Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Party Profile - My Best Friend's Wedding Shower

Hello to the World Wide Web!  I have not posted on this blog in almost a year.  Wow - that is entirely way too long!  I have missed sharing the little and big things that have been going on around me.  Well, at least I have a year's worth of stuff to write about.....stay tuned!  


Julie and I, Miami 2005

Julie, one of my oldest friends, got married earlier this year.  I met Julie when we were in eighth grade.  We had a theatre arts class together, and she was the star of any and every show.  In fact, she was voted "Class Clown" in high school, if that gives you any idea of her personality.  Julie has been a perfect friend to me - there in the wonderful and the terrible times.  I have fallen just as in love with her adorable little family, including her two beautiful children.  When she asked me to be a bridesmaid and help plan her wedding shower, I obviously thrilled.  She wanted something vintage and feminine, and Rachel (another bridesmaid/friend) and I had a blast designing exactly that. 


Chocolate and Vanilla Almond Cupcakes, Oreo Truffles, and Dark Chocolate Shortbread Cookies

Memories


S'mores Pops - easy and delicious!



The shower was so much fun, and the wedding was even better.





Photos by Bonnie Nicholds Photography

Julie - I wish you and Jason lots of love, laughter, and happiness.  

Enjoy every moment of your new life together!



Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Little Things: Bachelorette Cupcakes




Speaking of bachelorette parties....I made these little guys for Megan's!  Her wedding is Saturday.  I will undoubtedly be the sobbing bridesmaid.

(You can find the rings here.)

Hope everyone has a fabulous Wednesday!

PS: GO CARDINALS!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Oreo Cupcakes

Well hello - it has been awhile!  The last few months have been busy, but definitely for good reason.  The end of October is near, and in the past month I have been delighted to take part in the weddings of THREE of my favorite girls.  The final of the three is next week, and I couldn't be more elated for these wonderful couples. 

To rewind a bit, I'd like to share the cupcakes that I made for Courtney's bachelorette party.  I sent the bride-to-be a text one day and asked what her favorite dessert was.  I was prepared to try and whip up the "cupcake version" of whatever it is that makes her splurge.  An avid runner and fitness guru, I wasn't sure what she would come up with.  Evidently, Courtney is not very high maitenance.  What is her favorite?  None other than a classic Oreo cookie.  I can absolutely work with that.


To make an "Oreo Cupcake", the basic recipes are taken a step further.  I used my go-to chocolate cupcake recipe, courtesy of the lovely Pioneer Woman, and also made a batch of basic buttercream.  To give the cupcake an Oreo twist, I food processed half of a box and added the crumbs into the buttercream.  This can be done as heavily or lightly as you prefer.  I was considering stopping there, but then I remembered a picture I had spotted on Pinterest (which by the way, is the best site EVER...get involved.)  I saw that some genius had decided to add a whole Oreo at the bottom of every cupcake liner.  "What? That can't work.." I threw them in, figuring it was worth a shot.


The results were delicious.  It's the best of both worlds, a perfectly delicious cupcake with a crunchy Oreo in every bite.  I piped the buttercream on top, and then placed an Oreo Mini in the frosting's peak. 


Courtney's night out was an absoulte blast and the cupcakes had no chance of survival.  I am told that it was the perfect "after bar" snack!

The gorgeous bride to be!

Congratulations, Courtney and Justin!  You two make a wonderful (and adorable) couple!








Monday, July 18, 2011

Nutella Cupcakes

I was recently introduced to the delightful spread that is Nutella.  I know it's hard to believe, but though I had always heard about it, I'd never tried Nutella in any capacity.  I hear that it is best with strawberries, bananas, toast, or as I prefer - by the spoonful.  I mean, holy rich decadence.  I'm pretty sure you could put that stuff on a piece of paper and I'd eat it.  Thanks to my dear friend Jamie, a self-proclaimed Nutella addict, I now have a new vice.



One day, Jamie forwarded to me a recipe for Nutella Cupcakes with Nutella Buttercream.  What?!  Oh man...this could be bad.  As if it's not delicious enough on it's own, now we are mixing it with cake and buttercream?  I couldn't wait to try this out.  In fact - I had the perfect occasion.  Susie, my adorable college roommate, is getting married to a great guy named Mike this October.  I was very excited to provide the dessert for her shower last weekend, which took place at a scenic Missouri winery.  It was a fantastic excuse to try my newest recipe.

Thanks to My Baking Addiction, you too can make these cupcakes with ease.  The directions instruct one to start with a favorite chocolate cupcake recipe.  I used my trusty Pioneer Woman recipe,  which ended up fitting nicely in regards to all around flavor.  Once the cupcakes are prepared per your recipe instructions, fill a piping bag with Nutella and attach a Wilton No. 230 filling tip.  Insert the tip into each cupcake, and inject the spread. 


  





Once you have completed this step, pull out your mixer to make the buttercream.  The recipe starts with creaming together the Nutella and unsalted butter, then adding 2 pounds (8 cups!) of powdered sugar, and finally milk, vanilla, and a pinch of coarse sea salt.  




When it's all finished, pick your tip and start piping.  I chose to use a french tip to create the final look.  After decorating the cupcake, I sprinkled yellow and purple standing sugar (her shower colors) on top.  I then decided that it needed something more, which ended up being a huge Ferrero Rocher candy, plopped right on top.  Why not?

I finished these cupcakes, along with a batch of my favorite banana recipe.  I am happy to report that Susie and her guests finished all of both flavors!  The shower was HOT (Midwest heat is brutal this summer!), but wonderful.  You can't beat a stunning view, great food, and great friends.  Oh, and wine. Lots of wine. 





Montelle Winery


This is Susie, the bride-to-be.  Isn't she the cutest?



Sus - I am so happy for you and Mike, and I just cannot wait for your big day.  I know that the two of you will have a beautiful life together.



Enjoy!



Friday, June 17, 2011

The Little Things: Peacock Cupcakes



These "Peacock Cupcakes" were made for a bridal shower - and complete with an edible feather!  Get yours here at Sugar Robot on Etsy.  


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Megan's Heart Turns One...

Megan

When I was in high school, I met a girl named Megan Moss.  She went to school with my friend Sam, and honestly, we didn’t know one another well at all.  I would say we really only “knew of” each other.  What I didn’t know was that Megan had developed a virus around that time that attacked her heart.  She was diagnosed with Myocarditis and would have to be on medicine to control it for the rest of her life.  Several years later, Meg and I hung out a bit when she would visit the bar where I worked.  She was always so sweet and friendly, even though we were only acquaintances.  The same year, Megan’s heart condition suddenly became worse.  It had been eight years since her diagnosis, but she was in the beginning stages of heart failure.  When I had heard about all of this, I really wanted to be there for Megan.  Though we weren’t close at all, I felt that God was constantly putting her on my heart and mind.  I offered to come by and keep her company at home, even if she was only strong enough to lie around the house and chat.  We planned on this, but it never happened.  Megan was admitted to the Barnes Jewish Hospital and placed at the top of the regional transplant list.  She was a vibrant and beautiful 23 year old, but she needed a new heart immediately. 

Who looks this cute in the hospital?

Megan was kept alive by an LVAD, a device that pumps blood in and out of the heart from her bedside.  There was a limited window of time that she could stay on this LVAD before surgery inserting a mechanical heart would be necessary.  This action would move her drastically from her position at the top of the transplant list, obviously not preferred over a new "real" organ.  Her family and friends prayed and believed for a miracle.  When the last weekend of opportunity arrived for a donor, Megan’s condition quickly deteriorated.  She became ill with pneumonia and wouldn’t have been able to receive a heart even if a match became available.  Megan’s loved ones did not give up hope and prayed constantly, our hearts breaking while understanding what could happen.  Suddenly, she miraculously became well enough to receive a heart in the afternoon.  Only a few hours passed before the doctor entered the room, a smile on his face.  He told the Moss family that a heart was available!  I will never forget the moment I received that text message.  Suffices to say that I was absoultely hysterical.  Megan successfully went through the surgery and received her precious gift. 

The moment Dr. Ewald told her that a match was available.

One year later, she is a healthy, happy young woman.  Soon after her recovery, we got together for lunch and chatted about the experience.  Her story is beyond inspiring, and her positive attitude is absolutely unmatched.  Over the past year, Meg has become one of my best friends.  I just love her to pieces, and am so blessed to have her in my life. 

Meg and I at her celebration

On the one year anniversary of Megan's transplant, her family hosted a celebration of life: Megan’s Heart Party!  I was thrilled to make cupcakes for this event.  I went with my trusty banana and chocolate recipes, topped with vanilla buttercream and red hearts (using a Wilton heart candy mold and red candy melts!).  The event was so special and it was wonderful to hear Megan talk about her second chance at life.  

I have to say that this was my favorite batch yet!

Thank you, Meg, for inspiring me every day.



DONATE LIFE. Sign up to be an organ donor by clicking here.



Also, check out these links:


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Sweet Review: Jilly's Cupcake Bar & Cafe

For my first cupcake bar review, I couldn't have picked anywhere but Jilly's Cupcake Bar & Cafe in University City.  I can honestly say that Jilly's started this little fascination I have developed over the past five years.  I used to have a friend who lived on Delmar, and one day she told me that I just had to try this new place that opened up down the street.  We went for lunch/cupcakes one day, and it was all downhill from there  just as wonderful as she had described.

Heaven.

Jilly's Cupcake Bar/Cafe

The cupcakes are huge.  I mean, massive.  One pound each!  I don't think I could finish one if my life depended on it.  Either way, they are so rich and delightful.  The buttercream, especially, is unlike any I have tasted.  I would love to know how to recreate it.  For our recent tasting, my friend Pat and I tried two cupcakes: the Strawberry Cheesecake and Chocolate Thunder.  

Strawberry Cheesecake.

Seriously....I really don't need to say much besides that it tasted even better than it looks.  This beauty consists of vanilla cake, stuffed with cheesecake/strawberry jam, and topped with strawberry and vanilla buttercream, white chocolate curls, and graham cracker crumbs.  I have to say, you can really sense the freshness of the ingredients.  A cupcake like this is a several step process - starting with baking a full cheesecake.  You can taste the difference in every bite!

Chocolate Thunder. Dying over here..

If there was one that I actually would try to finish (Man vs. Food style), it would probably be the Chocolate Thunder.  Here we are working with a chocolate cake, stuffed with absoultely decadent chocolate ganache, and topped with chocolate and vanilla buttercream, white/dark chocolate shavings, and bark.  You'd think it would be a serious case of chocolate overload, but somehow the flavors all fit to balance eachother perfectly.  This was the first one I tried and it is still the fave!  The owner, Jill, was also kind enough to send me home with her Flourless Chocolate Brownie (for Passover - so thoughtful!), but unfortunately it was gone before I could photograph it.  Oops!


We sat down with Jill Segal, the above mentioned owner, and her consultant, Casey Shiller to chat about what makes Jilly's special.  We just LOVED how enthusiastic they were about what Jilly's had to offer.  You can tell that they truly value quality in everything that is served.  "It would be so easy to cut corners," they said, "but we take the time to provide the best."  Beyond a cupcake bar, Jilly's actually serves a full lunch breakfast and lunch menu.  (Sundays provide the most delicious brunch I have had in a long time, complete with a design-your-own-mini-cupcake bar)  As far as lunch goes, I highly recommend the brisket sandwich!  To die for. 

I was thrilled to ask Jill a few questions about her experience since opening.  She is just too cute.

1. What originally made you decide to open a cupcake store?
I read an article in Times Magazine in 2007 about the cupcake craze in both the East and West coasts.  It just hit me as the "best" idea ever.  Wow, has this been a bumpy road with many twists, turns...as well as soaring highs...and lows.

2. Do you do the baking, decorating, or both?
Neither, I don't bake or cook, nor do I decorate. However, since I grew up "hating" traditional sugary icings I would NOT eat frostings, at least not until I tried real buttercream, when we made it the first time.  I had an AH HA! moment...so that is what it should taste like...LOVE IT NOW, so long as it is creamy, smooth and tastes real AND delicious...made with butter and powdered sugar...with REAL chocolate poured and whipped inside the frosting. I can taste any frosting and know what they use, lard, shortening, cocoa powder, etc. 


3. How long have you been baking/decorating?
I have been a FOODIE forever...I love food of all kinds and love to eat!

4. Favorite cupcake?
I LOVE our Turtle cheesecake cupcake...we make the cheesecake here and then add dulche de leche which is a spanish caramel that is more milky and creamier than any other caramel...Also, we do a real banana foster that is truly one of the best cakes and frostings ever made, EVER! Ok, also REECES Peanut butter chunkage yes, we sell those too...Chocolate and pb buttercream, topped off with recess chunkage and stuffed with fudge ganache and peanut butter mousse. AMAZING!

5. What other desserts are your favorites?
I Love, love love cookies and brownies (remember I wouldn't eat frosting growing up so for 43 years or so, so I wouldn't eat cake with frosting, or anything with fake goo inside...love Oreo's (but hate & scrape the stuff inside!)  so I ate cookies, cheesecake and brownies...YUM!


6. What is next for Jilly's Cupcake Bar?
We just expanded our space for more seating and we are looking to expand our dessert options...

7. In your opinion, what is next for the dessert industry?
I think the TREND for individual Celebrations like our cupcakes are the future of desserts...the cake concept can only offers up to two choices in flavor, whereas a cupcake, pie, Macaroon can have dozens of flavors, colors and designs...a family of four or a group of friends all have DIFFERENT tastes so you can CUSTOMIZE flavors for your event, dessert, wedding or treat...lemon, chocolate, vanilla, cheesecake, tart, sweet...which I feel is the future. Regardless of all the publicity go or bad for cupcakes, the concept will stay, the vehicle will change. Weddings, special events, baby showers, birthdays, corporate...all can be customized to fit THEIR ideas of delish...their choices that they love...not my or someone else's idea of delish.  I love what we do, we create fun and get to be involved in the most special events in people's lives...that has been the best part of this adventure.




To Jill and Casey, thank you so much for sharing your stories with us!  The cupcakes were wonderful and the two of you were so sweet.  I wish you nothing but the best.



Jilly's Cupcake Bar & Cafe
8509 Delmar Boulevard
St. Louis, MO 63124
314.993.JILLY (5455)