Fresh Strawberry Cupcakes

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

For Summer's first birthday party, I decided to go with a Country Picnic theme and what better cupcake flavor than strawberry to compliment.  While I love the rosy hue of strawberry cake, I wanted to use natural ingredients instead of food coloring and gelatin mix.  The cake itself is light pink in color with specks of strawberries and the frosting is a beautiful pink color, with lots of fresh strawberry flavor. 

IMG_8873

Ingredients
 
I adapted this recipe from Around My Family Table and Sprinkles, changing certain techniques and steps to fit my family's tastes.
**Makes between 18 and 24 cupcakes**

For the cake:
  • 3 cups flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
  • 1 1/2 cups pureed strawberries (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
 
Preheat oven to 325F.  Line cupcake pan with liners.
 
In a large bowl sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar.  Whisk to lightly combine the ingredients.  In another bowl, combine the butter, vanilla, and eggs.  Add the wet to the dry ingredients and mix well.  Stir in strawberry puree.
 
Fill muffin tins about 3/4 of the way full, I use a ice cream scoop so they are the same size. Bake for 15-17 minutes or until done.
 
**If using frozen berries allow them to thaw before putting in the blender to puree.
 
For the frosting:
 
1/2 cup frozen strawberries, thawed and pureed
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
Pinch of kosher salt
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
 
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or hand mixer), beat together butter and salt until light and fluffy.  Reduce mixer speed and slowly add powdered sugar and beat until well combined.  Add vanilla and 3 tablespoons of strawberry puree and mix until just blended.
 

 
Next week, I'll be sharing a tutorial on the adorable ribbon flags adorning the cupcakes!

Kiwi Crate's Summer Discovery Series: Nature Explorer

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Summer offers many opportunities to explore the outdoors, try new things and craft and create.  When it comes to crafting, there are times where I feel short on time and overwhelmed with the amount of materials to round up.  My new solution, Kiwi Crate!  This award winning company solves all my problems with creative, fun and educational crates filled with exciting activities and all the items/instructions needed to complete the project.  The crates are tailored for ages 3-7 and always include free shipping.  You can choose to subscribe monthly or now introducing the option to purchase by singles.

Single Crates now on Sale at Kiwi Crate! shop now ››

We recently were given the opportunity to review the Nature Explorer Crate from the Summer Discovery Series.  This series is unique to June, July and August and is designed for fun outdoor play for the entire Summer.  The Nature Explorer Crate includes two projects, a Starlight Lantern and Nature Collection Box.

The crates are addressed to the kids and include absolutely everything you need to complete the projects.  Upon delivery, Abby could not wait to dig in and get started!  We received enough materials for both Summer (currently 11 months) and Abby (currently 4.5 years old).  Since Summer is too young, Abby decided she wanted her cousins, Stone (6 years) and Isla (3.5 years) to play with the extra materials.  They love arts and crafts type activities so it worked out perfectly.

The kids unanimously chose the Starlight Lantern to complete first.  The instruction booklet contains a material list with photos to help locate each piece and easily organize.  The girls decided they wanted to share and Stone got to make his own.  The booklet had easy to follow instructions that were numbered and included visuals to follow along with.

They started by using the star punch to create star patterns on colored paper.  It was fun to watch the different techniques of each child.  Abby had stars all over the place, Isla liked to punch just a few stars and Stone punched his stars into diamond shapes.

STARS


Once all the papers were punched, they chose a few colors and began working on the lanterns.  Isla and Abby helped each other, taking turns, to hold the paper and apply the glow in the dark stickers.


We added a few more embellishments and waited until dark to turn on the battery lighted tea lamp to illuminate the lantern.  This was by far Abby's favorite!
KIDS 
 
Then, they wanted to do more!  So, we moved on to the collection box.  The girls decided to do an all blue box, which was no surprise. :-)

They used the jumbo crayons included to color the stickers.
 
ISLA COLORING


They seemed to love writing their names the most!


After a while, the girls were done coloring and decided to run off and play with their new box.


Stone was very meticulous and worked hard on his box.  He did an awesome job, it turned out great!

The final products...
  
STONE BOX
 

Don't miss out on the Summer Discovery Series crates for July available now through July 17!  As a bonus for all my readers, you can use the PROMO CODE: MAGNOLIA25 to receive 25% off your first month of Kiwi Crate (not valid on sibling add-on)!  But hurry, the code ends July 14!

Red White & Blue Parfait

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

With Independence Day right around the corner, here's a festive treat that salutes all things simple, healthy and delicious!  Abby loves this for breakfast or as a quick snack option and it must have her "ladybug sprinkles."

parfait logo


Ingredients

Yogurt (we use plain, whole milk yogurt)
Fresh or Frozen Strawberries or Raspberries
Fresh or Frozen Blueberries

Abby's Ladybug Sprinkles

Wheat Bran (optional)
Wheat Germ (optional)
Ground Flaxseed (optional)

IMG_8714

Method

Spoon a small bit of yogurt in the bottom of cup or parfait glass.  If you choose, add a light layer of "ladybug sprinkles."  Next, choose which color berries to layer (I used blueberries).  Repeat with a layer of yogurt, "sprinkles" and the alternate color of berries.  Top with a bit more yogurt, "sprinkles" and a few pieces of fruit used in the layers.

IMG_8717
This can be done with any fruit combination or yogurt flavor.  Add a little lemon zest and a sprig of fresh mint to make it even more refreshing.  But for Abby, I just kept it simple in her special cup with her favorite pink spoon!
IMG_8715

100 Days of Play: Summertime Outdoor Photo Scavenger Hunt

Monday, July 01, 2013

I am so excited to join the 99 other bloggers participating in the 100 Days of Play Challenge hosted by Sun Scholars and Life at the Zoo! I have been inspired by many of the fun ways other moms have been playing with their children and look forward to seeing the ideas presented in the near future.

100 Days of Play

Kids love exploring the outdoors, my girls included, so an Outdoor Scavenger Hunt is always a perfect activity for us!  Scavenger hunts can happen any time of the year, indoors/outdoors, with one person or many.  The list of items can be customized to fit your individual environment and can be written, printed or in picture format.  It's the ideal game, in my opinion.  Collecting items allows children to use their five senses to see, feel, smell, hear and possibly taste.  Plus, they get a sense of their surroundings and are able to experience the beauty around them.  While Abby was able to do just that, I also gave her the opportunity to document her hunt with a camera.  She loves taking pictures and this allowed her to explore and act like a big girl at the same time.

100 Days of Play Scavenger Hunt

I made a special Summertime Outdoor Scavenger Hunt sheet.  It's all about using your creativity to see what you can spot in nature.

checklist

On our scavenger hunt, we searched for different textures (soft, hard, smooth), shapes (triangles, circles, squares), colors of the rainbow, animals, nature (trees, grass, clouds) and alphabet letters (T, X, Z) to name a few.  You can download our exact checklist here to use as inspiration or to use in your hunt.
Abby taking picture

picture taking

Even little Summer got to help....

wagon ride

Here's a collection of some of her photos.

Abby's Scavenger Collage

100 Days of Play Blog Hop
Sharing simple ideas on how to connect with your children through play!
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