Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Time to Celebrate!

Birthdays are a big deal at our house.  We have certain traditions that we started when we had kids, ones that we look forward to continuing each year.  First, they get a special treat to start their day when just the birthday child and their dad get to go out to breakfast at McDonalds.  This has become something that they really look forward to!  They talk about what time they should go so they can be back and ready for school...what they should order...and of course, rub it in to the others that it is "just me and Daddy".  I love that my husband has started this special thing with each of the little ones.  The other thing that we do is that the birthday boy or girl (or Daddy!) gets to choose the menu for their birthday dinner---ANYTHING they want, including dessert.  We have had quite a variety over the last 14 years!  We have enjoyed salmon, orange jello with mandarin oranges, Kraft mac and cheese with hot dogs, shrimp, stadium food, egg casserole and french toast, canned green beans, banana cream pie, apple pie, oreo and fudge ice cream dessert and the list goes on and on!  It has been fun to see how their menu of choice has changed over the years as they have grown.  I remember one year when Wyatt really wanted mac and cheese, green beans and fish sticks.  It really felt against everything I stood for in the kitchen, but you know what???  It was HIS special day so that is what we had!  He was so proud of his menu and I was proud to produce (?) a menu to his exact specifications! 
My baby turned 8 (!) this month and we had her birthday party with the family.  She chose a brunch.....wonderful sausage and egg quiches (which I will share in an upcoming post), french toast, fresh fruit and little smokies.  Her dessert of choice?
RED VELVET CUPCAKES!!  Yes!  I couldn't have chosen better myself!  Plus, I was delighted that my 7 year old daughter KNEW what red velvet cupcakes were....she is so smart, isn't she?!?
These were fantastic!  And pretty easy as well.  It made me very happy that one batch made 24 cupcakes.  You know how some make like 10...honestly, let's make it worth our time here! 
Here are a couple pics:


2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 t. baking soda
1 t. salt
1 t. cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 T. red food coloring
1 t. white distilled vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
I am not a frosting lover, but this is one cake recipe where you NEED the frosting!
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 stick butter, softened
1/2 t. vanilla extract
2 cups sifted powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350.  Line 2 12 cup muffin pans with cupcake papers.  I always spray the liners or the cupcakes will stick.
In a medium bowl, sift together flour, sugar, baking soda, salt and cocoa powder.  In a large bowl, gently beat together oil, buttermilk, eggs, food coloring, vinegar and vanilla with an electric mixer or your Kitchen Aid mixer (THE best kitchen appliance EVER!)  Add the sifted dry ingredients to the wet and mix until smooth and throroughly combined.  This makes the most luscious looking batter!
Divide batter evenly among cupcake tins, about 2/3 full.  Bake in oven for 20-25 minutes, turning pans once half way through.  Check them after about 15 minutes so as to not overbake.  Test the cupcakes with a toothpick for doneness.  Stick it right in the middle and if there is no bright red dough, they are ready!  Remove from oven and cool sompletely before frosting.
For frosting--In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese, butter and vanilla together until smooth.  Add the sugar and on low speed, beat until incorporated.  Increase the speed to high and mix until very light and fluffy.  This may take  a few minutes.

There you have it! These are incredible moist and the creamy frosting is the perfect compliment.  Now, I think I better add red food coloring to my grocery list.....I'm thinking we may need some of these over the weekend!

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