Healthy Brownies. Say whaaat?

Carley S. wrote, “I would love to see a healthy way to make brownies! If that’s possible. Haha.”

Well, Carley, you’re in luck. I knew the person to ask for this task. A cave girl! Shannon of Cavegirl Bakes had just the recipe, because she’s in the business of healthy baking. In fact, in addition to being a PR maven by day, she trains and inspires others to lead a healthy lifestyle. And she bakes! I taste tested these brownies myself and am thankful to Shannon for allowing me to pass this recipe along to you!

Double-Down Monkey Protein Brownies

Her recipe for Double-Down Monkey Protein Brownies offers a double dose of banana and chocolate thanks to both chocolate and banana-flavored protein powder, plus mashed banana and cocoa powder. These flavor bombs are satisfying while being grain-free, dairy-free and – shockingly – sugar-free. The bananas and small amount of agave nectar make them plenty sweet. Plus, they are packed with protein and healthy fats from the almond butter and eggs.

These and other batches of “Paleo and Primal” baked goods can be ordered for delivery nationwide through Shannon at shannon@badassfitness.net. Learn more about Cavegirl Bakes gourmet muffins and brownies!

Cave Girl Bakes Double-Down Monkey Protein Brownies

Double-Down Monkey Protein Brownies from Cavegirl Bakes
Makes one batch of about 16 brownies

4 bananas (3 mashed, 1 sliced)
3 eggs
1/2 cup coconut flour
1/2 cup cocoa flour
1 scoop each of GNC Lean Shake Rich Chocolate and Banana
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup agave nectar
2 tablespoon butter, coconut oil, or ghee
1/2 cup almond butter
1/3 cup chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and grease an 8×8 baking pan.

Mix the three mashed bananas (setting aside the sliced banana for the end) and all the remaining ingredients in a large bowl using a hand mixer.

Stir in the sliced bananas and the chocolate chips (if using chips).

Pour the batter into the greased pan, spreading it evenly.

Bake for 35-40 minutes or until a knife or toothpick inserted comes out mostly clean (these will be fudgy and moist).

Try not to devour them all at once!

Nutritional info per brownie:
185 calories, 3 grams of fat, 18 grams of carbs, 6 grams of protein and 12 grams of sugar (mostly from the bananas)




Crowd-pleasing Dip for the Holidays!

If you are fortunate enough to know a member of the Junior League of Tallahassee, you may have had the pleasure of trying the famed JLT Feta Black Bean Dip. It’s a treat!

This dip is a winner among crowds. It might be the apple cider vinegar, the sugar or maybe the shoe peg corn. Oh heck, it’s everything! I highly recommend adding this to your list of favorite party dips. Served with Fritos (definitely the sturdy “Scoops,” since you won’t want to miss a drop), this dip tends to disappear quickly. Thankfully, the recipe serves 30 handily, making it great for larger gatherings, including holiday entertaining.

Here’s your how-to, courtesy of the Junior League of Tallahassee and its A Thyme to Celebrate cookbook, available for purchase (see details below).

Feta Black Bean Dip:
Serves 30

½ cup sugar
¾ cup apple cider vinegar
¾ cup vegetable oil
3 (15-ounce) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
3 (15-ounce) cans shoe peg corn, drained and rinsed
1 bunch scallions, chopped
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
1 (8-ounce) block feta cheese, crumbled

Whisk sugar, vinegar and oil in a large bowl. Add the black beans, corn, scallions, cilantro and cheese and mix well. Chill until serving time. Serve with tortilla chips or corn chips (Fritos Scoops are recommended).

To find this and more tried and true recipes perfect for all of life’s celebrations, purchase A Thyme to Celebrate, Tallahassee’s official cookbook. $20 each, all cookbook proceeds go to the Junior League of Tallahassee. Contact me for details!




Send a Spoonful of Comfort this Season!

There is something so darn comforting about a bowl of soup. I will freely admit I am a soup fanatic and will make it on the hottest of Florida days, but this nippier time of year makes soup that much more comforting and delicious. My affinity for soup stems from my childhood – I frequently enjoyed mom’s homemade chicken-noodle recipe with No Yolk noodles, and grilled cheese sandwiches dipped in tomato soup, perfect on rainy days before making a fort under the dining room table.

The memory of soup is what led Marti Wymer, founder of Spoonful of Comfort, into the business of sending “love by the ladle.” She wanted to send the comfort of soup to her mother who was ill and very far away at the time. In honor of her mother, Marti set out to help others with sick loved ones through deliveries of a Spoonful of Comfort (old-fashioned, handmade chicken noodle soup with no additives or preservatives) – the business now hosts a variety of treats and can be packaged for many loving occasions!

Does someone you know have the sniffles? Maybe a student or recent college grad can’t make it home for the holidays? Want to show you are thinking about a family with a new baby, but don’t want to intrude on their special time? There are so many reasons to send soup, and I love that there are so many ways to customize the packages!

A holiday gift box can include soup (of course), along with a candy cane, Christmas cookies and cozy socks…even a blanket! Maybe someone needs some sweet bread and tea? How cute is that!? Or give someone a long-distance sweet squeeze with a lemonade package! All options tie back to one thing: comfort. Spoonful of Comfort is one gift I can’t wait to give this season.

Scope it out. Scoop it up. Send some soup. A hug in a cup! 😉




Home Turf Tailgate

Going into one of the biggest games of the football season, our tailgate deserved something fresh. I found myself at Home Depot on the Thursday before the game buying a ginormous strip of AstroTurf to create a unique table runner – the added turf was just the ticket for this tablescape.

I used a chalkboard we usually display in our kitchen (made using an old frame and some spray chalkboard paint) as a canvas for one of my favorite lines in the song “We Are the Boys of Old Florida.” The letters looked nice and bold using chalkboard pens.

Patterned craft paper went the distance to create not only the table’s flag banner but also some mini-flag cupcake topers. I found the “We are #1” toppers at Michael’s, and the mini SEC helmets (which come in a set of all SEC teams) were also a fun addition to the cupcake stand.

My approach to tailgating is no different from planning any other gathering. You must consider things like the guests attending, the number of guests, time of day and flow of the event. Knowing this would be one of the busiest games of the season and with a tailgating window around lunchtime, I opted for grab-n-go foods that didn’t require much fuss or prep for mingling guests.

On the menu:

  • Publix chicken fingers with a side of ranch dressing – manageable and delicious
  • Pepper jelly, cream cheese and Ritz crackers
  • Cucumber sandwiches made with white bread, cucumbers and chive/herbed cream cheese (Just smear a little cream cheese on one side of each slice of bread, add cucumber slices and you’re done!)
  • Seedless grapes
  • Orange-flavored cupcakes (box mix) with whipped frosting (I loved how the orange cake mix showed through the white cupcake liners.)

Added creature comforts such as mints and hand sanitizer help keep guests clean and minty fresh. I was inspired by She’s Kinda Crafty to decorate the pump dispenser – she outdid mine for sure!

We were excited to again use our customized tailgate cups and pom-pom drink stirrers, serving Bloody Marys and sweet tea vodka-lemonades to our family and friends.

Last but not least, my husband’s tailgate contribution may have outshined the whole spread. He brought and chilled the largest bottle of beer I have ever seen, nine liters of St. Feuillien Triple. As someone once said, “Win or lose, we’re here for the booze!” …and the football, friendship and fun! Have a great time tailgating this weekend, wherever you may be!

More tailgate tips:
Tailgate Tune-up
No Celebration Penalties Here!




Aunt Carol’s Killer Cornbread

This cornbread is hard to beat. It’s a hearty side or a feel-good treat! Growing up next door to my aunt and uncle, I enjoyed Aunt Carol’s recipe at many a family dinner. It’s so delicious Josh and I added it to our wedding dinner menu, serving it to more than 150 guests. (Tip for brides and grooms: consider weaving family recipes into your special day.)

This cornbread recipe’s other claim to fame is its listing in the 1990 edition of Soup to Nuts, the official cookbook of my elementary and middle school. Oh, memories!

The weather is changing ever so slightly – good enough reason to cook up a pot of chili with some Killer Cornbread on the side. Enjoy it with BBQs, soups or whenever you want to add bread with a kick to your family meal. Enjoy!

Aunt Carol’s Killer Cornbread How-to:
Cook time: ~35 minutes

1 box corn muffin mix
1/2 cup canola oil
2 eggs, well beaten
8 ounces creamed corn
Pinch of salt
2 tablespoons chopped jalapeños (or add to taste)
1/3 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
8 ounces sour cream

Mix ingredients, adding sour cream last. You don’t need to stir in sour cream entirely – just a few gentle turns for creamy swirls!

Pour mixture into baking pan (ideally, use a well-seasoned 8-inch cast iron frying pan).

Bake for 35 minutes at 350 degrees, or until slightly golden / an inserted toothpick comes out clean.


  • Rub 1 tablespoon of oil around inside edge of pan using a paper towel, then stick pan in the oven until temperature is ready + an additional five minutes before pouring in mixture – this will make the edges crispy.
  • Sprinkle some cheese on top when it comes out of the oven. Melty and delicious!




Mom’s Tuna Salad Recipe

Family recipes are something special. I am sure you have your own comforting and consistent favorites that bring back memories every time. One of my family favorites is mom’s tuna salad. She has not strayed from this recipe for as long as I can remember, and to this day, it is the tuna salad by which I judge all other tuna salads. When I moved into my first place, I remember calling mom multiple times to ask for the ingredients – I wanted it to taste right.

Since college and still today, mom offers to make me a sandwich for the road before I embark on the long car ride back after a family visit. She somehow always has the ingredients, and it’s always the perfect thing. Mom still makes tuna salad sandwiches better than anyone else, and I hope you and your family enjoy this recipe as much as I do.

Mom’s Tuna Salad How-to:
Serves 6

Combine Ingredients:
4 cans solid white Albacore Tuna in water
3/4 cup mayonnaise…or to taste (not Miracle Whip)
1/3 cup chopped white or yellow onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/3 cup green bell pepper
1/3 cup pickle relish
1/3 cup chopped parsley
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
Cracked pepper and salt to taste

Serving suggestion: Rye bread, lettuce and sliced tomato.




No Celebration Penalties Here!

Tailgate season is in full swing, and inspiration to spruce up your spread can be found just about anywhere…no matter what your team colors.

During a recent tailgate, a few yards of burlap plus some orange and blue bandanas made for a casual-yet-colorful table dressing. The bandanas ended up being quite versatile, and at just 99 cents each at Hobby Lobby, quite a deal. A couple of clothespins, and presto!

I had to improvise on the location of my flamingo friends. They wouldn’t stand in the gravel but showed perfect posture perched inside the drink bucket.

Daytime cocktails included Bloody Marys, sweet tea vodka with lemonade, and gin and tonic. To hold a smattering of garnish options, including pom-pom drink stirrers, I used some sturdy orange and blue hand-blown glasses.

Customized cups – No celebration penalties here! – were a hit with our tailgate visitors. Visit the Oh My Goodness Goodies section for a coupon code on your own cup orders, plus some fun tailgate tagline ideas!

Extra bandanas helped decorate the food spread, which included the winning pepper jelly-cream cheese-and-cracker combo, sugar cookies, and salmon and herbed cheese pinwheels made from a Williams-Sonoma recipe.

Tailgate tips: A pop-up cooler lined with a trash bag makes a great collapsible, easy-store trash bin for tailgates. Add a paper towel holder to your tabletop for when a cocktail napkin will not do.




Serve: Holy Mole

If you like flavor-packed meals and don’t mind a little kick, add Holy Mole to your list of slow cooker recipes. This one is a real husband-pleaser – I think Josh would eat this every day if I took the time to make it.

Adapted from one of my favorite recipes in the Crock Pot Slow Cooker Bible, “Fall-Apart Pork Roast with Mole,” Holy Mole is a little simpler and less time-consuming. This recipe is great for a Sunday night, after which leftover sauce is a tasty addition to other meals in the next day or two.

Holy Mole How-to:
Serves 4 | Cook time: ~3 hours

2/3 cup whole almonds
2/3 cup raisins
3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
1 small chopped onion
2 teaspoons chopped garlic (from a jar is just dandy)
~3 pounds of skinless boneless chicken breasts (4 large breasts)
1 can (14 ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained
2 slices of any bread, cubed
3/4 cup chicken broth
3 ounces dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa), chopped
3 peppers in adobo sauce, chopped (comes in a little can)
1 teaspoon salt

In a skillet, toast almonds over medium heat for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Add raisins, and cook for another 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Place half of this almond-raisin mix in your blender, and set the rest aside for garnish.

Next, add 1 tablespoon of oil to same skillet, along with chopped onion and garlic. Cook and stir about 2 minutes until softened, then add this to your blender as well. Adding to blender, drop in tomatoes (with juice), bread bits, broth, chocolate, peppers and salt, then puree the entire mixture until smooth.

Place chicken breasts in slow cooker, and poor entire blender mixture over meat. Cover and cook on high for approximately 3 hours. Remove chicken. Whisk sauce until smooth. Serve chicken over rice, spooning sauce over meat and garnishing with remaining almond-raisin mixture. Enjoy!