1-2-3 Lemon Cookies

My mother is a baker; the kitchen barstools, something of a counseling couch in my childhood home.

This isn’t breaking news to anyone who befriended any of our family in the last 1-to-30 years, plus is likely 100% responsible for my personal sweet tooth and affinity for knowing my way around a spatula. I spent hours of adolescence sitting at the counter watching my mother bake, talking, and consciously or not, committing her motions to memory. A love of baking for me is as much about the sugar as it is about the bond it gives us.

In no small part due to our regular kitchen-counter counseling sessions, there are parts of baking & cooking that come as naturally to me as laughing. I don’t remember exactly when or where I actually learned some of it all. In the same way, there are “recipes” that I just know. One of them is this 1-2-3 Cake Mix Cookie -a lifesaver on a day I want to bake, but not really really bake, you feel me?

God bless you, Betty Crocker & Sandy Mosier for the gift of these cookies.


  • 1 boxed cake mix of choice (in the summer for me, it’s always lemon. Give me lemon EVERYTHING in the summer.)
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1/3 Cup Vegetable Oil

Today, I added a good squeeze of 1/2 a lemon because I had one, and I wanted to for a boost of lemon flavor (non-essential, obviously).


  • Preheat oven to 375.
  • Mix up all of the ingredients. The dough will be a bit sticky-looking.
  • Drop about a teaspoon size onto your greased cookie sheet, or in my case, my pizza stone that I cook everything on (ungreased).
  • Bake for about 9 minutes! Brown the little cookie bottoms, and expect them to be delightfully chewy.
  • I sprinkled the tops with powdered sugar today as they cooled, because I’m nothing if not vain about cookie presentation, #priorities.

(Dough to Done for reference.)

4-Ingredient Peanut Butter Cookies

PB Cookies-1Few linguistic pairings catch the eye of a sugar-holic on a shoestring budget quicker than  4-Ingredient + Cookie.

No sooner was I on my 249-thousandth mindless Facebook thumb-scroll of the weekend than Southern Living’s 4-Ingredient Peanut Butter Cookie video caught my cookie-craving eye, and my apron strings were tied.

“4? That’s it? We’ll see.” My ever-the-inner-skeptic questioned. “To waste or not to waste the cup of peanut butter on this experiment, though?” My more recent proclivity for penny-pinching battled.

My curiosity (sweet tooth) won out, and judging by the three cookies left in <12 hours, we kind of liked them in my house.

Well duh, I hear you thinking. Like who am I, Robin Karber, to question Southern Living?PB Cookies-3

Not-So-Pro-Tip: praise the Lord for the mother of invention, or in this case, peanuts. Wedded to a devote Team Crunchy disciple, crunchy peanut butter is all I had on hand, but otherwise would have probably opted Team Creamy. Because I’m extra boring like that sometimes.

However, IMHO, the extra peanuts may have kicked these babies up from “a pretty good experiment” to “on the regular baking rotation.” PB Cookies-2

Rolling dough balls approximately yay-big and fork criss-crossing like my southern mama taught me:

From approximately yay-amount of dough:  I baked approximately a baker’s dozen in the end? I forgot to count before my husband began to vacuum-inhale these heavenly morsels down. Not enough to host an all out bash, but just the right amount for a small family of two to stuff themselves shamelessly onto the brink of a sugar coma.

A successful experiment from the Karber Kitchen, in my cookbook.

RECIPE-1 copy


Autumn Indulgences: my 4 c’s

“I love fall.” –The thread uniting basic white girls across America the moment temperatures dip just low enough to bust out a blanket scarf and snap a story sipping pumpkin spiced anything logo’d with the green mermaid stamp of approval . Truth: I am not immune to this sentiment. There’s a reason it’s so wildly and mockably popular! Fall is terrific. To me, it’s the seasonal precursor to the most wonderful time of the year –a little taste of the best season to come, but everyone isn’t grumpy about being cold or sharing the road with shoppers and sludge, yet.

I also find it an easier season than ev.er. to convince myself I deserve/need/earned/can’t-live-without a serious number of guilty pleasures.

“It’s a little chilly (maybe 70 degrees), I could really use some warming up…” -Starbucks run. Keep your pumpkin-spice, though, and I will drink all of the Chai Tea Lattes you have with a side of *one of everything* on the holiday menu, thanks.

The ole’ Karber coffee maker tends to start working double-time, too, with the changing of the leaves (in the interest of still keeping some of our money in the bank). IMG_9690

Ye true coffee geeks across America forgive me – I love me some local beans, too, but more often than not I’m brewing:

You guessed it. Starbucks Medium House Blend + Bailey’s (non-alcoholic) Vanilla Creamer

Smooth. Easy. Available at Kroger. Typically on sale at Kroger. Makes my house smell like I’m lounging in a super fleek Starbucks, minus congregations of high-schoolers and SAHMs, plus I don’t have to wear real pants (admittingly a point less to do with the coffee bean concept, and more with at-home brew.)

“It’s a little chilly (maybe 70 degrees), I could really use some warming up…” -Sweater weather. Longline/Boyfriend/Duster/Maxi/Squishy-Blanket-Disguised-as-Sweaters cardigans have been my favorite of favorite fall obsessions.



Although sweater-weather south of the Texas Panhandle (I’m realizing) is more of a state of mind than an actual thing, frigid office air conditioners have still bred plenty of necessity to humor this card-carrying cardigan hoarder. Plus (!), now that we’re nearly all the way to gosh-dang Thanksgiving, Mother Nature is *finally* beginning to see things my way around here, too.

A few that top my lust list (at a variety of price-points):


1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7

“It’s a little chilly (maybe 70 degrees), I could really use a million tiny fires around my apartment to warm up!” -Okay, obviously not. Fall candles just smell the coziest, and as temperatures dip, who doesn’t just want to feel cozy?


I have -easily- two to ten candles lit on any given evening in our 900ish square feet of space (which is all about having scents that blend, as much as it is having a potential candle addiction). 2 for $24 Bath & Body sale? Yankee Candles from Home Goods? Anthro-anything? I don’t discriminate, although I naturally end up with an overflow of B&B candles 10:1.

“It’s a little chilly (maybe 70 degrees), better really start packing it on for hibernation!” –What I think my mind actually convinces my stomach needs to happen for the last three months of the year. (If only.)

From carrot cake in the break room, sharing meals with company passing through, Friendsgivings, practicing Pinterest recipes for the pending holidays, to snacking on friend’s practiced Pinterest recipes for the pending holidays, why is there more. food. everywhere. starting this time of year?

Rarely is it the healthy stuff, either. It’s the good stuff. Nobody’s whipping up extra fruit salads or lettuce wraps –it’s the heavy, sugary, gluten-laden, glorious breads, cakes, pies, cookies and candies. This is such a fun time of year to bake for the same reason I burn through ten trillion candles – I love the coziness of baked goods.

I tried a new-to-me, easy recipe, and I feel like you need it in your life: Cinnamon Swirl Banana Bread.


It’s fairly heavy bread, with a heavenly balance of banana and cinnamon. Just trust me and follow the link for the road map to banana bread bliss.

Do you have any obsessions particular to fall, or have you read this not understanding a single word of my crazy? Comment below or with the talking bubble near the title!

Easy DIY (delicious) Iced Coffee

DIY Iced Coffee

Confession: I’m not much of an iced coffee person. I’m the freak this time of year the barista politely confirms through the speaker, “You want that iced? Oh, no..? Hot?” Then again at the window, “Non-ice?”

Non-ice. How the coffee gods intended coffee.

I’m not speaking in absolutes -I’ve fancied a few iced lattes in my day– but 93% of the time, steaming. So, what gives now?

Dallas, TX -that’s what.

I am a w-i-m-p in the heat. I would just as soon swap with the geese and migrate north for the summer.

This all day, every day Texas heat plus humidity is not something this Panhandle Desert girl has ever known or loved for an extended period of time. Deep-South-Texan friends: I understand right now you’re scoffing at this Dallasonian with “humidity probs,” but understand that we will -God willing- never be neighbors. I will visit you with a happy heart and enjoy your city and your company, and then we will part ways and share a high-five because I am not about that hot-humid-hug life. Ick. 

Wimp status established, understand this climate has affected my caffeine consumption. AKA… sweltering mid-mornings and piping hot cups of joe aren’t the most compatible for me and my first-world-problems.

DIY Iced Coffee

I put a puh-er-fectly sane person’s amount of healthy research into this subject because hi I’m Robin, and realized making the magic in my own kitchen is not as complicated as I once thought.

I had run into all kinds of really wonderful looking concoctions in the past that require cheesecloth and 8+ hours of steeping and coordination and hi again, still Robin here and they didn’t seem easy (lazy) enough for my current lifestyle.

But with a quick Pinterest search I found all kinds of lovely people simply brewing up a pot, pouring in some condensed milk, and calling it a happy day. I took their lead instead.

How you take your coffee is such a you decision, I don’t even encourage you to replicate this “recipe” 100%. Use its bones and find what makes you happy. I do recommend -because of the condensed milk- you start with a *fairly strong* pot of coffee as your base. If you usually brew something more water than coffee, I foresee a jug of something more watery than creamy in your refrigerator’s future. And this way is oh so creamy and wonderful.

Ingredients (all measurements approximate):

  • 6-7 tablespoons fresh coffee grounds
  • 5 cups (40 oz) cool water
  • 1 can sweet condensed milk
  • Bailey’s Original Irish Coffee Creamer (or coffee cream flavor of choice), optional

1.  I boiled about 5 cups (40 oz) of coffee in a standard coffee maker. We drink Starbucks whole-bean Medium House roast on the regular, which we grind at home and brew following pretty closely to package directions. (Very strong -B T double U- oh ye of weak coffee hearts)

DIY Iced Coffee

2. I then transferred the coffee to my large measuring bowl (is that what this thing’s called? Anyone know?) to cool a bit before moving forward. I chose this container because of its easy-pour design. (You could even use the coffee pot if you didn’t brew it to the brim, or the pitcher/container you plan to serve it from.)

DIY Iced CoffeeDIY Iced Coffee

3. Because I wanted the coffee flavor to still come through strong, I added approximately 1/2 – 3/4 can of sweet condensed milk, and stirred until thoroughly combined. If you’re more of a “splash of coffee with your cup of cream” sort of person and want to make it creamier, add the full can. This is where you play with the consistency to fit your tastes.

DIY Iced Coffee

4. I then added about 1/4 cup of our favorite Bailey’s (no-alcoholic) Coffee Creamer, for a hint of Irish flavor (minus the fun.) Yet another way to tailor. I plan on trying all kinds of creamer flavors, such as vanilla or caramel. Or that ultra sweet Girl Scout Thin Mint creamermmm. 

DIY Iced Coffee

5. Finally, I poured it all into a glass container with a seal, and chilled it in the fridge for about half an hour, and served over ice. Just delicious. 

DIY Iced Coffee

Austin is completely obsessed. I’m going to have to start making larger batches if I ever hope to have any on hand in the house.

The final product reminds me a lot of the coffee-flavored Starbucks Frappuccino drinks, and I’m a fan, too.

DIY Iced Coffee

Summertime Slowcooker Heaven: Caribbean Jerk Chicken Sliders + Mango Salsa

Carribbean Jerk Chicken Sliders + Mango Salsa

Connotations associated with slow-cookers rarely include summertime. Our slow-cooker is generally reserved for warm soups, meaty chili, and hearty roasted veggies –not food I want to eat when it feels like the surface of the sun outside.

But one of the last things I’ve felt like doing with these extra hours of sunshine lately has been working up a sweat over a hot stove after work. It seems like I can’t win.

But that’s where I’ve been wrong. There are limitless ways to dress up the slow-cooked, juicy cut of a carnivore’s dream that taste perfectly like summer, which I’ve been super into discovering lately.

You know the sort of way-too-simple recipe you brace yourself for either incredibly boring or complete disaster? That’s where I was at while this cooked. I think I told Austin no less than 20 times as I prepared the salsa for the first time, “I’m totally ready for a McDonald’s run if this sucks. Be honest. If it sucks, we can run to McDonald’s across the street.”

Let me assure you, it did not suck -it is now a Karber Kitchen Summer Staple.

Carribbean Jerk Chicken Sliders + Mango Salsa

This is literally the easiest, cheapest sort of 60-second crock-pot recipe for incredibly flavorful chicken to use for two-minute sliders.

Secret #1:

Carribbean Jerk Chicken Sliders + Mango Salsa

Masterpiece Caribbean Jerk Marinade. That’s all, folks. That is literally the one thing you throw in the pot (besides, you know, the chicken).

I mean absolutely, if you’re on the thinnest of shoe string budgets, no judgement if you go for the 79 cent stuff. It would work. My personal rule of thumb when using sauces and marinades not made by my own hand (and the grocery money’s there), don’t cheap out. I’ve learned (the hard way) dishes are kicked up several significant notches when I opt for the $2.99 over the $.99, in most cases.

And when I’m not being particularly choosy about my caloric intake for the day, we are totally Hawaiian bread people. Slicing the rolls in half and popping in the oven for about five minutes at around 400 to get them good and toasty. Mmmm.

I’ve also learned I really love this recipe particularly as a slider. While you can use a larger bun, it becomes a little more difficult to control and a lot more messy, with all the tiny moving juicy pieces. Or maybe I just can’t control a sandwich.

Secret #2: a drizzle of local honey.

I give Austin 100% credit for dreaming this one up. So good. The sweetness is a heavenly match for the small bite of the jerk flavor.

I also give Austin 100% credit for being the automatic chopper I usually run all my fruits and veggies through. Thanks, dear.

Carribbean Jerk Chicken Sliders + Mango Salsa

Note on how much it makes: We generally have enough chicken to easily serve 4-5 people, and we live on leftovers for a bit since it’s just the two of us. However, if I were to make this for more people than just me and Austin, I would double the amount of mango salsa so there would be enough to go around. The amount of salsa it makes of course also depends on the size of fruit you choose.



  • 1 16oz bottle Masterpiece Caribbean Jerk Marinade
  • 3 large frozen chicken breasts

Mango Salsa

  • 1 Cucumber
  • 1 Mango
  • 1 Tbsp lime juice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Ground pepper to taste


  • Hawaiian Rolls or bun of choice
  • Honey (optional)


  • Throw 3 large frozen chicken breasts in the slow-cooker, pour entire bottle of marinade over the top. Set on high for 4 hours OR low for 8, depending on how long you need to leave it.
  • When chicken is thoroughly cooked, shred. Put back in slow-cooker with all the juicy marinaded goodness and set to warm while preparing salsa.
  • Chop cucumber and mango into small cubes. Toss in small bowl with lime juice, salt, and pepper. Give it a few good stirs.
  • Toast bun of choice, add meat, spoonful of salsa, and then a tiny drizzle of honey if you choose.
  • Enjoy the heck out of a delicious summer sandwich!

Shredded Chicken Trick:

Shredded meat in our house is generally the product of two forks and a few minutes worth of work. No biggie. However, this process -introduced to me by a dear friend a few weeks ago- makes two forks feel like the process of cavemen.

Carribbean Jerk Chicken Sliders + Mango Salsa

Using a super basic hand mixer, I tossed the cooked chicken in a bowl, went at it with my mixer set on the lowest speed for about 15 seconds, and voila.

Served up with a big ole glass of southern sweet tea, these Caribbean sliders feel about as summer as it gets with minimal work.


Any tips, tricks, questions, or recipes you want to share? Comment below or with the talking bubble near the title!

Celebrating National Doughnut Day: Baked Doughnuts

National Donut Day - Baked Doughnuts

Today is National Doughnut Day. Why we’re all in the office is beyond me. Some sort of three day weekend seems appropriate here.

Everyone has an “I could be filled to the brim, but there’s always room for that food” food. The hands down winner out of the entire food universe for my belly: Doughnuts. Or Donuts. I don’t discriminate deep fried goodness.

Something I missed deeply in our short stint living in the Midwest: doughnut shops. Like real doughnut shops. Sort of everywhere. To my freshly Kentuckian dismay, I didn’t realize an abundance of specialty doughnut bakeries was Texan. (I will neither confirm or deny the correlation between this unpleasant discovery and our move back to Texas. Nope.)

I’m not talking Dunkin’ Donuts (which I actually had for the first time living in Louisville.) That’s like comparing mass produced Walmart cupcakes to the cupcakes of your favorite local cupcakery. Good? Sure. The same? No way, dude.

What started as a cute, little kitchen adventure this week for me to try my hand at crafting one of my favorite sweets became a full-on feast of breakfast pastries fit to rival a Thanksgiving dinner. (I will neither confirm or deny the level of hyperbole in that statement.)



As a novice doughnut maker, I chose the baking avenue opposed to frying -this time. My confidence levels are pretty high in the doughnut department now. We’ll see what happens.

Below are the links to the different types of donuts + glazes featured. I mixed and matched doughnut to glaze to my little heart’s content from different websites.

The first recipe I tried, here, are a very basic buttermilk cake doughnut with a simple super sweet vanilla-ish icing glaze, here, that I dyed pink with food coloring and topped with sprinkles. Because if it isn’t obvious I have a thing for sprinkles.


Trivia:  What do you get when you fill the doughnut pan cavities with a liiiittle too much batter?

Finger Cupcakes

Finger Cupcakes!! (as my witty husband so loving started calling them as my first attempt at obviously not doughnuts were pulled from the oven. I feel a multi-million dollar industry in its infancy.)

But, second time’s a charm.

Finger cupcakes

Honestly? The whole batch basically tasted like the cutest little doughnut-shaped cupcakes. Which was delicious. I’m definitely saving this one for the next baby shower or gender reveal brunch/breakfast I’m in charge of. Little baby pink and blue cake donuts? Yes.


The second doughnut I tried was a blueberry cake with a simple sweet glaze, both here. They looked fantastic, but didn’t taste very… blueberry. The spices of the recipe overpowered any blueberry flavor, in my very humble opinion, which might forever be a mystery to me. (The recipe also involves the word “curdle” which is up there with my least favorite words of the English language.)

The third doughnut was this simple recipe + this maple glaze. This might have been my favorite doughnut tasting cake doughnut, and the glaze was pretty delicious, too. They were definitely best with the maple glaze completely fresh, although extremely sticky. The glaze will soak in overnight, not become a set icing. Which is totally tasty heated up in its own way.


Judging that all of the Finger Cupcakes have miraculously disappeared from the kitchen, I would say the buttermilk pink minis were Austin’s favorite, too.


The most helpful hint I picked up in my “research” was to spoon the dough into a Ziplock, clip one corner, and pipe the dough into the doughnut pan cavities. Saved. My. Butt. And basically this entire project.

Donut making Tip

I learned this week there’s a whole wide world of doughnut recipes I’m about to become extremely obsessed with testing. If you have a recipe to shoot my way or plan on trying any of these, comment below or with the talking bubble near the title! (And hey, if anyone knows a killer blueberry recipe, I’m all ears.)

Almond Butter Banana (Kale) Smoothie


Every other time I make this smoothie I send photos to my mother.

She’s yet to ask for the recipe.

I’m pretty offended.

(Just kidding, Mother. Obviously you’e just been waiting for this delicious blog post.)

There aren’t many people in my life who hear the word “kale” and get excited (myself included.) I’m a Texas girl. Steak? The word “steak” definitely gets more mouths around me moving.

I’m not so much a fruits and veggies person as I am a cookie dough snacking at midnight sort of person, so the smoothie kick I went on a couple months ago has likely been a nice culture shock to my vital organs.

PB_B_K_Smoothie-3Mmmm, look at all that green.

I swear up down and sideways with my hand to a bag of chocolate chips this recipe tastes just like a peanut butter banana milkshake and not the least bit like kale. At all. Or I probably wouldn’t drink it. With the proportion of ingredients I use, the texture is pretty spot on to pass as a creamy milkshake, too.

I can’t for the life of me find where the original recipe came from, but my final preferred concoction is a little mix of tips and tricks from an assortment of people much smarter than me + old fashioned trial and error.

You know what happens when you throw a whole banana in the freezer overnight? The peel freezes to it, and it’s a real -word that rhymes with the City of Fritch- to get the darn thing peeled. Unless you have an extra 20 minutes + the patience of Mother Teresa, I recommend peeling and throwing the banana in a zip-lock overnight to freeze, or read this article on doing it the right way. Learn from my first “error”.


  • 1 Frozen Banana (medium/large)
  • 1 C Kale (I toss in a couple handfuls of full leaves)
  • 1 Tbsp Almond Butter
  • 1 Tsp Maple Syrup
  • 1/2 C Danon Light & Fit Vanilla Greek Yogurt
  • 1/2 C Vanilla Almond Milk


Simply toss all the ingredients into a blender and mix until smooth! If the consistency is too thick to your liking, add a little water a tablespoon at a time until it’s just right and drink up!


  • 241 Calories
  • 10.2g Fat
  • 29.5g Carbs
  • 12.5g Protein


You plan on giving this a shot? Am I doing it all wrong? You have another smoothie recipe to shoot my way? Comment below or with the little talking bubble near the title!

Bailey’s Irish Cream Cheesecake Brownies

BaileysCheesecakeBrownies-7 copy

Can we agree that Bailey’s Irish Cream is a little slice of heaven on earth?

If you’re unfamiliar, this sweet, creamy whiskey based liqueur is divine for sipping on the rocks -or my personal favorite- mixing into a freshly brewed cup of joe for what we refer to as “happy coffee” in the Karber house.

I’ve been obsessed since turning 21, and darn near lost my mind when I found this recipe for Bailey’s Irish Cream Cheesecake Brownies. If you’re throwing any St. Patty’s celebrations this weekend, you’ll want to add these to the menu.


Fudgey, flaky homemade brownie layers, creamy cheesecake in between, and the perfect amount of Bailey’s to make these an indulgence worth every last calorie.

BaileysCheesecakeBrownies-2 BaileysCheesecakeBrownies-8

Serves: 24 (1 9×13-inch pan)

Brownie Layers:

  • 2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter
  • 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips (I use Ghirardelli)
  • 1¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Irish cream liqueur

Cheesecake Layer:

  • 16 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup Irish cream liqueur
  • 1 large egg plus 1 yolk
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Grease a 9×13-inch baking pan and set to the side.
  3. Melt butter and chocolate, careful not to scorch, stirring gently until smooth and shiny. Cool slightly.
  4. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt into a medium mixing bowl and set aside.
  5. Whisk together eggs, sugar and Irish cream in a larger mixing bowl until combined.
  6. Pour in chocolate/butter mixture and continue to whisk until combined.
  7. Fold in flour mixture with spatula, until just combined. Set aside.
  8. Make cheesecake layer: With a mixer, beat cream cheese and sugar together until smooth. Add Irish cream liqueur, egg, and yolk; beat until well combined.
  9. Pour half the brownie batter into prepared pan. Spread cheesecake filling evenly across batter then top with remaining batter, smoothing out the top.
  10. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean when inserted into the middle of the pan.


Does it get more Irish than this? St. Patrick’s Day has a fighting chance as a top holiday, yet.

Have you ever baked with Bailey’s, or have a St. Patrick’s Day dessert I should try? Comment below or with the little talking bubble near the title!

Valentine’s Treat: Low-Cal Strawberry Cheesecake Bites


Just when I feel myself bouncing back from the comfort food marathon of the holidays (or rather finally not bouncing every time I take a step anymore), Cupid stocks the grocery aisles with irresistible Little Debbie heart cakes and masses of chocolate. For a holiday that pulls so much focus on looking glamorous for the big date night, there sure are a whole lot of calories surrounding it. Talk about unfair. 

If you’ve known me for ten minutes, you know my sweet tooth has its own zip code that made my childhood dentist a very rich man. I love sugar and every holiday that provides a reason to indulge in any of its likenesses. Conversation Candy Hearts? Send them over. Chocolate Bunnies? Save me one. Halloween is a real gem.

Rather than really indulge in Valentine’s snacking this year, I found a recipe that still totally satisfied this sugar-aholic’s sweet craving, was much more waistline-friendly, and still totally February 14 cute (especially if you’re a Classroom Parent in charge of party snacks, or if you’re setting a Galentine’s Day menu!) 


I tweaked my favorite version of this fairly trendy recipe idea from this precious blog, who promised they’re only 35 calories per little slice of heaven. Mine are probably only ever so slightly more because, well, chocolate. Don’t ask me to do February 14 without chocolate. Don’t ask me to do life without chocolate.



  • 1 lb fresh strawberries (about 16-18 strawberries of varying sizes.)
  • 4 oz 1/3 fat cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 full low-fat graham crackers, crushed
  • About 4oz Ghirardelli Chocolate Dark Melting Wafers (or baking/melting chocolate of choice.)


  1. Cut the tops off each strawberry, and use a paring knife to hollow out each strawberry, removing the white interior. (I’ve never hollowed a strawberry before, and found this to be a little tricky, but I got the hang of it by the second or third strawberry. If this is you, hang in there! This is as hard as it gets!)
  2. Beat the cream cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla with an electric mixer until thoroughly combined and creamy.
  3. Using a small spoon, fill the hollows of each berry.
  4. Dip each strawberry, cheesecake side down, into the graham cracker crumbs, coating their little tops.
  5. Carefully melt the chocolate in a microwave safe bowl, dip the points of each berry about midway, and lay to set on a sheet of wax paper.
  6. mmm, enjoy!

Note: The inspiration post mentions these are best if made same day, and I agree. If you plan to serve later, simply prepare all of the components ahead of time and store in the refrigerator! This ensures they are perfectly fresh for you or your guests. Plus, assembly is an absolute breeze.


Do you have a lower-calorie Valentine treat I should try out? Comment below or with the talking bubble near the title!

One of the best cookies I’ve ever made ever.


Thanksgiving a few weeks out, I was poking around looking for something sweet to try and found one of those “oh my goodness that might be one of the best cookies I’ve ever eaten in my life” kind of cookie recipes:  Salted Caramel Coconut Thumb Print Cookies.

(Did your mouth water a little reading that? It should have –mine just did a little.)


The classic shortbread. The toasted coconut. The smooth caramel. The gritty sea salt. Heaven.

When my timer rang, I was too anxious to wait for them to cool before immediately taste testing to see how they turned out. My first thought was oh wow, should I even add topping? That cookie could stand on its own…

But then while waiting for them to cool, I took a piece of one that had crumbled apart in the oven and dunked it in a little caramel drizzle just to see and oh my goodness, that seriously kicked it up a notch…

And then they actually all cooled, and I topped them with caramel and a little sprinkle of sea salt and BAM– there it was, these cookies were on a whole new level. Thank you Pinterest, thank you Mom for the baking genes, thank you whoever realized salt and caramel belong together, and thank you Martha Stewart for your genius recipe. 

afterlight (2)

Now mine aren’t quite as pretty as Martha’s (and let’s be honest, probably not as delicious either), but these cookies are pretty darn delicious –and I had a pretty great time making them.

Are they involved? Yes. If you exclusively bake with break and bake dough then these might feel like an undertaking, but they’re nothing crazy. This is the kind of recipe that really lets you work with your hands, be inside your head for a little bit, and feel like you’ve truly made something –right before scarfing down a whole heaping plateful with a glass of milk.

I’ll give you Martha’s recipe, then a few notes of my own.



  • 3 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • Table salt
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 12 ounces sweetened flaked coconut
  • 44 small soft caramel candies (12 ounces)
  • 6 tablespoons heavy cream
  • Large, flaky sea salt


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat together butter and sugar with a mixer on medium speed until pale and fluffy, then beat in vanilla. With mixer on low, gradually add flour and 1/2 teaspoon table salt, and beat to combine. Press dough together in plastic wrap, then roll into 1 1/4-inch balls. Dip each ball in beaten egg, and roll in coconut. Place balls on parchment-lined baking sheets, and press an indentation into each with your thumb. Bake for 10 minutes, then remove sheets from oven, and re-press indentations. Bake cookies until golden, 9 to 10 minutes more. Let cool on wire racks. Repeat with remaining dough.

  2. Place caramels and heavy cream in a small saucepan over low heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until the caramels are melted and mixture is smooth, 4 to 6 minutes. Spoon into indentations in cookies, and sprinkle with sea salt. Rewarm caramel if it hardens before all cookies are filled.


  • I actually didn’t do the whole melt the candies and mix with cream thing, but I wish I would have. For the sake of shortcuts and not being able to find caramel candies at my Kroger, these are topped with caramel sauce out of a jar. It’s a bit runny, and of course didn’t set like the melted candies would have. I think it could have totally helped my presentation to do it the right way. (But they are mmm mmm good.)
  • I also didn’t press my dough in plastic wrap, which again could have aided the presentation, but I probably will always skip this step for no other reason than because I don’t want to. I did find the cookies I made in the first round that went in the oven turned out best. I definitely spent the most time packing and rolling those little dough balls tightly and got a little sloppy toward the end, and as I mentioned above some of those fell apart in the oven. (If you have a husband, he’ll eat up the little broken pieces gladly while he waits for you to let him touch the others –experience speaking.)
  • Wow, did I get a little crazy with the coconut? I thought I sort of nailed it until I compared photos and realized I may have gone a little coc-o-nuts (Ha! Aren’t I hilarious?) And I’ll  probably always do it like this because I really like coconut.
  • When cookie-recipe-makers say something like roll dough into 1” spheres…I don’t really know what that means. I feel like it’s something similar to telling your hairdresser you want to take an inch off –an inch means thirty different things to thirty different people. I usually just make what I feel like is a good sized cookie dough ball and go from there. I decided I thought mine might be a little big, and added about 1-2 minutes of cooking time because they weren’t quite done after the 20 minutes. Doing this, this recipe still yields about 30 cookies (and a couple little crumble snacks.)

For gifting, for feasting, or for personally pigging out in front of Netflix from under a cozy blanket, this is the best time of year for trying out fun, new food. Let me know what you think if you’ve tried this recipe or plan to, comment below or using the little talking-bubble-thing near the title!