Pumpkin Whoopie Pies + Home Renovation

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Y’all, it’s pumpkin whoopie pie season and I’m not even mad about it. 

About these cookies: 

Actually, pumpkin whoopie pie season started two months ago but I was in Croatia eating truffles so…I know, my life. However, now that I’m home for the entire month of November, I’m catching up on all the things i’ve missed – like pumpkin desserts. And cream cheese frosting. And cookies. And cake. And pie. Good thing I chose TODAY to go Paleo, right?

WRONG. All I want to do is eat these cookies, thankfully I made them weeks ago and there’s not even a morsel left to remember. Because I’m weak and I’d probably eat 4 in a row and then force myself to go to Orange Theory again tonight out of shamerage. It’s a thing, google it. My mom, the ultimate cookie baker, said these are one of the best things i’ve made all year, and after taking a big bite (for photo purposes, obvi), I had to agree. They’re most definitely one of the fluffiest, sweetest and most decadent cookies I’ve made to date.

The thing with whoopies is they’re almost always left off the desert table because they’re not the most attractive. Unlike thumprints or pinwheels, which are radiant and beautiful, whoopies aren’t the most festive. However, that’s no reason not to indulge in these cakey little bites this holiday season. Add some styling, like I did. Serve them with some fresh star of anise or roll them in crushed walnuts or even edible glitter to give them a pop of color. I’m all about the accessorizing, even in food. Do yourself a favor, make these for Thanksgiving. Whether you style them or not, they’ll be the biggest hit on your pie table. You might have to seperate them from the apple because nobody is going to touch that pie after trying these. And we all know how jealous apple gets.

About life: 

Beyond whoopies, I’m basically just sitting on pins and needles because we’re still patiently (cough not really) waiting for the offer to get accepted on the most beautiful two-bedroom condo in all of Chicago. But, I’ve been pinning all of the rain showers and claw-foot tubs, subway tiles and vintage sinks in the world to get ready for it. See, the place is actually in AMAZING condition, but the main bathroom needs to be gutted. Completely. So, we’re going to install a rain shower (insert heart eye emoji here), subway tile, a vintage sink and some cute industrial lighting fixtures to bring it all together. I’ve never had a place that needed a reno like this, so I’m beyond excited for the potential possiblity.

[Pin inspiration]

If we get it, of course. So please, cross all of your appendages. It’s in such a fantastic part of the city and is within walking distance to great cafes, an OrangeTheory, Whole Foods and everything in between. And, you know, it would help me get out of my parents house. Because at nearly 32, it just isn’t cute anymore.

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies 

Yields about 10 medium – large sandwiches.
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 14 – 16 minutes


For the cookies:

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • Dash of salt
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 15 ounce can pumpkin puree (not pie filling)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

For the filling:

  • 6 ounces light cream cheese
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • Dash of cinnamon


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and spray with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. In a mixing bowl, whisk the whole wheat flour, all purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice and salt together. In another bowl, mix the brown sugar, canola oil, applesauce, pumpkin puree, egg and vanilla. Once mixed, add in the flour mixture a cup at a time and stir until fully combined.
  3. Using a spoon, scoop the dough onto the sheet. The cookies will spread a little, so place them about 1 1/2 – 2 inches apart. If you want the tops to be smooth, use a piping bag or smooth them out with your hand. I left them as is and kind of dig the almost oatmeal like texture.
  4. Bake for about 12 – 16 minutes, or until they spring back at the touch. Place on a wire cooling rack and let cool.
  5. Meanwhile, beat the cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar and cinnamon together until thick and creamy.
  6. Once the cookies have cooled, add a large dollop of frosting on the top of half of them and place another cookie on top to make a sandwich. Dust with powdered sugar and enjoy!

Nutritional information per cookie sandwich: 

Calories: 350
Fat: 16 grams
Carbohydrates: 34.3 grams
Fiber: 1.23 grams
Protein: 5 grams

Whole Wheat Raspberry Lemon Scones

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Host the ultimate brunch at home with these soft, flakey, whole wheat raspberry lemon scones. They make the ultimate pairing with a crisp glass of Prosecco!

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Riondo Prosecco for IZEA. All opinions are 100% mine.

Who doesn’t love a scone? I realized today that I actually don’t have any recipes for scones on my site. Not even one. That seems sacrilegious. How can a lover of these buttery, soft and delicate pastries not even have one recreation on her site? 

 So, that was immediately rectified, especially when Riondo Prosecco reached out to partner. They asked for a recipe that would pair nicely with their super crisp and bubbly Prosecco, and I knew almost instantly it had to be a scone. Even though I sip on Prosecco any time of day, it always reminds me of brunch. And despite being a definite Bellini girl, I have to say I sometimes just enjoy a simple glass of bubbles with my favorite morning meal. 

What makes these scones such a perfect pair with a glass of Riondo is simple – they’re beaming with fresh summer citrus (thanks to the lemon addition) and have mouthfuls of plump, juicy raspberries in almost every bite. Pair that with a glass (or coffee mug, flute, wine glass or solo cup) of Prosecco and you’ve got the ultimate marriage of flavors. 

Now, these scones aren’t low fat, and that’s because I don’t think you can really get that buttery, flakey consistency when you sub with applesauce. If you don’t mind a chewier scone, by all means, sub away! I just wanted the texture to be as close to an English bakery as humanly possible. I did add in Greek yogurt and low-fat milk, however, and used whole wheat flour instead of white. 

Whether you’re hosting an outdoor brunch with your girls or simply enjoying these last dog days of summer, these scones and this Prosecco are the ultimate treat! Want more inspiration? Try these Riondo Prosecco Cocktails!


Whole Wheat Raspberry Lemon Scones 

Yields about 8 – 10 scones (depending on size)
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: About 14 minutes 


  • 2 ¼ cup whole wheat flour 
  • ¼ cup brown sugar 
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder 
  • Dash of salt 
  • 3 tablespoons lemon zest 
  • ½  cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold 
  • ¼ cup low-fat milk 
  • ¼ cup raspberry nonfat Greek yogurt 
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract 
  • ¼ cup chopped almonds 
  • 1 cup fresh raspberries 
  • Easy glaze + chopped almonds for garnish 


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and spray with nonstick cooking spray.  
  2. In a large bowl, mix the whole wheat flour, brown sugar, baking powder, salt and lemon zest together. Using a pastry cutter, cut in the butter until the mixture resembles sand. 
  3. In another bowl, whisk the milk, Greek yogurt and almond extract together. Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture, alternating with the chopped almonds. Carefully stir in the raspberries. 
  4. On a floured surface, gently knead the dough and form into a large circle (add a little more milk if too dry). Cut into 8 – 10 triangles.  
  5. Distribute the scones onto the baking trays. Bake for about 14 minutes or until golden brown. Let chill on a wire rack.  
  6. Once chilled, glaze and garnish with chopped almonds.  

Nutritional information per scone:  

Calories: 325
Fat: 14.5 grams
Carbohydrates: 37 grams
Fiber: 2.4 grams
Protein: 6 grams 

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Riondo Prosecco Cocktails

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Deconstructed Pulled Pork Carnitas Plates

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These deconstructed pulled pork carnitas plates are an easy, low carb weeknight  dinner idea!

*NOTE: This recipe was made and tested before I became a vegetarian. Although I don’t eat meat anymore, I plan on sharing a few more meat-centric dishes that were made during that timeframe. Please see options in the recipe if you want to make these vegetarian!

Since taking almost a full year off food blogging, I’ve acquired *a few* recipes in my arsenal that I just never shared. Even though I wasn’t updating this little piece of the internet, I was still cooking, recipe testing and, well, eating of course. Travel, life changes, a move and a focus on my career just made it hard to share them as soon as I made them. But, lucky for you, I’ve got all of these mouthwatering recipes written up and re-tested so I can bring them to your faces IMMEDIATELY.

Like these deconstructed pulled pork plates. I originally got the idea for these after noshing on amazing pulled pork tacos from a joint in Charleston. Weighing a solid 35 pounds more than I do now, I was really trying to lose weight and be more conscience of what I was putting in my body. Which for me at the time meant low-carb. Now that I’m doing HIIT workouts 6 times a week, carbs have become my best friend. But for a girl who didn’t move and could barely run a mile a year ago, carbs were the devil’s work. Which is where these plates came to fruition.

I actually remade these last week and my family ate them EXACTLY as pictured – no tortillas or crispy taco shells in sight. Just meat and veggies with a bit of rice. My little brother, who is basically a body builder in training, demolished 3 plates of these in a sitting. And I can’t blame him! They’re loaded with protein and naturally low in carbs, things he absolutely needs for his 360 pound squat workouts.

Not only are they healthy (and good for you), they’re pretty darn beautiful, don’t you think? Even though I’m a strict vegetarian, I can still appreciate the beauty a nicely cooked collection of meat can bring to a plate. The pork was cooked so simply – in a crock pot with just a few select spices. You cook on low for 8 hours and then the meat just falls apart when you shred it with two forks. Plus, the recipe makes HEAPS – so you can easily stash some away for later and stuff into a sandwich or mix with pasta.

To round out the meal, I’d suggest pairing it with some homemade cilantro brown rice. Or just eat three plates of it like my little brother did and immediately go squat 6,000 pounds. I mean, whatever floats your boat.

***To make these vegetarian, sub the pork for crispy baked tofu!

Deconstructed Pulled Pork Carnitas Plates


Pork yields about 12 servings. This recipe makes about 4 – 6 plates.
Prep time: 15 – 20 minutes
Cook time: 6 – 8 hours (for the pork) and 15 minutes (vegetables)


For the pork: ***

  • 1 5 pound pork shoulder
  • 1 large red onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and chopped
  • 1 habanero, seeded and chopped
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons taco seasoning (or a Mexican spice blend)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil divided
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For the blistered peppers:

  • 2 large bell peppers, seeded and sliced
  • 1 – 2 tablespoons olive oil

For the plates:

  • 8 ounces cherry tomatoes, sliced
  • 1 can diced chilis, drained
  • 2 large sweet potatoes, cooked and mashed with a dash of salt & pepper
  • 1 large red onion, chopped
  • 2 avocados, seeded and diced
  • 1 serving cilantro lime rice
  • Cilantro


  1. To make the pork, rub the oil all over the shoulder. Liberally coat the entire pork shoulder in Mexican spices. In the basin of the slow cooker, mix the red onion, garlic, jalapeño, habanero, orange juice and water together. Place the pork shoulder (fat side down) into the crock pot. Cook on low for about 8 – 9 hours, or until meat is tender (it will fall off the bone when you try to shred it with two forks). Reserve 1/2 cup of the liquid and skim the fat off the top.
  2. Remove the meat from the crock pot and place on a large cutting board. Using two forks, shred the meat. To serve, heat the remaining one tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1/4 of the meat and drizzle with juice. Heat for about 2 – 4 minutes or until slightly crispy. Repeat until all the meat is cooked.
  3. For the peppers, preheat the broiler. Place the peppers on a large baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Broil for about 10 minutes, turning after 5, or until the skin are blistered (they’ll appear blackened in spots). Remove from heat.
  4. To make the plates, divide the pork, cherry tomatoes, blistered peppers, sweet potatoes, onion, avocado, cilantro and rice. Serve with your favorite taco seasoning, hot sauce or just a dash of salt and pepper!

Nutritional information per serving: 

Calories: 610
Fat: 22 grams
Carbohydrates: 45 grams
Fiber: 4.2 grams
Protein: 29 grams

Easy, Cheesy Crock Pot Tortellini

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This easy, cheesy crock pot tortellini is the ultimate fall comfort food dish. Plus, it practically makes itself!

It’s hard to believe how many people quickly turned from “SUMMER BERRIES! TOMATOES! ALL THE ZUCCHINI!” to “PUMPKIN SPICE EVERYTHING!” as soon as Labor Day passed. Trust me, I get it. I’m a basic b who loves all things fall too. (You should see the extensive collection of scarves, boots and cardigans I own, it’s uncomfortable). But, as I said here in this berry frozen yogurt post, I’m not a fan of wishing away seasons while we’re still in them. 

However, I am a fan of cheesy and hearty carbohydrates, and for that, I’m happy #winteriscoming. 

I mean, look at all that cheese! I’m pretty sure this photo was why the heart-eyed emoji was created. 

As excited as I am for fall and winter, I’m also a *little* stressed. As crazy as summer was for travel (just look at my Instagram), fall and winter are going to be even busier. I’m currently floating in the middle of the Arctic sea in Greenland, and from here, I go to China, Spain, Chile, Argentina, Peru, Australia, Mexico, Belize and then Nepal. Just reading all of those countries has me in a dizzy. Don’t get me wrong, I’m completely thrilled at the prospect of visiting so many new-to-me places and revisiting places I’ve fell in love with, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t completely bummed to miss my favorite season in its peak.

That’s the life, though, of an intrepid and adventurous travel writer and I’ll never complain about the life I’m blessed (and have worked HARD) to have. It’s actually these insanely busy months that make the moments at home even more meaningful. Plus, after 8+ weeks of eating out for every meal, there’s nothing that tastes better than something you’ve made yourself. 

I have this routine when I get back from a trip. First, I do all of my laundry (self explanatory), cuddle the heck out of my dog, spend a few hours catching up with my mom and then immediately get to meal prepping and planning. I write down every single dish I’ve dreamt about making when on the road and then immediately start planning a grocery list. When your ilfe is so void of any sort of normalcy, there’s nothing more exciting than going to a grocery store, shopping for food and then making the dishes you’ve spent the past 8 weeks dreaming about. 

Like this easy, cheesy tortellini. Even though it’s not fancy or complicated, it’s homemade. And when you’re on the road for weeks on end, nothing is more comforting than a taste of home. 

Easy, Cheesy Crock Pot Tortellini

Serves about 4.

Prep time: 5 – 8 minutes

Cook time: 7 hours


  • 1 pound ground turkey or chicken*
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 2 cups marinara sauce (homemade or store bought)
  • 1 1/2 cups mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 cup chopped red and green bell pepper
  • 1 can diced tomatoes (I used fire-roasted Italian), drained
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 package (9 ounces) tortellini (you can even make your own if you’re feeling brave)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 8 ounces fresh mozzarella, chopped
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan 
  • Fresh basil chopped

**Can substitute soy-based meat or tempeh if you’d like. 


  1. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the ground meat and break up with a spatula. Add Italian seasoning. Cook, stirring occasionally, until meat is golden brown and crumbly. Remove from heat and drain the fat.
  2. Spray the bottom of a 4 – 5 quart slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray. In a large bowl, mix the meat, marinara, mushrooms, bell peppers, diced tomatoes, onion and garlic together. Mix in the tortellini and add salt and pepper to taste. 
  3. Cover and cook on low for about 6 1/2 – 7 hours, stirring occasionally. Add in the chopped mozzarella and parmesan and cook an additional 30 – 40 minutes, or until cheese is melted. Garnish with fresh basil and serve. 

Nutritional information per serving: 

Calories: 525
Fat: 26.5 grams
Carbohydrates: 61 grams
Fiber: 3.2 grams
Protein: 37 grams

Sour Cherry, Burrata & Wheatberry Salad

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This quick and easy sour cherry, burrata & wheatberry salad is the perfect side dish for any Labor Day get together!

wheat berry salad

I’ve been at my parents house for 5 days and I’ve already binged one show on Netflix and am halfway through another. This is what happens when you’re on the road for 6 weeks and don’t have access to television and your WiFi reliability is drug lord sketchy, at best. I’ve also made 16,750 recipes, worked out incessantly and got heaps of new assignments, but we’re here to talk Netflix. Has anyone watched Friends from College? It’s got Key from Key and Peele, as well as Robin from How I Met Your Mother (I’m sure they have real names, I’m just too lazy to Google them). It’s the perfect mix of funny & serious and touches on some really hard stuff without being overly sappy. I watched it in a DAY and I’m tempted to go back and watch it again. When I’m done with 13 Reasons Why, that is.

frozen cherry

I know, I’m totally late to the game on that one, but HOLYCRAPICANTSTOP. To me, it’s the TV equivalent of a really good book that you absolutely can’t put down. I not only love how they’ve structured the show, I think Netflix did such a good job with the character development. I know there’s quite a bit of controversy surrounding the series, but I think it’s groundbreaking. Bullying – especially online – is a serious, serious issue these days and I think the show approached the topic in a way that’s respectful while still pushing the buttons a little. Before I got into that show, I watched a few minutes of Ozark with Jason Bateman and I was not impressed. It feels too much like Bloodline, and we all know that show is gold and nothing will ever compare to it. I also binged the crap out of Master of None before I left on my adventure abroad and I have just one question. Is anyone else madly in love with Aziz Ansari? Or is just me? I find him absolutely adorable, not to mention an absolute genius. His depictions of dating now are spot on. Trust me, I’m single and it’s about as depressing and harrowing as the show portrays.


With that transition, let’s talk single life for a second. Any of my readers single? LET’S TALK ABOUT HOW TERRIBLE ONLINE DATING IS FOR A SECOND. The past few boyfriends I’ve had, I met in real life. And the stories are so cute you’d probably cry if you heard them. However, as you can tell by the fact I’m still single, they didn’t work out. And, as a girl who travels more than she does anything else, meeting desirable matches is quite difficult. Sure, I meet heaps of great guys on my adventures, but most of the time they live on the other side of the world and don’t find distance as charming as I do. But, that’s life. So, if any of you have any tricks for online dating that make it far less despondant, please shoot me an email. Or, if you have a success story from an online date, send me that too.


I need some good news, y’all. This world is full of too much bad. Beyond that, y’all should make this salad. The sour cherries balance the richness of the burrata, and the wheatberries fill you up without filling you out. I ate heaps of this salad after my workout yesterday and was stuffed for 6 hours, which is something that never happens after my workouts. In addition to being a healthy lunch, it’s a great side dish for Labor Day picnics! Which is, like, tomorrow but I’m not ready to talk about how fast the summer is flying by.

Sour Cherry, Burrata & Wheatberry Salad

wheatberry salad


Serves about 4 – 5. Dressing recipe slightly adapted from Epicurious.
Prep time: 6 – 10 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour


For the salad:

  • 1 cup hard wheatberries, rinsed
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • Dash of salt
  • 6 ounces burrata cheese
  • 8 ounces sour (or regular) cherries, pitted and sliced
  • 1/2 cup toasted walnuts, chopped

For the dressing:

  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Chopped fresh basil


  1. In a saucepan, mix the wheatberries, water and dash of salt together. Bring to a rapid boil then reduce heat to low. Cover and let simmer for an hour, stopping to fluff and stir the berries every 20 or so minutes. Let cool.
  2. Once cooled, mix the wheatberries with the cherries, burrata and walnuts (carefully to not bleed the cherries).
  3. In another bowl, whisk the lemon zest, lemon juice, honey and dijon mustard together. Using a whisk, add the olive oil one tablespoon at a time, whisking well after each addition. Mix in the chopped basil and salt and pepper. Drizzle the salad with the dressing and serve immediately.

Nutritional information per serving: 

Calories: 343.6
Fat: 20.4 grams
Carbohydrates: 32 grams
Fiber: 4 grams
Protein: 12.8 grams

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