Creamsicle Cake Pops

First and foremost, I apologize for my hasty, uninspired pictures and their lack of a cool background or focus or any of that fancy photographer stuff.

I have a nice camera and I am kind of sure how to use it, but I was rushed this morning and took the best pictures I could.

Don’t you hate being rushed? I do.

But then again, these pictures are kind of cool, since they show you the behind-the-scenes type of stuff. Like my cluttered kitchen counters. Remember when I said I was rushed this morning? I was.

I was hoping for a leisurely day off, relaxing to the promise of a thunderstorm in my area, but noooooo. Had to run a bunch of errands and ignore relaxation’s siren song.

I would have much preferred to write a blog post about my obsessions. Oh, you wanna know what they are? Okay.

I’m obsessed with iced tea; Victoria’s Secret V-necks (bright colors, long torsos=win); magazines (new issues should be out next week!); my dog, Mannie, who was begging for a walk all day; Orbit Bubblemint gum, which keeps me sane, smelling good, and from snacking; watching the Real Housewives of Orange County but being sad because I saw it didn’t tape (stupid DVR); and giving up on chewing gum and instead snacking on baked Cheetos because they’re really freakin’ addicting.

Aren’t you glad you know those things?

In fact, I’m pretty sure that I would be a perfect housewife because my obsessions and the typical housewife duties go hand in hand. Fresh iced tea made every day, dog walked and happy, pantry stocked, cute shirts… yep, I’m pretty sure that’s what a housewife is all about.

Now if only I could get my parents to pay me to cook and clean OR if I could find a husband who will insist that working a real job comes second to my beauty and creativity and that it’s only essential I stay home and blog all day.

Because in doing so, they’d give me lots of (unrushed!) time to make yummy things like these creamsicle cake pops. I think that once they try them, they just may consider the aforementioned bargain.

Baking is such a good bribe.

Better get out the vacuum.

Creamsicle Cake Pops *adapted by Wilton’s Creamsicle Cake Ball Pops recipe

1 box yellow cake mix
1 small box SF/FF vanilla instant pudding mix
4 eggs
1/3 cup oil
1 cup orange juice
1 Tablespoon grated orange peel
1 teaspoon pure orange extract
1 can cream cheese frosting
2 bags orange candy melts
Lollypop sticks
White crystal sprinkles, if desired

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly spray a 13×9 inch baking pan with cooking spray. In a large bowl, beat together cake mix, eggs, oil, orange juice and orange peel until blended, about 2 minutes. Beat in box of vanilla pudding until combined. Pour into prepared pan and bake, approximately 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely.
2. In a large bowl, crumble cooled cake into small crumbs. Make a well in the canned frosting with a knife and stir in the one (1) teaspoon of orange extract until blended. Add frosting to crumbed cake, and, using your hands, blend together until thoroughly combined. Shape into 1″ inch sized cake balls and place on a wax-paper lined baking sheet. Freeze for about 20 minutes or place in fridge for about 2 hrs until solid and chilled.
3. Melt candy melts in a large bowl according to package directions. Dip the tip of a lollypop stick into melted candy, then spear a cake ball with it. Dip the cake ball into melted candy and cover it completely, allowing the excess candy to drip off. Sprinkle with crystal sugar, if desired. Place lollypops into a styrofoam round, vertically, to dry and harden completely.

These are ridiculously good… much, much preferred to my previously-made Creamsicle Cupcakes. Those were good, but these were better.

I mean, who can resist anything on a stick?

Or something so adorable?

It’s okay to admit you’re obsessed… I am.

I guess what they say is true, “once you pop, you can’t stop.”

I’ll stop being corny now.

xo, Hayley

French Toast Cake Pops

Let’s talk about two very important groups of people for a second: Friends and Haters.

And you thought I was going to launch into a heated political debate between Democrats and Republicans … but we all know they suck, so there’s nothing to debate about.

Personally, I think my friends are freakin’ awesome. I also think they should deserve an award for putting up with me … but then again, their reward is probably putting up with my bad side in order to fully enjoy my good side.

And for that, they’re awesome and I thank them. I’m pretty sure I tell them how much I appreciate them on a regular basis, either in the form of words, sweet messages on their Facebook wall, or cupcakes.

The coolest thing about my friends list is it’s ever-growing. There’s a bunch of friends out there I haven’t met yet because a) there’s a large distance between us that, one day, will close in and we’ll meet; or b) they’re close by but haven’t mustered up the courage to talk to me.

I only mention (b) because I’ve been told I’m slightly intimidating.

WHAAAAAT? ME? INTIMIDATING?

You don’t say?

This used to be because I would have rainbow colored hair and wear costumes in high school so people must have assumed I was a jerk … in which case they were probably right. Or one of those weird crusty punk kids who hates conformity and is a total anarchist and whatnot which, well, wasn’t the case at all.

But maybe it’s because they know I’m totally a soon-to-be-famous food blogger with a cool camera and they get all shy. That’s okay; I’m totally friendly, you guys. Just don’t drive slow, watch 16 and Pregnant, or ask me dumb questions and we’ll get along just fine.

And as far as those people go, aka my “secret fans”, I love you guys … a lot! You’re the ones who knock up my blog hits every day and amaze me that somehow, within 24 hours, my blog views jumped over 100. You’re the people who comment on my Food Porn if you’re friends with me on Facebook. You’re the people who ogle my pictures, make my recipes and keep coming back for more. And you ROCK.

Sadly, some people are not nearly as cool as you.

They’re the haters, and they can’t hang.

I don’t know why it kind of bothers me, but when I see people on Facebook and I find out they’ve unfriended me after we’ve once been pals on there before, I get kind of upset.

I mean, really? What did I do to you?

You didn’t like my sometimes enraged statuses about slow drivers or annoying people? You didn’t like getting a bi-weekly glimpse of my delicious food treats? You don’t like the obvious perks of being friends with me?

Fine. I don’t need you, either.

I know I’ve got haters out there somewhere. Haters are kind of like spiders in your bedroom. You know there are a few around you somewhere, lurking and being all mischievous and calculating, but you don’t know where they are and kind of don’t want to think about their probable existence.

So I don’t.

And when I see those loooooooser people who decided to get all hoity toity and delete me from their Facebook, or talk nonsensical crap about me, I just smile and keep going after I shed my 5 seconds of “wtf?” Because honestly, I have a crapload of awesome people who do support me, love me, and encourage my daily rantings and sexy treat baking.

So this is for you, you awesome people! Thanks for being so bad ass!

Now, onto cake pops…

I am well aware I literally just did a post about cake pops. My chocolate mint crunch pops, to be exact. But I’m kind of obsessed–and I’ll talk about that more in my next post (yeah, you’re getting TWO cake pop posts in ONE day! How’d you get so lucky?)

These pops are unique in that they taste EXACTLY like French toast. So much, it’s kind of creepy…until you get over the creepy factor and eat about 5 more.

Seriously. Get over the creepy and try some, friends. These are for you!

French Toast Cake Pops *adapted by Wilton’s French Toast Cake Ball Pops recipe

1 box yellow cake mix
4 eggs
1/3 cup oil
1/4 cup maple syrup, plus water to equal liquid mixture of one (1) cup
1 small box SF/FF butterscotch instant pudding
3 teaspoons cinnamon, divided
1 can cream cheese frosting
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons maple syrup
2 bags white candy melts
Cinnamon sugar, if desired
Lollypop sticks

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 13×9 inch baking pan with cooking spray. In a large bowl, beat together cake mix, eggs, oil and maple syrup/water mixture until combined, about 2 minutes. Beat in one (1) teaspoon cinnamon and the entire box of pudding mix until blended. Pour into prepared pan and bake, approximately 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely.
2. Once cake has cooled, crumble it into a fine crumb consistency into a large bowl. In a smaller, separate bowl, mix together 2 teaspoons of maple syrup, remaining two teaspoons of cinnamon and the salt with the canned cream cheese. Add the cream cheese mixture to the cake crumbs. Using your hands (feels gross but they work best) blend the frosting into the cake crumbs until thoroughly combined. Wash off your hands and form mixture into 1″ inch size balls; place on a wax-paper lined baking sheet. Place cake balls in the freezer for about 20 minutes or fridge for 2 hours until solid.
3. Remove cake balls from freezer. Melt candy melts according to package directions. Dip the tip of a lollypop stick into the candy melts and then spear a cake ball. Dip the entire cake ball into melted candy, coating it evenly. Let excess candy drip off before sprinkling the tops with cinnamon sugar, if desired. Place lollypops into a styrofoam round, upright, to cool and harden.

*Makes about 40-50 lollypops, depending on the size of your cake balls.

These are SO YUMMY. My dad’s freshman class enjoyed them a lot—hello, new BFFs! So I know you’ll like them, too.

Pop on, people!

xo, Hayley

Salted Caramel Brownies

One of the questions I get asked the most is, “With all the treats you make, HOW are you NOT FAT?!”

The answer is, I hate sweets.

Well, hate is a very strong word. It’s more like, I am extremely selective about the sweets I eat because on a regular basis I am horribly unattracted and uninfluenced by their irresistible powers.

So I am admitting that, most of the time, I don’t really indulge and eat the treats I make. I taste-test everything, but that’s usually only a bite.

Sadly, brownies, cakes, pies, cookies, and yes, cupcakes just do not do it for me.

I’m more of a sandwich, chips and salsa, crackers and dip and pickles type of girl.

Put a jar of Vlasic in front of me and I’m done for. Especially if they’re the zesty dill kind. I’m already salivating.

But I tooootally understand that most people err on the sweets side and have these horrible temptations. I hear you, people! And I am sorry everything I make is so enticingly beautiful and scrumptious. But this is my job, and I cannot and will not stop making sexy treats. End of story.

Again, your extra-long answer is that I do not eat sweets much and therefore, do not get fat off my food unless it has anything to do with bubblegum or lemon, in which case I am all over it and will need to taste test the entire batch to ensure quality and taste control.

It’s a really, really hard job, you guys.

I also know there are those people who are borderline–we call them the sweet & salty people. I am also a sweet & salty person, because when I munch on sweets, they have to have a salty kick. Kettle corn is a perfect example. So delish. Or caramel corn.

Sodium is my favorite.

My brother has a journalism banquet tonight and needed a dessert for 20+ people. So I decided to experiment in the kitchen with the little ingredients I have on hand (I am in dire need of a grocery trip and FAST!) so I whipped up these salted caramel brownies. They’re fudgy-chip brownies topped with a caramel icing and sprinkled with coarse-ground kosher salt for that perfect blend of sweet and salty.

Oh, did I also forget to mention I’m totally evil? While I don’t make myself fat, I do enjoy making others fat. Again, it’s just my job to be super creative and crank out awesome stuff like these brownies.

But luckily I’m charming enough for you not to notice my evil ways … and I still won’t judge if you eat another brownie.

Salted Caramel Brownies

1 box fudge brownie mix, plus ingredients on back of box
1/4 cup chocolate chips
1 can caramel frosting
1 tsp (or more, if you desire) coarse kosher salt (like Morton’s)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 13×9 inch baking pan with cooking spray. In a large bowl, prepare brownie mix according to package directions. Stir in chocolate chips. Pour into prepared pan and bake about 25-28 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely.
2. Spread cooled brownies with caramel icing. Lightly sprinkle kosher salt all over the tops of the frosted brownies. Chill in fridge until ready to serve, at least an hour. Store covered in fridge.

These brownies are so fudgy, so moist and so perfectly sweet & salty you won’t even realize I’m sabotaging your diet… nor do I think you’ll care.

Happy Snacking!

xo, Hayley

Bacon & Egg Cupcakes

I’m not much a fan of most trends.

Emphasis on the “most.”

Some trends I am all about. Like the cupcake craze–without it, I’d still love cupcakes the same. I mean, holy crap, I have a cupcake forever inked on my skin. But it helps because nowadays there are way better sprinkle/liner selections since everyone’s got an itch for cuppycakes.

Or the summer sailor-y clothing trend. Half my closet is retro-inspired, heavily sailor influenced articles of clothing. I shouldn’t count the number of navy and white striped things I own since I’ll likely die of optical illusion overload, but it’s a lot. And I like it. Everyone looks like they’re going yachting when they’re wearing sailor stripes. I’m not, but hell, I’ll look the part.

Or blogging. A few years ago, blogging was only for greasy, fat comic book-type dudes talking about weird magic games or something. Nowadays, blogging has expanded to every subject, from quilting to baking to decorating to sports to, yes, magic games. And without blogging, you wouldn’t be reading all the insights from yours truly.

And that would be very sad indeed.

But most trends I despise with a fiery passion. I see people who follow trends to a T as being insecure and unoriginal. Call me a creative beeyotch, but I prefer to set my own trends and march to the beat of my own (very loud) drum rather than go with the majority’s flow.

Life is waaaaayy more interesting that way.

And often more fashionable that way, too.

I mean, HELLO?! Freakin’ BELL BOTTOMS are back in style.

BELL BOTTOMS.

I owned ONE (1) pair of those in elementary school because I thought that, when paired with my platform Sketchers sneakers, I looked like an extra Spice Girl.

It was totally chic.

But nowadays?! When you’re not in elementary school and the Spice Girls have long since broken up and you are now completely aware of how dorky you look in bell bottoms yet people are STILL WEARING THEM?

We were supposed to DIE two days ago, people. Let’s not wear bell bottoms when the end is near.

In fact, I am pretty sure the Rapture has already occurred. In it, we can expect a serious frog plague and lots of bell bottoms infiltrating our stores.

And those boxy shirts… seriously? No one looks good in boxy shirts. It’s like someone got really super hammered, took off their party top and slipped on a brown paper grocery bag and was like, “Like, ohmaigawd, I look so totally hawt in this right now! Let’s call up fashion designers and tell them that having zero shape and looking like a frumpy dump is like, totally flattering.

It’s getting seriously frustrating shopping for non-boxy tops now. I’m about to riot.

And weird, fad diets are always trending in the food world. I’m not a diet person–after all, I am surrounded by cupcakes and have a complete love affair with food–but some of them are just plain freaky.

Like those 500-calorie a-day diets where you take injections of hormones and people lose like, 20 pounds in a week and think it’s healthy? I’d like to live in those people’s heads for a day because it’s probably be dripping with oblivion and really trippy.

I’m no doctor, but something tells me that dropping 20 pounds in a week and injecting yourself with hormones while maintaining a (very poor) diet of a mere 500 calories a day is NOT smart.

You wanna know what is smart? Multi-tasking.

And I am all about multi-tasking. Especially in food. Like brunch, which is the ultimate multi-tasking meal since you take care of both breakfast and lunch in one sitting.

So I made a cupcake that could do the multi-tasking for you, combining both breakfast and dessert into one petit little muffin.

I am SO SMART!

I know that bacon is totally trendy right now and you’re seeing bacon stuff EVERYWHERE. Bacon bandages. Bacon wallets. Bacon air fresheners, chap-sticks, mints, gum, pancake mix, chocolate covered bacon … in a year, they’ll probably make bacon clothes. Or like, bacon edible panties.

Nevermind, PLEASE DO NOT MAKE THOSE.

PLEASE.

So I decided to cave in and run with the bacon trend in a cupcake form. The cupcake factory I work for makes a maple bacon cupcake that is surprisingly popular, so why the hell not try one out? Except mine are topped with a homemade vanilla buttercream and a butterscotch disk so the top of the cupcake looks like a fried egg (hence the name bacon and eggs cupcakes). And to make it look even more authentic (because I most definitely eat my eggs with a sprinkling of pepper) I topped each “egg” with some sparkling black sugar sprinkles.

Now you can be totally trendy while you’re multi-tasking your meal munching.

I really do think of everything.

Bacon and Eggs Cupcakes *adapted from Betty Crocker’s Big Book of Cupcakes

1 box white cake mix
3 egg whites
1 cup water
1/3 cup oil
1/4 cup maple-flavored syrup
6 strips cooked, cooled and crumbled bacon (I used the ready-made Oscar Mayer bacon and snipped it with kitchen shears)
18-24 butterscotch disk hard candies
Black sugar sprinkles
Frosting ingredients (recipe and ingredients follow)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 muffin pans with paper liners. In a large bowl, blend together cake mix, egg whites, water, oil, and maple syrup until blended, about 2 minutes. Stir in the crumbled bacon and stir to combine. Portion evenly into muffin cups and bake, approximately 15-18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Cool completely, and frost with icing. Top with an unwrapped butterscotch disk candy and sprinkle with black sugar.

Homemade Vanilla Buttercream

2/3 cup softened butter
2 Tablespoons maple-flavored syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 32-oz bag powdered sugar (or about 5 cups)

1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter, maple syrup and vanilla until creamy, about 2 minutes. Gradually beat in powdered sugar, about one cup at a time, until frosting reaches desired soft but spreadable consistency. Frost cupcakes with an off-set spatula and top the center of each frosted cake with an unwrapped butterscotch candy. Sprinkle lightly with the black sugar. Serve!

You could be a meanie and tell your friends they only look like breakfast cupcakes… until they bite in and get a bacon-y surprise.

*You may want to adjust the maple flavoring of the cake if you want it stronger. I only used 2 Tablespoons of maple syrup in my cake and found it to be too tame. I recommend the 1/4 cup of syrup, but if you’d like it more or less maple-y, adjust it to your tastes.

Enjoy these cupcakes for breakfast–or dessert! (Or both, no one has to know)

Happy BFD! (breakfast-for-dessert!) :)

xo, Hayley

Pina Colada Cupcakes

Change is usually a good thing.

This is coming from the girl who really doesn’t like change all so much.

Thanks, but I’d prefer the wonderful, honeymoon-stage of my relationship not to change; my awesome, bronze-y hair color not to fade and change; the cleanliness of my house (when it’s clean, of course) not to dirty and change; and usually, the weather, specifically from cool to hot, not to change.

I really don’t do well in hot weather.

ESPECIALLY Sacramento’s heat.

If you’re not from Sacramento, that could be either a good thing or a bad thing. A good thing if you live in, say, San Francisco or Seattle where it’s perpetually chilly and/or rainy, or bad, if you live in, say, the Southern states where there are tornadoes and hurricanes and humidity and other awful climates. I’ll bet Texans come to Sacramento in the dead of summer to cool off.

That, to me, is absolutely horrendous.

Sacramento generally reaches around 100-110 degrees in the dead of summer. In no–let me repeat, NO–situation is this EVER okay.

If you are blessed and do not understand that the thermometer could possibly reach 100 degrees, it is awful. I never understood why people actually enjoyed this atrocious season. In the winter, you can always add more layers to warm up. But when I am sweating my balls off in the middle of August and am lying in a bikini in front of the fan thinking I’m going to sweat my organs out, it’s kind of hard to cool down, much less ENJOY the summer.

But despite all my whining, I’m actually kind of excited for the summer. Not the heat, but for picture adventures with my photographer boyfriend. And camping by the lake where, thankfully, it’s significantly cooler than in my sauna of a house. And luaus.

Have I ever been to a luau? No. But that doesn’t mean I can’t start going to them.

It’s kind of like a backyard BBQ… except everyone wears leis. And there are tiki torches. And maybe one of those pigs with an apple in its mouth (do people actually EAT those?! Who in this world has actually seen that? Or is it a made-up thing cartoons like to draw at cartoon luaus? Please enlighten me).

And of course, at my luau, I would serve pina coladas.

I think the luau police would be all over your butt if you didn’t serve pina coladas or the pig with the apple in its mouth.

And say, you were totally against alcohol (but why would you be?) or catering to a bunch of people who were totally against alcohol (why are they your friends?) or you don’t want to spend a buttload of money on alcohol to serve (I don’t blame you) then these pina colada cupcakes are your cheap, satisfying and luau-approved solution.

They’re alcohol-free, which could be lame.. if they weren’t LOADED with amazing flavor. And they’re ridiculously easy to make, which is never, ever lame. Plus, they’re topped with a homemade pineapple cream cheese frosting which is out-of-this-world delicious. And toasted coconut.

If you don’t like coconut, you WILL like toasted coconut. Something magical happens when you toast coconut.

It is necessary that you make these now. Otherwise I have no choice but to send the luau police out to your house and turn you into a roasted pig. It’s just that serious.

Pina Colada Cupcakes *adapted from Real Mom Kitchen’s Pineapple Cupcakes.

1 box pineapple cake mix (if pineapple’s unavailable, golden butter or yellow works)
3 eggs
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 8-oz can crushed pineapple, juice drained but reserved in a measuring cup to measure approximately 1/2 cup
1 box coconut cream instant pudding mix
1/2 cup, plus 1 Tablespoon shredded coconut

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 muffin pans with paper liners. Open can of pineapple and pour pineapple juice into a measuring cup. You should yield about 1/2 cup. Less is fine, but top the rest of it off with water until it reaches 1 cup of liquid. In a large bowl, beat cake mix, water mixture, eggs, crushed pineapple, and applesauce until blended. Beat in coconut pudding mixture and shredded coconut until combined. Feel free to add more or less shredded coconut to suit your taste.
2. Bake, approximately 16-18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely.
3. Frost cupcakes with pineapple cream cheese frosting (recipe follows). Top with shredded toasted coconut.

Pineapple Cream Cheese Frosting

1 8-oz pkg pineapple flavored cream cheese, room temperature
5 Tablespoons softened butter
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 32-oz bag powdered sugar

1. In a bowl of a stand mixer, beat together cream cheese, softened butter and vanilla extract until creamy, about 1-2 minutes. Gradually add powdered sugar by the cup until frosting has reached your desired consistency (I used a little over 3/4 of the bag). You want it stiff but still spreadable or easy to pipe, if you choose to pipe it. 

Toasted Coconut

1. Either before you bake your cupcakes or while they cool is the best time to toast your coconut. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Lightly grease a baking sheet. Spread out 1/2 cup shredded coconut in an even layer. Bake for about 5 minutes. Using a spatula, stir coconut. Bake another 5 minutes, stirring again. Lastly, bake for about 3-5 minutes or until coconut is golden brown. Let cool, and resist urge to eat it all.

These cupcakes are freakin’ glorious. I’m sure you’ll think so, too.

I have non-coconut lovers in my family (it’s honestly disgraceful) but even they enjoyed these moist, flavorful cupcakes. YES, even without the booze.

And I will not tell if you decide to enjoy these cupcakes while NOT listening to “If You Like Pina Coladas” because truthfully, that song annoys the living crap out of me.

But if for some reason you get caught in some random rain storm while we’re on our way to summertime, you will still like these. Promise!

Bottoms Up!

xo, Hayley


Birthday Cake Fudge

Having a best friend is one of the most rewarding things one could own.

Pardon me, but this post will be illustrated with quotes about my best friend, Katrina, if you don’t mind. Or the super attractive pictures.

“Everyone has a “best friend” during each stage of life–only a precious few have the same one.”

I met Katrina on the first day of the fifth grade. I arrived bright and early to Mrs. Blanton’s class and found myself a seat I liked, right in the middle. And then I saw him–this gross boy that I knew for a fact picked his boogers and ate them and smelled like chicken noodle soup. I did not want to sit next to him–such a thing would be social suicide for one, and for two, boys have cooties. Every girl knows this.

In my desperation to have someone–ANYONE–sit next to me instead, I glanced at the incoming students and spotted Katrina. I’d known her name from some mutual friends but had never spoken to her. My absolute dire fear of sitting next to Booger Boy was so strong that I impulsively shouted her name, “KATRINA!” and waved, hoping she’d sit next to me.

And she did.

And honestly, the rest is history.

Maybe it was because we were both desperate to avoid Booger Boy, but turns out, we had a lot in common.

We had a serious love for N*Sync and the Spice Girls. We obsessed over every copy of J-14 magazine. And we collected Lip Smackers like lip balm fiends. Seriously–it was crazy how many Lip Smackers we had combined. We collected them and logged the flavors in separate journals where we also brainstormed future Lip Smacker ideas. Bonne Bell should have contacted our 10-year old selves because we had some rockin’ ideas.

And then we discovered her dad’s video camera. And honestly, if you could see some of the hideous faces, weird dance moves, and crazed psycho-babble of us growing up through adolescence… well, you’d be moderately shocked. Kind of weirded out. And most likely horrendously embarrassed for the both of us.

“A friend is someone who lets you have total freedom to be yourself.” -Jim Morrison

Those home movies, which we affectionately-yet-oddly call “Bumz Under Carz” (don’t ask) are the pinnacle of our friendship. It describes our personalities perfectly: highly imaginative, creative, curious and crazy, but also spontaneously fun and enjoyable people who apparently like to dance and contort their faces as ugly as possible.

But if you have a best friend, you know that you could probably turn to them one day, ask them what their prescription ear drop medicine smells like, and you’ll know the person you’re asking is your best friend when she responds, “Your ear drops smell like the word ‘mute.'” Even better, you’ll know she is your best friend because despite the oddball answer of describing the SMELL of something as the word ‘mute’, you actually agree.

I just think we have super-human best friend powers is all.

Forreal, though–Katrina and I have the uncanny ability to identify ANY smell. Or determine what animals or cartoon characters certain people look like.

Someone should pay us for our services of awesomeness.

The best part is, even after all these years and the fact that naturally, our maturity ages a bit like a fine wine, we STILL have fun laughing endlessly over Bumz Under Carz, the mute-smelling ear drops, and other crazy-fantastical stories and inside jokes we have. And we still find the same things hilariously funny.

It means a lot when someone doesn’t look at you weirdly when you’re saying that a certain musical instrument sounds like raindrops on a snowy day–because she thinks the exact same thing.

“Good friends are like stars…You don’t always see them, but you know they are always there.”

It’s Katrina’s twenty-first birthday and I just had to do something special for my BFF (besides being her awesome BFF). I got her a bunch of killer stuff I cannot disclose due to the fact that she has yet to open the bulk of her adorably-wrapped gifts, but I will say that I had the PERFECT dessert idea for her.

We both have the same mutual adoration for anything bubblegum-flavored, so I made my signature amazing rainbow cupcakes… but with a hefty dose of bubblegum. Most may think it was obnoxiously gummy… but to us, it’s perfect!

And since it’s the big 2-1, I had so make something super sweet for my super sweet friend. This birthday cake fudge, courtesy of the amazing Kristan from Confessions of a Cookbook Queen does the trick.

It’s richly sweet, perfectly pink, and tastes like a birthday cake…but in fudge form. Plus, it’s sprinkled with stars, which perfectly epitomize my awesome pal (and goes with the corny quote).

Plus, it’s easy to make.

Wanna know how to have your cake and eat it in fudge form?

Birthday Cake Fudge *adapted from Confessions of a Cookbook Queen

3 cups sugar
1 1/2 sticks butter
5-ounce can evaporated milk
12-ounces white chocolate, chopped (or use one bag of white chocolate chips, like I did)
7-ounce jar marshmallow cream
4 Tablespoons yellow cake mix (just the powdered mix, NOT the batter)
1 tsp vanilla
Pink food coloring
Rainbow sprinkles or star quinns

1. Line a 9-inch pan with foil, allowing the ends to hang over the sides of the pan. Thoroughly spray foil with cooking spray.
2. In a large saucepan, combine sugar, butter and evaporated milk on medium heat. Bring to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly and boiling for exactly four minutes. Keep stirring– if you stop, the mixture could scorch. Remove from heat.
3. Stir in marshmallow cream, white chocolate and cake mix until thoroughly combined and chocolate has melted. Stir in vanilla and mix well.
4. Working as quickly as possible, pour about 1/3 of the fudge into a medium bowl and add pink food coloring, mixing and tinting until you get your desired shade. Pour the remaining batter into the prepared foil pan and spread evenly. Drop spoonfuls of pink fudge on top of the white fudge, spacing it out. Using a butter knife, swirl the pink fudge into the white fudge, creating a marbled pattern. Sprinkle with rainbow sprinkles or star quinns, if desired.
5. Allow fudge to sit at room temperature or chill until fudge has set. Cut into squares, and store at room temperature or in a cooled area. Enjoy!

Or, if you’re using this fudge as a sweet and tasty treat like I am, you can wrap it up into a cute jar and tie it with a fancy ribbon. Adorbz!

 Isn’t that ribbon cute? Michael’s dollar bin, baby!

PS–this fudge makes a perfect gift. Ask Katrina :)

Happy Birthday, Katrina!

xo, Hayley

Low-Calorie Chocolate Chip Cookies

I don’t have the biggest sweet tooth.

But you better believe it that when I can’t have something, I WANT IT.

This is applicable for all things, not just sweets.

When I can’t afford to buy a freakishly adorable dress, I want it bad. When I’ve already eaten dinner and go to my boyfriend’s and they’re making something yummier than what I had, I want their dinner bad. And when I am on a self-proclaimed “diet” and am obsessively logging and tracking all–and I mean ALL–of my calories on Loseit.com and therefore, can’t eat whatever I want to stuff my face with, I want it all.

Let me tell you: I tend to obsess. A lot.

It’s scary, but I do.

That freakishly adorable dress I mentioned above? Saw it at Nordstrom over the weekend. It was a sad $64, and stupid me, I tried it on only to torture myself over how seriously HOT I looked in it.

And then I didn’t buy it.

And then I thought forever about it.

About the cute, sailor-y blue & white stripes, the adorable bow on the bust, and the swing-y, A-line style skirt.

Seriously, I’m salivating over here! My body NEEDS to be in that dress.

So I obsess. Because I can’t have it.

But, admittedly, the second I have it, I don’t really want it anymore.

DO NOT get me wrong; I’m no ungrateful beeyatch. I appreciate everything, especially the little things. From my boyfriend to my family to gifts to things I buy myself, I appreciate it all and would never take it for granted.

Let’s be serious, though. When you want something and can’t have it and then get it, the surprise dies just a little bit.

And then reality hits.

Like, “Oh crap, did I really just spend $64 on a dress?” (I didn’t). Or, “Damn, I definitely caught myself snacking on a half of a bag of Garden Salsa Sunchips on my crappy day.” (I did). And for the record, when having a diet, the latter example really sucks. That means I have to log allll those calories of my mindless munching into my Loseit.com account.

Ugh, I’m dreading it.

Loseit.com is kind of like the mean personal trainer I don’t have. It’s like every time I log in a food or calorie, it’s like, “hey, your choice to eat half a bag of Sunchips costs you 500 calories.” On chips. Oops.

And you don’t need me to tell you that sweets are usually off-the-charts when it comes to calories. Let’s not kid ourselves.

Yes, my cupcakes are generally much lower in calories and fat than their grocery store or boutique cupcake counterparts. But they’re not exactly “diet.”

Plus, I’m a big cookie fan, too. And how many low-calorie cookies do you know of? Right?! They’re none!

So I dug up this recipe I’ve had for years for these awesome low-calorie chocolate chip cookies. I know that “low-calorie” doesn’t sound appealing, because that means sacrificing yummy things like butter and sugar and we all love those.

And I have seen some people without their butter/sugar fix and it is NOT pretty.

But these cookies are mysteriously amazing without the buttloads of butter and sugar. They’re light, chewy, and soft with awesome texture and flavor. And they have only 60 CALORIES apiece. That’s insanity, kids.

A 60-calorie cookie.

Nope, you didn’t read it wrong.

A sixty calorie cookie. 60 calories. 60 cals. It really is true.

And guess what? This is something that you can have whenever you want. It doesn’t cost you much, it’s always good, and you could never take something this delish for granted even if you tried.

Low-Calorie Chocolate Chip Cookies

1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup softened butter
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg white
1 cup flour (I used all-purpose)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup miniature chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly grease and pat down two cookie sheets.
2. In a large bowl, mix together softened butter, sugars, egg white and vanilla until blended. In a medium bowl, mix together flour, baking soda and salt; gradually add flour mixture into sugar mixture until a soft dough forms and flour is fully incorporated. Stir in miniature chocolate chips.
3. Portion cookie dough using a cookie dough scoop or teaspoon and place 1-2″ apart on prepared baking sheets. Bake approximately 8-10 minutes, switching pans halfway through baking time, until lightly golden brown. Cookies may look slightly underdone at 8 minute mark, but that’s okay–do not overbake them, they’ll finish baking on the sheet pan. Remove cookies from oven and allow to cool on the pans for 5-10 minutes. Then carefully remove them to wire-racks to cool completely.

These cookies clock in at about 60 calories and 2 grams of fat apiece–not too shabby for a cookie with chocolate, butter, sugar, and flavor!

And best of all, they only make just over a dozen, which means it keeps temptation low. At least, that’s what it means in my household. But you may be one of those people who scarfs down cookies like nobody’s business. In that case, I don’t judge.

Make these awesome cookies now, and tell Loseit.com all about it. I promise they won’t be too angry with you, but you’ll have to enter it as a recipe since I guarantee they’ve never heard of something so awesome before.

xo, Hayley

Spumoni Cupcakes

I had a funny intro about grandparents … until some people became super sensitive about my humor. And fart jokes.

So now I’ll randomly start rambling about grandparents.

Grandparents are typically awesome folks. I can’t speak for yours, but I can say mine are delightfully crazy, good-hearted, and unknowingly, pretty darn funny.

In a way, old people are kind of like babies. They’re completely new and unfamiliar with this psycho, modern world we’re living in, they get grumpy when their routine is interrupted, and sometimes they wear diapers.

I have fond memories of my spending summer’s eating Popsicles and living in my grandma’s pool, having parties with my little girlfriends and taking advantage of my grandma’s lackadaisical approach to how many pink and white animal cookies constituted as “too many.”

Conversely, I also remember spending time with my mom’s mom, flipping through stacks of National Geographic magazines she hoarded, playing with her little ornate trinkets, making macaroni noodle faces with hot glue on paper plates, and watching The Price is Right with her. Oh, and green eggs. She made the best green eggs, after, of course, Dr. Seuss. And she and my grandpa, a gun-loving, big-hearted man who was never seen without cowboy boots on, always served me ice cream.

I mean, if I had any diet at their house, it was the ice cream diet.

And I remember grandpa would buy those boxes of Crystal ice cream, specifically Neapolitan or the orange and vanilla checkered kind … the ice cream you had to slice.

Then one day, grandpa and grandma took my family and I to this rinky-dink spaghetti place where the food can best be described as “Ragu sauce and frozen meatballs” but the spumoni ice cream was awesome.

In retrospect, I probably only ordered the spumoni ice cream because it sounded way cooler than vanilla. Don’t you remember the days when you ordered based on what sounded cool, rather than what it’d actually taste like? Or the weird, first experimental cooking you did as a kid, thinking that pancake batter plus peanuts plus sprinkles and orange juice mixed together would be something good?

Spumoni. Spumoni. Spumoni.

If you don’t know what spumoni is, it’s a delicious combination of pistachio, chocolate, and cherry. Sounds weird but is freakishly good. Plus, if you say ‘spumoni’ with a fake Italian accent and do Italian hand gestures, it sounds cool.

Spumoni. See? *Insert Italian hand gesture here*

Thus, spumoni ice cream reminds me a lot of my grandpa and grandma, so I decided to make these cupcakes for them–in spirit, of course. Sadly, my drunk grandma has passed on to a new life, and grandpa has moved off to Texas. But I’m sure if they were around, they’d definitely enjoy these tasty cupcakes that do the ice cream some serious justice.

Spumoni Cupcakes

1 box yellow cake mix
3 eggs
1 cup water
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 tsp almond extract
1 box SF/FF pistachio flavored pudding mix
1 box SF/FF chocolate pudding mix, divided
1 Tablespoon baking cocoa
1 jar maraschino cherries, juice and cherries separated
2 cans vanilla frosting
Red food coloring, optional

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 muffin tins with paper liners. In a large bowl, mix together cake mix, eggs, water, and applesauce until well blended. Separate batter in half, placing one half of batter in a new bowl. To one bowl, stir in the pistachio pudding mix and the 1 tsp of almond extract until well blended. In the other bowl, stir in half of the pudding mix and the entire Tablespoon of baking cocoa until incorporated.
2. Using two separate cereal spoons, take one spoonful of pistachio batter and place it on one side of a cupcake liner. Using the other spoon, take a spoonful of chocolate batter and line it up side-by-side the pistachio batter, so they are evenly divided. It’s okay if the chocolate unevenly overlaps onto the pistachio or vice versa; the idea is to have the cupcake split between two flavors. DO NOT SWIRL BATTERS TOGETHER. Repeat process until all 24 liners are filled. Bake, approximately 15-18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cupcake comes out with a few moist crumbs. Cool completely.
3. In a large bowl, spoon out the two cans of vanilla frosting. Add 3-4 Tablespoons of cherry juice, depending on your taste preference, to the vanilla frosting and mix well. Add red food coloring, if desired. Once achieved cherry flavor has been reached, pipe or spread frosting onto cooled cupcakes. Top with a maraschino cherry that’s been patted dry. Sprinkle with rainbow jimmies, mini chocolate chips, or chopped pistachios, if you’d like.

These cupcakes are seriously good … there’s no doubt they’re spumoni flavored.

And it doesn’t matter if you disliked my weird, awkward intro or not (or if you really wanted to hear the funny fart joke) because either way, these cupcakes rock.

Plus, I won’t judge you if you eat all 24, they’re that yummy.

Spumoni!

xo, Hayley

Ooey Gooey Snickerdoodle Bars

I am a firm believer that two individually awesome things can sometimes combine forces to become one outrageously awesome duo.

ESPECIALLY foods.

For instance: lemon and raspberry. Samoas cookies and ice cream. Root-beer and ice cream. Bubblegum and, well, anything. Chocolate and peanut butter. Chocolate chip cookies and brownies. Buffalo sauce and shrimp. Shrimp and beignets. Almond Joys and brownies.

I mean, I could go on. But I think you understand that this awesome duo is especially applicable to desserts.

Or at least, since that’s only what’s ever on my mind at any given time, that’s what I think.

And everyone knows what I think is totally right. And if it isn’t, well, this is my blog and I say so. So there.

You know I love snickerdoodles. That’s why I have made snickerdoodle cupcakes and my sugar cookie snickerdoodle cookies and blogged about them so the world could know.

Snickerdoodles could do no wrong. In fact, if it were humanly possible (now, when I say ‘humanly possible’ does that even apply to this situation given that I am talking about a cookie which, in fact, is not a human being? But at least you know what I’m saying, right? Okay.) that a snickerdoodle murdered someone, I’d probably just keep the snickerdoodle in hiding from the police but make it feel really bad about its wrongdoings and then con it into letting me eat it.

I know I’m weird. You guys can stop making those weird, awkward facial expressions now. I know you’re doing it. So stop it. You look weird.

There? Did you stop now? That’s right.

Anyways, when I discovered that Kate over at Grin and Bake It made my dreams come true and found yet another way to make snickerdoodles even more awesome, I was all over it. Seriously, they can do NO. WRONG.

So I made some. And you should too, in case snickerdoodles start committing crimes in your neighborhood and you need to know how to hoard them for your own benefits.

Ooey Gooey Snickerdoodle Bars *adapted from Grin and Bake It (link above)

2 1/3 cup flour
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup softened butter
1 1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla

For Cinnamon Sugar Filling

1 T ground cinnamon
1 T granulated sugar

For Gooey Glaze

1 cup powdered sugar
2 T milk
1/4 tsp vanilla extract or corn syrup

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly spray-grease a 9×13 inch baking pan. Set aside. In a mixer bowl fitted with a paddle attachment, beat butter on high speed until creamy. Beat in sugars until blended. Add in eggs and vanilla, until combined. In another large bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder and salt; gradually add flour mixture to the butter mixture, blending in after each addition of flour until a soft dough forms.
2. Spoon half of the batter into the prepared baking pan and spread into an even layer. Sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar filling mixture. Drop with heaping spoonfuls of remaining batter. If gaps show, that’s okay. Lastly, bake approximately 20-25 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool completely, about 1 hour.
3. To make glaze, blend all ingredients together in a small bowl. Drizzle over cooled snickerdoodle bars, and cut into squares.

Obviously, this is best served warm, highly glazed, and with a glass of milk. The only way to do it.

Kind of like wine and cheese are the perfect pairing? Snickerdoodles and milk need to be together. It’s a must. And tearing them apart — who’s the criminal now?

Make these. Or I’ll find you and judge you and make you think I’m weirder than you did before. Promise.

Happy Snickerdoodling!

xo, Hayley

Mini Strawberry Pies

I really enjoy pie.

In fact, of all the sweets I know of: (brownies, cupcakes, donuts, candy…) I like pie the most.

It’s just so damn good.

I haven’t met a pie I didn’t like. They’re all seriously amazing. It’s like pies can do no wrong.

Chocolate, for example, isn’t my favorite flavor for anything, really. But throw some chocolate pudding into a graham cracker shell and suddenly you’ve discovered the capital of Flavortown.

Coconut cream pie? Yes, please.

Lemon meringue? YUM. Blueberry? Wonderful.

Apple, French apple, Dutch apple, and whatever other ethnicity puts themselves before “apple”-pie… all amazing.

Even pumpkin pie, which I previously had a distaste for, I now enjoy. There’s a lot to do with the whipped cream involved in the pumpkin pie that makes me like it more, but here’s a quick secret: if you’re making homemade pumpkin pie and add a couple tablespoons of caramel sauce on the bottom of the pie crust, it’s amazing. I mean, pumpkin pie becomes PUMPKIN FREAKIN’ PIE.

Legit, I know.

That’s why I’m here. To remind you of new ways to spruce up your pies. And to convince you to make this one.

You all already know about my fascination with miniature things… dogs, cars, skirts, desserts. And now I have publicly professed my love for pie.

So um, I guess I should now have a post about mini pies.

Oh good, I do.

And boy, are they scrumptious.

Most of you probably won’t know, but today (May 9) is my mom’s birthday. And like me, she has a serious soft spot for some strawberry pie.

But when you are the mother of a food blogging/bake-crazy fanatical daughter like she is, life can be pretty rough.

Tasting things constantly, eating a surplus of sweets … and having said daughter go completely overboard in making treats for said birthday.

Really, it got a little out of hand. But I couldn’t resist.

And I knew that, despite the multitude of desserts she’d consume on this day and this past Mother’s Day weekend, it was only necessary I made some mini strawberry pies to add to the menu.

I know, I am super duper nice to waistlines and the numbers on the scale. But forrealz, it was Mother’s Day weekend. I had to make everyone fat.

Thus, these pies were created.

I got the original concept from the awesome Jenny over at the blog rainy day gal. Her version of mini strawberry pies looked pretty ridiculously scrumptious, so I had to make some for myself. However, given that I had little time to prepare these AND like to take the semi-homemade approach whenever possible, I tweaked my recipe to make it a little easier (read: way lazier). But if you want to see some spectacular pictures of some delicious pies (and the original recipe), I strongly suggest checking it out here. Thanks, Jenny!

Get that whipped cream nice and chilly and make some of these for yourself. Everyone loves miniature things, especially when they’re edible.

Mini Strawberry Pies

1 package pie crusts, at room temperature
1 can strawberry pie filling
1/2 T flour

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Lightly grease 8 slots in a muffin pan and set aside.
2. On a well-floured surface, gently stretch out one sheet of the pie crusts. Using a 3-inch cookie cutter (or using a coffee mug’s opening, like I did) cut out 8 circles. Careful not to tear the dough, lightly press the circles of dough into each of the muffin cavities, pressing up the sides of the muffin pan. If dough tears, use remaining scraps of dough to patch holes.
3. In a medium bowl, mix together strawberry pie filling and flour. Using a small cereal spoon, spoon filling evenly into each of the muffin cups. It’s okay if the filling goes slightly above the dough line; make it full!
4. Carefully unroll the other sheet of dough. Using a pizza cutter or sharp knife, cut strips of dough into approximate 2″ strips. Layer the strips three by three; three horizontally across the tops of the filling, and three vertically, so they overlap like a lattice pattern. If desired, brush lightly with a beaten egg white and sprinkle with sugar.
5. Bake, approximately 11-15 minutes or until crust is lightly golden brown and cooked through. Let cool at least an hour before serving (sorry!) If you don’t wait, the crust could be too warm still and break, giving you a red, gooey mess (no fun). Top with whipped cream and fresh berries, if desired.

These pies were delightful little concoctions that my mother loved. But I only suspect because they were damn adorable. Thankfully they tasted just as good as they looked :)

Enjoy!

xo, Hayley

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