Cut Out Cookies

When it was time for my Brother's Graduation party, I knew it was the perfect chance to try my hand at decorating cut out cookies. The cookies came out better than I could have hoped, and I had a ton of fun experimenting with the tie-dye. Since the party, I've had a few requests to make cookies for other occasions and I decided to make some for my coach after she had her first baby girl. 

The cookies I use are lightly almond flavored and delicious. They were practically attacked at the Grad party. I almost felt bad for the cake. You can find the recipe I use here  and a tutorial of how to frost cut outs here. 

To tie-dye, you simply have to pipe a border like a normal cookie, drop different colors into various places around the cookie, and drag a tooth pick from color to color, making designs as you wish. For example, if you filled a cookie with white and dropped a few blue drops in a row on top of the white, you can drag a toothpick in a straight line across the drops to make heart shapes. Be creative!



Chocolate Mug Cake

Beware of this recipe. It's so easy, it's hard to find an excuse not to make it. Not to mention the fact that is is super healthy, with no flour, fat or sugar. This cake is quick, easy, delicious, and a life savior for all my fellow health nuts. It takes me longer to eat this baby than to make it, and I enjoy every second of it.

Chocolate Mug Cake


2 tablespoons cocoa (dark or regular)

3 tablespoons egg beaters

1 tablespoon pumpkin puree (you can also use applesauce) 

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 tablespoon milk

2-3 tablespoons sweetener (truvia, splenda, stevia, ect.)

any add-ins- I like to use PB2 (or peanutbutter) or a few drops of peppermint extract

spray of fat free whipped cream


Mix in a mug (or a bowl) and microwave on high for 1 minute. If you like a less-molten cake, go for a minute and a half. Add whipped cream to your hearts desire. 

The only Carrot Cake

People. Listen. If you are in search of a dessert to serve at a party, give as a gift, or just eat, your search is over. You are looking at the best carrot cake ever made. I have converted sworn carrot cake haters with this cake, I have made grown men cry, I have.....well you get the point. It's amazing. People request this cake constantly and I've made it more times than I can count. A word of caution...it is capable of feeding about thirty and lasts my family about a week. Which is unheard of in this house. Also, the leftovers always taste better than the first cake, so if your bringing this somewhere, make it a day ahead so the flavors can meld in the fridge overnight.

Carrot Cake


3 cups all-purpose flour
3 cups sugar
1 tbsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. ground nutmeg
4 large eggs
2 tbsp. vanilla extract
1½ cups canola or vegetable oil
½ cup cream of coconut (I have used coconut milk if you cannot find this)
1½ cups peeled, shredded carrots
1½ cups shredded pineapple 
1½ cups sweetened flaked coconut
1 cup macadamia nuts, coarsely chopped and lightly toasted(I use walnuts)

For the frosting:
4 (8 oz.) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
5½ tbsp. heavy cream
5½ tbsp. cream of coconut
¾ tsp. salt

To make the cake, preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Line three 9-inch cake pans with parchment paper and spray the sides.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg and mix. In another mixing bowl, combine the eggs, vanilla, oil, and cream of coconut. Whisk well to combine. Add the wet ingredients to the bowl with the dry ingredients and stir just until incorporated. Add in the shredded carrots, shredded pineapple (no need to drain), flaked coconut and macadamia nuts (or walnuts) . Fold in gently with a spatula until evenly incorporated.

Divide the batter evenly between the prepared cake pans. Bake for 30-35 minutes. The cakes are finished baking when golden brown on top and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Don't worry if the edges are hard, the frosting softens them up quite a bit. Cool the cakes 5-10 minutes in the pans, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the frosting, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment beat the cream cheese on medium-high speed until smooth. Add in the powdered sugar and mix until incorporated. Beat 1 minute more, until smooth and fluffy. Mix in the heavy cream, cream of coconut and salt until smooth. Make sure you do not over beat this frosting. The consistency changes and becomes hard to frost. Also, this makes ALOT of frosting. If you are not piping decorations, you will have some leftover. 

To assemble the cake, place one cake layer on a cake stand or platter. Spread a layer of cream cheese frosting over the top (don't skimp!). Top with another cake layer, and more frosting on top of that. Place the final cake layer on top. (At this point, I always stick four to five cut up chopsticks in the cake to keep it stable.) Use the remaining frosting to cover the top and sides of the assembled cake, reserving up to 1 cup for detailing if desired.

adapted from annie's eats 


Best Popcorn

When I'm searching for a snack I always end up at the same place: my popcorn maker. Quite frankly I'm in love. I try not to think about the day when I go to college and have to leave my precious baby behind. I probably make popcorn a least three times a week and I haven't used the microwave in a few years, thanks to my popper. This popcorn is delicious, addicting, and best of all extremely nutritious. It's full of fiber, iron, vitamins, calcium and even protein. It's filling and very low in calories, making it my go to snack. People beg for this popcorn once they taste it and once you make it, you'll know why.


1/4 Cup popcorn kernels

Popcorn seasonings- Act II buttery popcorn salt, Kernel Seasons popcorn seasoning


Make popcorn in popper using a few drops of oil (that's all you need). If you don't have a popper, put popcorn in a pot on the stove top with a few drops of oil. Cover with a lid and stir until popcorn begins popping. When the popping stops, remove from pot. Season first with a small (it's potent) amount of Act II buttery popcorn salt. Mix. Spray popcorn with cooking spray and coat with your choice of Kernal Seasons seasoning (my favorite is White Cheddar). Toss popcorn, spray, and add more Kernal Seasons. 


Use Kernal Seasons Nacho Cheese or Garlic Parmesan 

Sprinkle with Truvia, Cinnamon, and sugar free maple syrup for a sweet treat


Creamy Pumpkin Pie

Around the holidays, when I get a craving, it's for one thing; pumpkin pie. I have two options. 1: ignore craving and dream of pumpkins. 2: make a healthy pumpkin pie that I can eat as much as I want. I think I'll go with two. After making a few decent pies that I enjoyed (can't say the same for my family) I finally got this one right. The filling is light, creamy, and just as good as regular pie. While nothing beats a flaky, buttery pie crust, this one is a nice, healthy substitute that goes well with the filling. Next time you're making a pumpkin pie, try this one. My family liked it(crazy, I know) and yours will too. 

Creamy Pumpkin Pie                                                                                                                             


3/4 cup pecans
3/4 cup oats (ground in food processor)
3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch salt
1/4 cup canola oil (or less)
3 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons skim milk

1 15 oz.can  pumpkin
2/3 cup Truvia, Stevia, or Splenda
1 tablespoon cornstarch
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves                                                                                                                    1/2 teaspoon nutmeg 
1 egg yolk
1 cup unsweetened plain almond milk
2 egg whites

Preheat oven to 375.

Combine the pecans, flours, cinnamon and salt in a food processor and process until ground. In a medium bowl, whisk the oil and maple syrup. Add the skim milk. Add the dry ingredients and mix until combined. Press into a 9-inch pie pan, making sure the crust is of uniform thickness. mold the edges as you please and bake for 10 minutes. Cool.

Combine the filling ingredients, except egg whites, in a bowl and whisk until smooth. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Gently fold the whites (don't stir) into the filling mixture, until the egg whites are fully incorporated. Pour the filling into the crust. Bake about 45 minutes, until the center is  set. Cool well before serving. Top with a dollop of light whipped cream.

(adapted from www.whatwouldcathyeat.com)

Icy Mocha Frappe

When I'm searching for a really light treat, I always make this Frappe. It's a blended, icy coffee drink that's really satisfying despite it's lack of fat and sugar. You can add anything you want to the basic recipe, such as raspberries, bananas, peanut butter, caramel, vanilla, or peppermint extract. 

Icy Mocha Frappe 


1 cup ice

3/4- 1 cup cold coffee

splash skim milk (substitute any kind)

few squirts of sugar free chocolate syrup

1 T (or to taste) Truvia, Stevia, or Splenda


Throw all the ingredients into a blender and blend. If your feeling naughty top with a squeeze of light whipped cream.

Portobello Red Pepper Panini

Every summer, when red peppers are in season, my mom and I buy large amounts (I'm talking five to ten bushels), spend way too long cleaning them, and freeze them for later months. When everyone else is paying ridiculous prices for peppers at the store, we simply grab a bag out of the freezer and roast them (heh heh). If any make it past the first five minutes they are out of the oven, they get added various recipes, such as this panini. It's one of my favorites, being quick, healthy, and incredibly tasty. 

Portobello Red Pepper Panini


2 slices of bread (I use Arnold Select Sandwich Thins)                                                      


Roasted Red Peppers*

Light Swiss Cheese

Onions (I like to sauté mine first)

Portobello Mushroom


To make roasted red peppers and mushrooom, slice peppers and coat lightly with olive oil. Season with salt, pepper, and granulated garlic to taste. Season the portobello in the same way and roast both in the oven at 400 degrees for about 20-30 minutes, or until beginning to blacken. 

Heat a mini grill or panini press while assembling the sandwich. Spray the outside of the bread with cooking spray or lightly brush with olive oil. To assemble sandwich, spread a layer of pesto and cover with sautéed onions. Place the portobello mushroom on top, followed by a generous helping of roasted red peppers. Top with a slice of light swiss cheese(or your favorite kind) and add the other slice of bread. Cook until the outside is golden brown and crispy.

*if you do not have red peppers, substitute tomatoes 

Also, if you don't have a portobello, you can use turkey or chicken (like in the photo:p)


Peanut Butter Blossoms

When Christmas time comes around, I know I will soon be spending my Sunday's baking from 8 AM to 8 PM in order to have any chance at finishing the vast amounts of Christmas cookies necessary to feed my ravaging family and friends. While we experiment with new cookies every year, we never leave these out. Ever. And they always seem to be the first ones gone from the cookie tray.

Peanut Butter Blossoms


48 Hershey's Kisses                                                                                                                                   1/2 cup shortening 
3/4 cup Peanut Butter 
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar  
1 egg
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
Granulated sugar


Heat oven to 375°F. Remove wrappers from chocolates.

Beat shortening and peanut butter in large bowl until well blended. Add 1/3 cup granulated sugar and brown sugar; beat until fluffy. Add egg, milk and vanilla; beat well. Stir together flour, baking soda and salt; gradually beat into peanut butter mixture. 

Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Roll in granulated sugar; place on ungreased cookie sheet. 

Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Wait exactly one minute and press a chocolate into center of each cookie; cookie will crack around edges. (If you add the chocolate too early the kiss will melt but don't wait too long because the cookie will crack too much.) Remove cookies from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely (or if you can't wait eat a few piping hot). It makes about 4 dozen cookies.