Almond Joy Cupcakes

 

Whenever I have a series of days-off in a row, I try to make one the productive one and the other the lazy day.

But I am really, really bad about lazy days.

I can never seem to get the ‘lazy’ part down right.

It’s not that I’m super anal about getting everything done… but is it weird that I do prefer to be lazy in a clean house with a vacuumed floor, clean dishes and a large pot of freshly brewed iced tea next to me?

Because sadly, all of those preferences require working… which defeats the lazy day purpose.

I bet you’re thinking, “why can’t you do those things on your productive day off so your lazy day can be lazy?”

Good question. I have no answers. Just more whining.

Bear with me.

But today, I vowed I would make it a lazy day.

I would start my day with only what I absolutely had to do: take my mom to work, and walk Mannie.

So I walked Mannie and everything was going dandy until I rounded the corner and ran into her. The Forgetful Lady.

Let me fill y’all in: Mannie doesn’t like other dogs. He is antisocial. I’ve tried the whole socializing-my-dog thing and it didn’t work. Mannie hated me for days afterward, I was scared for another dog fight, and ultimately I had to win over his trust again with ample amounts of dog biscuits.

So dogs + Mannie = no bueno. And that’s that.

Every dog-walker I encounter on our walks understands when I politely explain Mannie doesn’t like other dogs. They say “okay” and walk away respectfully.

But the Forgetful Lady never says okay.

Every time I see her, she and her cute Lab/Chow mix perk up and immediately start crossing the street in my direction. It’s at that time I shout “Sorry, my dog isn’t too friendly” and proceed walking.

“Can we meet your dog?” Forgetful Lady responds.

Pause. “Uh, no, sorry. Mannie isn’t very friendly. He doesn’t like other dogs too much. I’m sorry.” (Make forced empathetic face and move on).

And then, psychopath explains she has met my dog before in this neighborhood.

Um. No.

Mannie is an equal-opportunist dog-hater. He hates everyone and all their dogs. I have never met that lady or her dog in my life.

But Forgetful Lady doesn’t care. Because she forgets.

And then she asks again and again.

Today was no exception. I rounded the corner with Mannie and there she was, opposite side of the street, strolling with her Lab/Chow and began to cross over.

“HIIIII!!!!” she exclaims like a crazed maniac. “Can we meet your dog?!” Her dog whimpers, mine’s ears raise.

“Nope, sorry. Mannie’s not friendly. Have a nice day.” (Walks away quickly; can’t turn back now)

I could almost hear the “but we’ve met before” but then I put in my ear-phones and decided on my lazy day, I was not going to be nice if I didn’t have to be.

Then I came home and baked cupcakes. And with baking cupcakes comes dishes.

So I had to do those before I sat on my ass and watched LA Ink.

And after eating a lot of food (lazy days = pig out days) I looked down to see I looked particularly chunky today.

I don’t know about you, but it’s really hard to focus on being lazy when you feel like Chubby McChubster’s fat cousin, Porky.

So then I was focused on trying to squeeze some gym time in later. But I realized I don’t like the gym. May as well make peace with being chunky today, then.

As I was thinking about whether or not I should get on the floor and half-ass some sit-ups, I remembered I had a work meeting tonight.

Great. Work on my day off? What happened to being lazy?

Where did my lazy day go?

It died when I had to put effort into being nice to Forgetful Lady. Stupid lady.

Working on my lazy day kinda paid off, though, ’cause I made these amazing Almond Joy Cupcakes.

And they kinda help with the chubby feeling, too, since I made them with unsweetened applesauce, cutting the fat and calories, and fat-free sweetened condensed milk for the yummy coconut center.

So it’s okay to be lazy when you’re eating healthy, right?

Right?

Almond Joy Cupcakes

1 box chocolate cake mix
1 cup water
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
3 eggs
1 small box sugar free/fat free chocolate cake mix
1 small (14oz) can sweetened condensed milk (you can use any kind)
2 1/4 cup shredded coconut, divided
1 pkg Baker’s Dipping Chocolate or half a bag of chocolate candy melts
24 whole almonds
Buttercream frosting (recipe and ingredients follow)

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 muffin tins with 24 paper liners. First, in a medium bowl, mix together 2 (two) cups of the coconut and the entire can of milk until combined. Set aside. In a large bowl, beat together cake mix, water, applesauce, and eggs until well blended, about 2 minutes. Beat or stir in pudding mix until combined. Evenly portion batter into the muffin tins.
2. On top of each mound of batter, place a rounded teaspoon of coconut mixture. The coconut mixture will bake into the cake and end up toward the middle or bottom of the cake. I found that some of the milk cooked into the cake which was fine for me, but if you prefer a gooey center, I would suggest skipping this part, coring out your baked chocolate cupcakes, and adding the coconut mixture after they’re baked and cooled, then proceed with frosting.
3. Bake cupcakes approximately 16-18 mins or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool completely. Prepare frosting.

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

2/3 cup butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla extract
2-3 tsp milk
Approx. 4 cups powdered sugar

1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter and vanilla until creamy, about 2 minutes. Gradually add in powdered sugar, one cup at a time, until a stiff but spreadable consistency is reached. Add milk, one teaspoon at a time, if frosting becomes too thick.
2. Pipe onto cooled cupcakes. Place frosted cupcakes in freezer for about 30 minutes to harden frosting. Meanwhile, prepare your dipping chocolate or candy melts according to package directions.
3. Once cupcakes have been briefly chilled and frosting is cold and solid, carefully dip tops of cupcakes into the melted chocolate. Sprinkle with remaining coconut and top, gently, with an almond. If you wanted, you could toast the remaining coconut, but I kept mine plain. Store cupcakes covered in fridge.

These make having a not-so-lazy-lazy day much more enjoyable. Hence probably why they’re Almond Joy. Duh.

I make so much sense when I’m lazy!

Enjoy!

xo, Hayley

Banana Split Cupcakes

Ice cream is a quintessential summer favorite everywhere, but frozen yogurt dominates California.

We have 2–TWO!–ice cream parlors in the entire Sacramento area. And no, Baskin Robbins and Cold Stone don’t count as parlors.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but an ice cream parlor is defined as a place where people wear blue and white striped clothing, play music from the 50s and give you the leftovers of your milkshake in a frozen tin cup.

If I asked Cold Stone to do that, the pimply-faced guy behind the counter would probably look at me weird and ask me what ‘tin’ was.

So anyways.

I grew up eating a lot of ice cream, thanks to my grandparents who are HUGE fans of the stuff, and because my parents loved me and regularly rewarded me with lots of it.

Until I became lactose sensitive. And then things went downhill.

But by that time, frozen yogurt came out and it popped up everywhere. And it was about that time I decided I wanted a new job. What a better, more fun place to work than a yogurt shop, right?!

WRONG. SO VERY WRONG.

Let me tell you about the frozen treat shop.

It was awful. Pure, unadulterated evil.

Not because it took 45 minutes to put together the extremely finicky yogurt machines. Not because my lackluster coworkers (there were more that sucked than those who were cool) would leave me, the only reliable opener, with nothing prepped so I’d have to sacrifice my beautiful, piano-playing fingers to cut strawberries in about 2 minutes (no, I don’t play piano, but everyone tells me I should since my fingers are so long and obviously cutting these strawberries very quickly could have easily ruined my chances of ever playing piano). And not because I am OCD and would always have an itching need to fill everysingle bin of candy to the absolute fullest.

Nope. It was because of the customers.

Apparently, in my county, people have a need to be extremely rude. I would get the bitchiest, snobbiest trophy moms pushing their $5,000 strollers in, oblivious to their young children thrashing my beautiful yogurt store and sticking their disgusting, sticky fingers INSIDE THE CANDY BINS I JUST FILLED TO THE BRINK.

I mean, really. I know you’re like, 75% plastic, but can’t you read the sign that says WATCH YOUR KIDS!?! Or is your perma-orange tan affecting the area of your brain to actually THINK.

If you’ve ever found it to be awkward scolding a child that wasn’t yours, try doing it when you’re wearing a shirt that says “Spoonologist” on the back. People automatically assume you’re on the same level of a drug-riddled bum and judge you for (politely) telling their kid to quit acting like an imbecile (so okay, I wanted to say that, but instead I mustered up as much fakeness as I could to kindly tell the kid “no no” without screaming and pulling its hair out).

And you all should know that I am NOT bubbly.

There is not a single bubble in my body.

And it is incredibly challenging to muster up that bubbly gene.

I’m not saying all bubbly people are fake, because I know a handful of awesome people who don’t even come close to the word ‘fake.’ But admit it. Anyone who feigns interest in your life or is syrupy-sweetly assisting you AT A PLACE OF BUSINESS is obviously doing it to sell you something or befriend you into spending more money.

I’m not an idiot. I watch it all the time at my work.

And for the record, just because I’m not bursting with energy, my nostrils flared, my mouth wide open and my eyes in a perma-wide-eyed, frenzied stare, feigning pretend interest as I say, “OOOOOOH the red velvet cupcake is SOOOOOO GOOOOOOD. MY FAAAAAAVORITE, you’ll loooooooovee it” doesn’t mean I’m a) a bad employee; b) unfriendly; or c) standoffish… it just means I’m not going to be incredibly fake.

People love to interpret not being bubbly with being rude.

We’re not rude. We’re just not psychopathic people who act like squirrels on crack while talking to customers or describing our favorite frozen yogurt flavor like we’re trying out for Glee.

Jeez.

Anyways, so back to the frozen yogurt shop from hell.

My absolute LEAST favorite part of this job (besides the horrendous lines in the summertime, people consistently leaving the handles down [GUESS WHAT: your yogurt is runny because YOU LEFT THE MACHINE RUNNING WHEN YOU LEFT THE HANDLE DOWN], watching kids stick their hands in the candy bins, and watching people lose any kind of coordination when scooping a spoonful of candy into their cup and subsequently dropping it all on my freshly swept floor)? It had to be when people would leave their used sample cups around my store, like some kind of cave-people.

Yeeeaaah. I don’t leave plates and napkins around your restaurant. I wouldn’t wear my shoes in your house if you were one of those odd people who makes guests take their shoes off outside. I wouldn’t leave my body surprises in your toilet. WHY WOULD YOU LEAVE YOUR USED SAMPLE CUP IN MY STORE.

So I guess I have a thing with spit. It disgusts me ever so much. And seeing those distorted, gross cups of half-licked yogurt strewn about my store on every surface but inside the trash can made me furious.

So long story short, I’d (accidentally) over charge them and wish ill upon them all. The end.

And if cops are reading this, or anyone who could incriminate me after reading this post, I definitely did not overcharge anyone. Swear.

Anyways. This post makes me wish there were more ice cream parlors with nice people working who don’t act like I did when I was working at the frozen treat shop. I crave the ultimate parlor experience of the classic booth seating, the cool music and the delicious parlor favorites. Like shakes and malts. Those cones that look like clowns. And banana splits.

So I decided to bring the parlor to my house and made some banana split cupcakes. And I promise you can be just as bubbly or cranky as you want, because you won’t have any customers and I don’t judge non-bubbly people.

Cue the 50s music!

Banana Split Cupcakes

1 box yellow cake mix, divided
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce (or you could use oil)
3 eggs
1 box sugar free/fat free banana cream pudding mix
2 medium, ripe mashed bananas (about 1 cup)
1 cup miniature chocolate chips
1 jar maraschino cherries, drained and patted dry
About 24 banana chips, if desired
Marshmallow Buttercream Frosting (recipe and ingredients follow)

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 muffin pans with 24 paper liners. In a small bowl, reserve two Tablespoons of cake mix and mix with the 1 cup of chocolate chips. Set aside. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, beat together remaining cake mix, water, applesauce, eggs and bananas for about 2 minutes or until blended. Stir or beat in pudding mix until combined. Stir in chocolate chips. Portion evenly into muffin tins and bake, approximately 16-18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely.

Marshmallow Buttercream *adapted from Baked Bree’s amazing recipe 

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 jar (7 oz) marshmallow cream (or fluff)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 (32 oz) bag powdered sugar [I used the whole thing, but you may need less, depending on the consistency you prefer]

1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter until creamy, about 1 minute. Add in marshmallow fluff and beat for about 2 minutes or until combined. Add in vanilla extract. Gradually add in powdered sugar, one cup at a time, until it’s nice and fluffy but still stiff enough to stand on its own. Like I said, I used the whole 32 ounce bag of powdered sugar, but if you want to spread it on, you may not need it as stiff as I did–use your discretion.
2. Pipe or spread frosting onto cooled cupcakes. Top with a cherry. If desired, drizzle on chocolate sauce or syrup.*

*Small note: I didn’t have any remaining chocolate chips on hand, only chocolate sundae syrup. While this turned out okay, it was very messy and runny–I would have much preferred to melt chocolate chips with some shortening in the microwave for a thinner drizzle that hardened easily. You could also use candy melts to drizzle; whatever you have on hand.

Moral of the story: Treat your frozen yogurt employees well, throw away your trash, and make these cupcakes, regardless if you’re lucky enough to have regular parlor experiences, ’cause these cupcakes are truly awesome.

Spoon optional.

xo, Hayley

Chocolate Cherry Cola Cupcakes

 

There’s a couple of things I have come to learn (the hard way) about becoming an adult. Some of these things are awesomely cool, and others are wretchedly crappy.

Usually I notice these differences the more I hang out with other young adults like myself, whether these be friends or acquaintances. Or sometimes, I’ll learn them myself, which is always embarrassing, heartbreaking, annoying, or a delightful combination of all three.

Take for instance, my previous love for Seventeen magazine. A few years ago, I was harassing my mailman for my monthly issue, hoarding each copy like it was the Holy Bible and pouring over the flirting tips and makeup techniques like I was going to be quizzed.

But lately, when my issue comes in the mail (yes, they still come since I decided to stock up on issues a few years ago and will still be a subscriber at like, 25) I have like, no desire to read it.

Which is unheard of, since I am kind of like, obsessed with magazines.

Seriously, I hoard them. My mom hates it. Everyone thinks I’m weird. But what’s the harm in enjoying reading an August 2006 copy of Real Simple? Hello, it’s like you’re re-learning decorating tips and recipes you would have forgotten forever had you thrown it out back in August 2006.

She just doesn’t understand the complexities of magazine hoarding and appreciation.

But anyways, I was struck by the adult ton ‘o’bricks when I read my latest issue of Seventeen. Boy tips? No thanks, I have a boyfriend that I didn’t pick up with some dorky one-liner about our common history teacher in high school. Skin pointers? Last I checked, I was 20 years old. Shouldn’t I be in the market for some anti-aging cream or something? And as cute as the fashion is, I can’t get away with some of that stuff anymore. Graphic tees? God, I’m not in junior high and I definitely don’t want to look it.

The LAST thing I need is to look like one of those people who is trying to look like their daughter.

And in the city I live in, I am swarmed with that kinda crap.

If you’re 40, I don’t care if you have a sexy body or feel like you’re 20. Stop acting like you’re BFFs with your tween daughter, and please realize it’s not okay to borrow her clothes, use the word ‘hella’ (especially popular if you’re from Northern California) or be Facebook friends with all her friends.

It’s not right.

Here I am, only twenty years old and just discovering that Seventeen is no longer applicable to my increasingly adult-becoming life. You’re 40. Stop acting like you’re still kicking like you were in high school.

And then there’s my guilty-pleasure show, Degrassi. Yes, the acting is horrible and the plots are ridiculous. But there is something intoxicating about that show I cannot tear away from. I’m guilty of tuning in every Friday since 2001, and I can’t get enough.

Have you SEEN the previews for the new season? It looks intense.

And while people may judge that I’m now an adult and shouldn’t be watching teens battling virtually the same problems Seventeen covers in their magazine, I have to object.

Acting is different.

Plus, you grow emotional attachments to the characters.

Holly J is about to graduate, people. That’s ground-breaking.

And I can’t help but feel for these characters, sharing similar high school problems that I can only empathize with. Yeah, I was never shot and paralyzed like Jimmy, but it could happen…

Also, Degrassi has to be a good show since they totally created mega-stars. Jimmy=Drake. Darcy=girl from 90210. Mia=girl from Vampire Diaries. You can’t deny talent when it’s there, I guess.

Plus, if people want to scoff that I watch a bad Canadian teenage drama, I could always rebutt and ask them what happened on the last episode of Jersey Shore. Because bad acting aside, at least Degrassi has a plot-line you can follow, problems that are easy to relate to, and there are no drunk oompa-loompa girls obsessed with pickles.

So, yeah, I’m definitely going to still be the weird adult watching teenage soap dramas. No one said anything when moms were freaking out over the teenage romance in Twilight. Why is this any different (besides not being as creepy, obviously)?

I’m trying to hold onto my childhood while I still can.

Childhood: where playing with Barbies was still socially acceptable; the word ‘calories’ just sounded like some scientific term that was no cause for concern; where you could order Happy Meals and the servers wouldn’t frown; and where you could drink endless cherry Cokes as your way to get an innocent sugar high.

I may be young to many, which I am, but if I can, I’m going to hold on to every bit of childhood I still can without coming off as creepy, pathetic or weird. Degrassi may barely pass the bill on acceptable, but the whole drinking cherry Cokes part is definitely allowable. And in most cases, recommended.

So I created a yummy cherry cola cupcake that brings back the innocent, fun-loving memories of childhood without anyone judging you for your age and your futile attempt to be young again (I’m talking about you, 40 year old moms).

I had previously made some cupcakes with the same title (and essentially the same concept) but I wanted to revisit the same concept with an even more intense, delicious flavor and improve on an oldie-but-goodie classic.

Thus, this version of chocolate cherry cola cupcakes was born, and I have to say, these are even better–yes, it’s possible. To enhance the cherry flavor, I skipped the chopped cherries and cherry juice and used cherry jello–a good idea, since while researching, I noticed many people had issues with the lack of cherry flavor in some recipes. And I altered the frosting to a yummy cherry buttercream, a difference from the tame vanilla in the previous recipe. Also, these are dipped in melted chocolate and topped with a cherry, a delightful presentation that only looks hard to make.

Ready to sink your teeth into childhood?

Chocolate Cherry Cola Cupcakes (Round 2)

1 box chocolate cake mix (you do NOT need other ingredients–you’re only using the can of cola!)
1 can Coke or favorite dark cola
Half of one small box cherry jello powder
2 small jars maraschino cherries
Baker’s Dipping Chocolate (what I used–worked wonderfully, with no leftovers) or 1/2 bag chocolate candy melts
Cherry buttercream (recipe and ingredients follow)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 muffin pans with 24 paper liners. In a large bowl, beat together cake mix and can of cola–NOTHING ELSE. The cola will provide all the moisture in place of the eggs, oil and water. Beat about 2 minutes or until smooth. Stir in half of the cherry jello, and combine until blended. Batter may be reddish in color–that’s fine. If you want less cherry flavor, use less powder–use your taste preferences as a guideline. Portion evenly into muffin cups and bake, approximately 16-18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely.

Cherry Buttercream

2/3 cup butter, softened
3 tsp maraschino cherry juice
Approximately 4-5 cups powdered sugar
1 small jar finely chopped maraschino cherries

1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together butter and cherry juice until creamy, about 2 minutes. Gradually add powdered sugar, one cup at a time, until stiff and spreadable. Beat in chopped cherries for 1 minute until well blended. If you’re piping your frosting on, make sure your cherries are very finely chopped–you don’t want a cherry piece to clog your piping tip :)
2. Pipe frosting onto cooled cupcakes. Place frosted cupcakes in freezer for about 30 mins to an hour or until nice and chilled and frosting is hardened (do NOT freeze them completely, though!)
3. Prepare dipping chocolate or candy melts according to package directions. Gently dip the tops of your chilled frosted cupcakes into the melted chocolate, twist your wrist to coat tops of cupcakes completely. Quickly and carefully press a maraschino cherry onto the tops of the melted chocolate and allow chocolate to harden. Store covered in fridge.

These taste just like a chocolate covered cherry, another awesome candy reminiscent of childhood.

And no one will remind you of the calories involved in eating this cupcake.

In fact, I highly suggest you lick the batter off the beaters, just like mom used to let you when she was baking cakes.

And then go watch Degrassi, because I swear it’s more compelling than Jersey Shore and it needs more publicity.

Have a great day!

xo, Hayley

Peanut Butter Cap’n Crunch Krispy Bars

I get told every so often I should go on one of those cooking competition shows.

And every time, I allow myself to think about it juuuust briefly.

Sure, it’d be cool to sweep the competition and walk out of there with the title of Top Chef or the next Food Network star, along with a bunch of cash in my pocket (do they give you cash, or do they give you one of those giant cardboard checks? Note to self: research this).

But honestly, it’d be more of a pressured, panicked hassle than anything.

You’ve seen those shows. You have to cook something edible with fish flakes, stuffing mix and shampoo in like, 5 minutes.

And for celebrity judges.

I’m sorry, but I would definitely get starstruck if Guy Fieri walked in and had to judge my clean & fishy stuffing.

Because I’m sure he’d tell me it was awful and I would cry and in the confessional interviews threaten to kill myself from national humiliation and then I’d be booted and be known as that girl who left from my soapy stuffing.

And then, it’d be totally sucky to go on one of those shows and be THE FIRST one gone. I mean, really? Everyone makes fun of the first person gone and points and laughs and openly judges them and calls them a total loser.

I definitely don’t want to be that loser.

Admittedly, it’d be freakin’ sweet to travel and cook in exotic places, but being without my dog, boyfriend or family for a few months would be a travesty. After about Day 2 I would probably snap and set the house on fire.

The last thing I need is headlines to read: First One Booted Arrested For Arson.

Plus, I’m 99.9% sure that the judges would have a serious problem (and wrongfully so!) with my semi-homemade approach at cooking. As I try to tell everyone who insists I join the reigns of some reality TV cooking show, I cook using shortcuts that are family and budget friendly. I can’t afford to shop at farmer’s markets or cook organically. I don’t like making things completely from scratch because I’m a student with a job and a life who doesn’t have time to measure out my dry ingredients and be ritzy and stuff.

I BELIEVE IN BOXED CAKE MIX.

Because it’s cheap. And easy. And if you do it right, it doesn’t taste like it’s from a box.

And surely, these fancy-pants judges would certainly frown upon my secret ingredient being a box of Betty Crocker’s cake mix.

Even though they shouldn’t. Because they haven’t had a true cupcake ’til they’ve had a Betty Crocker creation by me.

I bet you Bobby Flay totally has a box of cake mix in his pantry and doesn’t want anyone to know.

Though I am positive the judges would like my twist on classic recipes. Like this one, which is a spin-off on the traditional rice krispy treat, but with a crunchy, yummy, peanut butter-y twist.

I’m sure that this recipe alone would win me the competition.

But that’s only if I get the huevos to sign up. Which I probably won’t, but that’s okay, anyway. Everyone should have a secret win-the-reality-TV-show recipe under their belt, right?!

And because I’m sooooo generous, I’ll share mine.

Peanut Butter Cap’n Crunch Krispy Bars *inspired by Brandnewbuffy’s recipe 

3 Tablespoons butter
1 Tablespoon creamy peanut butter
1 bag large marshmallows (I had those GIGANTIC ‘mallows on hand from camping, so I used about 15 and halved them to make 30)
6 cups peanut butter Cap’n Crunch cereal
2 cups regular M&M’s (you could also use pretzel–yummy–or peanut butter)

1. Lightly grease a 13×9 inch baking pan.
2. In a large saucepan, melt butter, peanut butter and marshmallows together over low heat until smooth and melted, about 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Careful that the bottom of your pot doesn’t burn. Pour peanut butter mixture into an extra large bowl and quickly add cereal and M&M’s; stir very quickly to combine. The peanut butter mixture gets very sticky very fast.
3. Pour treat mixture into prepared pan. Using lightly greased hands, press mixture gently into pan to mold. Let cool completely, then cut into bars to serve.

A no-bake treat for a hot summer day? This couldn’t get any better.

These would also be amazing for a bake sale–just wrap with cellophane and tie with a cute, colorful ribbon. Instant moolah. After all, these would totally win you the $50K on a reality game show, so pullin’ a couple bucks at the school bake sale is totally obvious.

Enjoy!

xo, Hayley

Cinnamon Roll Cupcakes

 

I have a small confession to make.

There was one time where I disliked breakfast.

I know, pretty much criminal, right?

But I’m proud to say I have changed my ways and am a born-again breakfast lover. Yay, me!

Seriously, I don’t know what I was missing before. Why the hell did I shun breakfast?! It’s amazing.

I am giving ALL breakfast-loving credit to biscuits and gravy. Anything that is smothered in gravy and wrapped up in one heavy 1,000 calorie package is something to be contended with.

Or waffles. They’re pancakes less-boring cousin, and anything with a cool pattern makes eating things fun. Right? Or was I supposed to outgrow that when I turned 6? Whatever.

Or FRENCH TOAST.

Ginormous sized bread, soaked in egg, fried, and topped with an unhealthy amount of powdered sugar and syrup? Some may consider it a heavy carb coma, but I consider it my ultimate breakfast. Sometimes I even dream about it. Is that weird? Probably.

Plus, breakfast can be served at anytime. I could easily put away some bacon and hash browns for lunch, and I have been known to endorse BFD (breakfast for dinner, obv.)

Fritattas? Yeah, they make excellent dinner options.

…Which is weird, considering dinner food usually isn’t fit for breakfast.

Pizza, yes. Chinese food, sure. But pasta? No. BBQ chicken, wings, salad?!?! Oh, hell no. Those are lunch and dinner ONLY–do not bring them to the breakfast nook ever, ever, ever.

Some may argue those are adequate breakfast options. But those people are weird and I am definitely, definitely not weird.

Nooooo way.

And like, breakfast gets away with so much. Way much more than lunch or dinner can.

You could totally eat a doughnut, which is basically a fried dessert, for breakfast and no one would be like, “that’s soo unhealthy” or look at you like some weirdo who eats lasagna the next morning.

And by contrast, you can also eat savory things for breakfast, like ham or bacon or sausage. No one even flinches if someone orders a chicken fried steak at the breakfast table. It’s only if you don’t smother that said steak in gravy or dip your bacon into maple syrup that the weird, judging looks begin.

Breakfast was probably created by people who were like “damn, I’m too freakin’ lazy to think of something creative or whatever, so Susie, you’ll have bacon, Jeffrey, you’ll have a doughnut and Grandpa, you’ll have fried chicken on top of this waffle.”

I was totally there, so feel free to quote this bit of history to all your family and friends. The pioneers totally came up with the whole sweet and savory thing, and decided it was hella good for breakfast, and that was that.

But I’m not here to talk history. I’m here to talk breakfast.

Like, breakfast cupcakes.

While that may sound as weird as salad for breakfast, it’s not. Because these are cinnamon roll cupcakes. And no one–I mean, NO. ONE.– rolls their eyes at cinnamon roll cupcakes.

And if you do, well you just suck.

I had been pondering this idea for awhile when the amazing Kristan at Confessions of a Cookbook Queen posted a Cinnamon Roll Cupcake recipe on her blog. And after that, I was hellbent (dreams and all, people) on making these.

I made a few small tweaks, but the idea is still credited to her, of course. If anyone can agree more on the idea of sweets for breakfast, it’s this woman.

What are you waiting for? Breakfast is ready!

Cinnamon Roll Cupcakes

1 box yellow cake mix, plus ingredients on back of box
1 small box sugar free/fat free vanilla pudding mix
1 cup brown sugar + 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon, combined
Cream cheese and glaze (recipe and ingredients follow)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 muffin tins with 24 paper liners. In a large bowl, prepare cake mix according to package directions. Blend in pudding mix until combined. Scoop one spoonful of batter into each muffin cup. Sprinkle with brown sugar mixture. Cover brown sugar sprinkle with another scoop of batter (your cups should be about 2/3 full). Sprinkle with additional brown sugar mixture. Using the tip of a butter knife, swirl brown sugar mixture into the yellow cake batter. Bake, approximately 16-18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool completely.

Cream Cheese Frosting

1 8oz pkg cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp milk
Approx. 4 cups powdered sugar

1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together cream cheese, butter and vanilla until creamy, about 2 minutes. Gradually add powdered sugar, one cup at a time. If frosting becomes too stiff, add milk, one teaspoon at a time. Frosting should be stiff but spreadable. Pipe onto cooled cupcakes.

Brown Sugar Glaze

1/2 cup brown sugar (I used light for all the brown sugar in this recipe, but dark works if you want a deeper flavor)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp milk

1. Whisk together all three ingredients into smooth and combined. Using a small spoon, drizzle glaze onto frosted cupcakes and let stand to harden glaze. Keep frosted & glazed cupcakes in the fridge.

Here’s a few things we should have learned from this:

#1: Cinnamon rolls are good for both breakfast options AND cupcake flavors; #2: The streusel crumble inside this cupcake is totally awesome; #3: If you have unfrosted cupcakes (does that make them muffins?) LEAVE THEM ’cause they’re still awesome plain; & #4: Anyone wanna go get breakfast?!

Have a happy day & Happy BFD (this time, breakfast for dessert)!

xo, Hayley

Mint Chip Cupcakes

Names are kind of a funny thing.

It sounds quote odd, but, I think a lot about names.

Sometimes if I hear a cool name, I mentally record it for future dog/children/nicknames for random reasons.

Or if I hear a really cool last name, I imagine myself with that last name. Think of all the possibilities I could have if my last name were something like ‘Van Bussen’ or ‘Worthington.’ I would sound so regal and rich.

Or if my last name was something more common, like Brown or Smith or Johnson, and how many other millions of people have those last names. Think of how annoyed the teacher would feel trying to alphabetize kids in class when she has five Smiths. Though I know people can’t really control their last name, it’s still funny.

And then there’s my name. Hayley.

My parents claim it means ‘by the sea’ but that’s ironic since every time I look up the origins of my name, it says ‘bale of hay.’

…So, I’m named after a bale of hay. Awesome.

And then there are the MULTIPLE people who have decided against their better judgment to inform me that either they have known someone named Hayley who was or is “a total skank” or have or know someone who has a dog named Hayley.

Sweeeeeet. So not only am I named after a bale of freakin’ fantastic HAY, but I’m also a skanky dog.

Really, this name description cannot get any cooler.

Now I know why my name has become increasingly popular over the years.

When I was a kid and I heard my name being called, I knew it was for me. Now I can’t go anywhere without turning my head to about four different Hayley calls.

I wonder if they’ll turn out to be bales of hay, skanks or dogs…

Maybe this is my time to revolutionize the Hayley name. Make ‘Hayley’ a name that people don’t associate with dogs, promiscuous girls or bales of hay.

But that kinda sounds like a lot of work.

And to further add annoyance to my name, it can be spelled like, 500 ways, you know.

And no one EVER spells it correctly.

My parents enjoyed optional vowels, so they threw in that extra ‘y’. Consequently, because of my extra vowel, it made finding personalized things exceptionally hard as a kid. I never had a ‘HAYLEY’ license plate, personalized necklace, or monogrammed lunch-pail.

It was truly a traumatic period of my childhood.

But when I try to think of other names I could be called, I can’t think of anything that would fit me. I’d love to be an Olivia, because I love olives and that name is cute, but dammit, I don’t look like one.

I guess I got discouraged at Olivia because I don’t have any other ideas.

At least I don’t have a name that’s hard to pronounce. You know those people. You’re either one of them, or you know someone with a name that sounds like a guttural noise an animal makes. Or no matter how long you’ve known them, you still can’t pronounce it correctly.

At the cupcake factory where I work, we had a Neapolitan cupcake last month. And 9 times out of 10, the customer would call it the ‘Napoleon’ cupcake.

Um, sorry, but we don’t sell dudes named Napoleon. And I’m pretty sure Napoleon wouldn’t be happy to know we were selling him off.

We also have a chocolate mint cupcake called ‘chocolate mint’, yet everyone calls it ‘mint chip.’ I guess it’s the same difference; better than Neapolitan and Napoleon, where a man’s freedom is being sold to hungry cupcake customers.

So I decided that a mint chip cupcake would be a good cupcake to try and make for summer. It’s as refreshing as the ice cream flavor, and it looks adorable.

Plus, it has an easy-to-remember (and pronounce!) name, and it won’t remind you of skanky dogs.

(PS, I hope I don’t, either).

(PPS, if you know a skank, a dog, or a skanky dog named Hayley, I don’t want to know about it–thanks).

Mint Chip Cupcakes

1 box chocolate cake mix (I used Betty Crocker’s Milk Chocolate), plus ingredients on back of box
1 small box sugar free/fat free chocolate pudding mix
1 cup miniature chocolate chips, plus more for garnish
3 tsp, divided, peppermint extract (find it in the baking aisle)
Mint buttercream frosting (recipe and ingredients follow)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 muffin pans with paper liners. In a large bowl, prepare cake mix according to package directions and blend for 2 minutes or until combined. Beat in 2 tsp peppermint extract (if you prefer a tamer mint flavor, only use 1 tsp) and pudding mix, beat until blended. Stir in 1 cup miniature chocolate chips. Divide equally into muffin cups and bake, approximately 16-18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely.

Mint Buttercream Frosting

2/3 cup butter, softened
1 tsp (remaining) peppermint extract, plus 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp milk
Approx. 4 cups powdered sugar

1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together softened butter and extracts until creamy, about 2 minutes. Gradually add in powdered sugar, one cup at a time. Add milk if needed. Frosting should be stiff but still spreadable. Pipe onto cooled cupcakes and garnish with sprinkled mini chocolate chips.

These are really great after they’ve been in the fridge for awhile–nice and cold, perfect on a hot summer day, just like the ice cream!

I’m not even a huge fan of chocolate cake, but the mint buttercream (and the minty chip texture in the cupcake!) make this absolutely awesome.

You can thank me, HAYLEY (the baker/not bale of hay/skank/dog) later :)

xo, Hayley

S’mores Cake Pops

 

I’m a novice camper.

Read: I’ve been camping all of two times, both when I was waaay younger and didn’t comprehend the amount of serious work needed to actually go camping.

I thought camping meant roughing it and getting away from the real world, but apparently it means packing everything but the stucco on your house so you can live like you do at home, just with a buttload of mosquitoes and maybe some bears roaming through your turf.

I’m not cool with bears nor bugs; therefore, making me the anti-camper.

Until now.

See, my boyfriend got me all hyped on the idea of going camping in his friend’s cabin this summer. Read: cabin, which meant running water, a stove-top, a bed, and WALLS. Therefore, I was stoked. But when those plans fell through and I saw the sadness on my crestfallen boyfriend’s face, I felt kinda bad. So I bought us a reservation near Santa Cruz, and we’re headed there tomorrow.

As in rough and tumble camping.

As in a tent, bears, and a whole lotta bugs.

And I don’t know how I feel about this.

Of course I’m excited to get away from Sacramento for a little bit. It’s supposed to be 80 degrees which sounds amazing since I’m sweating myself silly in the 105 degree heat here. But otherwise, there are some things I’m not too sure about.

Enter: The Novice Camper’s Not-Too-Sure-About-Camping-Camping-Guide

1. No perfume = scared for my life. While it sounds odd, I have a serious smelling problem. Not that I smell bad, but I have an intense, irrational fear of smelling bad. It’s never happened, but I never, ever want to be thatperson who reeks of body odor and doesn’t know it or can’t do anything about it. And since apparently wearing perfume will attract bugs and bears, I have to forgo my signature scent for a few days and risk it going au naturel. Just the thought of smelling like a bad mixture of chicken noodle soup and rotten cheese is scarier than facing off with a grizzly.

2. Bugs, bugs, oh, and did I mention MORE FREAKIN’ BUGS? I already have issues when I spot a fly, a mosquito, or a spider somewhere in my house. You guys have about 97% of land to roam free; why the hell are you in my bathroom? I really don’t understand the purpose of flies or mosquitoes except to annoy the living hell out of me. And the idea of them everywhere is making me a little itchy already.

3. Oh, and FREAKIN’ BEARS (or lions, tigers, mountain lions, and serial killers). It may sound farfetched, and everyone I’ve talked to who camps says I have “nothing to worry about” and proceeds to roll their eyes as if being scared of a bear attack is this psychotic idea, but I am petrified of these animals. We’re in their territory, so if Smokey decided he wanted my cajun chicken sausage sandwich, he could mosey on over at any time and eat that as a snack and my head for dessert. And serial killers… campers are their prime targets. Have you seen House of Wax starring Paris Hilton? The movie is awful but the plot is plausible: a bunch of good lookin’ teens roughin’ it in the woods and BAM, decapitation by sword. Or something.

4. No cupcakes? If I can’t bake cupcakes, I’m seriously depressed.

5. It’s not a house; therefore, it sucks. I’m a bathroom-kitchen-lounging-around kinda girl. Bathroom-kitchen-lounging-around kinda girls enjoy houses or places where they can relax, walk to the bathroom, sit their bare butt on the toilet without worrying about diseases or bugs, and go about their business. Or take hot showers that don’t require wearing flip flops due to bugs or weird foot diseases. Having to walk in the dark wildnerness just to take a leak or depositing four quarters for a shower is crazy talk. If anything, the state park should be paying me to shower so I don’t stink up the place.

6. No Facebook. Wait, no Facebook… cool. As much as I love staying connected and knowing that a girl from high school is going to Tahoe tonight–party!–or someone’s baby just threw up everywhere (since these facts practically make my LIFE and I care sooo much) it’ll be awesome to take a break for awhile. I love blogging and I’ll miss all my loyal readers dearly, but at the same time, I’m looking forward to missing out on other people’s lives…and I will not miss those stupid Farmville requests.

While it may sound like I’m a bit too whiny, I’m actually looking forward to this camping adventure, mainly because it’s something new and I’m always down to try something once.

But also, hotels are always awesome, and as I say, oldies can be goodies, too…

Speaking of oldies but goodies, I haven’t mentioned cake pops for awhile.

And needless to say, they’ve been on my mind.

So I made some… S’mores Cake Pops, to commemorate my camping trip tomorrow.

And while I’m hoping it won’t be, it could be my last post. Who knows–I may perish in a mosquito attack or be a mountain lion’s dessert. But if I survive, you bet your ass I’m going to be on I Survived telling my story and showing you my crazy scarred arm.

Enough about mountain lions, let’s get poppin’!

S’mores Cake Pops *adapted by Wilton’s S’mores Cake Ball Pops recipe 

1 box chocolate cake mix (I used Duncan Hines)
4 eggs
1/3 cup oil
1 cup water
1 small box sugar free/fat free (SF/FF) chocolate pudding mix
2 cups crushed graham crackers, divided
1 jar (7 oz) marshmallow fluff or creme
2 pkg Light Cocoa flavored candy melts
Lollypop sticks
Mini marshmallows, if desired

1. Prepare cake mix according to package directions, using the 4 eggs, 1/3 cup oil and the 1 cup water. Beat in dry pudding mix until blended, about 1 minute. Pour into a lightly greased 13×9 inch baking pan and bake, approximately 30-33 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely.
2. Crumble the cake into small crumbs into a large bowl. Mix in ONE cup of the crushed graham crackers and the entire jar of marshmallow fluff. Using a spoon (or your best tool, your hands!) mix together the fluff, crumbs and cake crumbs until it’s fully combined. Roll into small balls and place on a wax paper lined baking pan. Freeze for about 30 minutes, or until solid & chilled but not frozen.
3. Meanwhile, prepare candy melts according to package directions. Cake pops are easiest to dip in a tall bowl rather than a wider one. Dip the tip of one lollypop stick into the melts and insert it into a cake ball. Dip the entire cake ball into the candy melts, coating it completely. Allow the excess candy melts to drip off the sides. You can lightly tap the stick with your finger, or swirl it around gently. Sprinkle tops of cake pops with remaining graham cracker crumbs, or top with mini marshmallows, if desired. Allow to dry upright in a styrofoam block (I got mine at Dollar Tree).

These are definitely labor-intensive but way less messy (in the end) than your average s’more. And they taste just like them.

They’d be perfect for your next campfire or cook-out, and when it’s cold, it’d be a good snack or treat for a slumber party.

I’m also going to take some–justincase–because who knows, maybe mountain lions like cake pops and I could probably use them to persuade a serial killer not to cut my head off if it came down to that. You never know.

Happy Camping!

xo, Hayley

 

 

 

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