Sunday, March 31, 2013

Raspberry Cupcakes

I have so much to be thankful for today. Easter for me is about new life, fresh starts, and gratitude. I spent the day celebrating with family and friends the amazing gift that Jesus gave of his life and by his resurrection.  I've been singing this song all day long.

For our family gathering today I wanted something fresh and new too. I instantly thought of raspberries. To me they taste like summer, and at this point I am so ready for warmth and sunshine.

I really LOVE the flavor of raspberries. I can eat a whole carton of fresh berries in a flash and frozen berries make excellent ice/flavoring in water or a punch. I have a bunch of berry canes that I can't wait to plant as soon as the thaw comes (courtesy of kind neighbors).

I topped these raspberry cupcakes with raspberry frosting a fresh raspberry with a white chocolate chip inserted into the opening. I mean I topped the ones that we hadn't already eaten as a "muffin." Face it, the difference between a muffin and cupcake is pretty much the frosting...

1 c butter, softened
1 1/4 c sugar
4 eggs
1 t vanilla extract
2 1/2 c flour, sifted
1/4 t salt
2 1/2 t baking powder
1/2 c milk (cow, nut, rice, etc)
1/2 - 2/3 c raspberry puree*

Line muffin tin with baking cups. Beat butter and sugar with mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Alternate adding the flour mixture and milk, mixing well after each addition. Mix in raspberry puree. Spoon batter into prepared pan. Bake 22-25 minutes at 350 degrees. Remove from pans and cool on racks. Makes 21-24 cupcakes

1/2 c shortening or softened butter (I used palm shortening)
1/4 c raspberry puree*
2 c confectioners' sugar, sifted
dash of salt
1/4 c white chocolate chips + 1 t shortening

In a microwave, melt chocolate chips with shortening. Mixing after every 30 seconds until just melted. With a mixer, cream together shortening and sugar and salt. Alternate adding in puree and white chocolate while mixing until smooth and creamy. Refrigerate slightly to stiffen frosting before pipping onto cupcakes or frosting with a knife or spatula. Frosting is light and fluffy, but will become very soft if left in the heat.

* Raspberry puree was made with 12-16 oz of fresh raspberries. I ran them through the blender and pushed the mixture through a mesh strainer to remove the seeds.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

A Jedi Birthday - Part I and Part II

My Star Wars fanatic turned 9 and of course had dreams as big as the galaxy about what we could do to celebrate. In the end, we had two simple parties - one for family and one for school friends. I referred to them as Episode I and Episode II. Time and money were at a premium, but the end results were simple, fun, and well enjoyed by my young jedi.

Birthday Party EPISODE I - Family
MENU- Taco Bar with seasoned ground turkey, sauteed peppers, corn, tomatoes, lettuce, cheese, sour cream, salsa, tortilla chips
CAKE- Green light saber cupcakes & vanilla ice cream
DECORATION - black plastic table cloth (dollar store) using a white paint pen to draw a galaxy on, birthday boy's spot with labelled for Jedi Ryan, Lego Star Wars creations & figures

Birthday Party EPISODE II - School Friends
MENU- Pizza, Yoda Soda (label around a green bottle of soda or juice box), baby carrots & celery
CAKE- Blue light saber cupcakes & vanilla ice cream
DECORATION - black plastic table cloth (dollar store) using a white paint pen to draw a galaxy on, each child's spot with labelled for each Jedi (their names), Lego Star Wars creations & figures
PARTY BAGS - found little Lego Star Wars kits on clearance a month ago and stashed them away. Bags were tied together with a glow stick light saber with a character picture threaded on it
ACTIVITIES - outdoor light saber/blaster battles, glow in the dark light saber battle,balloon light sable battles, general chaos
A little bit of electrical tape around the bracelet connector was a quick job and so much fun for the boys Okay, it was fun for too. I saved the two pink ones in the pack for the "Mom Sabers" and broke them out when the boys were getting a bit out of control. That way I was int he middle of it and could keep an eye on things. I may or may not have added to the chaos and my husband may or may not have made me stop before the other parents showed up to pick up their kids.

I took balloons for making animals and wrapped duct tape around the end to make a saber handle. This was chaos, but my living room and all the kids survived. Lots of laughter involved. The kids each took one home with them.

It doesn't get easier than a light saber cupcake spread. Covered a paper towel roll with tin foil and electrical tape and lined up colorful cupcakes. Super easy to slide in a gluten-free cupcake and everyone else gets a regular one.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Kindergarten Valentine Recap

I was the lucky mom to get to plan the Valentine's Day party for my son's kindergarten class. Everything went really well despite a last minute round of food poisoning that I came down with the night before the party. Ugh. I'm so glad that I had all the activities planned and to the teacher ahead of time so all I had to do was make some brownies and marshmallow pops. Both simple enough to do while you are not feeling well.

While I was really happy with the results, I was more pleased with how easy it was to pull together.

I adapted my usual Chocolate Dipped Marshmallows when I found heart shaped marshmallows. I melted semi-sweet and white chocolate chips with a bit of palm oil shortening. After I put the heart marshmallow on the end of a coffee stir stick, I dipped one side of the marshmallow in chocolate and then dipped them into sprinkles. Laid out on a cookie sheet, I stuck them in the freezer for a couple of minutes to harden. I put them on display in a mason jar so the kids could easily grab them, but the moms in class ended up plating up the snacks and serving them to the kids.

Brownies taste even better when they are shaped like a heart right? I under-baked the brownies (half with sprinkles and half without) just slightly and when they cooled I used a heart shaped cookie cutter to make these sweet treats. The bonus is all the scraps were left over to be eaten later when I felt better.

I took pictures of the kids before the party peeking through a heart shaped cookie cutter (that thing got a lot of use). The kids used the pictures to make cards that said "I spy with my little eye, someone that I love."

The kids played site word bingo - Valentine style.

I'm not quite sure when the white conversation hearts were replaced by blue... Our candy counting sheets were a little bit off, but still worked.