Dear Diary,


February is Bake for Family Fun  Month–a time to spend quality time in the kitchen whipping up recipes with your little ones. Even though my daughter is only 18-months-old, she still serves as my sous chef (when I cook, which is rare!) She enjoys stirring pancake mix, eating ingredients and cooking alongside me at her kid kitchen. It’s an inexpensive way for us to create priceless memories and perhaps a few family traditions. When she gets older, baking will become an educational activity. She’ll master math by measuring and cutting. She’ll improve literacy by reading recipes and learning new vocabulary words.  And she’ll conduct scientific experiments on the stove.


As a busy mom, baking rarely–OK, who am I kidding?–never takes place in my kitchen.  That’s why I enlisted my friend Utokia Langley–a seasoned cook and a Reynold’s Mom Finalist–to help me bump baking up my priority list.


How often do you cook for your family? How do you juggle work, kids, husband and cooking? Sometimes I compare myself to my friends who are stay-at-home moms and domestic divas.  I can’t compete!

I work full-time in addition to running my cooking blog.  However, I always find time to cook for my family, because it brings me joy. It does take planning, but it is possible. I typically get up early to make breakfast Monday through Friday before I get ready for work. I also try to cook a couple of dinner meals on Sunday that we can eat throughout the week.  This way I am only cooking dinner two or three days during the week.  On those days, I cook meals that are complete in 30 minutes or less.  Then there are the extras like when I am creating something for my cooking blog.  That is a special treat for my family.  They are my test tasters.


What are some time-saving cooking tips for working moms? 

Plan, Plan, Plan! I cannot stress how much time you gain in cooking when you plan. Another tip is to make multiple meals on Saturday or Sunday that you can feed your family throughout the week.  Also, search for meals you can cook in 30 minutes or less on weekdays and save the big meals for the weekend.  The crock pot is also a moms best friend.  You load the crock pot, and let it do most of the work!


I tend to cook the same dishes, because it’s quick and easy. How can I get out of a cooking rut?

There are so many wonderful cooking blogs out there including She’s Got Flavor of course, so search for new recipes online.  Set a goal to try one or two new recipes a week eek and mark the days on your calendar your calendar that you are going to do it.  This is a great reminder. When you go grocery shopping, print the recipes and buy all your ingredients so you are ready to throw down!


Do you have any ideas on how to make a meal deceptively delicious? How can moms sneak vegetables into their recipes? 

How about instead of sneaking or hiding the vegetables, make the vegetables more inviting to their young taste buds.  For example, when I am making steamed carrots for my children, I add a little pancake syrup for sweetness at the end.


As you know, it’s Bake for Family Fun Month. How can moms get their kids to help out in the kitchen? Should they just target daughters?

A few moms on my blog have discussed buying toy kitchens for their toddler sons, so cooking isn’t just for little girls.I absolutely include my son in the kitchen. It is good for our sons to learn to care for themselves. We also live in a world where men are in the kitchen, making great meals and enjoying it.  I love when my husband cooks a meal for us and so do my children!  I have a son and a daughter, so I make cooking a fun thing to do for both of them.  I involve their friends, since they love anything that includes a play date.  So have a play date/cooking class and use kid-friendly recipes.


Why did you enter the Reynolds Real Moms Contest?

They were looking for real moms who cook for their families. They weren’t looking for actors or celebrities.  They wanted moms who loved to be in the kitchen making meals for their children. I loved that approach because at the end of the day, the everyday moms of the world are buying their products.  The second reason is because I have been using Reynolds products since I was old enough to turn on the stove. I felt Reynolds products were products I knew I could honestly represent not only because I’ve used them but because I love them!


Hey DFTM Fam!  Let’s thank Utokia for her tips by pushing her ahead of the competition   Starting today (and every Wednesday until March 27), you can vote for her on Facebook.  Just LIKE the Reynolds Kitchens page and find post for Utokia Langley.  


logo vote flyer



All this talk about food probably worked up an appetite.  What’s your favorite baked good?  After you try out Utokia’s recipe for Very Chocolate Devil’s food Cupcakes with Whipped Cream Cheese Icing, I bet this tasty treat will be your answer!  





1 cup boiling water
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup milk chocolate chunks
1/2 cup whole milk
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tbsp. baking soda
2 tbsp. baking powder
1 tbsp. sea salt
2 sticks unsalted melted butter
1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs
12 ounce container whipped Philadelphia cream cheese
¾ cup confectionate sugar
2 tbsp. pure vanilla extract
colored sugar crystals



1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2.  Whisk the boiling water and cocoa powder until smooth, then whisk in milk and pure vanilla
3.  In a separate bowl sift flour, baking soda, and salt
4.  In an electric mixer beat butter and sugars, then add eggs one at a time, then beat in both flour and cocoa mixtures alternately
5.  With wooden or silicone spatula mix in chocolate chunks
6.  Line cupcake pan with cupcake baking cups
7.  Fill baking cups about 2/3 full and bake 20-25 minutes or until you stick a toothpick in the middle and it comes out clean (do not over bake)
8.  Take out of oven and cupcake pan; put cupcakes on cooling rack for 10-15 minutes before icing (should be fully cooled before icing)


1.  Add whipped Philadelphia cream cheese, vanilla and confectionate sugar to a bowl and mix until velvety smooth
2.  Spoon icing into decorating/piping bag with star tip and pipe onto top of cupcake
3.  Sprinkle with colored sugar crystals

About The Author

Vlog Mom/DFTM Creator

Not long ago, Heather Hopson hosted a television show in the Cayman Islands. Today, she's back home writing a different kind of story as a new mom. In her 15 years working as a professional journalist, this by far is her best assignment! Growing up, she dreamed of becoming Oprah Winfrey. She was the features editor for her school’s newspaper and a teen talk show host for her city’s most popular radio station. She went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in Journalism from Michigan State University. After graduation, she worked as a television producer and reporter at CBS, NBC and Fox affiliates throughout the U.S. Instead of heading to Chicago to join Ms. Winfrey on her set, she bought a plane ticket to the Cayman Islands instead. She arrived five days before a category five hurricane! She lived in paradise for seven years, hosted an award-winning television show and traveled the globe with a government delegation. She also served on the board of directors for Big Brothers Big Sisters and spearheaded a Send a Kid to Camp campaign. Then, she relocated to Washington, D.C. to obtain a teaching certification and instruct 8th grade reading at a high needs middle school. She later returned to her hometown of Pittsburgh, PA to raise her daughter Caitlynn, now 4-years-old. During her 10-month-stint as a stay-at-home mom, Caitlynn inspired her to create this blog, and Diary of a First Time Mom was born on Mother’s Day 2012. Two years later, she expanded the family to include 20+ writers. Currently, Heather serves as the communications director at Allies for Children. In addition, she is the owner of Motor Mouth Multimedia, which ranked #49 in Startup Nation’s Home-Based 100 Competition sponsored by Discover Card and Sam’s Club. Recently, The Pittsburgh Foundation and The Heinz Endowments selected Heather to receive an Emerging Black Artist award to develop Diary of a First Time Mom.

2 Responses

  1. Christine

    OMG…those cupcakes look sooooooooo delightful!!! Great interview with Utokia and lots of great tips and tricks that I will try myself. I got my vote in today and will continue to do so 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

  2. Joyce@MommyTalkShow

    I don’t consider myself a cooker. I’m more of a preparer. Meals that take 2-3 steps are my specialty. But when it comes to baking I will try a few things because I feel more comfortable with a precise recipe!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.