Category Archives: Birthday

Cheesecake Cupcakes!

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Anytime you mention the word “birthday” to Ava, her mind IMMEDIATELY goes to cupcakes! So when I told her that Bumpy’s birthday was the next day, her first question was, “Will there be cupcakes?!” I knew my dad (a.k.a Bumpy) wasn’t big on regular cupcakes. I knew he loved cheesecake so I called my mom (a.k.a. Honey) to double-check. Then I went on a hunt for a good and EASY cheesecake cupcake recipe. I had no idea if one existed, but I was sure that it did, and leave it to Paula Dean to make sure that one did! 

Now here’s where it gets tricky. I am just now learning the blogging/cooking rules…and I was not good about making sure I took consistent pictures throughout the process. Anyways, the original recipe called for each cupcake to have a vanilla wafer bottom. My dad loves the traditional cheesecake, which comes with a graham cracker crust, and a vanilla wafer crust just didn’t sound that fabulous. So I decided I was going to figure out some way to do a graham cracker crust for a cupcake. And I only do easy.

I will also preface these pictures with…I’m sorry they’re blurry. I am no photographer, and I have a crappy camera. Well…when I bought it, it wasn’t crappy. It became crappy after I dropped it a few times, and I let my (then) two-year old start man-handling it (she still man-handles it at 3), and now I let my one year old man-handle it. It’s been dropped, and cracked, and fingers have been on the lenses, and I’ve wiped those lenses off with the bottom of my t-shirt that also wiped some boogies, I’m pretty sure. So please excuse the quality of the pictures 🙂 If you’re here to critique my pictures, then feel free to venture elsewhere. But, if you’re here to make some damn good cheesecake cupcakes, then the pictures will be good enough, and I hope your sweet tooth is ready!

Now for the graham cracker crust. If you recall I said, I only do easy…

So I bought a box of graham cracker crumbs

I then followed the recipe on the side of the box to make a graham cracker crust. This was so easy a 3-year-old could do it. And she did.

1 1/4 cup of graham cracker crumbs

3 tbsp sugar

1/3 cup butter or margarine, melted

1. Mix the graham cracker crumbs and sugar.

2. Stir in the melted butter until completely blended (Ava and I mixed it until I could tell every minuscule crumb had some butter-lovin on it).  It looked a bit like this…

What yummy things are made of

3. Next, I (Ava) put cupcake liners in each of the muffin tins, since I would be using this to make a cupcake crust. I then scooped about a heaping teaspoon full of graham cracker crust into each muffin tin.

Heaping teaspoon of yumminess

You’ll see that I almost completed the cupcake crusts before remembering that I needed to take a picture of how much I used for each crust…bear with me on this blog thing.

4. After spooning in the graham cracker crumb mixture, you’ll see from the above picture that I used a medicine cup to pack down the crust. It worked perfectly! I was amazed at my resourcefulness (that must be where my daughter gets it from).  Here’s a close up.

Who doesn’t have those medicine cups lying around? And if you don’t…let me know. I have a MILLION! Thanks to all the teething, ear infections, teething, and ear infections, and teething (have I mentioned the teething?).  And why do I save them when my children don’t use them? Ask my grandfather…I believe it’s in the genes.

5. AnyWHO (Since I mentioned my grandfather, I had to thrown in something from my grandmother), after I made all my crusts, they looked something like this.

I actually made these a couple of days before I made the cheesecake portion, so I covered these in Cling wrap, and stuck them in the freezer. I also only used a portion of the graham cracker crust that the recipe made, so I stuck that in a baggie and froze it as well.

Two days later, Ava and I made the good stuff…the cheesecake portion. As I mentioned previously, I used this recipe, with the exception of the vanilla wafer. It called for:

* 2 pkgs of cream cheese, softened (I try to do things on the light side when I can, so I used Neuchâtel cheese – 1/3 less fat {that means you can eat an extra cupcake})
* 1 cup granulated sugar
* 1 tsp vanilla extract (it calls for butter, but I used vanilla)
* 2 eggs
* Blueberry Preserves (It used raspberry jam and fresh raspberries, but I was feeling it blueberry style)
* Fresh blueberries

1. Notice the recipe called for “softened” cream cheese. That involves thinking ahead of time. I don’t believe in that. Life is a lot more fun when you live it on the edge, and don’t soften the cream cheese beforehand. So, to do it quickly, I just cut up each block of cream cheese into cubes, and let them sit there for about 10 minutes. I found other things to do while we waited…like keep Briggs from eating the dog’s food. That’s a full-time job right there.

2. Once I was fairly certain Briggs was finished eating dog food, Ava and decided the cream cheese was soft enough. I wasn’t reading the directions very carefully, and I added the sugar next (The original recipe says to beat the cream cheese until fluffy, then add the sugar). Then we used an electric hand mixer to beat the cream cheese and sugar until it was pretty light and fluffy. We did it for a while. Until we got tired of it, and it looked pretty smooth. Now is also a good time to start preheating the oven to 350 degrees.

3. We then added the vanilla extract, and beat in one egg at a time (I don’t know how important this is, but we did it this way). Ava likes to crack the eggs, so we cracked it into the measuring cup (to avoid any eggshells), and she got to pour the egg into the mixture, which she liked. After each egg, we beat the mixture until it was well blended.

4. Now it’s ready to pour into those cupcake liners we made a couple of days ago with the graham cracker crust! Remember I told you I’ve been bad about remembering to take pictures throughout the process, so it was about now that I remembered I should have been taking pictures. Here’s what the mixture looked like once it was ready to be poured (we had already poured most of the cups when I remembered to take this picture)

Mmmmm….cheesecake

5. We used a ladle to fill the cupcakes. I only filled them about 2/3 full because that’s how I’m used to making cupcakes that rise, but these don’t rise (hello! I wasn’t thinking), so you can actually fill these almost all the way full. To be honest, though, I think they were perfect only 2/3 full…all the way full would have been a little much.

6. Since I only filled them 2/3 full, I ended up needing more cupcake liners with graham cracker crust bottoms. Luckily, I saved the unused graham cracker crust from the other day, so we just pulled it out, and made a few more. Ava got to assist in this.

This is Ava’s, “I’m working, Mom.” face

7. Once we had all 18 cupcakes filled, they looked something like this.

8. Now throw those puppies in the oven, and let them bake for 20 minutes. When they’re done, they’ll look like this:

The sunken middle lays the perfect ground for the topping.

9. Now all that’s left to do is put on the topping, but you want to let them cool first. I actually put these in the fridge for a while. As I mentioned previously, I was feeling the blueberry, so I used a small teaspoonful of blueberry preserves.

Sorry for the blurry picture…please refer to beginning of blog on my picture-taking skills 🙂

10. I then topped each cupcake with fresh blueberries. They looked divine! The original recipe called to dust each cupcake with powdered sugar, buuuuuut I forgot. Ooops. I don’t think it hurt them much 🙂

I definitely could have made these prettier, but I was in a bit of a hurry when I was doing it.

11. I totally didn’t plan on this happening, but when I took the cupcake liner off of mine, I thought it looked like the perfect little cheesecake! If I were to make these for a party, I would serve them without the cupcake liners. This picture is blurry, but you can get what I’m talking about.

All that was left to do then, was taste test. And the results were SPECTACULAR! Everyone loved them (except Ava, but she’s a weird child who isn’t big on sweets…she just ate the graham cracker crust off the bottom – silly girl). I will DEFINITELY be making these again, and SOON. They were so easy, and SO yummy!

Here are the recipes without all my commentary 🙂

Graham Cracker Crust (this makes way more than you need):

  • 1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs, Keebler brand
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted ( or margarine)

1. Combine crumbs and sugar in medium-sized bowl. Stir in the melted butter until thoroughly blended.

2  Spoon a heaping teaspoon into the bottom of each cupcake liner. Pack mixture firmly.

3. Chill at least one hour before filling.

Cheesecake Cupcakes

2 pkg.  (8 oz. each) PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, softened
1 cup  granulated sugar
1 tsp.  vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 cup  blueberry preserves
Handful fresh blueberries
2 Tbsp.  powdered sugar for dusting (I forgot to do this in my recipe)

HEAT oven to 350°F.

BEAT cream cheese with a hand-held electric mixer until fluffy. Add granulated sugar and vanilla extract, beating well. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

SPOON cream cheese mixture over graham cracker crust. Bake for 20 minutes.

ALLOW tarts to cool completely. When cool, top each cheesecake cupcake with 1/2 Tbsp. of blueberry preserves and fresh blueberries. Dust with powdered sugar. And ENJOY.

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Rubber Ducky, You’re the One!

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As I mentioned at the end of my last post, I wouldn’t be posting until after Briggs’s first birthday party, so here we are! I didn’t think I would be posting the evening his party was over, but I’ve been so busy every night getting things ready, that I just don’t know what to do with myself, so I figured I would blog 🙂 (Side note – I started the blog last night, but didn’t finish it until tonight).

Briggs’s first birthday party was rubber-ducky themed…here is his invitation:

I made several things for the party through out the week (birthday banners, monthly pics banners, tag/name cards for different items), but Friday night there were several things I would need to do/make, so my parents took Ava for the evening. I got a night to finish birthday preparations with only one child, and Ava got to go cheer on the Lady Hornet softball team in the 3rd round of playoffs versus Montgomery (My sis-in-law, Calli’s dad, is their head coach). Sadly, the Lady Hornets lost :(, but Ava had lots of fun at the game, and Aunt Calli has started “training” Ava for her future in softball. Here are some pictures of Ava getting her first “lesson” from Aunt Calli.

Batting lesson

Running the bases!

Calli has her work cut out for her  🙂

Now back to what I was originally posting about – I spent Friday night making pretzel ducks, Oreo pops and duck-shaped rice krispie treats (no link – those were my creation), and Briggsy’s birthday hat.

Pretzel ducks

Oreo pops pre-dipping and first batch of rice krispie ducks

Post-dipped Pops
I dyed the white candy coating a light blue to look like bubbles then sprinkled crystal sugars on top

Birthday Hat! I used blue cardstock to shape the hat, I found a bubble font on dafont.com, and used a clip art rubber duck. I then found curly ribbon in just the right colors (I had to pull out the pink ribbon) to attach to the top. I actually tried to line the bottom of the hat with ribbon, but I realized that was going to be way too difficult (I’m all about easy). I was at a loss with what to do, and was gazing through my arts and crafts stash I use for Ava crafts, when I came across these yellow poms we used during our “Y” week….Genius! It came out really cute!

Saturday we spent the morning putting everything together. I was able to download this free rubber ducky template I used to make his monthly pics and birthday banner! Shawn helped teach me how to use photo shop so I could make it just the way I wanted it.

His monthly pictures…can’t believe how much he has grown!

The Birthday Boy’s throne! I used a portion of a shower curtain for the mat and the tray skirt.

The Oreo Pops and Rice Krispie ducks I made. It’s supposed to look like the ducks are taking a bubble bath, but I didn’t get the right kind of styrofoam (because I didn’t feel like going all the way to Hobby Lobby). Being that this was the very FIRST time I did anything like this, I impressed myself – I would do it better, though, next time 🙂

The AWESOME cake made by the super talented, Lisa Paholek! She never lets me down!

Close up of the cake before we put it on the table

The “Duck Feed”
Colored goldfish in one bucket, and pretzels (topped with my pretzel ducks in the other). I used fancy scissors to cut the tops off of white paper bags and attached a “Duck Feed” label to put the snacks in.

The smash cake!

“Thanks for coming! I had buckets of fun!”
The favor table…mini buckets with bubbles (I didn’t know they were mini until they came in the mail – Oh well!) At the end of the party, Ava deemed herself the “Favor” police, and made SURE that everyone took one. I pitied the fool that told her, ‘No, thank you.” She didn’t let you pick your color, either. Her motto was, “You get what you get, and you don’t throw a fit!” A teacher in the making 🙂

Unfortunately, I forgot to get pictures of our outside decorations. I used a rubber ducky shower curtain, cut it into strips, and hung it on a tension rod outside our door for our guests to walk through. In the back yard, we had 3 tents set up with a baby pool and a splash pool for the kids. I also had all the drinks outside in blue galvanized buckets along with tags using the above template to label each bucket with what kind of drink was inside.

Everything was now set up and ready to go!

Briggs waiting on his friends!

When my parents arrived with Ava, we snuck in a quick family photo before everyone got wet, messy, and things got too hectic! The last thing I wanted was to end the party with an, “Ahhh – we never got a family picture!”

As soon as people started arriving, we all booked it outside to enjoy the weather and the pools!

Mason enamored with the super cool rope :)! Mason is 3 months (to the day) older than Briggs. His mom, Melinda, and I teach 4th grade together….and can’t wait for summer 🙂

Cousins came! Here’s pretty Kate letting us know that she doesn’t just give pictures away for free 🙂

Cousins only 4 months apart! Briggs and Haden playing in the splash pool together!

Haden the stud!

The birthday boy!

Miss Audrey splashing away! Audrey’s daddy, Ryan, was college roommates with Shawn.

An action shot of Jack going down the slide! Jack’s parents, Luke and Julie are good friends of ours we met through my cousin, Joey.

Ava’s turn! Funny story with Ava…
After we took our family picture, she couldn’t wait to get in the pool, so she started to strip naked outside. I quickly put a halt to that, rushed her inside, and got her in her bathing suit. Later in the party, when it was time to get out of the pool, she decided she was cold and was going to fix that problem right then and there…so IN THE MIDDLE OF THE PARTY, she stripped completely naked! Her daddy swooped in with a towel , and she ran with the towel covering all but her naked little bottom up to the house, and left the rest of us laughing hysterically (for now – hopefully she doesn’t make that a habit :p).

Alex getting his feet wet! Alex and his parents, Rose and Tomasz, are our next door neighbors.

The kids had a blast playing outside in the water, even though it was pretty chilly for mid-May (highs in the low 80s). I NEVER imagined I would have to worry about a splash party being to cool this time of year in Texas! Crazy! But you won’t hear me complaining!! Once everyone came inside, it was time for birthday cake! I couldn’t wait to see what Briggs would do with his smash cake. Ava cried and wouldn’t touch hers at her 1st birthday party. At the time, I thought it was because of all the people watching her, but we later learned it was because she doesn’t like cake (WhAt?!). Briggs, on the other hand, has not kept his sweet tooth a secret.

Checking it out

This stuff’s pretty good! (Excuse the goldfish – I had to keep him occupied while we were preparing everything, and he will only happily sit in his high chair if there is food in front of him).

Yum!

At this point I realized I never put on the birthday hat I spent hours making (Grrrr!) So I threw it on him for a quick photo op!

Love this boy!

Briggs paused for some deep thoughts

Once I finished photographing Briggs, we passed out the big cake for everyone else. Along with the cake, we served ice cream. I found this super cool idea to scoop ice cream into cupcake liners before the party, and then freeze them so you don’t have to scoop ice cream the day of. Brilliant! I went one step further and stuck cup cake toppers in them (which -bonus- made them super easy to pick up that way). They were a hit!

Excuse the lumpy ice scream – my ice scream scoop decided it was time to retire while I was doing all the scoops…of course 🙂

Now it was present time! At this time, Ava decided it was her duty as big sister to take over the presents (imagine that). Lucky for her, Briggs still hasn’t figured out the whole “presents” thing, so he happily obliged. I think he’s in the background at least in the pictures :p She’s going to be REAL disappointed next year!

The audience

Ava pushing the big gift all by herself

She means business when it comes to presents

After present time, Ava convinced Aunt Calli to open up the fire truck ball pit she and Ryan got…

We had to give Ava a gentle reminder that this was meant for Briggs, but that he would share 🙂 Briggs is all ready for bed and driving the fire truck, just like Uncle Ryan was doing that night! We missed him at the party!

Briggs’s first birthday party was so much fun, and we are so thankful for all our friends and family that made it so special! Our children are SO blessed to have so many people who love and care for them!

Now I will end this post, with Happy Mother’s day! Mother’s Day unfortunately took a back seat to all the birthday festivities this year, but it was still a special day. We got to spend Saturday with both of our mothers, and gave them each a phone call today. Wish we could have done more, but Shawn had to usher at church, and then because he was busy with birthday party duties all day Saturday, he had quite a few work things that needed to be done today. We are also still trying to get the house back in order (I wonder how long the wall decor will stay up…hmmm). We had the lovely ladies over at Domestic Services, BCS clean our house Friday, but Shawn and I decided that the next party we have at our house, we’re going to schedule a cleaning afterwards!