Saturday, February 15, 2014

Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine's Day everyone! This was our first as a married couple, but we HATE going out on Valentine's day. We love eating out usually, but on Valentine's they jack up the prices, pile in tables close together and usually the food leaves something to be desired. We prefer to stay in and Kyle cooks. It's intimate, romantic and far less fussy than going to a restaurant. 

We decided not to do gifts this year and get goggles for our snowboarding trip instead. But Kyle of course went above and beyond. I woke up to roses and breakfast before work, hen he came home from work he got busy in the kitchen and then he surprised me with chocolates and a beautiful locket! What a guy. My contributions paled in comparison, but he was still pleased. I picked up some of his favorite beer, got a nice card, made some cupcakes and set the table with our new china from the wedding. Really wonderful day. 

Re-purposing a vase from last Valentine's day

Now I'm sitting on the couch having just watched the USA hockey team win in a crazy shootout versus the Russians, nursing my champagne headache and thought it would be the perfect time to share my cupcake recipe. Enjoy!

Red Velvet Cupcake Recipe:
½ cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cocoa powder
½ cups vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons Wilton red food coloring (I didn't have time to get this so I had to use grocery store food coloring - hence the pink cupcakes)
1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In your mixer, mix the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt and cocoa powder. In a separate bowl, mix together the oil, buttermilk, eggs, food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla. Slowly add the wet mixture into your stand mixer with the dry ingredients. Mix until thoroughly combined. The batter is so velvety!

Only fill the cupcake liners 2/3 full. Bake for 20-32 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool completely before frosting. 

Cointreau Ganache
½ cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon Cointreau liquor 
3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (I eyeballed this measurement, so I may have used more)

In a saucepan, bring the heavy cream and Cointreau to a bowl. Reduce heat and slowly add the chocolate chips stirring continuously to avoid burning. Add to piping bag or some other injecting mechanism and inject into the center of the cupcakes. If the ganache spills out the top of the cupcakes, don't worry about it - it will be covered by butter cream.

Cream Cheese Butter Cream
1 package cream cheese, softened
2 sticks butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar 

In mixer, beat the cream cheese, butter and vanilla together until smooth. Add the sugar a half cup at a time, mixing well between each addition. Mix until very light and fluffy. 

Pipe the butter cream onto cooled cupcakes and add any embellishments. 

Chocolate Embellishments
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Melt chocolate in double boiler. Add to piping bag and create the designs of your choice on parchment paper (we had just run out that morning so I used plastic wrap). Let the designs harden in the refrigerator for as long as you can before adding to cupcakes.

Of course I had to do some fun Valentine's nails! For more of my crazy nail designs click here.

Thanks for visiting!


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Engagement Feature on Delancy and Penn

In trying to locate something else related to Kyle and my wedding, I came across the blog Delancy and Penn only to discover they had done a feature on our engagement session done by Faith West Photography! I had no idea! The blog editor did a nice little write up about the history of the landmarks, Elfreth's Alley and Rittenhouse square where we had our photo shoot. Anyway, this was a nice little surprise to come across, so I thought I'd share. 

My favorite from the day that wasn't included on the blog

From Delancy and Penn:


Elfreths Alley Engagement104
Elfreth’s Alley is one of the crown jewels of Old City Philadelphia, serving as a wonderful reminder that our city truly is the “Birthplace of America.”  The street, with it’s 32 row houses, is nestled between Front and 2nd Streets, just north of Arch Street.  Since the first home was built in 1728, Elfreth’s Alley has been home to over 3,000 people, and it is one of the last intact early American streetscapes in the nation {learn even more about Elfreth’s Alley here}.  One of the coolest things about this street is that, other than the two houses used for a visitors’ center and museum, it is still a residential street, and the houses are homes for families just as they were almost 300 years ago.  This is certainly something special for couples that have their engagement pictures taken in Elfreth’s Alley.
Alison and Kyle are one of those couples and, as always, Faith West Photography perfectly captured this moment.  Included with this sweet couple are the most important fall staples:  pumpkin spiced lattes and pumpkins on the front steps.  After some shots in the alley, Alison and Kyle took a trip to Rittenhouse Square – another historic staple in the city – rounding out the shoot with another one of the best locales Philly has to offer.  And we couldn’t help notice that ‘perfect’ color combo on Alison!!  Best of luck to you both, and we can’t wait to see your wedding pictures from Greenville Country Club!
Faith West Photography Elfreths Alley Engagement115
Faith West Photography Elfreths Alley Engagement166
Faith West Photography Elfreths Alley Engagement109
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Faith West Photography Elfreths Alley Engagement156
Faith West Photography Elfreths Alley Engagement157
Elfreths Alley Engagement149

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Super Bowl XLVIII Cupcakes

For the Super Bowl this year we went to a party at my brother and sister-in-law (elect)'s house and had a really fantastic time. I didn't really care about who won the game, but I did have some Block Pool and prop bets going, so that kept it interesting. 

Rosie did a really nice job hosting and there was quite the extensive spread: tons of dips to look like a football stadium, wings, nice cheeses, sandwiches, and enough booze to take down an army. Really great event. 

I couldn't even get a picture before everyone dug in!

When I asked her what I could bring, she suggested cupcakes which I couldn't have been happier about! But of course I couldn't just make any old cupcakes, they had to be themed some how. So enter way more blue, green and orange food coloring than I'd ever seen in my life.

I found a blue velvet cupcake recipe that would be perfect for both teams and had some bros help me find the perfect color for both the Broncos and Seahawks. The first batch was a total bust, unfortunately. The batter was a lot thicker then I am used to so I accidentally over-filled the cupcake tin and the end result was top-heavy yet collapsed cupcakes. They were still delicious so I persisted with the second batch. Success!

Blue Velvet Cupcake Recipe:
2 cups sugar
½ pound (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
2 eggs
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
2 teaspoons Wilton Navy Blue food coloring (add more if you so desire)
cups cake flour
1 teaspoon salt 
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon vinegar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In your mixer, cream the sugar and butter, mix until light and fluffy. Add the eggs 1 at a time and mix well after each addition. Mix cocoa and food coloring together to form a paste, and then add to sugar mixture; mix well. Sift together flour and salt. Add flour and salt to the creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk. Blend in vanilla. In a small bowl, combine baking soda and vinegar and add to mixture.

Warning: Batter will be very thick. Only fill the cupcake liners 3/4 full. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool completely before frosting. 

Cream Cheese Butter Cream
1 package cream cheese, softened and halved
2 sticks butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (1/2 for each batch)
5 cups sifted confectioners' sugar (2 1/2 for each batch - or more to your taste)
1 teaspoon of Crystal Colors powdered food coloring for each color choice (I used Tahitian Sun for the Broncos and Moss Green for the Seahawks)

In mixer, beat half the cream cheese, half the butter and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla together until smooth. Add the sugar (2 1/2 cups) a half cup at a time, mixing well between each addition. Add the food coloring until you get to your desired color and mix until completely incorporated. Increase the speed on your mixer and mix until very light and fluffy. 

Repeat for the other color choice. Pipe the butter cream onto cooled cupcakes and add any embellishments. I used royal blue Sanding Sugar and football decorations to go with the theme. 

I'm working on a full wedding post, but I went to upload the pictures and my thumb drive wasn't working - Yikes! Luckily we had already loaded all of the pictures on my mom's computer. Crisis averted. So here is a little teaser (and one of the only ones I do have on my computer).

End of the best night ever

I hope everyone enjoyed the Super Bowl!