Thursday, March 20, 2014

Happy Spring!


I often get asked how I personalize and enhance my photos for my blog.  I am happy to say that I am able to do so via a free online photo editor called Picmonkey. It's my favourite online resource for enhancing my photos and for building collages.  It's great, not only for its vast resources but also because it's free and easy for anyone to use!  Of course they offer some great ad-ons that make it even more fantastic if you choose to upgrade and purchase a Royale account. I have yet to pay for a thing and am constantly in awe at the possibilities available to me.

When I logged in today, I discovered that it is their birthday! Happy Birthday, Picmonkey!   To celebrate, they are offering a FREE GIFT. If you use this link to try Picmonkey for free, I can get a free trial of the Royale package and you get the chance to see all the wonderful things that this site has to offer. It's a win , win!

So if you are looking for a great site to edit and enhance your photos, please give Picmonkey a try.


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

A reason to celebrate...

  St. Patrick's day is a day when we all become long lost decendants of the Emerald Isle.  Traditionally recognized as the day to honour the patron saint of Ireland, this day has now become an international day to celebrate and drink green beer. And after the winter we've had, who doesn't need a reason to celebrate? 
  Sadly, March 17th fell on a Monday this year. That, plus the fact that my family just returned home from a wonderful, sunny vacation, had us feeling less than celebratory. In an attempt to get in the spirit I decided to whip up a batch of cupcakes worthy of a saint. I think these tipsy treats fit the bill. 
   Let's raise a cupcake and hope that spring is on the way...  Sláinte!

For the cupackes you will need:
1 box Devil’s Food cake mix
3 eggs
½ cup melted butter, cooled
2/3 cup milk, 2%
1/3 cup Irish Cream liqueur
1.      Mix above ingredients on low for 30 seconds, then on medium for 2 minutes.

2.      Line muffin tins with paper liners and fill ¾ full.

3.      Bake for 20 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

4.      Cool completely before inserting ganache and frosting.

For the chocolate ganache filling you will need:
1/3 cup plus 2 tbsp. heavy cream
1 cup milk chocolate chips
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons Irish Cream liqueur
1.       Combine heavy cream and chocolate chips in a medium microwaveable bowl. Heat at 30 second intervals until completely melted and mixture can be stirred smooth. Add butter in pieces and stir until melted. Add Irish cream. Stir well. Refrigerate until ganache is thickened but still fairly soft.
2.      Cut a large divot out of each cupcake and fill with ganache. I use a large piping tip to cut out the middle. Simply push it down in the center of the cupcake, twist and pull up. Poke a toothpick through the tip and push out the cake and set aside. As tempting as it will be to pop one in your mouth, don't do it, you will need those pieces to fill the holes once you are finished filling them with ganache!
For the Irish cream frosting you will need:
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
3 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/4 cup plus two tablespoons Irish cream
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1.       Combine butter and confectioners’ sugar in a large bowl and mix on low speed with a hand mixer until just combined. Gradually add in Irish cream. Scrape down sides of bowl and mix in vanilla. Beat on high speed until light and fluffy. Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a large closed star tip. Pipe frosting over the surface of the cupcakes.

Thanks to SprinkleBakes for inspiring this recipe!