Just like everyone else, I’ve had a major cupcake fetish for the last few years. USA Weekend ran a bunch of really simple but delicious-sounding cupcake recipes last week, and I’m planning to make some for next weekend, when we have company. But I got to enjoy some cupcake goodness a week early at a fellow blogger’s birthday party. Ashlee, who used to blog about weight loss at Ash is Fit and now has a cooking blog (and published a cookbook!), Ashlee’s Cooking, had a backyard barbecue to celebrate her 25th birthday.

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Ashlee and her husband prepared a fabulous summer dinner for the guests. There were hamburgers, cheeseburgers, turkey burgers, gourmet mac ‘n’ cheese, veggie kabobs and so much more. But the cocktail-inspired cupcakes she baked, well, took the cake. Above is the margarita cupcake.

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The limoncello cupcakes. I had my first limoncello(s) at an arts benefit two weeks before I left Pennsylvania, and I just loved it. Ashlee was kind enough to encourage us to take several cupcakes with us, but I can’t share photos of the pina colada or mudslide cupcakes, because, I, uh, ate the garnishes on the way home. Her presentation was also amazing – her cupcake stand was four or five plates high, and there were plates of cupcakes all over the table, too. If Ashlee’s cooking blog is not already on your must-read list, it should be, because she will be sharing all of her delicious cupcake recipes over the next few weeks.

If you can’t get enough cupcakes (I can’t!) visit the blog of the woman who wrote the recipes for USA Weekend, Three Many Cooks. I really enjoyed this post about the cupcake craze … you have to check it out:

Given a choice, cakes are nice, but cupcakes are adorable. (Think puppies vs. dogs.) And cupcakes are easier. With cake, there are knives and forks and plates. Cupcakes? Peel that sucker and eat it like a banana. Cakes mean decisions—slice or sliver, end piece or center? It’s the stuff of fights. “His piece is bigger than mine!” Blessedly, a batch of cupcakes are as different as Oreos. After the oohs and aahs, you pass ‘em out, and that’s it. Everybody’s happy.

We even want to serve cupcakes at our wedding. We’d cut into a small, two-tier cake, and then serve the guests a variety of flavors of cupcakes – so cute! (And in the interest of full disclosure, cupcakes usually cost less than a cake costs per slice.) And when I want to online window shop, I go to Etsy and search for “cupcake.” (Ashlee’s dog Pumpkin even wore a cupcake collar rumored to be from Etsy!)

Wait, isn’t this a weight loss blog?

What do cupcakes have to do with weight loss? Ironically, I did not start baking until after I started to lose weight. Before, I would just go buy those doughy chewy delectable Lofthouse cookies, shovel in three at a time, and think nothing of it. Cooking at home because a necessity for me when I started to lose weight, because with all due respect to Jared, I could never afford the Subway diet. So once I started cooking, I wanted to learn to bake. Seeing what went into a from-scratch cupcake taught me to savor the treat, not just wolf it down. Baking my own cupcakes gave me a whole new respect for food. And, when you bake your own, you can make healthy substitutions like apple sauce for oil. (Not that that makes cupcakes a health food, but every little bit helps!)

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