Caramel Apple Oatmeal Cookies


“Just in time for fall.”

These cookies are ridiculous – probably in part due to the crazy fun time I had making them with my best friend Laura. Here we are.


She was my randomly assigned freshman roommate at Wake Forest, and man oh man could it not have been a better match. In addition to being super intelligent, she’s hilariously down to earth and never lets her busy schedule get in the way of her priorities, which are friendships and making memories. She somehow always gets me to step outside of my comfort zone, but never leaves me feeling alone.

One thing I also love about Laura is her love of food. One time during our freshman year, we ordered a party tray of fried pickles. Why, you ask? Because we were hungry, and Laura loves pickles.

She also enjoys pretty healthy food too. We both loved these cookies not only because they are soft and slightly sweet with crisp juicy apples and gooey ribbons of caramel, but they are pretty darn guilt-free. Coming in at 83 calories and 2 grams of fat per delicious treat, we called these a winner.

I’ve made an amazing friend, and we made awesome cookies.

(Adapted from Cooking Light)

Here’s what you’ll need:

1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour

1 1/2 cups of rolled oats

1 teaspoon of baking powder

1/2 teaspoon of baking soda

1/2 teaspoon of salt

1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon

3/4 cup of white sugar

3/4 cup of packed brown sugar

6 tablespoons salted butter, softened

2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

1 large egg

3/4 cup chopped dried apple slices

3/4 cup of soft caramel candies bits (about 16 candies), chopped

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Combine flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon in a large bowl with a whisk.


Beat both sugars and softened butter together in a separate bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed.

Once the mixture is light and fluffy, add the vanilla and egg; beat for 1-2 minutes.

Slowly add flour mixture and beat on low speed until everything is combined.


Fold in the apple and caramel bits on low speed or with a spatula.


On a prepared baking sheet, scoop about two teaspoons of dough and flatten just a bit.

Bake for 9 minutes and allow them to cool for a few minutes before removing them from the pans. 


Happy Day!

- Kelsey

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Posted by on September 18, 2013 in Sweet Treats


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Japanese Cucumber Salad


“I’ve always wanted to visit Asia.”

You could ask any of my friends and they would tell you how much I love just about anything Asian. The culture amazes me and the food is my absolute favorite. One of my best friends is from South Korea, and I’m dying to take a trip with her. She’s introduced me to a lot of food that I never thought I’d enjoy, and now I even know how to say a few words in Korean ;)

photo (23)

Here we are on my 21st birthday this year.

So one thing I get every single time I go to an Asian restaurant is seaweed salad. I’d definitely say it’s not the most visually appealing dish, but it sure is tasty. Tender seaweed with a sweet and sour bite tossed with yummy sesame seeds. So good! But where’s a girl to get seaweed around here? And how on earth am I supposed to get my friends to eat this stuff?

My alternative was this cucumber salad. Similar flavor to the seaweed salad but with more of a cool crunch and spice from red pepper flakes. It also looks a bit more appealing than stringy green seaweed.

Here’s what you’ll need:

4 small Persian cucumbers (or 2 medium cucumbers), thinly sliced

1/4 cup of rice vinegar

1 1/2 teaspoons of sugar

1/4 teaspoon of salt

1/2 – 1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes

2 tablespoons of sesame seeds, toasted

 Slice the cucumbers with a mandolin or a sharp knife no more than 1/8 inch thick.


Stir in the vinegar, sugar, salt, and red pepper.


Toast the sesame seeds over medium high heat in a dry skillet for a few minutes, or until the seeds just start to turn brown.


Stir the seeds in last and let the salad marinate in the fridge for at least an hour.


Eat chilled with light flaky fish or teriyaki vegetables. You could also do as I did the other night and just eat a huge bowl of this stuff by itself for dinner. Totally OK.

Happy Tuesday, everyone!

- Kelsey


Posted by on August 27, 2013 in Sides and Salads


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Coconut Lime Infused Quinoa


“I typically steer clear of trends, but I’m sure glad I jumped on the bandwagon with this one.”

So what’s all the buzz about quinoa? Just flip though any popular magazine or turn on your TV and you’ll be sure to find this stuff somewhere. It is raved about as one of the world’s healthiest foods, being gluten free and super high in protein (containing about half as much as the same size portion of steak). It definitely seems like quinoa is a MUCH better alternative to any other grain.

I still had a hard time trying it out. I really didn’t think it would be anything special, but boy was I wrong. 

This stuff is awesome. It is much softer than rice and locks onto flavor like no other grain I’ve worked with. It’s also super easy to make and relatively inexpensive. Even better, I had no idea how much iron quinoa contains or how many antioxidants it has. After my experience, I would recommend using quinoa in place of your typical go-to grain.

I would also recommend jumping on the coconut water trend. People nowadays are drinking gallons of this stuff each day to stay hydrated with something a little less boring than plain old water. I’m not saying it’s bad, I just don’t know if I could drink a whole glass of it. I bought a carton of it to make a blackberry sage elixir the other night and then realized I had a whole lot left. With two trendy ingredients in hand, I decided to make this dish work, and you can too.

Here’s what you’ll need:

2 cups of coconut water

1 cup of quinoa 

Juice and zest from 1/2 a large lime

Dash of salt

In a medium saucepan, bring the coconut water and quinoa to a boil.




Reduce heat and and add lime juice. Cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until the liquid is gone and the grains are soft.


Add in the salt and lime zest with a fork, and serve hot or cold.


I ended up eating this by itself for lunch one afternoon, but it would pair perfectly with any type of seafood or citrus infused grilled chicken. I love the “islandy” flavor. It makes you feel like you’re on a tropical vacation even when you’re stuck on your couch on a rainy evening with nothing to do. It’s also pretty awesome that one serving of this delicious dish will yield about 113 calories and less than 2 grams of fat, with tons of protein and fiber. 


Obviously I’m pretty hooked on this stuff now. I can’t wait to share more quinoa recipes in the future, and if you have any up your sleeve, I’d love to hear them!

Happy trendy cooking!

- Kelsey


Posted by on August 26, 2013 in Sides and Salads


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Pan Seared Scallops With Champagne Apricot Cream Sauce


“Scallops make me happy.”

Basically anything food puts a smile on my face, but there is just something special about fresh seafood. On the other hand, there is something quite repulsive about not fresh seafood.

When I bought scallops for this dish, I was super pumped. I had spent all day planning this recipe in my head and I was not about to allow anything to go wrong. I do that a lot; I make up my own detailed ideas, convincing myself that because it all works out perfectly in my mind, it’s going to go exactly as planned in real life. Wouldn’t that be nice?

So as I got to my kitchen and opened the scallops, I noticed they did not smell the way seafood should smell…ever! My dad has always told me, “When you buy anything from the butcher counter, ask to smell it before they wrap it up.” Strange request, right? “Hey can I sniff that before I buy it?” But seriously, do it. The butcher will completely understand, and it may save you an extra trip to a different grocery store across town in bad traffic. Your seafood should never in the least bit have a “fishy” odor, but instead should smell like clean salt water. Learn from my failures, people.

Now on to this dish.

It’s awesome. Because scallops are so delicate, they pair perfectly with the sweetness and velvety texture of this sauce. And even though the name sounds super sophisticated, I promise you, it’s not complicated.

Here’s what you’ll need:

About 1 pound of fresh sea scallops

1 tablespoon of butter

1 tablespoon of olive oil

1 shallot, minced

1/3 cup of dried apricots, diced

1 1/2 teaspoons of salt

1/2 teaspoon of pepper

1 1/2 tablespoons of all purpose flour

1 cup of fat free milk

1/4 cup of champagne (any kind you prefer to drink)

Allow your scallops to come to room temperature and remove the tough pieces of ligament that may be on the side of your scallops.

Heat butter and oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Add the shallot and apricot, stirring occasionally for a few minutes until the shallot becomes slightly translucent and the apricot begins to break down. Add salt and pepper for seasoning.




Make a roux by stirring flour into the pan, allowing it to cook until a light brown paste forms.


Whisk in the milk and bring the liquid to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer. Add the champagne and let everything simmer for about 5-8 minutes, stirring occasionally.


While the sauce thickens, heat a large skillet with just a spritz of oil over high heat. Once the skillet is very hot, add the scallops. Allow them to sear for 1-2 minutes on each side. They should be tender to the touch and golden brown in color.



I served my scallops with a spoonful of sauce next to a bed of baked broccolini.


This dish is so decadent with intense flavor. The sauce beats any store bought sauce in that it’s delicious and different, but it’s also free of heavy cream and tons of butter. I’m all good with that :)

Happy seafooding!

- Kelsey

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Posted by on August 22, 2013 in From the Sea


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Shrimp Stir Fry


“This dish will keep the flavors of summer around all year long.” 

Before I begin, I want to apologize to my awesome followers for being MIA this summer. I know there’s never a legitimate excuse not to cook, but I have been a tid bit busy since May. On top of interning in a pretty sweet clinical health psychology lab conducting research and babysitting the best kids on the face of this earth, I’ve been studying for the GRE (admissions requirement for graduate school). I can’t lie; I have been cooking – a lot – but, I just have not yet been able to post anything that is worthy for you guys to read.

As of today, I’m done studying, not working (yet), and I’m back at my little apartment in Winston-Salem with my awesome roommates waiting for senior year to start next week. Don’t even get me started on the nostalgia that is bursting at the seams right now as I try to wrap my mind around the fact that I’m going to be done with college in less than a year. Enough of that as I start to tear up…

Anyway, on a different note, I was relaxing the other night watching Food Network when Pioneer Woman came on. I immediately went to change the channel as I’m not the biggest fan of her recipes. Don’t get me wrong; she’s a talented cook and blogger, but most of her recipes contain ingredients that just don’t fit in with my culinary dogma. However, if I did hard labor on a ranch for 15 hours a day like her crew, I’m pretty sure I could eat her food on a regular basis and not have a single problem

So I go to change the channel and she starts making this shrimp stir fry. My mouth was watering, not because I was hungry, but because it looked so delicious. I was quite intrigued and promised myself that I would make it for dinner the next night. After an extremely inexpensive trip to Trader Joe’s and a few minutes in the kitchen, I was hooked. This is probably one of my new favorite shrimp dishes. Ree Drummond, you just rocked my world.

Here’s what you’ll need:

3 tablespoons of butter

1 tablespoon of olive oil

3 cloves of garlic, minced

About 9-10 large shrimp, peeled and deveined

1 teaspoon of salt

1/4 teaspoon of pepper

1 large or two small zucchini squash, chopped

About 1/2 cup of corn

1/2 cup of cherry tomatoes, halved

Juice of 1/2 a lemon

1 tablespoon of basil, chopped

Shaved asiago cheese (optional)

Heat about two tablespoons of butter and the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat (oil helps keep the butter from burning). Once hot, add the minced garlic. Allow it to sizzle a bit, but don’t let it get brown. Turn down the heat to medium if need be. It will smell muy deliciouso.

Next. add the shrimp (I cut mine in half because it’s borderline impossible to take pretty bites of very large shrimp), salt, and pepper. Stir these around in the pan for 2-3 minutes. Chop your veggies in the meantime.


When the shrimp are just pink, transfer them and their juices from the pan into a bowl to set aside. You have to do this to make sure they’re not tough from overcooking in the pan. 


Add about a tablespoon of butter to the hot pan and let it melt before you add the zucchini. Stir around for about 2 minutes and then add your corn and tomatoes. Feel free to use fresh corn from the cob (grilled would be awesome), but canned corn still works great as long as you drain it and rinse off all the excess sodium thoroughly. 


Toss your shrimp into the mix, being sure to get all the flavorful juices back in the pan.


 Add just a little salt and pepper to taste, lemon juice, and the chopped basil for an intense pop of freshness.

I served mine with a few shavings of asiago cheese. You could also use parsley or cilantro instead of basil. It’s all up to you and whatever your taste buds fancy.


This dish is insanely delicious and addictive. Your leftovers may not last very long.


Moral of the story is, keep an open mind and you may be surprised.

Happy day!

- Kelsey

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Posted by on August 20, 2013 in From the Sea


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Apple Kuchen


“It all started from a recipe box circa 1930.”

My mom called me the other week to ask me if I’d like my great grandmother’s old recipe box. Of course I wanted it, but between work and leaving town almost every weekend, I let the box slip my mind. It wasn’t until a couple of days ago when I was trying to brainstorm some new summer recipes that I thought of the treasures left behind by my Grandma Hufford. I picked up the faded green plastic box, which had a magazine cut out of a meatloaf recipe “that your husband is sure to love” hanging from a yellowed strip of tape on the front. Fanning a handful of recipes through my fingers like a deck of cards, I almost cried from shear excitement.

What a gift to leave behind. Handwritten and typed recipes passed down from generations to generations, all tried and tested by my sweet and talented great grandmother.

These recipes have given me the chance to feel as if I’m cooking in the kitchen with my own kin who I only knew from my early childhood. I’ve heard stories and seen many pictures, but from these recipes alone I can easily tell that Grandma Hufford and I were a lot alike. She loved food, entertaining, and family. What a legacy to pass down.

This apple kuchen was the first recipe I decided to try. I had absolutely no idea what kuchen was until I did a quick Google search. I also was stumped when I read that the recipe called for “oleo,” something I learned was a “back when” term for butter or margarine (I used canola oil). I discovered that, true to our German roots, kuchen is the German word for cake. This simple recipe was so much fun to make, and the final product is not like any other apple cake you have tried before. I would say it’s an even mix between pie, cake, and custard. I would also say it’s simply delicious.


Here’s what you’ll need:

2 eggs

1 cup of granulated sugar

3 medium apples, thinly sliced

Juice from 1 large lemon

1 cup of flour, sifted

1/3 cup of canola oil

2 teaspoons of cinnamon

1 1/2 tablespoons of granulated sugar

2-3 tablespoons of butter

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and prepare a glass pie dish with nonstick cooking spray.

Beat the sugar and eggs for 15 minutes. (I know it’s a long time, but I promise it’s worth it!)


While the sugar and eggs are beating, slice the apples (without skin) and toss with lemon juice to keep them from browning.


When the egg mixture is ready, fold in the sifted flour and oil alternately until smooth.



Pour the mixture into your pan, arranging the apple slices on top. (I very slightly pushed mine into the batter).



Sprinkle the top with cinnamon sugar and dot with butter.


I baked mine for about 55 minutes and it was perfect.


I hope you enjoy my Grandma Hufford’s apple kuchen. My whole family devoured it very quickly.

It’s great served warm with a dusting of powdered sugar or a scoop of vanilla ice cream…or both.


Always remember to never forget where you came from.

Happy days!

- Kelsey


Posted by on July 9, 2013 in Sweet Treats


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Black Bean Enchiladas with Avocado Cream Sauce


“Even your meat-eating friends will go crazy over this dish.”

I have a difficult time going to Mexican restaurants and ordering from the vegetarian menu, which typically consists of about 4 or 5 options. No matter the restaurant, I can guarantee a cheese or bean enchilada is offered in addition to a cheese or bean quesadilla – and when I say bean, I’m talking refried beans. That’s great and all, and I’m sure some people just love a big tortilla filled with greasy cheese and beans the consistency of, well…you know, but I’m just over what most Mexican restaurants deem to be their “healthy vegetarian options.”

It’s time for enchiladas to have some real substance. What makes this recipe delicious for even the non-vegetarians is not just the fresh and vibrant flavors. I’d have to say the mushrooms make a big, big impact. In addition to the beans being wholesome and loaded with protein, the mushrooms provide a meaty texture with even more vitamins and nutrients. When eating this dish, you won’t be searching for the substance that often is MIA in most meatless enchiladas.

In addition, the fresh jalepeno gives this dish a crisp spicy kick in contrast to the creamy sweetness of the avocado. It also doesn’t hurt that this recipe is super healthy and low fat. You are bound to enjoy what you create!



Here’s what you’ll need:

(Adapted from Mommy’s Sweet Confessions)

Avocado Cream Sauce

1/2 jalepeno pepper (seeded and ribbed)

3 cloves of garlic

1 avocado

1/2 cup of vegetable stock

2 tablespoons of nonfat plain Greek yogurt

1/2 teaspoon of salt

1/4 teaspoon of pepper

Enchilada Filling

2 tablespoons of pine nuts

6 tablespoons of fresh cilantro

3 tablespoons of olive oil

1 15-ounce can of black beans (rinsed and drained)

1/2 green pepper, diced

1/2 cup of baby portobello mushrooms, diced

5 green onions, sliced

1/2 teaspoon of salt

1/2 teaspoon of pepper

1 1/2 cups of pepper jack cheese (divided), grated

6-7 medium whole grain tortillas

1 medium tomato, thinly sliced

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

In a food processor, chop the jalepeno and garlic until they are finely minced. Then add the avocado, vegetable stock, yogurt, salt, and pepper until creamy. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and set aside.




Wipe out the food processor and then chop the nuts, cilantro, and olive oil to create the pesto. Set this aside as well.


In a large mixing bowl, stir together the pesto, beans, mushrooms, green onions, salt, pepper, and 2/3 of the cheese.




Cover the bottom of a rectangular baking dish with a thin layer of the avocado cream. Add a couple spoonfuls of filling to each tortilla. Roll them tightly and place seam-side down in the dish. Cover the tortillas with the rest of the avocado cream, and sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Top with slices of tomatoes.




Bake for 45 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly.


The melted cheese, creamy avocado, and sweet roasted tomatoes are such a perfect combination.


Happy cooking!

- Kelsey


Posted by on June 26, 2013 in Breads


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