Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

The BEST red velvet cupcakes – a gorgeous red color, moist and fluffy, and topped with luscious cream cheese frosting.

The BEST red velvet cupcakes - a gorgeous red color, moist and fluffy, and topped with luscious cream cheese frosting.

Really, really good red velvet cupcakes can be totally elusive, right? Some are dry, some are TOO red. And what’s the story behind red velvet cake (and cupcakes) anyway? After doing a little research, I found that while foods were rationed during war time, bakers used boiled beets to enhance the color of their cakes and to retain moisture. Red velvet cake was a signature dessert at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel during the 1920s, and was also well-known in the restaurants and bakeries of the Eaton’s department store chain in Canada during the 1940s and 1950s. Many attribute the cake’s recent popularity to the film Steel Magnolias, in which the groom’s cake was a red velvet cake in the shape of an armadillo.

All red velvet cakes have specific ingredients in common: cocoa powder, white vinegar, buttermilk and baking soda; the reaction of the vinegar with the buttermilk helps to pull out the red color in the cocoa powder. I wasn’t always sold on red velvet, but I was eventually converted…

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Texas Sheet Cake

This classic Texas sheet cake has a thin layer of fluffy, moist chocolate cake and is topped with a fudge-like icing with chopped pecans.
This classic Texas sheet cake has a thin layer of fluffy, moist chocolate cake and is topped with a fudge-like icing with chopped pecans.

This classic Texas sheet cake has a thin layer of fluffy, moist chocolate cake and is topped with a fudge-like icing with chopped pecans.

A little over three years ago, my husband and I were preparing to head down to Florida for a two-week trip to his parents’, I made one last stop the night before we left. I went to visit my grandma in the facility she was staying in while she received some physical therapy, which she was hoping would get her strong enough to get back home. She wasn’t sick at all, and aside from some mobility issues, at 91-years old, she was in pretty good shape. But, still. I knew I was going to be gone for two weeks, and I just had this nagging, uneasy feeling about leaving without going to see her for a little bit. I brought Einstein (whom she loved) and we had a nice little visit.

Fast forward two weeks, the morning before we were set to head back home, and I received an early morning phone call from my sister that my grandma had passed away in her sleep the night before. I was upset, but not completely surprised. I had felt that I needed to see her before I left, and I’m so glad that I listened to that intuition. We managed to get on the road not long after receiving the phone call and drove straight through back to Pittsburgh, getting in around 3am.

The next day I was exhausted, emotional, and hungry. As is the case most times there is a death, tons of family and friends dropped off food for my family. Among the fried chicken, roasted chicken, potatoes, deli platters, buns, and cookie trays was this gem. My great aunt had whipped up and sent over a Texas Sheet Cake. I ate some every day – before the viewing, the day of the viewing, the day of the funeral, and for at least a day after. It was amazingly delicious, and it soothed my soul. The day after the funeral, once the out of town family had gone, things were organized, and we could all take a breath, I made it my business to get this recipe from my aunt before I forgot. I’m so glad that it’s part of my recipe arsenal, and it will always remind me of celebrating my grandma’s life and all the love she gave.

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A festive King Cake for Mardi Gras - filled with a pecan, brown sugar and cinnamon swirl - baked into a Bundt pan and decorated with colored sanding sugars.

King Bundt Cake

A festive King Cake for Mardi Gras – filled with a pecan, brown sugar and cinnamon swirl – baked into a Bundt pan and decorated with colored sanding sugars....

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The Weekend Dish: 2/6/2016

Hello and happy Saturday to you! I hope you had a great week and are settling right into February. Joseph started coming down with a cold last weekend, then...

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Joseph - 12 months old

Friday Things

1. Poor Joseph has come down with a cold this week… all of his sniffling, runny nose and coughing is so sad  However, being sick doesn’t really slow him down...

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102 Valentine's Day Recipes - Everything you need for a festive breakfast, dinner or dessert!

102 Valentine’s Day Recipes

Ah, Valentine’s Day. The holiday everyone either loves or loves to hate. I still remember agonizing over picking out the perfect Valentines to pass out at school, and making...

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Hissy Fit Dip

This “Hissy Fit Dip” with the crazy moniker is a HUGE party hit – sausage, cream cheese, sour cream, two cheeses, chives and seasonings make this one absolutely irresistible!...

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