Quick Eats: Creamy Spinach Tortellini

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If I was a superhero (and really- who’s to say I’m not?) my one weakness wouldn’t be some strange element from another planet, or bullets (okay- probably bullets)– but it WOULD be pasta. Whenever there’s any form of pasta in front of me- I just continue to eat it until I can’t move and am rendered useless for the remainder of the day. Add cheese to it and I’m pretty much done for.

A friend, knowing my weakness well, forwarded me this 20 minute recipe for cheesy spinach tortellini- which happens to be my favorite type of pasta- and I ended up clearing an entire afternoon so I could prepare it, eat a serving (or two) and then lay motionless for a few hours until it digested and I could stand up and walk around without needing a long nap, first.

Carb Counters beware- this recipe isn’t for the faint of heart- but if you’re feeling a little indulgent on your “Cheat Day”, I say go big or go home and try your hand at this one!



  • 1 20 oz. package Three Cheese Tortellini (or your favorite kind!)
  • 1 8 oz. package of cream cheese
  • 1 1/2 cup chicken or vegetable stock
  • 6 cups loosely packed baby spinach leaves
  • 1 cup Cheddar Jack or mozzarella cheese, shredded


1. Cooking the package of tortellini according to package instructions.

2. Meanwhile, in a large, oven proof skillet, simmer the cream cheese with chicken or vegetable stock for about 10 minutes.

3. Preheat the oven to 400℉.

4. Add spinach to the cream cheese sauce and simmer for another 5 minutes.


5. Add tortellini, mix everything well and sprinkle the shredded cheese on top.

6. Place the skillet in the oven and bake for about 7-10 minutes, until the shredded cheese melts.

7. Serve hot- and enjoy!


This stuff hit the spot. It was really filling, but not in the “I feel sick” way- and that’s coming from someone who ate a pretty good sized portion. The spinach was a nice addition, too- since it broke up the heaviness of all the cheese and tortellini in every spoonful.

If I could make a recommendation, I would flavor this with a little salt and pepper, too. I didn’t do that at first- and while the completed recipe did taste good all on it’s own- I found it needed just a small amount of flavoring to really knock it out of the park. A sprinkle of salt and pepper helped enhance the taste. Just keep that in mind if you make this on your own!

I’ll definitely be cooking up this one again!


Quick Eats: Lemon Butter Scallops

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Since Fall is pretty much here already, I’ve been looking into more warm, filling recipes to try as I transition out of my usual Summertime BBQ and cookout-inspired favorites. What I didn’t want to do, however- was immediately dive right into pumpkin and apple flavored anything. Not that I don’t love those types of recipes (because of course I love them!)– but I really wanted to strive for different flavors and textures in my cooking and baking endeavors for the month of September.

With Hampton Beach’s annual Seafood Festival approaching this coming weekend, I felt inspired to get a head start on my eating of all things from the sea and try a 10-minute (seriously!) scallop appetizer recipe I had found online that perfectly blended tartness and garlic flavor- all with a satisfying crunchiness to it.

If you like scallops- you’re going to love this. I promise.



  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 pound scallops
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves


1. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a large skillet over medium high heat.

2. Remove the small side muscle from the scallops, rinse with cold water and thoroughly pat dry.


3. Season scallops with salt and pepper, to taste. Working in batches, add scallops to the skillet in a single layer and cook, flipping once, until golden brown and translucent in the center, about 1-2 minutes per side. Set aside and keep warm.

4. To make the lemon butter sauce, melt 2 tablespoons butter in the skillet. Add garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in lemon juice; season with salt and pepper, to taste.

5. Serve scallops immediately with lemon butter sauce, garnished with parsley, if desired.


These were devoured so quickly it was insane. The scallops were just the right amount of crispy and chewy- and the lemon butter & garlic sauce was beyond delicious. I half expected someone to try licking the plate when these were gone (it didn’t happen- but I’m sure there was plenty of temptation!)

I have extra scallops in my freezer- and considering how quick and easy these were to make- I’m sure I’ll be indulging in more of them later on this week!


Quick Eats: Snack-Safe Chocolate-Chip Cookie Dough

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Do you like the taste of raw cookie dough but dislike the danger of salmonella that comes with it whenever you sneak a spoonful while you’re baking? Then do I have good news for you! In what is probably one of the quickest, easiest recipes I’ve stumbled across (three steps and only a handful of ingredients? Yes please!)– I have found an egg-free, safe-to-snack-on, and absolutely delicious alternative to raw cookie dough that tastes EXACTLY like the real thing.

Maybe even better than the real thing, actually.

Don’t believe me? Here’s the recipe. Try it fr yourself and see what you think!



  • 1½ sticks butter, at room temperature
  • ⅔ cup granulated sugar
  • ⅔ cup light brown sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2¾ cups almond flour
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups chocolate chips



1. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter with the sugar and brown sugar until light and fluffy, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the vanilla extract and mix to combine.

2. Add the almond flour and salt; mix to combine. Add the chocolate chips and mix just until evenly incorporated.

3. The cookie dough can be served immediately or refrigerated in an airtight container until ready to serve (for up to a week).

That is legitimately all you need to do to make these. That’s it. The entire process takes roughly 30 minutes and then you’ve got yourself enough edible cookie dough to last you a week (or an hour, depending on how hungry you’re feeling.)

Want to take this recipe a step further? Try rolling some of the dough into balls, dunking them in melted milk/dark chocolate, and then freezing them for a couple of hours or overnight. You’ll get yourself some chilled chocolate-covered cookie dough bites when the chocolate coating hardens!



Quick Eats: Bloomin’ Onions

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I’m just going to throw this out there in the hopes I don’t scare off any potential future dating opportunities- but I love foods and ingredients that smell pretty strong. Garlic? Can’t get enough of it. Feta cheese? 100% yes. Onions? Pile them on anything and everything and I’ll eat them with no questions asked. I keep an extra toothbrush, toothpaste and dental floss in my car as backup and I always have gum and/or mints in my bag because of my penchant for ordering or cooking up the most potent of dishes. They’re just such a guilty-but-not-guilty pleasure for me.

In regards to onions- the only thing I think I love more than raw onions on my burgers, sandwiches or sliced into my salads is any variation of fried onions. Onion rings, onion strings- and blooming onions, especially- are one of my favorite appetizers to pick at. When I spotted this recipe for homemade blooming onions, courtesy of PureWow– I knew I had to give them a try (and then probably eat all of them in one sitting.)




  • 2 pounds cipollini onions, peeled
  • 1½ cups buttermilk
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ¾ teaspoon baking powder
  • Vegetable oil, as needed for frying


  • ½ cup sour cream
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste



1. MAKE THE DIPPING SAUCE: In a medium bowl, whisk the sour cream with the mayonnaise, horseradish, garlic powder, paprika, salt and pepper to combine. Set aside.

2. SCORE THE ONIONS: Slice an onion in half vertically, but don’t cut all the way through to the base. The idea is to keep the bottom intact. Turn the onion 45 degrees, slice vertically again and repeat until you end up with what looks like little rectangles of onion, still attached at the base. Repeat with the remaining onions.

3. Loosen the onions a little by wiggling them around to separate the pieces slightly and create space between them. Place the buttermilk in a shallow dish and then add the onions to it. Toss well and massage the onions to get the buttermilk into the score marks.

4. MAKE THE SEASONING: In a medium-size shallow dish, whisk the flour with the salt, pepper, garlic powder, cayenne and baking powder to combine.

5. Heat 3 inches of oil in a wide pot over medium-high heat until it reads 350°F on a thermometer.


6. DREDGE THE ONIONS: Working one at a time, remove an onion from the buttermilk and dredge fully in the flour mixture, working again to make sure the breading gets into the score marks.

7. COOK THE ONIONS: Working in batches, fry the onions until they’re golden and crisp, flipping them over halfway through cooking, about 8 to 10 minutes. Set the cooked onions on paper towels to absorb the excess oil.

8. Serve immediately with the dipping sauce.

Despite coating and frying these up in vegetable oil, these onions didn’t come out overly greasy at all. They were perfectly crisped all the way through- with just the right amount of tenderness at the center to keep them flavorful (without tasting too much like the seasoning) and not too dry. The dipping sauce was also fantastic. A little tangy- but it complimented the onions perfectly.

I’m really looking forward to whipping these up again the next time I have a group of people over, since I know they’ll be a big hit!



Quick Eats: Roasted Potato Crostini with Pesto Cheese

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Well hello, and Happy July! I hope my fellow Americans had a wonderful, fun, and firework accident-free Independence Day yesterday! I did what any true patriot in the U. S. of A would do and celebrated by eating a lot of (mostly unhealthy) foods, sweets, and sporting some red, white & blue while watching people set off illegal firecrackers they purchased across state lines.

You know. The usual.

My long holiday weekend actually extends through today, and I’m spending my last day off before returning to work tomorrow in NYC with Sean to do some shopping, a little sightseeing, and to try and hunt down these incredibly elaborate milkshakes everyone has been talking about lately. We’ll see how it goes!

Before I leave to catch my train into Grand Central, though- I wanted to share a recipe I tried my hand at this past week (as part of that aforementioned unhealthy food binge I went on in celebration of the 4th.) I randomly came across this appetizer in a local flyer recently, and being a fan of both roasted potatoes AND pesto- I knew I had to give it a go.



  • 1/3 lbs (4 medium) Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 6 ounces soft cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup prepared pesto
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped prepared roasted red peppers
  • Snipped fresh chives (optional)


1. Heat oven to 400ºF. Spray baking sheet with cooking spray or rub with olive oil.

2. On baking sheet, arrange sliced potatoes in single layer; spray/rub lightly with additional cooking spray/olive oil.

3. Sprinkle potato slices evenly with 1/4 teaspoon of garlic salt.


4. Roast potatoes for 20-25 minutes or until they are are tender and browned- turning them over halfway and sprinkling with the remaining garlic salt.

5. While potatoes are finishing roasting, mix together cream cheese and pesto in a small bowl.

6. Once the potatoes are done cooking, spoon the pesto/cheese mixture on top of each slice. Top with chopped red pepper and sprinkle with chives. Serve immediately.


To call this an appetizer is actually a bit misleading, since these potato slices are pretty filling and could actually be a meal by themselves, but they tasted delicious- a perfect combination of saltiness and cheesiness- crunchiness and gooey-ness. I plan on making these for the next get together or party I throw and/or attend since I know they’ll be a hit and go fast!

I’d also like to experiment a bit with the ingredients, like maybe substituting chopped onions in place of the red peppers or seasoning them a bit differently. There’s a lot of different ways these can be prepared!


Quick Eats: Lemon Bars

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My mom recently baby-sat my seven year old niece for a couple of days since her Summer vacation is officially underway but my brother and my sister-in-law’s work schedules haven’t changed quite just yet. My mom had a full itinerary for the whole two days- including arts & crafts, a Super Soaker watergun fight- and plenty of baking since my niece’s stomach is essentially a bottomless pit where no amount of food ever satisfies her hunger.

I digress. Apart from cookies, brownies, and pastries- the two made boxed lemon bars my mom had picked up on a recent shopping trip. Since I have a love of all things lemon in the Summertime- I had stopped by during my lunch break to pick up a couple to take back to my office with me- only to be told they had come out horrible and tasted like “battery acid” (my mom’s descriptions are really great, for the record.)

Sure enough, when I opened my mom’s refrigerator to take a look for myself- I was greeted by the most unappetizing and orange (I’m still not sure why or what happened there?) colored lemon bars I’d ever seen in my life. I thought for sure my niece, who would eat literally ANYTHING– would be excited about them- but even she was grossed out by their taste and texture.

Inspired by their kitchen disaster, I decided to seek out a lemon bar recipe on my own- and voila! I found this one through PureWow that seemed easy enough. I gave it a try- with my mom present- to show her how it’s done.



  • 16 ounces refrigerated sugar-cookie dough
  • 2¾ cups sugar
  • 1 cup (plus 2 tablespoons) all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 7 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • Confectioners’ sugar, as needed for finishing


1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a 13-by-9-inch pan with parchment paper. Lightly grease the parchment paper with nonstick spray.

2. Press the sugar-cookie dough into the base of the prepared pan in an even layer. Dock all over with a fork and transfer to the freezer to chill for 10 minutes.


3. Bake the cookie crust until it’s lightly golden at the edges, 12 to 15 minutes. When you remove the pan from the oven, hit it firmly on the counter to help flatten the crust. Let cool while you make the filling.

4. Lower the oven temperature to 350°F. In a large bowl, whisk the sugar and flour to combine. Whisk in the lemon juice, eggs and lemon zest. Mix until well combined.


5. Pour the filling into the cooled crust. Bake until the filling is set and lightly golden at the edges, 15 to 18 minutes. Cool completely.

6. Sprinkle confectioners’ sugar all over the surface. Cut the bars into 12 even squares, and then cut each square in half to make two triangles. Serve immediately or keep refrigerated in an airtight container until ready to serve.


These bars were awesome. They were gooey, tangy- and actually yellow (the way they’re supposed to be!) I actually had some extra filling left over from this batch that I used to make a lemon custard that turned out just as delicious. I’m really looking forward to making more of these throughout the Summer. They’re a perfect and refreshing treat!


Quick Eats: Pizza Muffins

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For any of you reading this who know me particularly well- you’ll know that there are three types of food I will eat no matter what because I don’t think there is any feasible way for them to be prepared incorrectly or cooked poorly: Mexican food, breakfast food- and pizza. There’s just no way pizza can be sub-par. Even the stalest or greasiest slice of pizza is still incredible. It’s (probably) science.

What’s that saying? Pizza is like sex- even when it’s bad- it’s still pretty good? Something like that.

I digress- I’ve been in the mood for some homemade pizza for a few days now, and only recently stumbled on this pizza muffin recipe that looked quite delicious, unique and ridiculously simple to make- so over this past weekend I decided to gather the ingredients and give it a go to make sure that the longstanding theory of there being no such thing as a bad pizza was still alive and well.



  • 3 pounds pizza dough (store-bought or homemade)
  • 1½ cups marinara sauce, plus more for serving
  • 1½ teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1½ cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • Olive oil, as needed for finishing



1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease the cavities of a 12-cup muffin pan.

2. Divide the pizza dough into 12 even pieces. Use your hands and a lightly floured surface to pull each piece of dough into a ¼-inch-thick, 2-by-4-inch rectangle.

3. Working one at a time, spread 2 tablespoons marinara sauce on the surface of the dough. Sprinkle ⅛ teaspoon oregano over the surface and then sprinkle 2 tablespoons cheese on top.



4. Starting at one of the longer sides, roll the dough into a spiral. Fold the spiral in half and place it in one of the prepared muffin cups (ends facing up).

5. Repeat with the remaining dough and fillings. Brush the surface of each muffin with the olive oil and then bake until the dough is golden and the cheese is melted, 20 to 25 minutes.

6. Let the muffins cool slightly and then serve warm (or at room temperature) with a side of warm marinara sauce for dipping. Enjoy!


I’m not gonna’ lie. I ate three of these things in one sitting. Three. The equivalent to a personal pizza, I think- but they were SO good. They were warm, cheesy, crispy- and oh so satisfying. Best of all? Just like regular pizza- they taste awesome cold, too. Any muffins I couldn’t shove into my mouth were put in the fridge to munch on later.

I don’t know if these count as a breakfast food since they’re technically a muffin- but I won’t judge if anyone makes these before 10 a.m.


Quick Eats: Zucchini Fries

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On my quest to achieve my ideal beach body for this Summer- I’ve been scoping out recipes for healthier alternatives to what could otherwise be considered not-so-healthy meals and snacks (sadly, there is no comparable substitute for cheesecake. Sigh.) My research has been eye-opening, to say the least- because not only did I never fully realize just how many variations there can be for different kinds of foods- but I also never imagined that “healthy” versions of that food could taste even better than the originals!

Case in point: these zucchini fries- a lighter, less artery-clogging alternative to regular greasy, fattening French fries- but still pack a crunchy and flavorful punch without making you feel gross or remorseful after you eat a bunch of them.

Best of all? They don’t take long to prepare at all- making these my new favorite quick-time snack when I need something to munch on in-between meals or if I’ve got people coming by and need to whip up something fast and/or outside-the-box.



* 4 medium zucchini

* ¾ cup all-purpose flour

* 1 teaspoon salt, plus more to finish

* ¾ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

* 2 eggs

* 2½ cups panko bread crumbs

* ⅓ cup grated Parmesan cheese

* ½ teaspoon garlic powder


1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Grease a baking sheet with nonstick spray.

2. Trim the ends from the zucchini, then cut in half width wise. Cut in half again, then cut each piece into 4 fat wedges (you’ll get about 16 wedges per zucchini).


3. In a large, shallow bowl, mix the flour with the salt and pepper to combine. In a second large, shallow bowl, whisk the eggs. Finally, in a third large, shallow bowl- mix the bread crumbs with the Parmesan and garlic powder to combine.

4. Working in batches, dip each piece of zucchini first into the flour mixture, then into the egg, then into the bread crumbs. Transfer the breaded zucchini to the prepared baking sheet.


5. Bake until the breading is golden brown and crisp- approximately 25 to 30 minutes.

6. Season with additional salt to taste and serve immediately!

I admit, I wasn’t sure what to expect the first time I made these fries- but I was pleasantly surprised the second I tasted one (and then proceeded to eat an embarrassing amount of them in one sitting.) The zucchini still tastes fresh and crisp after baking- but the breading gives them a nice salty and crispy finish. The fries are filling- but not in a bad way.

I’m addicted- and I’ve already planned on experimenting with this recipe a little more and incorporating some summer squash into the mix the next time I cook up a batch of these!



Quick Eats: No-Bake Chocolate Peanut-Butter Pretzel Bars

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So, funny (but not really funny) story- but for years I had to be cautious about the types of pretzels I ate since generic, cheaper-brand ones would often make me break out in hives from head to toe shortly after being ingested. Be it because of whatever preservatives, sodium, or colorings were used in aforementioned brands- I’ll never know- but I learned to trust a couple of different companies over time that I could eat without needing to keep a bottle of calamine lotion and Benadryl nearby for afterwards.

I saw this recipe online recently and the photos of the finished product looked really, really good. I grabbed a couple of packages of pretzel sticks from one of my trusted snack brands and decided to try it out for myself. Whipping it up was easy enough- especially with no actual baking required- but it was the waiting to try/eat them that proved to be the most difficult part of the process!



  • 2½ cups pretzel crumbs (from about half a full-size bag)
  • 1½ cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 10 tablespoons (1¼ sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1¾ cups smooth peanut butter, divided
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • One 12-ounce bag milk chocolate chips
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup lightly crumbled/grated pretzels


1. Lightly grease a 9-inch square baking pan with nonstick spray and then line it with parchment paper, allowing 2 inches of extra parchment to hang over the sides.

2. In a large bowl, mix the pretzel crumbs with the confectioners’ sugar to combine. In a small bowl, whisk the melted butter with the 1½ cups peanut butter and the vanilla extract to combine.



3. Add the peanut butter mixture to the pretzel mixture and stir until the crumbs are evenly coated and moistened. Pour the crumb mixture into the prepared pan and press into an even layer.

4. Place the chocolate chips in a medium-size heat-safe bowl. In a small pot, bring the cream to a simmer over medium heat. When the cream is simmering, add it to the chocolate chips and let sit 15 seconds. Stir the mixture until smooth and well combined.

5. Pour the chocolate mixture over the pressed pretzel crumb layer and spread evenly. Sprinkle the crumbled/grated pretzels evenly over the chocolate.


6. In a small bowl, stir the remaining ¼ cup peanut butter to loosen it. Microwave for 20 to 30 seconds, then drizzle the softened peanut butter over the crumbled pretzels.

7. Refrigerate until firm, 30 to 45 minutes.

8. Cut into 16 even squares. Store the bars in the refrigerator in an airtight container until ready to serve.

These squares were so, SO good! They were the perfect combination of chewy and crunchy- and sweet and salty. I’ve been indulging on these over the past couple of days and I’m looking forward to making a batch for the people in my office for the next weekend we all put in some overtime together.

And best of all? No hives!



Quick Eats: Red Velvet Lava Cakes

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Remember at the end of February when I said I intended on sharing a recipe for what I considered to be the greatest dessert ever? Well, here it is- unless you don’t like red velvet cake, of course- in which case please get far, far away from me. I will side-eye you into the next century.

A look at any of my birthday celebrations over the past few years is all the documentation anyone would ever need to see I love anything red velvet (and I only recently ran out of a limited edition red velvet-scented body wash that Bath & Body Works created a couple of months ago for the holiday season.) The only thing I may love more than the cake itself is miniature indulgent versions of it- or any dessert, really. I’m all about small- but satisfying- portions of cakes/pastries/sugary snacks. Less goes to waste and I’m less inclined to overeat/put myself into a food coma when I have a tinier serving on my plate.

When I first laid eyes on the recipe for these little, round and personal red velvet lava cakes- I knew I had to give them a try. How could I not?!



* 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

* 1 tablespoon cocoa powder

* Pinch of salt

* 4 tablespoons unsalted butter

* 1½ ounces semisweet chocolate

* ½ cup confectioners’ sugar, plus more for finishing

* 1 egg

* 1 egg yolk

* ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

* 2 teaspoons red food coloring


1. Preheat your oven to 425°F. Lightly grease two ramekins (or two cavities of a muffin pan) with nonstick spray.

2. In a small bowl, whisk the flour with the cocoa powder and pinch of salt to combine.

3. In a medium-sized, heat-safe bowl, melt the butter and chocolate in 15-second intervals in the microwave until melted and smooth.


4. Stir in the confectioners’ sugar into the butter and melted chocolate mixture until well combined. From there- add the egg, egg yolk, vanilla extract and food coloring- and stir until well combined.

5. Add your now red-tinted concoction to the whisked flour, cocoa powder and salt. Mix thoroughly until there are no lumps.

6. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared ramekins. Bake until set at the edges but still soft in the center, approximately 13 to 15 minutes. Let cool for 3 to 5 minutes inside the pan, then un-mold each cake onto a plate.


7. Serve warm- immediately- and garnish with confectioners’ sugar.

8. Don’t burn the roof of your mouth as you inhale your serving of molten deliciousness!


These little cakes came out so much better than I could have ever anticipated- and the inside was cooked to gooey, warm and sweet perfection. I served these prior to Sunday night’s sit-down for the latest ‘Walking Dead’ episode and they were a big hit!

I can imagine that if you substitute a few of the ingredients, you could probably make all sorts of flavor variations of these cakes with minimal effort or disaster. I’m tempted to try my hand at a dark chocolate or more fruity/lemon version the next time!

… But not after I make a few more red velvet ones, first.