Banana Toffee Picnic Cupcakes

I’ve got a real treat for you guys this evening!

I’m actually headed out for Happy Hour with my friends Kate & Meg in a little while, and then we’re going over to the boys’ softball game tonight, so it might be a little bit later of an evening.

Since I’m still not sure what’s planned for dinner, I didn’t want to leave all my favorite readers hangin’, so I have a little recipe to share with you all!

Banana Toffee Picnic Cupcakes

These babies were probably one of the easiest but most flavorful cupcakes to make – they’re a MUST TRY.

I had some suuuuuper ripe bananas to use up, and I found this recipe while perusing the Betty Crocker website, so I figured I’d give it a shot!

The original recipe called for your standard water + vegetable oil + eggs, but I figured: why not make it a soda cake???

Headed into the oven…

YUM!! :-P

I was able to hold myself off from devouring them for all of about 10 minutes — I drizzled mine with a tiny bit of caramel syrup on top…

It literally melted in my mouth.  The cupcake was soooo moist, with just the perfect hint of banana, and the extra crunch and sweetness of the toffee bits on top.  All of that paired with the ooey, gooey caramel, and I was in love.  I’ll be interested to see how long these last in the house! ;)

Banana Toffee Picnic Cupcakes

(adapted from Betty Crocker’s Banana Toffee Picnic Cake recipe)

1 box yellow cake mix

1 cup mashed very ripe bananas (about 2 medium)

1 can diet Sierra Mist soda

1/2 tsp almond extract

1/2 cup toffee bits


  1. Heat over to 350 degrees.  Line cupcake pan with liners, or spray with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Beat cake mix, bananas, soda, and almond extract with electric mixer on low speed for 30 seconds. Beat on medium speed 2 minutes.  Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full with batter.  Sprinkle toffee bits evenly over each cupcake.
  3. Bake 18-20 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
  4. If desired, drizzle with caramel syrup when serving. ENJOY! :)

New Fashion Friday Poll

Well, by looking at some of your delicious sounding comments from this morning, I’m not the only s’more fanatic! I love you guys! ;)

Earlier this morning I met up at Starbucks with a local STSL reader, Kaitlyn.  Although I’ve actually known Kaitlyn for a few years (we were both bowlers in high school and would occasionally see each other at different matches and tournaments) we never really took the time to sit and chat.  We had a really great time just chatting, catching up, sharing stories, and talking about the inevitable – FOOD.   I totally meant to snap a photo of the 2 of us, but completely forgot – GRR!  Next time — we got talking about a local cafe that sounds like a MUST TRY for me, so perhaps another meet-up will be in the cards soon!

While hanging out, I sipped on a delicious Skinny Caramel Macchiato (basically, a skinny vanilla latte, but with a little of the caramel sauce) ;)  It was soooo good. :)

By the time I got home, I was HUNGRY (we chatted for over an hour and half!) so I got to work on lunch.  I think that my unusually savory breakfast wrap this morning had me wanting no part of vegetables for lunch – I was all about the sweet factor…

So I created this beauty:

A plain Chobani + strawberry + blueberry parfait – what can I say, I guess I was feeling a little patriotic? ;)

I knew I needed more than this, and I just could just not get my mind off of the Blizzard Butter.  Seriously, what is wrong with me?!?  The hubby actually came home for lunch to find me mid-peanut butter finger – I was caught red handed.  Julie, you’d be proud!! :-D

After about 2 peanut butter fingers, I finally toasted up a piece of my rye bread and topped it with some more BB and a little red raspberry jam.

Mmmmm!  Gooey PB = Heaven

I even cut the roof of my mouth with the darn toast, but my BB bliss was enough to make me not even care…for now.  I hate when I cut the roof of my mouth! :roll:

So guys, I’ve actually decided to retract my idea for this week’s upcoming Fashion Friday post.

Considering I haven’t gotten any responses yet, I’m thinking that maybe by using the “Fashionista” term, I scared some people away from responding?  Either that, or everyone’s just too busy or it wasn’t really for them – and honestly, both of those are totally fine too.  Hey, it was worth a shot right? ;)

Well, I’m still going to go give the “Readers Edition” post another try, and hopefully this idea will work a little better.  I have 6 questions listed below for ya’ll to answer.  Just post your responses as comment to this post, and on Friday, I’ll compile them all up to see what kind of fashion is most popular amongst us all!  It should be fun, so I hope you’ll give it a try! :mrgreen:  Have Fun!

Fashion Friday Poll

1.  Flip Flops or Stilettos?

2.  Pants or Shorts? (we’ll say it’s 90 degrees outside)

3.  Leggings - Yes or No?

4.  Favorite accessory?

5.  Sundress or Little Black Dress?

6.  Mixing Patterns (i.e., stripes/florals/polka dots) - A “Do” or a “Don’t”?

Gourmet S'mores

Happy Wednesday! :)

Let me first start off first, by showing you our friends Josh & Erika’s newest addition to their family:

Meet Bronx!

Bronx was the runt of her litter, and the breeder said she was actually going to “do away with her” if nobody took her.  Can you believe that?!?  Luckily, they saved the day, and now we have this cute boxer face to look at. :)

Not only did I have cute baby Bronx to enjoy last night, but I was also able to enjoy some delicious S’MORES!  I apologize, I didn’t take a picture, but my s’more layers went a little somthin’ like this:

-graham cracker

-lightly toasted marshmallow

-thin BROWNIE slice

-graham cracker

Oh yes!  I put a brownie on my s’more!  SO much more fun than conventional chocolate. ;)  For me, I’d much rather prefer a “gourmet” s’more, which my friends will tell you I’m definitely known for.  Some of my favorite s’more fillers would have to be:

-Peanut butter cups

-Crunch bars

-Strawberry jam + strawberry slices

-(Brownies now!) :)

And then if there happens to be rice krisipes or toffee bits near me – watch out – because I’m going to roll my melted marshmallow right through ‘em!  Oh yes, I love my s’mores.  I think my friend Josh coined me perfectly last night by saying “I think you’ve got to be one of the healthiest, unhealthy people I know.” Heyyy, we’re allowed to splurge every now and then, right?  Just keep that healthy balance in check – it’s not like I’d recommend having gourmet s’mores every night.  They’re a special treat :)

This morning I woke up experiencing some pretty bad  hip pain (BOOO) so I kept the workout a little on the lighter side with my favorite 45 minute treadmill walk.  I upped almost all of the speeds to try and really get the most out of it, and I’d say it definitely did the trick.  I finished up with lots of stretching, especially with the hips.


I had an odd craving for savory this morning, so I concocted my own personal creation of Starbucks’ egg white spinach feta wrap.

I sauteed up a big handful of spinach, along with some sun-dried tomatoes, then added in 2 egg whites.  Once things were cooked up, I filled up a whole wheat LaTortilla Factory wrap, and topped it all off with some reduced-fat feta cheese.  It was actually ridiculously easy to make and totally tasty!  Starbucks ain’t got nothin’ on me! ;)

On the side, I also enjoyed some fresh pineapple.  I seriously LOVE pineapple – why do I not buy it more often??

This morning, I’m actually headed to Starbucks (ironically, right?) to meet up with a local reader, Kaitlyn.  Should be a good time – I’m looking forward to it! :)

Question for the Morning:

What would be your “gourmet s’more” creation?  Let’s see who can get creative! ;)

Snobby Joes

Tonight’s dinner came courtesy of The Fitnessista, who had an a totally yummy sounding recipe posted today that I knew I needed in my life: Snobby Joes!

I seriously love the play on the name!  Not sure why they’re snobby though – I find them to be perfectly well-mannered, and not to mention, delicious. ;)  This was actually my first experience with lentils, so I wasn’t really sure what to expect, but I was pleasantly surprised.

They were super easy to make, and inexpensive too, which is always a PLUS in my book!

Saute up some peppers, onion, & garlic

Add in your cooked lentils,chili powder, oregano, & salt

Then add in your tomato sauce + tomato paste and let everyone get acquainted. :)

After about 10 minutes, add in some maple syrup & yellow mustard…

…and you’ve got yourself some Snobby Joes! :)

(You can click here to see the full recipe – I reduced the amount of chili powder to about 1.5 tbsp because I’m a total wimp when it comes to anything remotely spicy)

Served along with some steamed green beans, yellow beans, & baby carrots (with a little fresh gahhlic.) ;)

Unfortunately, I couldn’t quite convince the hubby to join me with this meal.  He gets pretty freaked out by beans, so he decided to pass.  I told him that I was going to force him to at least try a bite, which he hesitantly obliged — after some silly & disgusted faces, the final comment was, “It has really good flavor…but I still hate beans”

Oh well…. :oops:  Maybe next time I’ll have to try to make some for him with some beef!

We were also trying to figure out if the lentils were cooked long enough?  Like I said, I’ve never cooked lentils before, so I have no idea what the texture is supposed to be like?  These were still fairly firm…so for my lentil-eating readers: What should I expect from cooked lentils??

The hubby and I are off to a bonfire in a few minutes to celebrate our friend Erika’s birthday!  I’m secretly hoping that they have some s’mores!!! :shock: ;)

Question of the Night:

What’s your favorite bonfire snack/treat?

Old Navy Love

I achieved a new goal at the gym today!  During BodyPump, I did ALL of my push ups on my TOES!  This is a HUGE accomplishment for me, as I have always been a push-up-on-the-knees kinda gal. ;)  I felt so strong with such a great sense of accomplishment!  Who knows what’s next for me?!? haha

After BodyPump, I showered up (at the gym for the first time – an interesting experience, but I’d do it again if needed) and headed over to the mall on this glorious day.  Seriously, it’s beautiful out today! 8)  I had a feeling I might get a few tummy grumbles shortly after the gym, so I packed up one of my fave Clif Z Bars.  Yep, it was thoroughly enjoyed in the dressing room. :)

Old Navy totally rocked today — I had such a hard time choosing what to get.  After making some tough decisions, I ended up with these new goodies:

Purple & White striped dress – *I REALLY want to figure out a way to make some pockets in this dress — does anyone have any idea how I could do it???

Black & Grey striped tank vest (looks a whole lot better on a body than a hanger!)

Pretty tanks in purple & melon (some people are weird about buying more than 1 of the same shirt – I say, if it fits, gimme ‘em all!) ;)

And of course, I had to stock up on the flip flops – who doesn’t love a pair of flip flops for $2.50 each?!?

Basic black, white, & grey

The best thing was, Old Navy is having 30% off the entire store through today only, either in store or online.  If ordering online, just enter ONBIG30 at checkout!  All of this only came to about $55.00, and since I had a $25.00 gift card, this girl only spent about $30.00!  Now that’s my kinda shopping! ;)

After my victory buy at Old Navy, I continued to browse around a few other stores, but kept myself from pulling out the wallet – except for one thing…

I treated myself to dessert before lunch with a delicious Caramel Light Frapuccino.  These babies are frozen heaven through a straw!  Knowing I still hadn’t eaten lunch, I kept portion control in mind by ordering a “tall”.  It totally did the trick. :)

Unfortunately, I think it may have spoiled a little of my appetite, because by the time I got home, I really wasn’t all that hungry for a big lunch.  But no worries, I’ll break things into 2 mini meals this afternoon:

Mini meal #1 – carrot sticks + grape tomatoes with hommus & some Kashi Honey Sesame crackers with a wedge of The Laughing Cow Light Swiss cheese

I had no idea that my hommus was pretty much GONE – I had to scrape the entire container down just to get this sorry looking blob.  Good thing I’m hittin’ up the grocery store later! ;)

*Here’s another reminder for this week’s Fashion Friday – Readers Edition post!

Question for the Afternoon:

What’s the best achievement that you’ve made (or goal that you’ve reached) with your workouts lately?

Sleepin' Like A Baby

Top ‘o the mornin’ to ya folks!  Boy, I am feeling wonderfully refreshed this morning — I slept like a baby last night!  Must have something to do with the fact that I was melting in the heat of the house all day, and then got to cuddle into the one air conditioned room in the house – ahhhhhhh relief! :-D

When it came to breakfast, I was having major cravings for one thing only: oatmeal!

Today’s bowl included the “uge”:

-1/3 cup oats

-1/3 cup vanilla almond milk

-1/3 cup water

-1/2 smashed banana

-golden raisins



-1 Raisin Bran VitaTop

-Scrumptious Scoop Blizzard Butter

I am totally loving the VitaTops as oatmeal toppings — they provide the texture and subtle sweetness of baked goods (which I love on my oats), but without all the extra calories & fat.  One VitaTop has only 100 calories and 1-4 grams of fat, depending on the flavor.

And the Blizzard Butter?  I’m pretty sure I’m becoming borderline obsessed…

Ha, who am I kidding??  I crossed that border a long time ago.  I would bath in this stuff if someone allowed me.

My oats were thoroughly enjoyed this morning with a sweaty glass of iced coffee. Mmmmmm. :-P

Now I’m off to go pump some iron at BodyPump & then a little trip to the mall :-D

Question for the Morning:

Have you all been thinking about your responses for this Friday’s “Fashion Friday – Readers Edition” post??? :)

Cereal for Dinner: Oh-So-Good

Tonight’s dinner was not at all pre-planned, since the hubby was supposed to be working late and we’re supposed to be having a softball game at 7:45.  Well, the hubby did not have to work late (which was certainly ok!), and it looks like we have some rain on the way, which might mean a canceled game (which would also be ok since it is HOT out).  I needed something easy, and the box of cereal I bought earlier today has seriously been calling my name all afternoon!

So cereal for dinner it was!

1/2 Quaker Oatmeal Squares (best cereal EVER) & 1/2 Kashi Heart to Heart with some vanilla almond milk & fresh strawberries

Since the oatmeal squares are a little higher in calories, I like to incorporate another cereal with them that is a little lighter — that way, you get a lighter calorie bowl, and more “bang for your buck”, while still enjoying the taste of the good stuff.  You can’t beat it! :)

While I was prepping my cereal bowl, I got a strong hankering for some Blizzard Butter…so addicted to this stuff!  So I toasted a piece of rye bread & topped it with the white chocolate yumminess & a little red raspberry jam, just for fun. :-P

I am totally LOVING my new placemats – they make taking my pictures so much more FUN!

In case you missed it earlier, be sure to check out the upcoming “Fashion Friday – Readers Edition!”

I’m really looking forward to hearing (and possibly seeing!) all of your responses!

Question for the Night:

What’s your favorite cereal??

Well, there’s no secret on mine!  Quaker Oatmeal Squares are DA BOMB – but my Kashi Heart to Heart & Kashi Go Lean come in a very close 2nd. :)

Honey Poppyseed Dressing

Ok, let’s zip right through the mid-morning snack, because I have some exciting food & news to share!

Courtney’s Berry-Tastic Poppyseed & Chicken Salad

Mid-morning, I cured my tummy grumbles with a BlueBran VitaTop, which I heated in the microwave for about 25 seconds.  It was scrumptious!  Cody was obviously too sleepy to attempt to eat this one — I think he’s still tired out from his overnight adventure from this weekend! ;)

While out running some errands, I also grabbed a little iced coffee pick-me-up. (Still no Splenda – HOLLA!) :-D


Salads are delicious, and I could probably eat them everyday if it wasn’t for the mere fact that I hate making them.  Normally, my favorite saying is “salads always taste better when someone else makes them” — but that is sooooo not the case today!

First things first, I love fruit in my salads.  Adding the sweet, sometimes tart flavors to an otherwise crisp, veggie-filled bowl totally does it for me.  For some people, such as the hubby, the thought of any fruit in salad (even dried cranberries – he’s nuts) makes him gag.  Well not me!

One of my favorite restaurants, Panera Bread, carries a seasonal Strawberry Poppyseed & Chicken Salad that totally rocks my socks, and I decided it was time to try a little re-creation at home.  (It is sweltering hot in this house right now, so anything remotely warm was out of the question, and just thinking about a cool, crisp, sweet salad literally had my mouth salivating.)

Courtney’s Berry-Tastic Poppyseed & Chicken Salad

Using some romaine as a base, I filled my salad with fresh Farmers Market strawberries, blueberries, pineapple, grilled chicken, crumbled reduced-fat feta cheese, & a tbsp of homemade honey poppyseed dressing.  The poppyseed dressing was super simple and easy to make:

Honey Poppyseed Dressing

1/4 cup vegetable or canola oil

1/6 cup honey

1/8 cup lemon juice

1 tbsp poppyseeds

Mix all together – shake well before using.

On the side, I also enjoyed some Livin’ Spoonful crackers.

All on my new placemats I picked up today!  They were only $1.00 each and I was really in need of something a little more summery! 8)

Lunch was an all-star today – hands down!

Fashion Friday – How Are YOU a Fashionista??

So as I mentioned earlier, I had some thoughts this morning while running and I’m really excited to see where this will go…

As you know, every Friday is “Fashion Friday” here at STSL, and my topics have ranged anywhere from wardrobe basics, to color matching, to skin care.  While it’s super fun to share all of my different ideas of fashion and beauty, I think it would be every MORE FUN to see what all of YOU think!

So, here’s the big idea:

We are ALL a fashionista in some form or another.  There is no mold to try to fill, no boundaries, no limits.  The only common factor that I have here is that being a fashionista means you are completely comfortable, confident, and feeling like your most fabulous self.

So perhaps you feel most fashionista-like when you’re wearing that sexy LBD out on date night?  Maybe it’s when you’re sporting your fave pair of heels.  Maybe it’s when you’re in your favorite pair of jeans & a t-shirt, or quite possibly, your comfy pj’s while lounging on the couch?  Could it be when you put on that new lip gloss you just bought?  Or maybe it’s showing off those strong, toned arms in your fave workout gear…

Whatever it is, I want to know – How Are YOU A Fashionista????

So here’s how it will work:

  1. Think about what it is that makes you feel like the most fabulous fashionista that you are. :)
  2. Email me @ with your answer.
  3. If you want, feel free to send along a picture of yourself or whatever it is you’d like to share, along with your response.
  4. On Friday, I will devote my “Fashion Friday” post to all of you fabulous fashionistas out there, with a compilation of everyone’s answers.  Then, we can all see what makes us all our most fabulous selves!

There is absolutely NO judging here, so don’t be afraid to submit your answer!  We are all strong, confident, beautiful women here, and we should proud of who we are!

The deadline to submit your response will be Thursday, July 1st at 2pm.

I’m really hoping that we’ll get some takers on here, so spread the word!!  This could end up being one really fun post!

Love  you all! :-D

Wine Glasses at Breakfast?

Happy Monday!  Hope you’ve all gotten your morning off to a great start…I know I did!  I just finished a nice interval run on the treadmill, covering just shy of 4 miles.  It was a blisteringly hot glorious run. ;)  I’m sure you can imagine, with the amount of humidity that we have in the air right now, that by the time I was done, I pretty much looked like I had just gone for a swim – yowzas! :shock:  So breakfast had 2 requirements:

- no baking/cooking involved

-must be COLD

Now, Monday’s usually require a little “somethin’ extra”, right?  Something to get your week started off on the right foot?  Well, I figured, why not start my morning off with a little breakfast out of a wine glass! ;)

It was a breakfast fit for royalty (or even for a hot sweaty Courtney, either way, it works)!  I used Julie’s breakfast parfait from last week for my inspiration, and it surely did not disappoint.  I mixed up a batch of strawberry banana “soft serve” (which I’m now addicted to and need to go freeze more bananas…), and layered it up with a Chobani honey flavored yogurt, and some fresh blueberries.

To make the “soft serve”, all I did was put 1 frozen, sliced banana into the blender with a handful of frozen strawberries, and some cold water.  I let it mingle for a while to get to my desired consistency, and voila - soft serve!  I’m definitely going to be experimenting with some more flavors soon. :)

Looks like I need to work on my layering skills…I think next time I’ll use a white wine glass instead of red – they’re too fat to layer nicely! ;)

My parfait was absolutely perfect – cool, creamy, and not to mention, kinda fancy! :-D

So while I was running this morning, I got an idea for a future “Fashion Friday” post that I think you guys might enjoy!  I’m really excited about it, but I still have to work out some of the details, so make sure to check back later today and I’ll give ya’ll the scoop!

Random Question for the Morning:

What’s your favorite fruit?

This one’s hard for me because I love ALL fruit – but if I could only pick one, I’d probably say bananas, just because they’re so versatile and can be used in so much (like SOFT SERVE!) ;)

Cupcakes & Cheesy Toast

Howdy! I hope you’ve all been enjoying your Sunday!

Earlier today, I had some baking to do for a picnic up at Saratoga; unfortunately, I didn’t get the notice from the hubby until 10:30 last night, so my creative juices didn’t have much time to start flowin’! ;)  I stuck with an old standby, quick and easy: Soda Cupcakes!

I used a box of Devil’s Food cake mix + 1- 12oz. can diet Vanilla Pepsi to create a batch of scrumptious mini cupcakes.  To add a little “pizazz” to some of the goodies, I used some of these:

Hershey’s HUGS :-P

Once the cupcakes were taken out of the oven, I immediately inserted an upside-down hug into about 1/3 of the cupcakes.

I totally FORGOT to take a finished photograph, but luckily, we were able to take a few leftovers back home with us, so here’s some that endured the car ride home – a little messy, sorry! :oops:

I almost always make my own almond buttercream frosting because I think it’s a gazillion times better than canned; unfortunately, I ran out of powdered sugar and only had enough homemade frosting for about 20 of these little guys. BUMMER.  Luckily, Kate was coming to pick me up and she was able to stop and pick up a can of cream cheese frosting to finish ‘em off. (THANKS KATE!)  They were all still pretty yummy — I snacked on 2 of these during the day (1 with homemade frosting, 1 with canned)

*Sad news – I ran out of the house this afternoon with my lonely camera sitting on the kitchen table, so no photos for most of the day. Boooooo…  But I can tell you there was a yummy spread of food, and I enjoyed a plate of a little pasta salad, fresh fruit, and a small piece of a roast beef sub from a sub platter.  It was all very tasty!

Fast forward to this evening – I started to get a few tummy grumbles, but I really didn’t want anything too involved.  I incorporated some of  my favorite ingredients to make some open faced cheesy-tomato-pesto toast.

I toasted 2 slices of my rye bread under the broiler, and topped them with a smear of The Laughing Cow Light Swiss cheese, a spread of pesto, tomato slices, a drizzle of balsamic vinegar, and a sprinkle of reduced-fat mozzarella cheese.  Then I popped them back under the broiler for about 3-4 more minutes to get the cheese all melty.  They were delicious and exactly what I was craving! :)

A Couple Updates…

  1. Yesterday, I added a new “Q & A” page to the blog, so if you haven’t checked it out, feel free! ;)  You know you can always ask questions anytime – just email me or drop me a comment.  I love answering all your questions!
  2. I realized I haven’t really shared many of my Examiner posts with you guys lately, so here’s my most recent, to catch you guys up to speed! Check ‘em out…you know you wanna. ;)

What was the best part of your weekend??

Mine would have to be getting all of our new landscaping finished! :)