Friday, February 25, 2011

I’d Love It If You’d…


For the past 3 years this little blog has grown quite a bit, along with my experience/skills in the kitchen and food world in general. I love to share recipes, healthy living tips, and lifestyle/travel tips. I hope all my followers enjoy reading posts as much as I enjoy writing them. If you do, now’s your time to make light of it!

Women’s Health Magazine is currently looking for submissions for your favorite fitness, health, weight loss, and lifestyle blogs on the web.

Women's Health Blogs We Love

Nominate A Pinch of This, and a Dash of That HERE!

Happy Friday!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Making My Way to Nine-a-Day


Does anyone remember these guys? I used to watch Veggietales all the time when I was younger! And what does Veggietales have to do with today’s post? Well, nothing really, except for the fact that I think they’re cute and I thought it was a good way to kick off a post pertaining to all thing vegetables. Just bear with me! :-)


So lately I’ve found some time to finally catch up on my magazine reading. I was developing quite the pile since the start of the new year. So many subscriptions, so little time. Anyway, I started noticing a trend in all of the New Year’s Resolution articles—most people want to get more vegetables into their daily diet. Now as far as my diet goes, I never go a day without vegetables, but the latest recommendation from the new dietary guidelines released by the departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services recommends nine servings translate to about 2 cups of fruit and 2 1/2 cups of vegetables every day. A lot of days I can say that I hit the 2 1/2 c mark, but realistically, when my life gets busy, my vegetable consumption takes a nosedive, and lately my life has been busier than ever..I’m sure you get where I’m going with this—I needed to find some sneaky ways to add more veggies back into my life!

1) Pick restaurants that offer all you can eat veggies

This past weekend I went to my all-time favorite restaurant, the Golden Corral. I wish Minnesota would get one, but instead I drive to North Dakota, about an hour away to get my “Corral fix” haha.


They have the best veggie selection ever, and they are all delicious. It’s a perfect way for me to pile on the veggies like so:

Steamed cabbage, baked potato, steamed carrots and broccoli, sautéed onions and mushrooms, and steak.

2) Always start your meal with a salad.


So maybe you can’t always go to an all-you-can-eat buffet. In that case, you always have salads to back you up. I am a huge fan of salads, but as we all know, they can turn into a diet disaster—just stick with veggies, no cheese or croutons, and a light or fat-free dressing. Some places really skimp on side salads, but I am always happy with Applebee’s generous side salads!

 3) Or better yet, make your salad the main meal.

I don’t know about you, but just the word “salad” doesn’t sound filling enough to be a meal, but trust me, one you load up on all the good stuff, it can be the perfect meal to satisfy your appetite and a tasty way to get even more veggies!! My favorite salad that I eat as a meal is Subway’s Sweet Onion Chicken Teriyaki salad with Sweet Onion Dressing (is anyone else is love with this dressing?) And even better, you can make any sub into a salad—so you have lots of options!


4) Soups on

Soup has always been one of my favorite ways to get in lots of veggies, especially with the cold wintery days of late. I’ll usually whip up one of my favorites ( a good one for lots of veggies is my Very Veggie Soup) or if I am out to eat, I love Olive Garden’s minestrone soup!


I also recently tried this soup for the first time..


Dr. McDougall’s Minestrone

Loaded with chunks of fresh-tasting veggies.


5) If your favorite produce isn’t in season, use frozen or canned (low-sodium preferably)


I especially love having lots of canned veggies now ever since I got my soup can organizer from Progresso Soup—love it!

6) And the last way I like sneaking in extra veggies to my diet? Baked good of course!!

My veggie loaded cupcakes

Zucchini Nut Cupcakes
Moist Zucchini Cake Studded with Orange Zest
Topped with a Brown Sugar Frosting
Garnished with a Pecan
Carrot Cake Cupcakes
Moist Carrot Cake
Topped with a Cream Cheese Frosting
Garnished with Walnuts and Coconut

Now for a new & delicious veggie loaded cookie recipe—Bonus: it’s semi-homemade!


White Chocolate Dipped Carrot Cake Cookies


  • 1 box carrot cake mix
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 oil
  • 1 bag white chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 c sliced almonds, if desired


  • Preheat oven to 350 F.
  • Mix cake mix, eggs, and oil until thoroughly combined—add it grated carrots.
  • Place in preheated oven on a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet and bake 7-11 or until edges start to brown.
  • Remove from oven and let cool on cooling racks for 30 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, melt the white chocolate chips over a double broiler, stirring until a dipping consistency is achieved.
  • Dip half of a cookie in the white chocolate, and immediately dip in the sliced almonds.
  • Place on parchment paper to harden

How do you reach the daily serving of vegetables, or are you still working on it?

--Thank you for the votes on my POM Pink Velvet Cupcake—keep voting here!!--

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Dessert First

FIRST: Could you please head over to this website ( and vote for my Pink Velvet POM Cupcake & I would love if you’d spread the word via your blog, Facebook, etc!


I wish I could send you all cupcakes at this point! I so appreciated and enjoyed reading through all of your thoughtful comments and I am equally excited that all of you will be following along! :-) And speaking of cupcakes, here are two new flavor additions to the menu.

Another cupcake to be added to the Candy Bar line…

Reeses Peanut Butter Cupcakes
Chocolicious Peanut Butter Swirl Cake
Topped with 1 Layer of Whipped Chocolate Frosting
& 1 Layer of Whipped Peanut Butter Frosting
Garnished with a Mini Peanut Butter Cup


And another addition to the Girl Scout Cookie  line…

Samoas Cupcake
Coconut Graham Cracker Bottom below our Chocolicious Cake
Topped with a Whipped Coconut Frosting
Garnished with a drizzle of both Caramel and Chocolate and finished with half a Samoa Cookie

So hopefully today you brought your sweet tooth, because it’s a recap on my cooking class (if you missed recaps of my other classes, see them here and here) that I taught this past Friday called Dessert First. The description in the community catalog stated:

“Dessert first might not always be appropriate, but in this class it's required. Learn to make semi-homemade desserts that look like they've taken hours to prepare.  Cheesecake, trifles, and more.  This class is guaranteed to be sweet!”

I look forward to my classes more and more each month because each time the attendance gets bigger and bigger. I am already starting to plan next fall’s class line-up!

So like the description stated, this class was all about the sweet stuff. I tried my best to pick out recipes that I thought would be new to people and please a variety of taste palates. After all my researching, it was a success—no one had tried the recipes before, and everyone loved them once they did! So take a few minutes and attend my “virtual” Dessert First class!

--Class Intros--

--Giving away prizes; a free 1/2 dozen of my Cupcakes

--Explaining the first recipe, Peanut Butter Cup Trifle--

--Assembling in progress--

--The finished dessert--

Peanut Butter Cup Trifle


·         9x13 pan of brownies, cut into 1 inch pieces

·         5.1 oz instant vanilla pudding

·         3 cups milk

·         ½ cup creamy peanut butter

·         2 tsp vanilla

·         8 oz container thawed whipped topping, divided

·         14 peanut butter cups, crumbled (Not the minis)

·         10 mini peanut butter cups to garnish (cut in half)


·         Combine pudding and milk. Beat for 2 minutes.

·         Add peanut butter and vanilla, beat until smooth. Gently fold in 2 cups whipped topping.

·         In a trifle dish, layer ½ the brownies, ½ the crumbled peanut butter cups, ½ the pudding mixture. Repeat.

·          Top with cool whip and peanut butter cups.

·         Chill until serving.

                                           Serves: 12-15 (Varies)

--Explaining the versatility of  phyllo tarts--



Warm Mini Apple Pies


·         1 peeled, cored and finely chopped Granny Smith apple

·         1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts

·         2 tablespoons raisins

·         1/4 cup brown sugar

·         3 tablespoons butter

·         1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

·         15 Mini Phyllo Shells (1 box)

·         1/4 cup thawed whipped topping, for garnish



·         In a medium skillet, sauté apples, walnuts, raisins, brown sugar and butter over low heat until apples are tender, stirring frequently.

·         Remove from heat and stir in cinnamon.

·         Cool slightly and spoon 1 tablespoon of apple mixture into each phyllo Shell. Garnish with whipped topping. Serve immediately.


--Prepping the next dessert--


--Cherry Cheesecake Cookie Cups--


Cherry Cheesecake Cookie Cups


·         1 pkg. (16.5 oz.) Refrigerated Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough

·         2 pkgs. (8 oz. each) cream cheese, room temperature

·         1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk

·         2 large eggs

·         2 teaspoons vanilla extract

·         1 can (21 oz.) cherry pie filling


·         Preheat oven to 325° F. Paper-line 24 muffin cups. Place one piece of cookie dough in each muffin cup.

·         Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until cookie has spread to edge of cup.

·         Beat cream cheese, sweetened condensed milk, eggs and vanilla extract in medium bowl until smooth. Pour about 3 tablespoons cream cheese mixture over each cookie in cup.

·         Bake for additional 15 to 18 minutes or until set. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Top each with level tablespoon of pie filling. Refrigerate for 1 hour.

--Saving the best dessert for last!--


--Mini Molten Chocolate Cakes with a scoop of vanilla ice cream--


Mini Molten Chocolate Cake


·         4 squares BAKER'S Semi-Sweet Chocolate

·         1/2 cup  butter

·         1 cup powdered sugar

·         2 whole  eggs

·         2 egg yolks

·         6 Tbsp.  flour

·         Ice cream for serving, if desired



·         Heat oven to 425°F.

·         Butter 4 small custard cups; place on baking sheet.

·         Microwave chocolate and butter in large microwaveable bowl on HIGH 1 min. or until butter is melted; whisk until chocolate is completely melted. Stir in sugar.

·          Add whole eggs and egg yolks; mix well. Stir in flour. Spoon into prepared cups.

·         Bake 13 to 14 min. or until sides of desserts are firm but centers are still soft. Let stand 1 min. then carefully run small spatula or knife around cakes to loosen; invert into dessert plates. Serve warm with a scoop of ice cream.

What dessert would you want to try first?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

A Sweet Surprise

I rarely refrain from posting anything food related in my life on my blog, but today’s sweet surprise has been 4 months in the making and I haven’t squealed even just a little—if you follow on Facebook, you may already know. It’s been hard not to tell everyone, especially because my readers are my biggest fan, but in all actuality, this sweet surprise has been consuming so much of my time that it’s taken away from blogging a bit, which is why I only get to posting about once a week now vs. 3 times a week in previous months. I know you are all such a great community & your “virtual” support/suggestions will be extremely appreciated!


I would like to introduce you to my new adventure…..


In a nutshell—I’ve been holed up in my kitchen for the past four months learning all the necessary cupcake skills. I’ve mixed, I’ve tasted, I’ve developed, and, oh my have I eaten. But during this time I developed such a passion for these tiny sweet treats. Seeing how happy they make people when I would deliver a batch “just because”, made me think that I could do it everyday with the bonus of making some extra money as well. So I started word-of-mouth advertising, which works great. It was keeping me busy with anywhere from 2-3 orders a week ranging from 1 dozen to 100 cupcakes for all types of occasions. To see my cupcakes be a part of someone’s event, and make it a tad bit sweeter was all the further push I needed to take the next step!


You guessed it, a cupcake shop. I’ve been working with different departments of Minnesota including the Small Business Development Center, financial advisors, and realtor agencies. To say it’s as easy as pie a cupcake would be a lie, and I’ve just begun to scratch the surface. Plans, papers, and figuring are definitely not my niche. It will be much more exciting to bake, decorate, and see my dream become a reality.


The competition in my city for cupcakes is nonexistent. Plus my city is a premier vacation location during all seasons, so as we find more and more on industry statistics, the probability of this business being huge is a realistic possibility.


I am planning on sharing this journey cupcake by cupcake and dedicating one post per week to the birth of this future business.  Currently we are at the step of finding a place that’s suitable for what I am looking for. I am anticipating this process to take 2-3 weeks, so in the meanwhile regular blogging will continue and new cupcake menu additions will be added. I am also going to set up a special tab on the side bar of my blog so you can check out all things cupcake whenever you’d like!

I’d love for you to check out my temporary webpage here:

Technically I can’t “launch” the site as its’ own domain until the business is completely certified.


“Love doesn’t make the world go round

—cupcakes do!” –Cupcake Wars

What is your reaction to my surprise?

Will you be interested in following as I embark upon this new journey?