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Monday, December 31, 2012

Lemon Cupcakes W/ Lemon Buttercream

Last year I made some lemon cupcakes from scratch. I wish I could say they were okay, but they were so dry, they could choke a horse. This year I wanted to improve them, because I really like lemon cupcakes! Here is the new improved version that I put together.


*Important tips: if you use salted butter, skip the salt and if you don't have a fresh lemon, you can substitute bottled lemon juice. Fresh is best, but I hate stressing out over cupcakes!

*I was going to put candied lemon zest on top of the icing, but was too lazy to do the work, if you want to try, here is the recipe. Otherwise I ended up turning it into a lemon topping that I spread on top of the cooled cupcakes before frosting them. It gave them an extra oomph of lemon flavor that worked well.

Lemon Cupcakes With Lemon Buttercream Icing

CUPCAKES

2 1/2  cups all-purpose flour
1  cup sugar
2  teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2  cup canola oil
1 stick (8 tablespoons) of unsalted butter
2 eggs
1/2 cup fat-free milk
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
1  teaspoon lemon extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

ICING

1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter
2  tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest

*LEMON TOPPING (optional)

Zest of 2 lemons
4  tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
4  tablespoons sugar

DIRECTIONS

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two 12-cup muffin pans with paper liners.

2. To prepare the cupcakes: Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. Combine the oil, eggs, milk, lemon juice, lemon zest, lemon extract, and vanilla extract in a separate bowl. Add to the flour mixture and stir until smooth.

3. Spoon the batter into the muffin cups and bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until lightly golden and the cupcakes are springy when gently touched. Place pan on a rack and let cool for 5 minutes. Remove the cupcakes from the pan, transfer to the rack, and let cool completely.

4. To prepare the icing: Combine the confectioners' sugar, butter, lemon juice, and lemon zest in a bowl and beat until smooth. Spread some of the lemon topping over each cupcake with a small spatula and frost and add sprinkles after that. Makes 24 cupcakes.



Here's that lemon zest topping spread on top of the cupcakes...



This is where I practice my piping skills...


A little crystal sugar and snowflake sprinkles...


Hope you'll try them! The cakes were moist and the frosting/icing wasn't too sweet, but with a hint of lemon. Yum-o. Husband and I are taking them to a New Year's Eve party. I hope you all have a Happy New Year!


Friday, December 21, 2012

Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow...

Here in the Midwest, we always anticipate the first snowfall. But even better than that, is the first snow day. A day where Husband (the teacher) can also stay home, where there is no planned "to-do list" and where sledding and snowman-making becomes our childrens' top priorities.


Yesterday, Snowstorm Brianna hit and we all hunkered down for the 6 -12 inches of snow that was predicted to fall. And it did, with a vengeance and with 40 mile-an-hour winds.

I'm happy to say I spotted around six snowmen as I dropped off the kids for school this morning. It made me remember this snowman family our littlest built a few years ago...


This will probably be my last post before Christmas break (with all the activities that surround the season, including a trip and a wedding, we will be very busy!) So I hope everyone has a very Merry Christmas! :)


Monday, December 3, 2012

O Christmas Tree, How I Hate You

You know the saying "less is more?" What I've discovered this year is that "more is more" when it comes to decorating a Christmas tree.

(Well, that is unless you want a Charlie Brown tree, and that's the look you're going for, then less is more, because, less is less, right? I'm confused.)


Isn't this one from Sweet Something Design just gorgeous?

Anyway, with our move to the lakehouse, I wanted to go for a more "natural" look with our tree, the problem was: A) we have an artificial tree (around $80 clearance from Target after Christmas sale six years ago,) that is sparse and you can see the individual levels and B) going "natural" can be costly even if you are shopping the sales (i.e. burlap garland runs between $9.99-$11.99 a roll!)


As usual, I decorate on a budget, heck, there isn't even a budget for Christmas decorating, more like I decorate as cheaply as possible.

So back to my story, I put up my tree, trimmed it, had a housewarming party, and hated how it looked, so instead of shopping (Husband would die) with the exception of a few rustic ornaments that I bought for a dollar a piece, I decided to just keep adding and adding all the ornaments, ribbons, etc.,  I've ever owned until I filled that tree up so you could not longer see the gaps between the levels.

Ahh...that's better. Let's call this "chaotic tree trimming."


I mean we have all sorts of crap whimsical trimmings here like candles, glass ornaments, ribbons, homemade star ornaments and those little sparkly green rattan balls (which I didn't bother to hang, I pretty much threw them in there and let them land where they may! Ha!)

So how does it look? It looks fantabulous! Well, let's not get carried away...


I think it will do, for this year anyway. ;)