff made 1000 jello shots.  in about 20 different flavors.  they did, in fact, all fit in my fridge.  Jeff put his engineering degree from notre dame to use that day.  classy.

see?  1 and 1000.  yes, i labeled every. single. lid.  ocd much?

Tara and i couldn't figure out what we wanted to do for new years.  at the time my apartment faced navy pier so it had a great view of the fireworks show, and we decided to just have a party at my place.  but i can't just "have a party," it always has to be themed.  and the idea of 1000 jello shots was born.  partially from a deep love of jello shots, partially from a hilarious text we saw on texts from last night.  i bought massive amounts of jello and vodka and rum, and since Jeff was staying with me for a few days (he lived in cincinnati at the time) we spent a lot of quality time together mixing shots!

lots of people were invited, my parents came and made pretty much all the food and my dad did his first jello shot ever.  and then two more.  my mother took one look at the fridge and said "was this really necessary?" and the proceeded to have 5 jello shots and a bottle of champagne.  yes mom, totally necessary.


the party really started when (a) Tara and i changed out of the ridiculous fancy dresses and into our footie one-sies and (b) when we made everyone play drinking games with jello shots and champagne.




it ended with around 750 jello shots consumed (the rest to be saved for the rose bowl), 10+ people passed out around my apartment, and Tara and i the only ones awake til 5 am (video evidence to be shared soon), when a missing-since-12:30 Jeff strolled back in (turns out he napped in the stairwell.)  i'm not sure anyone at this party has had a jello shot since that night.  we're going to a bar this year.


happy new year!


10.09.2012

Trick or Treat Overload Halloween Cocktail Cupcakes

so when i was planning my monthly cocktail cupcakes, Hawkeye tweeted a vote option out - pink awareness themed cupcakes, or halloween themed?  and halloween won!!  Sami was the first to respond with a halloween vote, so i decided to embrace her favorite candies - candy corn and reese's.



but the beauty of these particular cupcakes is that the choice is up to you.  it's all about using what leftover candies and salty treats you have!  you can use any salty snack (cheetos, doritos, pretzels, potato chips) and any sweet treat (milky ways, chocolate chips, caramels, raisins) and you don't even need to stick to one of each!  and you just mix it into your favorite cupcake recipe - even a box mix like me.

the cakes

i decided to do yellow cake with white frosting and orange decorations, for the colors.  you can make any flavor of cake you prefer.  and also use a real recipe, but mine's from a box because i had to make them in time for a party with just what i had on hand.  mix the batter as directed on the box and then stir in 1/2 to 1 cup of chopped sweets (i used candy corn and reese's) and 1/2 to 1 cup of crushed salty snacks (i used goldfish, for the orange factor!)

line your cupcakes tins and fill the cups just over 2/3 full.  bake as directed on your box/recipe.  the additional candy/snacks will not change the cook time.

marshmallow vodka frosting
i don't put alcohol in the actual cakes, only in fillings and frosting, because the alcohol would just cook out of the cake during baking.  and since there's no filling in these, i maybe went a little heavier on the frosting ;)

cream together 1 stick room temperature butter and 1/2 cup shortening until fluffy.  mix in 4 oz of softened cream cheese.  slowly add 4 to 5 cups of powdered sugar a half cup at a time, alternating sugar with first 1 table spoon lemon juice and then a total of 4 shots of marshmallow vodka.  continue to add sugar until you have desired consistency, and add more lemon juice/shots if frosting is too thick, or to taste.  i added 1/2 a cup of crushed goldfish to the frosting because this frosting is very sweet.  the bit of salt worked out perfectly!  as did the hint of halloween orange, of course.

frost away and top with candy corn!  of course i sound crazy, but i promise you these are delicious.



what mix of treats will you try?!  happy halloween!

9.10.2012

Vegas!

we went to vegas this past weekend to celebrate Haley's bachelorette party!  i think we hit like every hotel and club and shop, seriously.  it was a group of 9 girls and we stayed at the palms thursday through sunday.


ate tons of good food and hit some really fun clubs.  although why no casino, literally not one, in vegas has sweet tea vodka, i will never understand.  had plenty of other options though, those frozen drinks that come in yardsticks are fun.  and we saw the show Zumanity, which i highly recommend if you're ever in vegas!

(dress from spool 72.  cute right?)



all in all, a very successful and fun trip.  exhausting, but fun.  and now i have to catch up on work, blog emails, and of course, blog reading!

now, go link up your weekend so i can add that to my reading list while i relax today.



9.06.2012

Apple Pie Cocktail Cupcakes

remember when i told you how i love to check the google search words that led to my blog?  well as it turns out, the searches that most often come up are related to alcohol cupcakes and infusing alcohol into frosting.

and who am i to disappoint?  so today i bring you Apple Pie Cocktail Cupcakes, just in time for fall.  apple cake, cinnamon whiskey ganache center, whipped cream vodka buttercream frosting with caramel drizzle.  full of shortcuts like boxed cake mix, because the end product is the most important.



you're welcome.

the cakes
1 box white cake mix.  3 eggs.  1/3 cup vegetable oil.  20 oz can apple pie filling.

preheat oven to 350 and line your muffin tins.  combine all 4 ingredients in a mixer and beat until smooth.  the apples should be very broken up.  bake for 20 minutes but only cook them until a toothpick in the middle comes out barely clean for nice soft cakes.  cool completely.  (no really. completely!)  then use whatever tool you have, even a spoon, to remove the cupcake centers.  i use the cap from an ez squeeze cheese bottle.

the filling
8 ounces white chocolate.  1/2 cup heavy cream.  1 tablespoon butter, room temperature.  3 teaspoons cinnamon whiskey.

finely chop the chocolate into a heatproof bowl.  simmer the cream on the stove and pour it over the chocolate.  let it sit for one minute and stir until smooth.  add the butter and whiskey and stir until combined.  cool until thick but still soft enough to be piped or spooned into the centers of the cakes.


the frosting
2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature.  5 cups powdered sugar.  6 tablespoons whipped cream vodka.

whip the butter on medium-high speed for 5 minutes.  reduce the speed and slowly add the powdered sugar until all of it is well mixed.  add the vodka, increase the speed to medium-high, and whip until it's light and fluffy (3 minutes).


making alcohol infused frosting is all about balance.  you don't want it to be too watered down and thus melt right off your cake.  if it's going to be kept inside always, at room temp (never leaving your house) then you will have no issues.  if you travel with them, i recommend frosting on location.  don't overdo the vodka, that's how it'll become too thin.  you can slowly add powdered sugar to thicken, but it may get too sweet so start with small amounts of vodkaof course, mine went to boys on football sunday, no one cared whether my frosting was pretty.

frost away, drizzle some caramel on top, and enjoy your creation!  (responsibly)




7.01.2012

4th of July Alcohol Infused Cupcakes

yep you read that right.

i love baking.  i love booze.  it really only makes sense to combine the two.  i think it was last st. patrick's day, when i made amazing irish car bomb cupcakes, that i discovered my real talent for making (themed) alcohol infused cupcakes.  my second attempt was french toast cupcakes with red wine frosting for greek easter.  also a win.

the 4th of july is by far one of my favorite holidays. (although there's no topping halloween of course!)  i'm very patriotic, and also i look great in red, white or blue.  thanks italian/german genes.  and thus, 4th of july alcohol cupcakes were born.

white cake baked with champagne, white chocolate ganache filling with cotton candy vodka, blue cotton candy frosting with cotton candy vodka, red sprinkles, and cherries soaked in bourbon.

winning.

the cakes

i started with regular old white cake mix from a box.  you're free to make your own cake from scratch, but i'm all about the short cuts.  prepare according to box directions, but substitute 3 tbsp water for 3 tbsp champagne - totally optional.  obviously, while baking, any sort of alcohol content bakes out.  it's more of a flavor enhancer, but really it's more important with chocolate cake than vanilla.  i just think it sounded more fun to add it.  pour into lined cupcake tins and bake just like you would regular cupcakes!

the filling

place 8 oz of chopped white chocolate in a bowl.  in a small saucepan, boil 2/3 cup heavy whipping cream.  pour the boiling cream over the chocolate and stir until it's melted and smooth.  add 2 tbsp butter and stir.  stir in 2 tsp cotton candy vodka.  (i was a bit heavy handed with this step.  it may have been more like 4 tsp. as long as it thickens, you're good to go!)  refrigerate to thicken while the cupcakes bake and cool completely.

make sure you're working with cooled cupcakes for this step.  it's just easier!  remove the centers of the cakes.  professional bakers use real tools for this step (actually you can buy a cupcake center remover at target) or you can use the fatter end of a frosting design tip.  or you can be a real cheapskate like me, and use the cap off a bottle of ez squeeze cheese (um it's the best thing i've found, i kid you not.)  the cakes are getting filled and frosted, so these holes dont need to be perfect! just an indent about quarter sized, and half an inch deep or less.  just don't go all the way to the bottom of the cake, it'll be a mess to eat!  fill the holes with the ganache using a small spoon, up to the top of the cake.

the frosting

i found this little gem at target.  usually, i make my own frosting but again, when i'm doing all the other work of adding a filling and alcohol, it's easier to just use the premade stuff.  it's just plain frosting, and target sells these little packets to make different flavors (also available - bubble gum, mocha, caramel, mint chocolate... and about 10 others).

so mix up the frosting with the packet and add 3 to 6 tbsp cotton candy vodka.  you don't want to add too much because it'll make the frosting runny and will melt in the heat too fast.  if you do add too much and find the consistency too thin, you can slowly add powdered sugar.  definitely add powdered sugar if you use the store bought stuff.  (and obviously you can make any frosting, with blue food coloring and any flavor vodka, if you're not a cotton candy fan.)

the cherries

i bought some maraschino cherries in the jar, poured out the liquid, and poured in the bourbon.  you can leave this mix sitting in your fridge for quite a while - i'm talking months - with any sort of alcohol you choose.  i just love bourbon ... surprise!  i left it a couple of days, to get a good flavor.

top with red sprinkles, a cherry, and enjoy! responsibly. i'm supposed to say that right?


p.s. you can make just about any alcohol infused cupcakes using these basic guidelines.  mimosa, margarita, cosmo... it's fun to experiment!

have a fun and safe holiday, friends!


6.06.2012

How to Plan Bar Golf

just thought i'd take a little time to tell you what i've been planning these days - bar golf!  oh yes, you read that right.  bar golf.  basically it's a 9 "holes" (bars) pub crawl and the rules very vaguely resemble the rules of golf.  except that you're just drinking and not actually using a club or ball.  and everyone dresses in golf outfits.  i love a good theme.

so, to celebrate one of my best friends, Jeff, moving back to chicago, as well as two other friend's graduations, we decided to set up a round of bar golf at the river north bars here in chicago.  (who have all been very accommodating and awesome)  and by we i mean me.  i have no qualms about claiming all the responsibility for this one!  i 100% should be a party planner instead of a lawyer.  i'm so much better at planning.

i even made these fabulous score cards on vista print. you can get the idea of how the game works.  you choose which drink you'd like at each bar.

front

back

i'm actually quite impressed with myself.  i may or may not have ordered a full on, made for halloween, golf costume for the occasion.

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