Father’s Day AND Day of Birth Celebration! Strawberry and Chocolate Chip Vanilla Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

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I know it has been a longgggg time, but I have been a very busy lady! I have been nannying for a lovely family during the day, and getting my butt kicked by P90x/Insanity at night. I have still managed to continue baking, but I just haven’t had the time for new posts.

But alas, I HAD to post today. Today has been a wonderful day. I woke up to some great news: the woman that I work for delivered a beautiful, healthy baby girl! That in itself is a reason to bake. On top of that, it is also Father’s Day! I have always been a daddy’s girl, and I decided to spend the day with him. We went to the driving range (my arms are ACHING), and on the way back we stopped at Wawa for some refreshing frozen iced teas.

Anyways, since I was in SUCH a good mood, I decided to bake some cupcakes. For those who do not know me well: I HATE baking cupcakes. Making the cupcake itself is a hassle; all of that pouring and mixing is a pain in the butt. And then on top of THAT you have to make frosting. Me and the piping bag are arch enemies. But since I had the time, I decided to give it a shot.

I wanted to make something that the family I work for would enjoy. I settled for a strawberry chocolate chip vanilla cupcake. The girls LOVE strawberries, and enjoy chocolate (what child doesn’t??). I topped them off with a vanilla buttercream frosting with some pink food coloring to celebrate the baby’s arrival.

Here’s the thing: I was feeling a little lazy. As stated above, my arms were aching from the driving range, and I didn’t want to spend too much time in the kitchen, away from my dad. So I did something unheard of: I used a BOX MIX for the cupcakes.

Before you exit out of this tab, give me a chance to explain! I didn’t prepare the cupcakes with the directions on the box. I did something much, MUCH better. I found a link a while back on good ol’ Pinterest that described a way to prepare cupcakes with a box mix that made them taste homemade. It caught my attention and I am glad that I saved the link, because you CAN NOT tell that these came from a box mix.

My dad said that these are “the most amazing cupcakes that he has ever had”.  They are moist, soft, and filled with flavor. Once the sweetness of the berries wears off, you start to taste the rich milk chocolate chips. The vanilla frosting is perfect. I am not a humongous fan of frosting. *Gasp* I know, it is pretty strange. But I find this frosting to have the perfect amount of sweetness; it satisfies your sweet tooth without making you diabetic.

For the Cupcakes:

Ingredients

  • Vanilla Cake Mix (you want a good quality one! Either Duncan Hines or Betty Crocker)
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted ( do not use margarine)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup water
  • 6 large strawberries, chopped
  • 3/4 cup milk chocolate chips
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Melt the butter in a microwave.
  3. In a large bowl, add the cake mix, eggs, and water to the butter.
  4. Mix on low for a minute, and then on high for a minute. You will already see a difference: the batter is thick and creamy, as opposed to thin and watery when prepared with the box’s instructions.
  5. Add the strawberries and chocolate chips, mix them in throughout the batter.
  6. Fill 24 cupcake wells with paper liners. Evenly distribute the batter. I find that using an ice cream scoop uses the perfect amount of batter, and also makes the cupcakes look nice and equal. It also is SO much quicker, and less messy!
  7. Put them in the oven for 17-20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

For The Vanilla Buttercream Frosting (Adapted Slightly From Food Network)

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/2 tbsp milk
  • Food coloring (optional)
  1. In a standing mixer fitted with a whisk, mix together sugar and butter. Mix on low speed until well blended and then increase speed to medium and beat for another 3 minutes.
  2. Add vanilla and milk and continue to beat on medium speed for 1 minute more, adding more milk if needed for spreading consistency.
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Sour Outlook and Sour Cream Cake

Today is a bittersweet day.  Tomorrow Nicholas and his family will be leaving to go to Italy for ten days. I am SO excited for him; after taking Italian last semester, I have learned about the beauty of the country and I think it is so great that he will be able to experience it firsthand. At the same time, Nicholas and I have never gone a day without speaking to each other, none-the-less TEN days of no texting, IMing, or skyping.

I have grown extremely close not only to Nicholas, but to his family. I had spent three of the past days with him and his relatives, watching their old home videos and laughing at memories. There is one member of the family that I have grown especially close to, however; his name is Buddy and he is a Cockapoo. They don’t offer dog tours in Italy, so Buddy will be spending the next two weeks with my family and puppies! He is my silver lining :).

Buddy is a sucker for the camera!

While I was visiting, Nick’s grandmother came over and brought a DELICIOUS dessert that I had never tried before. The treat was Sour Cream Cake: a moist, flavor-filled loaf cake that contained not only chocolate but also Walnuts. Don’t let the name scare you away: you DO NOT  taste the sour cream, it simply makes the cake moist and soft. After eating a few slices, and complimenting her creation multiple times, Nick’s grandma gave me her recipe! This recipe makes three loaves; a great baked good to give to family and friends around the holiday season!

Ingredients:

1 cup unsalted butter, softened

2 cups sugar

1 cup  mini chocolate chips

1 cup walnuts

4 eggs

1 16 oz container of sour cream

1 tablespoon vanilla (the original recipe called for 2 tsp but I LOVE vanilla!)

3 cups flour

3 tsp baking powder

2 tsp baking soda

FOR THE TOPPING:

an additional 1/2 cup walnuts

an additional 1 cup mini chocolate chips

2 tsp cinnamon

4 tsp sugar

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease three loaf pans.
  2. In a large bowl, cream the sugar and butter together until well blended.
  3. Add the eggs, one at a time, stirring between each until fully incorporated.
  4. Add the entire package of sour cream and the vanilla, mixing in completely.
  5. In a separate medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and baking soda.
  6. Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture, mixing until no streaks of dry ingredients remain.
  7. Stir in the walnuts and chocolate chips. Pour the mixture evenly into the three pans, about half full.
  8. In a tiny bowl, mix together the sugar and cinnamon for the topping. Sprinkle evenly over the three loaves. Sprinkle the additional walnuts and mini chocolate chips evenly. Put into the oven for approximately 45 minutes, or until browned and toothpick comes out clean.