Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Graduation Cupcakes!

[ETA: Sorry, forgot to add the picture...I am a moron. Carry on.]

My nephew graduated from high school on Friday. His mom threw a graduation party for him on Saturday evening and I happily volunteered (actually, I insisted!) to make cupcakes! I have felt very out of sorts since moving and most of my kitchen belongings are still packed up in boxes in the garage. It was nice to pull out the KitchenAid mixer and whip up some fun treats. I find baking very relaxing and it makes me slow down and really enjoy the moment.

I also decided to decorate the cupcakes with fondant stars that I painted with edible gold glitter. I just used a box of premade fondant from the baking section of Michael's since I'm pretty sure most people wouldn't actually eat the decoration. Who likes the taste of fondant anyway? I've never met anyone that does.

I used this chocolate cake recipe and it made nearly 3 dozen cupcakes. I really liked this recipe because 1) it was simple to make and 2) it really created a light, airy, and moist cupcake. I found that 18 minutes at 350 degrees was the perfect amount of time.

For the white cupcakes, I used a recipe from a new book I bought, The Cake Mix Doctor Returns. I don't think there is any shame at all in using a boxed cake mix as the foundation for any baked good. I have made cakes/cupcakes/brownies from scratch and from a box, and find that most people can't taste a difference between homemade and box. Anyway, the white cupcakes were a big hit so I wanted to share the recipe:

White Sour Cream Cupcakes
1 package plain white cake mix
3 tablespoons vanilla instant pudding mix
1 cup sour cream OR plain low-fat yogurt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup water OR orange juice
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Line 24 cupcake cups with paper liners and set the pans aside.

Place all of the above ingredients in a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer on low speed until the ingredients are incorporated, 30 seconds. Stop the machine and scrape down the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes longer, scraping down the side of the bowl again if needed. The batter should look well blended.

Spoon or scoop a heaping 1/4 cup of batter into each lined cupcake cup, filling it two thirds of the way full. You will get 22 to 24 cupcakes.

Place the pans in the oven and bake the cupcakes until they are golden and the tops spring back when lightly pressed with a finger, 18 to 23 minutes. Remove the pans from the oven and place them on wire racks to cool for 5 minutes. Place the cupcakes on a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes longer before frosting.

Store these cupcakes in a cake saver or under a glass dome, at room temperature, for up to 3 days or for up to one week in the refrigerator. Freeze the cupcakes, wrapped in aluminum foil, for up to 3 months. Let the cupcakes thaw overnight in the refrigerator before serving.

The book suggested using a cream cheese frosting for these, but I used vanilla buttercream and chocolate buttercream on both styles of cupcakes and those frostings tasted very good with each of the cupcakes.

Monday, May 14, 2012


Hi folks. I'm sorry I've been MIA lately! We have been super busy since we got back to Georgia, mainly catching up with friends and family. My college roommate and her husband, two of my best friends, had their first baby two days after I got back. I was so excited to meet him and of course see Heather and Andrew again. We also went to Athens one day to visit Terrapin Brewing Co. and met up with one of my high school friends, Jim. He took us to a restaurant called Last Resort Grill and it was so delicious! Let's see, what else? We have been watching A LOT of basketball. Happy to see the Lakers make it to the second round and I'm currently watching the 1st game of the new series against the Thunder. Not liking our chances right now, but maybe they'll work it out. Oh, and we finally saw The Avengers! I liked it.

Here are some random pictures. Sorry if they are blurry or small, I am using my iPad app, and I think pictures sometimes import strangely.

Hopefully I can get in some sort of routine soon and find more time for blogging.

Thank you to all of you that entered my birthday giveaway. I apologize that it has taken me so long to announce a winner. Moving across the country really takes it out of you, much more than I ever could have imagined! I really enjoyed reading all of your favorite birthday memories!

I used to pick the winner, and it is Amy at Forever 29 Blog! Congrats! Please shoot me an email with your color choice and shipping address, and I'll get your new earrings ordered and on their way to you!

And one last little teaser, Shabby Apple contacted me recently and we have a giveaway in the works for you guys! Stay tuned, I will have it posted in the next week or so!

xo, Angela

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Road Trip, Part 2

On the second half of our trip, we stopped in Albuquerque, Oklahoma City, Memphis, and Nashville. We had two days of extremely long drives, and with no air conditioning, the majority of it was pretty miserable. The only thing we had to look forward to by the end of the night was a good meal and a hot shower! 

The only good thing I have to say about New Mexico involves our meal and in particular, this dessert, from Chama River Brewing Company

A Belgian chocolate cup filled with 
vanilla bean ice cream. Topped with bourbon butterscotch, chocolate sauce, and piƱones

We also got in very late to Oklahoma City. Thanks to a twitter conversation with @mamaellesays we were led in the direction of a neighborhood called Bricktown. We ate bar food at TapWerks and it was pretty good!

Our drive from OKC to Memphis was pretty long, and we also arrived into town pretty late. Thanks to Yelp, I was excited to try the food at Double J Smokehouse & Saloon. It was so good! Barbecue is pretty much my favorite food EVER! 

As we were leaving Double J, we noticed this motel and it happens to be the one where MLK was shot. Pretty historical and a neat thing to see.

Our day in Nashville was our final day on the road and gave us something to look forward to. We wanted to have a "fun day" and since neither of us had ever been before, we decided it was as good a place as any to check out.

We went to Yazoo Brewing Company and they had pretty good beer. I loved their hefeweizen! And they served baskets of chips and salsa. So yummy!

We walked downtown to Broadway and loved all of the bright lights and honky-tonk bars. Eric Church was playing a show at the Bridgestone Arena so the area was PACKED!

Here is where I tell you about the most amazing meal of the entire trip, and perhaps my entire life. We were lucky enough to walk a little off of Broadway and we discovered a newly opened restaurant called The Southern Steak & Oyster. If you are ever in Nashville, please consider going here! I'm already planning on my next visit to the city so I can go back. I wrote a 2 page review on Yelp so go over there if you want to know my thoughts on my meal.

On Sunday morning, we left Nashville and drove the 4.5 hours home. When we got here, my brother and his family and my parents were waiting for us. We grilled out for dinner and just had a good time sitting around and talking. Oh, and we had a lot of extra help unpacking the UHaul, which was really awesome.

Once again, this post is completely food dominated. But hey, it's pretty much my favorite activity besides sleeping!

Next up, I will finally pick a winner to the earrings giveaway :)

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Road Trip, Part 1

Hi friends! I want to first start off by letting everyone know how appreciative both Chris and I were when we read all of the positive comments on my recent moving post. I am excited to go back home (I moved from GA to CA in 2007) and I know we're both excited for this new adventure. Also, I haven't been able to read blogs for about 2 weeks (or watch any TV which is so devastating!) and probably won't get a chance to sit down and go through my Google Reader until after the road trip. I'm so sorry that I haven't been reading your blogs or leaving comments. I hope I haven't missed anything earth-shattering, and if you think I have, please let me know in the comments!

We left Los Angeles at 4:30 am on Monday morning. It was brutal, but I'm so glad that we got an early start. Driving with a 3,000 pound trailer attached to our SUV only allows us to travel at about 55 mph, and even slower climbing up all of those hills. We were on the road for about 10 hours and we made it to Flagstaff mid-afternoon. Instead of taking a nap, we decided to push through and went out for dinner at Beaver Street Brewery, tastings at Mother Road Brewing Co., and we may or may not have made a stop at Dairy Queen for a blizzard (they don't have these in CA!). I'll neither confirm nor deny.

On Tuesday, we had an early lunch at Diablo Burger. I had read so many good reviews about this place that I knew we couldn't pass up the opportunity to try it out. And it definitely lived up to the hype! I actually think it dethroned my #1 burger favorite - Le Burger Brasserie, I loved it that much. It's served on an english muffin!

Downtown Flagstaff was super cute and full of fun shops. We got some candy at The Sweet Shoppe & Nut House and walked around an awesome store called P.J. Chilcottage. I loved these decorative soaps! They had so many designs, but I think my favorites were the cupcake, ice cream, and cake ones.

We left Flagstaff after lunch and drove to Sedona, where we were spending our second night. It was so beautiful! The rock formations are so amazing, and I'm really glad we were able to stop here for a fun day. 

Our first stop was Bell Rock Vista, which was recommended as an "easy" bike trail. Um, no. Not easy. I have never ridden off road on my bike and this was really off road, dirt & rocks & cactus everywhere! Luckily, I didn't fall and it was actually really fun. I did have to walk my bike through quite a few areas of the trail. This is Courthouse Butte behind us in the pictures. The trail was a loop around this formation.

I got really dirty!

Chris treated me to a delicious belated birthday dinner at Oak Creek Brewery and Grill. I had the petite filet mignon with mashed potatoes and vegetables. Oh. My. Word. It was amazing. But please don't tell my doctor that I had red meat twice in one day. She would definitely not be happy with me!

And I also got my nails done after our bike ride. I went with a light pink gel, which I think is really pretty, and it matches my new earrings I bought in Flagstaff.

That's a lot of food I posted about, but did you really expect anything else? I live for food, after all.

We are driving to Albuquerque, NM today. I'll try to update soon! I'll also try to announce the winner to my Kendra Scott earrings giveaway by Friday. There is still time to enter if you haven't done so yet!

Also, I'm doing a much better job of keeping my Tumblr and Instagram up to date. If you'd like to know what I'm up to, check those out!