Valentine’s Day: Red Velvet Peanut Butter and Fluff Cupcakes

Valentine’s Day…ahhh, a time to celebrate LOVE and spend time with one another. No matter how you celebrate big or small, the happy sentiment of love all around on this day is endearing. Let me start this post by saying that Rooney was VERY excited to celebrate the holiday and would like to sell you some kisses:

14 cents is QUITE a steal!
14 cents is QUITE a steal!

Bryan and I’s love for each other and Valentine’s day goes back to our very beginning. How about a quick trip down memory lane…

Valentine’s Day 2011 proved to be the best Valentine’s Day I had ever had. Bryan surprised me the weekend before and pulled out an envelope that had a photo of the Boston skyline inside. He then let me know that on Valentine’s Day morning we would be flying into Boston for the night and coming home the following day. Keep in mind this was before we were even officially dating. So February 14, 2011, we flew to Boston and had the most amazing trip. He took me to Fenway Park (Go Red Sox!), we had dinner at amazing Italian restaurant, and we walked around one of the most charming cities i’d ever seen. The next day I had planned a little surprise for him. Long before we started dating Bryan told me, “just let me know when you are ready to start dating”. On the way home from our trip I pulled out a Mix CD that I made and played it. Each and every song on the CD said “I’m ready” or referenced being ready. He then asked me to be his girlfriend which lead to us becoming official.

The Valentine's Day trip that started it all.
The Valentine’s Day trip that started it all.

And now to Valentine’s Day 2015: I’m just going to come right out and say it. Bryan and I used to have an addiction.

Okay, okay, so maybe it was that we were just obsessed with peanut butter and fluff sandwiches when we first started dating. This year, in celebration of our love for this combination, I came up with the a cupcake that would pay tribute. Bryan’s favorite dessert is red velvet cakes/cupcakes so I wanted to use that as the base to my cupcake. I wanted to surprise Bryan with what I call Red Velvet Peanut Butter and Fluff Cupcakes. I used two different recipes and then my own ideas to create the final cupcake. Let’s just say that my Valentine loved them – here we are two days later, and there are no more cupcakes.

For the red velvet cake part of the cupcake, I did my research and ended up using Sally’s Baking Addiction‘s Red Velvet Cupcake recipe. I found this recipe to be easy to follow and made 14 delicious cupcakes.

Preparing the dry ingredients first.
Preparing the dry ingredients first.
Using the Kitchenaid to combine the wet and dry ingredients.
Using the Kitchenaid to combine the wet and dry ingredients.
After adding the red food coloring, I filled the cupcake liners.
After adding the red food coloring, I filled the cupcake liners.
Fresh out of the oven after baking at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.
Fresh out of the oven after baking at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

While the cupcakes baked and cooled, my next focus was on the peanut butter icing. The Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Icing recipe I followed was found on food.com. This icing is to DIE for if you like peanut butter.

The delicious smooth Peanut Butter Cream Cheese icing.
The delicious smooth Peanut Butter Cream Cheese icing.

After letting the cupcakes cool, it was time for me to add my personal touch to the cupcakes. The icing incorporated the peanut butter side of peanut butter and fluff sandwiches, so I needed to now add the fluff. I used a cupcake corer to take out the center of each cupcake and then I filled each cupcake with a generous amount of ooey gooey marshmallow fluff. After filling each cupcake I finished the cupcake by piping on the peanut butter cream cheese icing.

Using a cupcake corer to remove the centers of the cupcakes.
Using a cupcake corer to remove the centers of the cupcakes.
Piping the fluff into each cupcake.
Piping the fluff into each cupcake.
Completing the cupcaks by adding Peanut Butter Cream Cheese icing.
Completing the cupcakes by adding Peanut Butter Cream Cheese icing.
Voilà! Red Velvet Peanut Butter and Fluff cupcake.
Voila! Red Velvet Peanut Butter and Fluff cupcake.

And there you have it! Just looking at these photos makes me wish I could go take a bite out of these right now. The cupcakes were just the start of our Valentine’s Day surprises. Bryan surprised me with a 70 minute couples massage which was just AMAZING. We both came out feeling completely relaxed. We then enjoyed a nice dinner at home because the snow kept us from going back out to our dinner reservations, and I was completely fine with that.

Now to leave you with a behind the scenes photo of what my photo shoot with the cupcake was REALLY like:

Rooney you are my Valentine too, but these aren't for you!
Rooney you are my Valentine too, but these aren’t for you!

love & lots of whit – jen xo

Sunday Birthday Brunch

If there is one guilty pleasure that I have and obsess over, it is place-setting and small scale entertaining/planning. Kitchen Decor stores are tortuous for me because in my dream world I would have a different pattern/color dish set for each and every time I entertained. Lucky for Bryan and I’s wallet, I have settled on two sets of dishes (for now). A plain white set is a must (we have the Martha Stewart Kensington Collection), as it is versatile and can be made to fit any theme when added with table linens and decor. My other set (which I will highlight the next time I use it) is the Maribeth collection from Pier One. One day I dream of a big kitchen with a big dining table to host dinner parties (don’t we all?), but for now I make use of what we have!

Last weekend I played hostess as we celebrated my mom’s birthday! My mom, my step-dad, and my brother were in attendance for Sunday brunch. If you know my mom, you know how much effort and love she puts into her family and holiday meals. So much so that she hardly even sits at the table because she always puts everyone else first making sure we all have what we need. This time, it was my turn to pamper her! I wanted her to be able to relax while Bryan and I did all of the cooking and cleaning. Brunch is big in our family, so that is how we chose to center the meal around the daytime theme. First and foremost I thought of my color scheme for the brunch. I know, I know, most people probably plan the actual meal first…I just can’t help but think backwards when there are dishes and linens involved! I knew I wanted to incorporate tulips so that was where I started. I found the perfect yellow tulips that were bright/sunny and knew they would be perfect with the mimosas we would be serving! I used a water pitcher to display the tulips. I already had green placemats that would work perfectly with the yellow so that was an easy decision. I ordered some last minute yellow napkins (thank you Amazon Prime!) and used this video tutorial to fold them into a fun pinwheel shape. Here is the final table setting for Mom’s birthday brunch:

Yellow Tulip Centerpiece
Yellow Tulip Centerpiece
Sunny Pinwheel Fold Napkins on Green Placemats
Sunny Pinwheel Fold Napkins on Green Placemats
Bring on the Mimosas!
Bring on the Mimosas!

After figuring out how to stylize the brunch I had to come up with the perfect menu that would accommodate everyone’s meal restrictions! My brother is a vegetarian, and my step-dad is gluten free. After much food blog perusing, I came up with the perfect list! The main entree was this amazing gluten and dairy free Blueberry Lemon Overnight French Toast that I found on Whipperberry. This french toast was the perfect combination of sweet and sour and unlike the usual heavy french toast recipes I’ve tried, this felt more healthy. The lemon blueberry sauce drizzled over it was just divine! The variations I made to that recipe were instead of normal gluten free bread I used cinnamon raisin, and instead of vanilla soy milk I used vanilla almond milk.

Overnight Blueberry Lemon French Toast
Overnight Blueberry Lemon French Toast

To accompany the french toast, we also made Buns In My Oven‘s Baked Scrambled Eggs. I usually find every way to ruin scrambled eggs when cooking them stove top, but surprisingly this baking method was fool proof! In my family, everything is better with cheese, so after the first 8 minutes of baking I stirred in about a cup of shredded Velveeta Cheese before baking for the final 8 minutes.

Baked Scrambled Eggs
Baked Scrambled Eggs

We also made Homemade Home Fries by following No Ordinary Homestead‘s recipe. This was our second time using this recipe because it is just that good. This time however; we omitted the bacon so that my brother could eat it and substituted the bacon grease for canola oil as recommended by the recipe. Finally, we made some maple sausage on the side, used the french press to make coffee, and served up delicious mimosas!

Homemade Home Fries
Homemade Home Fries

Food and family go hand in and, and we had a wonderful morning spending quality time together. I want to wish my Mom a wonderful year ahead and I am so glad that we were able to spend time with her on birthday weekend! To finish the post a few family photos from the morning:

Happy Birthday to my beautiful Mom!
Happy Birthday to my beautiful Mom!

love & lots of whit – jen xo