I am a newlywed on a budget, just trying to make healthy and inexpensive meals for my husband and I to enjoy. He eats a lot, so cost is a big factor. Though I work 3 jobs, I manage to find time 6 nights a week to cook a full dinner for us both. I am constantly looking for new recipes that are moderately healthy, taste great, and won't break the bank.

On the side, I also own a brownie business called Gersheybars. My passion and love for cooking started when I was just a small child, baking with my mom and grandmother. The brownie recipe has been passed down through 5 generations and I am thrilled to finally have an outlet to share them with everybody else. Friends and family have helped spread the word and made my business as successful as it is today.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Honey Carrot Cake

Got this recipe from a friend of mine. Using half honey and half sugar gives the cake a sweet flavor without being too sweet. If you are a huge fan of honey, you can actually substitute (1:1 ratio) honey for the granulated sugar in the recipe.

  • 6oz all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 5.3 oz canola oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 4.63 oz honey
  • 4.63 oz granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 5.75 oz carrots, shredded finely
  • 1.3 oz walnuts, chopped
  1. Sift dry ingredients into medium sized bowl.
  2. Whisk eggs, honey and sugar with electric mixer until fluffy/foamy.
  3. Gradually drizzle in oil until incorporated.
  4. Add dry ingredients to whipped egg mixture and mix just until combined.
  5. Add carrots and walnuts, folding by hand until incorporated.
  6. Place 2 pounds of batter in a parchment lined 9" cake pan, and bake about 40 minutes at 365 degrees, or until skewer comes out clean.
I usually end up with a little bit of extra batter, which I use to make cupcakes or mini bundt cakes.

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 1 8oz package of cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  1. Beat cream cheese with electric mixer until smooth and creamy. Add butter and vanilla, and mix for 2 minutes, until well combined.
  2. Slowly add in powdered sugar and beat until fluffy consistency.
  3. Use immediately or keep well covered in refrigerator.
This is a very traditional cream cheese frosting. It's not overly sweet and has more of a cream cheese taste to it than sugar. If you prefer something sweeter, you may want to double the powdered sugar.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


This will be the first Thanksgiving in our new house, so of course we're hosting it this year. Justin is taking care of the turkey (see below) by smoking it on the grill, and I'm doing all the sides, except sweet potatoes and white potatoes. Except white potatoes, we don't really have any family recipes for things like stuffing, green beans, cranberries, etc. So off to Allrecipes I went! And here's what I found:

Browning sausage, mushrooms, celery and onions. I don't have a picture of the final stuffing yet since it's still in the oven.

All 3 were incredibly easy to make and from what I've tasted so far, quite delicious!

I also made Turnips Au Gratin, compliments of Peggy. I've never had turnips on Thanksgiving, but she swears that they're awesome, and her insanely picky husband even liked them! So I figured I'd give them a shot, since Justin is definitely a fan of turnips.
  • 1 1/2 lb Turnips, peeled
  • 4T Butter
  • 1 1/2 tsp Marjoram
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 2C milk
  • 1/2 C water
  • 1C cornmeal
  • 2C Parmesan Cheese
  1. Butter 9" square baking dish
  2. In saucepan, steam turnips over 1" water until very tender
  3. Puree Turnips with butter and marjoram until smooth
  4. Transfer puree to large bowl, and season with salt and pepper
  5. Whisk in the cheese and egg yolks
  6. Over medium heat, bring milk and water to simmer
  7. Slowly pour in the cornmeal, whisking constantly until smooth. Cook
  8. until thick, about 2 minutes
  9. Remove from heat, and let stand 5 minutes. Whisk cornmeal into turnip mixture
  10. Beat egg whites with mixer until soft peaks form. Fold egg whites
  11. into turnip mixture
  12. Spoon batter into prepared baking dish
  13. Bake 45 minutes at 350* until puffed and lightly browned
And finally, I made a pumpkin cheesecake for dessert. Because it's not Thanksgiving without cheesecake!


  • 1 1/2 c. graham cracker crumbs
  • 2/3 pound unsalted butter
  • 1/2 T. cinnamon
  • 2 T. sugar
  • 2 lbs. cream cheese
  • 1/2 lb. mascarpone
  • 1 1/4 c. sugar
  • 1 T. and 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 c pumpkin puree
  1. Blend cheeses and sugar on low til smooth. Do not overmix.
  2. Add eggs and vanilla....blend on low til smooth. Reserve 1 cup of batter. Pour rest into crust. Mix remaining cup of batter with pumpkin puree and pour on top of regular batter. Swirl it together with a knife.
  3. Bake at 300 until almost set, about 45min to an hour.

Here are a few pictures from Thanksgiving.

Our fabulous smoked turkey. Took about 6 hours, start to finish.
Justin and David carving the turkey by hand.

The turkey on display on the table!

Dining room table

Dining room table before all the food.

Too much Thanksgiving excitement for Jena leaves her shoeless and passed out.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Smoked Cornish Game Hens

This was our pre-Thanksgiving test, to see just what's involved in smoking a bird. We picked up 2 cornish game hens at the store and planned to season them and smoke them on the grill. First, we made a salty-sweet brine and injected the thighs, breasts and legs with a bit of the brine, to help keep the bird juicy while cooking. Then we made a paste with roasted garlic, sage, thyme, salt, pepper and shallots, and stuffed that under the skin. We removed the innards and saved them to make the gravy. The hens went into a large pan and the grill was heated to about 325 to begin the smoking process. It took about 3 hours, mainly because it was our first attempt and we weren't quite used to keeping the fire going and adding charcoal to the fire. But the finished product was delicious, perfectly cooked, and topped with a luscious gravy. Can't wait for Thanksgiving when we do a big turkey the same way!

  • about 1 cup chicken stock
  • about 1/2 cup water
  • pepper
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
These measurements are estimates. We just sort of threw them into a bowl until it tasted good, heated it up to dissolve the sugar and honey, then let it cool before injecting it into the bird.

Herb Rub
  • 2 shallots, diced
  • 1 head roasted garlic, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons fresh tarragon, chopped
Combine all ingredients. Run fingers under skin of hen to make room for the rub. Generously coat the hen, under the skin, with the herb mixture.

  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh tarragon, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • chicken innards
  • Remaining brine mixture from above
  • chicken stock may be necessary if you don't have enough brine leftover
Over medium-high heat, pan fry shallot and tarragon with 1 tablespoon oil. Fry for 30 seconds. Add chicken innards to pan. Turn frequently until brown on all sides. Add about 1.5 cups of brine mixture to pan, bring to a boil. Simmer gently, stirring about every 10 minutes or so, for about 2 hours. If liquid reduces too much, add more brine, or chicken stock, to keep simmering. When gravy is a bit thick (takes a few hours), remove the innards from the pan and discard. Lightly spoon gravy over birds when they come off the smoker.

All of these recipes/procedures are sort of estimates because we just flew by the seat of our pants. I tried to write down things as we went, but nothing was exact.