January 24th, 2012
My favorite thing ever is having a child whose birthday is on January 5th. There’s nothing more wonderful than making it through the holidays—Hanukkah and Christmas—recovering from New Year’s Eve (hey, even staying up ’til midnight stone cold sober requires recovery these days) and realizing that you’ve got to throw
a party two parties in three days for one very excited kid who happens to expect better than what his stinky little brother got way back in early October when I had all that it’s-a-new-season energy. Nothing. Well, except for these Banana Fluffernutter Cupcakes.
Really. It’s awesome.
Okay, I’m lying. It’s not really awesome at all. The whole birthday on Jan 5 thing sucks. But the cupcakes—well, they are, in fact, truly dazzling. So there’s that.
I mentioned last year, in my tale of cake pops and self kindness, that I recognized the need to figure out ways to be nice to myself while also giving my hungry boy a fun birthday. This year, I’ve taken a couple more steps in that direction. I’m slowly getting better at making sure that my gorgeous birthday boy doesn’t get the shit end of the stick (forgive me, but there’s truly no better way to put it) and also making sure that I don’t kill myself over it. I’ll have this all worked out by the time he’s 18!
For now, these are what got me through mission Early January Birthday, Year Five. My hope is that these little tricks—decisions, really—help you to make smart choices about your kiddo’s birthday so that you can stay SANE and enjoy the milestone.
* Fully plan the birthday party—out of the house, if possible—before the holidays (or for the rest of you, as early as possible). Get the invites ready, pick colors and a theme, get supplies, lock in a location and, of course, plan the menu as soon as you have the time. If it’s too early to send invites out, get an electronic save-the-date drafted and ready to go 3-4 weeks ahead of time.
This year, we went with a race car theme and partied hard at a slot car joint in Brooklyn. It was awesome. And I didn’t have to plan any activities. Love. That.
* Do not feel pressure to make all of the food from scratch just because you can. This a hard one for me, but I’m coming to own the fact that I just don’t want to cook for a huge group of people the first weekend in January. This year I settled on some sustainably raised dawgs (gotta love Brooklyn!), baked beans and potato salad. I even paid for a cake. That’s right folks. I went there and look how pretty—all pink and sparkly, as requested!
If your kiddo’s birthday is at a time when you can happily cook for guests, keep the guest list small (especially if parents are attending, too—you don’t need to be feeding 40 people) and the menu simple. This Easy Kids Party Menu is a fail-safe!
* Use all the time saved from not feeding 20 kids and their parents to make from-scratch cupcakes for kiddo’s class party. Take your time with them. Make them with love. And use marshmallow creme. Love and marshmallows: both key ingredients. (Just look at that marshmallow creme peeking out the tops!)
These decisions and the ridonkulous Banana Fluffernutter Cupcakes made this year a big success, leaving me enough time to focus on what really matters: enjoying the birthday boy in all his non-stop motion glory.
Happy birthday, Isaac. I love you to the moon and back. Forever and ever, your Hungry Mama. xox
Banana Fluffernutter Cupcakes
cupcake batter adapted from Martha Stewart
makes 12 cupcakes
(can be shared with kids 12+ mos)*
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups mashed bananas (about 4 ripe bananas)
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 ounces marshmallow creme, plus more if necessary
My one-step peanut butter frosting
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin pan with paper or silicone cupcake liners and set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
2. In a separate bowl, stir together bananas, butter, eggs and vanilla. Add wet ingredients to the dry and mix until well combined. Spoon batter into the lined muffin pan, filling each well about 3/4 of the way. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cupcake comes out clean. Remove cupcakes from oven and from the pan, allowing them to cool completely on a wire rack.
3. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a medium round tip (such as an Ateco decorating tip #12) with marshmallow creme. Once the cupcakes are completely cool, poke pastry tip into the center of each cupcake, about 1/2 way down, and squeeze marshmallow creme until you just see it surface. Be careful not to overfill, as the marshmallow will ooze out even more once you remove the tip.
4. Once all the cupcakes have been filled with marshmallow, ice with peanut butter frosting and top with sprinkles (or a banana chip!). Serve right away or store, preferably in a sealed container, in room temperature over night.
*Note: Due to the high sugar content (marshmallow creme, people!), I recommend holding off on these until kiddo is at least 12+ months old, maybe older. Though I do not believe that you have to necessarily hold off on tree nuts until children are older (here’s my take on introducing high allergen foods), keep in mind that the frosting is primarily peanut butter and should only be served to children already safely eating tree nuts.