a.dash.of.sprinkles

cupcakes & wishes. my two favorite things.

Punkins!

I’m a crafty girl, not a practical girl.  So I’m not sure why in my mind, decorating (ie: paint and glitter) pumpkins would be less messy than carving them.  Wrong-o.

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Looks like the tooth fairy sneezed on my pumpkin.

Cortney, Julianne and I decided to have an impromptu craft day because we were feeling festive and wanted to decorate some pumpkins.

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Cortney tried to paint her pumpkin neon pink which turned out just looking like a bright (normal) pumpkin.  So she decided to bling it up with some old jewels we had leftover from her Bachelorette Party.

IMG_7775Julianne pained a cool design on hers and realized after she was done that maybe she should have painted top green.  I think it was pretty cool with the colors she used.

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I love me some glitter.  So its no surprise I glitter-ed my pumpkins.

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This was my Pringles guy pumpkin and his faceless wife.

In honor of our punkin day, I also made Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread.  I needed to test the recipe before a Halloween party but I don’t like pumpkin, so I made it in hopes that Cortney and Julianne would be my taste testers.

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Ignore the baking powder and use baking soda as the recipe calls for.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread
3 C white sugar
1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree
1 C vegetable oil
2/3 C water
4 eggs
3 1/2 C all-purpose flour
1 T ground cinnamon
1 T ground nutmeg
2 t baking soda
1 1/2 t salt
1 C miniature semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour three 1 pound  three 9×5 inch loaf pans.  I only had 2 big loaf pans, so I also used 3 small loaf pans to replace one big one.

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In a large bowl, combine sugar, pumpkin, oil, water, and eggs. Beat until smooth. Blend in flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, and salt. Fold in chocolate chips and nuts. Fill loaf pans 1/2 to 3/4 full.

Bake for 1 hour, or until an inserted knife comes out clean. Cool on wire racks before removing from cans or pans.

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I don’t like pumpkin.  Actually I figured out, I think I don’t like nutmeg.  It was pretty though and Cortney said it was a good recipe, so I’ll take her word for it. 🙂

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Happy Halloween!

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Aloha!

I realized I’m due for a vacay to Hawaii this year.  I went for the first time in 2009 and then again in 2011.  I just sorta got used to going every two years and I’m sad this year I won’t be there.IMG_0959

Hawaii is the one place where its HOT and I don’t complain.  Well, don’t complain much.  And I get to hang out with Tiff.  Hee-san, we need to see each other more than just every couple of years.  🙂

ja9 & tiff up close

Miss you, Hee-san.

I also miss the food of Hawaii and well, the other people of Hawaii. 😉

Hawaiian McDonalds 20111021142417

 

Because of my recent Hawaii withdrawals, I decided to make guava cupcakes for Raeya’s non-Blue Angels party.  I tried many different recipes but they never turned out quite right.  Until Raeya sent me a recipe from her friend.  It was PERFECT.  The trick is to use concentrated guava juice.  As in leave a tube of Hawaii’s Own juice on the counter.  Genius!  There will be a little bit of concentrated juice left over in the tube, so just mix it with a little water to make unconcentrated juice for the gel.  I was so into it, I even listened to my Hawaiian playlist while I baked.  But its slim pickin’s.

Don't judge me.  This is a cute soundtrack.

Don’t judge me. This is a cute soundtrack.

Guava Cupcakes

Cake:IMG_7586
1 (18 oz.) package Duncan Hines yellow cake mix
1 1/3 C thawed concentrated guava juice (Hawaii’s Own)
3 eggs
1/3 C vegetable oil
red food coloring
*doesn’t have to be Duncan Hines.  Use amount of oil and eggs listed on the box.  Replace the water with the concentrated guava juice.

Frosting:
1 ½ (8 oz.) package cream cheese, softened
½ C sugar
1 ½ t vanilla
1 ½ (8 oz.) container Cool Whip, thawed

Guava Topping:
1 C prepared (unconcentrated) guava juice
¼ C sugar
1/8 C cornstarch

Make the cake according to cake mix directions, replacing the water with thawed concentrated guava juice. Add red food dye until the batter is a pink color.

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I think this was after about 6 drops of red food coloring.

Line a muffin tin with liners and bake according to box. It may take a few minutes longer to bake because of the guava juice in the cake.

For the frosting, beat cream cheese with hand mixer until fluffy. Beat in sugar and vanilla. Slowly fold in the Cool Whip and let it sit in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to become more stiff.

For the guava topping, make a paste out of the cornstarch and a small amount of water. It should be more of a liquid than a paste.IMG_7606

Add guava juice and sugar to a sauce pan, heat until it boils.

Remove guava juice from heat and stir in the cornstarch mixture. Return to heat and bring back to a boil. Pour into a separate bowl and let it cool in refrigerator. If your cornstarch mixture made clumps in the topping then just separate it with a strainer.

Add a thin layer of frosting on top of the cupcakes and pipe a swirl border around the top to hold the guava topping in place.    Spoon the guava topping onto the cake and spread it around the top.

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I think its safe to say the guava cupcakes were a hit.  Raeya and Yvette seemed to enjoy them. 🙂

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You actually made it through this entire blog post?!  Mahalo!

You actually made it through this entire blog post?! Mahalo!

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A Blue Angels Kind of Weekend.

Up close and personal.

Seafair is amazing.  Having been a Seattleite my entire life, I usually take Seafair for granted.  But this past weekend of Blue Angels has reminded me why Seafair is so special.

Friday, I had the privilege of escorting 5 wish families to the Blue Angels rehearsal.  We got to see them take off and the kids were even able to meet the pilots and get their autographs.  You can ask Raeya, I’m not really into planes or aviation, but seeing the planes up close and seeing the pilots interact with our wish families…I really appreciated this once in a lifetime opportunity.  The pilots were amazingly sweet, asking each of the kids their names, high-fiving them, and posing for as many pictures as the families requested.

One of the amazing pilots.

I promise we were having more fun than it looks. We were just roasting in the rare Seattle heat.

Sunday was the annual Tsutakawa Blue Angels shindig.  They have the million dollar view of I-90 and graciously open their homes to family and friends every year.

    

Yvette named this trick “the dolphin.”

This one was dubbed “the hanging bouquet” or “the head massager.”

For the party, I tried looking up Blue Angels inspired desserts but only found cakes cut out in the shape of planes and frosted like a Blue Angel.  I don’t have that kind of patience.  So instead, I found a summer inspired cupcake: a strawberry lemonade cupcake.  I used this recipe but changed the frosting a little.  They suggested lemon AND strawberry frosting.  I thought the lemon frosting took away from the strawberry flavor, so I just tinted some plain buttercream frosting yellow so I could still swirl the two colors together when I piped it on the cupcakes.  Enjoy!

Strawberry Lemonade Cupcakes
makes 12 cupcakes

1 cup sugar
6 tablespoons butter
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup milk
grated zest of two lemons

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Cream butter, sugar, and eggs together until fluffy. Add vanilla and lemon zest.

Combine dry ingredients in a bowl. Add half of the dry ingredients, mixing until just combined. Add the milk. Once mixed, add remaining dry ingredients.

Pour into cupcake tins and bake for 20-25 mins (15 mins if you are making mini cupcakes) at 350. Let cool, then frost.

Strawberry and Lemon Buttercream Frosting
2 sticks of butter, at room temperature
3 cups of powdered sugar + 1 cup extra
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped strawberries

In the bowl of your electric mixer, cream butter until smooth. Add in powdered sugar slowly with the mixer on low, increasing to combine. Add in vanilla extract. At this point you need to separate the frosting in two. It all depends on how much you want to frost each cupcake. I choose to take about 3/4 of the mixture and make it strawberry, with the rest being plain buttercream tinted yellow with a few drops of food coloring.

For the strawberry frosting: once the berries are chopped, press them with a paper towel to just release any extra moisture. Add the berries and turn the mixer on high, scraping down the sides as you go. Being that strawberries have a high water content, you may need to add some (or all) of the extra cup of powdered sugar. This will depend on the water content of YOUR strawberries, so add 1/4 cup, then more sugar if needed. Repeat until desired flavor/consistency is readers.  Be sure your berries are chopped small enough otherwise they will not squeeze through the piping tips.

I like making mini cupcakes for potlucks because there is always so much food and people usually want to try everything but with mini cupcakes, they won’t get full on just one dessert!

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Whaaaat??

I’ve spent lots of time online looking up fun, new (mostly cupcake) recipes and sometimes it takes more than a few times until I find the perfect recipe, so I wanted to be able to share some of my delicious outside-the-box recipes!  I can’t cook, so you probably won’t find anything for dinner here, but I will have you covered for dessert.

Volunteering with the Alaska and Washington chapter of Make-A-Wish is also a passion for me.  I began my involvement as an intern, and then a volunteer.  After much persistence and many interviews, I have now been on staff for a couple of years.  However, being a wish granting volunteer is still a very important role to me and meeting wish families reminds me why I do what I do.  I’m frequently asked if its hard doing what I do and dealing with sick kids.  My answer is that I try not to think about them being sick.  I try my best to just plan something fun and exciting for each of my wish kids.  Most of the time, I can’t even tell that they look sick, because I don’t know what they looked like before they lost their hair or their face got puffy from their treatments.  Each of my wish kids holds a special place in my heart.  That being said, I have also spent many hours trying to come up with unique ways to make each of my wish kiddos feel special.  They might all wish to go meet Mickey at a Disney theme park, but I always try to do something special and different for each kiddo.  It’s safe to say that Make-A-Wish is truly one of my passions and I am thrilled to share all of my excitement with you!

My Make-A-Wish partner in crime. We love what we do.
P.S. The costumes were her idea. 🙂

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