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September 2009

The First Official Cheap Gourmet Contest

On September 11, 2009, we launched the First Official Cheap Gourmet Contest. All that is required is to vote for your favorite food and enter your email address by filling out the form below. One lucky winner will receive an adorable "Barker's Dozen" Greeting Card gift pack containing 13 happy-yappy cards with envelopes packaged in a reusable vinyl tote.

Each 5x7 greeting card is graced by a photograph of dogs in action - running, playing, swimming, sleeping. Beneath the photo is an appropriate caption guaranteed to bring love and happiness to the recipient. Cards are blank inside so you can write a personal note, include your favorite Cheap Gourmet recipe, or photos of yourself, family or beloved pets.

Thank you dog caption cards

There is no "catch" to The Cheap Gourmet Contest. Your email address will only be used to notify you when  you win the contest. One lucky winner winner will be chosen at random at midnight on October 2, 2009 and notified by email on or before October 5th. The "Barker's Dozen" Gift Pack will be mailed directly to your home or office at no charge to you.

With each sale of Dog Caption Cards, 25-percent of the proceeds are donated to animal rescue organizations. If you would like to offer support to our furry friends or interested in selling the cards to raise funds for your local animal shelter, visit www.HappyDogCards.com. (You can also earn 25-percent of each sale by joining the affiliate program!)

In the meantime, simply select your favorite food and enter your email for a chance to win. Only ONE ENTRY per email or ISP address.

P.S. Stop back often as we will be hosting another contest next month. We will be offering an amazing Cheese and Wine party gift set valued at $150. Stay tuned - you're going to love all the future Cheap Gourmet Contests!

Yippee dog caption cards

How to Make a Cupcake Cake for any Occasion

How to Make a Cupcake Cake for any Occasion

Last weekend my husband and I attended a birthday celebration for friends who were both turning 60. Being such a milestone birthday, friends and family organized a semi-surprise party and planned a feast for royalty.

In July, I ordered mini cupcake pans from Easy Bakeware, which I had not had a chance to try out. Several years ago, another friend of mine taught me how to make cupcake cakes. The guest list included several children and I thought mini cupcakes would be a great way to keep them away from the "grown-up" cake until it was ready to be served.

I was preparing several dishes for the party and needed to save a little time, so I purchased boxed cake mixes and canned icing. Overall, I baked about 225 mini cupcakes. Although I only had two 12-cupcake mini muffin pans, the Easy Bakeware made the process a breeze!

Easy Bakeware

I used mini muffin paper baking tins and filled each about 2/3rd's full of batter. Baking time per batch was 13 minutes at 425 degrees Fahrenheit. I used three types of cake batter - French Vanilla, Dark Chocolate and Butter Chocolate. The Butter Chocolate was by far my favorite; although all of them were quite tasty and addicting!

Next, I cut a cardboard moving box into a 24"x18" rectangle and covered it with foil. I had purchased decorative letters and colored sprinkles at the store. For the cupcakes used for the mini cupcake cake, I spread the icing evenly using a small icing knife, then placed one letter on each mini cupcake.

Happy Birthyday Mini Cupcake Cake 

As  you can see, I used white frosting for the cupcakes with letters. It reads: "Happy 60th Birthday Maeme and Carl". I alternated flavors on each row. The first, third and fifth row are French Vanilla cupcakes, while the second and fourth rows are chocolate cupcakes.

Using some of the extra mini cupcakes, I created little islands on the sides to fill in the extra space. I purchased paper palm trees attached to a toothpick. These palm trees gave me fits because they had this teeny-tiny square adhesive covered in paper. The paper had to be removed and the palm trees stretched out and attached to the other side. Considering it was 4am when I was finishing up this cake, not all the palm trees came out uniformly. As they say, it's the thought that counts!

Cupcake Cake Birthday  

I used the butter chocolate mini cupcakes to create the islands and used a piping bag to swirl the icing. I placed 3 to 4 "island" cupcakes together and then placed one on top of the stack to create the illusion of an island. I then used white icing to pipe around the edges of the cardboard and topped with colored sprinkles. 

This was my first attempt at making a cupcake cake and while it isn't perfect, it was certainly a huge hit at the party. I placed the remaining cupcakes on dessert trays and when we departed the party, I noticed only 3 were left. The cupcake cake was completely devoured.

Not only was the cupcake cake a lot of fun to make, it didn't take much time and the guests absolutely loved it. Homemade gifts are always a great way to make people feel special. Even though I used boxed cake mixes, I could not have been more pleased with the final product.

If you are wondering how I transported the cake, I simply covered it loosely with foil. The palm trees helped keep the foil off the icing. I drive a Toyota Rav4, so the cardboard platform fit perfectly in the tailgate area. We drove extra careful to make certain we didn't need to make any sudden stops or take corners on two wheels ;-)

The possibilities of cupcake cakes are endless. Grocery stores, dollar stores, and party stores carry a wide range of novelty items that can be used to create all kinds of theme cakes. If you don't own a pasty bag and piping tips, you can place icing inside a sandwich bag and snip one corner off. Piping the icing on the cupcakes is considerably more efficient than using an icing spreader.

After using the EasyBakeware muffin pan, I can honestly say that I will be converting ALL my bakeware to this brand. The pans are made from silicone (I think!) and are super easy to clean. The muffins popped out easily and there was little mess to clean up.

EasyBakeware is currently offering FREE bakeware. You can receive any piece of bakeware for free, but will have to pay the shipping cost of $7.95. I've seen this type of bakeware in stores and the average retail price is $19.95 to $24.95 per piece!

If you're like me and love to bake, I highly recommend giving EasyBakeware a try. Click on the banner below and take advantage of the free offer before it's too late.

Easy Bakeware