Girlie Birthday cupcakes: Part II chocolate/maraschino cherry regular and minis

Girlie Birthday cupcakes: Part II chocolate/maraschino cherry regular and minis

Girlie Birthday Cupcakes Mini Chocolate Maraschino Cherry

As promised, here is the second half of the Girlie Birthday Cupcakes – the chocolate/maraschino cherry cupcakes and minis.  As I mentioned in Part I I  modified and combined several recipes.  For these, I used the Martha Stuart’s Strawberry Buttercream modified into Maraschino Cherry Buttercream and  Sour Cream Chocolate Cupcakes from Betty Crocker.  The minis turned out to be my favorite, they were like a chocolate covered cherry with icing!

First the cupcakes:

I followed the Betty Crocker recipe but added 1/4 cup coco powder to the mix to increase the chocolate flavor.

Cherries in the wrappers

To prepare the cupcakes, I put a cherry in each cupcake wrapper in both the regular and min size.

Mini-s ready to bake

Fill the minis  to the top so you get a nice dome and cover the cherry.

Regular ready to bake

Fill the regular size 2/3 full, then add another cherry on top.  The cupcakes will bake around it making a nice center.

Baked regular and minis

Cool completely before icing.

Next the icing:

Following the recipe for  Martha Stuart’s Strawberry Buttercream replace the mashed strawberries with 1/2 cup drained and chopped maraschino cherries – don’t use the juice.

Starting with the egg whites and sugar here’s a quick way to make a double boiler using the mixer bowl that eliminates washing an extra pot (which I thought of after I made the strawberry batch)

Double boiler for icing

Cooking the egg whites

Cook the egg whites according to the directions, then whip

Whip the egg whites and sugar

Gradually add the butter a chunk at a time

Adding butter

Finish up by adding the chopped cherries.

I decorated the minis to look like little ice cream cones with a small candy on top and the full size cupcakes to resemble flowers by piping the icing around the center cherry and adding some little green candies for the leaves.

Chocolate Maraschino Cherry Cupcakes

Girlie Birthday cupcakes: strawberry/strawberry and chocolate/maraschino cherry regular and minis – Part I Strawberry

Girlie Birthday cupcakes: strawberry/strawberry and chocolate/maraschino cherry regular and minis – Part I Strawberry


Pink Birthday Cupcakes



Since my kids are grown and away at school I don’t get the chance to practice my kid baking much anymore (although they do expect care packages).  Fortunately, I have friends and family that let me borrow theirs, so today I’m making cupcakes for my friend’s four year old pink girlie girl to take to school. I modified and combined several recipes, Martha Stuart’s Strawberry Buttercream, which I also made into Maraschino Cherry Buttercream,  Sour Cream Chocolate Cupcakes from Betty Crocker and Sincere Strawberry Cupcakes from Dozen Flours blog.  I’m breaking this one up into two parts as it would be quite long otherwise.  Today the strawberry cupcakes.

Here’s what I did:

First I made a strawberry filling (jam).  Starting with a 5 pound package of frozen strawberries (which I split using 4 lb for jam and 1 lb for the strawberry cupcakes).  It is much easier than you’d think to make.

Ingredients for strawberry jam


4 pounds frozen strawberries

7 cups sugar

1/4 cup lemon juice

1 pkg liquid pectin

Strawberries, sugar and lemon juice

Add all the ingredients except the pectin to a large pot, mix and bring to a full rolling boil and boil for 5 minutes.  You can add a tablespoon of butter if you like to keep the foaming to a minimum but either way, skim off the foam on top before you jar the jam.  After 5 minutes, add the liquid pectin and boil for one more minute.  Because I intended to use mine as cake/cupcake filings, I used a stick blender to completely mash the strawberries so it would not clog up the pastry tips.  You can make it as smooth or “chunky” as you prefer.  Pour the jam into prepared jars (if you are going to preserve them) or clean jars if you plan on using right away.  Ball has a great  site full of recipes and instructions for canning.  I canned four jars for later, and kept the rest in a bowl for this project.

Strawberry jam

Obviously, you can just use store bought jam.

Next the strawberry cupcakes:

I basically followed the Sincere Strawberry Cupcakes recipe, the only difference is that I did not use the reserved strawberry juice on top like she does, but instead filled the cupcakes with the jam in a squeeze bottle (slightly warmed in the microwave so it will squeeze).  Stick the top of the bottle down into the cupcake and squeeze a little in.  If it starts to overflow stop but it doesn’t really matter as you are going to put a layer on top anyway.

fillled with jam

then put a layer of jam on top.

layer of jam on top

I placed them in the fridge to set up so it would run into the icing.  I then iced with a piping bag filled with the Martha Stuart’s Strawberry Buttercream which I made according to her recipe.  It is a great icing as it is not too sweet.  It is really great when you have to transport them as it will harden in the fridge so it keeps its shape, but doesn’t dry out and softens right back up when you bring it to room temperature to serve.

Strawberry cupcakes iced

Finally I added a small candy to the center of each to make them more flower like.

Strawberry Cupcakes

Part II, Chocolate Maraschino Cupcakes -regular and minis tomorrow.

Recipe test:  Rachael Ray’s You Won’t be Single for Long Vodka Pasta Sauce

Recipe test: Rachael Ray’s You Won’t be Single for Long Vodka Pasta Sauce

You Won't Be Single For Long Vodka Penne

I know I haven’t always been kind to some of Rachael’s recipes, but this is one of my favorites.   I make it quite often and even follow the recipe You Won’t Be Single for Long Vodka Pasta Sauce pretty faithfully, which is quite unusual for me.  The only change I make is to start with 1 pound of hot Italian sausage removed from the casing and fried (leave the fat in the pan and continue on with the recipe for the best flavor).  It gives it a little more kick and of course makes the meat eaters happy.  I find that the fresh basil is what really makes it, so definitely don’t skip that.  Otherwise, it is a great, simple and quick recipe that you can easily make after a workday, serve in a bowl with some garlic knots or garlic bread and if you must, a salad (sorry I don’t do salad).

You won't Be Single for Long Vodka Penne and Green Beans with Bacon

I also sometimes serve it with green beans (with bacon of course).

Green Beans with Bacon

While frying the bacon in a large skillet, steam about a pound of green beans in the microwave for 3 minutes.   I get the packages from Costco that you can steam them right in or you can just do them in a bowl.  Fry 4 slices of bacon cut in small pieces until very crisp, then remove it from the pan, leaving the fat.  Add the partially cooked green beans and finish for a couple more minutes in the pan to the doneness that you like, then add back the crispy bacon.

My Top Ten recipes for 2010

My Top Ten recipes for 2010

I decided not to fight the trend and picked my top 10 favorites.  Also, I mistakenly thought this would be a quick post to finish up the year with but it turned out to be much more difficult than I thought to narrow them down to just ten.    My sister-in-law (the healthy registered dietician one) recently pointed out that I lean toward desserts, which I have to admit is very true.  They are just all around better, better tasting, better photos and a lot more fun to do so of course this list is also a little heavy on the dessert side (I did sort of consider which posts got the most hits but basically I reserved the right to make the final decisions.)  In my quest for self-improvement, I promise to try to include more healthy items in the future (due to repeatedly failing at this in the past, I can’t actually promise – only promise to try).  Drum roll . . .  in no particular order, this years winners:

Mixed Berry Jam Creme Brulee Crostata

Mixed Berry Jam Creme Brulee Crostata

Pecan and Pecan Cranberry Pies

Three Great Pecan Pies

White Chocolate Wedding Cake for Small Wedding

White Chocolate Wedding Cake

Lemon Pudding Cake

Cook’s Country Lemon Pudding Cake

Honey Caramel Apples

Italian Caprese Sliders

Italian Caprese Sliders

Plate of Peanut Butter Cheesecake Bars

Peanut Butter Cheesecake Bars

White Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies

White Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies

Limoncello and Lemon Sherbet

Double Pucker – Limoncello and Lemon Sherbet

Peach and Raspberry Tart

White Chocolate Mouse Peach and RasbperryTarts

Holiday Gifts – David Rocco’s Pesto

Holiday Gifts – David Rocco’s Pesto


Pesto gift packaged



Here’s a great, simple recipe for pesto from David Rocco.  Once you’ve made the recipe, place it in festive jars or plastic tubs for gifts (keeping a few for yourself of course).  In case you haven’t noticed, I like David Rocco and if you haven’t had the chance to watch his show on the Cooking Channel you really should.  It is not the typical cooking show.  He travels around Italy and cooks with lots of different people in their kitchens and restaurants as well as his apartment.  You get to see a lot of scenery and interesting people with some  Italian history, not just a studio kitchen.  His recipes are simple and delicious and generally quite traditional.

The pesto will last well in the fridge, or can be frozen.  Adding equal measures of the pesto to heavy cream (1 cup to 1 cup for a pound of pasta) makes a wonderful quick pasta sauce.  Just warm the cream and pesto in a saucepan while you cook the pasta, then serve with extra cheese.  You can also add some leftover chicken, chicken strips or shrimp.


Recipe Test:  Cook’s Country Lemon Pudding Cake

Recipe Test: Cook’s Country Lemon Pudding Cake

Lemon Pudding Cake

This recipe for Lemon Pudding Cake was on their show last weekend and looked good.  I actually had seen that episode before and thought about making it, but this time I had some lemons that I needed to use so it seemed like a good choice.  It was amazing, lots of lemon flavor and pretty much just like lemon pie with no crust.  It wasn’t really very cakey if that is what you prefer, but wow was it good (just to be sure I had it again for breakfast)!

The recipe has a few steps, but is basically pretty simple and quick with ingredients you probably have stocked, plus if you make it with kids, it is impressive how it separates into the layers while baking.

Ingredients for Lemon Pudding Cake

Baked Cook's Country Lemon Pudding Cake