March 31st, 2010 |

Buttercream Frosting Technique

buttercream frosting technique

The most frequent question I get asked about cupcakes is regarding how to make buttercream frosting.  I get told it turns out too runny or too thick.  So I thought I’d share with you a buttercream recipe that I use, that works like a treat each and every time.

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

250 grams unsalted butter, at room temperature

400 grams icing sugar

1 tbs milk (optional)

2 tbs vanilla extract

Place the butter in a large mixing bowl and cream for 5 minutes.  Scrape down sides of bowl occasionally.  Add sifted icing sugar, milk and vanilla.  Beat for a minute further.  Add food coloring as desired.

Buttercream can be stored to up to three days in an airtight container in a cool place.  Do not refrigerate.

Now that you have perfected making buttercream, it’s time to decorate.  A really simple, yet effective way to decorate cupcakes is to pipe the buttercream in a rose or flower design.

First, you’ll need a closed star piping tip.  I like to use a Wilton 2D tip.  Pop the piping tip into a piping bag and fill with buttercream.  Starting from the center of the cupcake, work your way to the outside in a circular motion.   If you don’t get it the first time, please keep practicing, you will get the hang of it in no time and be producing beautiful cupcakes like these!

~Sharnel, My Life My Loves

Images: yellow cupcake with pink butterfly (by me!), cupcakes (shamsD via flickr.com)

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March 25th, 2010 |

Cupcake Topper

I came across this darling cake on epicurious.com – talk about a darling cupcake topper!  This would be so cute for an Easter brunch, a birthday party or shower.  If you aren’t up for making a cake and cupcakes from scratch – cheat a little!  Order the cake from your local bakery, and bake your own cupcakes (the cupcakes don’t have any special decorations….just different colored frosting!).

March 25th, 2010 |

Bunny Cupcakes

I wish you had all been sitting with me when I first saw these cupcakes….I couldn’t hide my “ooh!!” if I had tried!  They are so cute, so unique….and are sure to get rave reviews from guests young and old.  Here is the recipe from All You:

Ingredients

  • 1  16.5-oz. roll refrigerated sugar cookie dough
  • 3/4  cup  all-purpose flour
  • 2  cups  confectioners’ sugar
  • 2  tablespoons  egg-white powder (such as Just Whites)
  • Red and green food coloring
  • 1/2  cup  each light and dark pink decorating sugars
  • Large flower décors
  • 2  cups  chopped sweetened flaked coconut
  • 1  16-oz. can vanilla frosting
  • 24  cupcakes, any flavor

Preparation

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. Knead dough and flour together until smooth. Roll out to 1/4-inch thickness. Cut out bunny shapes using a 3-inch cookie cutter. Transfer to baking sheets, spacing 2 inches apart. Reroll scraps; continue cutting to get 24 bunnies.

3. Bake cookies, rotating sheets halfway through, until golden, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Make cookie frosting: Stir confectioners’ sugar, egg-white powder and 3 Tbsp. warm water until smooth. (If frosting is too thick, stir in more water, 1 tsp. at a time.) Spoon 2 Tbsp. frosting into a ziplock bag. Tint remaining frosting light pink with a drop of red food coloring. Keep frosting covered to prevent drying.

4. Working on 1 cookie at a time, spread a thin layer of pink frosting on top. Sprinkle top of frosted cookie with light or dark pink decorating sugar to coat, shaking off excess. Snip a small corner from bag with white frosting. Pipe a few dots of white frosting on cookie; attach décors. Repeat with remaining cookies. Allow cookies to dry, 1 hour.

5. Place chopped coconut in a ziplock bag. Add a few drops of green food coloring; massage to tint coconut evenly. Put coconut in a shallow bowl. Spread vanilla frosting on cupcakes. Roll edges in green coconut. Press a cookie on top of each cupcake.

March 22nd, 2010 |

Passover Dinner: A Seder to Savor

seder dinner ideas

The Seder dinner marks the start of the Jewish holiday, Passover.  Typically held at home, Seder dinners are full of tradition….and some delicious food!  Set a warm, yet elegant table in shades of gold and simple white centerpieces.  Add a personal touch by placing a votive candle with your guest’s names written on a small scroll at each place setting.

The Seder menu is stock full of tradition.  Items such as matzo ball soup have been served during this holiday for generations!  I found a few recipes on Bon Appetit that give a simple update to a few favorites:

These delicious recipes are sure to become new traditions in your family.  Tell me, how do you celebrate the holiday?

Images: tulips (stylemepretty.com), votive candle (epicurious.com), napkin (karentran.com), table setting (lastoriafoto.com)

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March 19th, 2010 |

Mimosa Makeover

It’s no secret that I love a good champagne cocktail!  This recipe from Sunset Magazine is on my must-try list for this Spring!  It’s a sweet and sour combination – just the way I like it!

Pour ¼ cup cranberry juice and ¼ cup pink grapefruit juice into a Champagne flute or a thin glass. Top with your favorite Champagne or sparkling wine. Serve immediately and keep the juices and bubbly chilled for refills.

March 18th, 2010 |

Spring Desserts

With the official start of Spring this weekend, I felt it was only appropriate to share some of the delicious Spring dessert recipes that I have found around the web.  With so many fruits in season, these desserts are sure to look as good as they taste!

  1. Lemon Ricotta Cheesecake
  2. Tulipes with Raspberry Sorbet
  3. Mango Tart
  4. Strawberry Napoleons
  5. Lemon Blackberry Mini Tarts
  6. Fresh Strawberry-Cream Cheese Tart
  7. Key Lime Cheesecake Bars
  8. Baked Alaska

March 17th, 2010 |

Spring Salad Basket

Salads can take on so many different forms: green, vegetable, fruit.  But at the end of the day, we pretty much serve them the same way – in a bowl!  Mix things up at your next dinner party by serving your salad in a “basket” made of cucumber slices.

It’s simple to construct.  It’s pretty to look at.  And it will leave your guest saying “ooh…a salad!”

Image via My Recipes

March 16th, 2010 |

Corned Beef: The Day After…

Corned beef – you crave it once a year around St. Patrick’s Day – you cook it, it tastes amazing – but what do you do with all of the leftovers?!  Corned beef sandwiches are great (check out this post from last year for a delicious idea!), but if you are looking for something new, give this recipe for corned beef hash from Food Network a try:

Ingredients

  • 2 to 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 cups diced leftover rutabaga, carrots, potatoes and leek
  • 2 cups chopped leftover corned beef
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups leftover corned beef cooking liquid

Directions

Heat 2 tablespoons butter with the vegetable oil in a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat until almost smoking. Add the onion, season with salt and pepper and cook until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add half of the vegetables and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 5 minutes. Add the corned beef and cook until slightly brown, about 2 minutes.

Meanwhile, mash the remaining vegetables in a bowl with the parsley and 3/4 cup cooking liquid. Add to the skillet and stir to make a large pancake, adding up to 1/2 cup more cooking liquid, if needed. Cook until the hash is dark on the bottom, about 2 minutes.

Flip and continue cooking, turning occasionally and adding more butter if needed, until the hash is crunchy on the outside but still moist in the middle, 5 to 7 minutes. Add 1/4 cup cooking liquid 1 minute before serving.

March 16th, 2010 |

St. Patrick’s Day Dinner Party

st. patrick's day dinner party

I’m Irish.  Like, freckles and reddish-hair, Irish.  Have I ever told you that?!  So, not only do I come from a big, Irish family…but so does my husband!  Since St. Patrick’s Day falls mid-week this year, we had our two big family celebrations on Sunday.  I thought I got the holiday out of my system….but I keep thinking, what are we going to do on the actual day?!  It’s too big of a deal in our families to just let the day slip by unnoticed!

I decided to whip together a quick little dinner party.  You know…. simple.  But festive!  I am going to serve traditional corned beef and potatoes.  But I also want to throw in some green, Spring vegetables – asparagus, broccolini, green beans and snap peas.  I thought it would be interesting to try something new with the corned beef too, so I am going to try these corned beef and cabbage rolls as an appetizer.  It looks yummy – and for those of us that are gluten-free (like me!) – it takes the place of a corned beef sandwich!

For dessert?!  Chocolate-Irish cream cheesecake and an Irish martini.  Sounds delicious, don’t you think?! What are your plans for celebrating?

Images: green dining room (karljuengel.com), napkin (theknot.com)

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March 11th, 2010 |

Dress Up Your Cocktails

 

Brides.com has a great feature on “dressing up” your cocktails for Spring.  Simple ways that add a special touch to any occasion, here are a few of my favorites:

  1. Tie circle tags on to the bottom of a champagne flute or wine glass with each guest’s name on them.
  2. Anything is better with a monogram!  Try these personalized tumblers for your next event!
  3. Dress up a plain cocktail with an orange-peel lollipop (roll up an orange peel and secure it with a wooden stick)
  4. Add stickers to plain tumblers to jazz them up for a party (love that you could customize the colors for each party, too!)
  5. L-O-V-E the sleek look of these flutes!  Perfect for a cocktail party, have a waiter (or your husband!) pass these around in this cool, clear tray
  6. Tie a simple flower around the stem of a wine glass – the perfect touch of Spring!
  7. Serve a cocktail in an unusual glass – such as an ice cream soda glass.
  8. Garnish your cocktails with fruit!  Pineapples are a sign of hospitality – the perfect way to welcome your guests!

 

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