Thursday, April 11, 2013

Margarita Cupcakes

Quite simply...

I love baking cupcakes.

photo credit:

There is something very zen about mixing the ingredients and baking them into these sweet little cakes.  And then frosting then all pretty.  It sounds silly, but I find a lot of peace in it.

I also really enjoy following a recipe.  Going step by step, measuring and somehow creating a delicious treat...I just love it.

It may be the math nerd in me....or maybe I'm just a nerd...

Anyways....I thought it was time that I attempted to create my own recipe.  This has always intimidated me, because although I am great at following directions, I wasn't sure how well I would do figuring out all the measurements to equal a successful cake.  I needed a push.

That push was margareaster...a holiday my family created a few years back that has become a favorite tradition.  It involves, you guessed, margaritas and Easter.  Well Easter crept up on all of us this year, so margareaster is falling a little later than normal, but it gave me time to experiment.

I searched all over pinterest for some margarita flavored cupcake ideas.  I thought they would be a fun addition to the event.  I found TONS of stuff...I mean TONS.  Most of them however used boxed cake mix.  I have nothing against mixes but I personally don't like them because it makes a real soft cake that is hard to frost.

So I decided to give my own recipe a try.  I took a look at recipes I liked in the past and did some substituting with parts that would make them more adding tequila.

Tonight I put my recipe to the test.  The outcome....

I thought they tasted pretty good!  The true test will be tomorrow when everyone gets to enjoy them!

Here is the recipe I came up with.  I'm sure I'm going to tweak it as I go, but not too bad for a first try.  If you try them, let me know how they went and what you think may make them better!  Enjoy!

Margarita Cupcakes
Test #1 (4/11/13)  ~ makes about 2 dozen regular size cupcakes

photo credit:
Preheat Oven to 350°

-       1 ½ cups AP Flour
-       1 ¼ cups Cake Flour
-       ¾ tsp Salt
-       2 tsp Baking Powder
-       1 cup Butter
-       2 cups Sugar
-       1 tsp Vanilla
-       4 eggs
-       ¼ cup Tequila
-       ¾ cup Buttermilk

  1. Combine dry ingredients and whisk together
  2. Cream butter until smooth, add sugar and vanilla
  3. Add eggs, one at a time, beating in between
  4. Add tequila
  5. Add dry ingredients, alternating with buttermilk
  6. Mix until well blended
  7. Bake for 20-25 minutes (rotate pans halfway through for a more even bake)
  8. Let cool
  9. Once cool, remove centers and fill with Lemon Curd Whipped Cream

Lemon Curd Whipped Cream:
-       1 pint Heavy Whipping Cream
-       1/3 cup Sugar
-       ¼ cup (or more to taste) Lemon Curd

  1. Beat whipping cream until stiff peaks form, add sugar and beat again
  2. Add lemon curd and beat till mixed, but still fluffy
  3. Put into a pastry bag and pipe into the center of each cupcake
  4. Frost with Lime Butter cream

Lime Butter Cream:
-       1 cup Butter
-       1 tsp Vanilla
-       4 cups Powdered Sugar
-       2-3 tbsp Lime Juice
-       1 tsp (or more to taste) Lime Zest

  1. Beat butter until light and fluffy
  2. Add vanilla
  3. Slowly add powdered sugar, alternating with lime juice
  4. Add lime zest and whip butter cream until light and fluffy
  5. Put in piping bag and frost (or use offset spatula)

Friday, January 25, 2013

Final Exams

We've hit the mid point of the school year so that means it is time for final exams!

I have never been a fan of exams.  Taking them or giving them.  I'm more of a final project kind of person, especially in my subject area.  As an art teacher I feel that the best way to determine whether my students have learned anything or retained any knowledge is to see how they apply what they've learned to a creative project.  However, during this time in education, the written word and the measurable test is the preferred method of verifying that our students have learned anything.

Although this is not something I believe really myself, I do give a written final since it is required.  I do try to incorporate some more hands on components in an attempt to keep the creativity in there which is what I really am 'grading.'

So twice a year, I sit in a silent classroom - no music or chitchat - and watch my students finish a written final.  It is a long week...

...and so is next week.  Why? The start of a whole new semester with all new students.  It's like the beginning of the year all over again!  Syllabi, scheduling conflicts, and learning another 100 or so new names is what is in store for me next week.  It is exciting to get new students and start fresh, but its also hard to say good-bye to the really great classes I had that were just gaining momentum!

The Spring semester always seems like the hardest of the two.  It is not the beginning of the year, so the students tend to be slow to getting started and are not as 'enthusiastic' as they tend to be in September.  The Spring also brings additional challenges - disruptions from testing, more vacation time and seniors leaving early.  I feel like I never accomplish as much in the Spring.

But the warmer weather will be coming, which means potential for more outdoor assignments.  There are things to look forward to.  I need to work on keeping my motivation up to get ready for the beginning again.  The school year is already half way over and it will be summer before we know it.

After all this freezing whether lately, summer can't come soon enough.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Merry Christmas

and a Happy New Year!  I hope everyone has a lovely holiday season, and so does Jack:

Monday, December 10, 2012

Dare to Deck the Halls

It's already the 4th week of Dare to DIY and this week is the Dare to Deck the Halls challenge hosted by Decor and the Dog, Maybe Matilda, Newly Woodwards, and Two Twenty One!

Although by Deck the Halls will look a bit like entertaining...I still think it works!

We have a lot of decorations and homemade ornaments here.  I have a tree full of all kinds of unique and craft ornaments.  Nothing matches and I love it that way.  What I did not have was some cute holiday dishware.

For the first time, my husband and I will be hosting Christmas dinner with my in laws.  I'm super excited to be cooking a big meal and sharing the day with my family....while in slippers.  Now, I love my fiestaware dishes - they are pretty much my favorite. But they are blue, yellow, and turquoise and I really wanted to do a traditional Christmas color table this year.  Plus I found some cute napkins and tablecloth at Kohl's for a suuuuuper discount, so I wanted to work around them.

So what to do?  I turned to pinterest for some inspiration.  I found these Halloween plates a while ago and loved them.  While searchng for Christmas ideas, I thought maybe I could come up with something that would be a similar approach to drawing on dishes.

With an idea in mind, I set off to Christmas Tree Shops to find some cheap white plates.  I found the ones I ended up using for like a buck a piece.  Then I found some paints that would work on the plates.  I know people have used Sharpie and had success, but I got nervous and ended up going with something that said it was non-toxic and would 'hopefully' go through the dishwasher.  I found these Martha Stewart Glass Paints at Michaels:

I ended up doing the writing freehand, but I did search through some fonts online and tried to copy one I liked as best I could.  I decided on using Christmas word 'pairs' to decorate the dinner plate and the salad plate.  I was going to add a border, but I decided against it.  I think the simple words spoke for themselves.  The pairs I chose were: Merry & Bright, Silver & Gold, Holly & Jolly, and Comfort & Joy.  I made enough for 8 settings, so each pair was used twice.

After you write on the plates, they need to sit about an hour.  Then you put them in a COLD oven and turn it on to 350.  They 'bake' for 30 minutes and then you turn the heat off and let the plates cool in the oven.

The plates then need to sit for a few days before washing, which was perfect since I got busy and kind of forgot about them for a few days.  From there they got a quick wash and they were ready to be set on the table.

 I really like how the plates came out.  In the future I could use other decorations around them in different colors, but for now I am loving them with the classic red and green.

Do you see the candle holders as the centerpiece?  My step dad made them forever ago and they are my favorite.  I think they added the prefect finishing touch to the table.

Jack really wanted to be a part of the photoshoot :)

I have had so much fun being a part of these DIY challenges.  They kept me crafting and gave me a lot of inspiration for projects!  Thank you Decor and the Dog, Maybe Matilda, Newly Woodwards, and Two Twenty One!


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Dare to Give Handmade

It's the 3rd week of Dare to DIY and this week is the Dare to Give Homemade challenge hosted by Decor and the Dog, Maybe Matilda, Newly Woodwards, and Two Twenty One!

I really tried to get my handmade gift done in time for this, but I'm still a bit behind.  I'm going to show what I've done at this point so you can see where I am going with it.

I decided when my husband and I got married almost three years ago that I wanted to make Christmas stockings for us.  As a child, my mom made homemade stockings for all of us, so I never had 'store bought' Christmas stockings.  Now don't get me wrong, there are some suuuuuper cute ones out there, but I wanted to carry on the tradition my mom started with making homemade stockings. The plan is to make the two stockings for us now, and should little ones appear over the next few years I will make stockings for them too!

So this gift is kind of for me, but kind of also for my husband, and a someday gift for our possible future kiddos.

Here is what I have so far... almost completed pile of stockings.

The red stocking is nearly finished.  I just need to tack in the liner and stitch on the buttons.  I used this pattern from Berroco which I found on Ravelry.

Speaking of buttons -how cute are these?  My Nana saved buttons off of everything and had jars and jars of them.  My mom now has most of them and whenever I need buttons for something, I go digging.  Some of them are really old, some a bit newer, but I love the idea of reusing buttons and giving them a new purpose.  It also helps that older buttons are really cute and fun!

The original stocking didn't call for a lining.  I ended up using an acrylic/wool blend yarn and the stocking is REALLY stretching.  Awesome for over-stuffing, but not so awesome overtime.  I want the stockings to last, so I picked up this cute fabric at Joann's to line both stockings.

 Here is the grey stocking in progress.  I am nearly there!  I should have them both done by this weekend and will post some pictures of them in their rightful place hanging in our living room.

Again, how cute are these red buttons!

Stockings are pretty much my favorite part of Christmas morning.  Finding all the little trinkets and candy (and toothbrushes) was something we all looked forward to.  It is a tradition that I love continuing with my husband.  Now I just need to finish them up in time to be filled by Santa :)

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Birthday Surprise!

So the plan this weekend was to enjoy a night out with two of our dear friends that recently had a baby.  My husband got the day off from work and I was really excited about a chance to catch up with our friends.

As I started getting ready, my husband gently suggested we dress up for dinner.  We were going to a restaurant we hadn't been to before with friends that hadn't had a night out in a while, so I went with it.  We don't dress up much on the weekends so it was a nice treat.

We left early and made a stop at a shop on the way for some Christmas shopping and then headed to our friends' in the early afternoon.  We hung out with them and their daughter for a few hours...their baby sitter arrived and the 4 of us carpooled to dinner.

When we arrived to the restaurant, it was freezing out.  I was so focused on the cold, I never even looked into the huge windows at the front of the restaurant...well if I had....

I would have seen a wonderful group of friends and family waiting for me to celebrate my 30th birthday!  I turned the corner in the restaurant and there they all were, smiling and laughing.

It was such a wonderful surprise and I tried so hard not to cry, but a few tears fell...

I'm a Christmas baby.  It's one of those birthdays that when anyone finds out they always think it must be terrible!  But it never was!  I always had a wonderful birthday as a kid.  My parents never 'forgot' my birthday....they always made it a very special day for me.

It did however make it hard to have birthday parties on or even near my birthday!  December is a busy month for everyone, so as a kid I often had half birthday parties in the summer!  Having this party now was perfect.  It was early enough that most people could make it, but it was still my birthday month. 

Christmas is probably my favorite holiday and I love that I get to celebrate and share my birthday with family and friends every year!  Not many people can say that as they get older, they still get to celebrate their birthday with family and friends every year.

I am so blessed - not just with a great birthday, but with a wonderful life full of amazing people.  I have friends that I consider family and family that are my bestest of friends.  When I saw all those smiling faces at the restaurant, I was overwhelmed by the love I have in my life!

My husband did good!  I had mentioned to him that I might want to do something for my birthday this year since 30 seems like kind of a big deal (heehee)  But money has been tight and I know the holidays get crazy, so I stopped thinking about it.

But he didn't!  He got in contact with friends and family and got them on board to help him make this happen for me.  One of my friends even found a groupon that helped them decide on a restaurant!  Thank you groupon!

And thank you my husband, family and friends.  I know I have said it over and over again in this blog, but I am SOOOOOOO lucky to have the people in my life that I do!  They do so much for me, and I hope I am able to give them as much!

Back to the real world tomorrow, but with wonderful memories of an amazing birthday surprise...

Monday, November 26, 2012

Dare to Entertain

It's the 2nd week of Dare to DIY and this week is the Dare to Entertain challenge hosted by Decor and the Dog, Maybe Matilda, Newly Woodwards, and Two Twenty One!

I have a tiny kitchen, which also acts as a dining room for us.  We don't really have a good space for a dining table at this point.  But we have a cute little red enamel table that I think goes great in our old home.

I decided to set up an intimate table setting for just the two of us.  I wanted to make a cute centerpiece, but didn't want to spend a lot of money.  I had a bunch of leftover flowers from my first DIY and a few other "fall things" lying around, so I created a fall-ish table setting with centerpiece.

The centerpiece is glued to a foam placemat I bought forever ago that ended up being too big for our table.  I cut it down and then hot glued all the parts and pieces together.

I also didn't have a great tablecloth or I used a throw blanket that was the perfect color.  The dishes are our everyday fiestaware and a quick ribbon around napkins and I was done.

We don't often 'dress up' the table so after I photographed everything, we had dinner with the set up and it really was quite nice.  I should do this more often.

I may have another table set up during this DIY...I have plans for a Christmas table, but have not finished all the pieces, so stay tuned.

Definitely check out all the other AMAZING table settings that are part of Dare to DIY - they are incredible!