Tuscan Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins (healthy too!)

¬† These succulent, Tuscan lemon poppy seed muffins are made with fresh, fragrant lemons. I think that lemons and poppy seeds were a match made in heaven. The rich olive oil really adds a savory, Tuscan flavor to these delicious muffins. They are pretty healthy too, at only about 180 calories per muffin, they do pretty well compared to their buttery counterparts, without sacrificing any of the richness or flavor that we expect from a muffin. They are perfect for tea time — just sweet enough, and completely satisfying without all the extra calories. Plus, after baking up a batch of these, my entire house smelled deliciously lemony and sunny. Did I mention it was 70 degrees today? It’s the middle of February! I had so much fun wearing a bouncy skirt and boots to school today. ūüôā With Love, Erica




  • 1 3/4 cupsall-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cupGreek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • zest of one lemon
  • juice of one lemon
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons poppy seeds
  • Cooking spray (I used Olive Oil flavored Pam)
  • 2 tablespoons turbinado sugar


  1. 1. Preheat oven to 375¬į.
  2. 2. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour and next 3 ingredients (through salt); make a well in center. Combine yogurt and next 5 ingredients (through poppy seeds). Add ricotta mixture to flour mixture, stirring just until moist.
  3. 3. Place 12 muffin-cup liners in muffin cups; coat with cooking spray. Divide batter among muffin cups. Sprinkle turbinado sugar over batter. Bake at 375¬į for 16 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes in pan on a wire rack.

texas sheet cake

Hello again!!!

So it’s been exactly one year since my last blog post. ¬†During my year-long
hiatus, I…
1) got glasses
2) worked at a boathouse
3) graduated high school
4) went to college
5) ate a lot of store-bought frosting

I’ve left my cozy kitchen back home for a single dorm room out here in the
Californian desert.

Needless to say, I’ve been here for six weeks and I have already taken over the dormitory kitchen at the end of my hall, bought four pounds of butter, and the staff at the local Trader Joe’s already knows me by name.

Truth is, baking is a lot harder in college than it was at home. I can’t just walk
down the street to Safeway to buy 10 boxes of Oreos at the drop of a hat, I haven’t
eaten off a plate that’s not paper in six weeks, and most tragically, I don’t
have my KitchenAid mixer here.

Regardless, I’ve realized that baking and cooking are such fundamental parts of my life, and I am going to do my best to adapt this blog to college living. I will scope
out ingredients that I can find at the dining hall, and provide recipes and
inspiration for other college students who want to cook.

Thank you to everyone who has stayed with me during this long hiatus. Now, this is no longer a blog about a girl baking her way through high school, it’s a blog
about a girl baking her way through college (!?!). I am excited to see what this
new chapter in my life brings, and I couldn’t think of a better way to
celebrate than with a little bit of sheet cake.



Texas Sheet Cake

Keyword cake, chocolate, sheet
Servings 12



  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 heaping tablespoons cocoa
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp vanilla


  • 1 stick butter
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 pound powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp instant coffee granules


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Line a 9x9 inch square pan with parchment paper.
  2. Mix together the flour, sugar and salt.
  3. Melt the butter in a saucepan.  Stir in cocoa.  Add water and allow the mixture to boil for 30 seconds.  Remove from heat and add flour mixture.  Stir.
  4. Add the milk, egg, baking soda, and vanilla and stir quickly into the butter/chocolate mixture.  Pour into the pan and bake for 20 minutes.
  5. While the cake is baking, prepare the frosting.  Melt the butter in a pan.  Add the cocoa and coffee granules.  Remove from heat.  Add the milk, vanilla, and powdered sugar.  Stir well, and then pour over warm cake.
  6. Allow to cool (if you can wait that long), and then cut into squares.

© Cannella Vita. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without my permission/linking back to Cannella Vita. If you want to republish this recipe, please link back to this post.

flaky mooncake

The Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival was last Monday. ¬†It’s sort of like the Chinese version of Thanksgiving — a time for reflection, giving, and family.

I celebrated in my own way by reflecting a little on this blog of mine.

Sometimes, I click the”older posts” arrow on my blog a bunch of times until I get back to freshman year.

Sometimes, I have this urge to delete all of my old blog posts and start fresh, so I can have one of those pristine, consistent blogs like Smitten Kitchen or Martha Stewart.
I want to erase all of the times that 14-year-old me gave embarrassing Instagram “lifestyle” posts, the times my pictures were taken with a Pentax point-and-shoot, the times I listed “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter” as an ingredient, the times my font size was all wonky and I tried to sound like the Barefoot Contessa (and failed).
… but then there’d be nothing. ¬†So I stop and restrain myself from pressing delete.
As tantalizing as the idea of a fresh start is, I don’t think I’ll ever do it. ¬† There’s something endearing about those old recipes, and having them lined up all neatly in order chronicles my life all the way from ratatouille to flaky mooncakes. All the way from being awkward during my Freshman Orientation scavenger hunt to sitting here as a Senior in the library, tapping away at my college applications. ¬†It’s my whole high school existence archived in buttercream, brownie batter, and banoffee banana bread. ¬†It includes all of those milestones: ¬†finding my blogging voice, learning how to get a DSLR, going to the emergency room while making layer cake, and getting butter inextricably wedged into the dials of my camera.
My backdrop has evolved from a leftover piece of poster-board from my 8th grade science fair project to the fancy-pants piece of marble that my dad got me for Christmas.
Yes, the perfectionist in me will surely look back at this time with this same sort of head-shaking disdain in a few months when I think I’ve got funnier stories, better backdrops, and tastier recipes than I do now. ¬†But isn’t that the whole point of a blog? ¬†We are moving onwards and upwards from here!
Here’s a tasty recipe for flaky mooncakes, traditionally eaten during the Mid-Autumn Festival. ¬†Something that hasn’t changed much since I started blogging is that I’ve still got to get this timing thing down so I can get you all these holiday recipes before the holiday happens. ¬†Planning, someday it will happen. ¬†Anyways, I was going to bring these into my Chinese class but ended up eating them all singlehandedly with my mom (sorry). ¬†The flaky crust is surprisingly simple to make — using an oil and water dough technique (much less tedious than rolling puff pastry. ¬†Give it a try!
With love,

Flaky Matcha Moon Cakes

Servings 4


water dough:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon confectioner's sugar
  • 1/4 cup vegetable shortening or butter
  • 1/2 cup water

oil dough:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup vegetable shortening or butter melted


  • -red bean paste
  • -lotus paste
  • -coconut paste recipe below


  • one egg for egg wash
  • sesame seeds


  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. For the water dough, mix the flour, sugar, and shortening together roughly.  Pour all of the water in at once and knead to form a soft dough. Set aside.
  3. For the oil dough, mix the flour and melted shortening together to form dough.
  4. Dust the water dough with flour and roll into a 1/2 inch thick circle.  Roll the oil dough into a ball, place in the middle of the water dough, and seal it inside of the water dough.
  5. Roll out the new ball of dough (the oil dough wrapped in the water dough), into an oval shape.  Then, roll it up like a swiss roll.  Turn it lengthwise, and roll out into an oval again.  Roll up swiss roll-style once more, and roll out into a 1/2 inch thick oval once more.
  6. Cut the oval into four even sections, fill each section with filling of choice and seal.  Place seal side down on a baking sheet.  Repeat with the remaining pastries.  Brush each pastry with egg wash, sprinkle with sesame seeds, and bake for 25 minutes, or until golden brown.
  7. Coconut paste:
  8. 1/2 cup cream of coconut or condensed milk
  9. 3/4 cup shredded coconut
  10. 1 teaspoon vanilla, matcha powder, or cocoa powder for flavoring (optional)
  11. Mix all the ingredients together into a paste.

© Cannella Vita. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without my permission/linking back to Cannella Vita. If you want to republish this recipe, please link back to this post.

green tea frappucino bars

One of life’s more important questions:

If you were a Disney princess which one would you want to be?

Sometimes I want to be Jasmine, running around the house in my glittery balloon pants (classy PJ pants), showing the sultan who’s boss, and chilling with my awesome cat.

Other days I want to be Belle.¬† Telling that Gaston guy he’s a jerk, being the nerdy Disney princess, and getting sung to and fed by dancing silverware.

Pocahontas is a compelling choice too.¬† Down with global warming and the evils of colonialism!¬† I’d get to talk to animals (and not in the loopy way that Snow White does), wear turquoise everything (my favorite), and paint with all the colors of the wind (that’s a lot of colors).

The only thing I knew for sure was that I wouldn’t want to be Sleeping Beauty (Aurora… but who remembers that girl’s name?).¬† Hopefully I don’t lose readers over this, but she was by far the lamest Disney Princess.¬† She just slept for a while and looked pretty… that’s it.

But today, I’m feeling like a total modern day pre-Prince Charming Cinderella.¬† That’s because my oven’s been in overdrive lately and started spewing smoke so I had to clean it.¬† Currently I’m sitting here in my 8-year old baby blue dress with my hair in a huge messy bun and soot covering every inch of my body.

Anyways, my hour spent cleaning the oven was totally worth it because I got to make these blondies afterwards!

Remember my super-easy blondie recipe?

I pimped it out with some matcha powder, white chocolate chips, and marshmallows.¬† BAM.¬† Starbucks’ Green Tea Frappucino in bar form.¬† You’re welcome.

With love,

Green Tea Frappucino Bars

Servings 16


  • 8 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon matcha powder
  • 1/3 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup marshmallows


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Butter an 8x8 square pan.
  3. Melt the butter in a saucepan.  Once melted, add the sugar and beat until smooth.  Beat in egg and then vanilla.  Add salt, stir in flour and matcha powder until the whole thing is a light green color.  Fold in white chocolate chips and marshmallows.
  4. Pour into a prepared pan and bake for 20-25 minutes, until set in the middle.
  5. Cool and then slice into squares.

© Cannella Vita. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without my permission/linking back to Cannella Vita. If you want to republish this recipe, please link back to this post.

banana oatmeal nutella pancakes

Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of “in the larger scheme of things…” thinking.¬† Here at astronomy camp, we’ve been talking a lot about big things, like black holes, supernovae, and ominous things like “dark matter” and “dark energy.”

Thinking “in the larger scheme of things” can make me feel small and insignificant.¬† I am smaller than a dustbunny of a dustbunny of a dustbunny in our solar system, which is one of many in the Milky Way Galaxy, which is one of billions of billions of galaxies in a universe that is constantly expanding.¬† We are living on the periphery of a very average galaxy, orbiting a very average star… puts my seething rage toward the dude who took my java chip frappuccino at Starbucks yesterday into perspective.

That’s the thing…if I’m so incredibly small, do things really matter?

The universe isn’t going to care if I smiled at you on the Metro.¬† Space aliens will never find out if I replaced the toilet paper roll.¬† Mars wouldn’t know if I wrote you a handwritten letter or a sloppy Facebook message.¬† The black hole at the center of our galaxy definitely doesn’t give a damn whether I washed my hair this morning (thank god).

I guess this is one way of looking at things, “in the larger scheme.” But the other geeky way of looking at our place in the universe is that every action has a reaction.¬† Every shake and rattle sets off another and another.¬† In this scenario, the little things do matter.Although the former way of thinking about it is tempting (and gives me an excuse not to wash my hair so often), I’m pretty convinced that the latter is better.

Think about flipping pancakes. The trick to making good pancakes is to wait until you see little bubbles form around the edges of the pancake. These super tiny bubbles signify that the pancake is “flippable.”

These bubbles are smaller than my pinky fingernail.¬† In the “larger scheme of things” they are¬† practically invisible. However, that little bubble makes the difference between a big, shriveled, goopy mess of pancake batter and a glorious, fluffy stack of pancakes. The difference between a grouchy, hungry morning spent washing batter off my black yoga pants, or leisurely watching pools of butter melt atop fresh flapjacks while sipping a mug of coffee.
With love,


Banana Oatmeal Nutella Pancakes

Servings 4


  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup quick oats
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 banana mashed
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 Tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup Nutella


  1. Stir together all of the ingredients except for the Nutella in a large bowl until well combined.  Gently swirl in the Nutella.

  2. Spoon the batter into a hot skillet over medium heat.  Cook each pancake until the batter starts to bubble at the edges, flip and cook until golden brown.  Continue cooking remaining pancakes. 

  3. Enjoy with butter and maple syrup! (and perhaps some more Nutella!)

© Cannella Vita. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without my permission/linking back to Cannella Vita. If you want to republish this recipe, please link back to this post.

protein pancakes

It has been almost two weeks
since I’ve been on the Internet — I’m going to tell you what I‚Äôve been up to.

Not much. But then again,
a whole lot.
I actually was somewhat busy — just two Thursdays ago I took my
Chinese final and went to prom (I’ll save that story for another day).
Then, I just sort of dropped off
the face of the Earth.  I worked part-time as a hostess at a cafe, did
some reading (just finished Paper
Towns by John
Green), snapchatted, did some almond butter stress eating, and a whole lot of
I wandered down the street aimlessly, first into a CVS to buy a few pointless
things like tanning oil and Icebreakers gum.  Then I talked to some of the
volunteers collecting signatures outside the metro station for a good while
about string
quartets and the weather.  Then, I wandered downtown and had Mediterranean
style tacos with my mom at 3pm.¬† Leisurely summer livin’ at its finest.
A few nights ago, I got into bed at 10:10 p.m.  Turned off the
lights.¬† My room was nice and warm because I never turn the AC on.¬† I stayed up until midnight just watching Breakfast at Tiffany’s on my laptop and then drifted off to sleep.
It’s like time just slowed down twofold.¬† My brain cells were burnt and fizzled to a crisp.¬† The thought of sitting down and writing made my stomach turn.¬† I ate a lot of Popsicles.
And then I realized that I had not been blogging and felt totally ungrounded and lonely — so I‚Äôm back! ¬†I’m looking forward to going on wild summer
adventures and telling you all about them.¬† I’m going to bake luscious cakes
and eat them and tell you all about those too. I don’t regret my disappearance; I think it was healthy to do a bit of wandering.¬† Now, I’m ready to get caught up in the world again like I’m known to do and attack whatever comes my way and report to you all about it.
Speaking of attack, this
is total “attack food.”¬† These protein pancakes have two
ingredients, protein powder, egg whites, and pure power.  Eat these for
breakfast and you will feel like a literal beast for the rest of the day.
With love,


Protein Pancakes

Servings 1


  • 1 scoop protein powder
  • 3 egg whites


  1. Beat the protein powder and egg whites together well in a bowl. Add a dash of cinnamon/vanilla/stevia to taste.  Heat a bit of coconut oil in a skillet and cook for about 3 minutes on each side over medium heat.

  2. Feel free to jazz these up with chocolate chips, blueberries, bananas... whatever floats your boat.

1 scoop protein powder
3 egg whites

Beat the protein powder and egg whites together well in a bowl. Add a dash of cinnamon/vanilla/stevia to taste.  Heat a bit of coconut oil in a skillet and cook for about 3 minutes on each side over medium heat.

Feel free to jazz these up with chocolate chips, blueberries, bananas… whatever floats your boat.

© Cannella Vita. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without my permission/linking back to Cannella Vita. If you want to republish this recipe, please link back to this p