Monday, January 4, 2016

Semi-Homemade Funfetti Cupcakes

Okay, so I've had a slight hiatus from the blog. The year 2015 brought new things like a move and a new job for my hubby. These are good things as his new job brought me back to my hometown. I'm happy to be back and I've been busy with settling in and taking care of the family and the house and the yard.....I could go on. :)

So, with all the yard work and things I've been doing, the blog had to take a back seat. Sad, but in a way it's been great. I was always so stressed out about making something, taking a picture of it, and then wondering what I was going to do with it. I haven't had that 'blog stress' and it's been relaxing, but in the back of my mind I have had 'blog neglect guilt'. Yes, I think these are real things. :)

So here I am....with a blog post. Yay!

Cupcakes are my thing, obviously, so I had to make these semi-homemade funfetti cupcakes because funfetti is just that.....FUN. I call these "semi-homemade" because I used a box mix, which I have no shame in doing. I love cake mix. Duncan Hines and Betty Crocker are some of my best friends! I just doctor up the cake mix to give the cake a more "homemade" taste. Believe me, these are delicious. 

I wanted to knock the funfetti up a notch and opted to have funfetti frosting. Talk about extra fun AND deliciousness!! 

I just want to note that when using sprinkles to bake with, I find that using bigger sprinkles, such as ones made by CakeMate are better because they stay intact and taste good. You can find them with the ice cream toppings in the grocery store.

Enjoy and have fun!

Semi-Homemade Funfetti Cupcakes
Frosting recipe from Confessions of a Cookbook Queen

For the cupcakes:
1 box white cake mix
1/2 cup melted butter
4 egg whites
1 cup milk (I prefer whole)
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup sprinkles (I use the CakeMate sprinkles you find in the ice cream topping aisle)

Preheat oven to 350. Line muffin pans with cupcake liners set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine all the above ingredients EXCEPT the sprinkles and blend until combined, about 2 minutes. 

Stir in the sprinkles and then pour matter into prepared and lined cupcake pans.

Bake 15-18 minutes or when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool completely before frosting.

For the frosting:
2 sticks butter, softened
4 cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoon of butter vanilla emulsion 
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
2/3 cup CakeMate sprinkles

In a large mixing bowl, combine the butter and the butter vanilla emulsion and beat until smooth. Add the powdered sugar, one cup at a time and then add the heavy cream and beat on medium-high speed until incorporated and smooth. Stir in the sprinkles.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Cheesecake Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

I get a plethora of cookbooks for Christmas. I love them and ask for them every year. My Amazon Wish List is full of them for sure. 

One of my favorite cookbooks that I got this past year is Blue Ribbon Baking from a Redneck Kitchen by France Bryson. It's full of delicious sounding recipes and this Cheesecake Chocolate Chip Cookie Bar is one of them. 

These cookie bars would be perfect for family gatherings and picnics where you have a crowd to feed. We really enjoyed these and I really really like the cookie dough. I may even start making just cookies out of this dough. Mmmm, so good. 

Quick note: I was not compensated in any way for this post. I just like this cookbook and wanted to share the recipe here on the ol' blog. :)

Cheesecake Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

3/4 cup butter, melted
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/8 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
12 oz bag of chocolate chips

For the cheesecake filling:
1 (8oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a 9x13 baking pan with non-stick spray. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar. Add the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla extract and mix well. With a rubber spatula fold in the flour, salt, and baking soda and be careful not to overmix. Fold in the chocolate chips until combined.

Using lightly moistened hands (I just dipped my hands in water), press half the cookie dough evenly onto the bottom of the prepared pan; it will be a thin layer. Fill in any holes with additional cookie dough.

For the filling: Using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and powdered sugar on med-high speed until light and fluffy, 1-2 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla extract and mix until well combined. Spread the cheesecake filling over the layer of the cookie dough that's in the pan.

Again, using lightly moistened hands, flatten tablespoon-sized balls of the remaining cookie dough into flat rounds that are about 1/8-1/4 inch thick. Arrange these rounds over the top of the cheesecake layers, pressing very lightly to adhere them to the cheesecake layer. If there's small open spaces, don't worry.

Bake until very lightly browned on the edges, around 30-35 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack. Refrigerate until chilled, 1-2 hours. Cut into squares and store in an airtight container in the fridge.

Makes 12 bars.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Butterscotch Pudding Cookies

While butterscotch isn't exactly my favorite flavor, these Butterscotch Pudding Cookies are probably one of my favorite. They are so flavorful, soft, and pretty darn delicious. 

I love the addition of pudding mix to the cookie dough. It really makes a difference not only in the flavor, but the texture too. The pudding mix makes them so soft and they actually stay fresh for days, well.....if you can keep them away from sneaky little (and big) hands. :)

Butterscotch Pudding Cookies

1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 (3.4 oz) pkg butterscotch instant pudding mix
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 bag butterscotch chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silicone baking mat and set aside.

In the large bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar until creamy. Next, add in the butterscotch pudding mix, eggs, and vanilla extract. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until just combined. Stir in the butterscotch chips.

Drop the cookie dough onto the prepared baking sheets using a cookie scoop or by rounded tablespoons. Bake for 9-11 minutes, or until slightly golden around the edges. Let the cookies cool on the cookie sheet for about 2-3 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. 

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Creamy Milk Chocolate Pudding Pie

Moving is NOT fun.

The level of exhaustion that I am currently at is borderline dangerous. The past several weeks have been pretty busy for me from being insanely ill with a viral infection and gastritis, to going to Disney World for a food blog conference (which was awesome btw), and packing up an apartment all by myself and then physically moving. Whew. I could definitely use a break.

While taking said break, I would love to have this Creamy Milk Chocolate Pudding Pie right in front of me. I made this pie over Thanksgiving and everyone raved on and on about it. No instant pudding here!! You make the pudding from scratch, but I will say, it is definitely worth the extra work.

Creamy Milk Chocolate Pudding Pie
Recipe from Hershey's 

2/3 cup sugar
6 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons Hershey's Cocoa
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups milk (I used whole milk)
4 egg yolks
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
5 Hershey's Milk Chocolate Bars (1.55 oz each), broken into pieces
1 packaged chocolate crumb crust (6 oz)
Cool whip or homemade whipped cream for topping

Stir together the sugar, cornstarch, cocoa and salt in a saucepan. combine the milk and egg yolks in a bowl. Gradually blend milk mixture into the sugar mixture.

Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil. Boil and stir for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter and vanilla extract. Add the chocolate bar pieces and stir until melted and mixture is well blended. Pour into crumb crust. Next, press plastic wrap onto the filling. Refrigerate several hours or until chilled and firm. Remove the plastic wrap and garnish with whipped cream or cool whip.

Refrigerate any leftovers.

Pie serves 6-8.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Frosted Cupcakes

These chocolate chip cookie dough frosted cupcakes I made for a party a couple of months ago were a huge hit. I made several different kinds, one of them being vanilla bean salted caramel cupcakes and another flavor I have yet to share.

I found the frosting recipe on I am baker, which is one of my favorite blogs, btw ;) I didn't make the frosting as creamy as the original recipe because I thought it needed to be stiffer in order to hold up to the all night party I made them for. While I liked the stiffer consistency of the cookie dough frosting, the next time I made these cupcakes, I'm definitely trying the creamier version. I mean, it's cookie dough flavor, either way it's gonna be good. :)

Honestly, I didn't think these cupcakes would be the first ones gone and I almost didn't make them. I thought the cookie dough would be too "kiddy" and probably not appreciated at a 40 year old's birthday party.

I was wrong.

I guess chocolate chip cookie dough is loved by us all, no matter what age.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Frosted Cupcakes
Cupcake recipe from Kevin & Amanda
Frosting recipe from I Am Baker

For the cupcakes:
1 box Devils Food Cake Mix
1 small box Jello Chocolate Fudge instant pudding mix
4 eggs
1/2 C. vegetable oil
1 C. milk
1 C. sour cream

Preheat the oven to 350.

Line the cupcake pans with cupcakes liners and set aside.  Into a large bowl, put the cake mix, pudding mix, eggs, oil, milk, and sour cream and beat until combined. Spoon batter into prepared cupcake pans about 2/3 full. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until a cake tester is inserted into the middle of a cupcake and comes out clean. Once cupcakes are done, set them on a wire rack and cool completely before frosting.

For the frosting:

1 1/2 cups light brown sugar, packed
1 cup room temperature butter
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon salt
10-16 tablespoons milk
1 cup miniature chocolate chips

In a large mixing bowl, beat together the brown sugar and butter until smooth and creamy. Next, add in the flour, extract and salt and beat until combined.  You will now add the milk into the mixture one tablespoon at a time, until you get the desired consistency. I wanted my frosting a little bit thicker, so I used less milk.  Add the mini chocolate chips and stir by hand until well combined.

This made 24 cupcakes for me.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Valentine Peanut Butter Blossoms

Valentine's Day always sneaks up on me. I love all the pink and red decorations and plan on doing lots of cutesy things, but then I look at the calendar and it's the second week of February.

Really? Time does fly.

It doesn't help that I'm stressed to the max this month. We are moving (again) ((yay!)) and I'm the one that had to stay behind and pack up the whole place. So even though we really don't celebrate Valentine's, my husband better recognize and get me something!  ;)

I'm more stressed with the move especially because now Lady H is in Kindergarten and she has to move to a new school. She's all excited about it.....I'm the one that's having the anxiety. She will have no problem making new friends and adjusting. She's an only child so she has no problem approaching other kids and asking if they want to play or be friends. I'm not worried about her. It's all the paperwork and forms that I have to complete. Since we are moving to another state, there are more forms and things that have to be done. Top that with all the packing and finishing up at my job, I'm already stressed just thinking about it.

And what's good for stress? Uh, yeah, chocolate is good for stress. Mix that with peanut butter and that's a double stress reducer. I make these peanut butter blossoms all the time, but thought I could Valentine's these up with some Hershey's chocolate hearts. I think they turned out pretty cute.

Valentine Peanut Butter Blossoms
Recipe from Pillsbury

1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar + addition for rolling
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
20-24 Hershey's chocolate hearts

Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Line baking sheets with either parchment or silicone baking sheet. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, 1/2 cup sugar, and brown sugar. Mix until combined. Then add baking soda, salt, shortening, peanut butter, milk, vanilla extract, and egg.   Mix again until combined until a stiff dough forms.

Next, shape the dough into 1-1/2 -2 inch balls and then roll balls in extra sugar. Place the balls about 2 inches apart on the prepared cookie sheets.

Bake for 9-12 minutes or until golden brown. Once removed from the oven, quickly top each cookie with a chocolate heart and press down, gentle but firmly so the cookie cracks around the edge. Carefully remove the cookies from the cookie sheet and cool on a wire rack.

This recipe made about 2 dozen cookies for me.

*Note - make sure that the cookie is completely cooled before stacking them for storage or transport. The chocolate heart will be soft from the hot cookie so you will need to be careful and allow plenty of time for the chocolate to set back up.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Vanilla Bean Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Buttercream


I'm totally not following along with the first of the new year trend of posting low-fat, low-cal treats.

Me? Bad influence? Yes, I know.

Honestly, I made these cupcakes a couple of months ago for a friend's birthday and just now getting around to posting them. The holidays had me busy busy busy. Of course, I say every year I'm not going to get stressed out and create tons of work for myself, but every year I do. I guess it wouldn't be the holidays unless I run myself into a total chaotic frenzy. Even as I'm typing this and thinking about the holidays, it's getting me a little stressed. 

I could definitely use one of the those cupcakes, like NOW!!  I'm telling you, that salted caramel buttercream can definitely cure some stress, if only for a little while. :)

Vanilla Bean Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Buttercream
Frosting recipe from The Novice Chef

1 box white cake mix (only the mix - do not use the instructions on the box)
4 egg whites
1 cup milk
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 vanilla bean, scraped 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake pans with cupcake liners and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients and beat at medium speed for about 1 1/2- 2 minutes. Pour batter into the prepared cupcake pans (about 2/3 of the cupcake liner) and bake for 18-20 minutes, depending on your oven. Cool in the pan for about 2-3 minutes and then take cupcakes out and let them cool completely on a wire cooling rack. Once completely cooled, top with Salted Caramel Buttercream.

For the frosting:
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4-5 cups of powdered sugar
1/3 cup caramel topping, plus a little bit more for drizzling on top of cupcakes, if desired
1 teaspoon salt
In the bowl of an electric or stand mixer, cream the butter until fluffy. Add the vanilla extract, salt and caramel syrup and blend until well combined.
Begin adding the confectioners' sugar, 1 cup at a time, and mix thoroughly after each addition. If you want a thicker frosting, you can gradually add more sugar until you reach the desired consistency.

This recipe made 2 dozen cupcakes for me.


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