Good morning friends!

It's warm and sunny in Florida. Yes, spring is here. Sure, it's not literally here yet - not until the end of March. But, the weather sure has it feeling that way and I'm not sure if we'll get another cold burst. To those of you reading this up north, that may sound delightful. But really, I'm disappointed. All it means is we're now moving into the death heat of Florida's seemingly endless summer which, when you've lived here as long as I have, really isn't all that pleasant. I'm already missing the mild winter weather.

There are some benefits to moving into this time of year, though. It has me feeling like springtime. And it's strawberry season. I love strawberries. I always try to make the best use of them during strawberry season. There are so many amazing things you can make with fresh strawberries. Such a bright, vibrant and refreshing fruit.

To digress a little, I've had some bottles of wine sitting in my fridge I've needed to use up. Sounds like an easy problem to have, right? Usually, I would agree with you. But, after hosting a girls' night last week and ending up with 5 open bottles of wine that are three-quarters of the way full, I'm in a position where they'll go bad before I get to them.  So, we've been cooking with wine a bit over the past week. My boyfriend made steak with a white wine cream mushroom sauce and I swear that sauce was one of the best things I've ever put in my mouth. Even so, we still have some wine left.

So, since it's strawberry season and since I happened to have aforementioned wine on-hand I decided to whip up a recipe for Strawberry Wine Cupcakes. Because, when you have ingredients around and you're in the mood to bake (as I often am), why not?

These cupcakes are loaded with fresh strawberries and have a nice kick from the Pinot Grigio in both the cupcake and icing. I toyed with the idea of doing a buttercream icing for these. But, at the end of the day, I decided to go with a whipped cream cheese icing. Because my cream cheese icing base is one of my favorites and it goes so well with everything. Since it's a mixture of whipped cream and cream cheese, it's not as heavy as a lot of other cream cheese icings you might find so it's light enough to go great with these cupcakes.

These are a great dessert for spring or summer. Double the recipe to make more for a crowd and bring to a party. I may make them again soon for Easter.

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~ Ingredients ~

(Makes 12)

Strawberry Wine Cupcakes

1 ½ c. all-purpose flour
1 c. sugar
2 eggs
½ c. unsalted butter, softened
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
½ c. dry white wine (I used Pinot Grigio)
6 fresh strawberries, chopped

White Wine Cream Cheese Icing

4 oz. cream cheese brought to room temperature
½ c. heavy whipping cream
½ c. confectioners sugar
½ tsp. vanilla extract
3 Tbsp. dry white wine (I used Pinot Grigio)

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~ Directions ~

Preheat oven to 350°.

In a medium-sized bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt.

Pro tip: If you don't have a sifter, you can get the same effect by whisking the flour mixture together.

In a separate larger bowl, beat together sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, vanilla extract and wine. Slowly add dry ingredients and beat until combined. Finally, fold in the chopped strawberries.

Line a cupcake pan with 12 cupcake liners. Divide batter evenly among the cupcake liners. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before frosting.

While the cupcakes are baking, make the icing. In one bowl whip together the cream cheese, vanilla extract, and wine. In a separate bowl whip the heavy whipping cream and sugar until soft peaks form (about 3 minutes). Add the cream cheese mixture to the whipped cream mixture and whip together until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to use. Pipe over cupcakes once they are completely cooled.