red velvet cupcakes

With Valentine’s Day fast-approaching, I thought it only fitting to post something festive and “Valentine-y”. Joel and I never make big plans for this holiday; instead, we stay in, cook steaks, sip wine (sadly, I’ll be skipping that part this year…), and enjoy some sort of delicious dessert like fudgy fondue or these moist red velvet cupcakes.

red velvet cupcakes3

I only want red velvet once a year. It just seems weird to enjoy it any time but Valentine’s Day. So it had better be one fantastic recipe, otherwise, I’ve just let “red velvet season” slip through my fingers without fully enjoying it. This one doesn’t disappoint. The cake is super moist and rich and the cream cheese frosting is oh-so-smooth and slightly tangy. I just love a good red velvet cupcake.

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

For the Cupcakes:
1/2 cup (one stick) butter
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 oz. red food coloring (I prefer Wilton ‘no taste red’)
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vinegar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease 3 9-inch cake pans or line cupcake pans with cupcake liners.

Cream the butter, oil, and sugar until light and fluffy; about a minute. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each. Add vanilla. Make a paste with the food coloring and cocoa powder and add it into the batter.

In a small bowl, combine the buttermilk and vinegar. In a separate bowl, mix flour, salt, and baking soda. Add the dry ingredients to the batter alternately with the buttermilk mixture, beating after each addition.

Spoon the batter evenly into each cupcake liner (about 3/4 of the way up) and bake for approximately 20 minutes. Depending on your oven, you may need more or less baking time, so keep an eye on them. Let cool completely.

For the Frosting:
2 packages (8 oz) cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup (one stick) butter, at room temperature
1 package (2 lbs.) powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Beat the cream cheese and butter at medium speed until fluffy. Reduce speed to low and slowly add the powdered sugar. Add the vanilla and lemon juice. Spread onto cooled cupcakes.

Makes approximately 24-30 cupcakes.

Recipe source: adapted from my great-grandmother’s recipe

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Joel’s Surprise 30th Birthday Party…

**All pictures were taken with my iPhone

This past Friday, Joel hit the big 3-0. We celebrated by grilling some steaks, sipping wine, and watching The Avengers; a perfect, peaceful evening. Little did he know, the next day he’d be having a big surprise party with all our friends and family!

Cassidy and I got up bright and early ready to work! There was lots to do, so thankfully my mom and dad were there to help! But as you can see, Cassidy was the biggest help of all. ;)

We had a big burrito bar (Freebirds style) with shredded chicken, pulled pork, homemade salsa, guacamole, and all the toppings. It was a huge hit!

Our friend Alyshia made these Oreo cupcakes. They were sooooo good!

Mommy and baby are matchy-matchy and ready to party!

SURPRIIIIIISE!!!

He totally didn’t see it coming! :)

*Family portrait!* We had such a great time with our friends and family, and Joel was very pleasantly surprised- needless to say, I think the birthday boy had a pretty sweet birthday!

 

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Pineapple Angel Cakes…

I have to admit, it’s been over six months since giving birth to Cassidy and I’m still having trouble losing the last bit of weight. We’ve been watching our portions and trying (TRY-ing) to cut back on sweets. However, for me, this proves veeeerrrry difficult…I can’t be expected to quit cold turkey! That’s why recipes like this make me happy- I still get my sweet fix, but I don’t have to feel so guilty afterwards!

This one couldn’t be easier- a box of angel food cake mix and a can of crushed pineapple. I loooove angel food cake, and the addition of pineapple makes it even yummier! Just bake it up in little cupcake liners and you have the perfect portion sizes! (of course, then, you’ll have to practice a little self control and not eat 12…..). ;)

Pineapple Angel Cakes

1 box angel food cake mix
1 20-ounce can crushed pineapple, undrained

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Stir the pineapple into the cake mix and pour into cupcake pans lined with cupcake liners (you’ll have enough batter to fill around 24 cups).*

Bake for 20-25 minutes, until puffed and golden brown. Cool before serving. Serves 24.

*You can also bake in a 9×13 pan or a tube pan.

Recipe source: adapted from allrecipes.com

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Today I have a very special post for you. I’ve been thinking about it and planning it for months and I’m tickled pink to finally get to post it! Today I’m hosting a virtual wedding shower for my dear friend, Kelsey. Though we’ve never actually met in person, she’s been one of my closest blogging friends for almost 3 years now and I just know someday we’ll get the long-awaited chance to meet. She’s a wonderful, encouraging, sweet girl, so naturally, when she first announced months ago that she and Michael were getting married, I decided I just HAD to throw her a virtual shower!

(What a cute couple! I love this picture- they look so perfectly happy and in love!) This is going to be so much fun- we’ve got some wonderful girls with awesome blogs participating and I’m just thrilled! The wedding is March 11th (only 9 days away- eeeek!!) and knowing Kelsey like I do, I have NO doubt it’s going to be the most gorgeous wedding! She and Michael are seriously one of the CUTEST couples ever and though I’ve never actually met either of them in person, I just know they’re going to have a beautiful and happy marriage! Cheers, Kelsey and Michael!

First up, Shawnda of Confections of A Foodie Bride made these adorable Phyllo Purses with Goat Cheese. Oozy goat cheese and crispy pancetta filling wrapped in phyllo “purses.” These look seriously amazing…too bad this is just a “virtual” shower, because I’d sure love to get my hands on two or three of these!

Jen of Beantown Baker baked these sweet Lemon Meringue Cupcakes. Tender yellow cupcakes filled with creamy lemon curd and topped with toasted marshmallow meringue frosting – YUM! I’m definitely going to have to try these myself one day!

These bright and festive Peach and Strawberry Bellinis come from Courtney of Cook Like A Champion. What’s a shower without a festive drink to enjoy? These fun and feminine drinks can be made with any kind of fruit, but strawberries and peaches really give them a great color! I’m especially excited about these, because they coordinate with my own dish!

Nikki of Pennies On A Platter contributed these yummy looking Dijon Ham and Asparagus Roll-Ups. These flavorful roll-ups combine the best of both worlds with your sandwich and vegetable options! Just a few easy steps and you’ve got an elegant appetizer perfect for a bridal shower! These look beautiful on a platter and they’re perfect finger food to boot!

Lindsay of Peace, Love and French Fries put together what she calls her “Indulge Salad” – a copy cat recipe from one of her favorite restaurants, this super simple salad has it all – a little creaminess from the goat cheese and avocado, a nice crunch from the pistachios, and topped with an easy homemade Italian dressing. Feels like an indulgence, but we get to save all of our calories for dessert! This is my kind of salad!

Josie of Pink Parsley Catering made Cinnamon Crescents as her contribution. With cinnamon-y sweet flavor reminiscent of a churro, these crescents are made from a yeasted dough, coated in cinnamon and sugar and filled with plump golden raisins. These look absolutely delicious, Josie!

Brady of Branny Boils Over made Pink Pizza with Acorn Squash, Caramelized Onions and Beet Greens. Crisp whole wheat pizza dough topped with sweetened acorn squash, caramelized onions, steamed beet greens, and ricotta cheese. Pink pizza crust? How cool is that?! Kelsey LOVES pink, so I know she’s sure to love this pizza!

Cara of Cara’s Cravings put together this gorgeous Spiced Beet Soup- a beautiful, deep red color with a taste of warm Asian spices. I don’t know about you, but this is definitely the most beautiful looking soup I’ve ever seen! I love the dollop of creme fraiche on the tops; so colorful and vibrant!

Here’s another fun and fruity drink contributed by Karen of Loves To Eat. Karen made this fizzy Champagne Cocktail using cranberry juice, orange liqueur, fresh lime juice and bubbly champagne – sounds fabulous! A delicious way to toast Kelsey and Michael!

Amy of The Nifty Foodie put together these adorable Homemade S’mores. She sandwiched homemade mixed berry marshmallows and sweet, gooey nutella between crisp, homemade graham crackers- a fantastic treat for Kelsey’s shower! I personally love that the marshmallows are pink – so girly and feminine!

These gorgeous looking Shrimp Canapes come from Bridget of The Way the Cookie Crumbles. These little toasts topped with salted butter, shrimp, fresh dill and mayonnaise are simple but delicious and absolutely perfect for a bridal shower!

Annie of Annie’s Eats made these adorable Assorted Truffles as party favors. Coconut, lemon chiffon, blackberry, and strawberry cheesecake truffles in sweet little boxes tied up with ribbons coordinating with Kelsey and Michael’s wedding colors. How cute is that?! Annie, I’ll send you my address so you can ship me a box of these! ;)

For my own contribution, I made these Peach Bellini Cupcakes. Moist champagne cake with peach schnapps and bits of diced peaches baked in and topped with a peachy champagne buttercream frosting. Kelsey told me she loves peach bellinis and that she and her sister shared many a bellini over the years (Kelsey, she’s here with us today, sharing in your happiness – I know it.). I’ve always been a big fan of champagne cake and wanted to jazz it up a bit – the addition of peaches and peach schnapps really adds a nice flavor! Kelsey, it’s too bad this was only a virtual shower and that you don’t get to actually taste any of these beautiful dishes, but feel free to come visit me and I’ll make you all the peach bellini cupcakes you can eat! :)

I’d like to thank each and every blogger who took the time to submit such gorgeous, scrumptious looking recipes for Kelsey’s shower- I know she definitely appreciates and I do too! I am so blessed to have such a wonderful group of food blogging friends- hugs to each of you!

To see Kelsey’s take on the shower, visit her blog!

Peach Bellini Cupcakes

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
6 egg whites
3 cups all purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup champagne
1/4 cup peach schnapps
1 small peach, peeled and diced

Peachy Champagne Frosting

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup champagne
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon peach schnapps
1 teaspoon vanilla
2-3 drops red food coloring, if desired

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium sized bowl combine flour, baking powder and salt. In a mixing bowl beat together butter and sugar for 3-5 minutes until light and fluffy. Add vanilla, then beat in egg whites one at a time.

Add in flour mixture and champagne/schnapps mixture (I mixed the peach schnapps in with the champagne) in three alternating additions, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Gently stir in the diced peaches. Pour batter into cupcake liners, filling 2/3 full. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.

To make the frosting beat together the butter and vanilla. Add powdered sugar in one cup increments, then add champagne, milk, peach schnapps and food coloring. Frost cupcakes once they have completely cooled. I also sprinkled with a little orange and yellow sugar, for decoration.
Makes 2 dozen cupcakes.

Recipe source: champagne cupcake recipe from Baking Junkie, originally from Booze Cakes. The addition of peaches and peach schnapps was my idea.

CONGRATULATIONS, KELSEY AND MICHAEL!!!!!

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Orange-Scented Vanilla Cupcakes…

Every year around this time I start to get reeeeally excited. Not just because it’s Fall and it’s the best season of the year, but because I can start getting out my Halloween decorations!! Yay!! Those of you who have followed my blog since the beginning know I have a (big) thing for Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas (big as in, it’s my all-time favorite movie second only to The Little Mermaid). I collect anything Nightmare Before Christmas related- Christmas ornaments, snow globes, tiny little figurines – I have it all, and I leave it out from Halloween through Christmas. That’s the beauty of it- my two favorite holidays, all in one totally awesome movie!

Besides my freaking sweet collection of Nightmare Before Christmas stuff, I also have lots of other Halloween decorations (not the scary kind- the cute, homey kind), and I look forward to pulling it all downstairs every single year. I got it all out this week. And now my house is decorated with pumpkins, candy corn, cute jack-o-lanterns and (duh) my freaking sweet collection of Nightmare Before Christmas stuff. So, I had to celebrate the occasion. This sort of thing definitely calls for cupcakes. Delicious orange-scented cupcakes. Yum. The batter tastes like creamsicles! They’re slightly grown up due to the Grand Marnier in both the batter and the frosting and the orange flavor isn’t totally overpowering, so they’re just right, in my opinion!

Orange-Scented Cupcakes
-adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking From My Home to Yours
*Makes 24 cupcakes

2 1/4 cups cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cups whole milk
1/2 cup orange juice
1 tablespoon Grand Marnier, or any orange liqueur you like
4 large egg whites
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Center a rack in the oven to 350 degrees. Fill cupcake pans with cupcake liners.

Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.

Whisk together the milk, orange juice, liqueur and egg whites in a medium bowl.

Put the sugar and butter in the bowl of a mixer and, working with the paddle or whisk attachment, or with a hand mixer, beat at medium speed for a full 3 minutes, until the butter and sugar are very light. Beat in the extract, then add one third of the flour mixture, still beating on medium speed. Beat in half of the milk-egg mixture, then beat in half of the remaining dry ingredients until incorporated. Add the rest of the milk and eggs, beating until the batter is homogeneous, then add the last of the dry ingredients. Finally, give the batter a good 2-minute beating to ensure that it is thoroughly mixed and well aerated. Using a small spoon, fill each cupcake liner 1/2 full with the batter.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the cupcakes are well risen and springy to the tough – a toothpick inserted into the centers should come out clean. Transfer the cupcakes to cooling racks and cool completely before frosting them.

Vanilla-Orange Buttercream

1 stick butter, at room temperature
3-4 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons orange juice
splash Grand Marnier
1 teaspoon vanilla
pinch salt

Place the butter in a large mixing bowl. Add 1 cup of the sugar and then the orange juice, Grand Marnier and vanilla. On medium speed of an electric mixer, beat until smooth and creamy, about 3-5 minutes. Gradually add the remaining sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating well after each addition (about 2 minutes), until the icing is thick enough to be of good spreading or piping consistency. You may not need to add all of the sugar. Refrigerate until needed.

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Spiced Pumpkin Cupcakes…

This has been a great couple of days – first off, I received my copy of Dorie Greenspan’s new cookbook, Around my French Table a couple of days ago (Weeeeeee!!), yesterday was the first official day of Autumn, and today I celebrate 4 years of marriage to the man of my dreams (happy anniversary Sweetie! I love you!!!). What a great week!! Also, I was lucky enough to find four cans of pumpkin at the grocery store the other day! Hallelujah!!! So naturally, the only logical thing to do was make pumpkin spice cupcakes! Yippee!! My awesome new boss/coworker, Albert asked if I’d be willing to make cupcakes for the 4th and 5th period girls’ choirs last week. And of COURSE I said yes, those girls are all totally sweet and fun! Albert pretty much let me pick what to make, but he did request these pumpkin cupcakes with cream cheese frosting as well. Done and DONE!

Let me just tell you: these are SO delicious! So moist and fluffy with just the right amount of spice; and the tangy cream cheese frosting really completes the whole cupcake. A winner, for sure! I LOVED these and so did the girls- I made these along with my Perfect Chocolate Cupcakes and the pumpkin ones were the first to disappear! I can’t wait to make these again- they’re the absolute perfect Fall cupcake, hands down!

Spiced Pumpkin Cupcakes
-Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes
*Makes 32 cupcakes

4 cups cake flour (not self-rising), sifted
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 Tablespoon + 1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 Tablespoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 1/2 cups packed light-brown sugar
4 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 cups canned pumpkin (not pie filling)
cream cheese frosting (recipe below)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and spices.

With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream butter and brown sugar until pale and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of buttermilk, and beating until just combined. Add pumpkin; beat until just combined.

Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full.
Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until golden brown, 15 to 18 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool 10 minutes; turn out cupcakes onto racks and let cool completely. Cupcakes can be refrigerated up to 3 days in airtight containers.

Frost with cream cheese frosting and top with Fall-themed sprinkles, if desired.

Cream Cheese Frosting

-Dorie Greenspan’s Baking from My Home to Yours

8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
3-4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and butter together until smooth and creamy. Gradually add the sugar (start with 2 cups, then gradually add more until you get the desired consistency. It needs to be thick enough to spread or pipe) and continue to beat until the frosting is velvety smooth. Beat in the lemon juice and extract. Refrigerate until needed.

And lastly, I just wanted to thank you all for your sweet comments, votes and support throughout the Project Food Blog competition so far. It means so much to me to have your support and encouragement – really. Voting ends tonight (I think at 6:00…maybe), so if you haven’t had a chance yet, I’d love your support! Thanks again, for being such wonderful readers! I love you all! :) And now, I must rush off and get ready for my dinner date with a VERY handsome fella!

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Ok, I know I said that these were my favorite cupcakes, and they ARE practically perfect and amazingly delicious……however, I can’t keep my feelings a secret any longer. I’m sorry, Perfect Chocolate Cupcakes, I’ve met someone else. That’s right, these peanut butter and jelly cupcakes are my new favorite. There, I said it! Phew! I feel so much better now!

I’m sort of a peanut butter and jelly fiend…I love it. I eat it all the time and never get tired of it. I ate it as a kid. I ate it practically every single day in college and I eat it now. Last night, hubby went to the baseball game with some guys, so I was all alone for dinner and thinking to myself how much I love peanut butter and jelly (that’s right- I really do sit and think about things like that quite often), and decided right then and there to make these cupcakes. A star was born. I used Martha Stewart’s recipe for the cupcakes and filled the centers with plum jam (my favorite!), then topped it all off with a creamy, dreamy peanut butter frosting. I. Am. In. Love. So are my coworkers. I took these to work and came home with an empty box- they were a huge hit with everybody! Something about the combination of the peanut butter frosting with the tart, fruity jam….a total match made in heaven. Do yourself a huge favor and try these ASAP!!

Peanut Butter and Jelly Cupcakes
-adapted from Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 1/3 cups sugar
2/3 cup creamy peanut butter (believe it or not, I used reduced fat and you totally CAN’T tell a difference!)
3 large eggs
1/4 cup sour cream
1 cup chopped peanuts
2 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup jam (your favorite flavor- I use plum)
Peanut Butter Frosting (recipe below)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Whisk dry ingredients in a large bowl. Cream butter, peanut butter and sugar with a mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating after each addition.
Reduce speed to low. Mix in the sour cream, vanilla, milk and peanuts. Add dry ingredients slowly. Scrape sides of bowl. Divide batter among muffin cups, filling each 2/3 full.
Bake cupcakes until testers inserted into centers come out clean, about 20 minutes. Let cool in tins on wire racks. Cupcakes will keep, covered, for up to 3 days. Makes approx. 18 cupcakes.

Peanut Butter Frosting
-adapted from Martha Stewart Cupcakes

1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup creamy peanut butter
2 tablespoons cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Cream the butter, peanut butter and cream cheese together until smooth. Add in the powdered sugar. Stir in the vanilla. Use immediately or refrigerate until needed.

To assemble:
When cupcakes are cooled, using a small paring knife, cut out a small hole in the top of each cupcake; discard crumbs. Fill a piping bag fitted with a round tip (I used a Wilton #12) with the jam. Insert the tip into the center of the cupcake and squeeze the jam inside (you’ll want to apply a decent amount of pressure) until the hole is filled. Repeat until all the cupcakes are filled. Pipe or spread the peanut butter frosting on each cupcake (I used a star tip). Refrigerate until ready to serve.

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Perfect Chocolate Cupcakes…

Here we are at Part 3, the final cupcake, of my Cupcake Week. I sort of like this whole “nothing but cupcakes” thing…kinda fun! I’m especially excited to post these because they happen to be my favorite of the 3. This is Hershey’s Perfectly Chocolate Cake and Chocolate Buttercream – the very best chocolate cake recipe out there, in my opinion (and it translates beautifully to cupcakes!)! It’s so amazingly moist and tender and the frosting?? Oh MAN, don’t even get me started on that frosting! It’s the BEST chocolate frosting you will ever put in your mouth! Silky smooth, rich, thick, buttery and oh-so chocolaty. I ate an embarrassing amount of these cupcakes at the party. Then I took some home with me and ate another embarrassing amount. For breakfast. I’m in love with this recipe. I’ll never, never stray from it. I don’t want any other smelly old chocolate cake recipe- I’ll always be a Hershey’s girl. Now and forever. Wow, those sound like wedding vows! I’m pretty good at pledging my love to a cupcake, huh?

Hershey’s Perfectly Chocolate Cake

2 cups sugar
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup HERSHEY’S Cocoa
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
2/3 cup HERSHEY’S Cocoa
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line cupcake pans with liners.
Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl.
Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes.
Stir in boiling water (batter will be very thin).
Pour batter into cupcake liners.
Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.
Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely.

Meanwhile, make frosting: stir melted butter into cocoa.
Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency.
Add small amount additional milk, if needed.
Stir in vanilla. (Makes approx. 2 cups frosting)
Frost cupcakes when completely cooled, as desired. Makes approx. 24 cupcakes.

I really hope you’ve enjoyed my special “Birthday-Extravaganza-Week-of-Cupcakes” – I certainly have! I enjoyed making them, sharing them, blogging them and especially eating them (I’m starting to really understand the whole obsession with cupcakes now….albeit a little late…). Bottom line: everyone, from little kids having a birthday to 75 year-olds having a birthday to twenty-somethings having breakfast (tee hee) LOVES a good cupcake. They’re cheerful. They’re easy. And most importantly, they’re YUMMY!

Maybe I’ll do another Cupcake Week again sometime and see what other delicious flavors I can come up with- for now, I’m happy with the Holy Trinity – Vanilla, Strawberry and Chocolate. Who was and is; and is to come. Amen.

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Fresh Strawberry Cupcakes…

Today is my big sister’s 30th birthday! HAPPY BIRTHDAY, LINDSAY!!! Here’s cupcake #2 in my special “Week-o-Cupcakes”. Strawberry. My sister’s favorite. Every year on her birthday, strawberry cake is what she requests. I made her one last year and it was probably the ugliest cake I’ve ever made (but it sure did taste good! Why is it that the ugliest cakes always taste the best?). This year, I opted for cupcakes; and instead of using the stand-by cake mix/jello/frozen strawberries recipe, I just added fresh strawberries (lots of them) to half of the yellow buttermilk cupcake batter I already had on hand (that recipe makes a TON, so I split it in half and made half plain, half strawberry and still came out with over 40 cupcakes). I know it sounds a little “underwhelming” to just add strawberries to the batter and call it a day, but I promise that the end result is anything but! These were so incredibly moist and flavorful, but not too sweet like so many strawberry cakes. They were a huge hit and honestly, I wish I had made more of them!

To make these, I used this recipe. I added fresh, diced strawberries to the batter and iced them with vanilla buttercream. Perfection.

Happy Birthday, Lindsay *and* Uncle Steve!!! (And yesterday was my Nana’s birthday, so Happy Birthday to her too!!)

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Yesterday was a fun day. We had a ginormous party for my sister, Nana and Uncle Steve who are all having a birthday this week (within two days of each other) and I made a boat-load of cupcakes (as well as a big batch of pulled pork tacos). It was a really great time- we had homemade guacamole and salsa, chicken enchiladas and pork tacos….and cupcakes. Lots and lots of cupcakes. I made chocolate with chocolate buttercream, strawberry with vanilla buttercream and buttermilk (yellow) with vanilla buttercream. Boy, you just can’t beat a good ‘ol yellow cupcake with good ‘ol vanilla buttercream. That’s the best there is! Normally, when I make cupcakes, I always use Dorie’s perfect party cake recipe (it’s perfect every single time!), but this time I wanted to try a yellow cake, so I chose Martha Stewart’s version. Good call- these were delicious! And as always, I used my stand-by Magnolia Bakery buttercream recipe- it’s everyone’s favorite. I’ll be posting the other cupcakes throughout the week (there’s no way I could possibly leave out those chocolate cupcakes…Lordy, were they good!).

Yellow Buttermilk Cupcakes
-Martha Stewart ‘Cupcakes’
Makes 36

3 cups cake flour (not self-rising)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (2 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 1/4 cups sugar
5 large whole eggs plus 3 egg yolks, room temperature
2 cups buttermilk, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Sift together both flours, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Reduce speed to medium. Add whole eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Add yolks, and beat until thoroughly combined. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of buttermilk, and beating until combined after each. Beat in vanilla.

Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until cupcakes spring back when lightly touched and a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool 10 minutes; turn out cupcakes onto racks and let cool completely. Cupcakes can be stored overnight at room temperature, or frozen up to 2 months, in airtight containers.

Vanilla Buttercream
-Magnolia Bakery

2 sticks butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4-6 cups powdered sugar

Cream butter and gradually add powdered sugar, milk and vanilla until you reach piping or spreading consistency.  *I doubled the recipe- it’s always a good idea to have extra frosting, just in case! Plus, the birthday girl was entitled to a little extra frosting! :)



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