food, recipe

Recipe: Small Batch Cupcakes

Small Batch Cupcakes (made in the toaster oven!) by

As one-half of a two person household, I’m always looking for ways to not make giant amounts of food that will either go bad or result in us feeling like we have to eat way too much. Cupcakes are delicious, but two people do not need 24 of them!

Since I’ve mastered making two chocolate chip cookies from scratch in the toaster oven, why not try cupcakes? I used cake mix, instead of baking them from scratch, to avoid turning six cupcakes into a big measuring, multi-bowl mess.¬†I figured if I’m only going to end up with six instead of 24 at the end, the process should be about one-fourth of the usual difficulty, right? ūüėČ

I forgot to take photos of them when they come out of the oven, so here’s the best I can do for the look of the actual cake until I bake them again:

Small Batch Cupcakes (made in the toaster oven!) by


Now go make your own…

Small Batch Cupcakes

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

This recipe makes six cupcakes using part of a box of cake mix and homemade buttercream. They can be baked in a toaster oven for maximum simplicity.


For the cakes:

  • 1 cup cake mix
  • 3 tablespoons butter (softened) or oil
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 egg

For the frosting:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees (F).
  2. Combine all ingredients and beat on medium (or by hand) for 2 minutes.
  3. Divide batter into 6 sections of your greased muffin tin.
  4. Bake at 350F for about 14 minutes, or until golden and springy (or a toothpick comes out clean).
  5. Cool completely before frosting.

While your cupcakes cool, make your buttercream icing.

  1. In a bowl combine butter, sugar, and salt.
  2. Beat on medium until blended.
  3. Add vanilla and 1 tablespoon of milk.
  4. Mix for an additional few minutes.
  5. While you’re mixing, add more milk in small splashes until it’s just the right consistency.
  6. Frost your cupcakes!

Optional: If you want your batch to be iced with half vanilla and half chocolate, frost the first three cupcakes, then toss a few tablespoons of cocoa powder in with a splash of milk and mix. Frost the last three cupcakes.

For my cupcakes, I used this (light-colored) Wilton 6 Cup Regular Muffin Pan and baked them in my toaster oven (the Breville BOV800XL Smart Oven) for 14 minutes (the lowest time listed on my cake mix for cupcakes in a light baking tin).


food, recipe

Taco Salad & Tomatillo Ranch Dressing

I tracked my food on MyFitnessPal¬†for several months last year and with minimal effort (and mostly eating the things I love), I saw some solid results. I didn’t¬†really cut things entirely out of my diet, but the¬†portions were¬†carefully considered and smaller, and I combined things differently each day to find a better balance. I’m getting back in the swing of things again now and remembered this salad is pretty great for something that involves lettuce.

The Texan in me loves all things Tex-Mex, so this Taco Salad is just my kind of thing, in spite of still being a salad. To make one yourself, combine¬†some lettuce, tomatoes, canned black beans, roasted corn, avocado, cilantro, cheese, tortilla chips, and grilled chicken (with taco seasoning, if you’d like). Top it with your dressing of choice, like Blendtec’s¬†Tomatillo Ranch. (This one’s a great option because it’s delicious & is only 20 calories for 2 tablespoons.)

Taco Salad with Blendtec's Tomatillo Ranch Dressing (2T = 20 calories).

A post shared by Sarah Blackstock (@sarahblackstock) on


Tomatillo Ranch Dressing

  • Difficulty: easy
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1 cup plain non-fat Greek yogurt
1‚ĀĄ2 cup low-fat milk
1 medium tomatillo, husked and halved
1 jalape√Īo pepper, seeded
1‚ĀĄ3 cup fresh cilantro leaves
2 cloves garlic
1‚ĀĄ2 avocado
1‚ĀĄ4 tsp ground black pepper
2 tsp dried parsley
1‚ĀĄ2 tsp sea salt
1‚ĀĄ2 tsp dried dill
1‚ĀĄ8 tsp paprika
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
1‚ĀĄ2 tsp Worcestershire sauce

  • Add ingredients to blender.
  • Select “Dressings” if using a Blendtec, or blend on Medium Low to Medium speed for 30 seconds.
  • Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Source: Blendtec via

food, recipe

An Evening with Comfort Food

Listen, sometimes you’re popping Midol and craving comfort food so you look up the recipe for Luby’s Mac & Cheese. And then your husband wants Cracker Barrel’s Hashbrown Casserole so you look up a copycat recipe for that. And then¬†The Pioneer Woman’s¬†Salisbury Steak happens too. Oops?


Last year Houstonia Magazine did a comfort foods issue and Luby’s shared their Macaroni and Cheese recipe. I’m including it here so I won’t lose it, because it was spot on and I’ve got to eat it again.

Luby’s Macaroni and Cheese

  • Difficulty: easy
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2 cups dry elbow macaroni
4 tablespoons nonfat dry milk
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1 ¬ľ cups boiling water
3 cups shredded cheese (I used Cheddar & Monterey Jack.)
¬ľ teaspoon salt


  • Preheat oven to 350 F.
  • Cook macaroni 1 to 2 minutes longer than package directions so pasta is soft but not mushy. Drain.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine dry milk, flour, and butter. Whisking constantly, gradually add in boiling water.
  • Add 1 cup of cheese and continue whisking until smooth and creamy, about 2-3 minutes.
  • Fold in macaroni, 1 more cup of cheese and salt.
  • Transfer to a lightly greased 11×7 inch casserole dish and cover with foil.
  • Bake 25-30 minutes or until sauce in center of casserole is thick and creamy.
  • Remove foil and sprinkle remaining 1 cup of shredded cheese evenly over top. Return to oven until cheese melts.
  • Devour!

Sometimes you just have to starch out, y’all. And¬†gooey cheese is delicious. But why stop there when you could follow it up with a¬†yellow cake with chocolate frosting?

I made a “Perfect Size” cake from Duncan Hines in my toaster oven. It’s 6″ so big enough to serve its purpose, but small enough to not have me eating cake every day for a week. It was super easy, comes with its own tiny pan, and turned out really light and fluffy. (If you’re more in a chocolate chip cookie mood, I’ve got my two cookie recipe right here. Toaster oven optional, but welcome!)

food, recipe

Recipe: Simple Homemade Cranberry Sauce

Making Cranberry Sauce

Cranberry Sauce from a can is a travesty (A TRAVESTY!) and doesn’t deserve a spot on your holiday table. The only way to go is with fresh cranberries and about 15 minutes of hands-on prep time. It’ll look beautiful and be a great companion to your turkey. (I love it with cornbread dressing!)¬†I never realized I liked cranberry sauce until I tried this one. The canned stuff just really doesn’t do cranberries justice.

Making Cranberry Sauce

Simple Cranberry Sauce

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 1 bag fresh cranberries
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1 cup sugar


  1. Combine orange juice & sugar in a pot over medium-low heat.
  2. Dissolve the sugar in the juice, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add cranberries and stir.
  4. Heat cranberries until at least half pop & the sauce thickens. (10-15 minutes)
  5. Remove from heat & pour in a dish to cool.
  6. Let it cool to room temperature, then refrigerate.


That’s it! Super simple and you can dress it up with other things (like orange zest!) if you want to be a bit fancy. It’s best to make it the day before and pull it out a while before serving to take the chill off.

My Thanksgiving Dinner, featuring homemade cranberry sauce

Happy holidays!

food, recipe

Single-Serving Chocolate Chip Cookies

Single-Serving Chocolate Chip Cookie

Sometimes I really, really want homemade chocolate chip cookies, but lately¬†two things have stopped me from having them: (1) our wall oven broke several months ago and we’re relying on a fancy toaster oven until we remodel our kitchen in a few more¬†months, and (2) I’d love to eat a whole bunch of them but really probably shouldn’t.

Well, problem solved!

Because: (1) My toaster oven (the¬†Breville BOV800XL Smart Oven) is actually really good at being an oven and handles all sorts of things (from these cookies to whole dinners) fantastically¬†well, and (2) baking only two cookies at a time means they’re¬†always fresh out of the oven when I¬†eat one and also that there won’t be a pile of them sitting around ruining my¬†attempt at eating remotely healthy on weekdays.

These cookies will¬†take you about a total of 15 minutes and one bowl, so they’re totally worth the tiny bit of trouble.

Two Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • Servings: 1-2
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Yield: 2 large cookies.¬†You decide if that means one or two servings. ūüėČ


2 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp white sugar
2 Tbsp brown sugar, firmly packed
Pinch of kosher salt
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg yolk
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips


  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. In a microwave safe bowl, warm butter until it’s softened.
  3. Mix butter, sugars, salt, and vanilla by hand in bowl.
  4. Add egg yolk into mixture and stir.
  5. Add baking soda and flour, then combine.
  6. Stir in chocolate chips.
  7. Divide dough into two balls and place a few inches apart on parchment lined baking sheet.
  8. Bake for 8 minutes, or until edges are golden brown.


  • Once removed from oven, bang baking sheet firmly to deflate a bit.
  • Cool for a few minutes before using a spatula to move to a plate.
  • Want to bake in a toaster oven? Go for it! That’s how I did mine. Watch the baking time and/or consider using the cookie or convection setting, if yours has those.