Advertisements
RSS Feed

Tag Archives: birthday

Thomas the Cupcake Train!

Posted on

Oh boy, time has really gotten away from me. I can’t believe my last post was in September!  I wanted to post our professional photos we had done for Christmas, then realized I hadn’t even shared about Joshua’s birthday so I better do that first. He turned two on November 23rd!

This little guy is very into trains. I can’t even tell you the number of times I hear “choo choo!” a day, either because he hears a train, sees a train track, is playing with trains, or sees Thomas on his socks & pajamas, or on TV. He finds trains everywhere, like on a Christmas tree figurine I never even noticed a train was at the base of, or in the background of pictures in books. You never know how surrounded you are by trains until you have a toddler signaling their presence once every few minutes. Needless to say, we went with a Thomas the Train theme for his birthday this year.

This was his Halloween costume, and the photos worked nicely for his birthday invitations.

I saw a really cool cupcake train idea on A Britt Without Boys (see her post for a much better train, and tutorial), and was really excited to make it. It was very simple to put together and while mine didn’t look as great as Brittney’s, everyone loved it and it was a hit!

Basically you need a large engine to start the train off with, if you want to go with Thomas I’d look into the “My First Thomas” set you can get at Target for around $20. I went with a projector toy I found on eBay that was a bit too small, and I’m not sure the My First Thomas is bigger but it seemed to be in the online pictures. Then you need cupcakes, the number is up to you. You need half as many graham crackers as cupcakes, and 4 large marshmallows and Oreo’s per graham cracker.

“Glue” marshmallows with melted chocolate (I used a disposable piping bag that I melted white chocolate chips in the microwave) onto the bottom of the graham crackers where you want the tires to be. Place them marshmallow side down and then glue Oreo’s over the outside of each marshmallow to make them look more like train wheels.  To set up the train, arrange two cupcakes per graham cracker and set up in a line behind the engine. Add candles and you’re done! I got the “Happy Birthday” candle set for $1 at Dollar Tree.

He started out dressed in his train engineer costume but HAD to put on the Thomas jammies from Auntie Joan as soon as they were out of the gift bag! 

I didn’t get too crazy with the decorations, just cheap stuff in basic colors that went with the Thomas theme, but I did put some creativity into the favor bags.  I got blue paper bags 3/$1 at Walmart, then designed my own labels for them and stuck them on with double sided tape. I include a wooden train whistle ($1 at Dollar Tree), Train Smoke (Vanilla Snow Cotton Candy, $1 from Dollar Tree, filled 6 bags), bubbles (8-pack of wedding bubbles $1 at Dollar Tree, printed out my own Thomas’s and taped them on), and a few fun-size candy bars that I got half price after Halloween. What can I say, I’m thrifty!

And this was the front of the thank-you cards I designed and mailed to those who gave him a gift. I print my “cards” at Walmart as 4×6 photos for about a quarter each with tax (for 1 hour, only 9 cents if you can wait for home delivery). If it’s just a card front like this, I cut out some card stock to size, fold it, and tape the picture to the front, then write a message inside. Can’t beat a personalized card for a quarter!

Oh and one more cute thing from the party, my Mother-in-Law, with the help of her artistic sister, made this Thomas veggie train with a cardboard Thomas they made “from scratch” and long baskets (I’ve seen these at Dollar Tree, like MIL, like DIL!) filled with veggies. It looked much cooler spread out until I pushed it aside to make way for my big crock pot full of Easy White Chicken Chili, but you get the idea.

I didn’t do any games but had a coloring table set up just in case there were slow points and children got bored, but it actually ended up being filled with all adults! My sisters joined after I took this picture. I printed this Thomas Birthday Express coloring sheet and they went to town while they waited for everyone to finish eating and the presents to begin.

I purposely kept the decorating and prep to a minimum to avoid stress and it was a really enjoyable party!  I wonder how many more years I’ll be able to continue my cake strike before this little boy starts working on me and convinces me to make a dragon cake like his cousin did once upon a time. For now, I’m enjoying cupcaking it up! hehe.

 

Advertisements

Cake Batter Lovins

Posted on

Remember the “Cake Batter Everything” craze that swept over the food blog world in 2011? Yeah, I hopped on that and enjoyed it to the fullest.  I shared only one of my cake batter explorations with you, the Cake Batter Crispy Treats, which were my favorite cake batter flavored treat, but do you think I let the remainder of my bag of yellow cake mix go to waste? No way, Jose.

Here’s a few ideas if you need some ways to use up extra cake mix.

Cake Batter Oats. This is actually a pretty healthy recipe, considering there’s cake mix in it. And tasty too!

Cake Batter French Toast. What can I say, cake batter is such a great way to start the day. And sprinkles just make everything so happy.  This one would be fun for a birthday breakfast! I made a simple icing glaze by mixing like 1/4 cup powdered sugar with just enough milk to get it a drizzling consistency.

Cake Batter Candies. For these, I just melted some vanilla almond bark and added enough yellow cake mix to make it taste like cake batter, but not so much it got too thick.  I poured most of it in a chocolate bar mold (like the one I used for this Vegan White Chocolate), but I didn’t get a picture of that before I gave it to a friend as part of a thank you gift for turning a stain on my jeans into a work of art. The rest of it I poured into peanut butter cup molds and put sprinkles over the tops while it was still setting up.  Kids went crazy for these at a get together, even more so than my Cupcake Bites!

Have you made any cake batter flavored yums?

Meatloaf PupCakes with Mashed Potato Frosting

Posted on

Jessie turned ten earlier this month and I decided that I was finally, finally, going to throw her the birthday party I’d always wanted to throw her ever since we got her.  I had invitations I meant to use for it so long I finally ended up selling them at our garage sale last year, thinking I would always have too much going on to actually do it.  Ironically, I ended up throwing her a birthday party the year I’m most busy, with a little human puppy taking up most of my time.  Just goes to show, you always have enough time for whatever you put your mind to.

I plan to do a whole separate blog post about the party because it was the sauce, if I do say so myself, but first I wanted to share the recipe I made for the PupCakes.  Rather than make something flour-based, I decided I wanted to go with meat-centric PupCakes because, let’s get real here, it’s a rare dog that prefers a flour & fruit-based treat over a meaty one.  Jessie is alll about the meat.

So I just threw together a bunch of stuff that seemed like it might make good dog-friendly (i.e. no onions) meatloaf into a bowl, mixed it up, and took a tiny taste test after baking.  Wow, I was impressed!  The only salt in the recipe comes from the ketchup, so I thought it would be rather bland, but these are so good I wished I’d made extra to enjoy along with the pups!  I added a mashed potato “frosting” that I thinned with yogurt.  So healthy and delicious, and the dogs devoured them! (Don’t be fooled by Doc giving up his to Jessie in the video, he’s so sweet that if Jessie even looks at him when he has a treat, he drops it so she can have it.  Kind of breaks my heart, actually! lol)  Even the little tiny dogs ate an entire PupCake by themselves. I’d say they are definitely dog-approved. :)

Meatloaf PupCakes with Mashed Potato Frosting

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

1 ½ teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
½ cup finely diced red bell pepper
½ cup finely diced zucchini
1 egg, beaten
1 lb 93% lean ground beef
½ cup quick oats
1 teaspoon parsley flakes
1 teaspoon rubbed sage
1/2 cup ketchup

Frosting
2 large russet potatoes, peeled
1 cup plain yogurt
Milk to thin

Optional garnish: real bacon bits

Remove ground beef from refrigerator to allow the chill to come off while you begin the recipe. Heat oven to 350°F. Line 9 muffin cups with foil liners; set aside.

Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add olive oil, red pepper, and zucchini, and sauté until softened, about 5-10 minutes. In large bowl, combine the cooked veggies with the remaining pupcake ingredients until well combined. Roll mixture into 9 large balls and place in prepared muffin cups.

Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until meat thermometer inserted in center of loaves reads 160ºF. Cool slightly in muffin cups.

While loaves are baking, cut potatoes into large chunks. Place in 3-quart saucepan, cover with water, and heat to boiling. Reduce heat; cook potatoes until fork-tender. Drain; return to saucepan. Add yogurt and beat with an electric mixer, adding milk as necessary, until creamy and smooth like frosting.

Place potatoes in a 10-inch decorating bag and snip the tip as large as you want it to come out. Alternatively, you can place them in a Ziploc bag and snip the corner. Remove the pupcakes from the muffin pan and place on serving plate. Starting at outside of each cake and in a circular motion, pipe potatoes onto each meat loaf. If desired, garnish with bacon bits. Serve warm or room temperature.

A Veronica’s Cornucopia original

Teaser Tuesday

Posted on

We celebrated my birthday yesterday and the day was just so busy I didn’t have time to do the recap that I had planned for today (I usually schedule my blog posts the night before because I don’t have time to do them before work the next day).  Instead, I’ll leave you with a  little teaser of things to come.  This was a piece of my “birthday cake,” a Chocolate Oblivion Truffle Torte.  It was every bit as delicious as it sounds!!

Dairy-Free White Cupcakes

Posted on

My husband and I don’t have an allergy to dairy, but we typically don’t keep milk in the house because we prefer coconut or almond milk beverages.  So when I decided to send some cupcakes to work with my husband to welcome his boss, who lives in Colorado and was coming to Wichita for the first time to stay for a week, I decided just to make them completely dairy free and see how they turned out.  I was really impressed with the results!  I’ve never made white cake without using a box mix, and I was quite pleased with how crazy moist these were, and they did not have a hint of coconut flavor, despite all the “dairy” coming from coconut.  They tasted just like regular white cake, and they were a hit with the boss and co-workers.

I wasn’t sure if these would turn out, so I made this recipe for a dozen cupcakes instead of the usual two dozen.  If you would like to make two dozen, or a two layer cake, just double the recipe.

Dairy-Free White Cupcakes

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

½ cup coconut milk beverage*, room temperature (I used Silk Pure Coconut Original)
3 large egg whites, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons aluminum-free baking powder*
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup refined coconut oil, room temperature*

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line cupcake tin with paper liners; set aside.

In a 1-cup measure, mix together the milk, egg whites, and extracts; set aside.  In large bowl, mix remaining ingredients, except for the oil. Add the oil and mix until incorporated and there are moist crumbs, with no powdery streaks remaining.. Add all but ¼ cup of the milk mixture and beat at medium speed for 1 ½ minutes. Add remaining milk mixture and beat 30 seconds more.  Stop mixer to scrape the sides of the bowl, then beat again on medium for 20 more seconds.

Using an ice cream scoop, divide batter between prepared muffin cups.  Bake for 15-17 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs.  Cool in tin on a wire rack.  I prefer to turn mine out onto the rack after a few minutes to finish cooling so the pan doesn’t bake them too much by retaining the heat.

Once cupcakes are completely cool, frost with White Celebration Frosting, or your favorite dairy-free frosting.

Makes 12 cupcakes.

*Notes: you can use canned coconut milk and unrefined coconut oil, but this will give your cupcakes a distinct coconut flavor. If you want them to taste like white cake, please follow the recipe as written. Also, I recommend using Rumford, or another aluminum-free baking powder in recipes calling for more than a teaspoon, as the aluminum can give a very strong, unpleasant aftertaste.  This is especially true in cakes with milder flavors, like white or yellow.

Recipe source: adapted from Cook’s Illustrated

Cake Batter Crispy Treats

Posted on


If you’re like me and need a little help getting through your Mondays, I’ve got a happy fix right here!  I’m a fan of crispy treats, especially those that are a little different, like my favorite Salted Brown Butter Crispy Treats and Gingerbread Crispy Treats, and now I have a third unique and fun recipe to add to my growing list of favorites.  Cake batter flavored crispy treats!

Come on, get up, throw your hands in the air, squeal a little “Yay!” and do a happy dance for technicolor sprinkles.  OK, now your Monday is already off to a better start!

Cake Batter Crispy Treats

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
1 (10.5-ounce) bag of mini marshmallows
1/2 cup yellow cake mix
6 cups Rice Krispies cereal
1 (1.75-ounce) container of sprinkles

Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat and add marshmallows. Stir until they begin to melt, then add cake mix and stir until combined and marshmallows are completely melted. Stir in cereal until it is completely coated with marshmallow mixture.  Add half of the sprinkles and mix. Press into a 8 or 9” square baking dish and top with remaining sprinkles.  Let sit for at least 30 minutes before cutting.

Recipe source: adapted from Dana’s Food for Thought who snagged it from How Sweet It Is

So if you’re like me, you’re wondering what to do with the nearly full bag of cake mix that will remain after making this recipe.  Don’t fret, there are plenty of things that you can easily add it to for more delicious cake batter flavor.  So far I have made cake batter oatmeal (I subbed wheat bran for oat bran and more cake mix for the vanilla protein powder but did everything else the same and felt I was eating a fairly nutritious, not to mention delicious, breakfast), cake batter candy (stirred some mix into leftover white candy coating from a batch of cupcake bites and poured the chocolate into candy cups molds, then topped with sprinkles–tasted fantastic!), and here are a few more ways to use up your extra mix: Cake Batter Pancakes, Cake Batter Cinnamon Rolls, or how about mixing some into a vanilla milkshake to magically turn it into a sprinkle-licious cake batter milkshake?  The possibilites are endless!  Wheeeee!

Cow Pies Candy

Posted on

I got the above Hallmark (because I care enough to send the very best, lol!) card for my Mother-in-Law’s birthday.  Most of my husband’s family lives a couple hours north of us and I usually mail some sort of edible goodies to them on their birthdays.  Since I haven’t figured out how to ship a cake without destroying it, I thought this would be a great card to send  to her along with some cow pies candy.  Cute, if a little gross, right? :)

I’m not sure where this recipe originated but you can find it all over the web.  Mine is a little different from the others, which only call for almonds and raisins with the chocolate.  Because cow pies have grass in them (OK, maybe I’m getting a little too graphic here!), I like to add coconut to mimic that.

Although I went with sliced almonds this time (it was all I had on hand), my favorite way to make these is with roasted, salted peanuts, raisins, and coconut.  If you like Chunky candy bars, you’ll like that version too because it is very similar in taste.  (I also have an award-winning recipe for cookies that are based off the flavor profile of the Chunky Candy bar, if you’re interested in that!)

It’s best to use salted nuts to counteract the super-sweetness of the candy.  If you only have unsalted, just add some salt to the mixture before stirring. Kids love these things (apparently the idea/grossness as much as the taste–KIDS!), and they would be great for Halloween…and maybe even Easter.  We usually think of barn animals (OK, barn animal babies) in correlation to Easter, so I guess cow pies fits, right?  Or maybe I’ve grown a little twisted over the years.  I blame my husband.  He is the King of Strange.  I mean, remember those horrific-looking no bake cookies he made? Yeah.  He totally started it.

Cow Pies Candy

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

1 (12 oz) bag milk chocolate chips
1 tablespoon vegetable shortening
2/3 cup roughly chopped salted nuts*
1/2 cup packed raisins
1/3 cup packed shredded coconut
*Add 1/4 teaspoon salt to the recipe if not using salted nuts.

Gently melt chocolate and shortening together in double boiler or in microwave, stirring frequently until smooth. Stir in remaining ingredients. Drop spoonfuls onto a wax paper lined baking sheet and let sit until firm, about an hour.

Veronica’s Note: If you want to add more mix-ins, decrease the amounts of the other mix-ins accordingly (for instance, decrease nuts to ½ cup and raisins to ⅓ cup in order to add an additional ⅓ cup mix-ins). Ideas for mix-ins: toffee bits, crushed pretzels, bacon bits, crumbled potato chips, additional types of nuts or dried fruits.

Makes 24 candies. Per serving: 121 calories; 7.6 g fat; 12.7 g carb; 1.1 g fiber; 2.2 g protein

Recipe source: adapted from Taste of Home

Secret Recipe Club

%d bloggers like this: