Monthly Archives: November 2011

Twist Essence Water {Product Review}

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I was lucky enough to receive some samples of Twist Essence Water.

I saved them for after Thanksgiving because I know I was going to be stuffed and I’d need a detox drink.  These were perfect for just that.


They’ve changed their product and it’s not as sweet as it used to be, so I had to add a packet of Splenda to the drink, but other than that I thought it was light and refreshing.  Being 0 calories and not having aspartame is a big feat for a product, but Twist does it.

I’m a big fan of the Clear American waters, but they’re full of aspartame, so I’m going to start drinking Twist as a healthy alternative.

I tried Pomegranate Blueberry and West Indies Lime.  I preferred the West Indies Lime, which was surprising.  I thought it had more flavor and the perfect amount of citrus.

What are your ‘healthy’ drinks?  I drink a loootttt of tea.


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Homemade Vanilla Chai Tea Latte {Giving Thanks}

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A typical Thanksgiving in my family includes a huge turkey dinner held at my brother’s house.

This year, however, things are different.  It’s just me and my parents this year.  My dad, not wanting the hassle on Thanksgiving day and wanting to spend more time enjoying each other’s company, figured that since we wouldn’t be having company, we didn’t have anybody we needed to impress.  He ordered a Thanksgiving dinner.


So tomorrow will be spent with my mom and dad, relaxing.  I have so much to be thankful for.  Sometimes I think it’s sad that we have to set aside a day to remember to be grateful for everything we have, but then I realize the holiday is a good thing, because it’s so easy to forget.

I mean, how many times have you gotten angry about your coffee shop being out of your favorite coffee, or getting stuck in traffic for an hour, or walking all the way to your 8 o’clock class in the freezing cold all the way across campus only to realize that it was cancelled, or that you only get to see your boyfriend once every two weeks, or that your Thanksgiving isn’t how it is every other year?

I have.  So, this year I’m thankful that we even have coffee shops, that I’m even able to drive, that I can even afford college, that I even have a loving boyfriend, that I can even celebrate Thanksgiving with abundant amounts of food and people I love.  All of that and much more.  I’m blessed and so overfilled with gratitude.

What are you thankful for?


This Chai Tea Latte is the perfect way to wake up on Thanksgiving morning.  Have you ever had a Chai Tea Latte?  It’s like a holiday in a cup.  It’s creamy and spicy and warm.  Perfection.  I had one for the first time a couple of weeks ago and I was hooked, but they’re expensive.  Now that I know I can make them at home and alter them however I want, I don’t think I’ll be buying them anymore.  I tripled the recipe so I can just heat it up in the morning.

Happy Thanksgiving, friends.


Homemade Vanilla Chai Tea Latte
Instructables

Ingredients:
2 Regular Tea Bags (I used Vanilla Chai)
½ tsp cinnamon
4 Splenda packets or ¼ cup Sugar
2 ½ C. Milk



Directions:
1.  Mix tea and spices in a pan on the stove.
2.  Boil for 5 minutes.

3.  Add sweetener and mix.
4.  Add the milk and wait for the mixture to return to a boil.  Watch it closely, it will boil over quickly!
5.  Strain the tea and enjoy! 


No-Bake Adaptable Fluffer Nutter Granola Bars

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Store-bought granola bars are good, yes, but they aren’t good for you.  So why buy them when you can make your own healthy granola bars in under 10 minutes?
These granola bars are the best thing ever.  They’re good for you and I’m not kidding when I say they take under 10 minutes to make.  And you can put whatever you want in them.  However, the Fluffer Nutter version I made is pretty awesome.  If you’re in a hurry and you want a snack or a crowd-pleaser, then make these.  I’ve honestly made these 5 times in the past 2 weeks.

Fluffer Nutter Granola Bars

Ingredients:
½ cup peanut butter, melted
½ cup marshmallow fluff, melted
1 banana, mashed
2 ½ cups oats
¾ cups coconut flakes
¼ cup brown sugar
*optional: raisins, chocolate chips, nuts
Directions:
1.  Mix all ingredients.
2.  Press into an 8×10 glass dish.
3.  Refrigerate.

White Chocolate Oreo Biscotti

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Biscotti are Italian cookies.

They’re baked twice to make them crunchy. I personally like them once baked, but I definitely don’t mind them twice-baked. Especially when they have Oreo’s in them, like these.


Biscotti are probably one of my favorite things to bake.  I’m not really sure why, but I really enjoy the whole process.  That is, until the cutting process.

Does anyone else have troubles cutting their Biscotti?  I never know if I’m supposed to cut it diagonally or straight across, but I always do it diagonally.  Then I always have awkward pieces at the end… I just assume those are meant to be test pieces.

These Oreo Biscotti have been my favorite ones I’ve made so far… they were wonderful.  I bet they’d be even better with this Cookies n Cream coffee that I really want.  I drizzled them with melted white chocolate and crumbled Oreo’s to add a little more flavor, crunch, and sweetness, since Biscotti aren’t super sweet. If you’re an Oreo fan, I guarantee you’ll like these.  The best thing about these is that you can adapt them however you want; just take out the Oreo’s and add your ingredient of choice.

Do you guys have any favorite Biscotti recipes?

White Chocolate Oreo Biscotti
Food.com

Ingredients:
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter, melted
3 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
16 Oreo cookies, coarsely chopped
2 ounces semisweet chocolate or 2 ounces white chocolate, melted

Directions:
1. Beat sugar, butter, eggs and vanilla in large bowl with electric mixer at medium speed until blended.
2. Stir in flour, baking powder and salt.
3. Fold in chopped cookies.
4. Divide mixture in half.
5. With floured hands, shape each half into a 9×3-inch loaf on a lightly greased large baking sheet.
6. Bake at 350° for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown and toothpick inserted in the centers come out clean.
7. Remove from oven; cool for 10 minutes.
8. Cut each loaf diagonally into 15 (½-inch thick) slices.
9 Place slices, cut side up, on same baking sheet.
10. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes more on each side or until lightly toasted.
11. Drizzle tops with melted chocolate.

Brown Sugar Pound Cupcakes with Fluffy Chocolate Almond Buttercream Frosting

Sometimes, I wake up thinking how great it would be to wake up as Martha Stewart.

Then I remember that I don’t want to go to jail, so I just go browse her website and live the good part of Martha’s life. 
By baking her marvelous creations, like these amazing Brown-Sugar Pound Cupcakes.  I don’t care what anyone says, Martha is a homemaking genius, and if you don’t believe me, you should make these cupcakes.
I completely forgot I hadn’t posted these, but I made them for a Halloween party and they were a major hit.  The cupcakes were super moist and dense, and I added an airy, fluffy chocolate almond buttercream frosting that was to die for.  The hint of brown sugar in the pound cakes really set the whole cupcake off.  These are so awesome… try them.  

Brown Sugar Pound Cupcakes with Fluffy Chocolate Almond Buttercream Frosting
Ingredients:
Cupcake:
  • 3 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 ¼ cups packed light-brown sugar
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cup buttermilk
Frosting:

  • ½ cup butter, softened (you can use margarine but the flavor will not be the same)
  • 2 2/3 cups confectioners’ sugar , sifted
  • 1/3 cup half-and-half cream (can use unwhipped whipping cream in place of half and half) or 1/3 cup milk (can use unwhipped whipping cream in place of half and half)
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder , sifted
  • 1 tsp almond extract

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin tins with paper liners. Whisk dry ingredients in a large bowl. Cream butter and sugar with a mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating after each addition.
  2. Reduce speed to low. Mix in buttermilk. 
  3. Add dry ingredients to butter mixture in 3 additions, alternating with wet ingredients and ending with dry. Scrape sides of bowl. Divide batter among muffin cups, filling each 2/3 full.
  4. Bake cupcakes until testers inserted into centers come out clean, about 20 minutes. Let cool in tins on wire racks.
  5. When cool, make the frosting.
  6. Cream the butter in a small bowl.
  7. Blend in the cocoa powder, almond extract, confectioners sugar, alternately with the cream. 
  8. Beat with an electric mixer, until the desired texture is achieved.
  9. Frost cupcakes.

Cinnamon Pumpkin Milk Chocolate Fudge and {Earthquakes}

Night #1:  It was about 2:20 am and I was sitting in the living room of my dorm.  I was all by myself and the couch started to shake.  My first thought was “GHOSTS!” and my second thought was, “Don’t look under the couch.”  Naturally, I got on Facebook because what else comforts a person in their time of fear better than Facebook? I was confirmed sane as I read through all of the earthquake statuses.  I live in Missouri and I never thought I’d feel an earthquake.

Night #2:  It was about 11:55 pm and when my bed started shaking I didn’t freak out since, ya know, I’m an expert in the earthquake field now.  But, really, I did freak out and I started texting all of the people that didn’t believe me the first night I told them about the earthquake saying, “Did you feel that?! I know you felt it this time!”  
So, now I can say I’ve felt an earthquake…. a record-setting earthquake.
Did you guys feel the earthquake? Have you felt one before? Share your stories!

Other than earthquakes, nothing too exciting has been happening, but I did make this pumpkin fudge.  I’m not going to lie, it was a little heavy on the cinnamon, so I decreased the amount of cinnamon in the recipe below for your taste bud satisfaction.  Other than that, it was good.  It’s a really moist fudge; not crumbly… it has a bit of elasticity and it’s very rich.  I recommend cutting it into small pieces.

Cinnamon Pumpkin Milk Chocolate Fudge
Adapted from: All Recipes
Ingredients:
1 (10 oz) package pumpkin spice marshmallows
  • 1 ½ cups white sugar
  • 2/3 cup evaporated milk
  • ¼ cup butter
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups milk chocolate chips
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:
  1. Line an 8×8 inch pan with aluminum foil. Set aside.
  2. In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine marshmallows, sugar, evaporated milk, butter and salt. 
  3. Bring to a full boil, and cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly.
  4. Remove from heat and pour in semisweet chocolate chips and milk chocolate chips.
  5.  Stir until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. 
  6. Stir in cinnamon and vanilla. Pour into prepared pan. Chill in refrigerator for 2 hours, or until firm.


Cinnamon Pumpkin Milk Chocolate Fudge and {Earthquakes}

Night #1:  It was about 2:20 am and I was sitting in the living room of my dorm.  I was all by myself and the couch started to shake.  My first thought was “GHOSTS!” and my second thought was, “Don’t look under the couch.”  Naturally, I got on Facebook because what else comforts a person in their time of fear better than Facebook? I was confirmed sane as I read through all of the earthquake statuses.  I live in Missouri and I never thought I’d feel an earthquake.

Night #2:  It was about 11:55 pm and when my bed started shaking I didn’t freak out since, ya know, I’m an expert in the earthquake field now.  But, really, I did freak out and I started texting all of the people that didn’t believe me the first night I told them about the earthquake saying, “Did you feel that?! I know you felt it this time!”  
So, now I can say I’ve felt an earthquake…. a record-setting earthquake.
Did you guys feel the earthquake? Have you felt one before? Share your stories!

Other than earthquakes, nothing too exciting has been happening, but I did make this pumpkin fudge.  I’m not going to lie, it was a little heavy on the cinnamon, so I decreased the amount of cinnamon in the recipe below for your taste bud satisfaction.  Other than that, it was good.  It’s a really moist fudge; not crumbly… it has a bit of elasticity and it’s very rich.  I recommend cutting it into small pieces.

Cinnamon Pumpkin Milk Chocolate Fudge
Adapted from: All Recipes
Ingredients:
1 (10 oz) package pumpkin spice marshmallows
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 2/3 cup evaporated milk
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups milk chocolate chips
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:
  1. Line an 8×8 inch pan with aluminum foil. Set aside.
  2. In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine marshmallows, sugar, evaporated milk, butter and salt. 
  3. Bring to a full boil, and cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly.
  4. Remove from heat and pour in semisweet chocolate chips and milk chocolate chips.
  5.  Stir until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. 
  6. Stir in cinnamon and vanilla. Pour into prepared pan. Chill in refrigerator for 2 hours, or until firm.


White Chocolate Butterscotch Bark and {8 Ways to Drive Free Traffic to Your Blog}

http://www.stumbleupon.com/hostedbadge.php?s=1&r=http://www.whatkatiesbaking.com/2011/11/white-chocolate-butterscotch-bark-and-8.htmlIt can be a tough blogosphere out there if your blog isn’t getting any traffic.

Trust me, I know how frustrating it is.

When I started out a little over a year ago, I made this blog expecting to wake up with tons of comments and visitors.  Obviously, that didn’t happen and I woke up discouraged.  But, I kept doing it because it’s what I love to do.

That would be my one word of advice to any blogger starting out: Don’t give up.

If you’re discouraged like I was, here are some tips I’ve learned along the way to help drive traffic to my blog:

1.  Tastespotting and foodgawker.  If you’re a food blogger, I would suggest taking a photography course or doing some research on how to take professional food photographs. Getting your photos accepted on these two websites will benefit your traffic big time.

2.  Post Often. The more you write, the better your chances of getting traffic are.  First of all, the more you write, the more people have to read… duh.  Second of all, search engines will pick up your keywords and send viewers to your site.

3.  Join sites like Reddit.  Don’t feel bad submitting your own content to Reddit every once in a while; there’s no harm in that.  It will get you recognized and get your blog out there.  However, do not post every single post you write on Reddit.

4.  Add a StumbleUpon widget to your website.  Check out StumbleUpon’s audience tools.  They’re super helpful.  Most importantly, add their badge to your site, just in case you have a few sweet readers who want to submit your website.  All of their tools are very beneficial.

5.  Google AdWords: Keyword Tool.   When you’re writing a blog post, put a few of the words into the keyword tool and see if there are any words you could use that would draw more traffic to your blog.  Use those words often: in the title, in the actual post, in the labels.

6.  Advertise yourself on Twitter and Facebook.  When you make a new post, tweet about it, make a status about it, email people about it.  Do what you’ve gotta do to get your blog name out there.

7.  Guest Posts.  Ask other blogger’s if you can write a guest post for them.  You’d be surprised how often they say yes.  And if they don’t say yes, don’t worry about it, at least you tried.

8.  Comment.  Guarantee you if you comment on 50 other blogs, you’ll at least get 20 replies back.  It’s as simple as that.  You can’t expect people to write on your blog if you don’t write on theirs.

What do you guys do to drive traffic to your blog?


I made this Butterscotch Bark because butterscotch chips and butterscotch “discs” were on sale at Wal-Mart and I got a little sale happy.  I didn’t really need them, but I figured since they were on sale, I should probably buy them.  Luckily, they make for a pretty good bark.  I love making bark because it’s so adaptable.  If you don’t like butterscotch, you can add whatever you want and it will still be good.

White Chocolate Butterscotch Bark


Ingredients:
1 package (12 ounce) white chocolate chips
½ package (6 ounce) butterscotch chips
24 butterscotch “discs”, chopped to small pieces
*Optional:
½ cup chocolate Cheerios
½ cup chocolate frosting, melted
Sprinkles

1.  Melt the white chocolate chips in the microwave or with a double broiler.  Poor onto a piece of parchment paper and spread out with a spatula.
2.  Melt the butterscotch chips and drizzle over the white chocolate.
3.  Sprinkle the chopped butterscotch chips evenly over the top.
4.  Sprinkle and drizzle the optional toppings over the top.
5.  Let cool until the chocolate has hardened.
6.  Break into pieces and store in an airtight container.

White Chocolate Butterscotch Bark and {8 Ways to Drive Free Traffic to Your Blog}

It can be a tough blogosphere out there if your blog isn’t getting any traffic.

Trust me, I know how frustrating it is.

When I started out a little over a year ago, I made this blog expecting to wake up with tons of comments and visitors.  Obviously, that didn’t happen and I woke up discouraged.  But, I kept doing it because it’s what I love to do.

That would be my one word of advice to any blogger starting out: Don’t give up.

If you’re discouraged like I was, here are some tips I’ve learned along the way to help drive traffic to my blog:

1.  Tastespotting and foodgawker.  If you’re a food blogger, I would suggest taking a photography course or doing some research on how to take professional food photographs. Getting your photos accepted on these two websites will benefit your traffic big time.

2.  Post Often. The more you write, the better your chances of getting traffic are.  First of all, the more you write, the more people have to read… duh.  Second of all, search engines will pick up your keywords and send viewers to your site.

3.  Join sites like Reddit.  Don’t feel bad submitting your own content to Reddit every once in a while; there’s no harm in that.  It will get you recognized and get your blog out there.  However, do not post every single post you write on Reddit.

4.  Add a StumbleUpon widget to your website.  Check out StumbleUpon’s audience tools.  They’re super helpful.  Most importantly, add their badge to your site, just in case you have a few sweet readers who want to submit your website.  All of their tools are very beneficial.

5.  Google AdWords: Keyword Tool.   When you’re writing a blog post, put a few of the words into the keyword tool and see if there are any words you could use that would draw more traffic to your blog.  Use those words often: in the title, in the actual post, in the labels.

6.  Advertise yourself on Twitter and Facebook.  When you make a new post, tweet about it, make a status about it, email people about it.  Do what you’ve gotta do to get your blog name out there.

7.  Guest Posts.  Ask other blogger’s if you can write a guest post for them.  You’d be surprised how often they say yes.  And if they don’t say yes, don’t worry about it, at least you tried.

8.  Comment.  Guarantee you if you comment on 50 other blogs, you’ll at least get 20 replies back.  It’s as simple as that.  You can’t expect people to write on your blog if you don’t write on theirs.

What do you guys do to drive traffic to your blog?


I made this Butterscotch Bark because butterscotch chips and butterscotch “discs” were on sale at Wal-Mart and I got a little sale happy.  I didn’t really need them, but I figured since they were on sale, I should probably buy them.  Luckily, they make for a pretty good bark.  I love making bark because it’s so adaptable.  If you don’t like butterscotch, you can add whatever you want and it will still be good.

White Chocolate Butterscotch Bark


Ingredients:
1 package (12 ounce) white chocolate chips
1/2 package (6 ounce) butterscotch chips
24 butterscotch “discs”, chopped to small pieces
*Optional:
1/2 cup chocolate Cheerios
1/2 cup chocolate frosting, melted
Sprinkles

1.  Melt the white chocolate chips in the microwave or with a double broiler.  Poor onto a piece of parchment paper and spread out with a spatula.
2.  Melt the butterscotch chips and drizzle over the white chocolate.
3.  Sprinkle the chopped butterscotch chips evenly over the top.
4.  Sprinkle and drizzle the optional toppings over the top.
5.  Let cool until the chocolate has hardened.
6.  Break into pieces and store in an airtight container.

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