dark chocolate lava cakes

All my life, I’ve had a really hard time picking favorites.  When I was little, people always asked me about my favorite color, favorite food, favorite book etc.  All of the other kids seemed to have an immediate response to these questions, while I would just stand there dumbfounded for a few minutes weighing the pros and cons of each choice.  Even to this day these questions stress me out. Do I have to pick just one?! I can be a little indecisive.

But this past summer, I discovered my favorite chocolate.  This was a pretty huge deal, now that you know that I don’t take favorites lightly.  When I took my first bite of Recchiuti at the San Fransisco Ferry Market, I was in love.  I’ve had my share of different chocolates — but this was nothing like anything I’ve tasted before.  It was smooth, with a bold, fruity chocolate flavor as well as smoky, subtle cocoa flavor.  It was perfect. I brought home a few bars, and although the first few didn’t last long, I had enough self control to save two bars for baking.

I knew I had to bake them into something special.  I didn’t want to drown something that was already so perfect in marshmallow fluff or caramel sauce, nor did I want to bake them into something boring like brownies.  I needed a recipe simple enough to let their flavors shine through.  After waiting six months, I finally found the perfect recipe to use them in.  My good friend’s mom who is an amazing cook made dark chocolate lava cakes for dessert (served with homemade vanilla gelato).   The combination of cool, creamy gelato and warm molten chocolate was absolutely perfect,  and I knew that I had to learn to make these myself.   She let me copy the recipe, and of course, I made them the next day.

Because I only had two bars of Recchiuti, I couldn’t screw this recipe up (talk about pressure!), so I did some research. Here are a few pieces of advice for perfect lava cakes.  Remember to grease your ramekins generously you want the cakes to slide right out.  If they stick, you will end up with a (delicious) pile of goo.  Also, keep an eye on them in the oven, they cook insanely quickly.  You’re looking for cooked outside & soft inside (soft does not mean jiggly). Start checking at around 10 minutes, 12 minutes worked perfectly for me but every oven is different.

In the end, I breathed a sigh of relief when didn’t screw the recipe up — and my special chocolate bars melted perfectly into these simple, gorgeous little cakes.  I couldn’t have asked for a better recipe to use my favorite chocolate in the world in. The great thing about these cakes that they are so exciting to serve — they look plain, like a boring chocolate muffin… and then all of a sudden simmering chocolate sauce comes oozing out of the center.  Talk about presentation!  All they need is a little dusting of powdered sugar — but if you’re the type to make your own homemade gelato, be my guest. 🙂

With love,

1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

    Preheat the oven to 450°. Butter and lightly flour four 6-ounce ramekins. Tap out the excess flour. Set the ramekins on a baking sheet.

      In a double boiler, over simmering water, melt the butter with the chocolate. In a medium bowl, beat the eggs with the egg yolks, sugar and salt at high speed until thickened and pale.

        Whisk the chocolate until smooth. Quickly fold it into the egg mixture along with the flour. Spoon the batter into the prepared ramekins and bake for 12 minutes, or until the sides of the cakes are firm but the centers are soft. Let the cakes cool in the ramekins for 1 minute, then cover each with an inverted dessert plate. Carefully turn each one over, let stand for 10 seconds and then unmold. Serve immediately. Make Ahead:  The batter can be refrigerated for several hours; bring to room temperature before baking.

        Recipe by  Jean-Georges Vongerichten

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        lemon raspberry cupcakes

        Surprises are funny, you either love ’em or you hate ’em.
        Scratch that. That’s not true at all.  It just sounded like a good hook for this post.
        Personally, I’m in the middle.

        Sometimes, I like to be in the know.  For example, I set different ringtones for different people. It takes the anxiety out of texting. I know whether to stop and reach into my bag on a crowded escalator, whether to start whistling and pretend it never went off, or whether to go into full-on panic mode. Do other people do this? Discuss.

        filled with raspberry jam

        Other times,  I love to be surprised — like when I bite into one of these seemingly simple cupcakes and discover that they’re filled with my favorite raspberry jam.
        One thing’s for sure, I love to surprise people.  On Friday, I organized a surprise birthday dinner for my friend Erin’s 16th birthday.  I told her I wanted to go shopping with her at Bloomies (I bought a pair of shoes for the cause 😉 — but I had actually invited ten of our closest friends for a big surprise dinner at Maggianos. There were a few times that my plan was almost went awry — like when she suggested we go to the mall instead of Bloomies, when I almost asked her in P.E. class what she was going to wear to her surprise dinner (god Erica…), and when the hostess almost led us to our own table for two at Maggianos.

        However in the end, the surprise worked out perfectly, and the look on her face when she saw all of our friends was priceless.

        Do you like surprises?
        With love,

        Lemon Cupcakes:
        1 (18.25 ounce) package lemon cake mix
        1 (3.4 ounce) package instant lemon pudding mix
        1 cup sour cream
        1 cup vegetable oil
        4 eggs, lightly beaten
        2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
        1/2 cup warm water

        Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line muffin tin with paper liners or spray with non-stick cooking spray.
        In a large bowl, beat together the cake and pudding mixes, sour cream, oil, eggs, vanilla and water. Beat for about two minutes until well combined.
        Distribute the batter between 24 muffin wells; about 3 tablespoons of batter per well.
        Bake in preheated oven for 18-22 minutes or until the tops of the cakes spring back when lightly touched. Allow cupcakes to cool inside muffin tins for about 10 minutes. Transfer to racks to cool completely.

        Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting:

        2 (8) ounce package cream cheese, softened
        1 stick butter, softened
        2 lbs. confectioners’ sugar
        2 teaspoons vanilla extract
        juice of one lemon

        Using a mixer, blend the butter and cream cheese together until well combined.
        Gradually add in the confectioners’ sugar until fully incorporated.
        Finally, mix in vanilla and lemon juice.

        To Assemble
        Your favorite raspberry jam
        Fresh raspberries

        Once cool, core each cupcake with an apple corer or a pairing knife.  Fill with raspberry jam.  Frost with lemon cream cheese frosting and garnish with a raspberry.

        © Cannella Vita. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without my permission/linking back to Cannella Vita. If you want to republish this recipe, please link back to this post.

        sex in a pan

        Did I catch your attention? Good.
        This is a sinfully decadent, sinfully easy dessert with a sinfully rewarding response.

        It’s not the daintiest, nor the prettiest. As a matter of fact, it’s basically a hot mess in a pan.
        But you know what? Despite it’s frightening appearance, people just can’t keep their hands off of it.
        I made this for the first time for my school’s Winter Sports Banquet.  In the morning, I put it in the fridge, all wrapped up in foil with a big sign saying DO NOT EAT…

        When I came back to get it for the banquet, some sneaky little devil had eaten half the pan.  I wonder who it was…
        Was it the P.E. teacher, trying to get his chocolate fix before he had to teach another period of freshman Health?
        Was it the librarian, trying to drown her sorrows due to the fact that no one checks out anything but textbooks anymore?
        Was it that “innocent” little freshman boy from Baking club?
        I’ll never know…

        However, what I do know is that sometimes you just have to go with the flow.
        I served this hot little (half-eaten) mess at the sports banquet and it was a hit.  I love telling people what it’s called — talk about a conversation starter 😉 Plus, the intrigue gets people jumping at the chance to try this naughty little dessert without even knowing what it is!

        Speaking of going with the flow, I did a little bit of improvisation while making this.  My chocolate pudding was a gummy mess, so I left it out and added a layer of my favorite chocolate-hazelnut cookies instead.  There’s nothing that two tubs of Cool Whip can’t fix ;).

        You could make homemade whipped cream and pudding if that floats your boat — but personally, this is one of the few instances where I prefer instant.  It just adds to the naughty, decadent nature of this recipe.

        With love,

        1 cup pecans, chopped
        3 tbsp white sugar
        1/2 cup butter (melted)
        1 cup flour

        Cream cheese layer
        1 8 oz package cream cheese
        1 cup powdered sugar (use 1/2 cup for less sweetness)
        1 cup whipped cream or cool whip

        Vanilla Cream Layer
        1 package of instant vanilla pudding (5.1 oz or 144 g)
        3 cups milk (use 2 cups if you want a firmer pudding)

        Chocolate Hazelnut Pirouette Cookies (crushed)
        2 cups whipped cream or cool whip
        Cocoa Powder

        1. Preheat oven to 350 F degrees.
        2. Spray a 9×13 inch baking dish with cooking spray.
        3. In a mixer mix all the crust ingredients together and press the mixture into the prepared baking dish.
        4. Bake it for about 20 minutes.
        5. Prepare the vanilla pudding as per the instructions on the package.
        6. In a mixer add the cream cheese, powdered sugar and the cup of whipped cream. Mix until light and fluffy.
        7. Let the crust cool. Spread the cream cheese mixture over the crust evenly. Spread the vanilla pudding over the bottom crust. Sprinkle with crushed pirouette cookies Top with the whipped cream and sprinkle with cocoa powder.
        8. Refrigerate for a couple hours so that it sets.

        Adapted from Jo Cooks

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          rosemary chicken

          “No one who cooks, cooks alone. Even at ones most solitary, a cook in the kitchen is surrounded by generations of cooks past, the advice and menus of cooks present, and the wisdom of cookbook writers.”

          My dad just got home from Newport and brought me a little tin box full of family recipes.  They’re all written out by hand and spattered with pasta water and melted chocolate. Although I have never met any of the women behind these recipes, each one gives me a glimpse into the lives they led.

          I know that Ms. E. M. Langley felt very strongly about adding extra cheddar to her stuffed peppers, and that Mrs. Pierce liked to dip her doughnuts not once, but three times in powdered sugar.  Even though I don’t even know their first names, I think Ms. Langley, Mrs. Pierce are pretty cool, and I think we would all be very good friends.  (I don’t joke around when it comes to powdered sugar)

          This got me thinking — what recipes define my immediate family?

          We don’t have many heirloom recipes.  I don’t have a Greek grandmother who taught me how to roll a phyllo dough.  I don’t come from a long line of bread-makers.  We don’t even have a family recipe for lasagna.

          Then realized that there are so many tastes that remind me of my family.

          This rosemary chicken is one of them.  It’s a recipe that’s always been there.  It was simmering in the background when I learned how to ride a bike, when I broke my arm, when I thought bangs would be a good idea, when I went on my first date and when I got my first cavity.  It will still be simmering on the back burner when I learn to drive, when I go off to college, and when I get my first job.  It’s that good.  

          It’s a simple recipe — chicken breasts covered in a luscious rosemary cream sauce that fill the entire house with the warm, comforting smell of rosemary and caramelized onions.
          Someday, I want to be the lady behind a family recipe.  I’ll always add extra cheddar, and hopefully an aspiring cook someday will look at my recipes and think that I sounded like a pretty cool lady.

          Do you have any family recipes?

          With love,


          1 tablespoon olive oil
          1 chopped garlic clove
          1 chopped onion
          4 pieces of boneless chicken breast
          2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped
          1 pint heavy cream
          1/4 cup cider vinegar

          Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
          In a large skillet, saute the garlic and onions in olive oil.
          Add chicken and brown.

          Place browned chicken in a baking dish, leaving the browned onions and garlic in the pan.
          Add cream to the skillet and mix with the onions and garlic. Add the cider vinegar.
          Cook over medium heat, scraping up the brown bits, onions, and garlic from the pan. Add chopped rosemary. Bring mixture to a boil and reduce to about half.
          Pour sauce over chicken in baking dish. 
          Bake at 375 for 30 minutes.

          © Cannella Vita. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without my permission/linking back to Cannella Vita. If you want to republish this recipe, please link back to this post.

          too much chocolate cake

          Cakes are a pain. Literally.

          Layer cakes are beautiful, rewarding, and… dangerous.  I’ll spare you the gruesome details, but a slip up while cutting cake layers sent me to the ER last night.   Now I can say that I’m one of the few people who got a laceration while making a birthday cake.  Nonetheless, I was very lucky and it got stitched up really well… but I think I’m going to stick to making Bundt cakes for a while.

          Reasons Bundt cakes rock:

          1. They’re super moist.
          2. It’s redonklulous how easy they are (just bake and pour the glaze on).
          3. They don’t need fancy frosting techniques, the pan does all of the decorating, making the end result look sophisticated and elegant effortlessly!
          4. Bundt cakes keep really well, and actually get better with age.
          5. Bundt cakes aren’t dangerous. 

          Now that I’ve hopefully convinced you to go and buy yourself a Bundt pan, let’s talk about this Bundt cake that I made for my friend Ian’s birthday. 
          It’s over the top, it pushes the limits, and it’s out-of-this-world.  

          Let me break it down for you.
          It’s chocolate cake with chocolate pudding filled generously with chocolate chips and completely drenched in chocolate ganache.  No wonder it’s called “too much chocolate cake.”
          But seriously, can you ever have too much chocolate?
          After tasting this cake, I don’t think so.  In the words of Mae West, “too much of a good thing can be wonderful.”

          With love,

          P.S. Sorry this post took so long to write, it’s deceptively difficult to type with one hand.


          1 package devil’s food cake mix
          1 package instant chocolate pudding mix
          1 cup sour cream
          1 cup vegetable oil
          4 eggs
          1/2 cup warm coffee
          2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

          Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
          In a large bowl, mix together the cake and pudding mixes, sour cream, oil, beaten eggs and coffee. Stir in the chocolate chips and pour batter into a well greased 12 cup bundt pan.
          Bake for 50 to 55 minutes, or until top is springy to the touch and a wooden toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool cake thoroughly in pan at least an hour and a half before inverting onto a plate.

          Adapted from All Recipes

          Velvety Ganache Glaze
          2 cups semisweet chocolate chips 
          1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter
          4 tablespoons corn syrup
          2 tablespoons water

          Melt all ingredients in pot over low heat on the stove–stirring constantly–or in bowl in microwave. Pour over cooled cake.

          Adapted from Shirley Corriher’s Bakewise
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          gooey nutella butter cake

          Sometimes things that look awesome aren’t really so great after all.  I remember in 1st grade I desperately wanted a retainer.  A few of my friends had them.  I knew that they came in tons of different colors: pink with glitter, rainbow, even metallic.  I would walk around with a paper clip in my mouth thinking wistfully how wonderful life would be with a retainer.  What I didn’t know was they made you lisp, they would have to be awkwardly taken out in front of everyone at lunch time, they would have to be brushed, you would get in trouble when you didn’t wear them, and they would hurt so bad you could only eat GoGurt for days.  I found this all out in 6th grade when I actually needed one.

          But other times, things that look “ehhh” turn out to be amazing.  Like this cake.
          I almost chucked this recipe because it looked like such a gooey mess in the pan.  I thought that there was no way that it would bake into something solid and edible… but I decided to bake it anyways.
          Thank god I did.

          This cake doesn’t look like much, but it is one of the most delicious things I’ve ever made.  It’s also one of the easiest things I’ve ever made — no layers, no filling, no frosting, just layers and layers of gooey, chocolate goodness.  You could add a dusting of powdered sugar to these to make it look a little bit fancier, but I like mine plain and simple.  It’s misleading, and I love that.  They look really boring, kind of like a brownie that wasn’t cooked long enough, but the look on peoples faces when they bite into the sugary crisp crust and the irresistible gooey filling is priceless.

          Have you ever been surprised by a recipe?

          With love,



          1 (18-1/4 ounce) Box Chocolate Cake Mix
          1 large Egg
          1/2 cup butter, melted

          8 oz cream cheese, softened
          2 large eggs beaten
          1 cup Nutella
          1 teaspoon vanilla
          2 cups powdered sugar

              Heat oven to 325° F and lightly grease 13×9-inch pan

                Using an electric mixer, combine cake mix, 1 egg and melted butter until well incorporated. Press into bottom of greased pan with fingers.

                  Using an electric mixer, blend, cream cheese, 2 beaten eggs, nutella and vanilla. Then slowly and powdered sugar and beat until smooth.

                    Spread filling over cake batter, and bake for 40-45 minutes, or until edges are brown. (Do not overbake, the center should be a little gooey)
                    From Tidy Mom

                    © Cannella Vita. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without my permission/linking back to Cannella Vita. If you want to republish this recipe, please link back to this post.

                    recipe showdown: healthy banana bread

                    This sh!t is bananas, B-A-N-A-N-A-S.  Thank you Gwen Stefani.

                    Whenever I hear Gwen, I am instantly transported back to 4th grade when I went to a very strict religious school.  I still vividly remember the first day of school — I got dressed in my rumpled white chapel dress, and penny loafers.  When I saw the huge chapel on that cloudy morning, all I could say was “this looks just like Harry Potter.”  While sitting in the pews, I turned to the girl next to me and asked jokingly, “when will we get sorted” in a little British accent.  I don’t think the girl appreciated my humor. 🙁

                    That was a tough year for me — no nail polish, no boys, and tons of homework.  One of the only things that got me through that year was a jazz dance class that I took on Friday nights.  I got to wear my bedazzled gaucho pants and dance to Gwen Stefani and the Black Eyed Peas.  Afterwards, my mom would take me to Quiznos and I would get a toasted sub with salami and pepperoni — nothing else.  Those Friday nights were the moments of joy that got me through an otherwise difficult year.

                    Now, whenever I hear Gwen, it takes me back to those happy Friday nights.  It always amazes me how powerful music can be to transport me back to different times. 

                    Whenever I hear “Ho Hey” by the Lumineers, I am transported to the back seat of the white van that I rode around Santa Fe in this past summer on my community service trip.  When I hear “Everyday” by Buddy Holly, I am sitting in the car seat of my dad’s old green Honda, which I used to call the “pickle car.”  Thanks to these songs and artists, these memories will always be a click away on my iPod.

                    Now to the banana bread.  I love a super moist, cake-like banana breads as much as the next girl (especially when they’re full of toffee bits ), but at 8 A.M, I don’t want to be too naughty… at least on a weekday ;).  The web is overflowing with healthy banana bread recipes — full of applesauce, whole wheat flour, and even flax and chia seeds!  I was intrigued. Could they be as yummy as my banoffee bread? Sounds like a recipe showdown. 

                    Just F.Y.I, these are all “normal” healthy banana breads. I.e. you don’t need to run to the heath food store in search of spelt Flour or Agar gel — these are just classic banana breads lightened up. 

                    The overall favorite was the banana bread from Just Everyday Me it had the most bananas of the three recipes, which gave it a really rich banana flavor.  Also, the addition of whole wheat flour adds a nice dark depth to this loaf.  It would give even the most decadent loaf a run for its money — plus it’s kind of good for you, so you can have an extra slice (or two).

                    With love,

                    This recipe boasts 286 five star ratings on All Recipes.  It uses applesauce, nonfat milk, and a tablespoon of vegetable oil instead of butter, and only has 2/3 cup sugar.  There are 178 calories per slice.
                    This recipe has received great reviews all over the internet.  It uses ¼ cup butter and 1/3 cup lowfat yogurt.  There are 187 calories per slice.
                    This recipe uses ¼ cup butter, ¼ cup apple sauce, and a few spoonfuls of sour cream. It also incorporates whole wheat flour into the white flour for added health benefits.  There are about 190 calories per slice
                    Tasters’ notes
                    Too much vanilla!
                    No strange aftertaste

                    From Just Everyday Me

                    1/2 cup granulated sugar
                    1/2 cup brown sugar (not packed)
                    4 tablespoons butter, softened
                    1/4 cup unsweetened apple sauce
                    1 egg
                    4 tablespoons reduced-fat sour cream
                    1 cup all purpose flour
                    1/2 cup whole wheat white flour
                    1 teaspoon baking soda
                    1/2 teaspoon salt
                    3 whole over-ripe bananas, blended so that they’re liquid

                    Cream togetherthe first 6 ingredients.
                    Slowly add the flours and then the baking soda and salt. Add the blended bananas.
                    Put in a greased bread loaf pan and bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes.
                    © Cannella Vita. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without my permission/linking back to Cannella Vita. If you want to republish this recipe, please link back to this post.

                    overnight raised waffles

                    I just wrote about waffles, and I thought I found the one.
                    But then yeast came in the picture, and things got complicated.

                    Last night, Emilia, Veda and I had our annual end-of-season girl’s night out to celebrate the end of the winter track season.  I don’t know about you all, but I love traditions. 
                    Last year, we saw a chick-flick (The Vow) and ate at our favorite Mexican restaurant (I look forward to their fried plantains all track season!).

                    This year, we did the exact same thing — except this year, we were not carrying all of our track bags and book bags with us.  We learned our lesson last year when we had to check 7 bags into the coat check at the restaurant.

                    After dinner, we headed over to CVS to buy candy.  We got 5 packs of candy for the same price as one pack at the theater.  Emilia thought ahead and brought a huge bag to carry our stash into the theater.  It’s great to have friends who think ahead when you’re as forgetful as me.

                    We saw Safe Haven.  Was it cheesy? Yes.  Was there not a single male in the theater? Yes.  Did I cry my eyes out? Yes.

                    Emilia and I always start crying around the opening credits, when the soft music starts to play and they show snapshots of cattails blowing in the breeze.  This only intensifies as the movie progresses.  Veda is the rock that sits between us and comforts us.

                    Even though the movie got bad reviews from the critics, I really liked it.  I’m always a sucker for Nicholas Sparks, and as a dancer, I have the biggest girl-crush on Julianne Hough. She was always my favorite on Dancing With the Stars.

                    After the movie, we all slept over at my house.  I have learned from experience that we always have boundless energy for midnight baking (Nutella and pretzel stuffed chocolate chip cookies anyone), but when breakfast rolls around, we end up eating Frosted Mini Wheats from the box.  Since my friends are always thinking ahead for me (shout out to Emilia and her giant tote bag), I decided to think ahead for them for once — and I prepared the batter for these raised waffles the night before. 

                    In the morning, when I was foggy-eyed and sugar deprived, I just heated up the waffle iron and shazam. Breakfast = done.

                    With love,


                    ½ cup warm water
                    1 package (2 ¼ tsp.) dry yeast
                    2 cups whole milk, warmed
                    1 stick (½ cup) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
                    1 tsp. table salt
                    1 tsp. sugar
                    2 cups all-purpose flour
                    2 large eggs, lightly beaten
                    ¼ tsp. baking soda

                    Pour the water into a large mixing bowl. (The batter will rise to double its volume, so keep that in mind when you choose the bowl.) Sprinkle the yeast over the water, and let stand to dissolve for 5 minutes.

                    Add the milk, butter, salt, sugar, and flour, and beat until well blended and smooth. (Electric beaters do a nice job of this.) Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and let it stand overnight at room temperature.

                    Before cooking the waffles, preheat a waffle maker. Follow your waffle maker’s instruction manual for this, but my guess is that you’ll want to heat it on whatever setting is approximately medium-high. My waffle maker has a heat dial that runs from 1 to 7, and I turned it to 5. My waffle maker is nonstick, so I didn’t grease it, and Marion Cunningham doesn’t call for greasing it, either.

                    Just before cooking the waffles, add the eggs and baking soda, and stir to mix well. The batter will be very thin. Pour an appropriate amount of batter into your hot waffle maker: this amount will vary from machine to machine, and you should plan to use your first waffle as a test specimen. Cook until golden and crisp.

                    From The Breakfast Book

                    © Cannella Vita. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without my permission/linking back to Cannella Vita. If you want to republish this recipe, please link back to this post.

                    recipe showdown: belgian waffles

                    It's humiliating.  It's tragic.  It's the decay of Western civilization.
                    ... and I can't stop watching it.

                    Ever since I heard that little, blond, 4-foot-tall toddler's famous catchphrase"a dollar makes me holler honey boo boo," I've been in love.
                    She's hyperactive, uninhibited, and foul-mouthed... and I'm kind of obsessed.

                    But since this is technically a food blog, I should be talking about food, not the "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo."  I did a little research and the Honey Boo Boo clan has some *pretty* interesting dishes.
                    Have you ever heard of "Sketti"?
                    Spaghetti, doused with a sauce that is one part margarine, one part ketchup.
                    However, the most infamous Honey Boo Boo specialty is her "go go juice" -- a secret mix of Mountain Dew and Red Bull that gets her "go go"-ing for her pageants.  If you aren't familiar with "go go juice," click here.  Thank me later.

                    Anyways, I have my own version of "go go juice."  It's not quite Mountain Dew mixed with Red Bull, but it sure gets me going.  It's my secret weapon that gets me through 6-hour indoor track meets.

                    Truth is, nothing gets me going like Belgian waffles. 
                    I could run my little heart out for hours after one of those babies.
                    This morning was the last meet of the winter season, so obviously Belgian waffles were on the menu.  Since they're my secret weapon, they had to be perfect this time.

                    What am I looking for in a Belgian waffle?  Something so crispy that you can hear the fork break the crust, yet so tender that the inside is pillowy like cotton candy.  Something that can soak up maple syrup and melty butter while still holding its waffle-y shape.

                    After comparing a series of very popular and wildly different recipes, I think I found the one.  Aretha Frankensteins' (what a name!) Waffle's of Insane Greatness were spot on. What's your "go go juice"? With love,
                    These waffles have a very thick and rich batter that is scooped not poured into the iron.  It has a dense, buttery crumb and the consistency of a light, buttery shortbread cookie.
                    These waffles are famous in the food blogging community, known simply as “WIG.”  The light batter uses vegetable oil and cornstarch.
                    Simple, pancake-like batter, with the addition of a whipped egg white.  I used sour cream thinned with ¼ cup milk instead of the buttermilk (which was one of the suggested substitutions). As the title suggests, these are very rich waffles.
                    A way to modify Bisquick waffle mix in a way that comes “very close to mom’s homemade waffles”
                    Tasters’ Notes
                    Very cookie-like
                    Not “fluffy” waffles
                    Doesn’t even need syrup
                    Light and airy
                    Mind-bogglingly crisp exterior
                    A bit chewy
                    Not special
                    More of a cookie than a waffle. Nevertheless, these were delicious. These are perfect for dessert, with syrup and maybe some ice cream
                    They are curiously light and fluffy on the inside, and have a shatteringly crisp crust. They are also the easiest (come together in one bowl, and no nonsense with egg whites)
                    These were very soft. They were rich, but had no crunch. Still, they were tasty and tangy, just not, the waffle.
                    These are tasty if you’re in a rush. But nothing beats homemade, and these aren’t anything special.

                    Aretha Frankenstein's Waffles of Insane Greatness From Aretha Frankenstein's restaurant in Chattanooga, TN. Ingredients 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
                    1/4 cup cornstarch
                    1/2 teaspoon baking powder
                    1/4 teaspoon baking soda
                    1/2 teaspoon salt
                    1 cup whole milk or buttermilk (or a combination)
                    1/3 cup vegetable oil or melted butter
                    1 egg
                    1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
                    3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
                    Butter and pure maple syrup, for serving In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; mix well. Add the milk, vegetable oil, egg, sugar and vanilla and mix well. Let the batter sit for 30 minutes. Heat a waffle iron. Follow the directions on your waffle iron to cook the waffles. Serve immediately with butter and pure maple syrup or hold in a 200 degree oven, directly on the rack (don't stack them or they'll get soggy). These also reheat very well in the toaster.

                    © Cannella Vita. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without my permission/linking back to Cannella Vita. If you want to republish this recipe, please link back to this post.

                    red velvet cupcakes

                    Somehow it has become socially acceptable to dislike Valentine’s Day.  Some people say that it’s a meaningless marketing scam run by card and chocolate companies.  Others try to be witty, saying that we should profess our love every day of the year.

                    You all need to relax.  I hate Halloween — but you don’t hear me complaining!
                    I remember in lower school we would get to decorate a big envelope with glitter, puffy paint, and heart shaped doilies. Everyone in the class would exchange cut-out Dora the Explorer valentines and Hershey’s Kisses.  
                    …and everyone liked Valentine’s Day. 

                    Fast-forward 5 years, and (unlike a few of my friends) I still like Valentine’s day — maybe I’m a bit biased because I love arts and crafts, chocolate, and sparkly, corny love notes. 

                    Valentine’s Day shouldn’t be a day to be sad that you’re single, or rolling your eyes at every lovey-dovey couple you see.   It’s a national holiday, so you might as well get into it. I can’t think of a better way to do that than with cupcakes. There’s something special for everyone (and it all starts with these cupcakes).

                    If you have a significant other, good for you.  Make a batch of these cupcakes, turn on a good movie or romantic music. Valentine’s Day = done. 
                    If you’re crushing for someone, an you see a glimmer that he or she might feel the same — maybe you can finally get something going.  What better way to do so than with a cupcake that says “text me” on it.  Bazinga.  Valentine’s Day + new number = done. 
                    If there is a boy who’s always on your bus, and you’ve been wondering what his name is, what books he reads, and what your children would look like, speak up today! Better an ‘oh well’ than a ‘what if’ right?! If you get a positive vibe, you can go back to your place and give him one of these cupcakes.  New love  + Valentine’s Day = done. 

                    If you’re spending Valentine’s Day with your girlfriends,  thank them for listening to all of your boy woes for the past year.  Nothing says “thanks for listening” quite like red velvet.

                    If your friends are all with their boyfriends or they don’t condone Valentine’s day (their loss), it’s all good. Just make these cupcakes and share some with all of the people in your life who touch your heart every day — teachers, little kids in the neighborhood, the ladies at the local community center, and the postman with the really nice smile. 
                    It’s Valentine’s Day, why not spread a little love?

                    With love, 

                    Red Velvet Cupcakes

                    1 (18.25 ounce) package red velvet cake mix
                    1 (3.4 ounce) package instant chocolate pudding mix
                    1 cup sour cream
                    1 cup vegetable oil
                    4 eggs, lightly beaten
                    2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
                    1 tablespoon coffee granules dissolved in 1/2 cup warm water

                    Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.   Line 24 muffin wells with paper liners.
                    Beat together the cake and pudding mixes, sour cream, oil, eggs, vanilla and instant coffee mixture until well combined.
                    Distribute the batter between 24 muffin wells. (I like to use an ice cream scoop)
                    Bake for 18-22 minutes or until the tops of the cakes spring back when lightly touched. Allow cupcakes to cool inside muffin tins for about 10 minutes.
                    Remove cupcakes from muffin tins and allow to fully cool on a wire rack. Once cupcakes are cool, prepare your frosting.

                     Cream Cheese Frosting

                    1 stick softened butter
                    1/2 cup crisco

                    8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature

                    2 teaspoons vanilla extract

                    5-6 cups powdered sugar

                    1-3 tablespoons milk


                    Place butter, crisco and cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat until smooth.
                    Add vanilla extract and powdered sugar (1 cup at a time) and blend on low speed until combined. Increase to medium speed and beat until it begins to get fluffy.

                    Slowly add the milk until you reach desired consistency.

                    Beat until fluffy, about 1 minute.

                    © Cannella Vita. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without my permission/linking back to Cannella Vita. If you want to republish this recipe, please link back to this post.