York Peppermint Cupcakes

Hi Friends! Sorry I haven’t posted in a few days. Hubs and I are currently making our way from Florida all the way to California to spend Christmas with his family so my internet access has been quite limited. But, we stopped for the night to get some rest and I wanted to share these cupcakes with you guys.

My brother, Mike, loves York Peppermint patties. My mom always keeps a bag hidden in the cupboard and her and Mike are always sneaking in to take one. It was Mikey’s birthday over the weekend and I wanted to make him a special treat. I have been wanting to give these cupcakes a try for some time and Mikey’s birthday was the perfect occasion! Mike seemed to enjoy the cupcakes and also said that these cupcakes were good because they also freshen your breath. So, there you go, dessert that also freshens your breath! Sounds good to me!

York Peppermint Cupcakes with Peppermint Buttercream Frosting

Makes 24 cupcakes

Ingredients for the cupcakes:

– 1 box devil’s food cake mix

– 1 box instant chocolate pudding mix

– 4 eggs

– 3/4 cup vegetable oil

– 1 cup sour cream

– 1/2 cup milk

– 2 tsp. vanilla extract

– 24 small York Peppermint patties, frozen overnight


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, mix eggs, oil, sour cream, and vanilla extract. Add in cake mix and pudding mix and continue mixing until well-combined.

2. Place cupcake liners into muffin pan and pour batter into cups filling each cup approximately 1/4 of the way, then place a small york peppermint patty. Fill the liner with more batter until it is about 3/4 of the way full. Bake for 19-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Allow cupcakes to cool completely before frosting.

Ingredients for the Peppermint Buttercream Frosting:

– 2 sticks of unsalted butter, softened

– 2 lbs. confectioners’ sugar, sifted

– 6-8 tbs. milk or heavy cream

– 2 tsp. peppermint extract (or to taste)


1. Cream the butter in a large mixing bowl. Add in confectioners’ sugar 1 cup at a time and continue until all sugar is creamed together with the butter. Add peppermint extract and 3 tablespoons of the milk or cream and mix. Keep adding a tablespoon of the milk or cream until your frosting is smooth. Frost the cupcakes and garnish with an additional mint or with shaved chocolate or sprinkles!

– When baking with candy, I recommend freezing it overnight, otherwise, it will melt right into the batter while it’s baking!
– If you can’t find the small-size Yorks in a bag, you can just buy the large ones and cut them up into smaller pieces!

Low-Fat Cranberry Orange Bread

Ok, I know, another sweet post. I just realized that everything I have been posting lately is sweet! But, I think this is probably true for a lot of bloggers out there. As much as I love baking, a part me of wants the holidays to be over so I can get back to my normal diet and so my kitchen doesn’t look like a bomb went off in it!

My mom and I love cranberries. In fact, on Thanksgiving, I think we are the only people that touch the cranberry sauce! My mom gave me this recipe for cranberry orange bread a few years ago and we both enjoy making it this time of year. Given all the sweets I have been eating, I wanted to try to make this bread a little heartier and lighter in fat. This bread is made with whole wheat flour and I also added in some flax meal which along with the pecans, gave this bread a great nutty flavor. This was also the first time I used applesauce in place of butter and I was pretty happy with the results!

Low-Fat Cranberry Orange Bread

Makes 1 loaf


– 2 cups whole wheat flour

– 1/2 cup sugar

– 1 tbs. baking powder

– 1/2 tsp. salt

– Grated rind of 1 large orange

– Optional: 1/4 cup flaxseed meal

– 2/3 cup fresh orange juice

– 2 eggs, lightly beaten

– 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce

– 1/4 cup vegetable oil

– 1 1/4 cups fresh cranberries

– 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line bottom and sides of 9″ x 5″ loaf pan with wax paper and grease.

2. Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt into a mixing bowl. Stir in orange rind. Make well in center and add orange juice, eggs and applesauce. Stir from the center until the ingredients are blended. Do not overmix. Add cranberries and walnuts. Stir until blended.

3. Transfer batter to the prepared pan and bake until a cake tester inserted in center comes out clean, about 45 to 50 minutes. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes before transferring to a rack to cool completely. Serve thinly sliced, toasted or plain, with butter or cream cheese and jam.

– If you want to cut the sugar in this recipe, I actually made mine with closer to 1/4 cup of sugar, but if you wanted, you could use Stevia or Splenda!
– If you don’t have whole wheat flour, you can use white flour. Don’t want to use applesauce? Then use 6 tablespoons of butter!

A Very Merry Berry Martini

A very merry berry martini. Wow, try saying that 5 times fast! When it comes to alcoholic drinks, I’m usually just a wine kind of gal. I don’t typically like drinks that are super sweet, but sometimes, I do enjoy a nice fruity martini and yesterday called for a fruity martini! I have been working pretty hard the last month on finishing my preliminary doctoral exam paper and yesterday, I had to defend my paper in front of my committee. I’m happy to report that I passed my defense which now makes me an official doctoral candidate! Now all I have to do is finish my dissertation and I can finally be done with grad school! And of course, after a stressful defense, all I wanted to do was go home, put on pj’s, and have a drink!

A Very Merry Berry Martini

Serves 1-2


– 4 ice cubes

– 3 oz. raspberry vodka

– 1 oz. orange liqueur

– 2 oz. cranberry juice

– Optional: splash of grenadine

– Suggested Garnishes: cranberries, colored sugar for the rims of the glasses


1. Pour all ingredients into a martini shaker and shake until well-combined. Cheers!

– You can use plain cranberry juice if you want, but you could also try adding other flavor combos like cranberry pomegranate, or cranberry-apple, cranberry-strawberry juice, etc. Whatever you want!

Gingerbread Cookie Dip

First there was Cookie Dough Dip. Then there was Brownie Batter Dip. Now, I bring your Gingerbread Cookie Dip! And as with the other dips, this dip is also made with beans!

I wasn’t quite sure how this one was gonna turn out, but it was much better than I expected! It really tastes like gingerbread cookies! I only had light brown sugar, but if you have dark brown sugar, that might make this dip a little darker and it will look more like gingerbread! I ate mine with apple slices and it was super delicious, but you can also use graham crackers, or if you want to be a little bad, cookies!

Gingerbread Cookie Dip


– 1 can navy beans, drained and rinsed

– 2/3 cup dark brown sugar

– 1/4 cup natural peanut butter

– 2 tsp. vanilla extract

– 2 tbs. molasses

– 1/2 tsp. cinnamon

– 1/2 tsp. ground ginger

– 1/4 tsp. ground cloves

– 1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg


1. Add all ingredients to a food processor and mix until smooth. I didn’t need to add any milk to this one, but if it’s too thick for you, add some skim or soy milk!

– Just like the other sweet dips I have made, you can use sugar substitutes for this, but just keep in mind that the molasses makes the sugar content higher in this dip!

Olive and Cream Cheese Penguins

Ok friends. It’s Monday and I know, it sucks. But, I’ve made you something that is surely going to cure your case of the Mondays. Though I had originally only planned to bring cookies to my lab’s holiday party this past weekend, I found out we were in need of more appetizers. I’ve seen these little guys floating around the interwebz in various places the past couple of year and have been dying to make them and took my lab’s party as the perfect opportunity. And let me tell you guys, these are the cutest appetizers ever!!

Yes, really! Now, I won’t lie to you guys. These little penguins took some time to put together. It took me some time to really figure out how to get the cream cheese into the olives neatly. As you can see, mine aren’t perfect, but I was making them at 10pm on a Friday night which means my OCD tendencies got away from me. I do recommend getting colossal olives. I accidentally bought extra large olives which worked, but I think the colossal olives would be easier to pipe the cream cheese into! You can use regular cream cheese if you want, but I wanted to give these more flavor so I used chive whipped cream cheese.


  • 1 8-ounce package flavored cream cheese, softened
  • 1 can small seeded black olives
  • 1 can colossal seeded black olives (can also use extra large)
  • 2-3 carrots
  • toothpicks


  1. Start off by prepping all of your ingredients. Drain the olives. Slice your carrots into 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick slices. Once the cream cheese has softened, put it in a bowl and whip with a hand mixer (if not already whipped). Then, spoon it into a piping bag with a small tip (I used a #5, but one that is slightly larger might be easier!).
  2. Take a carrot slice and cut a small triangle out of it. The triangle you have just cut is the nose and the remaining piece are the feetsies! Place the large piece of carrot onto a toothpick and slide all the way down. Then take one of the larger olives, and slice down one side. Then take your piping bag and pipe the cream cheese into the olive until it is filled and make sure you can see some of the cream cheese poking out of the slit you cut to make the tummy. Slide the olive down on top of the feet with the hole-side down. Then, take a small olive and insert the triangle you cut into the hole to make your penguin’s head. Slide the small olive on top of the stomach and there you go!
All images and text ©

Magic Bars

Ok y’all, today’s post is gonna start off a little mushy. First, I want to say THANK YOU SO MUCH for buzzing my Cranberry Orange Bars to the Top 9 on Foodbuzz today!! This is my first time to get in the Top 9 and I couldn’t be more excited! I have met so many wonderful friends from Foodbuzz and I am so thankful for each and every one of you!!

Alright now that we got that out of the way, we can talk about these Magic Bars. Every year, my Aunt Renée makes a bunch of cookies for Christmas and she always sends a big platter of them home with us. I will say that of all the cookies on the tray, the magic bars are probably the favorite in the family and are usually the first ones to disappear. Part of this might be because she is stingy with giving us the magic bars as my cousins try to hoard them for themselves (*insert evil snicker as I know they might be reading this ;) ). So anyway, once we bring the tray home and unwrap the plastic wrap, there are usually only like 4 or 5 magic bars on the tray. What the heck is up with that, yo?!

This year, Hubs and I will be traveling to California to spend Christmas with his family. I’m excited to spend time with them and I am REALLY excited because I finally get to meet my adorable little nephew who was born at the end of July! But going to Cali means I won’t be going home to Cleveland and won’t get to fight it out for the magic bars so when I decided to make a cookie tray of my own for my lab’s holiday party this weekend, magic bars needed to be on it!!

Classic Magic Bars

From Eagle Brand®

Makes about 24 bars


– 1/2 cup butter, melted

– 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs

– 1 14-ounce can sweetened and condensed milk

– 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

– 1 1/3 cups shredded coconut

– Optional: 3/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl, combine the melted butter and the graham cracker crumbs until it is fully moistened by the butter. Spray a 9×13 baking dish with non-stick spray. Add the crumbs to the pan, spread evenly and push down to form a crust. Pour the sweetened condensed milk evenly over the crust. Then layer with the chocolate chips and then the coconut. Press down with a fork. Bake for about 25-30 minutes until the top is golden brown. I recommend letting the bars cool before cutting.

Suggested variations:
– Sprinkles (though, the nonpareils I used started to bleed so I’m not sure I would use them again).
– M&M’s (use red and green for the holidays!)
– Dried fruit – cranberries, raisins, etc.
– Butterscotch or peanut butter chips (OR, mix the chocolate and PB chips! YUM!)