First time baking….in a while!!

So I finally am getting things back in working order. It’s taking WAY too long.

We are doing really good with our new lifestyle. We have seriously cut back on processed foods. We are eating mostly fresh foods and our snacks now consist of fruits and veggies. I have completely given up carbonated beverages. I only have sweet tea every now and then (I am southern so I can’t do without it completely). And I am using MyFitnessPal to track my food. It’s amazing the impact it can have to see what you are putting in your mouth. I’ve even been very diligent about my workouts. I’m on the treadmill at least 5 days a week. I actually enjoy it! And the fact that I’ve lost 17 pounds is pretty encouraging too!

I’ve been thinking about what I want to plant this year. I’m not sure if I’m going to do a big garden or just some containers on the porch. It’s the first year that I won’t have dad to ask questions when I get lost or confused (which isn’t difficult for me), I’m taking advantage of Pinterest. I’ve found a few interesting posts about growing avocado trees and citrus trees which excites me. You’ll see in a minute.

So I got my tail in the kitchen a few weeks ago and baked a few cupcakes. Few. That’s an understatement. I think it ended up being like 36 or so. And I had about 6 different flavor combos.

Supposedly, it’s spring. I couldn’t tell due to the 46 degree high today. And it was even colder yesterday. So I decided to take advantage of the lemons and fresh strawberries we picked up on the last shopping trip.

So I started perusing the internet (yeah, Pinterest again). And found a few inspirations that involved lemons and a few that involved strawberries. So I pretty much picked and poked and stole from a few different places.

The first recipe I found was from The Cake Blog. Vanilla Bean Cupcakes. Yumm. Topped with Strawberry & Vanilla Buttercream. Yumm. Well it sounds yumm. I didn’t use the buttercream recipe listed in the recipe. I tried. It didn’t work for me. Not sure why. Mine didn’t look pretty and whipped and soft like the picture. Mine was clumping and runny and tasted like pure butter. I’m sure it was my fault. I probably didn’t have the butter at the right temp. So I reverted back to my trusty Buttercream Dream recipe. I didn’t add the vanilla to it though. I waited since I wanted some strawberry flavored and some vanilla. So I divided it into three bowls. I added pureed strawberries in one bowl (On a side note, you should probably leave out the milk and add the strawberry instead. It would keep it from being a little runny). Then I added vanilla to the second bowl. I kept the third bowl plain. You’ll see why in a sec.

For the swirl effect, put the vanilla in one small piping bag (no tip) and the strawberry buttercream in one small piping bag (no tip) and then put those into a large piping bag fitted with the tip of your choice. The strawberry gives it a very pale pink color. You could always add a little red coloring if you wanted it to have more color. See? You can’t really see it in the picture. (Sorry these are all crappy cell phone pics, I had people yelling they wanted to eat them.)

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You can kind of see the swirl in this picture. IMG_20130314_220903_365[1]

I kept one bowl of buttercream without vanilla because I wanted to have lemon buttercream on some cupcakes. I didn’t want vanilla and lemon competing. So the next batch of cupcakes I made two versions of based on a Vanilla Cupcake recipe from BrownEyedBaker. I made one as stated in the recipe and the other I left out vanilla extract and added lemon extract and some lemon zest instead. Mmm. Once these two batches baked up I realized I didn’t have enough buttercream. Now what??

Cream. Cheese. But even better…..wait for it…..can you guess? Yep. Lemon Cream Cheese frosting. Oh yeah. So I found the recipe from the Orange Creamsicle Cupcakes from The Nesting Project and adjusted the frosting. I added lemon extract instead of orange. I also added some zest and fresh lemon juice just to pack the lemon punch in. Yeah. It was good. So I began frosting.

I put some lemon buttercream on a few vanilla cupcakes and a few lemon cupcakes.

 

 

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Then I used the Lemon Cream Cheese on a few of both cupcake flavors.

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And then I noticed I had some naked cupcakes. And I had some leftover strawberry buttercream. So I mixed some the lemon buttercream and the strawberry buttercream.

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I even added some leftover pureed strawberries in with the lemon cream cheese. So I had a few of everything. And they were good.

 

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So I decided to work with some gumpaste and see what I could accomplish. I made a baby shoe. It’s not perfect. It’s the first one I have ever made though. And I’m proud of it.

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So I was really productive and knocked out a batch of Marshmallow Fondant to play with too. I decided I needed to put some practice into Mickey Mouse because my lil’ squirmy one is all about some “Meemmeee” Mouse. And choo-choos. And nanas. She loves her some nanas. Little monkey. IMG_20130322_172719_463[1]

 

And this is the result. I had to use my food color pens because I don’t have any food grade brushes for painting right now and it isn’t nearly as clean as I would have liked, but for a first time, I’m happy. And so was the squirmy one. The squealed “Meemmmeee” and ran to the kitchen for a good 5 minutes. I was impatient and didn’t give her enough time to dry before decorating her but it’s a learn as I go process. And I’m learning a lot.

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