Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Peanut Butter Cup Cupcakes.

Peanut butter cups are one of my favorite desserts. So when we had cupcakes at a recent work event and I was excited when I saw peanut butter cup cupcakes on the dessert table. But I found the peanut butter cup cupcake to be disappointing. It was very dry and lacked any real chocolate or peanut butter flavor. In the following days, I just couldn’t get that subpar cupcake out of my mind. Sad, isn’t it? So I decided that I could do better and set out to make an extraordinary peanut butter cup cupcake.
As soon as I saw this recipe on Two Peas that included a full peanut butter cup in the cupcake, I knew my cupcake mission would be a success. I used their peanut butter frosting recipe as well. I love Hershey's “Perfectly Chocolate” Chocolate Cake recipe so I used that in place of the one in the Two Peas’ recipe. Really any chocolate cupcake recipe, or even a cake mix, will work. These do take a bit of time to assemble but it is well worth it.
 So how do you get that full size peanut butter cup in the cupcake?
Simply pour a small scoop of batter into each cupcake liner, place the peanut butter cup butter on top of the batter and then add remaining batter to the cupcake liner, covering the peanut butter cup.
Bake the cupcakes according to your cupcake recipe. Mine were in the oven for 20 minutes. When you take them out of the oven, they look like normal chocolate cupcakes.
I just got a new cupcake carrier. Isn’t this so neat?
It's easy to carry and I really like how the holders stack together.
Once the cupcakes are cool, mix up your frosting and try not to eat it all.  
I made about 30 cupcakes to take to work and this frosting recipe made enough for all of my cupcakes. Although, I’m a fan of mounds of icing on cupcakes so if you are more liberal with your frosting you might need to double the recipe, depending on the number of cupcakes you make.
Don’t these look delicious?!?!
There wasn’t a single cupcake left when I took these to work. That’s always a good indication of whether a new recipe was a success. Mission accomplished!

Peanut Butter Cup Cupcakes
Adapted from Two Peas

Full size peanut butter cups, unwrapped (one for each cupcake)
Chocolate cupcake batter (see recipe below)
Peanut butter frosting (see recipe below)
Mini peanut butter cups for garnish, if desired
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a muffin pan with cupcake liners. Pour a spoonful of batter into prepared cupcake liners. Place full size peanut butter cup in the cupcake liner and then add remaining batter, filling cups 2/3 full with batter.   Bake 22 to 25 minutes.
Once completely cooled, frost the cupcake with peanut butter frosting. Top each cupcake with a mini peanut butter cup if desired.

Hershey's “Perfectly Chocolate” Chocolate Cake
Makes about 30 cupcakes

2 cups sugar
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2  eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water
Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin).

For the Peanut Butter Frosting from Two Peas:
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup of cream peanut butter
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon heavy cream
In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter and peanut butter until creamy. On low speed, add in powdered sugar. Mix until combined and add the heavy cream. Mix until frosting is fluffy.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Smoothie Popsicles.

I have a smoothie obsessed toddler at my house. He is constantly requesting them. While I’m pretty sure that he would drink a smoothie any time of day, I have limited them to breakfast time only.  I am a big fan of smoothies at breakfast because it allows me to pack a lot of nutrients into a cup and makes for a quick breakfast. In fact, Monday mornings are always the most rushed at our house so Mondays are designated smoothie days.
Some mornings he will drink more of his smoothie than others so I occasionally find myself with leftover smoothie. I hated to waste all that goodness. So I’ve started making smoothie popsicles. I have a set of popsicle molds so I simply pour the leftover smoothie into the popsicle molds and place the molds in the freezer. Then we have delicious and nutritious frozen treats, in a variety of flavors that we can enjoy later.
Now that the warmer weather is just around the corner, I’m looking forward to enjoying these frozen treats on our back deck after dinner.

Monday, April 15, 2013


My sweet husband recently took me on a weekend getaway to NYC. I love that city. It has such a special place in my heart as that’s where my husband was living when we first met. I met him randomly one weekend, when he was back home in Arkansas visiting his family and friends. At the time, I was still in law school. The first time I went to visit him was during the break in between the spring and summer semesters so I was able to stay an entire week. He took me to all the normal touristy locations but we also spent hours just walking around the city and sitting in parks watching people. By the end of that week, I was in love with the city (and the man that would soon after become my husband). Not long after my first visit, he got an amazing job offer in Arkansas and decided it was time to move back and I was overjoyed that he would be in the same city as me after so many months living apart.
Since then, we’ve tried to go back at least once or twice a year. The city has such an amazing energy. There is always something new to do or see or eat!
Here are just a few snapshots from our recent trip:

One of the best sandwiches I’ve ever eaten- the Lobster Roll at Pearl.

Got to have pizza in NYC! This is from my favorite place for pizza, John's Pizzeria on Bleeker Street.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Home remedy for upset stomach.

I recently suffered through a terrible stomach bug that lasted about 7 days. During this bout of sickness my mom reminded me of one of my Grandma J.’s home remedies for an upset stomach- drinking warm jello. I know it probably sounds strange but at least in my experience it really does help. Basically, you mix up the jello like you would if you were making it normally but instead of letting it get firm, you drink it. My Grandma J.’s always said that the jello coats your stomach (or throat), which will help to calm it down. I think that sometimes it just helps to get something of substance in your stomach and this does just that. My Grandma J. gave this to my mom and uncle when they were growing up and my mom always made it for me and my brother when we were sick.
This is very easy to make: Add desired amount of water to a coffee cup and microwave until warm, approximately 1 – 1 ½ minutes (time will vary depending on amount of water used). Then add 2-3 tablespoons of your favorite flavor of jello mix and stir until combined. Strawberry has always been my favorite.
The next time you or a loved one are sick, give this a try!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Mom advice: Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

My last post was about caring for a sick toddler. Well, as soon as the toddler was feeling better, I got the toddler’s stomach bug. Luckily the toddler only had a mild version of the stomach bug but I was not so lucky. I don’t recall being that sick in a very, very long time.
The stomach bug hit me the Friday night, mid-bedtime story, of a weekend when my husband was out of town. While my toddler slept peacefully through the night, I was up sick the entire night and by the time he woke up, I was exhausted, weak and my whole body hurt. I was in no shape to take care of him that day, even though I had planned a fun filled day for us. My in-laws had told me just the night before to call them if I needed anything. So at 6:30 that morning, I sent a text letting them know how sick I was and asking if Slade could come to their house for a few hours that morning so I could get some sleep. Within 20 minutes they were at my house, which is quite impressive given that their house is at least 30 minutes from mine, picking up my son and whisking him away for the day.
I fell instantly asleep as soon as they left but when I woke up a short time later, I began to fell this tremendous guilt because I wasn’t spending the day with my son. I had planned a fun mommy-son day for us and now he was at his grandparents’ house and I was at home alone. I am frequently plagued by this “mommy guilt” that I don’t spend enough time with my son, which is probably made worse by the fact that I work full-time.
As I sat their feeling tremendously guilty, on top of terribly ill, it suddenly occurred to me that I should not feel guilty at all. All I did was ask for help and asking for help is not an admission of failure. I am not superwoman and most importantly, no one expects me to be. Everyone gets sick and it’s usually at the most inconvenient times. The reality is that no one is judging me but me. I am the one who allows myself to feel so guilty for missing a day with him. So when this mommy guilty sets in, I’ve realized that I need to remind myself that my son is very loved and very well cared for even though I am not by his side 24 hours a day. Instead of feeling guilty, I should be happy and thankful that I have family that live nearby and who want to have an active role in our lives, so much that they will drop everything they are doing to come get him, not only because they want to see him, but because they want to help me. And while I was at home feeling miserable, he spent the day with his grandparents having a lot more fun with them than he would have had at home with a sick mommy.
So my point is- don’t be afraid to ask for help. Everyone needs a little help now and then and it doesn’t make you any less of a mom.