Three Years Blogging

Today is three years since I started blogging! What a whirlwind it’s been. So many new experiences and opportunities have opened up as a result, and I’ve met people that I otherwise probably would have never met. I’m looking forward to more blogging and have a word in mind going forward. A theme for year three. The word is Collaboration.

There will be more guest posts and interviews. Who knows what else? I like pleasant surprises. Do you have something in mind? Let me know.

I’m putting this out to the Universe. From what I see, when people do what they love, and are open to opportunity, it works. If you work hard, play, hope, and believe, I think you can start to create the life that you want. That’s what I’m hoping for.

In keeping with the theme of collaboration, let’s get things started right now. I was recently contacted by and had the opportunity to speak with Holley Johnson.

Holley lives in Birmingham, Alabama, and is the Food Editor of, the Time Inc. Lifestyle Group’s food and recipes portal, which contains more than 33,000 professionally, kitchen-tested recipes.

The recipes are drawn from the company’s many magazines including Real Simple, Cooking Light, Southern Living, and Health.

{Photo of Holley Johnson courtesy of}

While copying the link for Health, I just randomly noticed a wonderful article on how to progress from walking to running in 8 weeks. I’m not sure that I’ll do it, but I have been thinking about it.

These are all great magazines and websites filled with a lot of information. Holley is responsible for feature stories on, the site’s “Healthy Diet” channel, and hosting Dinner Tonight, a daily video series featuring meals prepared in 45 minutes or less.

Previously Holley was Associate Food Editor for Southern Living magazine, where she wrote the “Healthy Food” column and the “Healthy Living” special section. Holley is a Registered Dietitian and has appeared on many national and local broadcasts including CBS’s The Early Show and NBC’s Today Show.

Now for sometime, I’ve been wondering about when I adapt a recipe. Am I really making it healthier than it was before? I’ve assumed that I was, but one really should not assume. So Holley gave me the opportunity to find out by doing a “before and after” nutritional comparison of the recipes.

I adapted Magnolia’s Vanilla Cupcakes and Magnolias Vanilla Buttercream Frosting recipes into something quite different. See below.

Banana Cupcakes (makes 12 small cupcakes)
½ cup Smart Balance Buttery Spread (softened)
1/3 cup mashed banana (about 1 medium banana)
1/3 cup Splenda
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
½ tsp. vanilla extract
½ cup vanilla rice milk
½ tsp. salt
1 ¼ tsp. baking powder
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

Set oven to 350 degrees. Place cupcake liners in cupcake pan.

In medium bowl, combine mashed banana, Smart Balance, sugar, and Splenda. Stir well. Add eggs, vanilla extract, and rice milk to the mixture and stir well. Add salt, baking powder, and flour. Stir until well combined. Pour mixture into cupcake pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Test with toothpick or fork for readiness. Cupcakes will not brown. Cool for about 15 minutes then frost.

Chocolate Hazelnut Kahlua Frosting
1/8 cup Smart Balance Buttery Spread (melted)
1 cup powdered sugar
2 T Hazelnut Kahlua
2 T cocoa powder
pinch of salt

In small bowl, combine Smart Balance and powdered sugar. Add salt and cocoa powder. Stir until combined. Add Kahlua and stir until smooth and shiny.

I ended up making these cupcakes twice, because the first time the texture was a bit off. The second time they were really good. I must admit that after the second day, the frosting started dripping a bit, which was odd and I felt awful about it. When I spoke to Holley, she was very kind and said “Don’t beat yourself up too much over it. That happens to cupcakes that you buy too.”

I didn't feel as badly afterwards, but maybe you shouldn't let them last for more than two days. Which should be quite easy, because they're very easy to gobble up quickly.

Holley and I had a great conversation talking about baking and experimenting with foods. She hadn’t used Smart Balance for baking and was curious about my use of rice milk instead of regular milk. The best news of all was the result of her before and after comparison. Holley told me that for each cupcake, I had managed to reduce the amount of calories and fat by more than half.

The recipes were analyzed using Food Processor Nutrition Analysis Software version 8.9.0. The Magnolia Cupcake with Buttercream Frosting was 409 calories and 16.5g of fat. My banana cupcake with frosting was 208 calories and 8.6g of fat. In no way do I mean to disparage Magnolia Bakery or their cupcakes. Someday I hope to get to one of their bakeries and down a few. But I did enjoy adapting this recipe and eating the cupcakes. Hopefully you’ll try my recipe and enjoy them too.

In keeping with my general policy of full disclosure, I did not receive any money for this post, but the nice people at have said that they will send me some goodies. I did not ask for anything, nor was anything required for me to write this post. However, I am looking forward to whatever they send. And thank you for your help Holley!

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FH said…
Happy happy 3 yrs of blog anniversary! My 3rd yr is coming up too I think. keep blogging! :)

Love the frosting, what a great combination.
Suldog said…
Happy Blogiversary, Anali!

(I hope you get really good goodies!)
Josephine said…
happy three year anniversary!
SE'LAH... said…
All wonderful news.

Happy Blogiversary!!! And what an honour to be contacted by

I am so going to try that Kahlua frosting. sounds sooo yummy.

Thanks for sharing.
Esme said…
Happy 3rd Birthday.

xoxo Esme
Happy anniversary! Three years is a LOT of writing, photography, etc., Anali--Bravo! :-)

I like your collaboration theme and putting it out there to the universe--I so agree with that approach.

Bravo on reducing the calories and fat in the cupcakes with your version. Of course, you know me, I want to convert the recipe to gfe and dfe ;-) . I won't use Splenda though, so mine might have more calories. And, I feel like I've been living in a cave, but I didn't know hazelnut Kahlua existed-yummm.

K. said…
Congrats, Lisa! What a wonderful should be very proud of your lovely blog...=)
Wishing you all the best...
vicki archer said…
Conblogulations - three years is very fabulous, xv.
Nance said…
Happy 3, Anali! This summer, my blog will actually turn FOUR! It goes fast, doesn't it? Fun stuff really always does. I love the combo of banana and chocolate, too, ever since I tried chocolate covered frozen bananas on a stick at the zoo one time. Love those.
Enyasi said…
Now you are 3!!!! Congrats... I am in awe of all you have achieved... and of course drooling over the frosting.
Lori said…
Belated congratulations, Anali! Thanks for following my blog. I was intrigued with yours right at the title. :)
Lisa Johnson said…
asha - The frosting is yum! Well, long gone now, but it was.

suldog - I've been getting some very nice goodies! I'll be blogging more about them soon.

josephine - Thank you!

se'lah - I agree! I was so happy to hear from them!

esme - Thanks!
Lisa Johnson said…
shirley - I didn't know that the Hazelnut flavor existed until recently myself. Every once in a while I go to the liquor store and get a bunch of mini liquor bottles to use in baking.

The store keeper made some snide comments about me drinking one a day. I explained that they were for baking, but I don't think he believed me and thought I had a serious alcohol problem. Anyway, it's a great way to test out some different flavors without spending too much money.

kirti - Thank you so much and congrats on your milestones too!

vicki archer - Love that new word! And thank you for the visit and kind sentiments.
Happy Blog B-Day. Keep up the delicious work.
Lisa Johnson said…
nance - Thank you! Four years! Wow! You were one of the blogging pioneers! And that frozen banana with chocolate is making me want ice cream now...

enyasi - Thank you so much! You inspired me to try it out!

lori - Welcome! Thank you! I'm so glad that I learned about your blog and the Writers Worth Day event. I have to work on a post.

endangered coffe - Thank you so much! More treats soon.
T. said…
Happy (Belated) Blogiversary! I have been submerged in frequent call and middle school show preparations, but I have been thinking of you and sending you warm vibes this week!
Lisa Johnson said…
t - Thank you! : )

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