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This is my new favorite cupcake recipe. I found it on Epicurious a few months ago, and I've used it so often I can almost make it without reading the recipe (yes, I have two kids who are obsessed with cupcakes). I use salted butter and leave out the salt called for in the original recipe. I've also played around with soy milk instead of cow's milk (trust me, cow's milk works better). Also place your cupcake liners in muffin tins for a more perfect shape. Use large paper liners for this recipe—the extra surface area makes the cupcakes easier to decorate.
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2/3 cup salted butter, softened
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together in a medium bowl. I use a whisk to combine it all more easily.
3. In a separate bowl, cream the butter with the sugar until light and fluffy. I do this in the food processor.
4. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
5. In a small bowl, mix together the milk and vanilla.
6. Add about 1/4 of the flour mixture to the butter mix and stir well. Add about 1/4 of the milk mixture and mix well. Continue alternating the flour mixture and milk mixture. (I've also been known to dump all the flour in followed by the milk mixture and it still turns out OK!)
7. Use a 1/4 cup scoop to pour the batter into the paper liners. Bake for 15 minutes. You can tell it's ready when the cake springs back.
8. Remove from oven and let cool a little. Then turn onto a rack to finish cooling completely.
1 stick butter
2 cups confectioners' sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Place the butter, vanilla and sugar in a food processor and blend until smooth and creamy. Add milk by the tablespoon to get the right consistency. Wait for cupcakes to cool completely before you layer on the icing.
We used red licorice for the flag's stripes. Cut them nice and thin with scissors. The blue dots are blueberries cut in half so they will sit flat.