Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

How is it that Valentine’s Day is already this week?! Weren’t we, like, just celebrating Christmas?

Are you a Valentine’s lover or hater? Or somewhere in between? I wouldn’t say that I embrace the holiday, but I’m not one to completely disregard the whole day either — as in, I wouldn’t be completely against my husband doing something special for me on Saturday (hint, hint). ;)


Growing up, I wasn’t one that got called to the office after school to pick up my bouquet of flowers or — the more desired gift — a donut cake or giant heart-shaped cookie from her mom or boyfriend, but I still had fun handing out my own homemade treats or candy to friends.

I’d like to say I’ve grown up a bit from passing out Sweethearts or Dum Dums during Homeroom…I’ve moved on to cupcakes with sprinkles! Baby steps, here people, baby steps.

But these cupcakes aren’t just any kind of cupcake, though. These Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting will win over anybody’s heart once he or she bites into this little bit of heaven. It’s moist. It’s rich. And it’s topped with cream cheese frosting — and cream cheese frosting makes anything better. Amiright?! You could put cream cheese frosting on a cookie that is as hard as a rock and I would probably love it. But don’t worry, these cupcakes are already good enough to stand their own — the frosting just takes them to the next level.


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(Philip’s Favorite) Soft & Chewy Snickerdoodles

Soft & Chewy Snickerdoodles

Hello again! It’s the new homeowner here! I’m feeling especially like an adult today because not only am I living in a house that we own now, but because we went furniture shopping yesterday and purchased a new dining room set. A gorgeous, classy, sophisticated, too-good-to-be-mine kind of dining room set. Oh, and a large copper-colored spoon, fork, and knife set to hang on our (bare) walls. It’s debatable whether I’m more excited about my life-size silverware or the new table that I’ll get to eat at in about a week when it’s delivered. Either way, it’s fun to see this house of ours come together. Wheee!!


Jumping back about a month ago, I was sitting on our floor, surrounded by boxes while we were packing, sifting through old papers and the random things that start to collect in a desk. Well, I came across an old piece of scratch paper that I had started writing on when I first met Philip (okay, it’s only about 2 years old, but it seemed ancient). On the paper was a list of all of his favorite things — so I could remember the important things like his favorite color, candy bar, non-chocolate candy, cake, and season. Of course those are crucial things that I didn’t want to dare forget. But on there were also his favorite flavors like cinnamon, lime, and garlic — which still comes in useful today. Thankfully when I went through the list, I was able to confidently say I knew all of the “favorites” and could throw away the piece of paper (mostly glad so I could get rid of the paper).

On that list were some of his favorite cookies, including snickerdoodles (because of the cinnamon, no doubt). When I was first getting to know Philip, I made these cookies and sent them with his dad when he was going up to Madison to visit Philip. If I hadn’t won Philip over yet, the cookies definitely did it. They were an instant hit with him! They were soft and chewy and extra cinnamon-y.

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Kara’s Favorite Soft Sugar Cookies

Soft Sugar Cookies

I get that it’s past Halloween, but it’s still technically fall, right? Right?! I mean, Thanksgiving is the epitome of fall, so therefore, minus the orange and black combo and the carved pumpkins, all fall colors and treats are still allowed for a few more weeks. That’s how my mind justified making my all-time favorite Soft Sugar Cookies this past weekend. Sure, all the colored leaves that were here just a couple weeks ago are completely gone and there may have been people hanging Christmas lights yesterday while Philip and I were out walking, but IT’S STILL FALL! Ahem.

Anyway, if you think it’s time to pull out the garland and Christmas lights, these Soft Sugar Cookies are just as tasty shaped into trees and bells as they are shaped like leaves and acorns. And believe me, I know, because these cookies have been made into everything from pumpkins and hearts to Easter eggs and bells over the years. As far back as I can remember, for every possible holiday, my mom was always making a batch of these cookies for me to decorate with her.

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Homemade Rustic Apple Crisp

Homemade Rustic Apple Crisp

Who else loved the gorgeous weekend we just had?! And maybe got a little rosy in the face (and shoulders, and legs, and…) like me? No? Must be my fair skin qualities coming out.

If you’re livin’ in the Midwest, then it was the perfect time to get outside and enjoy some fall activities because it was EIGHTY degrees out! I love fall, but it’s just so unpredictable, isn’t it? I’m glad the weather decided to pretend it was the middle of August, because it was apple orchard time for us this weekend!


I had Heather, a best friend from high school, come up to visit me for the weekend, which was so much fun! It’s always nice to see an “old” familiar face. Since she loves to bake and cook as much as I do, I knew that making my favorite Homemade Rustic Apple Crisp together would be a delicious way to use up some of our many (er, 20+ pounds) hand picked apples.


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Homemade PayDay Bars

Homemade PayDay Bars

Hello again!

I’m going to pretend like we’re just getting through the weekend (and not already starting the second workday of the week) and ask how everybody’s weekend was.

I spent the weekend in Minneapolis, reunited with my two best friends from college and it was just what you’d expect when three close girlfriends get together—an awesome time…with lots of chatting. Since we all live 4+ hours away from each other now, we’re starting somewhat quarterly visits with each other. Our last visit this past spring was in NE Iowa, and this time we headed up North. We talked and laughed so hard I knew I was getting a good, solid ab workout in, we ate amazing food (sorry, no pictures, but just trust me on this one), and even had an afternoon photo shoot to help Sarah and Alex practice their talented and developing photography skills. I enjoyed being the one just standing and smiling…new pictures up on my Facebook page and on my About Kara page!


Don’t I have such talented friends? Yeah, I thought so, too. :)

This weekend was much needed after the week I had last week. Busy, busy, busy! I barely had time to grocery shop—and for those of you who know me at all, that’s just plain ridiculous. ;)

Even though I felt like my days and evenings were blurring past me all too quickly last week, I wanted to make sure I made something for Philip to take to our church’s 5 year anniversary picnic celebration on Sunday. I knew it had to be fast and simple for me, yet still appealing for the picnic.


That’s when I thought of Homemade PayDay Bars. Well, and the fact that I had an almost entire bag of leftover marshmallows from our one evening of having s’mores during our anniversary week helped sway my decision in the direction of PayDay Bars. Oh, and because one of Philip’s favorite candy bars is PayDay also helped my decision…but mostly it’s because I could make these bars in under a half hour.

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Quick Homemade Cinnamon Rolls

Quick Homemade Cinnamon Rolls

Well, hello again. Is it just me, or are Mondays just tough to get back in the groove of things?

For some reason it’s always so hard for me to jump right back into the work as if no time elapsed from Friday. Somehow my mind completely forgets about whatever I was working on the previous five days during the week and come Monday, I have to rethink everything through on what was happening just two days prior.

It may just be the Type A in me coming out (and my love for lists), but in order to not waste a good half hour just rethinking through where to begin at the start of every week, I always make myself a list on Friday of the things I need to do when I come back on Monday—it brings me back to reality preeetty quickly come Monday morning. :)


I suppose this particular weekend made coming back to reality even more challenging, since it was another weekend away from Madison, having fun with the fam.

We made our second of our three mini-road trips this weekend to Peoria, Illinois, to celebrate Philip’s brother’s birthday. It’s always a great time when the family gets together—not to mention some great food.

Philip’s dad always makes our Saturday breakfast a special one by making us all a warm breakfast with eggs, toast, bacon, and grapefruit (and yes, it’s always grapefruit). I’m usually almost exclusively a cereal/oatmeal kind of breakfast girl, but the warm breakfast turns an everyday occasion—where you’re half asleep slurping up soggy cereal—into a special occasion that the whole family can enjoy together.

Speaking of family mealtime, that’s a whole other topic I could get into, but I’ll spare you the details. All I’ll say for now is it’s an important habit to get into no matter how big or small, young or old your family is. There’s your dietitian tip of the week from me. :)

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Dirt Pudding

Dirt Pudding

Happy Monday, everyone!

If your weekend weather was as nice as it was here in Madison, then I hope you were able to get out and enjoy it! I was able to be outside quite a bit (my pink red face is proof of that!). To start it off, I had the fun opportunity of helping out at a kids road race on the UW campus bright and early on Saturday morning. A couple things about this:

1) I’ve never been on the set-up/tear-down side of a race before. Whew! Even for a small kids race, it was quite the production! I have so much more appreciation now for all the work that goes into just the day-of work, not to mention all the planning beforehand that goes into races.

2) It was so cute to see the kids all decked out in their running “outfits” and their pure, genuine excitement for the race. They may have been cute, but these kids were definitely legit! I think they’d give me a run for my money.

Philip and I spent the rest of the day together, mostly outside of our home…which is my excuse for not noticing this change in our dining room wall art until well into the evening.


Lettuce…Turnip…the Beet. Get it? For some reason (maybe it has to do with my love for food and nutrition), but this phrase just makes me smile and I’ve been obsessed over it for quite awhile.


Months ago I talked about wanting a t-shirt made with this saying on it (which my sister-in-law has graciously volunteered to do!), but had no idea my sneaky husband was planning on doing this the whole time. None. Zilch. Nada. He never ceases to surprise me!

I previously had these up on the walls, which I also really loved. Philip somehow took these, did a little Photoshopping magic, and turned them into something any dietitian would want to have in her kitchen. The colors match our kitchen perfectly and I couldn’t be more thrilled with how they turned out. Didn’t he do an awesome job, you guys?!

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Soft & Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Soft and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Everybody has their favorite go-to chocolate chip cookie recipe. It may be just the back of the Nestlé chocolate chip bag or some special recipe that has been passed down through the family. I don’t care what it is, where you got it, or how much you love the cookies—you need to change cookie recipes, because you’re going to love these more. I’m telling you, these are your new favorite. Guaranteed. I’m usually tentative on telling people to change what’s currently working (I mean, why rock the boat, right?), but I’m tellin’ ya, I’m boldly stating that these are worth it!

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Individual Strawberry Rhubarb Pies with Almond Crust

Individual Strawberry Rhubarb Pie with Almond Crust

Hi everyone! I hope you all had a great weekend! My parents were able to make it into town, so it was a fun-filled weekend for me! I hadn’t seen my parents since Christmas and they hadn’t been to Madison since October, so there was lots of catching up to do. This included showing them around to the different places I’ve worked since October (don’t worry, there’s only two…and I plan on staying at my current one for awhile. :)). There’s just something about being able to visualize where somebody’s at during the day.

Plus, it was fun to show updates to our home, especially my new spring decorations I had made and put up. It’s been so dead and dreary in these parts that I finally said enough was enough and had to extend the bright colored jackets and clothes to our home decorations. I scavenged Pinterest for some ideas and on my day off last week I picked up the things I needed to spruce up our living space. Of course, after getting home and attempting the Pinterest version (and eating too many of the jellybeans that were meant to be only for decoration—who was I kidding?!), I realized it looked a lot better in my head (isn’t that always how it works?). So, I scrapped those ideas and actually used my own creative brain cells to make up my own. It made me remember what the days were like before Pinterest.


I think they turned out pretty well! Who needs Pinterest anyway?


Besides showing off my minimal decorating skills to my parents, I made sure to make something tasty for dinner when they arrived on Friday. Of course, dessert was the main thing I was concerned about. :) I had seen the recipe for individual pies awhile back and instantly knew I wanted to save it for my parents. My mom loves almonds, fruit pies, and is as excited as me for spring to really get here, so I knew Individual Strawberry Rhubarb Pies with Almond Crust would meet all of those criteria.


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Cookies ‘n Cream Cookies

Cookies 'n Cream Cookies

I’ve been holding out on a good one for you guys. I’ve been patiently impatiently storing it in my back pocket, waiting for the perfect time. But then I realized, there’s never a wrong time to share this one with you. It’s without a doubt, my favorite cookie to date. It’s Cookies ‘n Cream Cookies, folks! I love a lot of desserts and have tried a lot of cookies, so for this to be my favorite is definitely saying something!

I think I came across this cookie while still in grad school and I haven’t looked back since. Whenever I need to bring a dessert to an event or am having people over, I know this is a guaranteed winner. None of that worry about whether it’ll turn out or if people will like it. It has Oreos in it. It has white chocolate chips spattered throughout. It has pudding and sugar in it. How can you go wrong? You can’t.

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