Skinny Spinach Artichoke Dip

Can y'all believe that 2012 is almost over? I feel like this year has flown by! I know people always say that, but honestly March feels like just yesterday. The days are long, but the years are short indeed.

Christmas Recap

Well hello! Long time no see/talk. I've missed y'all! I decided to take a break with writing posts to spend time with friends and family over the holiday season. But I think the break has been long enough, so let me give you a little recap of my low-key yet wonderful Christmas filled with amazing dishes.

{SKINNY Spinach Artichoke Dip}

Crock Pot BBQ Chicken

I've been counting down the days until I go back to North Carolina for the holidays just about as soon as I returned to D.C. after Thanksgiving. There is something about being in NC with family that gives me a sense of comfort and pure happiness that no other place on earth has or can give me. And there is no denying that the southern hospitality and food have something to do with the happiness I experience.

Mint Brownie Bites

I've been putting off writing this post because I can't quite figure out how to start it or what to say. With such tragic events happening last week, I'm at a loss for words to say and thoughts to think, especially when it comes to blogging about food. When we as a nation experience such a loss, it really puts things in perspective. While this blog is a huge passion of mine, it only seemed appropriate to take a break for a few days and focus on other more important matters in my life.

Ham and Sauteed Apples

There is something about the combination of ham and apples that makes my mouth water. Ever since I was a kid, I've always loved ham paired with sweet  fruits and sauces. In particular, I had to order this ham dish served with raisin sauce at this restaurant that my family would go to. I would practically beg my parents to go there on a weekly basis just so I could get my ham and sweet raisin sauce fix.

Gingerbread Scotchies

Ready for another Christmas cookie recipe?? Good, because you got one coming to ya!

Blueberry Orange Muffins

I'm a huge snacker. I'd like to say that it's because I'm healthy and listen to the advice of nutritionists who say it's better to eat throughout the day and to have lots of snacks instead of actual meals, but in reality I just like to eat. And so does my body. If I don't get food every three to four hours, I get hangry (hungry and very angry). So, for everyone's sake, I always have food on me and snack a lot.

Cookie Dough Fudge

One of the best things about baking cookies is the cookie dough. Anyone who bakes cookies regularly and denies licking the spatula or beaters is highly suspicious. It takes a very strong person to resist the sweet and scrumptious batter. And to be totally honest, I've been known to make cookie dough (or buy pre-made cookie dough...hello college) and eat This is a little embarrassing to admit, but the first step in fixing a serious sweet tooth problem is recognizing it, right?

Mint Chocolate Pudding Cookies

HAPPY NATIONAL COOKIE DAY! How many of you knew today was National Cookie Day? To be perfectly honest, I had no clue until a few days ago. And I'm betting once most of you read this post it will no longer be National Cookie Day. Kind of a bummer. However, because I'm posting this a little late (I do life has been nuts lately), I figure we can continue the celebration into tomorrow/today/December 5th. It's kind of like getting a belated birthday card or late Christmas present-it makes you feel entitled to celebrate longer than usual. Let's use my belated posting as an excuse to celebrate National Cookie Day a wee bit longer!

Homemade Chicken Pot Pie

With the seasons and weather changing, I often find myself craving the utmost comfort foods around this time of year. With the days growing shorter by the minute and with it getting dark before I even leave work, some nights all I really want to do is curl up in a comfy sweatshirt and sweatpants, eat the most comforting meal (in this dream world, my meals would already be magically made), and watch a movie or my favorite shows all night without worrying about school, work, my to-do list, or any responsibilities. In short, these cold, dark nights make me downright lazy. Does anyone else feel this way?

Easy Beer Bread

Nothing beats homemade bread. The smells that fill your kitchen as the bread is baking all the way down to cutting your first slice and eating a piece of warm, chewy, freshly baked bread- it's something special, that's for sure. But homemade bread can be a task and a half. Most breads call for yeast, which usually means that the recipe will be an all day process. Rising, kneading, rising some more, and baking. While the end results make this process totally worth it, most of us don't have an afternoon to dedicate to making a loaf of bread.

Grammy's Creamy Cheesecake

Traditions are a pretty cool thing. Traditions are something special that unites a group of people and gives them a special memory to share. For example, as I type this, I'm watching the Duke v. OSU basketball game. While this specific game has no special significance (except that I want to be able to brag to all my Buckeye friends that we beat them!), watching Duke basketball has been something that I grew up doing and love sharing with fellow Dukies. My dad, who stands at 6 foot 7 inches and was a pretty awesome basketball player himself, taught me all I know about basketball and Duke sports. As a treat growing up, he would take me to some of the Duke women's basketball games. I thought I was the coolest kid going to Cameron Indoor Stadium, staying out late on a school night, and cheering for the Blue Devils with my dad. Memories and traditions, they are a great thing.

Chocolate Pecan Pie

Y'all know how I like finding new, fun twists on classic recipes? Well this is one more example for you. If you love pecan pie, you have got to try this chocolate version.

Healthy Spinach and Artichoke Casserole

Know anyone who doesn't like vegetables? I'm betting that you do. And I'm also willing to bet that they are over the age of 5. I was never a huge fan of vegetables growing up, but I've learned that if they are prepared correctly and have enough seasoning and other flavorful ingredients mixed with them, vegetables can actually be pretty tasty (except peas...I despise peas). But I know a lot of people who refuse to even look in the direction of a vegetable. However, this casserole will change any picky eater's mind. In fact, I've seen first hand a vegetable hater love this dish (Hi Uncle Kenny!).

Thanksgiving Recap

I hope all of you had a wonderful and safe Thanksgiving! I was fortunate enough to spend my Thanksgiving holiday in North Carolina with my parents, grandparents, and my uncle and his family. Because I live in the Washington, D.C. area and don't get to see my family all of the time, I feel lucky when I get an extended amount of time with them. This Thanksgiving couldn't have been better-a great time spent with amazing people all while eating wayyy too much scrumptious food. To give you a little sneak peak of my holiday at home, here are some pictures from my Thanksgiving.

{Mom's Thanksgiving table}

Fluffer Nutter Oatmeal

Ok, I know a lot of you are thinking, "Fluffer Nutter Oatmeal?! Elaine must have lost her mind!" And you might be right. However, for all of you oatmeal and fluffer nutter lovers, you should join in on my weird obsession and try this recipe.

Apple Cream Cheese Muffins

It's been a while since I've made a skinny sweets recipe. I blame the upcoming holidays and the array of glorious dessert recipes that I could make. Oh Thanksgiving and Christmas, my taste buds love you but my waistline hates you.

Easy Homemade Rice and Beans

With the holidays getting closer by the minute, I feel confident in saying that none of us have time to be slaving away in the kitchen making dinners. This time of year, every minute is crucial for planning, shopping, studying, working, traveling, or just taking 20 minutes to breathe. Whether you are a student studying for finals or a mom trying to organize all of your upcoming holiday festivities, you will appreciate this super easy and filling meal.

Stuffed Chicken Meatballs

Looking for a quick, comforting, and delicious dinner? These Stuffed Chicken Meatballs fit that bill!

Chickpea Burgers with Yogurt Tahini Sauce

The title of this recipe is somewhat misleading as there is no meat used. In fact, all of my vegan followers will be happy to know that there are no animals products in this dish what-so-ever. So, for anyone who is a vegan or who is looking for a vegan recipe, you've come to the right spot!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

Being a food blogger, I am always looking for ways to add a fun twist or unique perspective to classic recipes. While I never expect my variation to completely trump the classic recipe (they are "classic" for a reason, after all), I like to keep things interesting and surprise my taste buds every now and again. And who knows, a new classic recipe might be created from one of those experiments!

S'mores Truffles

Apple Pie Smoothie

I've done something oh so wrong. I've been filling lots of recent posts with pumpkin and have somehow neglected one of my favorite fruits and a standard fall ingredient: apples. I'm not sure how it's already six weeks into fall and I have not featured apples. It's a crime! Please forgive me? I did a little feature of apples in my Chewy Peanut Butter Apple Cookies, but that is certainly not enough for one of the most versatile, delicious, fall-esque fruits. So, now that my pumpkin craze days are slowing down (but obviously not going away) , we'll move on to apples starting with this sweet and scrumptious Apple Pie Smoothie.

Buffalo Chicken Chili

Happy Monday! If you are anything like me, you see Monday's as only being good for a few things: feeling accomplished that you made it through the first day of the week alive, getting back in the gym to work off those sneaky calories that always seem to pile up on weekends, watching Monday night football and eating/drinking some of those calories that you just burned off at the gym (all while sulking because you wish the NHL lockout would hurry up and be over so you could flip back and forth between football and hockey), and being twenty-four hours closer to the weekend. Hate to say it, but Mondays you are not my favorite.

Chewy Peanut Butter Apple Cookies

Y'all know that feeling of pure happiness when you discover something amazing? Like when you try on the perfect pair of jeans that give you Gisele legs; or when you discover a new book, artist, or band so moving and talented that you are speechless; OR when you find the best peanut butter cookie recipe on the face of this planet? Well, ladies and gentlemen, the latter happened and it made my day.

Biscoff Caramel Blondies

Crock Pot Chicken Fajitas (and FPP Reveal!)

Today is a big day for a few different reasons. First, this is my 100th entry on Cooking to Perfection! It seems like I've been blogging forever and just started yesterday all at the same time. This whole experience has opened so many doors, has been a great opportunity to learn many new things, and has been much more gratifying than I ever expected. I cannot wait to see what happens and what new things I'll learn come post number 200 or 500!

{Check out my new button! If you want one for your blog just because it's that pretty, scroll down and look on the right side menu to get the code.}

Double Whipped Pumpkin Brownie Pie

As promised, here is another pumpkin recipe. This delightful recipe is probably unlike anything you've seen or tried. And with how amazingly light and delicious this pie is, you should probably add it to your recipe repertoire immediately.

Pumpkin Maple Butter

So, are you guys sick of pumpkin yet? No...? Ok, good! I gave you a little break, but still have more pumpkin recipes up my sleeve. I figured a week off would get you excited for more pumpkin dishes. So, without further ado, let's chat about this Pumpkin Maple Butter.

Spaghetti Lasagna Pie

This recipe is a fun twist on your traditional spaghetti and lasagna dishes. This Spaghetti Lasagna Pie got it's name because it combines all of the things you love about spaghetti and lasagna into one great dish.

Baked Macaroni and Cheese Balls

I lovvvve finding ways to make scrumptious, comfort food a little bit healthier. Because, let's be serious, one of the reasons comfort food tastes so darn amazing is because there are lots of not so good ingredients in them.

Brownie Baked Oatmeal

Are you a fan of the Dessert Overnight Oats that I posted a couple of months ago? If you are, then you'll enjoy this recipe. This Brownie Baked Oatmeal is a cousin to the Dessert Overnight Oats. Both recipes are single serving, healthy desserts that use oatmeal as the base ingredient; however, this Brownie Baked Oatmeal is perfect for the cooler months, while the Dessert Overnight Oats recipe is better for satisfying your sweet cravings in the summer.

Mini Crustless Pumpkin Pies

So sorry I've been MIA for the past few days. My schedule has been pretty full with lots of fun and exciting things, some of which directly affect Cooking to Perfection. One such exciting event that has kept me busy is working with Dee over at Cocktails With Mom. If you haven't checked out this blog yet, you definitely should. There are lots of fun craft ideas, time and money saving tips, and delicious recipes. What more could you ask for? Plus, this Mini Crustless Pumpkin Pie recipe is featured on there today. So, if you like the looks of these mini pies, go on over and check them out at Cocktails with Mom!


As I mentioned in this post, I'm always looking for new ways to meet other bloggers and try new events and activities. One such event that I recently found is the 12 Weeks of Christmas Treats blog hop, hosted by Meal Planning Magic. If you are a blogger and want to get in the Christmas spirit early this year, head on over to sign up!

Pumpkin Chili

Chili is one of my go-to dinners in the fall and winter months. It is super easy to make, hearty, and can easily be re-heated and eaten for lunch or dinner the next day. Two thumbs up in my book!

Fun Stuff for Bloggers!

Being a new blogger, I'm always looking for ways to utilize my blog to meet other bloggers, try new events, and spend some time in the kitchen making tasty treats. I've recently found three fun events that do all of these that I want to share with y'all!

Cake Batter Puppy Chow

No, this post has nothing to do with dogs or dog food. Every time I hear "Puppy Chow" I think of Purina dog food. Or cute, fluffy Chow Chow puppies. But certainly not a dessert. I'm curious who thought "Puppy Chow" was an enticing name. This recipe is also referred to as "Muddy Buddies", which I don't think is much better. I am half tempted to create an entirely new name for this yummy snack, but I'll stick with the tried and true name for now.

Skinny Cupcakes

If you had to pick your absolute favorite dessert, what would it be? Tough question, right? I go back and forth between soft serve/custard/ice cream, cupcakes, and cookies. They are all soooo good. But right now my weakness is definitely cupcakes. I love how they are the perfect individual serving size, which comes in handy for people (like me) who don't like to share their desserts. Cupcakes are also an amazing dessert because of the frosting. If I could have a cupcake made to order, I'd specify that I'd like a double order of frosting with a little cake on the side. Or, better yet, just give me a bowl of homemade frosting and a spoon and I'm set.

Halloween Pudding Cookies

Have you ever tried a pudding cookie? You know, where you add instant pudding mix to the cookie dough? If not, you need to make these cookies pronto.

Spaghetti Squash with Pumpkin Sauce

Two things that I'm seriously loving right now are pumpkin and spaghetti squash. I dunno if I can get enough. While I usually use pumpkin in sweet, baked treats, I thought it would be fun to use the ingredient in a savory, delicious dinner. So, why not combined my new favorite foods?

Peaches 'n' Cream Smoothie

Just as I was thinking that it's getting too cold to enjoy smoothies, the weather in D.C. perks up. You aren't hearing any complaints from this girl! For someone who loathes cold weather, bulky sweaters, and snow (unless work is canceled, then that's a different story), I am welcoming every bit of warm weather that is left.

Cinnamon Roll Oatmeal

Since starting this blog, I've received many compliments on my oatmeal recipes. A lot of people are amazed at how I can make plain Jane, ho hum oats look tasty and delicious. I've been experimenting with different oatmeal recipes for years, so I'm always a bit shocked to hear this reaction and wonder if people actually settle for eating oatmeal with no pizazz day after day. How dreadful. While I hope that is not the case, I've made it my mission to show readers that oatmeal has a ton of potential and can be so much more than plain and boring!

Pumpkin Truffles

There is something special about truffles. I rarely make or purchase them until the holidays roll around, but they are certainly one aspect that make the holidays memorable. These little pieces of heaven never fail to put a smile on my face.

Crock Pot Beef and Broccoli

I love discovering things, even small things like a five dollar bill I forgot that I put in my pocket, my favorite clothing store having a sale, or an ingredient that inspires a completely new and utterly delicious recipe. It is these unexpected surprises that make life interesting. One such recent discovery of mine is a crock pot that was stored in the upper most shelf of the pantry at my townhouse. Neither of my roommates bought the crock pot, so I can only figure previous tenants stored it there and forgot about it. While some people might not think twice about a slightly used crock pot, it certainly made my day! Promptly after discovering this hidden gem, I went online and searched for crock pot recipes.

Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Maple Sauce

Is there anyone else out there who thinks the name "Bread Pudding" sounds gross and unappetizing? The thought of bread that is mushy and pudding-like did not sit right with me. You also have to understand that I was that child that did not let her food touch because I didn't want to mix flavors and the thought of soggy anything (including cereal, bread, and, yes, Oreos and milk) made me gag. While I've matured a bit since my childhood, soggy things still don't really appeal to me. Because of the name, I refused to try any bread pudding until about a year ago. But one night,  I gave a it a try. And wouldn't you know that bread pudding is now one of my favorite desserts! Go figure.

Black Bean and Quinoa Soup

A great thing about fall, along with pumpkin, is making warm, hearty, comforting dinners. I'm not a huge fan of soups and stews seven or eight months of the year, but I definitely find myself craving a warm bowl of soup in the cooler months. There is something about being bundled up in a blanket and eating a bowl of soup that has comfort written all over it. Add a fireplace and snow outside and that would be downright amazing.

Pumpkin Oatmeal Smoothie

With the cooler months rolling in, I am starting to wonder what I'm going to make instead of my daily smoothie. Smoothies just don't sound very appealing when it's as cold outside as it is in my smoothie glass. While I can't do much about the weather, I am able to adjust my smoothie ingredients based on the season. And this brings me to my new favorite smoothie: the Pumpkin Oatmeal Smoothie. This smoothie, which is very similar to my Pumpkin Pie Smoothie, incorporates one of the best things about fall: pumpkin. You know I couldn't resist!

Buttermilk Oat Loaf

There are few things better than fresh baked bread that is still warm from the oven. My mom is a big believer in homemade bread. My family went through half a dozen bread machines before we realized that we made so much bread, the bread machines couldn't keep up! So, she resorted to making bread completely from scratch. Even to this day, the smell of fresh baked bread always reminds me of home.

Pumpkin Fluff and FPP Reveal

Doesn't that look good?! Oh Pumpkin Fluff, you complete me. But before I get to talkin' about this amazing recipe, let me say a few things about blogging. Stick around, I promise it won't take long!

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