Strawberry Cupcakes Make Sweet Memories


I love fresh strawberries.  The natural growing season is April to June; pretty short, although with modern growing practices, we can enjoy good berries practically year round.  At the first hint of spring, I am ready for that burst of unmistakable flavor that brings me so much joy.

ATOP has launched A Taste of Paris Goes PINK, turning the site PINK for the month of March in celebration of our all-female culinary trip to Paris in April 2019.

My Strawberry Cupcakes are delightfully pink and simple to make.

strawberry cupcake

Most of you know I am a recent empty nester.

Thinking back on my fondest memories of school days with my kids under foot, cupcakes come to mind.  I remember the children running in the door, their shrieks of joy and those tiny faces filled with excitement because I had baked something yummy. These memories are priceless and a reminder that the most precious things in life, are often the simplest.

I know we live in a busy world and sometimes struggle to keep up.   My suggestion to stop and bake cupcakes is not meant to make you feel guilty but to give you permission to prioritize your day for the sweet faces than mean the most to you.

You will find my no-fail Strawberry Cupcake recipe below; it yields a beautiful batch in the prettiest shade of PINK.  The recipe starts with a boxed mix and calls for frozen berries making it easy to whip up, start to finish in less than 1 hour. I have also added a couple of my favorite time saving kitchen baking utensils.

A scoop for dishing batter, mess free, and…

OXO Cookie Scoop

… one batch cupcake pans that allow you to maneuver and clean up only one pan instead of two. There are two sizes, 24 count for standard cupcakes and 48 count for mini cupcakes.

Wilton 24 Count Pan
Wilton 48 Count Pan

Time goes so fast and in the blink of an eye everything changes.  If you don’t have an hour; order cookies online or swing by your local bakery.  Put the treats on a pretty plate and you will get the same results, a shriek of joy as your loved ones come through the door.

I don’t know about you but I live for those moments!

strawberry cupcake

Strawberry Cupcake



1 white cake mix

1 cup frozen strawberries thawed

1/3 cup oil

4 egg whites
½ cup sour cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix all ingredients in a bowl with an electric mixer.  Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. Pour batter into 24 cupcake tins lined with paper wrappers and bake for 19-23 minutes. Let cupcakes cool completely before frosting with strawberry buttercream frosting.

Strawberry Buttercream Frosting

1½ sticks butter, at room temperature

6 cups of powdered sugar

1 cup frozen strawberries thawed

1-6 tablespoons cream

In a medium bowl, mix butter and fruit with an electric mixer until combined.  Add sugar slowly whipping to incorporate.  If frosting gets to stiff, add cream a little at a time until desired consistency is achieved.  Continue to beat frosting for a few minutes to make it fluffy.



Want to win this set of PINK kitchen utensils?  Send me email addresses for friends that might enjoy my blog, cooking classes or a culinary trip to France!  Each email address is an entry for your friend and for YOU! Winner will be announced on March 31!


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Pink Grapefruit Martini

It’s Friday!

And I’m keeping the pink theme going through the end of March to celebrate the launch of A Taste of Paris Goes PINK, an all-female culinary trip to Paris in April 2019. Grab your daughter, mother, and friends to join me for this boutique culinary excursion of a lifetime. Seats are going FAST!

Since it’s the weekend, how about an aperitif, as the French would say!

pomegranite martini

Sometimes after a long week, I just need to chill with a cocktail and some girlfriends.

My no -fuss Grapefruit Martini – a juicy balance of sweet and tart – is the ideal cocktail to serve friends or just bring the week to a close.

It’s not too sweet so if one drink won’t flip your mood, no worries, you can have a few.

You know they say, we taste with our eyes first, and this pretty pink martini would look fetching served in Luigi Bormioli retro chic glasses.

Are you planning a party for lots of BFF’s? The more the merrier, I always say!

Be sure you are stocked up on wine charms to help everyone keep their drinks straight. Below are a few of my on-trend favs. The jeweled bees by Joanna Buchanan have been buzzing around in my head since I first laid eyes on them.  I am not sure how long I can resist temptation!

Tassel Wine Charms 

Tassel Wine Charms March 9
Fred Wine Lines

Wine Charms March 9

Bug Wine Charms

Bug Wine Charms March 9

Grapefruit Martini

2 parts grapefruit vodka

2 parts Ruby Red Grapefruit juice

½ part triple sec

Grapefruit twist for garnish

Shake all ingredients with ice and serve in a chilled glass with a grapefruit twist.


As always; drink responsibly and do not drive!

Enjoy and

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A Taste of Paris Goes PINK!


Registration for ATOP Travel is now OPEN. In April 2019, I am hosting a very special event: A Taste of Paris Goes PINK. This all-female trip is jam-packed with amazing offerings.

What a perfect time to travel with your mother, daughter, sister, or best friends, and ME to The City of Light. You will be treated like royalty at the Ecole Ritz Escoffier, the most luxurious address in the city of Paris. You will enjoy a custom-crafted class on classic French desserts at the famed Lenôtre. You will venture into a 400-year-old cave for a cheese and wine pairing class, igniting your palate and your spirit. You will also be treated to a Champagne tasting event like no other, complete with Champagne Sabering!

To celebrate this extraordinary one-time offer, my website will go PINK for the entire month of March!

Get ready for PINK- fun, food, and fashion just in time for spring.

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Just a few of the precious ladies that have joined me for ATOP trips!








Chocolate Lava Cake for your Valentine!


Chocolate Lava Cake is the PERFECT Valentine dessert.  Nothing melts the heart quite like the molten center of a rich chocolate cake! And a bonus, this recipe is simple to make, no mixer required. Just stir up the easy batter and fill your ramekins. Remember to chill the prepared cakes before baking as an insurance policy for those luscious liquid centers!


Chocolate Lava Cake

1½ sticks butter

1 cup dark chocolate chips

1 cup brown sugar, lightly packed

6 eggs

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour

Butter 6 (6 ounce) ramekins well and dust with flour.  Melt chocolate and butter in the microwave in 30 second intervals stirring in between each heating and let cool.  In a bowl combine flour and sugar.  Add eggs to the chocolate mixture one at a time and incorporate well before adding flour and sugar.  Mix to combine.  Using a kitchen scoop, spoon batter into prepared dishes and place the dishes into the refrigerator to rest 1-2 hours or for up to 3 days.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Bake for 10 minutes.  Let rest 3 minutes before inverting dish onto a plate, dust with powdered sugar if desired.

For fabulous recipes and a great time, join me for an upcoming cooking class, Click Here for a full schedule of events.


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Start your day with Chocolate!!


I was wandering around our downtown square one day a few weeks ago and stopped into Ettiene Market.  I had a nice chat with Coryanne Ettiene, the owner and all around fabulous kitchen expert.  She showed me some of her delicious spice blends and gave me this fantastic idea to make Chocolate Flakes for adding to any hot beverage.

Start your day with the indulgence of Chocolate? How French!

I came home and made an irresistible batch and thought you might enjoy seeing how to make some for yourself!

CA 2

There are several spice blends available at Ettiene’s but this one really spoke to me.  It has been only a few months since I spent some time with my A Taste of Paris group in the precious town of Reims, France.

Reims N.39 has a honey, anise and cinnamon flavor making you think of warm cookies right out of the oven.


To get started; melt dark chocolate(I use Ghirardelli 60% cacao) in the microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring in between each time.  Always use the least amount of heat necessary to melt the chocolate.

Pour the melted chocolate out onto a parchment lined baking sheet.


Spread the chocolate into a very thin layer.


Using a fine mesh sieve, sprinkle a nice coating or Reims N.39 on the surface of the chocolate.


Place the baking sheet into the refrigerator until chocolate hardens, about 1 hour, before breaking it into pieces.


I put the chocolate flakes in a jar and when I have hot tea, I add a few flakes to take me right back to Reims.  I am already dreaming of my next visit!

Make some yourself, and start your day or have an afternoon pick-me-up, with decadent chocolate goodness.


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Pink Grapefruit Martini

It’s Friday, are you as ready for a cocktail as I am?

I am keeping the pink theme going through the end of March to celebrate the launch of A Taste of Paris Goes PINK, an all-female culinary trip to Paris in April 2019. Grab your daughter, mother, and friends to join me for this boutique culinary excursion of a lifetime.

pomegranite martini

My Grapefruit Martini – a juicy balance of sweet and tart – is the perfect cocktail to host some friends or just bring your week to a close.

Looking for a set of martini glasses? How about these Luigi Bormioli glasses, glasses? They have such a cool, retro vibe.

I love having a few girls over for a cocktail or two. When I do, wine charms are invaluable! Here are three on-trend sets you might enjoy.

Tassel Wine Charms 

Tassel Wine Charms March 9
Fred Wine Lines

Wine Charms March 9

Bug Wine Charms

Bug Wine Charms March 9

Grapefruit Martini

2 parts grapefruit vodka

2 parts Ruby Red Grapefruit juice

½ part triple sec

Grapefruit twist for garnish

Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into a chilled martini glass.  Garnish with a grapefruit twist.


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Chocolate Goodies on FOX 4 Thursday, February 8th

I am deeply saddened by the news of the fallen Richardson police officer.  My heart goes out to his family and the city of Richardson.  The chocolate segment has been cancelled.


Tune in to FOX 4, Good Day on Thursday morning, February 8th around 8:30 for Chocolate Goodies.  I’ll be cooking LIVE with the #1 morning crew in Dallas!

Chocolate Truffles are one of my favorite things to make.  People are usually surprised at just how simple it is to create these decadent morsels of yumminess.  I’ll also give you the secrets to the perfect Chocolate Dipped Strawberries.

chocolate dipped strawberries

Here is a sneak Peek at the recipes!

truffels 3

Spiced Rum Truffles


1 cup heavy cream

3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

2 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 tablespoon spiced rum


½ cup coco

½ cup powdered sugar

Heat heavy cream on medium heat in a double boiler until cream is simmering.  Add rum and vanilla and remove from heat.  Add chocolate and butter, stir until completely smooth.  This may take a few minutes.  Refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight.  To finish truffles, mix powdered sugar and coco in plate.  Using a spoon and your hands, scoop a walnut sized amount of chocolate and roll into a ball. Drop the truffles into the coco mixture, roll to coat the surface.   Store the truffles in the refrigerator until ready to eat and for up to 2 weeks.

chco bark 17.JPG
This French Bark features dried apricots, dried cherries and pistachios

French Chocolate Bark

1 12 ounce package of 60% cocoa chocolate chips, I use Ghirardelli

½ cup dried cherries, coarsely chopped

½ cup raw pistachios, coarsely chopped

½ cup coconut

Line a baking sheet with parchment or waxed paper.  Melt the chocolate in a microwave safe bowl in 30 second intervals stirring well in between, each time.  Spread melted chocolate on parchment paper creating a thin sheet of chocolate. Sprinkle with fruit and nuts and slightly press into the chocolate.  Chill the candy in the refrigerator until set and break into pieces. Keep bark refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.

Chocolate Dipped Strawberries

1 pint fresh strawberries

1 ½ cups 60% cocoa chocolate chips, I use Ghirardelli’s

¼ cup white chocolate chips

Wash and thoroughly dry berries.  Refrigerate berries so that they are cold when dipping.  Melt dark chocolate in the microwave in 30-second intervals stirring each time until chocolate is smooth. Dip chilled berries into chocolate and place them on waxed or parchment paper.  When chocolate is set, melt white chocolate in the same manner as dark.  Pour melted white chocolate into a zip top bag.  Clip one tip with scissors making a small whole in the bag and drizzle strawberries with white chocolate.  Serve within 4 hours.

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Irresistible Chocolate Loaves, an All-Time Favorite


February is the month for chocolate.  Lauren Palmer at The Art of Living Beautifully asked me to assemble a list of the very best chocolate bites McKinney has to offer.

As you know, some projects are more difficult that others and this truly was a labor of love.

If you know me at all you are aware that chocolate is my all-time favorite food.  It is the only food I eat everyday without fail.  I prefer dark chocolate that is loaded with antioxidants so no need to resist temptation.

Choco cake1

Nothing beats a homemade treat right out of the oven especially when it is my dark Chocolate Loaves smothered in Chocolate Ganache. Naturally this straightforward recipe made the list.

February is here so turn on that oven and bake up a couple of Chocolate Loaves  for the ones you love.  You will be so glad you did!

Oh, and for the full list of my favorite chocolate bites, subscribe NOW to TAOLB, it will be published there tomorrow!


Chocolate Cake Loaves with Ganache Glaze

2 cups flour

2 cups sugar

1/3 cup extra dark coco

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

1 cup butter

1 cup water

2 eggs

½ cup buttermilk

1 ½ teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare 2 (8-9 inch) loaf pans by first spraying with non-stick cooking spray and then dusting with flour.  In large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda and salt and set aside.  In a small sauce pan set to medium, heat water, coco and butter until the butter melts.  Add warmed liquid to flour mixture and stir till combined.    Add first buttermilk then eggs and stir well.  Pour batter into loaf pans and cook for 28-32 minutes.  Pour ganache over cooled cakes. 

Chocolate Ganache

1 cup heavy cream

2 cups semi sweet or dark chocolate chips

1 teaspoon vanilla or Tuaca

Heat cream in a heavy bottom saucepan over medium heat until it begins to simmer.  Remove pan from heat, add chocolate and vanilla and stir well.  Pour ganache over cooled cakes.

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Cooking Class Fun!


What fun we had making Soups Stews and Breads last week!

Teaching cooking classes is one of the true joys of my life.  This is a behind the scenes look at the fun we had.


Taking a cooking class is a great way to meet new friends, learn something and taste lots of yummy food! Learning new skills can be challenging.


Trying equipment for the first time is fun!


But the best part is enjoying the results!


Hope to see you in a cooking class soon!  Space is limited, register TODAY by email to or click the links below.

Truffles and Dipped Chocolate Treats Thursday, February 8th Fox 4

Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate-Thursday, February 8th 6:30-9:00 2 SEATS OPEN


Croissant Workshop- Friday, February 23rd 11:00-2:30 3 SEATS OPEN

Los Cabos and Tequila- Thursday, March 22nd 6:30-8:30. 

Total Wine in Allen and Lorie Fangio bring you Canapes and Wine Tasting Thursday, March 29th 6:30-8:30 Mark your calendars.  More details soon!

French Provencal Cooking Workshop- April 5th-6Th from 10:30-2:30 3 SEATS OPEN

Classic French Pastries Workshop- Friday, May 4th 11:00-2:30

French Macarons- Thursday, May 10th 6:30-9:00

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What are Crossover Foods?


I’ve had so much fun getting ready for January classes.  No one likes decadent French foods more than I do but getting back to the basics of healthful eating after the holidays is key to good health. Everyone is ready for a body reset including me!

To prepare for my upcoming Wellness and Anti Aging classes, I made lists of the very best foods to accomplish these goals and then I created recipes loaded with them.

There are several foods I like to call, crossovers, meaning they made both wellness and anti-aging list.  Cruciferous vegetables are one of these crossover foods. This amazing subset of veggies pack a real dietary punch.

Cruciferous vegetables are the crunchy ones, like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale and brussel sprouts.  These gems have cancer fighting compounds and reduce inflammation in the body. These foods also give you that satisfying crunch and they really fill you up.

To help you load your plates with these amazing vegetable, see several of my favorite side dishes below.  Confetti slaw is so colorful, it looks gorgeous alongside any lean protein and Roasted Broccoli with shallots and just a bit of parmesan will bring even the pickiest eater to the table.

There is still time to register for both of the classes but hurry, days away! Wellness in the Kitchen AND Foods the Secret Fountain of Youth

Hope to see you soon!

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Confetti Veggie Slaw

2 carrots shredded

1 green bell pepper cut in a julienne

1 green bell pepper cut in a julienne

2 cups of shredded purple cabbage

2 green onions finely diced


Juice and zest of 1 lemon

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon honey

2 tablespoons olive oil

To prepare dressing, whisk together ingredients in a small bowl.  Assemble slaw in serving bowl by layering ingredients.  Add dressing, toss to coat.  Let salad stand for a few minutes before serving.


Roasted Broccoli with Caramelized Shallots

1 head for broccoli

2 tablespoons olive oil divided

Salt and pepper

2 shallots sliced very thin

1 tablespoon grated parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Trim broccoli florets and place on roasting pan.  Drizzle broccoli with half the olive oil, add salt and pepper and toss with hands to coat.  Place baking sheet in oven for 8-12 minutes until broccoli has reached desired tenderness.   Meanwhile, cook the shallots in a chef’s pan using remaining olive oil until they caramelize, 2-3 minutes.  Toss broccoli with shallots and parmesan cheese and serve.