Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween! Hope you have a fun-filled day with lots of treats! Here's a festive recipe of my latest cake creation, a Chocolate Pumpkin Cake with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting and Chocolate Ganache sure is a mouthful but it is oh so yummy and worth every single calorie!

Chocolate Pumpkin Cake (makes one 3-layer cake)

-2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
-1 cup granulated sugar
-1 cup dark brown sugar
-3/4 cup cocoa powder
-1 1/2 tsp baking soda
-2 tsp baking powder
-1 tsp salt
-2 tsp cinnamon
-1 1/2 cups buttermilk
-1 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie mix)
-1 cup vegetable oil
-1 tsp vanilla
-3 eggs

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Prepare three 8" cake pans lined with parchment paper and sprayed with cooking spray.
  • In a large bowl combine all dry ingredients: flour, sugars, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and mix together.
  • In a medium bowl combine all wet ingredients: buttermilk, pumpkin puree, vegetable oil and vanilla.
  • Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and beat with mixer on medium speed just until combined.
  • Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  • Pour batter evenly into prepared pans.
  • Bake for 25 minutes or until cake tests done.
  • Let cakes cool in pans for 10 minutes then move to wire racks to continue cooling.
  • While cakes are cooling you can prepare the Orange Cream Cheese Frosting.
Orange Cream Cheese Frosting

-12 oz cream cheese, softened
-1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
-6 cups confectioner's sugar
-1/2 tsp vanilla
-orange food coloring

  • Mix cream cheese and butter with electric mixer on medium speed until creamy.
  • Gradually add in confectioner's sugar one cup at a time and continue to mix.
  • Mix in vanilla.
  • Add in orange food coloring and mix until you reach your desired shade of orange.
  • Once cake has cooled, ice your cake with cream cheese frosting and then place cake in refrigerator for about 20 minutes so icing will set up.
  • Prepare the Chocolate Ganache while you wait.
Chocolate Ganache

-1 cup heavy cream
-8 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips

  • In a small sauce pan heat heavy cream over medium-high heat until it comes to a boil.
  • Remove cream from heat and pour over chocolate chips.
  • Gently stir cream and chocolate chips so chocolate begins to melt.
  • Let mixture sit 5 minutes and then stir. Mixture will begin to thicken as it sits.
  • Remove cake from refrigerator and pour Chocolate Ganache overtop of the cake and gently push it over the sides using an offset spatula so that it drizzles down.
This cake is perfect to take to a Halloween or Fall party and I guarantee it won't last long!

Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Cupcake a Week: Spooky Spiders

With Halloween only a few days away I figured I better get in on the festivities and create some spooky spider web cupcakes! It seems like new Halloween color trends are popping up all over the place this year. It's no longer your traditional orange and black, but lime greens and purples are being thrown into the mix! So after finding a pack of assorted color spider rings at the store, I thought it would be fun to display them on some matching purple, green and orange cupcakes!

Using some black glitter gel I piped on three circles and then using a toothpick pulled the gel from the inside circle towards the outside circle to create the web. It really is a super easy decorating technique so if you need a Halloween treat for this weekend, give this a try!

Of if you feel a little more ambitious and want an even bigger spider web, check out this cake I made last year.

What are your plans this Halloween? Will you be dressing up, taking the kids trick or treating or passing out candy?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Farm Animal Sugar Cookies - 1st Birthday!

This past weekend my friend Andrea's little boy, Drew celebrated his 1st birthday! Andrea had asked me to make a farm themed cake for the party months ago, but seeing as I live in AL and she is in KY, I just knew there was no way I felt comfortable making and decorating a cake to ship in the mail. So I offered up the next best thing...cookies! The party was at a local farm with a petting zoo, hay ride and pumpkin patch for all the kids! What a great way to spend a fall afternoon outdoors! So to go along with the farm theme and one of Drew's favorite toys, the Farmer Tad Magnetic Fridge Set I thought it would be fun to make some farm animal cookies.

I used this sugar cookie recipe. All the cookie cutters were from Sur La Table. Unfortunately, they did not have a cow cutter, which I was so bummed about...every farm has cows doesn't it?

After making the cookies and letting them cool I piped the outline in royal icing. There were sheep, chicks, horses...

barns and pigs...

Once the outline was dry, I flooded the cookies with a thinned down royal icing.

I let the cookies dry overnight to harden before adding on the final details.

Then it was time to add the horses tail, sheep fur and the barn doors.

And the curly tail on the pigs.

Here's the final farm cookie collection.

Can't forget the number "1" for the birthday boy!

I packaged all the cookies individually to keep them safe during shipping. Apparently they all made it safely except for the little horses, they broke into several pieces, the poor guys!

I added a little present for the birthday boy too. I can't believe I stumbled across this farm puzzle that matched the cookies I was sending!

Happy 1st Birthday Drew!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Nike Women's Marathon - San Francisco

And after my trip to Chicago, came San Francisco for the Nike Women's Marathon weekend with Team in Training! Check out how cool our hotel room was at the Monaco. I loved the variety of colors, patterns, and fabrics used. Definitely nothing I would have ever thought to pair together, but it seems to work!

Loved the huge round mirror!

We stayed about 2 blocks from Union Square, which was where all the marathon action took place. The race expo was set up here as well as well as the start of the race! And there was shopping galore on every corner!

The Nike Women's Marathon is where I ran my very first marathon two years ago in 2008 and it was truly an amazing and life changing experience! I trained and raised money with Team in Training for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and have been involved with this great organization ever since! I was so excited to head back to San Fran this year and support the 33 women who I've been coaching all season long! This race caters to women and nothing is more empowering than to run for a great cause with 20,000 other women right beside you!

Right across the street from the expo was a 7 floor Niketown, this place was sheer chaos all weekend long! Check out all the people outside the building lineup up to find their names on the wall!

The names of all the race participants for the weekend were printed on the side of the building! It took a few minutes, but I was able to locate my name "Lauren Kapeluck"! How cool is that to see your name amongst thousands of others on the Nike building!

Saturday was a day spent touring the city. A group of us took a 5 hour shuttle and ferry guided tour to hit up some of the famous landmarks. Our journey started at the Ferry Building, which is the most fabulous Farmer's Market I have ever seen featuring fresh and local produce, flowers, gourmet chocolates, breads, cheeses, meats and so much more! It's also where I bought cupcakes from Miette Patisserie that I featured here.

Our first stop on the tour was Lombard Street...aka crooked or zig zag street! We actually walked down this steep road and the girl in front of me was wearing about 4 inch heels, I don't know how she made it down without twisting an ankle!

Then we saw the famous Painted Ladies. Love all 7 of these Victorian Homes. These homes have been featured in the opening credits of Full House...anyone remember that show, I grew up watching the Tanner family! The house on the left was also featured in the movie Mrs. Doubtfire, one of my faves and also just recently went on the market for 4 million dollars!

Finally the moment I had been waiting for the entire tour was the Golden Gate Bridge. On my previous trip to San Fran 2 years ago I could hardly see the bridge it was so foggy, so I was super excited this time to not only be able to see the bridge up close but to get to ride across it. WOW, it was gorgeous!
What an amazing photo opportunity!
Here's a pick of the ladies that went on the tour: Stacy, Heather, Deanna, Kimberly, Me, Micah

Did you know the Golden Gate bridge is the 2nd most photographed landmark in the world next to the Eiffel Tower.

On the other side of the Golden Gate bridge was Sausalito, a quaint town with lots of unique shops and restaurants. I wish I had more time to spend there. I was in awe at all the mansions built up on the hillside, these homes were unbelievable.

We grabbed lunch at Venice Gourmet Delicatessen.

What better to get than the Sausalito Turkey Sandwich...turkey breast marinated in sun dried tomatoes, salsa and cracked pepper with mayonnaise, lettuce and tomato on sourdough. This is probably one of the best sandwiches I have ever eaten! I would be one happy girl if I could eat this every day for lunch!

After lunch in Sausilito we took the ferry back over to San Fran. It was time to get ready for our pasta party and carb load before the big race the next day!

Sunday was race morning! All the ladies are decked out in their purple Team in Training jerseys!
In this picture: Jennifer, Kimee, Mary Kendall, Meredith & Kim!

Here's our HUGE team of ladies from Mobile right before we headed to the starting line! The weather was perfect, cool and in the low 50s, but later on in the race came some rain! Luckily everyone was prepared as we did one of our 20 milers in the pouring rain! All our ladies were troopers and endured the nasty weather to finish their 13.1 and 26.2 mile races!

One of the coolest parts of the race, is as you cross the finish line there are firemen in tuxedos holding silver platters with blue Tiffany & Co. boxes...and here's what was on the inside! I love my new necklace! The theme of the entire weekend was "I Run to Be"...strong, powerful, healthy, etc!

After the marathon it was time to head to the victory party and celebrate everyone's achievements! In this picture: Jennifer, Kelly, Michelle, Me, Kim & Kimee.

In this picture: Micah, Megan, Me, Katie, Robin, Kimberly, Heather, Melissa, Beth!

Great job ladies, you all did amazing on your races and I'm so glad I got to be part of your Team in Training experience over the last 5 months as your coach! So sad the race is over, but so glad to gotten to know each and every one of you! Keep on running!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Chicago Marathon

As promised I've finally gotten a chance to upload some pictures of my recent trip to Chicago to share with you. Here's a quick glimpse at some of my favorite photos from the Marathon Weekend. I had an awesome view of the city right outside my plane window as we were preparing to land. Look at all those sky scrapers, what an amazing city!

Right after arriving in Chicago we headed over to the marathon expo to pick up our race packets. This is a picture of me and Thomas, one of our Mobile participants who was going to be running the race. I was the Alabama Team in Training coach for the marathon weekend so I had the privilege of running along with and encouraging all the TNT participants along the marathon course! I can honestly say this was the largest race I have ever seen, with 40,000 people taking to the streets of Chicago, it was unreal!

The day of the marathon was cool is that?

Posing for a picture with the jumbo 10-10-10 structure before leaving the race expo.

We headed to Gino's East Pizzeria for dinner. Chicago pizza is a must on every visit to the city!

We got the traditional deep dish pepperoni...YUM!

I loved the restaurant atmosphere with all the graffiti on the walls. This is a picture of my friend Jennifer, me and Thomas.

This was the view right across from our hotel, the Wrigley Building! I love how the top was lit pink for breast cancer awareness month!

Saturday morning we took a 4 mile jog and went over to the big bean. Love seeing the building reflections in this silver structure, this is such a cool piece of art.

Sunday was the day of the marathon. I don't really have any pictures from the race because I left my camera in the hotel room. So just imagine 40,000 runners and 1.5 million spectators lining the streets of Chicago for about 6 hours! It was crazy!

Dinner on Sunday night after the marathon we went to Mindy's Hot Chocolate. Just the name alone, got me excited. The atmosphere was quaint and dark, lit by candles and the menu was amazing with fresh local ingredients! I was so hungry I wanted one of everything but finally settled on...

The flank steak with applewood bacon smoked cheesy potatoes and broccoli. Delish!

And of course for dessert we had some hot chocolate. Check out all the variations.

I got the light hot chocolate....white chocolate with a touch of milk chocolate, vanilla bean and malted milk. There was even a homemade marshmallow!

Monday morning before heading to the airport there was time to squeeze in a quick architectural boat tour on the Chicago River to check out the history of all the buildings. This is the Wrigley Building again and the Trump Tower. Just beautiful!

Jennifer and I on the boat tour. She is one of my best friends in Mobile and decided to tag along for the weekend in Chicago because she actually owns a condo there. She was a great tour guide for the weekend and her condo is 1 block off Michigan Ave, so it's right in the heart of the city!

Check out the street we rode under on the boat tour...Randolph Street! I just couldn't resist getting a picture taken in front of it given my husband's name is Randolph! I swear we kept running into this street all weekend long, it was right around the corner from our hotel! And every time I saw it I took a picture!

The magnificent Sears Tour!

As our boat tour was coming to an end, we had a slight delay since the Centennial Fountain was going off. It goes off on the hour for 10 minutes so we got a great view of the arch of water.

And the last stop before heading to the airport was this fabulous little gourmet deli in Bucktown right by Jennifer's condo, The Goddess and Grocer.

I had the California Dreaming sandwich, honey maple turkey breast with avocado, swiss, sprouts, lettuce, tomato and lemon mayonnaise on multigrain. This sandwich was unbelievable and was the perfect way to gear up for my next weekend trip to San Francisco!

And in case you are wondering, there were of course tons of cupcakes on this trip when I visited the famous Sprinkles Cupcakes shop. These cupcakes deserved a post all of there own, which you can check out here if you haven't seen it already.

So as you can see Chicago was fabulous, I absolutely LOVE the windy city, there is just never enough time to see and do everything the city has to offer. I'm already trying to figure out how I can go back soon!

Next up a recap of my weekend in San Francisco!
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