Whole 30 Prep: Week 1

My husband and I did Whole 30 last January and it was such a great way to kick off the new year. December is definitely a time for overindulgence and Whole 30 is such a great way to kick the serious sugar habit I always pick up around the holidays. Last year the habits we learned during Whole 30 stuck with us for most of the year, but as the year came to an end all of our good habits kinda fell by the wayside, so we figured the perfect way to start off the New Year was with a hard reset!


I know there are a ton of posts on Whole 30 prep, “What I Ate,” etc all over Pinterest and the different Whole 30 oriented blogs. I love planning out our meals for the week and seeing how other people handle planning and prepping for the week, so I thought I would share what I did to prepare for the first week. I always plan what will be eating on weekdays(with a little room for movement, of course) because I HATE having to go to the grocery store on my way home from work or realizing we forgot to take something out of the freezer. I try to get as much done on Sunday as possible, so it’s easier to throw meals together after work throughout the week. So without further ado, our Whole 30 Week One Sunday prep.

Here’s the menu for Week One:

Sunday: Flank Steak with Chimichurri and Broiled Zucchini with Cherry Tomatoes
Monday: Chicken Spaghetti
Tuesday: Pork Tenderloin with Broiled Eggplant and Cherry Tomatoes
Wednesday: Aidell’s Apple Chicken Sausages with Caramelized Onion and Sweet Potato Mash
Thursday: Fajita-ish bowls with the leftover sweet potato mash, caramelized onions, and chicken + sauteed bell pepper and guacamole
Friday: TBD – see what we’re in the mood for as the week comes to a close, or use this as a “clear the fridge” mod podge kinda day.
Saturday: Stop at the fish market and see what catches our eye

Lunches: Chili, salad, or leftovers

Things I Prepped:

Baked chicken breasts – to be thrown on salads, eaten with veggies, and used as a part of meals on Monday and Thursday
Homemade Larabars-Coconut Cashew and Pecan
Roasted Spaghetti Squash for Chicken Spaghetti
Mushroom sauce for Chicken Spaghetti
Egg Casserole with ground pork and whatever veggies are on hand-reheat for breakfast everyday
Hardboiled Eggs-perfect for snacking, putting on salads, and so much more!
Sliced Bell Peppers-for salads, snacking, and cooking
Crockpot Sweet Potato Turkey Chili-for my lunches
Flank Steak for Sunday dinner-freeze extra Chimichurri, it thaws out very well!

It makes life SO much easier to prepare as much as possible in advance so you’re not stuck in the kitchen on weeknights. If it’s something that freezes well, make extra for next time, too!

And the closest I’ll get to a Margarita until February:




Tiramisu or ‘How to Win Over Your Husbands Italian Family with Dessert’

I know, I know, it’s been a LONG time since I’ve posted anything..a little over a year! But in my defense I’ve been busy getting married and making this tiramisu and such!


I made this for the first time last Christmas Eve for my Husband’s Italian family and it was decided that this would be “my thing” to make every Christmas. Luckily the recipe is actually quite easy, just make sure to give it plenty of time to set in the refrigerator, because it really makes a world of difference!


I have to say, I was never a big tiramisu fan before, but I’m a true believer now (and it’s even better with coffee the next day)!

6 egg yolks
3/4 cup white sugar
2/3 cup milk
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 pound mascarpone cheese
1/2 cup strong brewed coffee, room temperature
4 tablespoons rum
2 (3 ounce) packages ladyfinger cookies
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder

1. In a medium saucepan, whisk together egg yolks and sugar until well blended. Whisk in milk and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture boils. Boil gently for 1 minute, remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. Cover tightly and chill in refrigerator 1 hour.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat cream with vanilla until stiff peaks form.
3. Whisk mascarpone into yolk mixture until smooth.
4. Combine coffee and rum in a shallow bowl. Dunk each side of half of the ladyfingers in the mixture, then place in the bottom of a 7×11 inch dish.
5. Spread half of mascarpone mixture over ladyfingers, then half of whipped cream over that. Repeat layers and sprinkle with cocoa. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 to 6 hours, preferably overnight.

Adapted from

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Chocolate Caramel Pecan Pie Bars

I’m a HUGE fan of pecan pie, so pecan pie bars were a total no brainer to bring to Thanksgiving dinner. These bring pecan pie to a whole new, ridiculously decadent, level. The shortbread crust is a little crumbly and oh so buttery, which is the perfect balance to the sweet chocolate caramel pecan topping. They even make an awesome breakfast treat with a cup of coffee..Just make sure to set aside a few for yourself because you won’t have leftovers otherwise!

Life, Love, and Cupcakes: Chocolate Caramel Pecan Pie Bars

Even my fiancé, who claims to not like pecan pie, loved them! I recommend slicing them a little on the smaller side because they are sweet! I definitely plan on whipping up another batch or two of these for a couple holidays parties in the next couple weeks!

Chocolate Caramel Pecan Pie Bars
1/2 cup unsalted butter, very soft
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup confectioners sugar
1 Tb cornstarch
pinch of salt

8 oz pecans
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/3 cup half and half
1 Tb vanilla extract
1/2 ts salt

Preheat oven to 350. Line an 8 x 8in baking pan with foil or parchment paper and spray with coconut oil or cooking spray.

In a large bowl, use a pastry blender to combine all the crust ingredients. Once the butter has been blended, press the crust into the bottom of the prepared pan. Sprinkle the pecans onto the crust, followed by the chocolate chips and set aside.

Mix together the butter, brown sugar, half and half in a microwavable bowl and heat for 1 minute. Remove from microwave and stir until mixture is smooth, then return to microwave and heat for another minute. Whish in the vanilla and salt.

Pour the caramel sauce over the chocolate chips and pecans and bake for about 30 minutes, or until caramel is bubbling around the edges. Move to a cooling rack to cool for a few hours before removing from the pan.

Recipe from Averie Cooks.

Pumpkin White Chocolate Blondies

Can you believe that November is almost over?!?! I feel like Halloween was just a few days ago and I’ve only had time to bake a few different pumpkin treats! I’m not usually a big fan of blondies (I mean..what’s the point if there’s no chocolate?!), but I needed a quick and easy pumpkin recipe a few days ago and decided on this recipe from Brown Eyed Baker.


I think I might have to change my mind about blondies because these were AH.MAZING. The pictures definitely don’t do them justice. They’re super moist and pack a lot of pumpkin flavor with a great balance from the butterscotch and white chocolate chips.  Plus they’re perfect if you need a quick treat to bring to a potluck or over to a friends house: just mix everything in the stand mixer, bake, and cut!

Are you a blondie or a brownie fan?


Pumpkin White Chocolate Blondies

2½ cups all-purpose flour
2½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
¾ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground allspice
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
1 cup dark brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 (15-ounce) can pure pumpkin puree (about 2 cups)
1 cup butterscotch chips
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 cup pecans, coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9×13-inch baking pan and line with parchment paper to make removal easier.

In a medium bowl, whish together the dry ingredients and set aside. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugars until smooth. Add in the egg and vanilla and whisk until the egg is completely incorporated, followed by the pumpkin puree.

Add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin and fold together until combined. Fold in the butterscotch chips, white chocolate chips, and chopped pecans. Pour into the prepared pan and bake 35 – 40 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool on a wire rack before cutting.

Recipe from Brown Eyed Baker

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Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

Can you believe October is halfway over?! The “pumpkin window” is way too small, I don’t have nearly enough time to make all the pumpkin flavored things! I have two priorities this time of year, that I HAVE to make:
1. Pumpkin Bread (of course!!) and
2. Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

We had a potluck at work and I knew that whoopie pies would be the perfect thing to bring. They’re like a cupcakes, but way easier to take somewhere and maybe even a liiittle bit better! I like to make them on the smaller side, that way you don’t have to feel guilty if you reach for a second! I like to stick them in cupcake wrappers before putting them in containers so they don’t get messy and are easier to serve.

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies from

What’s your favorite pumpkin treat you have to make every year?

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies
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Whoopie Pies:
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup canola or vegetable oil
3 cups chilled pumpkin puree
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Cream Cheese Filling:
3 cups powdered sugar
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
4 ounces (½ cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, mix the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ginger, and nutmeg.
In a separate bowl, beat the sugars and oil together. Add the pumpkin followed by the eggs and vanilla and beat until thoroughly combined.
Gradually add the flour mixture to the pumpkin mixture and whisk until completely combined.
Use a small cookie scoop to drop the dough 1 inches apart onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean and cookies are firm when touched.
Remove from oven and let cool completely before filling.
To make the filling: beat the butter on medium speed until smooth with no visible lumps. Add cream cheese and beat until smooth and combined. Add the powder sugar a little at a time, then add the vanilla and beat until smooth.

Recipe from Brown Eyed Baker

Pumpkin Cheesecake Ice Cream

I always have a bit of an internal conflict around this time of year…what fabulous pumpkin treat do I make first?!?! It’s still too hot for a Pumpkin Spice Latte, so of course ice cream seemed the most obvious choice. Plus, it’s definitely no secret that ice cream is my favorite sweet treat!

Pumpkin Cheesecake Ice Cream from

I usually make custard based ice cream, so this cream cheese base was refreshingly quick and easy and you can have the ice cream within hours!

Pumpkin Cheesecake Ice Cream
8 oz cream cheese
4 oz pumpkin puree
zest of 1 lemon
1 cup sour cream
½ cup half and half
⅔ cup sugar
pinch of salt
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
Blend together all of the ingredients until smooth. Chill mixture thoroughly, then freeze it in you ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions.
Recipe adapted from The Perfect Scoop.

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Flourless Fudge Cookies

Since I’ve started making ice creams, I’ve found myself with a LOT of egg whites I need to use up. I’m not a huge egg fan, so egg white omelets are a rarity, which means I’m always on the search for fun new recipes to use them up with. These flourless fudge cookies are one of my new favorite ways to use them up – they’re quick and easy to throw together, don’t make TOO many cookies, and they’re even better with ice cream sandwiched between two.

Flourless Fudge Cookies from

They’re VERY rich and fudgy so a glass of milk (or ice cream, of course) is highly recommended!

Flourless Fudge Cookies
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2 ¼ cup powdered sugar
¼ ts salt
1 ts espresso powder (optional)
1 cup dutch process cocoa powder
3 large egg whites
2 ts vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease two baking sheets, or line with parchment and grease the parchment.
In a medium mixing bowl, stir together all the ingredients until smooth, scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl as you stir. The dough will be soft and batterlike. If it’s still very thick, add another egg white.
Drop onto prepared baking sheets and bake for 8 minutes, until they have spread and are somewhat shiny with a slightly crackly top. Remove from the oven and allow them to cool on the pan for a few minutes before eating.

Recipe from King Arthur Flour.

Do you have any favorite egg white recipes??

Strawberry Ice Cream

Given the choice, I don’t think I’ve ever chosen strawberry ice cream over, well, anything.. It always seemed like the lamest of all ice cream flavors, the one I avoided when someone bought Neapolitan Ice Cream. But when it’s made from fresh strawberries, it’s a different flavor all together.

Strawberry Ice Cream | Life, Love, and Cupcakes

And it’s even better when you sandwich it between two Flourless Fudge Cookies. Try it – you won’t be disappointed!

Strawberry Ice Cream | Life, Love, and Cupcakes 

Strawberry Ice Cream
yields: approx 2qts

1 quart strawberries, sliced
1 cup sugar, divided
1 Tb lemon juice
2 cups heavy cream, divided
1 cup whole milk
pinch of salt
6 egg yolks
1 Tb vanilla extract

Puree strawberries, ¼ cup of sugar, and lemon juice in a food processor until at the desired consistency. I preferred mine smooth and creamy, but you can leave chunks if you prefer. Transfer the mixture to a container and refrigerate for an hour.
Meanwhile, warm the milk, 1 cup of the cream, the remaining ¾ cup of sugar, and the salt in a medium saucepan over medium heat. While the mixture is warming up, whisk the egg yolks in a medium bowl. Slowly pour the warm cream mixture into the egg yolks, whisk continuously. Then scrape the mixture back into the saucepan. Stir constantly over medium heat, scraping the bottom as you stir until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula.
Pour the remaining 1 cup of cream into a large bowl with a mesh strainer set on top and mix in the vanilla extract. Pour the custard through the strainer, stirring into the cream, then add in the strawberry mixture. Let mixture cool to room temperature, then refrigerate for at least 8 hours or overnight. Once chilled, stir the mixture before churning according to ice cream maker’s instructions.
*Note: This recipe makes about 2 quarts of ice cream, so if you have a 1.5qt maker be sure to cut down the recipe or churn in more than one batch to avoid overflowing.
Recipe from Brown Eyed Baker.

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Mississippi Mud Brownies

Growing up, my brother asked for a Mississippi Mud Cake almost every year for his birthday. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I had it in brownie form and WOW are they addicting! I can only make them once in a blue moon, or I will eat them all, so when my coworker requested brownies for her birthday I knew these would be perfect…partly because I knew they’d be a hit, but mostly I really wanted to eat one and then make sure the rest of them were out of my house stat!

Mississippi Mud Brownies | Life, Love, and Cupcakes

The brownie is fudgy, moist, and dense — a perfect balance to the fluffy marshmallows. Top that off with a very thin, crackly layer of fudge icing and a sprinkling of chopped pecans and you get what just might be the best brownie ever. I think it may also be the only brownie that I prefer nice and cold, but that’s just me.

Mississippi Mud Brownies | Life, Love, and Cupcakes

Mississippi Mud Brownies
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For the Brownies:
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
¾ cup sugar
½ cup brown sugar
¼ ts salt
½ cup melted butter
2 eggs
1 ts vanilla extract
½ cup chopped pecans (optional)
2 ½ cups miniature marshmallows

For the Icing:
¼ cup butter
¼ cup milk
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
½ ts vanilla extract
2 cups powdered sugar
pinch of salt

For the Brownies:
Preheat the oven to 325 °F. Line an 8x8in baking dish with foil or parchment paper and spray with non-stick cooking spray.
In a large bowl. mix the flour, cocoa, sugar, brown sugar, and salt until blended. Mix in the melted butter until combined, following with the eggs and vanilla extract. Stir until no clumps remain. Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish and bake for 35-37 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with moist crumbs.
Spread the marshmallows evenly over the top, then return to the oven for another 4 minutes, until the marshmallows are slightly puffy. Move from the oven, to a wire rack and allow to rest for 5 minutes, while you prepare the icing.

For the Icing:
Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Once melted, whisk in the milk and cocoa powder, and cook until thickened – about 1-2 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat and add in the powdered sugar, vanilla, and salt. Whisk until the frosting is smooth, then immediately pour over the top of the brownies. Smooth out the icing, then top with chopped pecans. Wait until the brownies have cooled completely before removing from pan and cutting.

adapted from Brown Eyed Baker.

Chocolate Moose Tracks Ice Cream

It’s starting to seem like ice cream is all I ever make anymore..but considering how hot this summer has been, I’m more than ok with that! This has been one of my favorite ice cream flavors from Publix for years, I have no idea why it took me this long to try making it on my own! It is a chocolate lovers dream, and even better homemade!


Chocolate Moose Tracks | Life, Love, and Cupcakes

Not only is this chocolate ice cream very rich, but hidden in there are ribbons of chocolate ganache that make it even richer! I used the Reese’s minis, chopped, but if you have smaller peanut butter cups (I love the ones from Trader Joe’s, but didn’t have time to go) I would recommend leaving them whole!

Chocolate Moose Tracks | Life, Love, and Cupcakes


Chocolate Moose Tracks Ice Cream
For Ice Cream:
2 cups heavy cream
3 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
5 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 cup whole milk
3/4 cup granulated sugar
Pinch of salt
5 large egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup mini peanut buttercups

For ganache:
4 oz heavy cream
4 oz semi-sweet chocolate

For Ice Cream:
In a medium saucepan, heat up 1 cup of the cream with the cocoa powder. Whisk thoroughly while the mixture comes to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 30 seconds, whisking constantly. Remove saucepan from the heat and add in the chopped chocolate, stirring until smooth. Then stir in the remaining cup of cream. Pour the mixture into a large bowl, scraping the saucepan as thoroughly as possible, and set a mesh strainer on top of the bowl. Warm the milk, sugar, and salt in the same saucepan.

In a separate medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks. Slowly pour the warm milk into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan. Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a heatproof spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula. Pour the custard through the strainer and stir it into the chocolate mixture until smooth, then stir in the vanilla. Stir until cool over an ice bath. Chill at least 8 hours, or overnight.

For Ganache:
Make the ganache an hour or so before churning your ice cream, to give it time to cool off.
Place chocolate in a bowl and set aside. Heat up the heavy cream in a small saucepan over medium heat. Once the chocolate is hot and melted completely (but not boiling), pour it over the chocolate. Let it sit for a minute, then stir until smooth.

Churn the ice cream according to manufacturers instructions. Once done, transfer to your freezer storage, swirling the ganache in in layers and sprinkling with peanut butter cups. Freeze for a few hours or overnight before serving.

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