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4th of July Sour Cream Cupcakes

June 30, 2014

Sour Cream Cupcakes 1 | Espresso and Cream

Lately I’ve been trying to see my husband’s golf hobby as a blessing in disguise. Sure, he’s gone for a large chunk of each weekend, but that means I have plenty of time to spend on the things I love to do, like blogging, getting together with girlfriends for a walk or coffee, and laying outside in the sunshine while reading magazines.

I think sometimes I’m too quick to underestimate the importance of  having individual interests and hobbies in a marriage. Because I love Joe and love spending time with him, it’s easy to default to spending most of our time together, and while quality time is certainly important, it’s amazing how much richer and fuller our conversations and time together ends up being when we devote time to interests apart from things we do together.

This extra time on the weekends has meant that I have a little better grasp on editorial plans for this little blog and the upcoming holidays. It’s also why you happen to see me posting a real, actual Fourth of July recipe almost an entire week before the actual holiday, which pretty much never happens.

Sour Cream Cupcakes 2 | Espresso and Cream


Since I’m not a huge fan of “cute” food, I kept these cupcakes pretty simple with just the slightest nod to the red, white and blue. The real special part about these cupcakes is how great they taste and how easy they are to make. I started with a box of white cake mix, then added all sorts of good stuff to the batter like sour cream, an extra egg, some vanilla and a box of vanilla pudding mix.

The cupcakes are light and airy and totally delicious, especially when topped with a vanilla sour cream frosting. The sour cream adds just the slightest tang to the frosting and prevents it from tasting too sweet. For a frosting lover like myself, that just means you can enjoy extra frosting! If you’re looking for a dessert that is a little more in-your-face Fourth of July, I would suggest topping the cupcakes with a mix of blueberries, raspberries/strawberries and shredded coconut.

4th of July Sour Cream Cupcakes
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 18
  • 1 box Betty Crocker SuperMoist white cake mix
  • 1 box (3.9 oz) instant vanilla pudding mix
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • ¾ cup vegetable or canola oil
  • ½ cup water
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • ¼ cup (4 tablespoons) butter, softened
  • 2½ cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Milk (to thin if necessary)
  • Fresh blueberries
  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Line 18 standard-sized muffin tins with paper baking liners in red, white and blue colors, if desired.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine all the cake ingredients. Mix 2 minutes on medium speed until well combined and batter is smooth. Divide batter between cupcake liners. Bake 16 to 18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan 5 minutes. Transfer cupcakes to a wire cooling rack and cool completely, about 30 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, prepare the frosting. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the sour cream and butter until smooth. Add in the powdered sugar and vanilla and beat until well combined. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons milk to thin the frosting as needed.
  4. Frost cooled cupcakes with frosting. Top with fresh blueberries. Store leftover cupcakes in the refrigerator loosely covered with plastic wrap.



Gluten-Free Healthy Oatmeal Peanut Butter Cookies

June 26, 2014

Gluten Free Oatmeal Peanut Butter Cookies 1 | Espresso and Cream

Lately I’ve really become captivated by the idea of simplicity and minimalism. It started with building a capsule wardrobe (more on that soon) and after I finished, I looked at my closet, so empty and uncluttered and scaled down to what I truly loved to wear and something started to click. In the past few weeks I’ve been digging and sorting through the junk drawer in our kitchen (does everyone have one of those?) and our pantry filled with kitchen appliances. It spilled over into the giant collection of magazines that I’ve kept for years; I tossed all but my favorite old issues of Gourmet and a few items of my own published work. I’ve been selling unused kitchen appliances and giving away cookbooks that I’ve collected over the years and just don’t have room to store. My house is starting to feel like a clean-running machine rather than a car loaded down with stuff.

A little voice in my head kept saying, “I need less.” “I want less!” You see, if I’m not careful I find myself getting caught up in the fallacy that I need more and more. I finish a much-needed living room remodel and start to fixate on other rooms in our house. Rooms that don’t really need to be updated, but something inside me whispers that if I just changed that one little thing, I would be happier.

So lately, when I start to think that I need more than I really do, I remind myself that I would rather spend my life living rather than managing my stuff and trying to keep up with the latest and greatest.

Gluten Free Oatmeal Peanut Butter Cookies 2 | Espresso and CreamI guess some of that simplicity-seeking has translated into my cooking at home, too. I’ve been baking with less sugar, imagining that’s probably the way that my grandma baked living on the farm all those years ago. It’s been nice, in this era of hyper-sweetened desserts, to sit down and enjoy a really simple, lightly sweet cookie that tastes like something you could eat every day rather than something you can only enjoy on a birthday or special occasion. And, I suppose, with each of these cookies only having 135 calories per cookie, you certainly could have one every day.

Gluten-Free Healthy Oatmeal Peanut Butter Cookies
Serves: 15
  • 1 cup creamy natural peanut butter
  • ¼ to ½ cup brown sugar (I used ¼ for lightly sweet cookies, use ½ C if you want sweeter cookies)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon gluten-free vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup Chex gluten-free instant oats or other instant gluten-free oats of choice
  • 2 large eggs
  1. Heat oven to 350F.
  2. In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients until well combined. Roll dough into 15 balls, a little more than 1-inch in diameter. Use a fork sprayed with cooking spray to press a criss-cross pattern into the tops of the cookies.
  3. Bake on cookie sheet sprayed with cooking spray 8 minutes or until edges are set and just golden brown. Cool 5 minutes on baking sheet. Cool completely on wire cooling rack, about 10 minutes.



Berry Breakfast Cobbler

June 11, 2014

berry breakfast cobbler 4 | espresso and cream

I love breakfast more than any other meal of the day. We’ve been over this before, right? I tend to get pretty protective of my mornings, especially slow and lazy weekend mornings when Joe and I can watch the morning news and drink a pot of coffee together and eat breakfast with the sun shining through our big picture window. Although I love waking up early, even on the weekends, I don’t like to be rushed into action first thing in the morning. I’m all about having a little time to wake up and settle into the day.

If you’ve eaten dinner at my house any time in the last year and a half, the chances are pretty good that I’ve served you berry cobbler for dessert. This recipe from Sprouted Kitchen is one of my absolute favorite recipes because it’s easy, slightly healthier than a traditional cobbler and I always have the ingredients on hand. Usually I use frozen mixed berries in place of the blueberries and whatever Greek yogurt we happen to have in the fridge.

The other day I found myself thinking about that dessert and how fun it would be to have berry cobbler for breakfast. Since the base of any fruit dessert is, well, fruit, I figured it couldn’t be that hard to make a slightly indulgent yet totally breakfast-acceptable dish. And you know what? I was right.

berry breakfast cobbler 2 | espresso and cream
This Berry Breakfast Cobbler is going into regular rotation at our house, I can just feel it now. It’s perfect for breakfast, but Joe and I have also been eating it after dinner as a healthier way to ward off that need for something sweet at the end of the day. It’s packed with antioxidants from the berries and whole grains from the flour and oats, which add a hearty, earthy taste and texture in the best possible way.

Although I’m not one to typically use a lot of low-calorie sweeteners in my baking, I did sweeten the berry mixture with stevia instead of sugar to keep the calories in check and prevent this dish from becoming a morning sugar bomb in disguise. If you don’t want to use stevia, I would suggest swapping 1/2 cup of granulated sugar for the stevia in this recipe. I’m sure it would be every bit (if not more) delightful.

Berry Breakfast Cobbler
Recipe type: breakfast, dessert, snack
Serves: 6
  • Cobbler Topping
  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour or all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup old fashioned oats
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 3 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 (6 oz) Greek yogurt (plain or some type of berry flavor - I used Greek blueberry)
  • Berry Base
  • 6 cups frozen mixed berries
  • ¼ cup granulated stevia (such as Truvia)
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  1. Heat oven to 375°F. Spray a 9-inch deep-dish pie plate with cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the flour, oats, brown sugar and baking powder together until well-combined. Work the butter into the flour mixture with your hands until the butter is in very small pieces and mixture resembles a coarse meal. Add in the Greek yogurt and stir until just combined (mixture will be lumpy.) Set aside.
  3. Toss together the berries, stevia and 3 tablespoons flour. Transfer mixture to the prepared pie plate. Sprinkle topping over berry mixture.
  4. Bake 40 to 45 minutes or until berry mixture is bubbly and topping is browned and crispy. Cool at least 30 minutes before serving.



Brown Butter Cheerios Protein Cereal Treat Bars

June 8, 2014

Cheerios Protein Cereal Treat Bar 1 | Espresso and Cream

As a food editor, I spend a good chunk of my days developing recipes for our brands. It’s a wonderful job, one that I’m so incredibly thankful for, and I love seeing the way recipes and food content can solve problems and provide inspiration for each season and family event.

But when it comes to blogging, lately I’ve felt quite conflicted.

It’s not that I don’t have recipes to share or food ideas, goodness knows I have plenty. But there are so many people sharing amazing food content that sometimes I worry that I’m just one more person adding to the chaos and noise. There are bloggers doing such inspiring work and magazines and food websites that continue to do one great thing after the next. I’m so energized by what they create that sometimes I can’t imagine what I have to add on this site is even worth sharing.

In those moments when I’m tempted to stop creating all together, I find focusing on why I create recipes or share personal stories on this space is the only remedy. I’ve long since abandoned writing for page views or sponsors or new followers (although, let’s be honest, they’re always nice.) I realize that my blog may very well be a small corner of the internet forever rather than the next mega site. More than anything, I write to share life and connect with other like-minded women (and a few men!) who are striving for the same things: authenticity, health, community, a deeper faith, and really great food.

It seems that the most popular type of writing voice on the web is one that’s witty, sarcastic and always chipper. I can’t tell you the number of bloggers I’ve met that are nothing like their online personas, and it always baffles me why everyone feels they need to fall in line with that type of writing. It’s so easy to start to believe that you need to write in that same popular style, but I for one and not all that witty in real life, rarely sarcastic and more direct than chipper. This is your free pass to hold me accountable if ever I seem to veer off course.

Brown Butter Cheerios Protein Cereal Treat Bar 2 | Espresso and Cream

I’m not sure there is any natural transition from authenticity in blogging to cereal treat bars, but this recipe is too good not to share. It’s everything I expect from a dessert: simple, delicious and easy to make. Working at General Mills the word “Rice Krispie” is completely off limits. I’m only sort of kidding, but I have found that my time there has given me a lot of appreciation for marshmallow bars using other types of cereal.

Recently I got a chance to take home a few boxes of the new Cheerios Protein and it didn’t take me long to realize the Cinnamon Almond flavor was the perfect base for a cereal treat bar. But of course I couldn’t stop there, I decided that browning the butter was the best way to bring out the flavor of the cereal. If you’ve never browned your butter before adding the marshmallows I would strongly suggest you give it a try. This little trick reaps so much in terms of flavor that you’ll never want to go back to making them any other way.

Brown Butter Cheerios Protein Cereal Bar
Recipe type: Dessert, Snack
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 9
  • 4 tablespoons salted butter
  • 1 bag (10 oz) miniature marshmallows
  • 5 cups Cheerios Protein Cereal (I used the cinnamon-almond flavor)
  • 4 oz milk or semi-sweet chocolate, melted
  1. Place butter in a nonstick saucepan over medium heat. Melt butter and continue to cook, stirring frequently, 3 to 4 minutes or until butter is brown and fragrant. Reduce heat to low and stir in the marshmallows. Continue to cook and stir until marshmallow mixture is melted and smooth.
  2. Stir in the cereal until well combined. Press mixture into an 8x8-inch square pan that is sprayed with cooking spray. If desired, drizzle with chocolate. Let set 30 minutes. Cut into 9 bars.



Easy Rhubarb Crisp

May 23, 2014

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Sometimes when I have a recipe to share it’s almost like going through the motions; I know exactly what I want to say about the recipe, how the flavors are balanced and the recipe’s ingredients shine and the like. But this morning when I sat down to write it was life, more than anything, that felt right to be writing about.

A few people over the last couple weeks have asked how we are doing, a very loaded, complicated and thoughtful question to ask 6 weeks after the fact. It’s a question for which I don’t really have a good answer. We’re moving forward, thinking about the future in all of its uncertainty. There are some days that the sadness and uncertainty hit me like a ton of bricks and just when I think I’m doing really well, I find myself crying on the kitchen floor out of nowhere. We’re celebrating milestones of our yet-to-be-born nephew and niece. And, quite honestly, it’s strange and difficult and hard to navigate juggling feelings of loss and sadness that co-mingle with happiness and anticipation for those around us.

On vacation I re-read Bittersweet by Shauna Niequist and it spoke to me even more than when I read it the first time. If you’ve never read it, I would urge you to run to the bookstore or the e-store and buy/download it today. I’ve been coming back to this quite time and time again:

“…sometimes the happiest ending isn’t the one you keep longing for, but something you absolutely cannot see from where you are.” 

It’s hard for someone like me, who is all about answers and research and knowing the next steps, to do blood test after blood test only to get absolutely zero conclusive answers. Hearing you are absolutely healthy as can be is both a relief and a frustration. Um, have you read my medical record? It doesn’t seem like it to me.

I realize now more than ever that this experience has changed me in the best and deepest of ways. I’ve become more empathetic and noticed people hurting that I never would have noticed before. Instead of feeling like “those are your problems,” my heart genuinely hurts for others in a way I didn’t think possible before. I like this new side of me, even if the journey has not been what I had imagined thus far.

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And now I’ve totally gotten away from the point, haven’t I? Well, our neighbors are the kindest older couple we could have asked for and they regularly bring us little treats, like maple syrup from their trees up north at their cabin and rhubarb from their garden. I’ve never really had a taste for rhubarb personally, but my husband loves rhubarb more than anyone I’ve ever met.

He was so excited when a bag of rhubarb was waiting for us after work one day that I couldn’t resist throwing it into a crisp that very evening. This recipe is inspired by a recipe from The Ultimate Southern Living Cookbook**still a favorite in my house and has been one of my go-to books since childhood. The crisp is perfect in all sorts of ways, sweet and tart at once and just the right amount of crunchiness. Joe raved about this dessert when he sat down with a giant bowl of it this week, and I have a feeling if you love rhubarb you’ll feel the same.

Easy Rhubarb Crisp
Recipe type: Dessert
This rhubarb crisp is easy to throw together at a moment's notice and tastes delicious when served with vanilla ice cream.
  • 6 cups chopped rhubarb
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch
  • Topping
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • ⅓ cup all-purpose flour
  • ⅓ cup granulated sugar
  • ⅓ cup packed brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 5 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
  1. Heat oven to 350°F.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, toss together the rhubarb, 1 cup granulated sugar and the corn starch. Toss to coat evenly. Transfer to a 9-inch pie plate or an 8x8-inch square baking pan.
  3. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the oats, flour, sugar, brown sugar and cinnamon. Stir until well-combined. Use a pastry blender to cut in the butter until the mixture resembles a fine meal. Sprinkle over the rhubarb mixture.
  4. Bake 45 to 55 minutes or until golden brown and filling is bubbly. Cool 1 hour before serving.

**I noticed you can buy it for less than $1 online. You guys! Go and do so immediately. I promise you won’t regret it! It can be found HERE.

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