Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Crave Wednesday: Red Velvet Cupcakes

 Happy Valentine's Day friends! I hope you are surrounded by people you love, and who love you in return.

We had a series of several changed and canceled plans this past weekend, which left us with an unexpected free Sunday.
We decided to take the boys to the Air and Space Museum because they'd never been, and they love the airplane museum in Palm Springs.

There's a special exhibit right now on "Speed" and Thatboy just couldn't pass it up.

The boys loved racing their cars down various ramps set up.

They rode motorcycles the only way I'm comfortable with them doing so.

They learned to change a tire, just like a pit crew.
 Of course, this was the Air and Space Museum, so we did eventually move on to the airplanes and space shuttles.

 We watched a 4D movie on the Apollo moon landing, which Thatbaby did not appreciate.  So while Thatboy and Thatkid stayed for some more 4D fun,  the little guy and I went to the kids' playroom where he flew planes, controlled a wind tunnel,  played with legos, and did some photo ops.

After the museum, we headed over to the grass for a picnic.

 And then it was time to fly our own planes.

I love spending time with my family, and that's going to continue today.  Gone are the Valentine's days with just Thatboy and I. Now we celebrate as a family.  And I have lots of family fun in store for my boys today.  Including special Valentine's Day treats.

I know red velvet on Valentine's Day is cliche.  But I'll be honest with you,  I love red velvet any day of the year.  So the excuse of Valentine's Day?  Red! Rich! Velvety!  I'll take it.  Trite doesn't have to mean bad.   Besides, aren't you looking for an excuse to eat cream cheese frosting?

Red Velvet Cupcakes (from Cooking Light) 
2 cups cake flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened + 3 Tbsp 
2 egg yolks
1 1/4 tsp vanilla extract 
1 cup buttermilk
1 oz red food coloring
3 egg whites
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
8oz 1/3 less fat cream cheese
2 cups powdered sugar

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Combine flour, 1/2 tsp salt, baking soda, baking powder, and cocoa. 
  2. Place 1 1/4 cup sugar and 1/2 cup butter in large bowl and beat at high speed until blended. 
  3. Add egg yolks, one at a time,  beating well after each addition. 
  4. Stir in 1 tsp of vanilla. Reduce mixer speed to low. 
  5. Add flour mixture and buttermilk amending between the two, beginning and ending with flour. Beat until just combined. 
  6. Stir in food coloring. 
  7. Using clean, dry, beaters, beat egg whites and cream of tartar at high speed until stiff peaks form. 
  8.  Fold 1/3 of egg whites into batter,  then gently fold in  remaining egg whites.
  9. Place 24 paper muffin cup liners in muffin cups. Coat with baking spray. Spoon batter into cups and bake for 23 minutes.  Cool in 1n pan for 10 minutes then remove to wire racks to cool completely. 
  10. Place remaining 3 Tbsp butter and cream cheese in a large bowl and beat at medium high speed until smooth. 
  11. Add powdered sugar, 1/4 tsp vanilla, and a pinch of salt.  Beat until smooth. 
  12. Place frosting in a ziplock bag.  Snip the corner off and pipe frosting on top of cupcakes. 

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

Crave Wednesday: Cherry Almond Crisp

Having grown up in Pennsylvania,  Groundhog's  Day holds a special place in my heart.  In fact,  during many of my formative years I was only a stone's throw away from Punxsutawney,  which wasn't great during KKK meetings,  but was fun whenever Punxsutawney Phil was the reason for gathering.

Growing up in California, my children do not have the same appreciation for the day.  They know not the seemingly endless days of winter, when you become a prisoner of your own home.  They do not hold out hope for the arrival of spring and return of outside activities.  They don't even realize that swimming is not a year round activity most places.

So I do what I can to bring the magic to them.  Most years we watch Phil's prognostication on YouTube.  But this is my year of planning in advance.  So I recorded the entire event coverage on the weather channel.  All 5 hours.

A little bit of fast forwarding,  and my children were right there in Punxsutawney, eagerly awaiting the arrival of Phil.

Of course, a special day calls for a special breakfast.  Groundhog pancakes for all! 

And to really get in the spirit, I let them have hot chocolate.  But you'd never know to look at them.

 And now that Groundhog's Day is over,  I can officially start prepping for Valentine's Day.  I told you, I am on the ball this year.

And of course, prep work is even easier when you go to the supermarket and find bags of cherries everywhere.  And they are so good!  Sometimes I forget how early cherry season starts, but I'm not missing out on any.  A bag barely lasts a day in this house,  shorter when you're using them in baked goods.

But cherry,  paired with almond,  gives you this deep,  rich,  red dessert that's perfect for an upcoming holiday. Serve it warm,  because I hear we've got 6 more weeks of winter left to go.

Cherry Almond Crisp (from Cooking Light) 
1 cup dried tart cherries 
2 lbs cherries, pitted 
2/3 cup sugar
3/4 cup + 3 Tbsp flour
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 cup old fashioned rolled oats 
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1/2 tsp salt
5 Tbsp butter, melted
1/4 tsp almond extract
  1.  Place dried cherries in a bowl with 1 cup of boiling water.  Cover and let stand for 30 minutes. 
  2. Preheat oven to 375. Combine dried cherries,  soaking liquid,  pitted cherries,  sugar,  3 Tbsp flour,  vanilla,  and and cinnamon in a large bowl and mix well.  Let sit for 15 minutes. 
  3. Coat a 13x9 inch baking dish with cooking spray.  Pour in cherry mixture and bake for 40 minutes. 
  4. While it's baking,  combine 3/4 cup flour with oats, brown sugar, almonds,  and salt in a bowl.
  5. In a separate bowl,  combine melted butter and almond extract. 
  6. Drizzle butter mixture over flour mixture,  stirring until clumps form.
  7. Remove cherry mixture from the oven and sprinkle with the topping. Bake an additional 20 minutes.