Friday, May 31, 2013

High Five For Friday!


This week has been long and exhausting. It wasn't a 4 day week for me as I worked a long 12+ hour holiday shift on Monday so I am very excited that Friday is finally here!






1. I had to work on Memorial Day so I brought this cake in because if you have to work on a holiday you should at least get to eat cake while you're working! Get the recipe here. You'll love it, promise.

2. I rediscovered this gem of a picture when my little sister posted it on Facebook. She's not actually even in it because it was before she was born. As you can see, there's plenty of us. Including triplet brothers. Growing up was definitely interesting. But mainly, check out my older sister's awesome perm. 

3. Baby chickens! I was farm sitting over Memorial Day weekend and there were 14 adorable baby chickens. I'm heading out there again this weekend. Can't wait to see how big they've gotten! See more pictures from my weekend on the farm with Winnie here.

4. These were 2 of the 6 horses at the farm. 

5. It's been an exhausting week. When I come home from work Annabelle and I have been doing a lot of this lately. Can't say I hate it.

**Once again, linking up with Lauren this week.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

Healthy AND Easy?!?

So, if you knew me you would know that I love sweets and I hate exercise. My hatred of exercise is partially fueled by my inherent laziness. Oh, I don't like vegetables either. Or really anything that tastes remotely healthy (though I'm getting better with that... slowly).

I typically try to balance out my love for sweet and my distaste for exercise by simply baking Sunday nights and bringing whatever I've made into work on Mondays. That way I get to have some, but it also gets out of my house. Most of my coworkers have started eating healthy so when one of my coworkers texted me a recipe she found for some healthy chocolate chip oatmeal cookies I decided to give them a try. This recipe combines my love for eating sweets and being lazy (its super easy & delicious) with other people's desire to not eat pounds of butter & sugar all the time. It's a win/win really.

*Excuse the terrible photo, this was taken on my cell phone long before I started this blog!

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies:

-1 C peanut butter (recipe calls for creamy or chunky, I've only used creamy)
-2/3 C packed dark brown sugar
-1 1/2 tsp vanilla
-2 large eggs
-2/3 C rolled oats (I used gluten free)
-1tsp baking soda
-2/3 C chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F

Combine oats & baking soda in small bowl. Set aside. In larger bowl combine peanut butter, brown sugar, eggs & vanilla. Beat until smooth. Fold in dry ingredients. Add chocolate chips. Form dough into balls and place on cookie sheet - dough will be sticky, I just scooped some out with a spoon then flattened it a bit with a fork.

Bake 9-11 minutes or until edges start to turn golden brown. Cool on cookie sheet for 2 minutes, then remove and cool completely on wire cooling rack. Makes ~20 cookies depending on size. 

I'm not actually a fan of peanut butter cookies, but these were mild and tasty. I mean, if given a choice I'd probably choose a rich, buttery, barely cooked, REAL chocolate chip cookie but these are a great compromise. They definitely satisfy a baked goods craving with a fraction of all the bad stuff in them. They even have a decent amount of protein in them for a 'cookie' so in my book that pretty much makes them a health food.

What are some of your favorite 'healthy' dessert recipes? 



It was brought to my attention that not everyone was able to comment on my blog. I'm *very* new to this whole blogging thing, so I had no idea. When I set up this blog I also linked it to my G+ page which enabled G+ comments. It seemed like a great idea at the time, but I didn't realize that only people with a G+ profile could then comment on my blog. Anyway, long story short I've since disabled that so that anyone can now comment. 

The down side to that is all the comments that had previously been left using G+ have disappeared. So all comments from day 1-now are gone :( So, if you left a comment before, its gone now. So sorry! It's not because I wanted to delete it, I just want my blog to be open to anyone.  

If you wouldn't mind taking just a second and commenting on anything so that I can know this is working & my blog is now open for commenting that would be great. Thanks! And thanks for bearing with me as I'm figuring this whole blogging thing out. 

**Any hints/tips/suggestions are greatly appreciated, too!

Mid-Week Recap

Playing Catch Up...

I hope you all had a great Memorial Day Weekend! Winnie and I were busy farm sitting all weekend and then I worked until just after midnight on Monday and the 'normal' work week started yesterday so, once again, sleeping has been my #1 priority recently instead of blogging. Thankfully I'm headed into work a little later this morning so I've had some time to catch up on reading and decided to share some of my favorite sweet moments from this weekend since I don't have a recipe ready to share quite yet.

There were 6 horses, 14 baby chickens (so cute!) & 3 dogs at the farm. This little chicken actually loved to be held and every time you put her down she'd hop right back over. It was the sweetest thing. Winnie had the best time running around like a food all over the property and swimming in the pond. Oh, and of course eating horse poop. That was probably her favorite part of all. Disgusting.

This is how we both felt at the end of the weekend. Tired but happy. It was perfect weather to spend time outside.

And here's how Annabelle spent her weekend. Lounging in the sun on the deck and taking long naps because her life is just that exhausting.

So, there ya have it. Way more pictures of my dogs than anyone really ever needs to see. But they're cute & sweet and who doesn't need a little cuteness in the middle of the week? 
New recipe coming soon - a healthy chocolate chip oatmeal cookie!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Vanilla Pudding Cake

The Perfect 'Summer' Cake...

I found this recipe online a couple of years ago while searching for 4th of July desserts. It is one of the easiest desserts to make and SO good. Along with banana pudding this is also one of my most requested desserts. The difference is this one is EASY, fast and fun to make and decorate :)  It's also quite delicious.

I think of it as the perfect summer cake because I love it covered in berries (mainly strawberries!) and its great to decorate for Memorial Day or 4th of July. 



-box of yellow or white cake mix 
-small box vanilla pudding mix  (I've used the no sugar one before & noticed no difference)
-1 1/3C water
-4 large eggs
-1/2 C vegetable oil
-2 tsp vanilla extract


-1 16 oz tub of cool whip (or homemade whipped cream if you're ambitious!)
-1 package vanilla pudding mix (4 servings, just like for the cake)
-1 C milk
-dash of vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325. Combine all ingredients except vanilla and beat until well mixed. Add in vanilla.  Pour into greased cake pan(s) of your choice. This cake turns out to be pretty dense so I think its easier in just a 9x13 pan. Bake at 325 for 30-40 mins. Cool slowly (I usually shut the oven off and let it sit for a minute with the door open before removing and placing on cooling rack. 


Once cake is completely cool combine cool whip (I let it sit out for a few minutes so its easier to work with), pudding mix & milk. Beat until blended well. It can take a bit to get the pudding mix blended in. Stir in vanilla and frost cake. Place in fridge to chill and then top with berries of your choice. 

I made this as cupcakes for my nephew's birthday topped with a dollop of frosting & strawberries. They turned out cute & delicious.

Hope you're having a great Memorial Day weekend - make it even better with some delicious cake & fresh berries :)

Friday, May 24, 2013

High Five for Friday!

This week has mostly just consisted of long days at work so it hasn't been the most exciting, but here are some of my top 5 moments. They aren't too exciting, but I guess there are weeks like that every now and then. Once again I'm linking up with Lauren this week.

1. Stopped by to take care of a friend's horses one morning. This is Taylor. He was hungry.

2. James & Winnie came out to "help" me. Clearly they were working very hard. Such good helpers.

3. Speaking of Winnie, she got her summer hair cut! We shave her every summer and it makes her look SO different. Her long hair just gets too hot, she's much more comfortable shaved. And I think it makes her look like a puppy all over again. Plus, she's much easier to keep clean! :)

4. We had a family dinner at my parents house while my nieces were in town. These are 2 of my mom's dogs. They are the definition of mutts. Pretty darn adorable mutts. The one in the front has legs that never stopped growing. The one in the back has legs that never grew.

5. Little dog rode in my new car for the first time. I put her in the way back. She's used to riding shotgun so she wasn't pleased with her demotion. Surprisingly she stayed back there the whole time.

So that was the highlights of my long week. One more work day left before the weekend! Hopefully its a 3-day weekend (or longer) for most of you! I'm farm sitting this weekend and working Memorial Day, but the weather should be beautiful so I'm definitely looking forward to that!

How was your week? 

Speaking of Memorial Day weekend, if you love to shop there's TONS of sales going on this weekend. I posted about some of my favorite stores in this post last night. I'll be busy all weekend and probably won't get to hit the stores so get out there & do some shopping damage for me ;)

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Sweet Summer Sales

Everyone Loves a Good Sale...

This week I've been getting home from work late every night and have been too tired to even think about baking. Unfortunately, blogging didn't make the top of my priority list either. Sleeping has mostly been my only major focus. Anyway, I had some time tonight to catch up on some blogs and my email. My inbox is currently flooded with sale offers from some of my favorite stores. And then I thought, isn't this blog supposed to be about ALL the sweet things in life? Well, I think sales are pretty sweet. So, here's some sales going on this weekend at some of my most frequented stores. 

-Old Navy - Summer Sale up to 40% off
-J. Crew - up to $75 off your purchase
-GAP - up to 50% off
-Loft - $25 and under event + extra 50% off sale items!
-Loft outlet stores (not online) - extra 40% off
-Express - 40% off everything
-J. Crew factory - 40% off everything online 

Have you heard of Rent the Runway? It's a website where you rent designer dresses for events. I'm one of those people who buys nice dresses for events and usually only wears them once. Maybe twice. I signed up awhile ago but haven't had a reason to use it yet. They're currently offering $25 off AND free shipping.  Have you ever used them? 

I'm currently saving up $$ for a big trip we're taking out west this fall so do some shopping damage for me this weekend!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Chocolate Fudge Brownies

My new favorite brownies...

On Mother's Day I was looking for something simple to make with ingredients I already had in the house. I decided to make brownies, but I haven't found a brownie recipe I've been crazy about so I consulted my good friend Google. After looking at a few recipes I stumbled across this one on Recipe Girl and decided to give it a try. These are simple, quick and delicious. They're topped with a chocolate 'glaze' that turns more into a fudge after they sit awhile. Needless to say I've found my new favorite brownies. 

*Excuse the bad picture, they didn't last long enough for a better one & clearly I'm not a photographer!

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped (I used a Lindt 70% chocolate bar)
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated white sugar
2 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips (I used mini chocolate chips)

2/3 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (I used 4 squares of a Lindt dark chocolate bar and 0.5 oz semisweet Baker's chocolate)
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 to 5 teaspoons hot water (or more, as needed)

Preheat oven to 350F. Spray 8" baking dish with nonstick spray. Line with parchment paper (leave edges hanging over) and spray that also. 

In one bowl mix flour, baking powder & salt. In another bowl melt butter & chocolate in microwave. I do this 30 secs at a time. Usually takes 60-90 seconds. Stir together until smooth and then add in both sugars followed by eggs, the extra yolk & vanilla. Mix in flour mixture and then add chocolate chips.

Pour batter into pan and bake for 25-35 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean (there may be some chocolate from the chocolate chips).

Once brownies are cooled completely make the glaze. If you're using chocolate from a chocolate bar like I did you'll need to melt it first. Mix powdered sugar, chocolate, vanilla & hot water. Continue adding water 1 tsp at a time until glaze is just thin enough to pour over brownies. Let sit before serving. You can put them in the fridge to sit if you're in a hurry.

As always, eat & enjoy! 

Easy Sunday Brunch

Sourdough French Toast

I actually made this last weekend for brinner (breakfast for dinner - one of my favorite things!), but did eat some leftovers for brunch the next day. James actually took some leftovers and made an open face Monte Cristo-esque sandwich with turkey + provolone and said it was delicious.

It's gone back to being gray and drizzly here and if I had any bread in my house right now, I would definitely make this for a cozy Sunday brunch. It's so easy and ridiculously good. Plus, apparently the leftovers are versatile - you can have sandwiches with it for dinner ;)

*Sorry for the bad picture, it didn't last long enough to take a good one ;)

-6-8 slices sourdough bread
-1/2 C milk (I used 1% because that's all we had - original recipe calls for whole milk, but 1% worked fine)
-4 eggs
-1/2 tsp vanilla extract
-1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
-dash of salt
-butter for the pan

Whisk all ingredients (except bread, ha!) together in a mixing bowl. Line baking sheet or casserole dish (I used a pyrex casserole dish) with however much bread will fit - 2 layers of 3 slices is what fit in mine. There was enough egg mixture to make 2 batches of that. Pour mixture over bread and let soak 5-10 minutes. Heat butter in pan on med-high heat. When hot carefully drop in bread. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until lightly browned on each side.  Serve with syrup, powdered sugar, fruit, etc...

Eat & Enjoy!

(I got the original recipe here)

Friday, May 17, 2013

High Five for Friday!

Week 2!

1. This picture just makes me laugh. 
2. Just got re-addicted (is that a word?) to these chips. 
3. I made the best sourdough french toast for brinner. Blog post coming soon.
4. Downtown Raleigh Foodtruck rodeo. So much deliciousness & beautiful weather all in one day.  My idea of perfection!
5. Chocolate brownies with chocolate chips topped with a chocolate glaze. Amazing. Blog post on these babies also coming soon.

As I close out my second week of blogging I would like to just say thanks so much for all the support and comments. I really appreciate it! 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

I love Chocolate...

Have some leftover chocolate?

Over the weekend I made some delicious chocolate brownies with chocolate chips topped with a chocolate 'glaze' that turned into something resembling fudge overnight. Needless to say they were amazing and I'll share the recipe later this week. In the meantime I'll share something quick & easy that I did with my 'leftover' chocolate. 

I went a little crazy while picking out chocolate bars to use for the brownies. They are all so pretty and look so good! So, I picked up a few bars of the Lindt 70%. I also picked up a bakers semi-sweet bar. I had 4 squares left of a Lindt bar and decided I shouldn't let it go to waste. I also had some chopped pecans & almonds laying around so naturally, I decided to combine them.  And then this happened:

Delicious, fudgy, nutty clusters of goodness


-Chocolate (I used 4 squares of 70% Lindt chocolate and 0.5 oz Baker's semi-sweet)
-2 Tbs butter
-2/3 C powdered sugar
-several tsp hot water 
-Nuts (I used chopped pecans & almonds)
-1/4 tsp vanilla extract

Line cookie sheet with parchment paper and lay out small clusters of nuts. Melt chocolate and butter - I do this in the microwave for 30 seconds at a time. Takes 60-75 seconds usually. Stir chocolate mixture until smooth and then pour over powdered sugar. Add vanilla and hot water and beat all ingredients until smooth. Add more water if desired - mixture should be thick, but smooth enough to pour over nuts. Almost the consistency of brownie batter.  Use a spoon and pour a spoonful over each cluster of nuts. I made ~12, but in all honesty I scraped the rest of the bowl with some remaining nuts and ate it myself, so you could probably get a couple more out of this. Cover lightly and let set. I let mine set overnight.

Eat & enjoy! 

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Happy Saturday

It's the Weekend...

We finally get to enjoy some warmth and sunshine here. Hope you're enjoying your weekend as much as these fools are. 

Coming up next week: Homemade banana pudding. Perfect for summer in the south :)

Thursday, May 9, 2013


My first High Five for Friday!

1. My blog is one week old :) ...and Annabelle in the background.
2. These temperatures make me happy. Finally. It's been cool & gray here forever!
3. It's Mother's Day weekend - celebrate!
4. We finally tried BurgerFi last week. Delicious.
5. This gelato. Go get some. Enough said.

My 'Go to' Chocolate Cake

I originally found this recipe on this blog via pinterest and ever since then it has been what I use when I need something quick & delicious! It's been a hit everywhere I've taken it and James even requested it for his birthday. He calls it the "chocolate explosion cake".  And, since his birthday happened to be over what is apparently Star Wars weekend (and he loves Star Wars) I made it into a Darth Vader cake.

I've made a couple minor adjustments to the original recipe, but its delicious just the way it is. 

Here's the original recipe with my preferences notated. I also tend to make it in just a 9x13 pan as I'm usually making it to take somewhere and I have pans that size with lids :)

1 box devil’s food cake mix *I prefer it with a chocolate fudge cake mix
1 small pkg Jello instant chocolate pudding mix *I've used sugar free & notice no difference
1 cup sour cream *I use non-fat greek yogurt instead
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 F

Mix everything (except chocolate chips) together in a very large bowl (batter will be thick, so I love my KitchenAid for this). Mix in chocolate chips and pour into cake pan(s). Bake for however long it says on back of cake box, but it usually will take longer. I typically do it for ~30mins and then check every 5 minutes or so with a toothpick (there will be some chocolate from the chocolate chips on there!).

For the frosting I use the vanilla buttercream frosting I posted about here.

So, there it is. Super easy and delicious!  I've made it using a 'from scratch' recipe before but honestly, this one is so easy and so good that I didn't find it worth the extra effort. And, as a bonus, by using sugar free pudding mix & non-fat greek yogurt you can almost pretend its healthy... or at least not as bad for you as it could be ;)

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Coming Soon...

The World's Easiest Chocolate Cake

You know what vanilla frosting is great on? Chocolate cake. And I have a recipe for the best chocolate cake ever. It also involves some non-fat greek yogurt which, in my world, makes it practically healthy!

In the meantime enjoy a pic of the world's coolest dog: Winnie the WonderDog.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

My First Post...

I decided to start this blog as an easy way to share recipes. So, for my first post I'll share the most versatile and the most recently asked for: vanilla buttercream frosting.

I'm a picky eater, but I love to eat. And cake is one of my favorite foods in the world. The problem is I'm just as picky about frosting as I am about anything else. Much to the horror of nearly everyone else in the world I am not a fan of cream cheese frosting (unless its very, very mild). Most of the time I just end up scraping the frosting off and eating the cake since that's my favorite part anyway. Other people like frosting though, so I've been searching for a solid 'go-to' vanilla frosting recipe. I found one via Pinterest a few weeks ago and loved it. Well, after a few changes. Apparently it's the recipe Sprinkles cupcakes uses. I'm not sure if that's true or not, but I found it to be quite enjoyable regardless of whether that's true or not :)

I made the recipe as written the first time and thought it was a bit too thick, hard to work with, and believe it or not, too buttery. The second time I halved the recipe, but continued adding powdered sugar and milk s l o w l y until it was perfect. Unfortunately I don't have those exact measurements, but I figure everyone can tweak it to their liking anyway.

Here's the original recipe:

1 cup butter (softened)
3 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt

Combine butter, sugar and salt in a bowl. Beat until blended

Add milk and vanilla and beat another 3-5 minutes or until smooth and creamy

I added everything at once (except the vanilla) both times and it turned out great. 

It takes quite a while until this actual turns into something that resembles frosting. James peeked in multiple times and was quite concerned. But, I promise, it does eventually turn into frosting. I don't recommend microwaving the butter to soften it. I did that the second time I made this for ~10-15 seconds and just wasn't as happy with the texture and... fluffiness as I was with the first batch. Just sit the butter on the counter for a bit and then cut into smallish pieces. I found that when I microwaved it there was a bit of an oiliness to the frosting that I didn't want. Still just as delicious, though :)

I am interested to see if this recipe works with other flavors, too. Perhaps chocolate should be next... 

*When I halved the recipe I used 1/2 C butter, ~2.5 cups powdered sugar, several teaspoons of milk, just over 1/2 tsp vanilla and a dash of salt. I thought it still made plenty of frosting for a standard 8x13 cake, but I put a pretty thin layer of frosting on.