{craft fail} natural egg dyes

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I try hard to be a green mama, but sometimes it ends up being more trouble than it's worth. I mentioned on Friday how we were planning to dye our Easter eggs using natural dyes. It was great in theory, and I was looking forward to seeing the effect of the different ingredients. I picked up a variety of veggies from Whole Foods, and even bought these cute little canning jars from Sur la Table. I followed the instructions on this site to make the following dyes:

  • Yellow (tumeric)
  • Blue (red cabbage)
  • Pink (beets)
  • Green (red cabbage and tumeric)

See, look how cute they are in their little jars. I felt like Super Eco Mom. I let them sit in their dyes overnight, and when I took them out in the morning...

Wah waaaaahhh. I'm grateful Emma's too young to remember her first Easter eggs, because no kid would get excited about these. They're the Easter equivalent of handing out raisins at Halloween. I've seen photos of other people's naturally dyed eggs, and they look great - so I have no idea why mine were such a bust. But they really really were. Looks like we'll be trying Kool-Aid to dye them next year!

PS... It wasn't actually a total bust. I used the leftover beets to make a puree for Emma which she liked but was a complete and utter mess, and the leftover cabbage to make a crazy delicious coleslaw. I used this recipe (minus the celery), and highly recommend it if you like vinegar based coleslaws (which are far superior to mayonnaise slaws, IMO.)

bunny butt cupcakes

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I'll be the first to admit, I may have overdone it a bit this Easter. :-) But if there's one thing you should know about me it's that when I get an idea to do something, there's pretty much nothing that will stop me from at least attempting it. (Do I need to remind you about the weekender bags?) So when I saw these little bunny butts on Pinterest I knew they needed to be on top of my Easter cupcakes. I mean, come on. They're so stinking cute. Yes, I was sick. Yes, Emma is in the middle of a major sleep regression and I don't remember the last time we got a good night's sleep. But these little tushes were calling me. I had to make them.

I followed the instructions on Hungry Happenings nearly exactly... she used modeling chocolate, but since I'm still off dairy, I used fondant. I followed this recipe to whip up some homemade marshmallow fondant, and was relieved to find it easier than I thought it would be. The only hiccup came when I ended up needing to transfer the mixture back into a glass bowl (from the mixer bowl) so I could microwave it a smidge more in order to get the last of the mini marshmallows to melt. I also used Crisco instead of butter, as several reviewers suggested.

The bunny butts were easy enough to assemble... just time consuming. I hadn't worked with fondant before, and it felt very similar to working with clay or play-doh.

Now all that was left was to make the actual cupcakes. I decided to make strawberry cupcakes but had to use box mix because it's dairy free and sooo much better than trying to make vegan cupcakes from scratch. I also used store-bought vanilla frosting for the same reason. I hate cheating, but given how much time went into making the bunny butts, I didn't feel too bad about it. Anyway, I dyed the frosting green with gel color and used Wilton's grass piping tip (#233) to make it look like the bunny butts were sitting on a bed of grass.

Oh look at those cute little tushes! Thankfully, they were just as tasty as they were cute (the cupcake part anyway... fondant is kinda meh.) I'd love to make them again with the modeling chocolate from the original recipe and with chocolate cake so it looks like dirt underneath the grass. How many days until next Easter? :-)

Funny enough, after all that hard work I decided I couldn't bear to toss the leftover green frosting, so I whipped up a half batch of Annie's Soft Frosted Sugar Cookies. (Don't judge me.) The verdict? Deeeelicious. Maybe even better than the grocery store bakery kind she was trying to replicate. I highly recommend them if you need to use up some frosting. Or if you want to make sure those last few pounds of pregnancy weight stay right where they are. These are really good for that. Trust me.

I hope you all had a wonderful Easter weekend!

Peep strawberry cupcakes

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My block had a potluck Easter dinner this year, so - naturally - I signed up to bring dessert.  And, as with most things, I went a bit overboard.  (Hey, I gotta take advantage of having time to take on crazy baking adventures before the baby comes!)

I'd been wanting to make Sprinkles strawberry cupcakes for a while now, and they seemed a bit Easter-ish, so that's where I started. You apparently have to follow the recipe from this YouTube video (click on "show more"), because the recipe posted on MarthaStewart.com and elsewhere is wrong.  Overall, I really liked the taste of these cupcakes - though I probably could have taken them out a minute or two earlier.  The frosting, on the other hand, was aaaaa-mazing.  I doubled the recipe for both the cupcakes and frosting, and instead of 7 cups of confectioners sugar I only used 6.  There, it's in writing... one time in my life I used less sugar than I was supposed to.  Any more and I felt like the sweetness would have overwhelmed the strawberry flavor.

Once everything was baked and mixed, it was time to decorate.  My mom has always made a Peep cake for Easter, so I decided to carry on the tradition - with a twist.  I smeared a bit of frosting on the bottom of a Peep, stuck it to the cupcake, piped drops of frosting around the Peep using an Ateco #32 piping tip, and finished with a pinch of sprinkles.

Since not everyone is a fan of Peeps, I made half with fresh strawberries on top instead of Peeps.  (While I may never understand these Peep-haters, I still want them to eat my cupcakes.)

I used the same basic approach to decorating the strawberry version...

I'm not going to lie, I took a break in the middle of writing this post to eat the very last Peep cupcake.  So sad to see them go.  Until next year my Peep friends...