Sunday, July 21, 2013

Orange Creamsicle Cupcakes

Remember those orange creamsicle popsicles from when you were a kid? I do, and I absolutely LOVED them! The citrusy orange flavor of the popsicle paired with the creamy, dreamy filling on the inside was such a delicious combination and so refreshing for the summer! I was thinking about how good those were on one of our sweltering hot Arizona summer days last week and thought, what if I made those in a cupcake? So this weekend, that's exactly what I did!

It's an orangesicle flavored cake mix, spruced up with my own ingredients to make it extra dense and moist, then piped with a cream filling on the inside and a little dollop on top then lightly iced with orangesicle flavored frosting :) Yum!

It's pretty easy to make and you can have a lot of fun with it. Kids can help with the filling and frosting and experiment around with decorating. You really do have a lot of options, so play around with this to make it your own, or just try it as-is and see how you like it!

Here is my recipe for Orange Creamsicle Cupcakes, I hope you enjoy!

Three special ingredients I wanted to share with you: I started with this box mix from Pillsbury, which I found at Target in their seasonal section in the back of the store- it is currently filled with summertime things like Adirondack chairs, pool noodles, picnic items, etc. If you can't find it, I am sure you can make-do with a yellow cake mix and add orange juice and/or orange flavored extract. My other secret ingredient to bring out the citrus flavor and also moisten them up is lemon pudding mix! I actually ended up using 1/2 box of lemon and 1/2 of vanilla, which I thought was a nice complement to the creamy filling flavor. And last but not least, a jar or two of marshmallow fluff :)

Orange Creamsicle Cupcakes

Ingredients for cupcakes:
  • 1 box orangesicle flavored cake mix
  • 1 small pkg (3.4 oz) lemon instant pudding and pie filling mix (optional: you can use an addt'l box of vanilla and do 1/2 box of each)
  • 1 (small container (8 oz.) sour cream
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup warm water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 cupcake/muffin tins with preferred paper liners (about 24 needed).

Combine all ingredients in a large mixer bowl and beat on low speed until just blended; then kick it up a notch or two to medium speed and beat for 2 minutes. Fill each cup about 2/3 full. I like to use an ice cream scoop like the one pictured to fill mine evenly, and also less messy.

Bake 25-28 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. This batter is dense, so you want to make sure there is nothing ooey-gooey on your toothpick when you test it, otherwise your cupcakes will collapse when you take them out because of the weight of the batter. A few dry crumbs on the toothpick is ok : )

Cool in pans for 10 mins then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.

While these puppies are baking and cooling, you can clean out your bowl and start preparing your cream filling and frosting!

Ingredients for cream filling:
  • 1 pkg (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 stick (4 Tbsp) butter, softened
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2-1 tsp vanilla extract (depending on flavor intensity and filling color desired)
  • opt: about 1 (7 oz.) jar of marshmallow fluff*
*I used the marshmallow fluff for a few reasons: I found it really cut the obvious cream cheese/powdered sugar/vanilla extract flavor, and I also really liked the lighter, fluffier texture it gave to the filling. This is totally optional, and the recipe will definitely work without it, but I personally really liked it!


Mix cream cheese and butter in large mixer bowl until well blended (about a minute or less should do). Add your powdered sugar, then add the preferred amount of vanilla extract to taste. Taste testing from the bowl along the way is recommended, lol! Now comes the fun part, if you are including this, adding the marshmallow fluff! I went ahead and took my spatula and scraped all of it out of the jar and into the filling mixture. You can gradually add a little here and there and see what you like, or just take my word for it and put it all in there. Mix away, store in the fridge if you want it a little firmer and cooler.

Ingredients and directions for the orange frosting:

I used a can of orangesicle flavored frosting that was right next to the orangesicle cake mix at Target, and then also added a 7 oz. jar of marshmallow fluff to make the flavor a little less heavy and fluff and puff it up a little. This is also optional.

Now, get ready to cream-fill and frost!

Add your cream filling to a professional icing decorator like this one, or to a plastic piping bag fitted with a tip. The tip size I used was Wilton 230. If you don't have either of these, you can remove a small portion of the middle of the cupcake, add about 1 tsp. to 1Tbsp. filling with a spoon, then replace cupcake center.

Insert the piping tip about halfway through the center of the cupcake and fill with about a teaspoon-Tablespoon of filling, or until the cream filling starts puffing out of the top of the cake. Pipe enough to leave a nice little dollop on top, like this:

One you have your lovely little dollop centered on top like so, go ahead and take a mini spatula (or whatever you like to use) and lightly frost in a circle around the cream, leaving the cream center exposed to give your eaters a little hint about what's on the inside : )

Almost there...

There you have it! My fun summertime treat : ) You can stick these in the fridge for a few minutes and serve them slightly chilled for an extra pop of refreshment on a warm summer day. Hope you have fun making and eating these! Let me know what you think in the comments below : ) I'm happy to answer questions if you have any!

Have a great week!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Christmas in July on QVC Starts TOMORROW!!!

Sooo excited for CIJ tomorrow! Starts an hour earlier this year, at 8pm for me! That's 11pm eastern time. Hope you tune in to enjoy the festivities!

This will mark only 5 months till Christmas, and only 2 months till fall! Hooray! The best time of the year is here!

Have a great Christmas in July weekend!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Bath & Body Fall Candle Preview 2013 & CIJ is Approaching!

I am just tickled pink with anticipation of all things fall that are approaching. July might oddly enough be one of my favorite months because this is when things I am using now (i.e. 4th of July, summer things, etc) go one sale and guess what starts creeping in to store aisles?? Fall and Christmas! Hooray! Pumpkins, costumes, colorful leaves and evergreen wreaths start to make their debut in some of my favorite stores. What stores, you ask? Hobby Lobby is decked out for Christmas in some aisles, Michael’s has had fall since the 1st week of June (they get their 1st fall boxes in immediately after Memorial Day), Party City has the back of their store dedicated to Halloween costumes and Yankee Candle has their fall preview collection out and ready! July is great because everything good is ahead of you, and you even get to experience a lot of that goodness to come now J
I also know that this is the month when any event or new item being released in the fall will make a preview in some way, shape or form, usually on a website. Two examples of this today: First, Bath & Body 3-wick candles are on sale for $12 right now for the semi-annual sale, and guess what I saw included in that special price? Pumpkin collection!!! Classic fragrances and a couple new scents in their new 2013 packaging are on sale for $12 right now! AND free shipping over $25! Second example of this today, Mickey’s Halloween Party information is up on Disney’s website!!! I am so excited, I seriously hope I can go this year! Aside from the Halloween Party, which is a separate event, Halloween Time at Disneyland/Fall starts in September, and although they do not have that schedule up yet, I will guess that will start the weekend of September 14th. Two short months away!
Isn’t that a great little summertime pick-me-up?! It is for me! All these scorching Arizona summer days, in combination with the start of some monsoon storms really make me crave the fall, so I get a little more excited about these things than most people probably do. Today is such a cozy, lazy day out, too. It’s been overcast all day (a really nice break from the bright, blaring summer sun), and therefore our temperatures are about 10-20 degrees cooler than they have been. “Cooler”, by the way, is 88 degrees at 8:30am instead of 97, is that funny to anyone else? Lol. Also, during the afternoon today it went from 113 to 93 when it started raining, oh happy day! The clouds and pending monsoon storms have brought with it some thick humidity that makes the air feel like a warm blanket and the smell of rain which makes me want to curl up by a fireplace with a hot coffee and take a nap. Caffeine and naps are very contradicting, so I can’t explain why but that’s just what this weather makes me want to do! Combine all of that with Christmas in July on QVC approaching and I am just over. the. moon!
So, do you want the scoop for the new Bath & Body Works fragrances for fall? I’ll assume you do, so here it is!
I’ll start with some brief packaging information:
The packaging for the pumpkin candles is decent and an improvement from last year. I’ll include a few pictures of some of the candles below and you can decide for yourself J The new packaging for Cranberry Woods is very pretty, and I hope that is the direction they will go for the rest of the fragrances this year and for the upcoming holiday season. It suits my style well.
Also, can I backtrack real quick and say that I am pretty sure BBW has never had any fall candles from the new, upcoming season at all whatsoever online before it’s available in stores or during the semi-annual sale?? This seems like a first and I won’t question it. My only explanation would be that they see the market demand is very high once summertime hits- people are pretty eager for fall since it’s been a decent stretch of time since there has been a real holiday that you can theme and expand out to the 5 senses product-wise in a while, so they are jumping on the opportunity and providing the supply earlier. It works very well for their competitor, Yankee Candle, so they might as well take advantage of it, too!
Here are some new fall scents that caught my eye that I am really stoked about just based on the name alone! If you try any of these, please let me know what you think! These descriptions are straight from the BBW website.
Pumpkin Carving (New!)
Your fall favorites are back! Invite everyone over to enjoy the fun fragrance of making jack-o-lanterns in this blend of pumpkin, brown sugar and nutmeg.
Re-introducing… Pumpkin Carving! (read CARVE, like carving a jack-o-lantern, not crave, like I am craving a pumpkin spice latte, lol) ß I threw that little tidbit in there because last year I heard a few employees read it as c-r-aving, so I thought I would help you out if you needed it since it is pretty easy to transpose those letters!
Ok, so this one is technically not NEW, it was actually given away as a part of a free gift last year during a home fragrance event at BBW stores on Saturday, September 15th, 2012 in a mini-candle version, then they never fully released it and I could not find it ANYWHERE! I’m sure it was in some test stores, but it was not online or in any stores near me, so I was really bummed that I missed out on getting it! So I am very excited to see that it is here this year! Can’t wait to try it! Were any of you lucky enough to snag this one up last year?
Side note: I missed the fragrance event that day because we were in the hospital- my sister-in-law was having their first baby and our 2nd nephew! So we were a little caught up with labor and delivery J Wouldn’t have missed that for a BBW event obviously (please send me to Bath & Body rehab if I ever do something like that lol), but I think this ends up being a win-win for me- got to be there for our nephew’s arrival and they are releasing the scent I missed last year, this year! Score!
Sweater Weather (New!)
Cuddle up with an aromatic blend of eucalyptus, juniper berry and fresh sage that celebrates the arrival of sweater weather.

Pumpkin Apple (New!)
Experience the blend of your two favorite fall scents - apples and pumpkin - enhanced by notes of cinnamon and clove.
Pumpkin Pecan Waffles (New!)
Delight in the scrumptious scent of pumpkin pecan waffles, pure maple syrup and a touch of brown sugar

Aaand some returning classics!

Marshmallow Fireside
Celebrate the changing season with a warm blend of toasted marshmallows, smoldering woods and creamy vanilla reminiscent of a cozy evening 'round the bonfire.
Celebrate the brilliant colors of autumn with this rich blend of golden nectar, red apple and spiced berries.

Autumn Day
Inspired by the fresh air and brilliant colors of a stroll through a secluded wood in autumn with notes of oak, citrus and golden amber.
I'll spare you the descriptions for the rest of these since they should be about the same as years past :)  

Pumpkin Cupcake
Pumpkin Caramel Latte
Sweet Cinnamon Pumpkin
Cranberry Woods
Nutmeg & Spice
Fresh Balsam

So whaddya think? I am excited as always for these to return and for the new ones as well! Pumpkin Carving, Sweater Weather and Pumpkin Apple are the ones I am most looking forward to J I am sure they will bring back a couple other oldies that have been popular like Spiced Cider, Apple Crumble and Caramel Apple, and I’m sure they will tempt our noses with some new ones for us to try throughout the season as well. I believe the pumpkin collection is available in stores July 27th, about 2 weeks away! Ahhh!! Or, you can buy them ahead of time today online while they are on sale! I doubt they will be on sale when they first come out, so if you want to stock up, now is a good time to do so. And with free shipping, it’s very worth it.

To hold you over until then, did I mention CIJ on QVC is only 8 days away?!?!?! YAY!!! I’ll be planning a weekend of getting to know my couch a lot better over the course of Friday evening until Sunday night when it ends! I seriously have problems lol! BTW, it starts an hour earlier this year!! Friday July 19th at 11pm EST, so that would be 8pm my time. I feel so lucky that I don’t have to wait so long for it since I’m in a different time zone. Go Arizona. You pulled through for me!

Here is the basic schedule to quickly fill you in on what to expect (listed in EST, so adjust accordingly):
Friday, July 19th, 2013
11:00pm - Christmas Shoppe
Saturday, July 20th, 2013
12:00am-2:00am - The Joy of Christmas
Sunday, July 21st, 2013
11:00pm-12:00am - The Joy of Christmas
You can find the full programming schedule with this link (I have it set to Pacific Time):

Isn't the graphic super cute this year?? I just love it!

So, I feel like we are all caught up to speed now with holidays and whatnot. Oh wait, back-to-school is coming up. In less than a month around these parts. I feel like summer vacation is so short these days! The only other countdown I have going on in my head is the return of the Pumpkin Spice Latte at Starbucks (oh, the things I tease myself with). That always comes back the day after Labor Day, so I expect it to be “soft-released” (as in, not advertised at all, but if you know about it, you might be able to purchase it) Labor Day weekend, and in full pumpkin spice bloom on Tuesday, September 3rd! I have it marked in my calendar as “Happy PSL Day”, and I will bet you my first latte that it will be available then! Any takers? ;-)
Sheesh, that is only 7 ½ weeks away! I also plan to decorate my house for fall that weekend. Not Halloween though, that usually comes between the 1st day of fall and October 1st, whatever my schedule allows for. For those of you keeping score at home, the first day of fall this year is Sunday, September 22nd… 10 ½ weeks away J So we have lots of fun stuff to fill our weeks with until then!
Alright, now I feel caught up with everything, haha! Have a lovely summer day!