The one where I don’t cook.

I’m thinking the title gives away the gist of this post.

I’m not cooking today, nor did I cook all weekend.  But I have a great excuse…

It was SUNNY!

And WARM!!

(Well, mid-60’s, but for us that is warm.)

We’ve been outside for almost three days straight.  (Seriously, just coming in for pit stops, naps, and bedtime.)

So, I hope you will all forgive me.  If not, I’m hoping these happy faces will convince you.  🙂

Funfetti Elmo Cupcakes

My baby is turning two tomorrow.

(What? How??)

That’s a big deal.

So, in honor of his love of Elmo, and his love of cupcakes (or as he calls them ‘mmm-tasty, mmm-tasties’), I put together some fun treats for his party.

The Recipe:

White Cake Funfetti Cupcakes, adapted from JoyofBaking.com

(Makes 12. I easily doubled this to make 24.)

2 large eggs

1 3/4 c cake flour, sifted

2 t baking powder

1/4 t salt

1/2 c butter, at room temperature

1 c sugar, divided into 3/4 c and 1/4 c

1 t pure vanilla extract

1/2 c milk

1/8 t cream of tartar

3 T jimmies-style multi-colored sprinkles

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line 12 muffin cups with paper liners.

While eggs are still cold, separate the eggs, placing the yolks in one bowl and the whites in another bowl.  Cover the two bowls with plastic wrap and allow the eggs to come to room temperature before using (about 30 minutes).

In a mixing bowl, sift or whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.  Set aside. In the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the butter until soft (about 1-2 minutes).  Add 3/4 cup of the sugar and beat until light and fluffy(about 2-3 minutes).  Scrape down the sides of the bowl.  Add egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.  Beat in the vanilla extract.  Then, with the mixer on low-speed, alternately add the flour mixture and milk, in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour.  Add the sprinkles and mix well.

In a clean bowl of your electric mixer, with the whisk attachment, (or with a hand mixer) beat the egg whites until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and continue beating until soft peaks form. Gradually add the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar and continue to beat until stiff peaks form.  With a rubber spatula gently fold a little of the whites into the batter to lighten it, and then fold in the remaining whites until combined.  Do not over mix the batter or it will deflate.

Evenly fill the 12 muffin cups with the batter and bake for about 18 – 20 minutes or until golden browned and a toothpick inserted into a cupcake comes out clean. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool completely.

Elmo Face Decorations

bright red frosting

mini marshmallows

orange peanut butter M&M’s

Oreos, cut in half and separated into 4 half-circles

mini chocolate chips

Using a star-shaped frosting tip, decorate the top of the cupcake.  Add one Oreo piece for mouth, two marshmallows for eyes, and an M&M for the nose.  Attach mini chocolate chips as eye-centers using a tiny dab of frosting.

The Results:

I simply am impressed.  The folding of the egg whites in at the end made such a difference.  These cupcakes are so light and buttery – I’m sure they’re going to be a big hit tomorrow.  I had to stop myself at my single sample, so that we’d have enough for the party, they’re that good.

And the sprinkles add the bright Funfetti colors throughout.  Perfect for the Sesame Street Theme I was going for.

Here they are, pre-frosting.

Now, I’m not going to lie about the decorating.  It was kind of a pain.

And I freely admit that I just bought some red frosting this time (after the Grinch Santa Hat debacle of 2011, I was not going to chance it).  It was so nice to just add the tip to the frosting tube and go.  I’m lazy, what can I say?

Anyways, frosting and decorating 24 cupcakes takes a lot of time and patience.

But they do turn out awfully cute – and I know my little one will love them.  And that’s all that matters, right?

Voila!

An Elmo to be proud of = one happy two year old.

Do-Si-Dos Brownies

My cooking mojo has left the building.

I’m trying to get it back, desperately.  And since all my boys are finally home, I’m hoping it’ll show up sometime this week.  In the meantime, I decided to get a little creative and do some fun baking – with one of my most favorite ingredients: Girl Scout Cookies.

As I mentioned last year, our next door neighbors are Girl Scouts, so we somehow end up pretty well stocked with an assortment of cookies each year.  (And it has nothing to do with the fact that we have no self-control.  Really.)

Last year I made the most amazing toffee out of Trefoils (Run, don’t walk to this recipe and make it tonight!  It is truly decadent.)  This year I wanted to feature another tasty cookie and decided to try to make brownies using Do-Si-Dos.  I mean, how can you go wrong with the chocolate peanut butter combination?

The Recipe:

Do-Si-Dos Brownies, inspired by Marilyn Descours

1/2 c butter, softened

2 c sugar

4 eggs

1 t vanilla

1 1/3 c flour

1/2 c cocoa

1/2 t salt

1/4 t baking powder

1 1/4 c peanut butter chips, divided

1 c Do-Si-Dos, crushed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter and sugar.  Add eggs and vanilla.  Mix together flour, cocoa, salt and baking powder; add gradually to wet ingredients until blended. Add 3/4 peanut butter chips.  Spread into greased 9×13” pan and bake 30-35 minutes.  Remove from oven.  Mix together remaining peanut butter chips and crushed Do-Si-Dos. Top brownies with mixture and bake for an additional 10 – 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

The Results:

I came across the bare bones of this recipe in an old book of recipes that I found.  It was very poorly written or looked over (it actually called for 1 cup vanilla and mentioned mixing in peanuts, which were not even listed in the ingredients), but I thought I could figure it out and fix it up a bit.

I added baking powder and salt, which were not listed – and I added extra peanut butter chips to the batter.  I also messed with the ratio of flour to cocoa powder.  Finally, I took out the marshmallows that were to be a part of the topping.

All of my changes turned out great – except for the marshmallows.  I kind of forgot that the lack of gooey marshmallow might not allow the topping to actually stick to the brownie top.  This turned my topping into basically a crumble on top (that kept falling off).  So my one suggestion to you all is to either add the crumble earlier so it can soak in, or add a cup or two of marshmallows to the topping.

See how it just rests there on top.

If scooping the crumbs and chips back into each bite doesn’t bother you, then you are in for a treat.  The brownies are the perfect chewy texture – but not too doughy.  And the salty crunch of the cookies are a great compliment.

If you just wanted to make the brownies by themselves, they would stand alone just fine.  The bonus of the peanut butter chips give them an extra flavor burst that I love.  I’m actually very impressed that my changes not only worked but worked well in this recipe.

I love taking something that’s amazing as is (like Girl Scout cookies) and making them even better.

(If only the topping had stuck.)

Happy Monday.

Coconut Peanut Butter Chocolate Smoothie

I have not been motivated at all to cook this week.

Probably because Hubs and my oldest are out-of-town for most of the week.  And my youngest is in the picky eater stage of toddlerhood.  So basically if I cooked, it would just be for me.  And that just doesn’t seem worth it.

(Now, I have been motivated to do a lot other things in the kitchen… including organizing the cupboards:

and painting the whole kitchen:

It used to be bright green.

These projects may have inhibited my ability to cook anything, too.)

One of the worst things about Hubs being gone, is that I eat horribly.  I tend to snack all day as opposed to meals.  And I grab food on the go while I’m out running errands.  All in all, I am not being a healthy eater.  (Though I have not broken down and gotten pizza rolls or Chef Boyardee Ravioli – which I sadly admit I occasionally eat when Hubs is gone.)

So, when I was craving a little chocolate snack, I looked to my health food friend Lisa, at Smart Food and Fit, for a tasty treat.

And better yet, I found a recipe that the little guy would love as well.  (He’s on a smoothie kick.)

The Recipe:

Coco-Nutty Choco-Chunky Monkey Smoothie, adapted slightly from Smart Food and Fit 

1 c coconut milk

2 T cocoa powder

2 medium-sized frozen bananas, cut into 1 inch pieces

1 T peanut butter

coconut flakes

Blend the coconut milk, cocoa powder, bananas, and peanut butter in a blender until smooth.  Add more liquid to thin out or add ice or more frozen banana’s to thicken.

Pour into a glass, top it off with coconut flakes.

{Printable Recipe}

The Results:

First off, I have to say I was drawn to this recipe because Lisa admitted that it was her kids that came up with it.  I loved that!  And it gave me a feeling that my little one would like it too.  And he did.

Making the smoothie was pretty easy except for one small thing… peeling and cutting frozen bananas is not easy!  (Note to self, pre-peel and cut bananas and then freeze them, if you’re using them for smoothies.)

I did only have light coconut milk, which doesn’t quite have the flavor of the regular kind.  So after a quick initial taste, I added a dash of vanilla extract and a dash of coconut extract, and they made it perfect.

It’s not an overly sweet smoothie, which I enjoyed.  I loved the salty peanut butter with the creamy coconut flavor – with an extra pop of chocolate and banana.  And it completely filled my chocolate treat craving for the day.  Yay!

Enjoy!

Royally Iced Sugar Cookies

Nope, that wasn’t what I was planning on baking.

I thought I was going to be way more creative than that.  Unfortunately, I made a little mistake…

(This is a cautionary tale for all of you Pinterest people out there: just because a blog post has a ton of pictures that look like a particular recipe, and the title of the blog post mentions a particular type of food, you still need to be sure to read every word on the blog to double-check.)

As I was browsing Pinterest, I saw a gorgeous picture of the Mother’s Frosted Animal Cookies.  When I clicked on the link, I came to a blog post entitled, Goodbye Mother’s Cookies, and it contained several lovely pictures of homemade cookies that looked very similar to the ones my family loves.  It had a recipe for the cookies and a recipe for the icing.  I was so excited to try it.

I skimmed the well-written, but very lengthy, blog post.  It discussed childhood memories, the closing of Mother’s Cookies, etc, etc, so I kinda just moved on to the recipe.  (I usually read all the words, but after seeing the pictures, I was sold – so I just pinned it for later.)

That’s where I went wrong.  Because in the second to last paragraph, the blogger mentions that she wasn’t able to replicate the taste of the original cookies – just the look.  Ooops.

Not knowing this, I was going ahead with my plan to replicate the taste (through this recipe), but not the look.

I didn’t realize my mistake until we ate them.  At the end.  After all the work.

I wasn’t too happy.

The Recipes:

Sugar Cookies, from the Field Guide to Cookies book (She used a recipe from this book, and I’d feel bad linking to her site now – though really, it was all my fault.)

1 2/3 c all-purpose flour

1/2 t baking powder

1/4 t salt

1/2 c softened unsalted butter

3/4 c plus 2 T sugar

1 egg at room temperature, beaten

1 t vanilla extract

Royal icing (below) and sprinkles if decorating

Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl and set aside.

In stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar on medium speed for several minutes until light and fluffy.  With mixer on low-speed, gradually add the egg and vanilla and mix until well combined.  Add the flour mixture gradually.  Mix until fully incorporated and the dough is smooth and uniform.

Divide dough into 2 pieces and flatten into 1/2 inch thick discs.  Wrap dough and refrigerate for 2 hours.

When you are ready to bake the cookies, preheat oven to 325°F.  Grease several cookie sheets or line them with parchment paper.

Place dough on a lightly floured surface and dust with more flour.  Gently roll the dough 1/8 inch thick.  Using a cookie cutter, cut out cookies and place on sheets about 1 inch apart.

Bake for 14–16 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through, until edges are golden brown.  Transfer cookies to wire racks with a spatula to cool completely.

Once cookies are cooled, decorate them with icing and colored sugars.

Royal Icing

2 egg whites

1 T lemon juice

3 c powdered sugar

food coloring in desired colors

Using a mixer with the whisk attachment, combine all the ingredients and whisk for several minutes on high-speed until the mixture is thick and shiny opaque white.  It should have the consistency of glue.  If it is too thin, add more powdered sugar by teaspoonfuls as needed.  If it is too thick, add water by teaspoonfuls as needed.

Divide icing into bowls for coloring.  Keep the bowls covered or the icing will dry and harden.  Add food color to icing to achieve desired hues.

{Printable Recipe}

The Results:

Well, as I was chugging along and making these, it seemed like a typical cookie baking event.  (But I still under the impression that I was making a copycat recipe.)

We (my children and I) decided to make the cookies in the shape of letters – mostly because besides Christmas cookie cutters, that’s all we had.  My oldest picked out the four letters we used (M – for mom, D – for dad, and T & H for the boys’ names).

We did have to make sure that the rolling-pin and counter surface were very well floured (the first roll-out did not work when we tried to lift out the cookies from the cutters).  And I did end up baking them a couple of minutes longer than suggested to get the golden brown color.

My oldest picked our decorating colors: an orange and purple combination that looked so lovely.  (He’s at an age where he definitely knows what he wants and really could care less what I think.  I think this phase is supposed to last another 13 or so years.)

And yes, he was in charge of the sprinkles, too.

I took charge of the actual frosting process – I ended up just dipping them into the bowl of frosting to get a good coverage.

As I was licking cleaning off my fingers, I realized that the frosting did not have a flavor anywhere close to that of Mother’s Cookies…so I sampled one of the cookies to check their taste.

This is when I realized that I had basically just made a plain sugar cookie with a plain frosting.  (Boring – and honestly not one of my favorite kind of cookies to eat.)

My oldest wanted there to be two orange T's in the picture.

The good news was that everyone else liked them.  And my oldest has enjoyed doling out the correct letter to the correct person.

It’s just too bad there are a lot of M’s left.

Oh, well.

Salt Dough Ornaments

Not to dash your hopes or anything, but this is not a food recipe…

But since it is a recipe and you do cook it, I figured it would count.  Just this once.  🙂

Every year we make ornaments for the grandparents each year at Christmas.  Usually I get one of those pre-cut, sticky, put-it-together kits that you can find at a craft store.  This year, I wanted to try something different.

(If you are one of those said grandparents and are reading this, I would request you stop, if you want any sort of surprise on Christmas.)

Now, I’m a crazy obsessed huge fan of Pinterest, and of course, it’s been inundated with ton of fun Christmas crafts and ideas.  I found this idea there and couldn’t wait (well, I kinda did) to use it.

The Recipe:

Salt Dough Ornaments, from homemadegrits.blogspot.com

4 cups flour

1 cup salt

1 1/2 cups water

Combine ingredients and knead dough for 15 to 20 minutes.

Roll dough out and cut around hand or cut circles out for making hand imprints. Use cookie cutters for ornaments or gift tags.

Make a small hole for the hanger and prick to prevent air bubbles.

Bake at 300ºF about 20 to 25 minutes or until golden. You may have to bake considerably longer depending on how thick your items are. They may not feel hard right away but will harden as they cool.

The Results:

We started off so promisingly.  Both boys were interested in helping (though my youngest was just content to pretend to dump ingredients in the mixer).

Yes, we do like to cook in our PJ's.

I know, I know, my kids are getting a lot of face-time lately. I can't help myself.

It was a bit painful to knead for the 15 to 20 minutes (I was actually hoping it would work in the mixer, but it was too much thick dough), but I did it.  The dough still seemed a little grainy – until I rolled it out.  And then it smoothed out very nicely.  The boys loved playing with the scraps of dough that were leftover, and I liked that I didn’t have worry about my youngest tasting it.

I had to help the kids with their handprints, as we had to press pretty darn hard to get a nice print.

This was our second cookie sheet where I let my oldest go crazy with the cookie cutters.  I figured these would be nice additions to our Christmas tree at home.

Now, some tips I learned:

1.  Be sure to prick, prick, prick the dough as suggested.  If you do not, your masterpieces will puff up considerably, possibly ruining the handprint you worked so hard to make.

2. If you roll your dough out rather thickly, it can take a long, long time to cook.  Mine baked for almost an hour – and still…

3.  You probably even want bake longer than you think – because if you remove them too early and then hope for them to air dry, they still may be soft several days later.

These were the ones that turned out great – where I had pricked significantly.

Now, my original plan had been to let the boys paint these, too.  But as we are currently at Christmas Eve Eve, and they’re still not hard, they may just be white.

Or they can be belated presents.

Either way, I know they will be loved just as they end up.

Blueberry Pancakes

I bet you are so tired of hearing about my son’s birthday.

But I’m not done yet.  (I think I tried to warn you all that birthdays are very important in our household).  I’m winding down, though, I promise.

Today is the actual Big Day.  And that means my son gets to pick out breakfast, lunch, dinner – and do pretty much what he wants (within reason, of course).  For breakfast he requested blueberry pancakes.  Shaped like Mickey Mouse.  With a marshmallow face.

I aim to please.

The Recipe:

Old Fashioned Blueberry Pancakes, adapted slightly from allrecipes.com

(This is the scaled down version to make only 4 servings.)

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1-3/4 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1-1/2 teaspoons white sugar

1/2 cup and 2 tablespoons milk

1/2 egg (I just used an egg white)

1 tablespoon and 1-1/2 teaspoons butter, melted

1/4 c frozen or fresh blueberries

In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar.  Make a well in the center and pour in the milk, egg and melted butter; mix until smooth.

Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium high heat.  Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle, using approximately 1/4 cup for each pancake.  Brown on both sides and serve hot.

The Results:

Okay, lesson number one: do not make Mickey’s face overly big in a small frying pan.  Because, when you go to flip, this could be the result…

Lesson two: do not show broken Mickey face to birthday boy.  He will now request a new one – instead of the perfectly edible one you fixed.

Lesson three: next time, add marshmallows a bit earlier, so they can melt and stick to the pancake better.

Lesson four: nothing beats a great big smile, just for you, from a five-year old in the morning.  The minimal time, effort, and re-doing is all worth it.

Mint Chocolate Chip Cupcakes and a Birthday Recap

I had such high hopes for the birthday cupcakes.

Let’s just say they didn’t quite meet the vision in my head or my perfectionist standards (but really, the five-year olds could’ve cared less).

But this blog isn’t called Misadventures in Cooking for nothing.  (Though I admit that nowadays my successes far outweigh my semi-failures.)  We gotta have a little mess up here and there to keep it interesting.  I just wish it hadn’t happened at his birthday party…

My son was very, very adamant that he wanted mint chocolate chip cupcakes (just like the ice cream).  This fell in perfectly with my plan to have the cupcakes be an obnoxious Grinchy green color.  I discovered a small problem, though, when I went to search for a mint chocolate chip recipe – everything I could find was a chocolate cupcake with mint pieces.  He wanted a mint cupcake with chocolate chips.  In his mind (and mine) not the same thing.

I finally somewhat lucked out when I found this recipe on (of all places) Oprah.com.

The Recipes:

Vanilla-Peppermint Chocolate Chip Cupcakes, adapted from Sprinkles Cupcakes on Oprah.com

3 c all-purpose flour

2 t baking powder

1/2 t coarse salt

1 c whole milk, room temperature

2 t pure vanilla extract

2 t peppermint extract

1 c (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

2 c sugar

2 large eggs, room temperature

4 large egg whites, room temperature

1 bag semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350°.  Line a 12-cup muffin tin with cupcake liners; set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.  In a small bowl, mix together milk and extracts; set  aside.  In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter on medium-high speed, until light and fluffy.  Gradually add sugar and continue to beat until well combined and fluffy.

Reduce the mixer speed to medium and slowly add egg and egg whites until just blended.  With the mixer on low, slowly add half the flour mixture; mix until just  blended.  Add the milk mixture; mix until just blended.  Slowly add remaining  flour mixture, scraping down sides of the bowl with a spatula, as necessary, until just blended.

Fill muffin cups about 2/3 full.  Transfer muffin tin to oven and bake until tops are just dry to the touch, 22 to  25 minutes. Transfer muffin tin to a wire rack and let cupcakes cool completely in tin before icing.

Makes 2 dozen cupcakes.

~~~~

(Originally I used this frosting, from before, but – and I’ll explain in a minute – I had to move to the new frosting recipe below.)

Peppermint Buttercream Frosting, adapted from Sprinkles Cupcakes and found on food.com

1 c butter, softened

3 1/2 c confectioners’ sugar

1 t milk

1 t peppermint extract

1/8 t salt

In a bowl combine butter, sugar and salt. Beat till blended.

Add the milk and vanilla and beat for an additional 3 to 5 minutes or until smooth and creamy.

Provides frosting for a dozen cupcakes.

{Printable Recipes}

The Results:

Oh, I was so excited to make these.  I knew exactly what they were going to look like when I was done – and it was going to be fabulous.  I started out coloring the batter the exactly perfect Grinchy green.

Unfortunately, as they baked, the color faded to a barely there lime green.

But that was okay, since the wrappers were a lime green and the top was going to be covered with the bright red frosting hats… or so I thought.

I learned quickly, though, that red frosting is a very, very hard color to make.  I also learned that my frosting recipe from before (that held up nicely and made gorgeous rose shapes) wasn’t going to be my friend for this task.  Let’s just say it didn’t set at all on my cupcakes – which were completely cooled, I might add.

Yes, originally, these were stacked high swirls of hat.

Ummm, not the color or shape I was looking for.  It was getting late, so I just decided to live with it, and add the white frosting – hoping it would make it look better.  It was then that I realized that I had not saved nearly enough white frosting, so I went with the top dot of white.  (And then I had to put them in the fridge to set the frosting completely, so it didn’t continue to run off the sides like it really wanted to.)

Now, I really didn’t think they looked too bad, until the next morning, when I saw them all lined up in the box.  To be completely honest, they looked like rows of little nipple cupcakes.  Yikes!  Not appropriate for the party.

So, the morning of the party, I looked up another buttercream frosting recipe and got down to work.  I had very little powdered sugar and even less red food coloring left, so a lighter pink prevailed.  And this recipe held up SO much better than the first.

The cupcakes did look more like Santa Hats (at least the ones I could fix with the limited frosting I had).

Here was the whole display:

The roast beast sandwiches and punch were added later.

 I know they weren’t the most perfect cupcakes in the world, but as Hubs pointed out they looked exactly right for Who-cupcakes (a little odd, a little crazy, bright and colorful).  That made me feel much better.

The party itself was wonderful.  The kids enjoyed un-decorating the Grinch Tree.

Pinning the antler on Max was a hit, too.

(Orange background chosen by the birthday boy.)

I didn’t have a chance to get a picture of the Who-punch with the gummy worm ice, but it was quite tasty, too.  If you ever need a good punch recipe, I highly recommend this one from Miss Paula Deen.

And I think the kiddos enjoyed the cupcakes – I know the birthday boy did.  I was sad they got a little dried out from being in the fridge, but the overall flavor was very exceptional.  Light and minty with a rich chocolate chip crunch.  They tasted just like the ice cream.

My boy had a great time, and honestly, that’s all that mattered to me.

(And now, I think I need a long rest.  Three parties in four weeks is a lot.)

Grinchspiration

As you all know by now, my oldest is turning five.

And birthdays are a BIG deal in my family.  We kinda go all out – and it’s usually a multi-day event.

With his birthday being so close to Christmas, we really try to make it very special for him.  This year he requested a Grinch-themed party, and we were more than happy to oblige.  To find a little inspiration, I spent about several hours a little time on Pinterest searching for fun Grinchy things.

Now, the party isn’t until Saturday, so today is just a sneak peek of some of the ideas that I’m going to do my best to interpret for my boy…

Let’s start with the food (since I’m sure that’s why you usually check out my blog).

Of course we’ll have some who-pudding…and some rare who roast beast sandwiches.

To drink, we’re going to have some green punch inspired by this:

Grinch Punch Recipe

{via}

And you can’t have Grinch punch without some of these tasty ice cubes:

Pinned Image

 {via}

For dessert, I’m combining some cupcake ideas from these:

{via}

and

Pinned Image

{via}

We will be playing Pin the Antler on Max and be racing to see how fast we can un-decorate a Christmas tree.  With presents and time to eat, I’m hoping that’ll keep us occupied for the whole party.  (Because you never, never want un-occupied four and five year olds, trust me.)

The good news is, I didn’t have to pick up hardly any decorations.  With our regular Christmas decor and my mom’s Grinch-extravaganza collection (she collected Grinch stuff several year during the holidays), we’re all Grinched up.  🙂

I’m completely in prep-mode right now, so I’m hoping to be pretty much set by tomorrow night.  I’ll try to post some pictures then – if not, I will definitely get them up by Sunday.

(If I survive, of course.)

Controversial Vanilla Cupcakes with Light Cream Cheese Frosting

There’s been a big debate at preschool this year.

And it centers around food.

It turns out that many of the moms are concerned about their children eating healthy snacks at school.   Now, I can totally understand where they are coming from.  I like it when my children eat healthy, too.  But sometimes, can’t it be okay to have a little treat?

Next week is my oldest’s fifth birthday.  Since there’s no school next week, and Friday is their holiday performance, they are celebrating him on Wednesday.  Now, I’m snack person all week, and on Monday I sent a very healthy snack.  And I had planned to try to make something great and healthy for him for his birthday.

But, all he wanted is cupcakes.

I’ve tried talking him into muffins, healthy cookies, etc, but he was having none of it.  (It doesn’t help that other kids have brought cupcakes, too – which I totally understand.)  And I thought, why not.  I’ll take the backlash if it makes his day.  I know for sure that I brought in sweets for all my birthdays, and I turned out just fine, if I do say so myself.

Does that make me a bad mom?

I hope not, because it sure makes one happy birthday boy.

The Recipes:

Vanilla Cupcakes, adapted from epicurious.com

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter

1 1/2 c sugar

2 eggs

2 t pure vanilla extract

2 1/2 t baking powder

1/4 t salt

2 1/2 c flour

1 1/4 c milk

Turn oven on to 375 degrees F.

Put butter in mixer and beat at medium speed until somewhat smooth.  Pour in sugar and beat well.  Add 2 eggs.  Mix well. Add: vanilla, baking powder, salt, flour, and milk.  Beat until incorporated and pour into individual baking cups, about 2/3 full.  Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Light Cream Cheese Frosting, adapted from food.com

4 oz unsalted butter, softened

4 oz light cream cheese, softened

2 c powdered sugar

1 t vanilla extract

In a large bowl, beat together the butter and cream cheese with an electric mixer.  With the mixer on low-speed, add the powdered sugar a cup at a time until smooth and creamy.  Beat in the vanilla extract.

{Printable Recipe}

The Results:

My son insisted on helping out with the cupcake baking (which I adore).  His favorite part is working the KitchenAid mixer.  It makes me nervous because I just know one of these times, something bad is going to happen.

Today, though, he only turned it on super high-speed – right after I added the flour.  The whole left side of the kitchen ended up being covered in the white powder.  And he felt so bad.  I would’ve taken a picture, but I was too busy trying to make him feel better.

But I discovered something that made him feel better really fast…

A tasty spatula to lick, of course.

We finished the batter, poured into the cups, and baked away.  The sun was nice enough to show up to light up our finished bounty.

After they had cooled completely (which seemed like an eternity to Mr. Almost Five), we made the frosting.  (I was in charge of the mixer this time.  His choice.)  He insisted that the frosting be colored and really wanted orange, his favorite color.  So a light orange frosting it became.

Of course, my frosting tip connector split, so I got to frost them the old-fashioned way, with a spreader.  Not the prettiest, but perfect for my boy.

Unfortunately, or fortunately, the batter only made exactly 18 cupcakes – just enough for the class and teachers, so I haven’t had the joy of tasting one of these.  I’m crossing my fingers one makes it way back home for me – because what little tastes I had of the batter and frosting were very tasty.

Now we’ll just have to see how it goes at school…

Edited to add: So far so good.  No complaints.  I also lucked out that it was my friend’s carpool day, so I didn’t even have to walk them in.  🙂  She said she didn’t get any dirty looks, so I’m crossing my fingers all is good.

Also, I did get to try one of these, and the cupcake was really good.  Not what I was expecting from my previous experiences with boxed overly-sweet vanilla cakes.  This one was very buttery with an almost crunchy crust on the tip top.  It went really well with the cream cheese frosting which my oldest and I loved.  Though, according to him, it wasn’t a big hit with the preschool set.  Oh, well.