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Where do some of the best recipes come from?

I started paying attention to “back of the box” recipes when I covered the baking contests Hershey’s sponsors at the Pennsylvania Farm Show each year. Hershey’s has a ton of awesome recipes on their website, like the peanut butter paisley brownies I make for special occassions.

Last week, it was my turn to bring the goods for our weekly staff meeting, and I decided to make muffins. When I pulled out the flour to make another recipe I found online, I saw the sour cream blueberry muffin recipe on the side of the bag. I decided to swap Greek yogurt for the sour cream and chocolate chips for the blueberries and … wow. I had half of one when it came out of the oven, then took the rest to work and didn’t have any more.

But then I couldn’t stop thinking about them, and it was the weekend, and …

I tend to beat the bejeezus out of any sort of dough or batter, but you can’t do that with muffins. I combined the ingredients until everything was just wet.

And then this emerged from the oven.

When I made them for us, I reduced the sugar to 2/3 cup. I like muffins to taste like muffins, not naked cupcakes.

Hello Kitty cupcake wrappers are optional.

Printable recipe

A few weeks ago, I picked up a few old cookbooks at an estate sale — one was compiled by members of a church in 1985, and the other is the 1973 edition of “What’s Cooking, Doc?” which was put together the Florida Medical Association’s women’s auxiliary — and there are so many old-fashioned Southern recipes in them, and none of them are complicated.  A former editor recently sent me that newspaper’s holiday recipe insert, and there are some great ideas in it, too.

I wouldn’t make most of the dishes for us for a regular weeknight meal, but you can’t beat these simple old recipes if you’re entertaining, cooking for a potluck, etc.

What’s your favorite back-of-the-box recipe?


Just like everyone else, I’ve had a major cupcake fetish for the last few years. USA Weekend ran a bunch of really simple but delicious-sounding cupcake recipes last week, and I’m planning to make some for next weekend, when we have company. But I got to enjoy some cupcake goodness a week early at a fellow blogger’s birthday party. Ashlee, who used to blog about weight loss at Ash is Fit and now has a cooking blog (and published a cookbook!), Ashlee’s Cooking, had a backyard barbecue to celebrate her 25th birthday.


Ashlee and her husband prepared a fabulous summer dinner for the guests. There were hamburgers, cheeseburgers, turkey burgers, gourmet mac ‘n’ cheese, veggie kabobs and so much more. But the cocktail-inspired cupcakes she baked, well, took the cake. Above is the margarita cupcake.


The limoncello cupcakes. I had my first limoncello(s) at an arts benefit two weeks before I left Pennsylvania, and I just loved it. Ashlee was kind enough to encourage us to take several cupcakes with us, but I can’t share photos of the pina colada or mudslide cupcakes, because, I, uh, ate the garnishes on the way home. Her presentation was also amazing – her cupcake stand was four or five plates high, and there were plates of cupcakes all over the table, too. If Ashlee’s cooking blog is not already on your must-read list, it should be, because she will be sharing all of her delicious cupcake recipes over the next few weeks.

If you can’t get enough cupcakes (I can’t!) visit the blog of the woman who wrote the recipes for USA Weekend, Three Many Cooks. I really enjoyed this post about the cupcake craze … you have to check it out:

Given a choice, cakes are nice, but cupcakes are adorable. (Think puppies vs. dogs.) And cupcakes are easier. With cake, there are knives and forks and plates. Cupcakes? Peel that sucker and eat it like a banana. Cakes mean decisions—slice or sliver, end piece or center? It’s the stuff of fights. “His piece is bigger than mine!” Blessedly, a batch of cupcakes are as different as Oreos. After the oohs and aahs, you pass ‘em out, and that’s it. Everybody’s happy.

We even want to serve cupcakes at our wedding. We’d cut into a small, two-tier cake, and then serve the guests a variety of flavors of cupcakes – so cute! (And in the interest of full disclosure, cupcakes usually cost less than a cake costs per slice.) And when I want to online window shop, I go to Etsy and search for “cupcake.” (Ashlee’s dog Pumpkin even wore a cupcake collar rumored to be from Etsy!)

Wait, isn’t this a weight loss blog?

What do cupcakes have to do with weight loss? Ironically, I did not start baking until after I started to lose weight. Before, I would just go buy those doughy chewy delectable Lofthouse cookies, shovel in three at a time, and think nothing of it. Cooking at home because a necessity for me when I started to lose weight, because with all due respect to Jared, I could never afford the Subway diet. So once I started cooking, I wanted to learn to bake. Seeing what went into a from-scratch cupcake taught me to savor the treat, not just wolf it down. Baking my own cupcakes gave me a whole new respect for food. And, when you bake your own, you can make healthy substitutions like apple sauce for oil. (Not that that makes cupcakes a health food, but every little bit helps!)



I'm a bride-to-be who's lost 120 pounds -- and gained a whole new perspective on food and a passion for fitness! My ego would like to think I'm the Carrie Bradshaw of weight loss, but really, I'm just another former fat girl with too much to say.

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