Tag Archives: Cupcakes

Cupcakes For Everyone!

As the More is More Mom®, I’m all about…….more cupcakes! I tend to cook more than I bake because I am more of an eye-baller (dash of this, pinch of that) than a careful and precise measurer. Typically, I find the best reason to bake is to lick the bowl. However, recently I was asked to make cupcakes for my friend’s surprise birthday party. I was thrilled because I believe a personal touch makes every event more special.

Since more of everything is always better, I decided to make two different flavors of cupcakes and frosting from scratch. While Betty Crocker is quite tasty, they were completely worth the little extra effort.

Festive Confetti Cupcakes with Creamy Frosting

Vanilla Cupcakes

This recipe makes 24 mini-cupcakes or 12 full size, but easily doubles or triples!

½ cup butter

1 egg

2 yolks

2 tsp pure vanilla extract

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1 ½ tsp baking powder

¼ tsp salt

¾ cup sugar

½ cup heavy whipping cream

Pre-heat oven to 350°

Line muffin tins with paper or foil liners

Allow the butter and eggs to stand at room temperature for at least 30 minutes

In a small bowl, combine;


Baking powder


This was a serious job, so I pulled out the big gun: my Kitchen Aid, though you can certainly use a large bowl and an electric hand mixer.

Beat butter on medium high speed until lightly whipped, approximately 30-45 seconds



Beat for approximately 1 minute



Egg yolks


Beat until well blended, scraping the sides occasionally

Alternating between the two, add;

Flour mixture

Heavy whipping cream

Continue to alternate until you have used all of the flour mixture and the cream, and your batter is just combined.

Scoop equal amounts of the batter into the cups, approximately 2/3 or ¾ of the way full.

Bake for approximately 15 minutes for the mini’s and 20 for the full size, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.


Allow to cool completely on a wire rack before frosting.


Creamy Frosting

This recipe makes approximately 3 cups

1 cup shortening

2 tsp vanilla

4 cups of confectioners’ sugar

3-6 Tbsp milk

While I had the big old Kitchen Aid out, I decided to put it to work, though you can certainly use an electric hand mixer and a large mixing bowl.




Mix until well blended


2 cups confectioners’ sugar


2 Tbsp milk

Gradually, add the remaining confectioners’ sugar

Gradually add enough milk to make the frosting a nice and spreadable consistency

I wanted colorful frosting which was easy to accomplish by adding a few drops of food coloring.

A special event requires attention to detail, which is why I used my fancy frosting tips and a pastry bag to create a decorative pattern on top of each cupcake. You can pick up a basic set of tips at most grocery stores and fancier tips at your local craft stores. A formal pastry bag is hardly necessary; simply snip off the corner of a baggie, fill with frosting and you’re ready to create a masterpiece!

To create these festive confetti cupcakes, I grabbed food coloring, sprinkles and colorful canned frosting with built in tips to create the silly string effect. They were adorable!

Pretty Pastel Chocolate Cupcakes with Buttercream Frosting

This recipe makes 48 mini’s or 24 generous cupcakes.

Chocolate Cupcakes


¾ cup of butter

3 eggs

2 cups all-purpose flour

¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tsp baking soda

¾ tsp baking powder

½ tsp salt

2 cups sugar

2 tsp vanilla

1 ½ cups milk

Pre-heat oven to 350°

Line muffin tins with paper or foil liners

Allow the butter and eggs to stand at room temperature for at least 30 minutes

In a medium bowl stir together;


Cocoa powder

Baking soda

Baking powder


Again, while I had the big old Kitchen Aid out, I decided to put it to work, though you can certainly use an electric hand mixer and a large mixing bowl.

Beat butter for 30-60 seconds, until nicely whipped


Sugar, ¼ cup at a time

Beat until combined and nice and fluffy


Eggs, one at a time

Beating until well combined



Alternately, add;

Flour mixture


Beat until fluffy

Fill muffin tins half-way to 2/3 full

Bake for 18-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center is pulled out clean. Allow to cool on the wire racks until ready to frost.

Buttercream Frosting

1 ½ cups unsalted butter

1 cup sugar

¼ cup water

6 egg yolks, lightly beaten

2 Tbsp water or your favorite flavored liqueur

1 ½ tsp vanilla

Confectioners’ sugar

Allow butter to stand at room temperature for at least 30 minutes

In a medium saucepan, combine;



Bring to a boil and remove from heat

Whisk half of the sugar mixture into the egg yolks

Whisk the egg yolk mixture back into the remaining sugar mixture in the saucepan

Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat

Cook and stir for 2 minutes until smooth


Liqueur or water


Transfer the egg mixture to a bowl and place in ad ice bath to cool down

Continue to stir while maintaining a smooth consistency and cooling to room temperature


Placing butter in the mixing bowl, beat until creamy


egg mixture

Beat with a mixer until light and fluffy


If the frosting is too thin, you can add confectioners sugar to thicken it up to a nice, spreadable consistency


If you desire a punch of color, add some food coloring. Just remember that the frosting is already slightly tinted because of the butter. Once again, select your frosting tip and insert in a pastry bag, along with the frosting.


I’ve never worked with fondant, which sounds pretty intimidating. I purchased fondant from the craft store, rolled it out on a confectioners’ sugar covered surface and, with a small cookie cutter, cut out sweet little flowers for each cupcake.

As you can see, using the pastry bag, I created a decorative swirl

Next, I added the fondant flower

I topped each flower with a dollop of the canned frosting in a contrasting color

After selecting a yellow floral sprinkle, I placed it on top of each dollop of frosting

The cupcakes were sweet, charming and delicious! More importantly, they were made for an adored friend with love.

More sweetness, more mini-cupcakes, more festive decorations, more meaningful moments…..

Please visit me at http://vanessanunleydesigns.com to learn more about my Interior Design services.

To schedule an Interior Design or Life Style consultation, and for any questions or comments, please email me at moreismoremom@aol.com


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Total Tailgate Togetherness….

As the More is More Mom®, I am all about……. more tailgating! My Amanda has hit the ground running, enjoying her freshman year at St. Feels Right For Her, but there’s always room for more fun with friends. I’m highly in favor of a festive good time, so my neighbor Missy and I decided that tailgating before the High School football game would be the perfect opportunity for our girls (Amanda and her pal Rosebud) to celebrate and embrace the High School experience……

While my motto most certainly is; more of everything is always better, sometimes my more practical nature recommends making life slightly simpler. Instead of tailgating in the school parking lot and schlucking tables, chairs, coolers, food, beverages, the grill and Bag-o’s, we decided that tailgating in our neighborhood would make things oh so much easier. Actually, it was perfect; we blocked off part of our street, put up orange cones and got cooking.


What a beautiful night, with a slight breeze and no mosquitoes (a total party killer). One of the things that I love about Missy is that she, too, is a stickler for authentic experiences. Every good tailgate starts with transportation to the game, so we opened up the hatch on the SUV and set up shop. One banquet table, covered in Astroturf, served as a grilling station. Another covered with a blue plaid (the official pattern of tailgating) blanket to match their school colors, served as a buffet table. A pop up picnic table was the perfect place to take a seat and grab a bite to eat.


The menu was easy. We had potato chips, Dorito’s and French Onion Dip, salsa, guacamole and tortilla chips, for the health nuts, a veggie platter, cheese and crackers and Twizzler’s. For the main entrée we enjoyed grilled hot dogs with all of the fixings and pulled pork sandwiches on mini buns. All good parties end with dessert. We found the cutest cupcakes; blue whipped frosting (to match our color scheme) with little footballs on top.


It’s not good enough to merely be tasty, the spread had to look great too! What better time to pull out all of your Super Bowl finest than for a High School football party? Football shaped platters and bowls, referee platters and touchdown trays. A picnic wouldn’t be complete without galvanized tins and trays, wicker, a football, a hurricane filled with Goldfish crackers and a tin featuring pennants to show your team spirit.


No party is complete without entertainment…. Bag-o’s (the bean bag toss game), jamming tunes and a place to do hair and make up. Okay, so it might not be a completely authentic tailgate party, but primping is part of any teenage girl’s party experience.   


The best part of tailgate fun with your friends, however, is being together, making new friendships and more memories…….

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Throw a Great Memorial Day Party…..Part Four: Appetizers & Desserts

As the More is More Mom®, I believe that every event should start out with a bang and end with something sweet.

When your guests first arrive, corks should be popping, bottles should be opening, and glasses should be clanking with festive cheers. A cocktail party is the perfect opportunity for a flashy spread of wonderful appetizers. When I’m throwing a dinner party, I want to be sure to offer my guests some snicky-snacks to tide them over. These offerings don’t need to be ambitious, just tasty.

For my Memorial Day Party I served a little variety of simple treats.

Fresh Bruschetta with Garlic Toasted French Bread:

This is one of my all time favorite appetizers; it’s straightforward, it’s fresh and it’s delicious! Whenever I serve Bruschetta I always make a double batch (more, more, and more!). The leftovers are perfect the following day served atop a bed of fresh cooked pasta (I like a penne pasta, so the chunks of tomatoes get lost inside the tube!), and tossed with a little feta cheese (though a mozzarella, or a shaved parmesan would be lovely as well……).

Bruschetta Ingredients:
This is another dish that can be multiplied for a crowd!

In a large bowl, mix together:

  • 4 Roma tomatoes (or whatever variety you happen to have on hand, or happen to prefer. They just need to be nice and ripe.), chopped…..like you would for salsa
  • A bunch of scallions finely chopped. I use the white, pale green and green parts (but not the very dark green.).
  • A big handful of basil, rinsed and chopped (I like to run mine through my salad spinner. The leaves are so much easier to chop, and so much more attractive, if they aren’t soggy.).
  • 2-3 gloves of garlic, pressed (because the garlic is raw, it is extremely potent. If you don’t want to keep the vampires away, and everybody else for that matter, you may want to be mindful of just how much garlic you use.)
  • 2 splash’s of good balsamic vinegar. The point here is to wet your tomato mixture, and give it a hint of that wonderful, tangy, balsamic-y flavor, not drown it in vinegar.
  • 1 splash of olive oil. Again, the intention here is not to drench the mixture, but to give it a little glistening, and add depth to the consistency (way too much Food Network?).
  • (Sea) salt and (black cracked) pepper to taste.

Garlic Toasted French Bread:

This is really no trouble at all and can be made earlier in the day (but seal it in an airtight container until you are ready to serve. You know how bread is.).

Pre-heat your oven to 350°.

Slice a loaf of French bread to desired thickness.

Place slices on an aluminum foil lined baking sheet (always about the quick cleanup!).

Toast until slightly golden, 10 minutes perhaps, but watch ‘em.

When just cool enough to handle, take a raw clove of garlic and rub it directly over the toasted French bread slices (approximately 1 large clove per 4 slices of bread). The taste of the garlic is so subtle! Store in an airtight container until ready to use.

Top each slice of French bread with bruschetta and sprinkle grated cheese on top if that is your heart’s desire. Either way, there will be a party in your mouth!

Grilled Shrimp with a Little Kick:

Shrimp always makes for a generous appetizer. They’re great served raw with lemon and a classic cocktail sauce (who doesn’t like that, except for people allergic to shell fish?), but they are just a little bit more special when skewered and grilled.

Soak your skewers in water for at least 30 minutes so they don’t catch on fire. Grilled is good, charred, with a visit from the fire department, is not.

2-3 pounds of large shrimp, peeled and deveined (I buy them that way because otherwise that is just unnecessary work!)

Sauce with a Little Kick:

  • ½ cup of sugar
  • Zest from one lime
  • ¼ cup of lime juice (bottled works quite fine, especially as it is getting cooked and blended with other flavors. Save the real juicing for a recipe where that completely authentic flavor really matters.)
  • 1 heaping Tbsp of Asian chili paste (less, of course, if you prefer a little less spice)
  • 1 Tbsp fish sauce

In a saucepan, bring the sugar and lime juice to a simmer. If I were capable of following all the directions I would have waited to add the zest until the next step, but you know, it didn’t appear to matter in the very least. Simmer and stir until the sugar has dissolved.

Remove from the heat, and add the lime zest (if you haven’t already), the chili paste and the fish sauce. Stir well and season with a little (regular) salt.

Heat the grill. Reduce to medium-high.

Thread shrimp on skewers. I happened to use three shrimp for each skewer. That seemed like a very acceptable serving size.

You can brush the grates with a little oil to prevent the shrimp from sticking. I didn’t, because our grill gets used almost daily, and is the right amount of slick.

Brush the shrimp with sauce and place on the grill. After about a minute flip the skewered shrimp over, baste on that side and cook for another minute. Continue to flip and baste until the shrimp is opaque and ready to serve.

If you like the idea of grilled shrimp, but aren’t sure about the spicy sauce, you can certainly simplify. I would still skewer the shrimp because it makes such an elegant presentation, but I would mix up my own little marinade of; olive oil, a pressed clove of garlic, chopped fresh herbs (like basil, oregano and thyme), sprinkle in some sea salt and cracked black pepper, and whisk together. Baste the shrimp while on the grill, and flip and baste as specified in the directions above. Remove from the grill and serve.


Fresh vegetables are perfect for a party. They satisfy so many criteria….they are crunchy, colorful and calorie conscious (until you add the dip….but how else do you choke them down?). Veggies are a good addition to an appetizer array. They can be elegantly blanched or simply sliced.


Now, dessert is a horse of a different color. Decadence is the only course of action! For an All American Celebration what could be more appropriate than; sliced watermelon, practically homemade (if Dunkin Hines mix’s count) chocolate cupcakes with vanilla frosting (from Betty Crocker) and red, white and blue sprinkles, completely homemade Peanut Butter Cream Filled Peanut Butter cookies, and what could be more All American than a serving of Girl Scout Thin Mints?

Peanut Butter Cream Filled Peanut Butter Cookies:

I’m not even kidding when I tell you that I make PB & J sandwiches nearly every single day. I pack two for just Nick each morning! So, one might think that I would be tired of the sight, and smell of peanut butter, but these treats were delectable!
This recipe made approximately 36 sandwich cookies (not nearly enough!).



Whisk together, in a bowl:

• ¾ cup chunky peanut butter (I used Skippy, because we are a Skippy family)
• 1 – 7.25 oz jar of marshmallow fluff
• 3 Tbsp milk
• ¾ tsp ground cinnamon
• ¼ cumin (how about that for a kick in your dessert?)

Whisk in 3 Tbsp of powdered sugar, 1 Tbsp at a time (or just all at once like I did).


Pre-heat oven to 350°


• ½ cup chunky peanut butter (always love the Skippy)
• ½ cup shortening
• 1 cup brown sugar
• 1 egg
• 1 tsp vanilla
• 1 tsp baking soda
• 1/8 tsp salt
• 1 ¼ cups all purpose flour
• Granulated sugar

In a bowl, beat peanut butter and shortening with an electric mixer.

Add brown sugar, egg and vanilla, beating until combined.

With the hand mixer, beat in baking soda, salt and flour.

Using a level teaspoon, form the dough in to balls. Place the dough, separating by about 1 ½”, on an ungreased cookie sheet.

Using a fork, first dipped in granulated sugar, flatten each ball of dough marking each with a criss cross pattern with the fork.

Bake for approximately 7 minutes, or until the edges are lightly browned; remove and place on a wire rack to cool.

When cool enough to handle, spread approximately 1 tsp of the cream filling on a cookie and top with an additional cookie to form a happy sandwich.

This recipe makes approximately 36 sandwich cookies. You are going to love and savor each and every one!

I arranged my desserts in galvanized, two tiered stands, which worked out perfectly! For a festive embellishment, I inserted mini American flags in random appetizers and desserts and they were darling!

I hope you celebrate the holiday weekend with your family and friends! Take some of my inspirations and ideas and make them your own…..Creating Meaningful Life Experiences!

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Catch Up…….With Cupcakes!!

Why are the days so fraught with obligations and commitments? It’s absolutely exhausting. The frenetic pace of a busy family is akin to a tornado whipping through our homes, leaving destruction and ruin in our wake; the piles of paperwork and projects, discarded clothes and shoes, the yard work, the housework. Absolute madness I tell you. Today I was thrilled to have a “Catch Up” day, where I just got to be a mom.

I know it doesn’t sound relaxing, or exciting, but to me there is little as thrilling as trying, in some small way, to get my life in order. I relish that feeling of accomplishment when I check something off my list. It makes me feel like I’m making progress somewhere. Let’s see, after I went to the health club this morning, and worked my facial muscles (mostly around my mouth) more than anything else, I came home to sort through the miles of piles of papers that have begun to over take my kitchen counter. I folded laundry, brought those items to the appropriate bedrooms, started more laundry, washed the mudroom floor (it gets filthy. I don’t know what’s worse; that which Wrigley tracks in, or that of the children…..like Nick wearing his dirty golf shoes, with grass caught in the spikes, in to the house? Hmmmm, I think man’s best friend might not be the biggest factor. That’s why he’s man’s best friend.).

Having the luxury of time today, I looked in my pantry to find that I was in possession of Dunkin Hines chocolate cake mix. What screams “great mom” better than a freshly backed after school treat (which was made practically from scratch)? I whipped up the mix in a matter of seconds and made 28 cupcakes (I might have made more, but I was too busy licking the bowl…..breakfast of champions!). I do always like to be prepared for any potential event, or social situation, so I am usually pretty well stocked; cupcake liners, mixes, frosting and sprinkles for instance. I frosted my cupcakes (and was brave enough not to lick the spatula afterward) and embellished them with colorful pastel sprinkles.

Sadly, because I had made so many, I didn’t have enough room for all of the treats on my pedestal cake plate. As the More is More Mom® you can imagine that I am rather well equipped to manage most household matters with relative ease. So, I zipped down to the basement and pulled out two of my portable treat carriers. These are awesome. I got them about 100 years ago at Wal-Mart for $2.98 each (I have four…and you must be totally shocked that they do not hail from the land of Target), and they are perfect for transporting cupcakes. They have a handle and a lid and they stack very nicely. I filled up two and stored them in my extra refrigerator in the mudroom.

Well, as I was finishing washing the dishes (I do have a dishwasher, a lovely one as a matter of fact, but I love doing dishes….and ironing. Is that weird?) Amanda called and asked if she and her group of classmates could come to our house to work on their school project. Perfect! Now I knew what I was going to do with all of those cupcakes!

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