This weekend has been filled with lots of baking, shopping and eating... not as much homework, but it will get done eventually. Let's call it my own little way of celebrating Valentine's day.

Another favorite knife in the background!!!

D and I were watching Good Eats last night while our cinnamon bread was baking. The episode was about  parsnips, or more specifically hiding veggies in other foods to trick unsuspecting children. He used parsnips because they're sweet, mildly nutty and easy to disguise. He uses them in pear sauce, in muffins and to make chips.

At the beginning of the episode he mentions that beets would also be a good veggie to use, but their red color gave them away.

Since I'm not as worried about hiding my veggies, when I saw beets at the store, I decided to grab a couple and see what I could do with them.

After some pondering, I decided to try red velvet cupcakes, using beets as coloring. Not only in the spirit of V-Day, but this was a perfect opportunity to use our new blender! [The RA's bought a blender as a group for smoothie study breaks! I am currently the guardian.]

They're incredibly tender and light, with a fairly strong beet and chocolate flavor that I think is wonderful. They're not very red, but they are very delicious so it's ok. I've also given them a sour cream frosting with a hint of nutmeg.

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One-Bowl (Chocolate) Borscht Cupcakes
makes 24 large or 36 regular cupcakes

1.25c butter, very very soft
3c beet puree [see Notes]
2c sugar
1.5t salt
3 eggs
1.5t vanilla extract
1c milk (soy or regular) with 2T white or balsamic vinegar added [see Notes]
3.5c all-purpose flour
1c natural cocoa powder [see Notes]
2t baking soda
1 recipe of sour cream-nutmeg frosting (see below)

1. Whisk together the butter/oil and beet puree with a fork until you get a more or less homogenous mixture.
2. Whisk in the sugar, salt, eggs/flaxseed, vanilla and curdled milk.
3. Add the flour, cocoa powder and baking soda to the top of the mixture, and stir these ingredients together before stirring them into the batter.
4. Divide into lined or greased muffin tins and bake for 20-25 minutes at 350°F, rotating halfway through. They're done when the tops are slightly sticky and just begin to spring back when pushed down.
5. Cool, frost and enjoy.
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Sour Cream Nutmeg Frosting
messily frosts 24 large or 36 medium cupcakes

4T butter, softened almost to melting (or at warm room temperature)
1c sour cream
1-2c powdered sugar
0.5 medium nutmeg

1. In a medium bowl, fluff the butter with a fork until it's fairly smooth (or you'll have chunky frosting.. less appetizing)
2. Add the sour cream and mix with the fork until it seems fairly homogenous.
3. Add powdered sugar and mix until it's sweet enough for your tastes. (You don't want to overpower the beet/nutmeg flavor with sweetness.)
4. Grate half of a medium nutmeg into the frosting, stir to combine.
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- To make about 3c of beet puree, chop up two large beets (larger than a baseball, smaller than a softball) or about an equivalent volume. Add 1c of water to a blender along with all of the beets. Blend until you get a liquid. It's ok if there are some small chunks of beet, but anything bigger than than your pinky nail is probably too big.

- Balsamic vinegar will definitely flavor these muffins and subtly complement the flavor of the beets. Feel free to use white vinegar if you have picky eaters.
- Yes, that's a lot of cocoa powder. That's why they're delicious. They'd also be good with only a half cup, so if you're running low, no worries!
- The frosting is pretty messy, but when I used any less sour cream for the amount of butter, it tasted like butter, instead of sour cream. If you prefer a more traditional frosting/cupcake, go for equal parts butter and sour cream (although you'll probably need more frosting, so just up the butter to 1c).

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