Star Cookies

I recently had the pleasure of making two batches of star shaped cookies for very different purposes.  The first set was purple and pink starfish for a beach themed bridal shower.

Purple and Pink Starfish Cookies | Shake Bake and Party

 

The second set was for Operation Cookie Takeover.  Tons of awesome people have volunteered to send over 12,000 cookies to our troops serving overseas! I am so happy for the opportunity to contribute once again to such a great cause.

Fireworks Cookies | Shake Bake and Party

Patriotic Cookies for the 4th of July | Shake Bake and Party

 

Yo Ho Ho and 2 Cups of Rum

Apparently today is National Rum Day!  I did not know this until an hour ago, yet this afternoon I made Rum and Coke cupcakes.  It must have been fate…

A friend wanted me to make these cupcakes for her son’s 21st birthday party.  I tried a test batch last month using a recipe I found for Cola Cake, and a rum buttercream frosting.  It was good, but it tasted nothing like Rum and Coke to me.  Then I discovered the existence of cola extract.  The sun burst through the clouds, the cupcake angels were singing… it was good stuff.

I used the cola extract in my frosting, and found a cupcake recipe that had enough rum in it to make a pirate proud.  For decoration, I used gummy cola bottles and lime wedges with coffee stirrer “straws”.  I used Key Limes – they were the perfect size for the cupcakes.  The resulting cupcake tastes SO MUCH like Rum and Coke that (to quote my boyfriend), “It’s kind of freaky.”

So, though it’s almost over, Happy National Rum Day!  Thankfully you don’t wait until next year to make these tastes-like-the-real-thing Rum and Coke cupcakes.

Rum Cupcake (recipe from Rum Cupcakes with Coconut Frosting on the Betty Crocker website)

1 Box Betty Crocker Supermoist yellow cake mix
1 cup dark rum (I used Meyer’s)
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup canola oil
3 eggs

Heat oven to 325°F. Place paper baking cup in each of 18 regular-size nonstick muffin cups. *I doubled the recipe and ended up with 30 cupcakes total.

In large bowl, mix cake mix, 1 cup rum, the water, oil and eggs with whisk until blended. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups.

Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  *I ended up baking them for 25-26 minutes.  For a moment I was afraid they weren’t going to bake through (and REALLY pissed that I had just potentially wasted two whole cups of perfectly good rum!) but I left them in the oven and tested them with a toothpick every few minutes until they were finally done.*   Remove from muffin cups to cooling rack. Cool completely, about 45 minutes.

Rum Buttercream Frosting (adapted from Buttercream Frosting II on allrecipes.com)

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup shortening
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 cups confectioners sugar
1/4 cup milk
2 1/4 teaspoons cola extract (I bought mine on Amazon)

For frosting, cream butter and shortening in a large bowl until light and fluffy.  Add all other ingredients and beat well.

I Enjoy Being A Girl?

I am definitely not a “girly” type of female.

I prefer jeans and sneakers to skirts and high heels.  I have never (nor will I ever) worn a pair of stilettos.  Your feet really aren’t meant to do that.

I would rather watch hockey than Dancing With the Stars.  I was going to make NHL jersey cookies during the Stanley Cup playoffs this year.  I had the cookies baked and everything, but I was too busy watching hockey to decorate them.

Me with Lord Stanley, many moons ago…

I’m not a fan of pink.  I don’t scream at the sight of mice or spiders.  I don’t get manicures unless I’m a bridesmaid in a wedding.  I don’t spaz out when people bring their babies in to work.

I wasn’t even very girly when I was a little girl.  Take my Barbie dolls for example.  Yes, I had Barbies.  No, they did not go shopping or go to fancy dances or get married to the perfectly coiffed Ken dolls.  Barbie drowned in the Barbie pool.  She hung herself from the second story of the Barbie house.  Barbie fell to her death out the third story window of my actual house.

Barbie muerta
Barbie muerta (Photo credit: nicoventurelli)

Remember the Heart Family (Mommy, Daddy and two little toddlers – one boy, one girl) and the Heart Family car?  They didn’t go for leisurely rides to the zoo.  The Heart Family car was a plastic deathtrap on wheels hurtling down the stairs from my attic bedroom, smashing into the wall at the landing and sending Mr. and Mrs. Heart and their progeny flying in all directions.

The Heart Family - Kisses & Cuddles
The Heart Family – Kisses & Cuddles (Photo credit: Freddycat1)

I did have a heart shaped pillow with a picture of Dylan from 90210 (the ORIGINAL!!) on it and I like my cocktails sweet and fruity, so the girly-girl is somewhere there inside me – she just doesn’t come out that often.

I Love Dylan
I Love Dylan (Photo credit: emilydickinsonridesabmx)

Given all this, you can see why I would be amused by the fact that I have made not one, not two, but THREE girly baked treats in the past four days.

First up… Wedding Cake Cookies!  A coworker’s daughter is getting married next weekend and she asked that I make cookies to put in the gift baskets she is making for their out of town guests.

Next, I attempted to make some hydrangea cupcakes I saw on Pinterest.  For a tutorial on how to make these yourself, go here!  These were to celebrate the birthday of one of my friends at work on Monday.  They came out pretty good.  When I was taking the photos my camera was choosing the flower macro setting, so at least I had Canon fooled.

Last but not least are the teapot cookies I made for my friend’s daughter’s Princess Tea Party 6th birthday shindig this weekend.

Okay, I’m gonna go blow up a Barbie doll or something…

Action Barbie
Action Barbie (Photo credit: SamJUK)

When Graduation Hands You Lemons…

This is a picture of me six years ago on the day I graduated from college –

Classy, aren’t I?

This is a picture that 2012 Angela would have sent 2006 Angela a few weeks before said graduation (if one could do those types of things…) –

College went something like this for me:

Ugh, I don’t know what I want to do, but I have to go to college….  Oooh, I’ll be a Liberal Arts major.  That’s broad enough….  Oh wait, I like to write – I’ll be an English major!….  If I have to write ANOTHER FLIPPING PAPER about a book I am going to go jump off the Ben Franklin Bridge….  I’ll switch my major to Political Science!  I like politics, and all that matters in the end is that I have a degree of some sort, right?….  RIGHT?!

I went to Rutgers University (it’s a good school) and my lack of direction aside, I was no dummy.  I graduated with honors.

Six years later, to quote Sandra Bullock‘s character Lucy in While You Were Sleeping, “I go to work and I sit in a box like a veal.”  Granted, she sat in a toll booth while I sit in a cubicle, and my lovely desk job has probably turned me into a much fattier piece of meat than a veal but you get the point.

Is this where I wanted to end up, with a yearly salary that is STILL a smaller number than the amount of money I had to take out in student loans to finance my useless Bachelor’s degree? (Still paying those back by the way…)  I guess that’s what happens when you don’t have a plan but even years later I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up (some more).

I guess I should just be happy that I’m not graduating NOW, when a picture like this would be the most apropos –

There is one good thing I took away from my college years (aside from that lovely, EXPENSIVE piece of paper hanging on the wall in my home office) and that is Starbucks Passion Tea Lemonade.  There was a Starbucks on campus.  Going there for my PTL fix was the only thing I looked forward to every day.

Last week at the grocery store I saw Tazo Iced Passion teabags.  The thought that I could now make my drink at home instead of paying Starbucks the six dollars and a kidney it costs for a Grande Tea these days made me very happy.  Then I had an even happier thought, and that involved Limoncello.  Enter, Tipsy Tea Lemonade…

This one is pretty simple.  Prepare the tea according to the directions on the box and sweeten it (or not!) to your tastes.  I used honey to sweeten mine.  Once the tea is chilled fill a glass with half tea and half lemonade.  As you can see, I used a bottle of convenience store lemonade (if you don’t have a Wawa where you live I’d like to offer my condolences) but if you want to get fancy feel free to make your own!  The last step is to add as much Limoncello as your drunken heart desires.  I used about a shot glass full.  Mix, add ice and ENJOY!

Cheers to all the recent grads!  Make this drink for your poor mothers when you all have to move back home for the next ten years…

Buttons (Or, Why Sometimes Boxed Is Better)

I have been tasked with making cupcakes for a coworker’s 60th birthday celebration tomorrow.  At first I was thinking of making the Snickerdoodle cupcakes I posted about in Cupcakes Taste Better Than Gasoline, but then I decided I wanted to try something new – something light and fruity for spring.  I did my usual internet perusal and found a recipe for lemon cupcakes made with light coconut milk.  Sounds tasty, right?

Since I always like to be cautious, I baked them last night.  This way, if they didn’t turn out as hoped I still had tonight to make a new batch.  Good thing.  They were…weird.  Perhaps it was the light coconut milk?  I’ve cooked with it, but never baked with it before.  The batter was made from scratch, and that was the only thing in it that wasn’t normal for a cupcake…  Whatever it was, I knew that recipe was not a keeper.

So today I regrouped with a good old-fashioned lemon boxed cake mix.  Easy peasy, trusted results!  I put lemon batter in, I got lemon cupcakes out!  I did try a little experiment with the frosting – I decided to make a cherry flavored buttercream.  It may very well be the best thing I have ever created.  I had a decent amount left after frosting the cupcakes.  I didn’t want to wash it down the sink but I knew that if I put it in a container in the fridge that I would end up gorging myself on it at some point later in the evening.  I did eat a giant blob of it before disposing of the rest. 😛

So, lemon cake + cherry frosting = Cherry Lemonade Cupcakes!  I got a bag of colorful buttons from the local craft store to use as decoration because the birthday girl loves to sew.  Hopefully people can control themselves long enough to remove the buttons before diving into one of these babies…

Cherry Lemonade Cupcakes

Lemon Cupcakes

Box of lemon cake mix and ingredients listed on box.

Cherry Buttercream (adapted from Butter Cream Frosting II on allrecipes.com)

Ingredients

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup shortening
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 cups confectioners sugar
1/4 cup milk
3 tablespoons grenadine

Directions

Make cupcakes according to directions on box.  Let cool completely.

For frosting, cream butter and shortening in a large bowl until light and fluffy.  Add all other ingredients and beat well.

I like to put a lot of icing on my cupcakes, so if you’re going to do it my way make two batches of icing to decorate 24 cupcakes.

Foghat, Thunderbirds and a First Birthday

In January my friend’s son had his first birthday.  I made the cake, cupcakes and cookie favors.  I will share some pics of those with you shortly, but first some other firsts…

The first time I laid eyes on my all time favorite stuffed animal, my Bedtime Bear Care Bear..

Can you see the love?

I was 4.  I am now 32. I cannot sleep without that bear under my arm.

My first time operating heavy machinery…

My first pet, our dog Britt…

He was awesome.  He loved pizza crusts.  He would beg for one, we would oblige, he would run with it into another room and then run back to beg for another.  We figured he was scarfing them down but he was actually depositing them into a pile behind my dad’s recliner.

My first car was a 1986 Ford Thunderbird.  For some reason it was dubbed the Thunderchicken.  For some other reason, I don’t seem to have any pictures of it.

My first concert…No, it wasn’t New Kids on the Block or Debbie Gibson (although my first ever perfume was Electric Youth).  My first concert was the WDRE Fest – June 2, 1996.  Here was the lineup: No Doubt, 311, Filter, Toadies, Cracker, Fishbone, Gravity Kills, The Nixons, God Lives Underwater and Spin Doctors.  I’d say that was a damn good first concert.  My first “classic rock” show (At the time, this referenced music from the 60’s and 70’s.  Apparently now classic rock includes bands that I grew up listening to, like Bon Jovi, which means I am officially old)  followed two months later.

I was sixteen and I went with my mom.  The bands were Iron Butterfly and Foghat.  I watched women with a good ten years on my mother, women who looked like they could have been my teachers at school, screaming like teenagers and rushing the stage trying to grab the drummer from Foghat’s ass.  It was a good time.

The first time I was a bridesmaid (sharing this one because I LOVED my hair!)…

First time I ever saw the Pacific Ocean…

There are some firsts that thankfully went undocumented… The first time I threw up from drinking too much (Mad Dog 20/20 Orange – it will never again pass my lips),  the first time I was called Ma’am, the first (and only) time I watched the movie Twilight (I still have nightmares about the bad acting…”Your hand, it’s so cold!”).

Then there was the little man’s first birthday.  It was my first time making a crown shaped cake!  They had chosen a prince theme so I also made cupcakes with blue chocolate crowns on top and of course, I made #1 cookies.

AJ has many, many firsts ahead and despite my ever advancing age, hopefully I do too!