Chocolate Chip Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream

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Remember how I used to actually do this thing called baking? Then I would tell you all about the delicious creations and show you pretty pictures. I didn’t always leave this internet page of mine alone and occasionally stop by to only review what and where I ate. Those were the days. 
But wait! Those days are back. See…
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Cupcakes! Pretty little cupcakes! Just for you.
I know I sound like a broken record, but this wedding thing is getting so close. In less than three weeks I will be in Columbus just days away from walking down the aisle.

Besides just counting days and weeks, I am quantifying everything I do in terms of how many times I will do it before the wedding. For example, when leaving Trader Joe’s on Sunday, I told Greg, “We will only go grocery shopping three more times until we’re married!” (Side note – in our efforts to be more money-conscious, we’ve successfully cut back our frequent grocery shopping trips to just one streamlined trip per week. It’s been fabulous).

My energy has been pouring into planning and organizing, in addition to the usual working, puppy-raising, and running (which, by the way, has gradually increased to the point where I’m running about two times as much as I ever have before. I think that explains a lot of my extra tiredness too). 

Baking and cooking anything new or exciting has been put on the back burner, no pun intended. But all hope is not lost. These sweet cupcakes proved to me there is light at the end of the no-homemade-baked-goods-in-the-midst-of-an-upcoming-wedding tunnel. 
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When life is busy and you feel like you don’t have time or energy to bake, but just absolutely need a homemade sweet treat, these are the answer! Don’t even look at those packaged baked goods in the grocery store. Seriously. Stop it! They’re not worth it. 
These are worth it. 
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They take approximately 5-10 minutes to throw together (depending on your level of sugar deprivation), and can be made in one bowl. A dozen cupcakes and only one dirty bowl later and you’ll be onto your next busy life task in no time, wondering why you even gave those pre-packaged grocery store baked goods a second look. 
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Chocolate Chip Cupcakes
With Vanilla Buttercream
(Adapted from The Cupcake)

Makes 12 cupcakes

For the Chocolate Chip Cupcakes-
Ingredients:
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup cake flour
7 tablespoons butter, softened
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup powdered sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 batch of vanilla buttercream (recipe below)
Sprinkles as desired

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line standard size cupcake tin with paper liners and set aside.
2. In a large bowl, add flours, butter, sugars and eggs. Use a hand mixer to beat on medium speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Fold in the chocolate chips.
3. Pour batter into cupcake wells until about 2/3 full. Bake 20-22 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in middle of a cupcake comes out clean. Let cool completely before frosting.

For the Vanilla Buttercream-
Ingredients:
1/2 cup butter, softened (1 stick)
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-2 tablespoons milk

Directions:
In a medium bowl, cream butter and powdered sugar until smooth. Add salt and vanilla extract. Slowly add milk while beating on low speed until frosting reaches desired consistency.

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I {Heart} Vanilla Cupcakes

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It’s true. I’m in love. It’s like the candy heart just magically knew what I was thinking as these cupcakes were coming together. 
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I think it’s what you call love at first sight. I might even go as far to say it was love at first thought. Pink. Heart-shaped. Vanilla. Frosting. Sprinkles. Candy. 
All rolled into one precious cupcake. 
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Yes, that is love. 
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Oh yeah, there’s also this guy in my life that I’m going to marry in about 3 1/2 months (!!!!!). You could say I’m pretty in love with him too. But you don’t need to hear about all that right now. 
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These little cake-of-the-cups have the most perfect, simple vanilla flavor. Some people may associate vanilla with ‘plain’ or ‘boring.’ But not here. Not now. 
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Make these cupcakes for the one YOU love this Valentine’s Day and I promise they will love you even more. Make them for yourself and well, if you don’t love yourself after that, then all hope is lost.
In all seriousness, I hope you love yourself anyway. Eating cupcakes or not, just love yourself.

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I {Heart} Vanilla Cupcakes 
Makes 12 cupcakes
Ingredients:
For the cupcakes-
1 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 + 1/3 cup granulated sugar 
1 large egg white
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup milk (I used skim)
Red food coloring
12 candy hearts
Sprinkles

For the frosting-
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 1/4 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2-3 tablespoons milk

Directions:
For the cupcakes-
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake tin with liners of choice, heart-shaped if you have them!
2. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. Whisk and set aside.
3. In the bowl of a stand-alone mixer, add butter and sugar. Beat on medium speed until light and creamy. Add egg white, followed by vanilla extract and beat until well incorporated. Turn to low speed and add half of the flour. Slowly add milk, followed by the remaining flour mixture. Beat until well combined.
4. Pour half of the cupcake batter into a separate bowl. Add 2-3 drops of red food coloring to one of the bowls of batter. Mix thoroughly, adding more food coloring as needed to reach your desired shade of pink/red.
5. Drop pink/red batter by the tablespoon into the cupcake wells. Then drop a tablespoon of the white batter into the wells. Use a toothpick to gently swirl the batter together in each of the wells.
6. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in the middle of a cupcake comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool completely.
7. Frost as desired. Top each cupcake with a candy heart for the full Valentine’s Day effect 🙂

For the frosting-
1. Add butter and powdered sugar to the bowl of a stand-alone mixer. Beat on medium speed for about one minute. Add the vanilla and milk while continuing to beat on medium speed until well incorporated. Be sure to scrap down the sides of the bowl as needed.

Vanilla Blueberry Baked Oatmeal

That football game last night. 
Yeah.
You’re either really happy or…well, let’s just not go there.
Then again, I bet some of you couldn’t care less. Am I right or am I right?
Whether you’re celebrating the win, trying to forget the loss, or don’t even know who the heck played in the game (you might be saying, “Wait – what game and why are you still talking about it?? All I know is that The Bachelor was on last night.”)
…we all have one thing in common.

You have to eat breakfast! Okay, so you don’t have to. But you really should. So can I make a recommendation? Baked oatmeal. 
Ever since I made Apple Walnut Baked Oatmeal, I have been trying new variations like crazy. I just can’t get enough of it.  The possibilities really are endless. And this is only the beginning. You just wait to see what else I have in store. 

Vanilla Blueberry Baked Oatmeal
(Inspired by Apple Walnut Baked Oatmeal and Peanut Butter Fingers)

Makes 2 servings

Ingredients:
1 cup rolled oats
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/3 cup unsweetened almond milk
1/8 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup fresh blueberries

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray mini loaf pan with non-stick spray and set aside.
2. In a small bowl, whisk oats, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon and baking soda.
3. In a seperate small bowl, whisk applesauce, almond milk and vanilla.
4. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients. Stir to combine. Fold in blueberries (don’t be afraid to smash some while you’re mixing!).
5. Pour mixture into loaf pan and bake 18-20 minutes. Top of loaf will be golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool in pan about 5 minutes. Serve hot.

~About 420 calories in the ENTIRE loaf!!~
…210 per serving…