Easy Chocolate Molten Lava Cakes.

We’ll get back to regularly scheduled healthy recipes in my next post. But, with Valentine’s Day on Friday, I thought this recipe might come in handy for you now!

If you’re looking for a simple but impressive dessert for Valentine’s day (or any occasion really), this dessert is perfect! Molten chocolate lava cakes seem so decadent and restaurant-worthy, but they can be whipped up in your home in a cinch. The entire batter is mixed in 1 bowl, so there’s virtually no clean-up. Start to finish, you can have these on the table in under 20 minutes. I’m telling you, this recipe is fabulous. The cake portion is tender but firm, and the gooey chocolate center? Obviously to die for. Silky smooth, super rich, and ultra-chocolatey. This is a chocolate lover’s dream!


You can customize each cake to your preferences by adding your favorite flavors as toppings. I left mine plain with just a light sprinkle of powdered sugar because the cake itself is so rich, but I think fruit would be a perfect addition. Strawberries or raspberries sound great, don’t you agree? If you wanted to kick it up a notch you could even add a light drizzle of melted peanut butter. The options are practically limitless!

I have actually had this recipe tucked away since my junior year of college. I made it for my roommates and myself on a night when we were all snowed in, and it was a hit! Thankfully I had the recipe saved in an email because the website where it originally came from no longer works. This dessert is always perfect. Upon first glance, the cake seem so unassuming. Just a tiny chocolate cake…

IMG_20140116_203417689_HDRUntil you take your first bite and see what’s inside!


The only tricky part about this recipe is flipping the ramekins after they come out of the oven. I really do set a timer for 2 minutes as soon as they come out of the oven so I know I don’t let them sit too long. I put my plate over the ramekin and give it a fast, confident flip! Remember the ramekins are still very hot at this point, so you must wear oven mitts to do this. It can also be helpful to have someone else on hand to help, but I have always managed to do this by myself without any trouble.

IMG_20140116_203600456_HDRI didn’t try to make this recipe healthy so just know this is a very, very indulgent treat! This recipe makes 2 cakes, but each cake is definitely big enough and rich enough to be shared. You may want to go ahead and plan on running an extra couple miles tomorrow. Just sayin’. : )

Molten Chocolate Lava Cakes


  • 1/2 C Nestle semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 4 TBS butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 C powdered sugar
  • 3 TBS all-purpose flour
  • Cooking Spray
  1. Preheat oven to 425 F and microwave butter and chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl for 45 seconds on high, then whisk until smooth.
  2. Add egg, egg yolk, and vanilla and whisk again.
  3. Add in sifted flour and powdered sugar and – you guessed it- whisk.
  4. Pour into a small and VERY VERY VERY well greased dish (I used a ramekin).
  5. Bake 12-13 mins until top is done but insides are jiggly.
  6. Let sit for 1-2 minutes then run a knife along the edges. Put a small plate upside down on top of the bowl and flip over quickly.

Servings: 4 (assuming you split each cake with someone you love!) Nutritional Information per Serving: Calories: 441 Carbs: 48g Fat: 30g Protein: 7g Fiber: 4g WW Points+: 13

Recipe courtesy of AudreysApron.wordpress.com.


1 Year Blog Anniversary + Chocolate Puffs with Mascarpone Cream.

1 year ago today I decided to go for it and finally start my cooking blog! Now, here we are: 1 year, 100 recipes, and a few hundred followers later!

THANK YOU, thank you, thank you to each and every one of you who read this little blog of mine. Thank you so much for the comments you leave on posts, the emails you send, and the times you stop to tell me how a recipe turned out. It has been so much fun sharing my recipes with you and one of my favorite parts of blogging is your feedback!

Today I’m going to share with you the very first recipe I posted (exactly 1 year ago today). I’m re-posting it because at the time I had ZERO followers and I sincerely doubt many of you have looked back in the archives that far. This blog sure has grown a lot since then, but these chocolate puffs with mascarpone cream are still one of the most delightful, unique desserts I’ve ever made! You need to make them. Soon. They are amazing…but I’ll let you read the original post below for more details. : )

And so…

Without further ado…

Chocolate puffs with mascarpone cream! Is your mouth watering yet?


Every now and again I make a dessert that really stands out. One that is truly special, both in flavor and appearance. This recipe defied the standard mold of cookie, bar, pie, or cake. It is difficult to put into words how delicious these were. Imagine silky mascarpone cream sandwiched between chocolate puffs as light as the name alludes, but rich and satisfying at the same time. Very decadent.

IMG_20140130_160438931_HDR (1)

Top them of with melted chocolate or chocolate ganache, based on your preference. Here’s what they looked like before the additional chocolate drizzle:


The original recipe is from the great baker Dorie Greenspan, someone about whom I had read over and over again on cooking blogs. Until now, I had never dared to replicate her recipes. I now realize I misunderstood the uniqueness of her recipes (and sometimes lengthy steps) for difficulty, as was almost the case with these chocolate puffs. But, due to the convenience of having leftover mascarpone, heavy cream, and chocolate ganache from a previous baking endeavor a few days prior, I decided to go for it. Just for the record, they are worth making a special trip to the store for those ingredients. Don’t be intimidated by the number of steps. Just follow the directions, enjoy them, and share them with someone you love. Valentine’s day is coming up, you know!


Chocolate Puffs with Mascarpone Cream


Cream Puffs:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder (I used dark)
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream (or whole milk)
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into chunks
  • 2 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt


  • 1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • 2 Tbsp. sugar
  • My not-so-optional addition: 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • Also optional (but not really): melted chocolate or ganache for drizzling over top of the filled cream puffs.


  1. Let eggs stand at room temperature 30 minutes. Position oven racks to divide oven into thirds; preheat to 425F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside. (I did not do this and it still turned out fine)
  2. For cream puffs, in a medium bowl sift together flour and cocoa powder. In a medium saucepan combine water, milk, butter, sugar, and salt; bring to boiling over medium-high heat. Add flour and cocoa mixture all at once; lower heat slightly. Using a wooden spoon or sturdy heatproof spatula, stir vigorously. The mixture will come together in a ball and there will be a film on the bottom of the pan, but do not stop stirring; give it another minute of energetic beating. Transfer hot dough to a mixing bowl; let rest for 2 minutes.
  3. Using a whisk (or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment), beat dough 1 minute. Add eggs, one at a time, beating very well after each. You’ll have a smooth, shiny dough.
  4. Using a small cookie scoop or small spoon, place 8 even mounds of dough on each of the prepared baking sheets, leaving at least 1 inch of space between mounds.
  5. Transfer baking sheets to oven; immediately reduce heat to 375F. Bake for 25-27 minutes or until the puffs feel hollow and lift easily off the paper, rotating the baking sheets from top to bottom and front to pack at the halfway point. Cool to room temperature before filling.
  6. For filling, in a medium bowl gently stir mascarpone with a spatula to loosen. Beating makes mascarpone turn grainy, so go easy. Set aside.
  7. In a medium bowl beat whipping cream until it just starts to thicken. Beat in sugar and vanilla extract. Continue to whip until the cream holds medium peaks that stand up nicely and just start to fold over at the top. Stir a spoonful of the cream into the mascarpone to lighten. Gently fold in the remaining cream.
  8. To assemble, cut cream puffs in half. Using a pastry bag fitted with a large round tip (or a spoon), pipe filing over one half; top with remaining half. To serve, drizzle with chocolate ganache (or melted chocolate), if desired. Makes 16 cream puffs.*A note about storage. Unfilled cream puffs will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 2 weeks. Filling will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Fill cream puffs just before serving.Nutritional Information per Cream Puff (will change depending on if you use heavy cream or whole milk, chocolate or ganache, etc.): 130 calories, 10 g fat, 51 mg cholesterol, 54 mg sodium, 8 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 2 g protein.Recipe adapted from Dorie Greenspan, Better Homes and Gardens February 2013.

Soft and Thick Snickerdoodles.

The holiday baking posts continue with these yummy snickerdoodles!

Snickerdoodles seem to fly under the radar. They’re simple, which is why they don’t get a lot of attention, but I think their simplicity is what makes them so wonderful. They are soft, chewy, and sweet, with just a hint of warm cinnamon flavor. I hope to inspire you to make some with this post; they’re worth it!


The title aptly describes the texture of these cookies: soft and thick. They aren’t cakey or dry, but instead perfectly chewy. They get rolled in a little bit of cinnamon sugar before baking which makes them look beautiful but also adds a nice sugary crunch in each bite.


A note about the recipe… you MUST make sure your butter is very, very soft. I have made these twice now. The first time the batter was extremely crumbly to the point where I had to add a little bit of water to help it come together. The second time I made sure my butter was at room temperature for a few hours before baking, and I noticed the flour incorporated much easier. I recommend not adding all the flour at once. The first time I used the full 3 cups, and the second time I only used 2 3/4 cups because I was afraid they would be too dry. Just keep an eye on it and make sure you will still be able to roll them into balls.


Happy baking! : )

Soft and Thick Snickerdoodles


  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 and 1/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour (I only used 2 3/4 cups)
  • 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 and 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Topping ingredeints:

  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  1. Preheat the oven to 375F. (Check your oven temperature…mine runs very hot so I baked them at 350F for about 14 minutes!)
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter until smooth. Add the brown sugar and beat together on medium speed for several minutes, until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla, and beat to combine.
  3. With the mixer on a very slow speed, slowly add the cream of tarter, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, and flour (about a cup at a time). You will likely have to mix the last part by hand because the batter will be so thick.
  4. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and set aside. In a small bowl, combine the sugar and cinnamon together.
  5. Take no more than 2 tablespoons of dough and roll into a ball. Roll in the cinnamon sugar mixture, then place on the cookie sheet. Repeat with remaining batter.
  6. Bake cookies for 11-12 minutes. They should still be very soft and almost appear underbaked, but they will continue baking on the cookie sheet. Allow them to cool on the cookie sheet for 10 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

Recipe adapted from: http://pastrychefbaking.blogspot.com/2013/09/soft-thick-snickerdoodles.html

Vanilla Bean Cupcakes with Vanilla Bean Buttercream Frosting!

These may be vanilla flavored, but there is NOTHING boring about these cupcakes! This recipe is special to me…these are my most favorite vanilla cupcakes I have ever tasted, and they are decadent! Consider this recipe my Christmas present to you. : )


Say goodbye to the boring boxed cake mix; once you taste these easy vanilla cupcakes you will never be able to make them another way again! The key ingredient? Undeniably (other than a LOT of butter…), it has to be the vanilla beans. Vanilla beans are pricey, but for good reason: the fresh vanilla beans amplify the flavor of the batter like vanilla extract never could. Plus, the tiny black specks of vanilla in each bite are so pretty!


In the past, I have made some cupcakes that turned out dense. Not so with this recipe! The crumb of the cupcakes is light and tender. Each one is almost delicate and it almost melts in your mouth as you take a bite. They are delicate in the way that cupcakes should be. In a word, they are perfect.


Bonus? They truly are very easy to make. I never even had to bust out my Kitchenaid mixer for the batter. They come  together very quickly; the longest part is waiting for them to cool before you can frost them. Speaking of which, let’s talk about the frosting. Remember the vanilla bean from the batter? It makes a secondary appearance in the buttercream frosting, again adding to the appearance and adding extra vanilla flavor. Y’all, there is a lot of butter and sugar in this frosting. Don’t make these every day. (Although you might be tempted to…they are that good!).


I used to be a “chocolate only” person when it came to cakes. These vanilla cupcakes, however, have completely changed that. They are so good and so versatile–the white canvas makes it easy to adapt to whatever holiday you’re celebrating.


Example: 4th of July? Red, white, and blue sprinkles. Valentine’s Day? Red and pink sprinkles. Your friend’s birthday whose favorite color is purple? Purple cupcake liners and purple sprinkles. Christmas? Add green and red sprinkles like this:


See what I mean? 🙂 They are perfect all year round, for any occasion. Now go make them!

Vanilla Bean Cupcakes with Vanilla Bean Buttercream Frosting!

Ingredients for the cupcakes:

  • 1 and 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted in the microwave
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/4 cup vanilla Greek yogurt
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • seeds scraped from 1/2 split vanilla bean
  1. Line a cupcake tin with 12 liners and preheat the oven to 350F.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  3. Using a handheld mixer, mix the melted butter and sugar together until well combined. Add the egg whites, greek yogurt, milk, and vanilla extract. Mix again.
  4. Split the vanilla bean in half lenthwise. Scrape half the seeds and add to the batter. Stir to combine.
  5. Slowly add the dry ingredients. Mix until batter is smooth.
  6. Divide cupcake batter evenly among the 12 tins. Bake for 18-25 minutes, depending on your oven. My oven runs VERY hot, so mine are usually done around 17 minutes!
  7. Allow to cool 5 minutes in the pan before transferring to a cooling rack.

Ingredients for the vanilla bean buttercream frosting:

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 4-5 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream (or milk)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • seeds scraped from 1/2 split vanilla bean
  • 1/4 tsp salt, to taste
  1. Add the butter to the bottom of the stand mixer and beat for about 3 minutes, or until light and fluffy. With the mixer running, add the powdered sugar, cream, vanilla extra, salt, and vanilla bean seeds. Mix until light and fluffy, then frost cooled cupcakes.

Recipe adapted from: http://sallysbakingaddiction.com/2013/04/20/very-vanilla-cupcakes/ 

The Best Apple Pie EVER.

*Edited November 2014-Got a new camera and updated pictures!

First of all, I am so sorry for the lack of posts!! The past month has been a whirlwind, and I have so many recipes to share with you. Since Christmas is next week, I’m going to post some of my favorite sweet treats in the next few days. Get ready!


Here is the first installment of such posts: the best apple pie ever. Declaring a recipe as “the best ever” is a bold statement. I don’t take it lightly or use it often. I’ve made this pie over and over again, and each time the friends and family I share it with agree that it is the best apple pie. So, dear readers, today I’m going to share how to make this holiday staple!


So, what makes this apple pie so special? Let’s take a look at some key ingredients. The type of apple you use does make a difference. I use granny smith, but I’ve successfully made it with other varieties. As long as you choose a hard, tart apple, the end result will be delicious. Honeycrisp apples are great for baking as well.



The apples are tossed in an incredible mixture of butter and sugar which you boil on the stove, creating a caramel-like sauce. Cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla flavor this filling as well. I like to reserve about 1/3 of a cup of this filling to brush on top of the pie crust. With this trick, the top layer of pie crust becomes flavorful, sweet, and turns a beautiful golden-brown color.


Making homemade pie crust, in my opinion, is non-negotiable. I made two batches of my one minute homemade pie crust in the food processor. It only takes a few extra minutes to make your own, but the difference in flavor is undeniable.


No, this is not a “healthified” recipe. Yes, there is a LOT of butter and sugar. It’s a recipe I only make once, maybe twice, a year to share with family and friends on holidays, and I don’t cut any corners on it. Look no further for the best apple pie recipe ever–this is it!

The Best Apple Pie Ever


  • 2 batches of my one minute homemade pie crust (or 1 if you roll it out very thinly!)
  • 7-8 small granny smith apples, peeled, sliced, and cored
  • 1 stick butter
  • 3 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 heaping tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp vanilla

1). Place the peeled, cored, and sliced apples in a large bowl. Set aside.

2). Preheat oven to 425F.

3). In a medium sauce pan, melt butter over medium heat. Add the 3 tbsp of flour and mix well, forming a paste. Add the water, sugars, cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla and mix well. Bring to a boil for 1 minute, then reduce heat to a simmer for an additional minute.

4). Remove from heat and reserve about 1/3 cup of filling for pie crust. Add remaining filling to apples. Toss well.

5). Pour apples into prepared pie crust, mounding slightly. Top with second pie crust (lattice design, etc). Brush the remaining 1/3 cup caramel filling over the crust.

6). Cover the pie loosely with aluminum foil. I lightly spray the foil so it does not stick to the pie. Place the pie on top of a cookie sheet (to catch any drips) and bake at 425F for 10-12 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350F and bake for another 50 minutes (remove the foil the last 10 minutes to let the crust brown), or until done.  The pie is done when the crust is golden-brown and the apples are soft when pierced with a fork.

7). Allow the pie to cool before serving. Enjoy!

Serves: 8-10 people.

Recipe adapted from: http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Apple-Pie-by-Grandma-Ople/. 

Adapted recipe courtesy of Audrey’s Apron.

One Minute Homemade Pie Crust

An easy, quick way to make homemade pie crust. It’s my go-to for every pie, including my family’s favorite: apple!

Making homemade pie crust seems to intimidate many home bakers. I, too, used to be one who never thought I could (or wanted to) make my own pie crust. “What’s wrong with the frozen one from Pillsbury?”, I used to think to myself. That all changed the first time I had homemade pie crust (and looked at the ingredients list…see below). Y’all, it seriously makes all the difference in the world as to the result of your final pie. It takes a good pie and makes it something special. And really, if you’re going to go through the trouble of making a pie, it is not that much more work to put together a pie crust from scratch. Especially if you use this one minute recipe!


When I first started making pie crusts, I did it the old fashioned way: by hand. Cutting the butter into flour without even a pastry blender was a little tricky. Eventually I bought a pastry blender, and at the time I thought it made it immensely easier. You know what can take it from easier to just plain easy?

A food processor.

Yes, the food processor does all the work for you in this recipe.  Just a few simple ingredients and pulses of the food processor and you can have ready-to-roll out pie crust in 60 seconds!! Let’s look at the ingredients found in Pillsbury pre-made crusts, and then tell me if you have 60 extra seconds to spare to make your own:

No thank you! We can all agree that pie is not the healthiest thing to eat, but I figure if I’m going to eat pie (which does not happen often), I would rather put in the extra minute to make it homemade with real ingredients!

And, in case the food processor trick is not enough of a delightful kitchen tip, I have another one to share. Have you ever had pie crust stick to your rolling pin when trying to roll it? It is highly annoying, and could potentially turn any baker away from making their own pastry. To remedy this problem, simply roll your pie dough in-between two sheets of plastic wrap!! It prevents the dough from sticking every time.


Once you have refrigerated and rolled out your pie crust, you can decide how you would like to form it. I always love the classic look of pinched edges and a lattice crust, but you can be creative! Remember, rustic is okay here: you want your pie to look homemade!


I wanted to share this special recipe with you before the holidays come to hopefully inspire you to make your pie crust in lieu of purchasing one for all of your autumnal/holiday baking. And, in case you didn’t know, it’s currently apple picking season!


This recipe makes a single crust (with some leftover). If you are going to make a double crust pie, you must double the recipe!

One Minute Homemade Pie Crust


  • 1-3/4 cup all-purpose flour  (about 9 ounces)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1-1/2 sticks butter (12 tablespoons), cut into slices
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp ice water (approximately)

1) Place flour and sugar in a food processor.  Pulse.

2) Add about half of the butter. Pulse.  Add the rest of the butter. Pulse until the mixture turns into coarse crumbs.

3) Through the feed tube, slowly add the ice water and pulse until the dough gathers up into a ball.  If it doesn’t after a few seconds, add a few more drops of ice water until it does.

4) Take the dough and flatten it into a disc and place it on a sheet of floured plastic wrap. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes before rolling. Remember to use the plastic wrap trick from above!

Happy baking!!IMG_20121027_143906

Recipe adapted from: http://theitaliandishblog.com/imported-20090913150324/2011/9/9/you-will-make-homemade-one-minute-pie-dough-and-raspberry-pi.html

No Bake Peanut Butter Energy Balls

I stumbled upon this recipe a few weeks prior and immediately jumped up and made them. I already had every ingredient sitting in my pantry, and it only requires one bowl for mixing it all together. Literally, within 5 minutes they were ready to go!


These energy bites are no-bake, which is helpful if you’re limited on time (or trying to avoid heating up your house with the oven). These are great on-the-go snacks or a delightful sweet treat that’s not too indulgent. I was especially pleased that there’s so much ground flax seed in this recipe. Flax seed is full of Omega-3’s which are so important and good for you!

These may not be the best pictures but they certainly were delicious! These are gluten free and can be dairy free depending on what chocolate chips you buy. I think this would also be a great treat that kids could enjoy as well!


Just take a look at the ingredients list. You more than likely have everything you need to whip up a batch right now. Go make them!

No Bake Peanut Butter Energy Balls


  • 1 cup oats
  • 1/2 cup ground flaxseed
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla

1) Combine all ingredients together in a bowl.

2) Roll into balls and refrigerate.

Servings: 26. Serving size: 1 ball. Nutritional Information per serving: Calories: 84 Carbs: 10g Fat: 5g Protein: 2g Sugar: 6g Fiber: 1g

WW PointsPlus: 3

Recipe via Pinterest, but no link to original source.

Cinnamon Swirl Banana Bread


Banana bread has always been my baking nemesis. For whatever reason, I have never been able to bake banana bread successfully. Banana muffins, yes, but not banana bread. Each time my banana bread would turn out under cooked in the middle and burned on top. It still tasted delicious but the texture was completely wrong. What was it about banana bread that was so difficult to master? Why could I make seemingly much more difficult recipes with ease (like homemade pie crusts, for example), but not this particular baked good? After several failed attempts, I decided to write off ever making banana bread. It was the one thing I couldn’t make. Audrey: 0, Banana bread: 1.

I was perfectly content not ever being able to make banana bread until a couple weeks ago. It was a Saturday morning and I had several ripe bananas staring at me, desperately needing to be used. Those bananas, couple with an intriguing find on Pinterest, convinced me to give it one more try. I hoped that I would not end up wasting precious ingredients, but came to terms with the fact that it might happen. I got out my mixing bowls and got to mashing those bananas.

I had a slight panic attack when, after the suggested 45 minutes of baking, the toothpick I used to test the bread did not come out clean. I was certain this would be another one of those recipes to add to my failed banana bread attempts. I checked it after 5 more minutes. Still not done. Finally, 5 minutes later, the toothpick test was successful and I took the golden banana bread out of the oven. It looked amazing, and I had high hopes that it would taste equally good.


I am so happy to report that it turned out AMAZING. It was perfectly cooked through, not too dense, and full of flavor due to the cinnamon swirl in the middle and the glaze on top. The glaze is certainly not necessary, but it is a wonderful addition! In truth, it makes this recipe fall somewhere in between banana bread and banana cake. Regardless, it’s worth the time and effort!

Now I just might start experimenting with other banana bread recipes!

Cinnamon Swirl Banana Bread


For the Bread:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, not packed
  • 4 Tbs (1/2 stick) unsalted butter or margarine, soften to room temp
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups mashed very ripe bananas (about three bananas)
  • 1/3 cup plain or vanilla yogurt (I used vanilla Greek yogurt), or 1/3 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

For the Cinnamon Swirl:

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon

For the Glaze:

  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 Tbs heavy cream or half-and-half or milk


1). Mix together flour, baking soda, salt, and 1 tsp ground cinnamon.  Set aside.  In a separate large bowl, use a stand or hand mixer to beat the brown sugar and butter.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each.  Using a spoon or spatula, stir in the mashed bananas, yogurt/buttermilk, and vanilla extract.  Then slowly mix in the dry ingredients with the mix, but be sure to not over mix.

2). Pour half the batter into a greased 9×5 inch loaf pan (will need to adjust cooking time if using a different size).  Mix the cinnamon swirl ingredients together and then pour over the batter in the loaf pan.  Top with the remaining batter.

3). Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes (or for my oven, 55 minutes!) or until wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let it cool for about ten minutes in the pan on a wire cooling rack, then remove the bread from the pan to let it finish cooling just on the rack.

4). While the bread is cooling, mix the glaze ingredients together in a small bowl.  Add more powdered sugar to reach your desired thickness.  Finally, drizzle the glaze over the bread before enjoying.

Servings: 9 Nutritional Information per Serving: Calories: 251 Carbs: 41g Fat: 7g Protein: 6g Sugar: 11g Fiber: 4g

WW PointsPlus: 6

Recipe adapted from: http://mckinneyliving.wordpress.com/2013/07/30/cinnamon-swirl-banana-bread/ 

Chocolate-Covered Pretzel Peanut Butter Brownies


Yes, you read that title correctly.

Chocolate-covered pretzels.

On top of fluffy peanut butter frosting.

With a homemade brownie base.

It is so good!!!

Let me say up front, plan to share this dessert with friends because this is in no way, shape, or form even remotely healthy. This may actually be the most decadent dessert I’ve ever made! Sometimes, though, you need to have a real dessert up your sleeves for special occasions. This one is a show-stopper, and if you are a fan of peanut butter and chocolate/salty and sweet, you will absolutely love these!


The brownie base can be made according to the recipe below, or if you are short on time you can use a boxed brownie mix. There are several steps to making these decadent bars, so you may not want to make these if you are in a last-minute rush. Did I mention they are worth every second?

The best part of this dessert, in my opinion, is the combination of textures. The brownie is thick and chewy, the peanut butter frosting is light and fluffy, and the chocolate-covered pretzels are super crunchy. There’s so much greatness going on that I can’t imagine anyone not loving these!


Chocolate-Covered Pretzel Peanut Butter Brownies


For the brownie base (use this recipe or use a boxed mix):

  • 1 stick of butter
  • 8 oz semi-sweet baker’s chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt

For the Chocolate Covered Pretzels:

  • 25 mini pretzels
  • 2 oz semi-sweet baker’s chocolate, coarsely chopped

For the Peanut Butter Frosting:

  • 1 stick butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1-2 cups powdered sugar

1). Let’s make the brownie base first. Preheat the oven to 350F, and spray a 9×13 pan with cooking spray.

2). In a medium sauce pan, melt the butter and chocolate over medium heat. Stir constantly until melted together, about 6 minutes. Turn off the heat and let it cool for about 15 minutes.

3). After butter/chocolate has cooled, stir in the sugar and begin whisking in 1 egg at a time. Add the vanilla extract and whisk. Slowly fold in the flour and salt and mix until well combined. Pour into prepared 9×13 pan and bake for 27-30 minutes, or until a toothpick barely comes out clean.

4). Next, make the chocolate-covered pretzels. Place the chocolate in a microwave safe bowl and microwave for 30 seconds. Mix, then continue to microwave the chocolate in 10 second intervals, stirring the chocolate each time, until the chocolate has melted. Toss the melted chocolate with the pretzels and set aside to harden, or pop in the fridge to cool just a few minutes. Once cooled, chop the pretzels roughly.

5). For the peanut butter frosting, use a stand mixer or electric mixer to beat the butter and peanut butter together until combined. Add the powdered sugar 1 cup at a time until the frosting is very thick. I used 1.5 cups.

6). After the brownies have cooled about 1 hour, smooth the peanut butter frosting in an even layer on top of the brownie base. Then, sprinkle the chopped pretzels on top and gently press them into the frosting. Place the dessert in the fridge to set the frosting for 30 minutes to an hour. Cut into (small) pieces, serve, and enjoy!

Serving: about 28, depending on size preference.

Nutritional information per serving: Calories: 281 Carbs: 32g Fat: 17g Protein: 5g Sugar: 22g Fiber: 2g

WW PointsPlus: 8 Old points: 7

Recipe originally from: http://sallysbakingaddiction.com/2012/07/09/chocolate-covered-pretzel-peanut-butter-brownies/

Perfectly Chocolate Cake with Nutella Buttercream Frosting

Homemade chocolate cake…that tastes like it’s from a box,but it is free of MSG and preservatives. Just a few simple ingredients blended together to create the moistest, fluffiest chocolate cake you’ll ever make. I promise!


Having said that, make no mistake about it: this is not health food. This is a rich, indulgent dessert that should be made sparingly to preserve it’s appeal. And maybe your waistline. But I digress…


I have experimented with several chocolate cake recipes in the past, all of which left me slightly disappointed because they came out too dense or too dry.


And then, I stumbled upon this recipe! I will never go searching for another chocolate cake recipe again. It really takes only slightly more time to make than using a boxed mix, and the taste is even better. The almost black color of the batter alerts you to the intense chocolate flavor awaiting you once it bakes.


One important note to make here: the batter will be super dark, and very runny when you pour it into your baking tins. You may think you have done something wrong, but I assure you, it will come out perfectly. Because it is so liquid-y, do NOT try to use a cake pan with a removable bottom. You know, the kind with the latch on the side so it can come apart. Use a plain, normal, run-of-the-mill cake pan.

Unless you want chocolate batter dripping all over your kitchen as you frantically try to salvage the cake.

No? I didn’t think so. That may or may not have happened to me the first time I made this cake, so please learn from my errors and save yourself some cleaning time!

Scroll down for an exquisite, unique frosting recipe: Nutella Buttercream!!


Perfectly Chocolate Cake

(recipe adapted from Hershey’s)


  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup HERSHEY’S Cocoa
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup reduced fat buttermilk (or milk + 1Tbsp lemon juice after it sits for 3-5 minutes)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water

1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans.

2. Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin). Pour batter into prepared pans.

3. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans, and flip over onto wire racks. Cool completely. 10 to 12 servings.

ONE-PAN CAKE: Grease and flour 13x9x2-inch baking pan. Heat oven to 350° F. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 35 to 40 minutes. Cool completely. Frost.

THREE LAYER CAKE: Grease and flour three 8-inch round baking pans. Heat oven to 350°F. Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake 30 to 35 minutes. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely. Frost.

BUNDT CAKE: Grease and flour 12-cup Bundt pan. Heat oven to 350°F. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 50 to 55 minutes. Cool 15 minutes; remove from pan to wire rack. Cool completely. Frost.

CUPCAKES: Line muffin cups (2-1/2 inches in diameter) with paper bake cups. Heat oven to 350°F. Fill cups 2/3 full with batter. Bake 22 to 25 minutes. Cool completely. Frost. About 30 cupcakes.

Servings: 18. Nutritional Information: Calories: 140 Fat: 6g Carbs: 21g Protein: 1g Sugars: 16g


Now for the Nutella frosting…

It really deserves an entire blog post all to itself, but I love how well it compliments the chocolate cake above, so I will post it here. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so I might spare the details of how fluffy, melt-in-your-mouth delicious, and Nutella-y this frosting is and just hope you will make it one day. It’s totally worth the extra miles you may have to run the next day!

IMG_20130325_202558 (1)

Nutella Buttercream Frosting


  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2/3 cup Nutella or other hazelnut spread
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tablespoons heaving whipping cream

1) In the bottom of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar together on low until well combined. Add the Nutella and increase speed to medium. Beat for two minutes.

2) Add the vanilla extract and salt, beating for an additional 30 seconds.

3) Last, add the whipping cream and continue to beat for about one minute, or until frosting lightens slightly in both color and texture.

*This made more than enough to frost an entire cake, however that may be because I do not pile on frosting as much as most people!*

Nutritional Information per Serving: Calories: 279 Fat: 21g Carbs: 21g Protein: 2g Sugar: 20g

Recipe adapted from: http://www.kitchentreaty.com/fluffy-nutella-buttercream-frosting/