The roads are dry. Since the groundhogs predicted spring is on the way, there hasn’t been a flake of snow in the air. And as a consequence,  the leathers have been broken out by a few of the hardier bikers out there already.  This weekend you just might see a whole slew more of them though, as the annual World of Motorcycles Expo revs into London, Ontario. The Agriplex at the Western Fair District will have motorcycle enthusiasts out in droves starting at 4pm on Friday, February 10th. Show hours are 4-10pm on Friday, 9am-6pm on Saturday and 10am-5pm on Sunday, with children under 12 getting in free and $15 for general admission. In light of the recent news regarding the Electro-Motive situation, Womex has decided to lend their support to the cause by their announcement that all EMD employees can get into the show for half-price($8)!

If you spend more time in your minivan then on your motorcycles, I have a suggestion of how you can change that, at least for 90 minutes on Saturdays.  A local woman by the name of Maria Calleja is the owner and driving force behind Budding Artists and she is at the London Farmer’s Market every Saturday putting on children’s art workshops featuring master artists. If you want to take in the chrome over at the Agriplex, but don’t want to worry about junior knocking over a bike stand, then drop them off for some art history, games, stories, an opportunity to create their own masterpiece, plus lots of fun, as they learn about Amedeo Modigliani. The workshops are 90 minutes and are held at both 10am and 1pm, for the low price of $20 (includes cost of materials).  Call her today to register for this workshop or any of the upcoming Master Series workshops. And as an added bonus, if you bring in any “heart” art that your children create, she will donate $3 to Project Love’s annual global literacy drive.

You know what stats say that people want most for Valentine’s Day though – Time. So if you would rather spend time with your loved ones this weekend letting them know how much you care about them, why not settle in for some fun activities at home. You can work on your “heart” art to ship to Budding Artists, play a few games or maybe even whip up a batch of Valentine’s inspired cupcakes! If that last idea sounds like a winner, than check out this yummy recipe I found!

RED VELVET CUPCAKES

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 cups (125 grams) sifted cake flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoons (10 grams) regular or Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup (57 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cups (150 grams) granulated white sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon liquid red food coloring
  • 1/2 teaspoon white distilled vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 8 ounces (227 grams) cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup (60 grams) confectioners’ (icing or powdered) sugar, sifted
  • 2/3 cup (160 ml) cold heavy whipping cream(double cream) (35-40% butterfat)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) and line 12 muffin tins with paper cupcake liners.

In a large bowl sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, and cocoa powder.

In the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the butter until soft (about 1-2 minutes). Add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy (about 2-3 minutes). Add the egg and beat until incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the vanilla extract and beat until combined.

In a measuring cup whisk the buttermilk with the red food coloring. With the mixer on low-speed, alternately add the flour mixture and buttermilk to the butter mixture, in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour.

In a small cup combine the vinegar and baking soda. Allow the mixture to fizz and then quickly fold into the cake batter.

Working quickly, divide the batter evenly among the 12 muffin cups and smooth the tops with an offset spatula or the back of a spoon. Bake in the preheated oven for approximately 18 – 23 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cupcakes comes out clean.

Cool the cakes in their pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes and them remove from pan. Let cool completely before frosting. Either spread the frosting with a knife or offset spatula, or use a large 1M Wilton open star decorating tip to pipe the frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting: In the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add the vanilla and confectioners sugar and beat until smooth. Using the whisk attachment, gradually add the heavy cream and whip until the frosting is thick enough to pipe. Add more sugar or cream as needed to get the right consistency.

**For those of you who might need a little more instruction (like ME) with this recipe, here is a handy how-to video from the good folks at the Joy of Baking (where I found this recipe) for your help.

Have a great weekend folks!

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