Strawberry Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

This one was for my mom’s (aka “Gammy”) birthday. Wanted cupcakes, something fun, and summery as it was mid July. Found a perfect recipe here, relatively easy too as kids wanted to help bake for Gammy.

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I found this recipe on numerous sites just googling to see if I could locate it (including here and here) so here it is reproduced.

Ingredients:

  • 1 white cake mix
  • 1 (3 oz) box of strawberry gelatin
  • 2/3 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup of frozen sliced strawberries in syrup, thawed
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 4 eggs

Make cake mix as directed but add the jello to the dry mix before doing the rest, and as the last step add cut up strawberries ( I used fresh, no syrup). Bake as directed for the most part (at 350 for about 16-18 minutes). I then used cream cheese frosting instead of the one with the recipes. Typical recipe – I used 4 oz. (half package) softened cream cheese, 4 oz (1 stick) butter, softened, 2 cups powdered sugar, 1 tsp vanilla extract. Mix all together, pipe onto cupcakes.

Then, because I like things pretty, I sliced strawberries and topped each cupcake with a sliver.

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Banana Cream Poke Cake

Happy birthday my Fat Man! I pinned this one months ago knowing I’d make it for the husband’s birthday since there is NOTHING he loves more than banana pudding + Nilla wafers. Super easy recipe – pretty much make a cake in a pan, poke some holes in it and pour pudding over hte holes, then top with whipped cream (store bought, no less) and crushed nilla wafers. Enjoy for fewer days than you should because “people” keep eating a couple inches off every time we open the fridge.

 

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Full (and slightly more detailed) recipe at the Country Cook: http://www.thecountrycook.net/2012/06/banana-pudding-poke-cake.html

 

Ingredients:

1 (10 oz.) box yellow cake mix
ingredients needed to make cake (eggs, oil & water)
2 (3.4 oz.) packages instant banana pudding
4 cups milk
1 (8 oz.) tub frozen whipped topping, thawed
20 vanilla wafers, crushed

Instructions as described above or at original source link. YUM! I’m definitely planning on trying some other variations on poke cakes based on this attempt.

Lucky Charms Cupcakes

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These were delicious. And as you can see, my little friend liked both making and eating them.

 

Unfortunately, I cannot for the life of me now figure out where I got the recipe. I know I’d pinned it, but the one still on my Pinterest is NOT green, so I must have found another. Regardless, I think if you use pretty much any white cupcake recipe and add green food coloring, you’d be set. For frosting I used the marshmallow fluff frosting (below), then topped the green cupcakes with the frosting, plus a few Lucky Charms and green sprinkles, and….voila! (and yes – it’s “voila”….not “wala”….omg that irritates the shit out of me. Almost as bad as people writing “back peddling”…but I digress).

 

Marshmallow Frosting Recipe:

1 cup room temp butter
1 7 oz. jar Marshmallow Fluff
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla

 

Mix it all up. Top a cupcake with it.

Key Lime Cake!

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I was a big fan of this one. Made it for our friends’ birthday dinner. I searched a lot online for a recipe that sounded right to me and finally settled on this one from “Alaska from Scratch“.

Ingredients (see source for specifics):

  • cake flour
  • baking powder
  • baking soda
  • salt
  • butter, lightly softened
  • sugar
  • eggs
  • fresh key lime juice (easier said than done without a juicer/squeezer. I may have squeezed the shit out of a few limes manually).
  • key lime zest
  • green food coloring gel (I used Wilton Leaf Green)
  • buttermilk

I’ll skip the instructions which can be found from the source, but it was relatively straightforward. I used a generic cream cheese frosting recipe online vs. the one at the source blog, and frosted only the top with the sides visible. Then I cut a few lime slices and twisted them as decoration. It was DELICIOUS and pretty. Win/Win.

Easter Bark

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This was so freaking easy AND looks pretty. My main 2 criteria for baking (admittedly, if it doesn’t look pretty I’m far less likely to want to make it since I have an unhealthy focus on aesthetics). From “Butter, with a side of Bread” blog and all over Pinterest this spring: http://www.butterwithasideofbread.com/2013/02/easter-marshmallow-bark.html

I’ll leave the specifics to the source site, but pretty much melt white chocolate with a bit of shortening, stir in mini marshmallows, press into a pan and sprinkle with candy sprinkles, and once dry/cool, cut into egg shapes (or bars or whatever) with a cookie cutter.

Cream Cheese Lemon Bars

 

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It took me a while to even remember where I found this recipe or what exactly it was, until I went and looked at my Pinterest. Recipe from this blog. I think they were to take to a friend’s house for dinner and I had limited time so wanted something based on a mix but still somewhat unique/homemade.

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Ingredients are easy and mostly stuff we’d have around anyways:

  • 1 pkg. lemon cake mix
  •  vegetable oil
  •  eggs
  • 8 oz. pkg cream cheese
  •  lemon juice
  •  sugar

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And easy to do too. Combine cake mix, oil and egg until crumbly. Set aside 1 cup, put the rest in a pan and pat down to form a crust. Bake, put the rest of the ingredients in a bowl and whip, spread over rust and crumble remaining crumbs atop, bake again (see source blog for more specifics). They were yummy!

 

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Doodle Birthday Cake – 5 years

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I am so behind on blogging and about to dump a lot of recipes/baked goods here to catch up before fall/holidays (i.e. my big baking months approach). First, my biggest/most important baking event of the year: the birthday cake for our twins that passed away. This year, I got a recipe for a from scratch vanilla cake from a sweet friend that owns an amazing bakery in California, Beverly’s Best Bakery. Therefore I won’t share the actual recipe but will tell you that based on the AMAZING cake we ended up with, combined with some delicious cookies she shared when we met recently in Austin, Texas, anyone close enough to try her bakery should RUN there. 🙂

So, vanilla cake from scratch, double layered, together with green buttercream (green was always “their color” that we’d painted their room for a boy/girl room). I wanted a little more interest to the buttercream so used lemon extract in place of vanilla with a traditional buttercream recipe.

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The initials (for their names, Noah and Talia) and butterflies were melted white chocolate piped onto wax paper through a pastry tip.

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Thanks to the assist from my pro friend and the baking skills I’ve been honing over the last few years, this was by FAR my best effort yet for their cake. It was delicious, DH said it tasted like wedding cake. I was so proud to be able to honor them with such a beautiful cake!

Pistachio Cake Mix Cookies

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Ok, I know I raved to high heaven about the s’mores bars in my prior post, but these? I’m pretty sure I can say that these are my favorite thing I have baked so far. They have my two favorite things – white chocolate and almond extract. And? Mix based so CRAZY easy.

Found these while searching Pinterest for St. Patrick’s Day cookies. I wanted something besides the typical sugar cookies frosted and/or cut to be St. Patrick’s themed. These came up and I fell in love.

All you need is a box of pistachio pudding mix, a box of cake mix, eggs, vegetable oil and almond extract (green food coloring optional). And white chocolate chips, or regular chocolate chips or whatever else you might want  to sprinkle in. I did white chocolate chips. (Full recipe, etc. at original link at “Eat Cake for Dinner”).

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Mix the cake and pudding mixes together. Then add the oil, eggs, almond extract and food coloring (I did 2 drops) and mix with a hand mixer. Stir in chocolate chips. Form into balls about 1 inch diameter and put on lightly greased cookie sheet. Top each with 2-3 chocolate chips.

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Bake at 350 10-12 minutes (I did about 13 in our slow oven).  Remove, cool and go crazy with deliciousness.

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I may try with other combos of cake mix and pudding flavors. Banana pudding? Butterscotch?! Can’t wait to experiment…

S’mores Bars

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Had a hankering for s’mores lately and was trying to decide between bars and brownies. The husband chose the bars, and they were SUPER easy, and AMAZINGLY delicious. Amazing. LOVED. I always like what I bake because I like food and sweets, but usually it doesn’t go past a bite or two and then I’m done. I could have eaten 30 of these.

Recipe from sugar cooking and link back for specific instructions so I don’t inadvertently take her traffic.

Ingredients = super easy.  Pretty much stuff you have around anyways plus s’mores makings. (Hershey bars, marshmallow fluff and graham cracker).

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PS – If you compare my recipe pic above to the actual listing in the recipe you may note I inadvertently forgot the white sugar and used only brown. WHOOPS! Funny thing is, they still came out ok!

Process was also super easy. Prepare batter as instructed in original recipe linkback.

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I had no issues notwithstanding my failure to include the sugar. Put half the batter in the bottom of a greased 8×8 pan, lay Hershey’s bars on it, spread with marshmallow fluff, lay remaining batter atop that layer (they recommend creating “shingles” and laying side by side) and bake 30-35 minutes at 350.

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Then cool, and cut into bars.

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HEAVEN.

They’re not as pretty as the originals but I don’t even care.

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You can reheat in microwave after they’ve cooled to re-goo. Enjoy!

“Hostess” Orange Cupcakes

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An online chat with some friends about what recipes from childhood we’d like to recreate helped me arrive at a craving for Hostess orange cupcakes. Since Hostess is now defunct (did anyone actually think that days after the announcements Hostess products would literally be off the shelves for good? I certainly didn’t), I have no choice BUT to make them myself. And yes, I prefer the orange to the chocolate.

I found only ONE recipe online purporting to recreate this deliciousness, so I will link back and not entirely reproduce so as not to steal her traffic.

Recipe for Hostess Orange Cupcakes

Ingredients: See link back for amounts, and note that in addition to typical baking inputs, you’ll need oranges (I think I used 4) and orange flavored liqueur. Although I used orange extract instead.

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Orange Cupcakes:
cake flour
baking powder
salt
unsalted butter, softened
granulated sugar
eggs
finely grated orange zest (I was able to get all that I needed plus some from one orange)
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freshly squeezed strained orange juice (I have no juicer so just cut oranges in half and squeezed the crap out of them. I think I used 3-4 oranges for what I needed).
whole milk
Cream Filling:
unsalted butter, softened
confectioners’ sugar
heavy cream
vanilla extract
Orange Glaze:
confectioners’ sugar
strained fresh orange juice
orange-flavored liqueur (Note – I didn’t want to buy a bottle of liqueur that I’d never use again, so I found something online saying you can substitute 1 tsp orange extract for every 1 tbsp of orange liqueur required, and this seemed to work well for me).
Orange food coloring

Royal Icing Squiggle: [I didn’t actually make this part. Too exhausted after the rest and kid troubles and issues with the cream filling, etc. If I HAD made it, I intended to just use my own milk and powdered sugar recipe without the eggs that I used on the gingerbread cookie recipe. But sharing here for those who want to follow the recipe precisely]

confectioners’ sugar
liquid pasteurized egg whites
1 tablespoon warm water
Instructions:
Mix dry ingredients. Beat butter and sugar as directed in original recipe, then add eggs, orange zest and orange juice. Reduce speed and add flour mixture alternated with milk (3 adds of flour, 2 of milk). Pour into baking cups (2/3 full) and bake 18-22 minutes until tootpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Cool the cupcakes in the pan (this is important and I missed this causing some issues).
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For filling, beat the butter at medium speed until creamy, about 1 minute. Add sugar and beat at high. Add the cream and beat for another minute. Scrape the filling into a pastry bag fitted with a 1/4-inch plain or star tip. [This is where we had issues. I followed the instructions but for some reason my cream filling got very thick and almost solidified, and the cream didn’t blend into it but kept separating out. It got worse when I put it in the pastry bag. It was so thick it wouldn’t really move through the bag or tip and just squirted the liquid out and eventually the pressure made the bag and tip burst open. Ugh.]
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To fill the cupcakes you’re instructed to cut a hole in the bottom of each with a paring knife in an x shape, put the tip in, and fill with frosting. With all the frosting bag issues, I finally was able to force it out of a very wide tip but only could get a small amount of cream in each. Then, because the cupcakes weren’t cooled enough, by the time they were done all the cream filling had melted. Blah. I also wasn’t sure whether you were supposed to cut the hole and add the filling with the liners on or off. I did on at first, which seemed to messy, so then tried off, but then they didn’t go nicely back in the liners, so back again. Just a mess.
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Now the orange topping. You mix the powdered sugar with the orange juice and liqueur (or extract) into a fine paste. Heat until warm, then remove from heat, add orange food coloring (or yellow and red in my case, with 4 drops yellow, and 2 drops red). Leave in saucepan on low heat and dip each cupcake (let excess drip off). It will harden quickly. You also have to keep stirring what remains in the saucepan.
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Again, by this time I was DONE. I’d already had to wash the entire mixing bowl and apparatus once, spent way more time than was reasonable messing with cream filling, etc. Did I mention that my 3.5 year old declined to help me bake, then after the cupcakes were in the oven, came in crying saying “start it over” (sorry bub, doesn’t work that way)? And it was past dinner time by now.
Anyways, they really weren’t bad. Especially the glazed part. But way too much effort for the reward.