Semi-Homemade: Naked Red Velvet Cake

Last month we celebrated Brando’s first birthday with a farm-to-table foodie themed birthday party. Brando has ONE major interest right now and that is food, so the theme was super appropriate and really simple to pull off at my Grandmother’s property where they used to raise cattle in Plant City. I thought a naked red velvet layered cake would make the perfect dessert for this rustic party, and it turned out super delicious and was REALLY easy to put together.

While I really like taking my time and making things from scratch, I made EVERYTHING for this party, so I knew time wise, using a store bought cake mix would be much easier for me. While you can use any store bought mix, I prefer Duncan Hines for Red Velvet because the red color is much richer than other brands. I followed the directions on the box to prepare the cake, except I used chocolate milk when it called for water. This made the cake much more moist and enriched the cocoa flavor of the red velvet.

I used 2 boxes of cake mix which netted me 3 8in rounds, which I used for the main cake and 2 6 in rounds, which I used to make Brando’s smash cake.

Since cream cheese icing is very simple to make from scratch, I made that myself so that the cake did have that extra “made with love” feel to me. Here’s my easy recipe:

Ingredients:

8 oz cream cheese

6 cups confectioner’s sugar

1 cup butter (softened slightly warmer than room temp)

2 tbsp vanilla extract

1 tsp lemon juice

Prepare:

  1. Beat together butter and cream cheese until perfectly smooth, make sure there are no clumps or lumps whatsoever.
  2. Add in vanilla extract and lemon juice
  3. Beat in confectioner’s sugar one cup at a time, until smooth

Since this was a “Naked Cake”, I made sure to let my cakes cool extra long (overnight) to ensure that when they were leveled and iced there would be absolutely no crumbs showing. I was heavy handed with the icing in-between each layer to ensure that the icing:cake ratio was on point since I didn’t ice the sides of the cake. If you have a little pour over with your icing like I did, just use a butter knife to smooth it out, honestly I think it just adds to the homey feel of the cake, so don’t stress out if it isn’t perfection.

Finally to top each cake and flow with the farm-to-table theme, I sugared some berries to add to the top. This is super simple and fun way to top a cake. Simply dip berries in fruit juice of choice (I used lemon juice), then roll them in white sugar, then freeze for 1+ hrs. The longer you freeze them, the longer they will look nice and icey. Being in the FL heat my berries unfortunately didn’t hold their “glittery” look for long, but they still looked great.

This cake is great for any kind of occasion and if you’re not a red velvet fan you could also try this with a great spice cake or carrot cake for the fall. I’m really happy with how it turned out. So many people at Brando’s party came up to me to compliment the cake and couldn’t believe I made it myself. It’s a great way to impress your guests that’s for sure and Brando LOVED having the whole smash cake to himself!

 

 

All photos were take by Laura Davis Photo. She’s freakin’ amazing guys.

 

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Birthday Chip Frapp

This post was sponsored in part by Social Spotters on behalf of Shamrock Farms, all opinions are my own. 

With Brando’s 1st birthday party quickly approaching I wanted to pick a theme that matched what he’s in love with. After a lot of deliberation we decided to have a “This Little Piggy” foodie themed birthday. So basically, we skip out on all the kitschy party decor, and go straight to what matters most: good food. While Brando won’t be partaking in this beverage, I wanted to create a non-alcholoic foodie friendly beverage for the party. This is an adults-only drink because of the amount of caffeine in it, but it’s so fun and festive for his birthday party.

Coffee drinks are my jamm, and I’ve literally only met like 3 adults in my life who didn’t LOVE a good coffee beverage, so this idea seemed perfect to match the foodie theme, and be a fun treat for our party people.

This recipe makes 4 drinks so adjust for the amount of party-goers if you’re preparing ahead of time.

What You’ll Need:

2 cups of ice 

1- 12 oz bottle of Shamrock Farms Cold Brew Coffee & Milk

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 cup heavy whipping cream

1/4 cup mini chocolate chips

2 tbsp rainbow sprinkles

How to make it: 

  1. Fill blender with 2 cups of ice.
  2. Add all ingredients to blender- save 1 tbsp rainbow sprinkles for garnish
  3. Pulse blender until ice is good and blended, then hit “smoothie” setting for 30 seconds.
  4. Pour into glass and top with leftover sprinkles.
  5. ENJOY!

This was such a delicious treat to kick start my mid-week slump, and it will be such a delicious treat for our baby boy’s party guests! Combining all of our favorite flavors (coffee, birthday cake, and chocolate) made for one spectacular concoction.

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The Hype is Right- Sprinkle’s Cupcakes Comes to Tampa

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I’ve always wanted to live somewhere…fancier, than Central Florida. In my head I’ve always been more of a California girl, and my recent honeymoon in San Francisco confirmed that for me. While I throughly enjoy all the amenities being a Florida girl has provided me with, I have a taste for the foreign and trendy which is why when I read Sprinkle’s Cupcakes was coming to Hyde Park, I was exhilarated!

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Sprinkle’s Cupcakes started as the world’s first Cupcake Bakery in Beverly Hills in 2005, and has been whipping up happiness ever since. Our Tampa location opened April 28 and you bet I took my mother & toddler on opening day to get a taste of California confectionary.

Sprinkles Tampa Menu

The interior of the building alone is amazing, with gorgeous bright wall colors, a bursting cupcake display. It was so incredibly difficult to pick a cupcake from their extensive menu, but I managed to settle on a Carrot cupcake, while my mother enjoyed a Chocolate Marshmallow.

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Since our Sprinkle’s also has ice cream, Cash was able to chow down on his new favorite snack: a fun-sized ice cream cone, while my mom and I ate our giant cupcakes with forks. Seriously, these cupcakes are so big you can share them, but they’re also so delicious you won’t want to.

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While the crowd was rather large, being that it was opening day, the staff was very well prepared and the wait wasn’t bad at all. Everyone there was so friendly, and so accommodating to each individual customer. They all complemented Cash’s adorableness, and even remade his mini-cone when they saw him sit his down on a stool.

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While I try not to buy into “hype” all the time, the buzz surrounding this bakery is on point and my family can’t wait for their cupcake ATM to be open so we can enjoy them 24/7!

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Red Velvet & Chocolate Coconut,

B

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Cold-Brewed Coffee At Home

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This family runs on coffee. While I am pregnant and only consume about one cup a day, my husband will clear the rest of the pot before 10am, and sometimes we’ll enjoy a cup for dessert as well. While piping hot cup of coffee is something I can enjoy when it’s a little chillier, hot beverages in general are difficult for me to enjoy when it’s 87 degrees outside. While I have tried brewing coffee and pouring it over ice with cream, the ice melts leaving you with watered down flavored coffee water, which is not my jam, so I decided to try cold-brewing coffee at home. I was pleasantly surprised to learn it was an easy task and worked perfectly! Here’s how simple it is:

  1. Scoop 4-5 tablespoons of ground coffee into the bottom of your French Press, then fill the remainder up with water.
  2. Set French Press in fridge for 12-24 hours, the longer it sets, the richer & bolder the coffee flavor becomes.

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That’s it! That’s all you have to do to brew some delicious cold brew at home for those days you can’t stomach the idea of a hot cup o’joe.

I finished off my cold brew with half of a teaspoon of vanilla extract, 1/4 cup half&half, and poured it all over ice. It stayed cool and non-watery all morning and was a great refreshing way to start the day, and kick Monday’s butt!

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Have you tried cold-brewing coffee? What’s your favorite way to enjoy coffee in the morning?

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Roasted Beans & Vanilla Cream,

B

 

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Quick & Simple Birthday Cake Decorating.

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When I make someone a cake, for any occasion, I want to make sure it looks amazing. I know I’m not a professional baker, but I take pride in my food presentation. To celebrate my little sister’s 19th birthday this week, she only had one request: vanilla cake with vanilla icing. I wanted to make her something with a little more dazzle, so I decided jazz up the boring vanilla cake with some gorgeous and easy decorating skills.

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To start I just prepared 2 boxes of French Vanilla Cake mix in 4 8in’ circle pans according to the instructions on the box. After allowing the layers to cool in the refrigerator for 15-20 min, I laid down a thin coat of icing in between each layer and stacked the cakes, then I added a thin coat of frosting over the entire 4 layer cake. After the cake was frosted I set it in the freezer for 20 minutes to allow the cake & icing to harden in it’s stacked position.

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To prepare the sprinkles, I poured them out and spread them along evenly on a large baking sheet. Then, I took the cake out of the freezer, and rolled each side of it on the sprinkle coated baking sheet until all the sides were 100% covered in gorgeous rainbow sprinkles!

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Finally I set it on top of a lovely cake plate, and using a plastic sandwich bag filled with vanilla icing, I piped little circles along the top and bottom edges. I topped it all off with these adorable pom-poms I found at Target and that was it!

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This cake tasted amazing, only took about 1.5 hrs in total time out of my day, and best of all my little sister LOVED it! This is a great way to add something a little special to your next family gathering or celebration!

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Rainbow Sprinkles,

B

 

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Polished Produce Shopping

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I did a post last month on Parksdale and their amazing Strawberry Shortcake. Aside from their delicious treats, they also offer a huge variety of fresh, locally grown produce at astronomically affordable rates. Cash and I try to hit up the produce stand once a week to stock up on juicing and grocery staples. I love that I can get bags upon bags of fresh fruits and veggies for pennies on the dollar, and also adore that Cash likes to help pick out the items he’ll be enjoying for the week. This week he fell in love with bananas and we were able to get one for each day of the week for less than a dollar!

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As a stylist, it’s important to me to look polished and put together even when running the most mundane errands because you never know who you could run into. You don’t always have to wear something super fancy to look great, throwing on a tee shirt and pair of shorts is completely fine, just make sure you complete the look with some outerwear & great accessories to elevate the look.

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I paired these Old Navy Drawstring Shorts with a cute and easy blush tank from Express. Since I’m not crazy about my flabby arms I added this great Vintage 1969 Denim jacket from Gap, and a great statement necklace from my last Rocksbox. This was such a comfortable outfit for me, being that I’m now 30 weeks pregnant, it allowed the movement I need to chase after a toddler, while still looking great!

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Olive & Blush are great colors together, and a wonderful way to incorporate your old fall colors into your spring wardrobe. What spring color combos are you loving right now!?

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Cucumber & Melon,

B

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Doughnut worry, they’re Mini – Mini Doughnut Factory Tampa

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Doughnuts are one of my favorite treats. They remind me of when I was growing up, Mom would always get chocolate milk and a box of Entenmann’s chocolate covered yellow cake doughnuts for breakfast on the weekends and I really enjoyed sharing those moments in the morning with her. I want my kids to have those special memories they can reminisce upon when they’re older with food as well, and being 7 months pregnant any excuse for something sweet strikes my fancy these days. So, after noticing my blogger friend Jenn of This Jenn Girl go ON and ON about one local doughnut shop in particular, I had to check them out for myself.

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The Mini Doughnut Factory has been one of the best recommendations I have ever tried, after having 3 in the store, and taking 6 home with me the first time, I could definitely understand exactly why Jenn was raving so fanatically about this place. The extensive menu options they have to offer in the doughnut&coffee area is phenomenal, from Fruity Pebbles to my personal fav the Sweet Pig (maple+bacon heaven) any and all palettes are sure to be satisfied here.

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The doughnuts are also the perfect size for someone who wants to try a little bit of everything as well! Because they aren’t super huge or overly filling I can enjoy about 4 different flavors without putting myself into a sugar coma, so you won’t end up regretting them later on in the day! While you’re there you also MUST try the cold brewed coffee, paired with 3-6 mini’s the cold brewed coffee on ice with half and half is a very well balanced breakfast if I do say so myself.

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While it’s almost impossible to pick favorites with all the delicious options available, my top picks to try here are: The Sweet Pig (maple+bacon), Rice Krispies, and the Campfire (graham cracker+chocolate+marshmallow). If you plan on ordering some and eating them there, go ahead and also prepare yourself to buy some to take home with you too. You can’t have too many mini-doughnuts!

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Mini Doughnut Factory is located off Dale Mabry & Bay to Bay in Tampa, FL. You can find their hours of operation and address here.

Local Eats & Sweet Treats,

B

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Lucky Leprechaun Bars

Saint Patrick’s Day is such a fun color-themed holiday. While you definitely cannot forget to wear your green, I also wanted to try eating something green for breakfast (aside from Green Eggs&Ham).

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These bars were super simple to make, total prep to munch down time is 15 minutes! Here’s how I made them.

Ingredients

6 cups Lucky Charms (or similar) cereal

1 10oz package marshmallows

3 drops green food coloring

2 tsp vanilla extract

4 tbsp butter

  1. In large bowl, melt marshmallows, butter and extract together. Heat for 30 seconds, stir, repeat until melted.
  2. Mix in green food coloring (optional)
  3. Cup by cup stir cereal into marshmallow mixture
  4. Pour and even out into heavily greased baking sheet

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I tossed my pan in the freezer for 10 minutes to let it set extra well. I then cut my bars out with an extra-greased pizza cutter, and our family gobbled them up quickly!

These are a great way to give your breakfast that extra oomph for this magical holiday!

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Hearts, Stars, Horseshoes,

B

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Farm to Table Shortcake Recipe.

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As the we come to the end of Strawberry Festival week I’ve tasted the best shortcake, and also picked over 3 lbs of fresh strawberries at a local farm. Now I’ve got to figure out different ways to utilize the berries in the tastiest ways possible, and one of the best ways I know is making shortcake for the family from scratch. Sure mine won’t QUITE as good as the one at Parksdale  but it’s worth a shot!

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For the shortcake I used a simple recipe that was light, yet still held a good biscuit-y texture for the dish.

Ingredients

1 large egg

1 tbsp vanilla extract

2 tsp baking powder

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 cup butter (softened)

2/3 cup sugar

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

 

  1. In a small bowl cream butter and sugar, then add egg and vanilla extract
  2. In a medium sized mixing bowl combine your flour, baking powder and salt, then add wet mixture.
  3. Slowly work in heavy cream til consistency is perfect.
  4. Bake at 350 for 30-45 min until top is light golden brown

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I also for the first time EVER made my whipped cream from scratch just using heavy cream! I didn’t trust that it was going to form well at first, but after about 6 minutes with the mixer the consistency magically starts changing! It was an incredible accomplishment!

Whipped Cream

 2 cups heavy whipping cream

4 tbsp sugar

2 tsp vanilla extract

  1. Combine all ingredients, beat with mixer for 7-9 minutes.

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Sugared Strawberries

2 cups quartered fresh strawberries

4 tbsp sugar

  1. Throughly mix sugar into strawberries, then let set in fridge for 20-30 minutes.

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Final Step: Assemble your shortcake, my preference is the cake, strawberries then whipped cream method, so that all the sugary strawberry juice gets absorbed by the cake! This shortcake was so delicious! I’ve been eating the leftovers for about 3 days now, I’m so in love! This also makes a fun breakfast alternative if you have picky eaters that don’t like fruit for breakfast!

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Finger Lickin’ Good,

B

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Berry Pickin’ Good!

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I know my way around a Strawberry plant. Ever since I was little I’ve picked strawberries, my great-grandfather was a strawberry and citrus farmer growing up so we never had a shortage of some type of fresh Florida fruit!

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Until I can get my own garden growing as good as my grandmother does, I want to at least maintain a sense of ethical farming practices and show my children the wonder of nature. Showing them where our food comes from, teaching them how it’s grown and harvested, and sharing with them a lifetime of memories surrounded by delicious food like I had as a child is really important to me.

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Along with shortcake season at Parksdale, certain farms in the Plant City area offer “U-Pick Season”, where for next to nothing, you can go onto their farms and harvest your own berries. This is such a great way to connect with your family and get a taste of down home farm-to-table life!

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We purchased a cardboard flat for $1, and the farm owners allowed us to pick by the quart for .50! In total we paid $5.00 for the enormous amount of berries we picked, and burned some calories we can use to splurge on chocolate covered strawberries tonight!

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Cash had a blast! He ran up and down the rows of strawberries, stopping and pointing at them, and nibbling on freshly picked berries. He is in love with strawberries and was so proud to be “helping” as he carried the quart we were filling with berries I was picking. It was a wonderful memory, and I can’t wait to go back next year with a second little boy to create memories with too!

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Spivey Farms in Plant City is continuing it’s U-pick season through April. Check their website for details and daily hours of operation.

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(OOTD Details: Black & White Striped Pocket Tee J.Crew Factory $22.50; Light Wash Denim Shorts Target $15; Floral Statement Necklace Target $16.99; Black Espadrille Flats Target $27.99; Cable Open Sweater Target $39.99)

Plants & Plant City,

B

 

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