Saturday, September 8, 2012

Low(er)-Fat Lemon Cupcake Recipe

The past two times I have gone grocery shopping at my local Ralphs Fresh Fare I have been tempted to buy their lemon cake with lemon frosting they carry in the bakery section.  Seriously, it is like it has been calling my name!  The cake is gorgeous - I will try and snap a picture next time I go in there.  (Because that won't be weird at all).  You get half of a double layer cake for $6.99.  Not a bad price in my opinion.  What is bad is the way it is (probably) made.  I try my best to choose health(ier) alternatives when I decide to eat something that I know I shouldn't.  I was two seconds from swooping that lemon cake up and moving right along.  I mean, I could taste it.  Then I thought to myself, "Ang, you know how to make a healthier version, so settle the heck down".  Which is true.  I do know how to make cakes so they are not AS bad.  So, I pushed my cart straight to the checkout cake mix aisle.

What did I find there?
Duncan Hines Signature Lemon Supreme Cake Mix

Lemon Cake Mix!
Lemon Frosting!
Duncan Hines Lemon Supreme Creamy Frosting

No, neither of them were on sale.  Did I really care?  Short answer: Noooo.  I threw both items in my cart along with some cupcake liners (just in case) and was on my way.

Some of you may have read a previous post I made regarding a new fitness program I am trying out.  (If not, you can read it here).  So, in all honesty I really ZERO business eating ANY type of cake unless it is made from carrots, broccoli and spinach (ew and no thanks!!).  But, since I bought the stuff, I had to make it.  Right?
Well, I went to bed that night dreaming about a double layer lemon frosted cake very tired.  (I was totally okay with this, because I knew the next afternoon it was so going to be on).  Fast forward to the next afternoon:  uhm where are my cake pans??  For sure I know I had some, probably a few sets at one point.  Hmmm.  Oh, yes.  I seem to remember during one of my OCD cleaning sprees (future blog post on those, later) I told my self I would never, EVER bake a cake again.  Yeah, THAT is sure working out.

Anyway, thank goodness I had the foresight to purchase these bad boys:

Per the package directions the original recipe calls for just (3) ingredients (in addition to the cake mix that comes in the box):
  • 1 1/3 Cups Water
  • 1/3 Cup Vegetable Oil
  • 3 Large Eggs
I learned a long time ago when baking almost any type of cake, bread or muffin you can substitute the oil with an equal amount of apple sauce.  Yep, apple sauce.  It completely cuts the fat out you would be adding if using oil.  I promise no one will know the difference.  It even had the part about using applesauce on the box (near the bottom in super small print).

This is what was printed on the box: "Lower Fat Recipe: Prepare and bake following the directions above except using 1 cup water, 1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce and 3 eggs. Reduce baking time 1-2 minutes"

3 eggs??!  That's a lot of fat (approx. 15 grams of fat and 6 grams of saturated fat are in (3) large eggs).

Did you know there is an easy substitute for using whole eggs in baking?  Really.  I have been using it for years.  Years.  No one can ever tell the difference and if you use the substitute instead of whole eggs it cuts all of the fat and cholesterol and about half of the calories as compared to when using whole eggs.

Some of you have probably used this trick yourselves.
If not, once you have tried it you probably won't go back.
Egg Beaters Original
You can use Egg Beaters in lieu of whole eggs.  Yep, EGG BEATERS.  Egg Beaters are simply eggs without the yolk.  Crazy, right?  Don't question this.  Just try it.  I am telling you, everyone I have told who has tried this egg substitution has LOVED it.  I mean, come on.  No more cracking eggs, dropping shells and having to try and dig the shells out of your cake batter?  (Yes, that has happened to me.  Probably a lot more than I am willing to admit).  Personally, I don't even prefer eggs.  Ever.  For anything.  But, this is like some serious stuff right here.  1/4 Cup of Egg Beaters = 1 Large Egg.  Pretty simple, right?

All righty then.  This is how I make my Lemon Cupcakes....
I follow the directions on the box, substituting the following ingredients for the original ones:
1 Cup Water
1/3 Cup Apple Sauce
3/4 Cup Egg Beaters Original

This is the applesauce I use.
Mott's Original Applesauce
 The cups are approx. 1/2 cup each.  This works out well for me.  I don't bake often, and when I do, I hardly use enough applesauce to justify buying one of the huge jars of the stuff.  It always goes bad before I can use it all.  So, this is a fine alternative.  Plus, you can keep it in the cupboard.
Easy to store AND less waste is all right by me.
I dump all of the above ingredients, along with the cake mix into my KitchenAid Mixer.  From there, I pretty much follow the directions printed on the box.
 I use the wire whip attachment to mix the ingredients.

Since my hands are free while it is mixing, I prepare my cupcake pan by lining it with cupcake liners.

I scoop even amounts of cake batter into the liners.
(I like to use a 1/4 Cup measuring cup to ensure they all have close to the same amount of batter).

Then, they go in the oven and I bake as directed. 
(Using the Egg Beaters and applesauce in lieu of oil and eggs sometimes cause the cupcakes to bake a bit faster, so I check the cupcakes a couple of minutes early to make sure they don't over bake).
After they are done, I let them cool on the top of the oven for about 30 minutes.
Once they are cool, it is time to frost them.

My younger sister, Rachel is somewhat of a "cupcake whisperer" and she makes the best cupcakes ever.  Seriously.  Everyone says so, so it must be true.  I try not to eat them because I know she is using whole eggs, oil AND butter.  But, people keep ordering them, so she is going to keep making them that way.  She makes all of her cupcakes from scratch (!!).  Like as in, not-using-a-cake-mix-from the-store kind of "scratch".  Yeah, that's not happening at my house.  Just saying.  Anyway, I called her to ask her if she had any tips for store-bought frosting.  She got all quiet after I asked her.  Hmmm. I was like, "HELLO!  Are you there, Rae?"  (I'm thinking she was thinking I need to learn how to make my own frosting).  Once she found her words, she told me she adds a stick of butter (!!) and some powdered sugar to the frosting and mixes it on the highest speed to fluff it all up.


That kind of defeats my purpose of eliminating the eggs and oil.  Scratch that idea.

This is what I did instead ~ I decided to try her idea of placing the frosting in my mixer.
I used the wire whip attachment to "fluff" the frosting.

It actually worked!

I was pretty impressed with myself.
(Don't judge)

 Since I knew I was going to be blogging about this entire experience, I decided to try my hand at using an actual cake decorating kit I bought a couple of years ago from Macy's. 

I decided to go with the "Star Tip".

Problem was, I wasn't really sure exactly what to do with it.
I called the cupcake whisperer my sister and of course, she did not answer.
I'm not one to wait around, so a quick Google search took me to this video.
Seemed EZ PZ.  I'm all about frosting "12 cupcakes in less than 1 minute".

I filled the frosting bag with my "fluffed" frosting and got busy.
That chick in the video is such a liar!  It took me like 3 whole minutes to frost 24 cupcakes!  Sheesh.

I kid, I kid.

Anyway, I realized (in the middle of my first time frosting cupcakes using an actual tool other than a butter knife) the chick in the video had a much bigger "Star Tip" than mine.
(Is it just me, or does that sound kind of dirtay?)

Here is what my cupcakes ended up looking like.


 Pretty, right?

Are you still here?  This is like the longest blog in the history of Lemon Cupcakes evaaaaa.
Hey, I'm thorough if nothing else.

Have any of you tried these lower-fat substitutes?  Did you notice a difference?  Do you have any other low-fat baking tips?
I'd love to read about them.  Please, share them in the comments.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

My Laundry Room Makeover (Part One)

Some of you may have read my earlier post, Laundry Room Inspiration.  If you didn't read the part regarding my personal, hot-mess-of-a-laundry-room, let me sum it up for you with a few pictures....

But first, let me say this - considering how small my laundry room is and the fact that all sides are surrounded by doors we actually need to use, I don't really have many options.  Short of knocking down walls and remodeling (like that is going to happen), I felt the only thing I could do right now (before I lose my mind) is tidy, clean and organize the area as best as possible.  

First, I started by removing all items and clutter from the room.  Then, I wiped down every surface (including appliances, furniture, doors, windows, blinds and walls).  Next, I vacuumed and steam mopped the floor.  Finally, I started bringing stuff back into the room, making sure I only brought in the items we actually need in there. 

I wish I could tell you how it got so messy.  I have zero excuses.  Really.  No, I did not "make it look messy" in order to have atrocious "Before" pictures.  I wish I could say I had.

Okay, here goes.... 

My son uses this bench every single morning to sit and put his shoes on before school.
Those are actually his shoes you can see in the picture (which do not belong there, I might add!)

I truly despise the location of this room.  The door you see is actually our back door and the main one we use to enter/leave the house each day.  When entering through that door, we have a bathroom to the right (shown in this picture), a hallway if you go straight and our kitchen is to the left.

I have super sensitive skin, so I am always on the lookout for products that will not irritate me.
This is one of the reasons I have a few different brands.

So far, this "mini-project" has cost me less than $20 and about two hours of my time.  I had everything except the glass jars.  The larger one was purchased from Walmart and the smaller one is from Ikea.  I plan on adding a pretty cushion to the bench as well as a new rug in between the bench and the washer/dryer.  I need to come up with a clever way to hide our electrical panel.  Maybe a faux cupboard?

For now, I am just happy our Laundry Room feels fresh and clean.
Oh and it smells like a mixture of Windex Antibacterial and Pine-Sol.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Laundry Room Inspiration

Anyone who knows me (I mean actually knows me in real life, not just virtually), knows I am (or at least strive to be) SUPER ORGANIZED.  Slowly, but surely I have been organizing and then re-organizing each of the rooms in our house.  I still have a ton to do (ie linen closet, spare bedroom closets, garage, barn, etc. ~ you get the idea).

My current project is our Laundry Room.  I don't have a ton of options considering our Laundry Room also serves as our "Mud Room", has zero cupboards (only a small shelf) and four (!!) doors: the backdoor and three of those old fashioned wood sliding doors leading to different areas of our house (kitchen, hallway and bathroom).  Ugg.  Here are some photos from the web and Pinterest I am using for inspiration....

I am not loving the rug, but I love all of the white against the dark walls.

White backdrop, dark baskets and pretty jars.  I love how simple this looks.
Great use of not a lot of space.  Love the accent colors.
Dream Laundry Room.  Yes, please!
Organized & Simple :)

I plan on completing our Laundry Room makeover this week.  I have a ton of ideas, one of which utilizes clear glass apothecary-like jars to store my powdered laundry detergent, baking soda, borax and a few other "laundry necessities".  The problem is I need to find some jars that look like these, without the hefty price tag.

PB Classic Glass Canister ($19.00 $44.00)

Don't get me wrong, I LOVE Pottery Barn, but this mama is on a budget.  I found some knock-offs online for about $30 including shipping, however I am impatient and want to find some now (see: TODAY).  Also, I worry about the quality of the glass when ordering online.  It is so hard to tell from a picture.  So, it is off to Walmart, Target and Michaels I go.  (Just as soon as my 8-year-old finishes his homework).  :)

I will update this post with before and after pictures as soon as I take them.  Wish me luck!

9/5/12 UPDATE:   Click here to see some before and after pictures of my laundry room so far.

Ugi Ball

This Labor Day weekend was a busy one for me.  Along with helping a friend of mine get started on moving from his leased apartment of 5+ years to his newly constructed condo, I was able to obtain a Pink 8lb Ugi Ball!!  I have really, really been wanting to try one of these out.  (Can you feel my excitement?)

Ugi Ball

I "borrowed" it from my sister who ALWAYS seems to be ahead of the fitness curve by having the hottest and latest products before anyone else I know.  The first thing I noticed about the Ugi Ball is how light and squishy it feels!

Up until now, I have been using a medicine ball exactly like this black Everlast that we had in our home gym.  As much as I would like to believe the Everlast Ball only weighs the 8 pounds I originally thought, I now think differently.  No wonder I was having such a hard time lifting this thing!  It is more like 12 pounds and I plan on weighing it to be sure.  I have found it super uncomfortable and nearly impossible for me to use as a stand-in for the ball they use in the BodyRock workouts.  Hence, the reason I am borrowing the Ugi Ball for now in order to try it out.  Shoot, I need to justify the price if I decide to purchase one of these.  All I know is at $129.00, it better be something special! (Like washing my dishes kind of special).

The new "Ugi" Ball weighs in at 8lbs and is pink (kind of cute, eh?).  It also came with the "Ugi at Home" DVD that has workouts tailored specifically to the Ugi Ball.  The DVD case promises, "Ugi is the ultimate 30-minute workout that combines endurance, strength and stability training into the most fun, stylish challenging method of becoming functionally fit!"  I started to watch one of the workouts last night and it started with a girl doing jumping jacks as a warm-up.  The background music sounded pretty upbeat - that is always a plus.  Needless to say, I will be sticking to the BodyRock workouts for the time being.  My only worry is if I do purchase the Ugi Ball, what happens if and when I outgrow the size?  Will I regret not buying one of the heavier Ugi Balls?  Will the company offer a discount to returning customers looking to purchase additional Ugi Balls?  I sure hope so, because mama may want them in all of the colors! :)

Today will mark my first time using the 8lb Ugi Ball and I plan on doing this workout:


Have any of you used the Ugi Ball?  What do you think?  Is it worth the price?