dessert & wine sundays: red velvet cupcakes


On Sundays I gather around with some friends, watch some very good-bad reality tv (tough love anyone?) over dessert and wine.

This week as I hosted dessert & wine Sundays, and as I was itching to use my Halloween cupcake accessories I decided to attempt Red Velvet Cupcakes (mostly because I thought the colors complimented the wrappers well). I make a mean frosting but I’ve never made a Red Velvet before so I was a lil nervous.


Earlier that morning I had also made pumpkin cinnamon roll pancakes. I had all good intentions of blogging about the pancakes and then part way through my camera died :/ I forgot to charge it until I had already finished to cupcakes so the pics are just of the end product.

FYI– The boys (my roomies, I live w/4 boys) LOVED LOVED LOVED the pumpkin cinnamon roll pancakes! Which I will be making again and posting soon. I was afraid they might be too sweet but they were AHMAZING… I had four. Eeek. Good thing I went to yoga after.


For the Red Velvet Cupcakes I used a (more popular? and) less traditional recipe. One thought I had after making these was it seemed like the recipe called for too much unsweetened cocoa powder. After everything was mixed I HAD to taste the batter. Of course. This thought stuck with me and after looking on the web for other Red Velvet recipes I think next time I will try the more traditional recipes. Also, I cut the recipe in half and only baked a dozen cupcakes. The cupcakes were good, not as fluffy as I’d thought they’d be. They weren’t too sweet, which is nice since the frosting was sweet enough.


However, the frosting recipe (which is not the RV traditional) makes an amazing recipe and I definitely definitely recommend. So I will post the frosting recipe but not the actual Red Velvet recipe until I experiment a lil more for myself (if you want I can message it to you).

End product: They were definitely very tasty, and not too sweet.





  • 2 eight oz cream cheese (room temperature)
  • 1/2 C butter (room temperature)
  • 2 1/2 C powdered sugar (not packed)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Time: ~10 min


Serving: 24 cupcakes


Directions: If the butter and cheese are not at room temperature, cut the butter up and microwave on 20 second intervals until butter is soft in a medium-sized mixing & microwave safe mixing bowl. Add creme cheese. If creme cheese is not at room temperature do not use an electric mixer, it will be soo difficult and it will just get stuck up in the mixer. Use a fork instead. Gradually add the sugar. NOTE: when measuring, scoop the sugar into a measuring cup, don’t just dig the measuring cup into a bag of sugar. Add the vanilla. If you think the consistency of the frosting is too soft add a little more sugar. If it is too thick mix in a teaspoon of milk. Use or refrigerate immediately.


what’s for dinner: double-double & green fries #healthified


I stumbled upon this amazing website over the weekend. It mostly made me miss Inn-n-Out burgers, animal style. After I wiped a tear from my eye and the drool from my chin I decided to take matters into my own hands and make a Double. Double. Animal. Style. Healthified. I’m still getting used to taking pictures of all my adventures, so bear with me as this one doesn’t have any how-to photos.

I threw two turkey burgers on the grill, along with some chopped onion on top of foil and garlic asparagus (green fries).

The trick is putting the cheese on the burger right after you’ve flipped it and the other side is cooking. I added a lil BBQ sauce to give it a kick and place it on a warm, toasted thin whole wheat and viola! my very own double-double animal-style. AND my favorite part of a burger– grilled onions!!!!

My healthified animal style double-double:

  • 1 thin whole wheat bun
  • 2 turkey burger patties
  • 2 slices of cheese, your choice
  • onions, grilled (diced or chopped, your liking. just make sure you dice/chop the same size so they grill evenly)
  • add any other condiments you choose: mustard, ketchup, lettuce, tomatoes….

Prep time: 5 minutes:

Cook time: 10ish minutes

Servings: 1

Directions: Place burger, onions and asparagus on grill; place the bun on the warmer. After you flip the burger put cheese on top and then sprinkles onions on top of melted cheese.

Green Fries:

  • olive oil (substitute: olive oil Pam)
  • garlic powder (substitute: garlic salt, fresh garlic)
  • optional: fresh parmesan (substitute Kraft parmesan)

Prep time: 2 minutes

Cook time: 10-15 minutes

Serving: as many as you like

Directions: Don’t be shy with the olive oil! Drizzle it over the asparagus. Mix and make sure no part of the asparagus is dry. Sprinkle with garlic powder– or in my case because I love garlic I absolutely drown them in garlic powder (you can also use garlic salt but sometimes I think this is too salty). Place the asparagus in tin foil, don’t cover the asparagus, this just makes clean up easier and also it makes it harder to burn your veggies. Grill for about 10 minutes. Alternatively, you can bake at about 400 degrees for 10ish minutes, or until you get them as you like– sometimes I like mine a lil more crispy so I leave them in for 15 minutes. After you take them off the grill grate some fresh parmesan.

For a less healthified animal style click here.

cupcake accessory haul!!


I had some time to burn before seeing Paranormal Activity this past weekend and oh lucky me there just happened to be a TJ Maxx. Of course this was by design. Okay, so you might think I have a problem. But after my last TJ Maxx food haul my roomies requested I go back and pick up some garlic basil dipping sauce and I couldn’t help by feel regret that I didn’t pick up more cupcake case sets.

First, I picked up ‘Halloween Cupcake Decor Set.’ I’m pretty excited because I’m going to use this set tomorrow to make Red Velvet Cupcakes for Dessert & Wine Sundays. This set is from Brand Castle ( I picked up a set of 24 for $6.99 (regularly priced at $12.00).

Second, I picked up 12 cupcake wrappers by bella Cupake Couture. They are regularly priced at $6.00, I was able to get them on clearance for $3.00. I absolutely love love the design up these wrappers and cannot wait to jazz up my cupcakes.

The next two items are cupcake carriers. The first is this great little brown and pink polka dot carrier. I absolutely LOVE the combo of brown and pink so ofcourse I picked up three. In my defense I didn’t realize there were two in each package since it’s mostly in German. ($3.99)

The second cupcake (or cookie) boxes are a set of 3 blue and 3 pink with white polka dots. You can find out more about this company at They were $5.99 regularly priced at $10.00. These are equally as cute and perfect for a baby shower.

Finally I picked up some Fall colored sprinkles. Can’t wait to use these on some Cake Pops!! My favorite thing about these sprinkles are the case, it has a great top and will definitely be something I will keep and reuse. ($4.99)

cheesecake factory mac & cheese balls (the kinda healthy way)

Ever since I saw Cheesecake Factory’s fried mac and cheese balls on ‘Unwrapped’ I have been obsessed. They’re almost a staple now when I visit Cheesecake Factory. I went camping this weekend and thought they would make great outdoors side dish. I was right. These balls are some work, and next time I will moderate the recipe, but they got great reviews!

A guilty pleasure.

I searched the web and found the recipe below over and over claiming to be the secret recipe. Below are my notes/tips in pink.

  • 1 pound Cavatappi (also called cellentani or double elbows, is macaroni formed in a spiral tube shape with ridges) In the interest of trying to be health conscious I used  whole wheat maccaroni elbows, they turned out great and no one noticed the pasta was whole wheat
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups milk, warmed, plus 2 tablespoons for egg wash
  • 1 pound grated Sharp Cheddar
  • 1 pound grated smoked Gouda
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 cups seasoned bread crumbs
  • Vegetable oil, for frying I didn’t have enough vegetable oil so I used olive oil. It produced a more golden brown coloring than regular vegetable oil.
  • Marinara sauce, to serve
  1. Cook the macaroni according to package instructions. Drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking. Drain again and set aside.
  2. In a saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Sprinkle the flour into the butter and stir it with a whisk. Cook for 2 minutes.
  3. Whisk the warmed milk into the flour mixture, working out any lumps. Cook until the sauce thickens, about 2 minutes.Remove from the heat, add the cheeses, and stir until melted and smooth; season with salt and pepper. I found I needed to put this over heat again in order to get the cheese to melt. Fold the cheese sauce into macaroni. Pour the mac and cheese into a shallow pan and refrigerate until cold, at least 2 hours. I didn’t have a large enough pan so I used the big pot I boiled the maccaroni in (which had cooled by now). This wasn’t too shallow and in retrospect I should have left them in the fridge for another hour or so. One comment on a review said she used Velveeta cheese. Next time I think I will try Velveeta. Personally, I think 1 lb of smoked Gouda was too over overpowering of a flavor. What I liked is that these balls were cheesy, but not too gooey, so they didn’t feel too heavy. If you want more cheesy I would def substitute Velveeta and, if you want more of an American mac and cheese flavor substitute American for Gouda. Also, one commenter said she called Cheesecake Factory and they told her they used White Cheddar, Fontina, and Jack cheeses. Next time I think I will use White Cheddar and Fontina instead of Gouda.
  4. Shape the cold mac and cheese into meatball-sized balls and place them onto a waxed paper-lined tray. It makes this sooo much easier if you have an ice cream scooper!! Freeze the balls overnight. This took up a lot of room in the freezer, so beware. I forgot to buy wax paper at the store, so instead I used a regular cookie sheet and sprayed it with cooking spray. Worked great. TIP: If you’re using wax paper for actual baking, then you might not really need wax paper, you  can substitute with aluminum foil or a metal pan.
  5. Beat the eggs and 2 tablespoons milk together to form an egg wash and pour it into a shallow bowl. Put the bread crumbs into another shallow bowl. I used the bread crumbs I had available, a mix of regular and whole wheat bread crumbs. I wanted to make this recipe a little healthier so I tried to opt for whole wheat whenever I could. Next time for a little more flavor I may try the Italian seasoned bread crumbs.
  6. Remove the mac and cheese balls from the freezer. Dip the frozen balls into the egg wash then into the break crumbs. Put the balls back into the freezer until you are ready to fry.
  7. Heat the oil in a deep-fat fryer to 350 degrees F. I do not have a deep-fryer. Instead, I heated oil over a gas flame. This resulted in my first batch, two balls, being burnt. I had only left them in for less than a minute. Make sure the flame is on medium heat at the most.
  8. Fry the mac and cheese balls until they are golden brown and center is hot, about 4-5 minutes. If you are not using a deep-fryer make sure to experiment on the first two or three. The balls need to cook for a couple of minutes so they are completely warm through-and-through. If you cook them only a fraction of the time the balls will look fried from the outside but may still be partially frozen or pretty cold on the inside.
  9. Serve hot with your favorite marinara for dipping and add some grated parmesan!

What do you think, can you not wait to try these?!

After I got back from the camping trip I reheated a few up in a frying pan over low heat. I turned them and directly added marinara sauce. They were till very good!!

I keep some of the balls frozen for about a month until one night when the power went out and I fried these up for my roommates– they were a big hit!

Watch a video of the Cheesecake Factory’s process on ‘Unwrapped’:

How to make an egg wash:

healthy homemade meatball sandwiches

This was originally posted from my other blog.

On my way to the last Harry Potter movie ever I grabbed a meatball sandwich from Subway. They’re pretty good and only five dollars for a footlong. However, the meatballs tasted kinda funny. I kept eating most of the sandwich b/c well I was hungry and paid for it and that’s just the type of person I am. BUT. I thought to myself, I can make this. I can make this better.

So I made meatballs. Healthy meatballs. The recipe takes about two hours total, but you make a lot. I froze what I didn’t use this week.  I’ve had two meatball sandwiches for lunch this week and I’m pretty sure I can have two meatball sandwiches at work for the next two months. (Update: I’ve eaten 2-5 meatball sandwiches a month since mid-July! Such a nice backup to have for work when I’m busy and don’t have much time.)

It’s worth the effort to make this recipe!! Freeze up to three months.

Here is the recipe w/my modifications included in pink:

  • 1/2 cup bulgur, (see Ingredient Note)
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 8 cloves garlic, very thinly sliced
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper After reading one review I decided to put a little more kick in the meatballs. I at least doubled the amount and they came out with a nice little kick of flavor. If you really want spicy I would say add 1 to  1 1/4 teaspoons
  • 2 28-ounce cans diced tomatoes I stopped by the clearance racks at my grocery store– which consists of dented cans and found 1 14 oz can of diced tomatoes half off. I also found two 7.5 oz cans half off, one that was fire roasted tomatoes and garlic, the other tomatoes with onions and green peppers. They added just a lil more flavor. I also used less garlic b/c I can had garlic in it.
  • 4 cups diced plum tomatoes, (about 1 1/2 pounds) After reading one review that said it was too saucy and knowing that I wanted these for sandwiches and not pasta I completely cut out this part of the recipe.
  • 2 cups cubed whole-wheat country bread I used regular sized bread crumbs and the consistency turned out great.
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1 pound 93%-lean ground beef
  • 1/2 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, plus more to taste
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt


  1. Place bulgur in a medium bowl and cover generously with hot water. Let soak for 30 minutes. Drain in a fine sieve, pressing to remove excess liquid.
  2. Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-low heat. (I used a large sauce pan.) Add garlic, oregano and crushed red pepper; cook, stirring, until softened but not browned, about 1 minute. Stir in canned tomatoes and plum tomatoes; increase heat to medium-high and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low. Partially cover and let simmer while you prepare meatballs.
  3. Place bread in a medium bowl and cover with cold water. Let soak for a few minutes. Drain and squeeze out moisture.
  4. Whisk egg and egg white in a large bowl. Add the bulgur, the bread, beef, Parmesan, cinnamon, pepper and salt. Gently combine with a potato masher and/or your hands. Form into 20 oval meatballs about 2 inches long.
  5. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add half the meatballs and cook, turning occasionally, until browned all over, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate; blot with paper towels. Brown the remaining meatballs.
  6. Mash the simmering tomato sauce with a potato masher to break down any large chunks of tomato. Add the meatballs to the sauce. Simmer over low heat, partially covered, for 50 minutes.
  7. Taste the sauce and add sugar, if it seems tart, and additional pepper to taste. Serve the meatballs with the sauce.

Tips & Notes:

  • Make Ahead Tip: Cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.
  • Ingredient note: Bulgur is made by parboiling, drying and coarsely grinding or cracking wheat berries. It simply needs a quick soak in hot water for most uses. Look for it in the natural-foods section of large supermarkets, or near other grains.

I bought some nice sandwich rolls to complement my meatballs. I keep them separated at work until I’m ready to eat. Then I microwave the meatballs and put the roll into the toaster oven. Viola!!


Per serving: 283 calories; 11 g fat ( 4 g sat , 4 g mono ); 73 mg cholesterol; 20 g carbohydrates; 23 g protein; 5 g fiber; 687 mg sodium; 271 mg potassium.

Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin C (60% daily value), Vitamin A (30% dv).