Raspberry-filled Vanilla Cupcakes

Raspberry-Filled Vanilla Cupcakes.

If you are looking for a super special, absolutely rock-your-world delicious treat to bake for your special Valentine(s), look no further thank these amazing Raspberry-Filled Vanilla Cupcakes!

I have always admired beautiful cupcakes and love those special gourmet ones that have surprise fillings and are extravagantly decorated, but I have never had much success making them.

I had the urge to give it another try yesterday after purchasing some fun sprinkles I was dying to use somehow.

Disclaimer – I have a weird “thing” for sprinkles and buy way more than I ever use!  I bought three different kinds of red/pink Valentiney ones and one big container of regular ones.  My granddaughter had fun shaking them in the cart while we were shopping!

I found a recipe at RockRecipes.com that I tweaked up a bit.  I was so excited with how beautiful and YUMMY they turned out.

When I handed one to Hubby to taste test, I said,  “Are you ready to have your world rocked by this?”

He loved it!

Here is how I made them.  Hope you give them a try.

Raspberry Filled Vanilla Cupcakes

Ingredients:

Cupcake Batter:

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 cup evaporated milk

Raspberry Filling:

  • 1 cup fresh raspberries
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp corn starch
  • 1 oz. water

Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup (4 oz.) cream cheese
  • 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2-3 Tbsp milk

Directions:

To make cupcakes, preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating until well incorporated.  Stir in vanilla.  Add baking powder and salt, then fold in flour.  Finally stir in milk to create batter.

Pour into paper-lined cupcake/muffin pan.  Bake for approximately 20 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.

While cupcakes are baking, prepare raspberry filling by stirring 1 cup raspberries and 1/4 cup sugar in small saucepan.  Simmer over low heat for about 10 minutes.

Dissolve cornstarch in water, and slowly pour into boiling berries.  Stir constantly until thickened.  Allow to cool.

Prepare frosting by blending together butter, cream cheese, and vanilla.  Add powdered sugar and enough milk to make a smooth, creamy consistency.

When cupcakes are cooled, use an apple corer to remove a small section from center of cupcake.  Fill with raspberry filling.

Decorate with cream cheese frosting and sprinkles and fresh raspberries if desired.

Enjoy!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

Chocolate and Raspberry Custard Dessert in a Jar

chocolate and raspberry custard in a jar dessert

We celebrated my youngest son, Nick’s birthday yesterday.  I was excited to try to recreate a recipe he recently had and loved at Firebird’s Wood Fired Grill restaurant a month or so ago while traveling.

chocolate and raspberry custard in a jar dessert 2

So instead of a birthday cake this year, I made these beautiful, decadent treats for his dessert.  He loved it and said I aced it.  Momma’s heart is happy.  This dessert is beautiful and delicious and will make any occasion special.

It is so worth the time to create a magical, delicious dessert.  And the beauty of it is that it can be made a day ahead of time and assembled right before you serve it for an amazing treat.

I know there is someone on your “list” who would do almost anything for one of these!

Chocolate and Raspberry Custard in a Jar

Ingredients:chocolate and raspberry custard in a jar dessert

1 cup heavy cream
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup milk
1 cup Greek yogurt
1 – 2.35 oz pkg instant chocolate pudding mix
4 oz raspberry sauce (made by straining fresh 6 oz raspberries through a sieve with 1 Tbsp sugar)
16 fresh raspberries for garnish
chocolate granola for topping (recipe follows)
Whipped cream
4 – 6oz Mason jars

Directions:

Place heavy cream in pot on medium high heat, and bring to a boil. Turn off heat, and add chocolate chips.  Whisk until smooth and chocolate is completely melted. Set aside and cool to room temperature.  Reserve 1/2 cup of the chocolate ganache.  Mix milk, yogurt and remaining chocolate ganache (other than 1/2 cup) in a mixing bowl. Stir in the pudding mix until fully incorporated.  Pour 5 oz. of custard into each Mason jar or dessert dish.  Top with  1oz reserved ganache per jar.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or overnight.  Top with raspberry sauce, vanilla whipped cream, fresh raspberries and chocolate granola.  Garnish with a fresh sprig of mint.

And the chocolate granola….

O M G!

This is a treat in and of itself!

I might be able to live on just this.

Make it to accompany the Chocolate and Raspberry Custard in a Jar Dessert or to top yogurt , ice cream, or to just toss in your mouth as a yummy snack.

chocolate granola

Oats and almonds and walnuts coated with cocoa and agave nectar and drizzled with semi-sweet chocolate….

Heaven in a bite!

chocolate granola 2

Chocolate Granola

Ingredients:chocolate granola
2 cups of Old Fashioned Oats
1 Cup of Sliced (or slivered) Almonds
1 Cup of Chopped Walnuts
1/4 cup of Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1/3 cup Sugar
1/4 cup of Agave Nectar (you can also use Maple Syrup)
1/4 cup  Butter
1/2 cup Semisweet Chocolate Chips

Directions:

 Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.

In a small saucepan, melt agave nectar and butter on medium-low heat.

In a large bowl, combine oats, nuts, cocoa, sugar and melted butter mixture to coat well.

Spread the mixture in a single layer on a baking stone or sheet, and bake for 40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.

Remove from oven and sprinkle chocolate chips evenly over the top.

Allow mixture to cool completely.  Serve over Chocolate and Raspberry Custard Dessert, ice cream, yogurt, or enjoy as a snack.

Adapted from a recipe from Laura in the Kitchen

And here is the birthday “boy” with his birthday dessert.

Nick 26

Happy Birthday Nick!  You have made the past 26 years more joyful than you will ever know.  I wish you love and happiness and as much chocolate and raspberry custard as your heart desires.

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

A Homemade Special Family Coloring Book

Ellas coloring book

One of my favorite Christmas gifts I made to give this year was a special family coloring book I made for Ella.

Ella is my cousin’s daughter, and we have a very special bond.  She is very creative and artistic, so I was excited when my BFF Jill shared a fun site with me called ReallyColor.com where you can create your own coloring book pages from photographs.

Since I recently had the opportunity to do a family photo shoot of Ella and her family at Thanksgiving, I was excited to make some of these photos into coloring book pages in a special book for Ella to recreate.

Here are just a few of the pages.  I can’t wait to see what Ella does with them!

ella coloring book 1

Ella with Daddy and Mommy

ella coloring book 2

Brother Mason and Daddy

 

ella coloring book 3

Ella Tree Climbing

ella coloring book 4

Mommy, Ella, and Mimi

ella coloring book 5

Mason and Poppy (aka Oh Rob!)

ella coloring book 6

Mimi’s Greenhouse

Check out ReallyColor.com and convert some of your family photos into a fun project!

Cheers & Hugs,

Jodi

The Family Bookshelf – My Memory Box

the family bookshelf

Do you have a favorite place or space in your home?

One of my favorite spaces in our home is the family bookshelf.

It’s kind of center stage in the great room commanding half of one wall measuring about 8 feet wide by 9 feet tall.

Hubby custom built this a few years after we built our house.

My “usual” seat on the couch directly faces this “memory box,” and sometimes I just stare at all the memories while hubby is staring at the television or the latest book he is reading in the evening.

It’s filled with so many favorite things…

There are a lot of family photos – some from a long time ago and some more recent…

Like our oldest son at 4 years old playing a toy saxophone and then a framed newspaper clipping of him playing a saxophone solo in the high school band.  There’s one of him and his beautiful wife – our beloved daughter-in-law.  There’s one of him and his Dad with a cake they made for a Cub Scouts competition and one in his “cap and gown” at his preschool graduation.

There are photos of our youngest son dressed in his favorite Halloween costume that he wore two years in a row when he was Peter Pan at 4 and 5 years old, in his football uniform for midget football, sticking his tongue out with his Dad and brother on a summer trip to Cedar Point Amusement Park, grinning at me at his preschool graduation, with me at a Kindergarten party where I was his homeroom mom, and with his sweet girlfriend now.

There is a photo of my hubby with his sister when they were young children…  a sister and aunt who we loved dearly and lost way too early from cancer.

And there is a photo of my father-in-law taken on his last day on this earth when he was blessed with a surprise visit from a favorite niece from far away who he hadn’t seen in years.  It is such a sweet memory to see him so happy just hours before he left us.  We will never be able to express enough gratitude to this sweet lady for the joy she brought him that special day.

There are photos of friends and fun times, like a trip to Hawaii with our besties and holiday celebrations with all of our kids.

There are a few books, some significant, some not…  There are high school yearbooks, photo memory books, bibles, favorite children’s books – like our very favorite bedtime read-aloud story book – “Bob and Jack – A Boy and his Yak.”  There are baby books for each of the boys and a special memory book made by my cousin Joyce and given to me at Christmas featuring my first year blogging at LifeinBetween.me.  There are books read at book club and business books and bird books and favorite fiction authors.  There is a copy of the book I wrote and had bound as a gift to my Dad for our second Christmas together after reuniting.  Our wedding photo albums sit on one of the shelves.

Then there are other sweet memorabilia, like our youngest son’s stuffed animal “Curious George” who he loved so dearly as a child and slept with every night.

There is the birthday bear my Dad sent me on my first birthday after we reunited after too many years apart with a sweet note saying, “Happy Birthday Jodi, My Little Girl.  Love you, Dad.”

It was my 48th birthday.

And there is the little trinket box he gave me that says, “Daughter – With all the Beauty on the Earth, there is nothing more Beautiful than you.”

There’s a statue of a yellow lab that was my father-in-law’s sweet memory of his beloved “Brandy.”

There’s a cruise ship trophy our oldest son won singing Karaoke on a cruise with his now wife on a family vacation he went on with her family.

There are “Friends” blocks given to me from my BFF.

There is a photo album of our Cleveland friends wearing Pittsburgh Steelers shirts and poses too explicit to share here after they lost a family bet during a rival football playoff season.

There is a gorgeous painting from a faraway friend who suffered from a life-altering traumatic brain injury that completely changed her life and turned a corporate CEO into an artistic genius and a genuinely beautiful creative inspiration.  I bought her very first piece of artwork, and I treasure it so dearly.

My heart is smiling as I type and recall these memories.

You see – a home is not brick and mortar.  It is not plaster and paint.

It is the memories.

It is the family and friends and people you share it with.

My favorite little plaque hanging on another wall in our home says it all….

“The thing I love most about my home is who I share it with.”

So that is my special home “space.”

What is yours?

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

Milk Chocolate Caramel-Filled Chip Cookies

Milk Chocolate Caramel Filled Chip Cookies Stacked

If you give a mouse a cookie….

He’s going to ask for a glass of milk.

Milk Chocolate Caramel Filled Chip Cookies and Milk 2

And then he’ll probably want a straw.

Milk Chocolate Caramel Filled Chip Cookies

As I was looking at these shots of my latest twist on chocolate chip cookies, I couldn’t help but be reminded of that fun children’s book.

Milk Chocolate Caramel Filled Chip Cookies Stacked 2

Especially after this stack – I kept thinking… more – More – MORE!

Milk Chocolate Caramel Filled Chip Cookies and Milk

I bake chocolate chip cookies A  LOT.

I’m kinda known for it.

Especially with our sons’ friends.

And I love the joy it brings – the smiles they create – the happy tummies – the grateful hugs.

But I get bored with the same old thing, so I am always looking for a way to change them up a bit – as you may have noticed if you’ve been hanging out here at LifeinBetween.me for any length of time…  (Fresh Raspberry Chocolate Chips, Girl Scout Thin Mint Cookies, Peanut Butter White Chocolate Chip…)

This latest version was a BIG HIT!

Instead of semi-sweet morsels, I used the new Nestle Toll House Delightfulls Caramel Filled Morsels.

Could you just die?!!?

Milk Chocolate Caramel Filled Chips in a cookie!!

I used my tried and true chocolate chip cookie recipe – subbing these DELIGHTFULL morsels for the regular chocolate chips.

Easy Peasy – and guaranteed to be a Big Hit with whoever you decide to share these with!

And PS – I had forgotten how amazing a chocolate chip cookie tastes dunked in milk!     I have not done that in ages, but sampled a bite after this “photo shoot.”

Grab a glass of cold milk – even if it is Skim – and DUNK!

Pure delight!

Kicked Up Milk Chocolate & Caramel Chip Cookies

Ingredients:Milk Chocolate Caramel Filled Chip Cookies Stacked 2

4 sticks butter, softened
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
1 1/2 cups white granulated sugar
2 tsp vanilla
4 eggs
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp salt
5 cups all purpose flour
2 9-oz bags Nestle Toll House Delightfulls Milk Chocolate Caramel Filled Morsels

Directions:

With electric mixer, beat butter and sugar together until completely incorporated. Add vanilla and eggs, and beat until light and fluffy. Add baking soda and salt, and mix another minute. Gradually add flour and beat until well incorporated, but do not overbeat.

Fold in chocolate caramel morsels. Refrigerate dough for at least 2 hours or up to 2 days.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 375 degrees F. With your hands, form a cookie dough ball about 1-1/2 inches in diameter.  Place on baking stone. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Do not overbake. Allow to cool on baking stone for 2-3 minutes, then remove to cooling rack to cool completely.

Cheers & Chocolatey Caramely Hugs,

Jodi