Thursday, January 29, 2009

Valentine's Day Cupcake Goodies 2009

Hi friends! This Valentine's Day will be a bit sad for my little guy. The girl whom he has had a crush on for the past few years will be moving a few days before February 14th. From the moment she walked into his 1st Grade class, he has been quite smitten with this lovely brown haired beauty. They are friends and spent the first summer swimming, going to the ice cream shop, movies, riding bikes, going to the park, we rode the train back from NYC after seeing the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall in the Christmas Spectacular. I made "Cupid's Pillow Cupcakes" last year as a Valentine surprise for the object of his affection and on and on it goes!

There is something about the innocence of a first crush that is almost too-much! Here are some of his expressions and questions he has asked me to clarify his love for her:

"Mommy sometimes I feel like little hearts are coming out of the top of my head."

"Mommy, do you know that feeling, like when your heart is too big for your chest? That's how I feel when I see her!"

"Mommy, do you think one day she will know that my heart feels like it makes my shirt move when she gets too close to me?"


I can only give him a hug and say, "Sweetheart, one day she will know."

Oh. My. Gosh. That is serious stuff!!

As you can well imagine, upon learning of the upcoming departure this past Tuesday, my little guy is crushed. You have never seen eyes get so blue. But he is his mother's son afterall! He is already planning on how to say good-bye to her so she doesn't get too sad. What tickled me was the way he said "Mom, I am sorry but I am going to need you to make A LOT of cupcakes here!" It was a very pointed statement. I smiled to myself and very seriously told him "You tell me what you need darling, and Mommy will make them!"

I am now feeling the "pressure" to make the world's best cupcake. I was searching for a few fun and different "pre-Valentine's" goodies, so I thought I would share my list, just in case you are searching for something similar!

Did you know Reynolds Wrap Kitchens has an area they call Cupcake Central? It is filled with delectable ideas for snacks, treat, desserts, seasonal fun and special occasions!

Last year my little guy made heart shaped cupcakes in Reynold's Heart Shaped Baking Cups. Then we individually wrapped them with clear cellophane paper and a pink ribbon.

I love Williams-Sonoma. I have for years enjoyed going in to the retail store and touching the textiles, looking at all the diverse spices and cookbooks, can I even begin to tell you how much I love to imagine the dishes and bakeware in my own kitchen! Over the years I have purchased so many gadgets, All-Clad cookware pieces, wreaths, candles... I am a kitchen junkie! During Halloween I got my little guy a personalized apron with the pumpkin and candy corns. Yeah... I am cheesy like that!

Well, this year for Valentine's Day I am going to get this set. It's fun and whimsical. The best part is being able to bake and decorate the homemade cupcakes with creamy frosting, topped with X's and O's, love, hugs and kisses out of fondant which comes with the kit.

Williams-Sonoma also carries Sprinkles Cupcake Mix (chocolate, lemon, red velvet, vanilla). Check that out! Once the cupcakes are baked, decorated and finished; you will need to box them up. I ordered several different sizes of these lovely pink single and double cupcake boxes and inserts from BRP Box Shop. They are excellent quality!! Sometimes I will add a pink and brown satin ribbon to tie around the boxes, depending on who I am giving the cupcakes to.

Another favorite place I like to haunt is Crate and Barrel. I am never disappointed and they always have fun and fabulous treats for the holidays! Valentine's Day is no exception. I especially like the darling Valentines Cupcake Wrappers at a very affordable $3.95. My other favorites are the decoratifs which you can sprinkle ontop of yummy cupcakes (or fun cookie-pops). There are three assorted varieties. Once everything is baked and dressed, it can be displayed on this delightfully playful Valentine Plate. And what about these pretty ruffled cake pedestals? (In two perfect sizes! Lovely!) I am an absolute sucker for hot cocoa and Cupid could not have done better himself with this pink hot chocolate batch!

Speaking, dreaming, wishing of hot chocolate...

One of my next lustful favorites for Valentine's Day are the homemade marshmallows from Baked NYC. At only $4.50 for delicious, soft, clouds of vanilla, chocolate or peppermint! You can also choose a marshmallow set if you cannot decide! Think of all the possibilities with these beauties... add them to hot chocolate, make s'mores, toast them over the hibachi, share them with your Valentine, or don't share them at all!!

Baked also has a delectable assortment of granolas, cookies (chocolate chip, ginger molasses, oatmeal, chocolate cloud, and monster cookies), brownies and bars are also available with delivery options! Perhaps if you love everything from the bakery you can purchase the new Baked cookbook "New Frontiers in Baking" You know how much I adore cookbooks! You can never have enough of a good thing. Trust me, you really cannot go wrong with anything from this delightful bakery!

I will have to wash my sticky fingers after all those marshmallows, and who could resist Sephora's Vanilla Cupcake Body Collection! Body Butter, Body Wash, Bubble Bath, Body Oil... attention gift givers!! What you need to know about this luscious product: The Sephora Brand Vanilla Cupcake Body Collection is a sweet mix of decadent French vanilla and almond, infused with honey and buttermilk that creates a lavish lather to clean, moisturize, and smooth all skin types. Each product contains deeply hydrating ingredients, such as aloe vera and jojoba, for delectably soft skin.

Well for now this are a few fun goodies I have found, I will let you know what my little guy and I come up with for the "World's Best Valentine's Cupcake!"

Friday, January 23, 2009

Share Our Strength: NO KID HUNGRY

Hi friends! As a member of the Foodbuzz community, I have seen many wonderful opportunities present themselves to anyone who has an interest or a passion in the food arena to participate and make a difference. I would be remiss if I did not share this program with you which I am certain you have heard of through newspaper and television advertisements. The program is called Share Our Strength: NO KID HUNGRY. If you have not heard of it, please read the following.

As a mother, I have an enormous soft spot for babies and children. Those babies and children will one day grow up to be the fine adults who will be making decisions which will affect me. As a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES), I am all too well aware of how maternal-child health issues can affect babies growth and development. Then there are those precious little babies and infants who might come into this world under unfortunate circumstances. They too can have some impossible obstacles to overcome. As one person, it can feel overwhelming. I have said before feeling helpless, does not mean being hopeless. There is always an avenue to take in order to find an answer or to help. I am convinced one person is capable of making a difference. One person can be a catalyst in the wheel of change.

The following information is from Operation Frontline; a wonderful program which falls under Share Our Strength. The program helps surround kids who are at risk of hunger with nutritious foods where they live, learn and play.

Operation Frontline helps families with limited resources make healthy meals at home, using a wide variety of foods that are commonly available in stores and from emergency food providers.

All Operation Frontline courses promote making the healthiest food choices possible, even with limited resources.

Instructors teach lifelong cooking skills, practical nutrition information and food budgeting strategies that participants can use right away and take into the future.

Adult and teen participants receive groceries at the end of each class to practice the recipes they’ve learned at home.

Courses include information on available federal, state and local assistance programs.

Operation Frontline classes are popular with afterschool, summer food, Head Start and WIC programs.

Alas, I am a steadfast keeper of hope and determination. The pictures and text below come from the Share Our Strength website.
Share Our Strength® is a national organization that works hard to make sure no kid in America grows up hungry. Working with the culinary industry to create engaging, pioneering programs like Share Our Strength’s Taste of the Nation®, Share Our Strength’s Great American Bake Sale®, Share Our Strength’s A Tasteful Pursuit®, Share Our Strength’s Great American Dine Out™, and Share Our Strength’s Operation Frontline®.

Why We Do It

We have all experienced hunger at one time or another: We’ve all craved a midnight snack, wanted something salty or needed some chocolate. But there’s a big difference between trying to satisfy a brief craving or stomach growl and wondering when or from where your next meal will come.

More than 12.6 million—one in six—children in America are at risk of hunger. These children will endure lifelong consequences as a result of having limited access to nutritious foods. In fact, they’re more likely to suffer poorer health, fatigue, hospitalizations, behavioral difficulties and impaired performance at school.

And hunger doesn’t discriminate. It can affect any child—even those you’d least expect. Most people don't realize that one in six children are at risk of hunger. Not one in six children worldwide; one in six American children.

How can you help?

Sometimes, all it takes is the act of lifting this veil of invisibility from hunger in order to motivate people to really take a stance and start to make a difference. That's why we're asking you, the bloggers and social media users of the world, to add your voice to this issue. By speaking as one on an issue of this much importance, we can mobilize a community much larger than by any other method.
Some ideas to help Share Our Strength:
1) Hold a Food Drive.
2) Find a local food bank in your area here. Also find the most nutritious foods needed!
3) Volunteer at a Food Bank/Soup Kitchen.
4) Hold a Bake Sale with proceeds going to Share our Strength.
5) Blog about Operation No Kid Hungry to bring awareness to this worthy cause!
6) Make a $35 donation and feed a child 3 meals a day for more than a month!
7) From now until March 1, 2009, donate by text: Text "SHARE" to 20222 on your mobile device to donate $5. AT&T will match all text donations up to $100,000. Find out more here.

There have been many places I have traveled in the world. What I know, is we are all the same. While our upbringing and beliefs might vary, our basic need for food, shelter, love and warmth is fundamental. In every country you can find beauty and elegance, as well as back alleys with dark secrets which would be better kept that way. I have looked into the faces of children who are hungry. Mothers and fathers who would steal simply to provide for their loved ones. I have seen the faces of poor mothers who want to feed their babies and protect them, just as any other mother would.

When I was in Egypt recently, there were so many children who come up to me to beg for money, some as young as one and two years old. One little guy in particular tried to take my wallet out of my purse and blast it, I was mad, but I understand why. It absolutely breaks my heart to see this. My little guy kept telling them "Please don't do that!! That's naughty!" So we went into a small market and bought a great big bag of oranges and I let my son hand them out to the massive group of children who began to gather around us in the souq. The smiles one orange brought to their faces is almost unimaginable. They held onto them as if they were a prize. I know an orange is not much, but nutritionally Vitamin C helps. I would rather see children eat a piece of fruit than hand them a quarter and not know what it would be used for. I wished I had more to offer, but it was what I could do.

Right here in America a hunger problem still exists. I know at the end of each day, I can provide my little guy with what he needs. Knowledge is power and Share Our Strength is providing a service in many ways to help this problem. One person can make a difference. The children are our future and deserve a chance!

Whatever you do, do it from your heart!


(Pictures courtesy Share Our Strength: NO KID HUNGRY website 2009)

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Martha Stewart's Cupcakes; 175 Inspired Ideas for Everyone's Favorite Treat by, Martha Stewart Living Magazine

Hi friends! Good news! Just look at what is coming out June 2, 2009. Horray for cupcake cookbooks! I shared with you back in December when I went to have my beautiful Martha Stewart's Cooking School cookbook signed at Williams-Sonoma, Martha told me there was a cupcake cookbook in the works. Well here it is!

Martha Stewart's Cupcakes by Martha Stewart Living Magazine; published by Crown Publishing Group. You can pre-order yours and have it by the publication date. I cannot wait to see what 175 inspired ideas for everyone's favorite treat is like!


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Cupcake Wine

( The label is decidedly feminine and elegant, with a tiny cupcake,
celebrated in a pen-and-ink rendering much like a crest.)

Hi friends! While this is not a new item, I thought it was an interesting find to share with those of you who enjoy a glass of inexpensive wine. NO! It does not taste like cupcakes and I have not tried it yet, but it seems like a whimsical wine to try.

"A big, rich Chardonnay from California’s desirable Central Coast, where the sun drenched grapes create full and elegantly-textured wines. Decadent layers of butter, cream, bright citrus and vanilla melt into a balance of oak and subtle spice. In other words: Sinful."

Cupcake Vineyards sells for about $10 per bottle. You'll find a Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot from vineyards in California's Central Coast region, made by Adam Richardson, who has more than a dozen years' experience in Australia and California. Collectively, they offer a generous helping of intense, elegantly textured, complex fruit flavors and spicy oak for wines in their price slot.

I prefer Merlot and still think $3 Buck Chuck from Trader Joe's is awesome, has anyone tried this Cupcake Wine? Thoughts?


Thursday, January 15, 2009

CONTEST: 5 Blogoversary Winners!!

Hi friends! Due to an unfortunate circumstance of lost luggage with Egypt Air on my return trip from the Middle East last week, the winners for my Blogoversary CONTEST were delayed. Fortunately, I had the foresight to mail a good portion of the spices to myself. It turns out since there were only 5 cupcakes to enter, each one of you will now have an extra special cupcake fun spice prize pack coming your way! These are the 5 cupcakes to enter and my responses! Thanks for playing!

Spogden: Carrot cupcakes with cream cheese frosting are so comforting and what a burst of flavor! Cloves have such a distinct scent, combined with oranges is terrific too. I hope you get to Venice, Italy and Paris, France both cities are chocolate decadence destinations along with so much delicious food.

Jingle: Red Velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting is a classic! Great choice. You will be interested to know nutmeg is not a spice which is at all common in Saudi Arabia. I had difficulty finding it in the spice souq! South Africa is home to one of my favorite wines "Robertson Wine."

Jen: You chose two very different flavors! I would like to try lemon/blueberry/basil! Europe is wonderful... maybe this will be the year you get to see a European country! If you cannot get there through travel, the best way to get there is travel through cooking!

Karen: I love dark chocolate and what a great flavor combination with Mocha! Yum! Nutmeg seems to be the popular spice choice. I like nutmeg on pasta too. Italy, Japan and France are such lovely destinations with so much to offer. I have never been to Armenia, what a great selection! I have, however, had food from Moldova which was quite good.

Lisa Smiley: Salted caramel cupcakes! How savory! Coriander is a great choice. I like the way the scent lingers. Austria is a really beautiful country. Not only does Austria have gorgeous snow capped mountains but the wonderful treasure city of Salzburg, which I have eaten my way through, many, many times! :-) I hope you can get there.

Please email me your contact information the[dot]cupcakery[at]yahoo[dot]com and I will get the prize packs out to you! Thank you again for entering and I am sorry for my tardiness. I do, however, think you will love, love, love what I am sending your way.


Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year Friends!

Goodbye 2008 and a Cupcake Welcome to 2009!

Hi friends! Have you ever wondered when people say "Wishing you a very Happy New Year!" what those wishes really are? I do, so I found a little poem by an Unknown Author which I think wrapped up New Year wishes delightfully and I feel this in my heart for my dear friends. There is a small Cupcakery addition at the end because life really is good!

My New Year Wishes For You

I wish you Health
So you may enjoy each day in comfort.

I wish you the Love of friends and family
And Peace within your heart.

I wish you the Beauty of nature
That you may enjoy the work of God.

I wish you Wisdom to choose priorities
For those things that really matter in life.

I wish you Generosity so you may share
All good things that come to you.

I wish you Happiness and Joy
And Blessings for the New Year.

I wish you the best of everything
That you so well deserve.

Most of all, I hope you find sweet confections
And tiny moments to celebrate how good life can be!