staying hungry : cake box cookies

Let me show you something that will make you want to hug me:

Let me tell you something that will make you want to rise up and call everything and everyone blessed:

There are 4 ingredients in these cookies…and one of them is boxed cake mix.


I’m not even kidding. These rank among the best cookies I’ve ever had. They are perfectly textured – soft yet chewy – rich, and decadent. And they’re definitely the easiest I’ve ever made. I think I’m bringing a version of these to any and every social event I attend from now until eternity. Amen.

Thanks to Cookies and Cups (and Lovin’ from the Oven) for originally posting this recipe!

Cake Box Cookies


  • 1 box cake mix (I used Pillsbury Dark Chocolate with Pudding)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • Mix-ins (I used the mini Reese’s because on Fridays I don’t have the patience to unwrap 30 bite size Reese’s)


Preheat the oven to 350. Empty the cake mix into a large bowl. In a separate bowl, lightly whisk together the eggs and the oil (I skipped this step…don’t do that). Stir the wet mixture into the cake mix until just combined (it will be thicker than thick), then add in the Reese’s or add-in of your choice.

I made 12 big cookies and baked them for about 10 minutes, rotating the pan half-way through because my oven hails from earlier times (think covered wagons) and tends to heat unevenly (think Pisa).


My brain is exploding with other ideas. Dark Chocolate Peppermint Patty Cookies! Vanilla Candy Bar Cookies! Marble Chocolate Chunk with Rainbow Sprinkle Birthday Cookies!

I think I might have to steal the corner market on cake box cookies because oh my word…I’m in love.

Happy baking! Let me know what you discover!

beka stays hungry : PMS oatmeal

Or just TMI oatmeal for those of you of the male persuasion (sorry, guys).

This oatmeal was born out of the need to have chocolate for breakfast.

Women, can I get an amen?

This is just 1/3 cup cooked oats with 1 tsp of chia seeds mixed in. Then it’s topped with 2 tablespoons of DIY chocolate greek yogurt. Then it’s topped with sliced strawberries, toasted walnuts, large flake coconut, unsweetened vanilla coconut almond milk, and a drizzle of agave nectar.

Then it’s topped with exaltations of praise and adoration because it’s just SO good! It’s the 100% legal way to indulge chocolate cravings before dawn!

I wholeheartedly recommend this course of action…during any time of the month.

good things part III : DIY chocolate greek yogurt

Would you like a snack that tastes like dessert and has 0% fat and at least 15 grams of protein?

Me too!

That’s why I created this:

DIY Chocolate Greek Yogurt


  • 1 Container Greek Yogurt (I used 0% fat but feel free to go crazy and use 2%! I would have if I’d had it on hand!)
  • 1 Tbsp Dark Chocolate Cocoa Powder
  • 1/2 Tbsp Toasted Pumpkin Seeds
  • 1/2 Tbsp Toasted Walnuts
  • 1 tsp Honey


Stir the yogurt and cocoa powder together until completely blended. Top with pumpkin seeds, walnuts, and honey. Enjoy!

(And yes, you can just buy flavored Greek yogurt. But it’s always filled with so much sugar! Even though this version is sweetened by honey I still feel better about it because the honey is a secondary ingredient, and one of only a few ingredients total. It’s so much better for you!)

good things : carmelitas

I’ve made three pans of these since Valentine’s Day with the intention of sharing them. “Intention” being the operative word.


pinned here via lulu the baker

Oh my word. These things are out of this world amazing. And since I don’t want to be the only one in a sugar coma want to share the love, here’s the recipe:


slightly adapted from lulu the baker


32 caramel squares, unwrapped
1/2 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup butter, melted
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1 cup flour
1 cup rolled oats
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup semisweet chocolate chips
½ cup bittersweet chocolate chips


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Combine caramels and heavy cream in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir until completely smooth and then set aside.

In a separate bowl, combine melted butter, brown sugar, flour, oats, baking soda, and salt.

Pat half of the oatmeal mixture into the bottom of an 8 x 8 pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.

Remove pan from oven and sprinkle bittersweet and semisweet chocolate over crust. Pour caramel mixture over chocolate chips. Crumble remaining oatmeal mixture over caramel.

Return to oven and bake an additional 15-20 minutes, until the edges are lightly browned. Remove from oven and cool completely before cutting.

Side Note 1: These are especially good just slightly warm with a glass of cold milk.

Side Note 2: On Monday I’m starting a new healthy initiative, new blog (with only nutrition/fitness focus) included! (It’s not because of the Carmelitas…but it kind of is.) (And beka stays is still staying – no changes there!) Stay tuned!

good things : milk & honey chocolate banana granola

I fought the granola, and the granola won.

No…for real.

I first experienced Milk & Honey’s Chocolate Banana granola at Whole Foods during one of our family field trips. They were giving out little samples covered in coconut milk. I took one, my mom declined. We started walking towards another aisle.

And then, I tasted the sample. And stopped in my tracks. And started singing praises for whoever created this wonder, while loudly proclaiming to anyone within earshot that this was, in fact, the best granola I’ve ever had (!!!!!!).

I loved it so much my mom offered to scam the system and go get a sample for herself…for me.

I willingly participated in this deception. It was totally worth it.

In what I now realize was very poor judgement, I decided that one buying one bag would be enough. I mean, it’s granola. I can ration and have self-control.

I could not ration.

I did not have self-control.

I finished it in a week.

I ordered two more bags online because no one sells it out here.

I’m already 1/4 way through the second bag.

People…this is BAD. But it’s so good!!! I’ve never had such an intense chocolate cereal. Matched with ice cold vanilla coconut almond milk…it’s unbelievable. I can’t stop eating it.

Milk & Honey also makes an original, cinnamon, pumpkin spice, papaya cashew, and blueberry pecan variety. Although I don’t think I’ll ever try any of those because it would decrease the amount of chocolate banana in my cart and let’s be honest: that’s just not happening.

Someone save me. (But actually…don’t.)

the dailies : 10.27.11

daily word: Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. – Philippians 4:8-9

daily sweat: 6am power vinyasa yoga! love it!

daily dish:

This made me so happy.
1/2 a frozen banana + 1 Tbsp cocoa powder. Blend until creamy in a food processor. Top with a small dollop of peanut butter and a mini peanut butter cup.
It’s my favorite flavor of ice cream…but healthy! I’m so excited!

daily mile:

Day 52: keep moving forward

(A year later, same television programming. It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown! A classic bound to make any day better.)

the dailies : 9.17.11

daily word: I love the way the Message explains God’s new covenant through Christ in Hebrews 8:

This new plan I’m making with Israel
isn’t going to be written on paper,
isn’t going to be chiseled in stone;
This time I’m writing out the plan in them,
carving it on the lining of their hearts.
I’ll be their God,
they’ll be my people.
They won’t go to school to learn about me,
or buy a book called God in Five Easy Lessons.
They’ll all get to know me firsthand,
the little and the big, the small and the great.
They’ll get to know me by being kindly forgiven,
with the slate of their sins forever wiped clean.
By coming up with a new plan, a new covenant between God and his people, God put the old plan on the shelf. And there it stays, gathering dust.

daily sweat: No sweat today! I was away for the day celebrating a very important birthday.

This is Erin, and she and I have been the best of friends since high school. Today we ventured out into the middle of the state to meet halfway and celebrate her birthday!

And since no good birthday is complete without good food…the daily dish was quite full:


That right there? Diner food. I love diner food, especially breakfasts, and most especially when those breakfasts include chocolate chip pancakes. Our waitress was a new employee and wasn’t familiar with the goodness that is chocolate chip pancakes, so when I asked for them she followed with, “So, you’d like pancakes with chocolate chips on top?” And I explained that usually the chips are mixed into the batter, but I’d take them in any form. Which apparently she took literally since I got chips mixed into the batter and chips on top AND chocolate syrup to boot.

It was as good as it sounds/looks.


We were so full from breakfast that lunch just kind of came and went, but we did stop by a small fruit stand and both got an apple. We also made an appearance at Gertrude Hawk, where Erin recommended the Pumpkin Pie Smidgens, which is quite possibly the best thing she’s ever done in our decade of friendship. They’re that good. I now have a new favorite fall food group. Seriously…you all need to high tail it to a Gertrude Hawk asap, either online or in person, and order 18 boxes of these immediately if not sooner.


It started healthy…

(field greens with goat cheese and walnuts)

and ended classically…

(fried things.)

I wholeheartedly believe that sometimes, the healthiest thing you can do is eat a plate of fried food and laugh with a friend. The two go so well together.

Especially when paired with Pumpkin Pie Smidgens for dessert.

daily mile:

Day 13: jam-filled vs. jam-packed

Other miscellaneous anecdotes that I feel compelled to include:

  • The Pumpkin Caramel Latte pocket hand sanitizer from Bath and Body works is definitely the best smelling antibacterial product ever made. I use it even when my hands are clean, just so I can smell it. I wish I was kidding. I also wish they made it in shower gel/lotion form.
  • The Lion King in 3D is not just for kids. Or maybe it is, but either way, I thoroughly enjoyed it.
  • I also thoroughly enjoyed having my first real straight-from-the-local-orchard apple of the season. Smidgens notwithstanding, it was my favorite food of the day!
  • Is anyone familiar with Utica? And if so, can you please explain why the roadways there are so complicated? Highways that are not clearly identified and one ways and almost-but-not-really one ways and pot holes so gigantic they could house a person? Someone…please enlighten me. What’s the deal, Utica?!
  • Tomorrow, I’m going to make these again. Feel free to swing by for a sample or 5 so I don’t eat them all by myself over the course of 24 hours.

beka stays healthy : bittersweet double chocolate cookies

I’m about to make you so happy. You can’t even comprehend the level of bliss that will ensue from what will be posted below in 4.5 seconds.

This little gem? A chocolate lover’s DREAM. It might even go further than that, since I’m not sure I’ve ever dreamt up something quite so amazing. I can’t take any credit for this recipe – that goes to Divine Baking via Epicurious – so I’ll just take credit for being smart enough to make a batch. You’ll feel the same way once you try them.

Here’s the recipe, straight from this post by Divine Baking:

Nonstick vegetable oil spray
1 1/2 cups bittersweet chocolate chips (about 9 ounces), divided
3 large egg whites, room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar, divided (I used 2 cups)
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
And here are the details, straight from my penchant to abbreviate:
  • Preheat the oven to 350
  • Melt 1 cup of chocolate chips
  • Beat egg whites in a large bowl to soft peaks
  • Gradually beat in 1/2 cup of sugar
  • Whisk one cup of sugar, cocoa, cornstarch, and salt in a medium bowl
  • Slowly incorporate whisked ingredients into the meringue
  • Stir in lukewarm melted chocolate and 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • Shape into tablespoon-sized balls and roll in s small bowl containing 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • Bake for 10 minutes, or until the tops begin to crack
Speaking of crack…that’s basically what these cookies are. Chocolate crack. Or the key to PMS survival. Or the answer to any problem large or small.

Side note: I categorized these under “healthy” not just because they will aid in stabilizing my mental health in ways only chocolate can do, but also because they are not even close to being calorie bombs. On the contrary, they’re actually respectable as far as legit dessert goes. I mean, what other life-changing piece of chocolate heaven uses only egg whites, no butter, and weighs in at about 140 calories a piece? And they’re so rich that even though you probably could eat them all in one sitting (especially when they function as PMS survival cookies) one or two really does the trick.

I’m so excited for you to try these. Please do so asap. For your sake and mine.

the dailies : 9.14.11

To preface, it should be noted that Bath and Body Works is taunting me. They must know I’m weak. I got this email today:

New! Marshmallow Fireside

If that doesn’t sounds like the perfect fall candle, I don’t know what does.

I might have to break the November rule.

daily word: “We must not just please ourselves. 2 We should help others do what is right and build them up in the Lord. 3 For even Christ didn’t live to please himself.” Romans 15:1-3 (NLT)

daily sweat: 75 minute Power Vinyasa yoga class at 5:45 am. Awesome way to start the day.

daily dish:


This breakfast – food and location and temperature and EVERYTHING – absolutely perfect. Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal (recipe coming soon) outside on the canal after this morning’s class. I forsee many repeats in the future.


Quinoa and Bulgar salad with prune plums and fig newtons – on the side, not mixed in. Use your imagination, because I forgot the cell phone photo shoot again.



I’ve been wanting to try the Owl House forever so when my dear friend Morgan suggested we meet there for dinner I was only too happy to oblige. It did not disappoint! We split the sweet potatoes fries with gorganzola cheese and balsamic reduction as an appetizer. For dinner, I went with the panzanella salad because I love panzanella and it’s almost the end of the appropriate season to order it. Then we split the chocolate mousse, which was divine. It was a healthy mixture of cocoa and avocado topped with fresh fruit and cacao nibs.

The dangerous part: I want to try everything else on the menu too. And this place is less than a mile from my apartment. I have a feeling I’m about to become their #1 customer.

daily mile:

Day 10: beating clarkia into submission