Holiday, Recipes

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cupcakes

Hi friends! We’re halfway through the week so I figured the best way to get over the midweek hump is to share a delicious cupcake recipe. These would be perfect for Valentine’s Day next week with the pink frosting πŸ™‚


Who else loves a good chocolate covered strawberry?? I can’t possibly be the only one with their hand in the air and waving it around like I just don’t care. Now if you’re like me somehow the chocolate on the strawberry cracks when I bite into it. Then I’m left with broken chocolate in my hand on the plate.

This is where these cupcakes come in! The cupcakes are incredibly easy to make from scratch. The moist chocolate cupcake’s flavor goes perfectly with the strawberry buttercream. To get the strawberry flavor, I used frozen strawberries to get a really fresh flavor to it even though berries aren’t currently in season. Nothing fake is in these bad boys! These are perfect for Valentine’s Day next week or just anytime because who doesn’t love cupcakes?

Make a btach and bring them to your office to show some love to coworkers. I brought some of these into work and everyone loved them! Or keep them for yourself and hide them from everyone, no shame in that!

Chocolate Cupcakes

Recipe adopted from the peanut butter truffle cupcake recipe in the Taste of Home Baking book.



1/2 cup butter, softened

3/4 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup 2% milk (if you don’t drink 2% then whatever you have should be okay)

1/2 cup strong brewed coffee



Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream the butter and sugar together in a large bowl. Add the eggs one at a time and beat well after each addition before mixing in vanilla.

Combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Gradually add to the butter mixture. Alternate adding dry ingredients with milk and coffee. Mix well.

Line muffin tin and fill 2/3 full. Bake for 15-20 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.

Cool for 10 minutes in pan than transfer to cooling rack.


*Note – somehow I got 14 cupcakes out of this recipe so keep that in mind*

Strawberry Buttercream Frosting



1 cup frozen strawberries

6 tablespoons butter

3/4 cup powdered sugar

3 tablespoons half & half (or milk)

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract



Place the frozen strawberries into a blender. Blend until there are no big chunks 30 seconds to 1 minute. It’ll look a little powdery and that’s okay!


In a saucepan, bring the blended strawberries to a boil. Stir regularly until it has been reduced to half. I did this before I even started the cupcakes. This needs to be completely cool before you can make the frosting.

Take off heat and cool completely.

In a bowl, cream the butter. Trade off adding in 1/4 cup of powdered sugar and 1 tablespoon of half and half. Blend completely after each addition.

Once fully blended, add in vanilla and blend.


Slowly add in the strawberry reduction. I recommend starting with 2 teaspoons and go from there. Blend after each addition. Stop when the strawberry flavor is as strong as you want it to be.

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cupcakes

Once that is all done frost the cupcakes and enjoy! I stored them wrapped on a plate in the refrigerator for a few days. Sometimes I ate them directly from the fridge and it was equally as delicious as when they were on the counter for a while. Any leftovers can be put in the freezer in a freezer bag to enjoy at a later date.

Question of the day: Are you a fan of chocolate and strawberry together?

Holiday, Travel

Christmas 2017 Recap

Happy Tuesday! I hope you all had a lovely weekend and very merry Christmas if you celebrate! Have a great day πŸ™‚

Christmas Eve

A tradition that my family has on Christmas Eve is we start the day by going to the movies. It started when my siblings and I were little. My dad would take us so my mom could clean, wrap presents, get ready for guests or just have some quiet before the craziness began. This year we went and sawΒ “Darkest Hour”Β which is about when Winston Churchill first became the British Prime Minister. Everyone loved the movie and I highly recommend going to see it!

After the movie ended, we had a little downtime at my parents before we needed to go to church. Alex and I packed some stuff up for my aunts house and watched some “Stranger Things”. Once it was time to go, we gathered around the Christmas tree for pictures and to open one gift. For as long as I can remember, we have always gotten a pair of pjs for Christmas. I’m convinced that all of the winter pjs I own are from years past. It’s a fun tradition and a lot of times we’ll wear them to bed on Christmas Eve too.

The 7 of us headed to church and then my aunt’s house. Even though it had been snowing all day and the highways and roads weren’t plowed very well, we got to my aunts house fairly easily. When we got there the party began. Majority of my mom’s side of the family was there and it’s always a good time when we get together!


While at my aunt’s, Santa comes to visit. The adults all get a joke gift from him over something that happened during the past year. Mine was a Christmas card with two giant pictures of me in my cap and gown from graduation in May. 2 years ago, all of my siblings graduated from a school so the Christmas card had them in their cap and gowns. It was extremely obvious that I was the odd man out so I said in 2017 the card better just be me. That didn’t actually happen but it was a good gift.

Both our sweaters were from Target!

The rest of the night was spent hanging out in our ugly Christmas sweaters, eating dinner and open the grab bag gifts. When it was way too late, we headed back to my parents house.

Christmas Day

Christmas Day started super early for us. Alex and I were dressed and ready to go by 7 am. The family woke up then so we could open gifts and have a yummy breakfast. I didn’t take many pictures since I was trying to enjoy the last little bit of time with everyone at my parents. Breakfast was a mimosa, monkey bread and a potato casserole. It was the perfect fuel before packing everything into our bags and heading to the airport.


When booking our travel, we wanted to be as fair as possible since each family would have to deal with some of Christmas without their child. We booked a flight that was scheduled to leave Chicago at 12:40 pm but didn’t leave until 2… It was delightful. When we landed at Newark, we then had to wait for our one checked bag before getting the car and driving to Alex’s parents house. I felt so bad since we didn’t get there until about 6:15/6:30. They put the last things for dinner in the oven and then we exchanged gifts. Dinner was delicious and I don’t know what it was except for some sort of beef, potatoes, asparagus and salad.


After dinner, Alex’s older brother and his fiance got to the house for dessert and the last of the gifts from us to them and vice versa. It was a nice way to end the day before we headed back to our apartment. Alex decided to bring a furry friend home with us for the night. His parents dog Grace had a sleepover with us which made his Christmas and was fun to see how the apartment would feel with a dog in it.

Question of the day: What was the highlight of your Christmas?Β 


Daily Happenings, Holiday, Running, Travel

Christmas In Chicago

Merry Christmas Eve! I hope you all have a wonderful day πŸ™‚


Saturday started out like normal with a long run. I decided to try again on the treadmill and turned on Netflix to watch. I got 6 miles under my belt which felt so good. The treadmill won’t become part of my normal routine but it was good to get a full workout in. 3 mile moderate pace for a warm up, 2 miles alternating 1 minute hard and 3 minutes easy then a mile cool down.


After that, I quickly showered and got ready. My mom sister and I headed out fairly quickly to get breakfast. There’s a local cafe calledΒ Prairie CafeΒ my parents eat at a lot and it’s so good. The owners are so sweet as well which is awesome. I got a bacon omelette with cheddar cheese and it came with hash browns and toast.


Once we were full from breakfast, the three of us headed to the nail salon. Last week I texted them to see if either would want to go with me. Both did so my sister made appointments right when they opened which was so smart. The salon got absolutely packed. I got OPI number 322, which may or may not be helpful. I have no idea if the numbering is the same at every salon. It’s a navy-ish grey color with some glitter.

When we got home, Alex was up and feeling better. We decided to spend the afternoon in Chicago. Since we had about an hour until we needed to leave for the train station, we just hung around my parents house. For lunch, my dad made ham and potato soup (one of my favorites).


Then it was time to go. The train was fairly crowded which was to be expected on the Saturday before Christmas. There was a little boy who must have just watched “The Polar Express” since he kept calling it that while waiting to board. So cute. Our first stop in Chicago was theΒ Christkindlmarket. It’s a German market that is a tradition in the city. Unfortunately it was absolutely packed since it was the second to last day which made walking around kind of hard. I wanted to get a Chicago ornament so we headed to the ornament house which is all important from Germany. They were all gorgeous and I wish I could afford to decorate my tree with them alone.


Next we headed to Rudy’s bar and grille to grab a drink. We still had a few hours to meet my family and we figured we should eat something before more walking around. We got buffalo chicken spring rolls and fried pickles. Obviously fried pickles πŸ˜‰


After eating, we walked to Millennium Park to see Christmas decorations. They had a tree up so naturally we took a picture. I love Chicago because everyone is so willing to trade picture taking and it’s always easy to find someone in the area you want them to take it.

We walked along Michigan Ave. for a while and stopped in a few stores to browse and warm up. While walking, it was fun to take in the Christmas decorations that different buildings and stores had. Eventually it was time to meet my family for dinner so we called an Uber. Our driver was awesome. Kevin was really talkative and didn’t make it awkward at all. Kind of random but sometimes Uber drivers are awkward to me idk haha.


Earlier in December, my parents texted my whole family asking to keep the night of the 23rd open for dinner and a surprise. Dinner was at a restaurant calledΒ The Fireplace Inn. The food was so good I forgot to take my phone out for a picture. I had prime rib and it was delicious. Afterwards the 7 of us headed toΒ The Second CityΒ for a comedy show. Second City is a famous comedy place in Chicago that so many comedians get their start at. The show we saw was really funny and it’ll be interesting to see if any of the people we saw make it big!

We got home and I was exhausted. Alex and I chilled on the couch with my dad and brother’s before heading to bed.

Question of the day: Are you ready for Santa to come tomorrow??

DIY, Holiday

3 DIY Gifts

Happy Tuesday everyone! How was your Monday? I hope it was a good one. Have a great day πŸ™‚

Last week, I posted about a red pepper infused oil I made and a bunch of said you were interested in seeing a post. I figured instead of just writing about that one, I would write about all 3 DIY gifts I am making. Enjoy πŸ™‚


Red Pepper Infused Olive Oil


This gift would be perfect for someone who enjoys spicy food. A splash of this in a pan to saute veggies or over some pasta would add the perfect amount of spice. Plus the scent is amazing!



Olive oil

Crushed red pepper



  • Measure how much water will fit in your container if you do not know. Pour that amount of olive oil into a pan.
  • For every 1 cup of oil, use 1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes. For me it was a little over 2.5 cups and I used 5 teaspoons of red pepper.
  • Heat over medium heat until hot.
  • Take off heat and cool completely.
  • Pour into airtight container.

Holiday Cookies in a Jar


Do you know someone who likes to bake or just eat cookies? If so this will be perfect. You should have all of the ingredients in your house so the only thing you would need to buy would be a Mason jar. I was going to put the normal chocolate chip cookie recipe into the jar but I looked and it wouldn’t fit. The original recipe can be found here.




  • Layer the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in the bottom of the jar. I was able to do it right form the measuring cup but use a paper plate rolled up as a funnel if necessary.
  • Next, carefully add the M&Ms to the jar. You don’t want to just dump them in or they will sink into the flour.
  • Using a spoon, add the brown sugar followed by the white sugar.
  • Tie a ribbon around the jar and wrap as you see fit!



You can use whatever kind of candy you would like. If you don’t have M&Ms, chocolate chips would work or you could even do Reese’s Pieces (which sounds amazing to me!).

If you want to use a piece of fabric over top of the jar that would look just as darling as a ribbon.

Sugar Body Scrub


A sugar scrub would be perfect to give to someone who deserves some at home pampering. This would be a super cute addition to an at home spa type gift. Give a new nail polish and a face mask for the perfect pamper yourself present.



1 part oil (I used olive)

3 parts sugar

A few drops mint extract

Note:Β To fill the container I had, I used 1/4 cup olive oil and 3/4 sugar.



  • In a bowl, mix together the sugar and oil until combined. I ended up having to use a little extra oil to get the consistency I wanted.
  • To check the consistency, rub a little between your fingers.
  • Once mixed thoroughly add a few drops of mint extract. Start slow! This was you can build the scent to the level your desire.
  • When thoroughly mixed, scoop into the container.


I hope you found some inspiration for any last minute gifts. These are great to give to so many people. Let me know if you end up making them and what you think πŸ™‚

Question of the day: Do you ever make gifts for people?