• Hello & Welcome!

    My name is Corina Nielsen and I am so happy you stopped by. I provide custom photography services in San Diego, Ca., mainly specializing in newborn portraiture and I also run a separate graphic design business helping photographers define their business identity. You can see samples of all my work right here on my blog... both of my photography and design portfolio's are located right in the above menu! Please take a look and if you are interested in either booking a session or getting on my design wait list, you can use the contact form to get in touch! I look forward to talking with you soon!

Week 3/Recipe 3- Double Cocoa Cookies

Normally I am not a huge chocolate fan… I mean, I like it, but I could also live without it.  I don't crave it at all like a lot of other people I know.  Recently though, I seem to be gravitating towards it!  The recipe I was going to share this week was for Oreo Truffles which are probably the most rich, heavenly things in the world, but that will have to wait until next week… I made them for Blake's birthday last weekend as a last minute little goody, so didn't have a chance to take any pics or anything:) For now, I will share the recipe I tried this week from "better homes & garden" for these cute little chocolate-y cookies!  A recipe that is GREAT to use with kiddos because there are some steps they could totally help out with and have fun doing…  So here it is:


Double Cocoa Cutout Cookies



  • 1 cup shortening
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 cups all purpose flour (plus more for rolling cookies out)
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 cups sugar

cocoa butter frosting

  • 1/4 cup softened butter
  • 2 3/4 cups of powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 tablespoons of milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla


I don't know about anyone else, but baking is so much easier when you measure everything out for the recipe and have it waiting for you to drop in.  So I like to start by doing just that… measure out all of your ingredients and have everything waiting for you:) Start with the shortening and sugar and add them both to a large bowl or your stand mixer. (sorry for the poor pictures, did these late in the day and had no light to work with!)


Combine all dry ingredients (flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt).  



Stir until completely mixed. Set aside.



Beat shortening and sugar together until well combined.  Then add egg, 1 at a time, mixing well after each addition.



Add milk… then SLOWLY, add the dry ingredients to the bowl.  



Try adding them in 3 batches… mixing until it just comes together and starts pulling away from the sides of the bowl.  Yum!!!


Cut 2 pieces of plastic wrap, large enough to wrap dough.  Turn out dough onto your table and divide into 2 portions.  Press out into a disk about 1 1/2" or so and wrap each disk tightly in the plastic wrap.


Refrigerate for at least an hour until you are ready to roll it out and cut them!  

Preheat over to 375 degrees.

Take dough out and begin rolling out to 1/4" thickness on a lightly floured surface.


Of course this is the perfect opportunity to get a kiddo involved:) What kid doesn't like playing with any type of dough?  Anytime Makena sees my rolling pin, she ALWAYS goes to grab hers, regardless of whether or not I have asked for her a



Lightly flour the cookie cutter… 



You can make these cookies any shape you like, but I have been wanting to use some new scalloped biscuit cutters I got a couple of months ago… I only rolled out 1 of my disks for these, but I think Makena will want to make some hearts as well:)

Anyways, cut each cookie out and place on your parchment lined baking sheet.


Bake for approximately 6-7 minutes.  I like my cookies a bit "under done" so I get them out a little early! Remove from oven and transfer cookies to a rack to completely cool.


In the meantime while your cookies cool down, you can make the frosting.  Now, I'm all about short cuts and cheating a bit, so this is an opportunity to do just that!  Instead of making your own frosting for these, you can totally run to the pantry and grab a pre-made cake frosting:) Nobody will ever know the difference, although the homemade recipe is quite yummy as well, but if you are slow on time or missing an ingredient, don't sweat it, CHEAT!  If you wanna make your own, here is that recipe:


In a medium bowl, beat 1/4 cup of softened butter until light and fluffy.  Slowly add 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar and cocoa a little at a time until completely combined.  Add in milk and vanilla.  Mix well and then slowly add the remaining powdered sugar… if its a bit too thick, you can add a tad more milk until its spreading consistency!

Once your cookies have completely cooled, go ahead and frost them!



You could also make little sandwich cookies out of them… those would be cute:)



OR another opportunity for the kiddo's to help with some sprinkles!   I don't know about anyone else's kid, but mine LOVE using sprinkles!  And with Valentine's around the corner, well, what's better than that theme of sprinkles right?


Voila… easy, cute, and chocolate-y!

Alrighty folks… off to grab one of the rugrats at school… I will leave ya with a little sneak peek of project I made yesterday.  With all
this rain here this week, I started getting a little ancy and broke out the crafting supplies!  Hopefully will get a chance to do a tut to go with it by the weekend!



Diane E - January 28, 2010 - 7:03 pm

Hey girl! Thanks for sharing this recipe! I will definitely be making these for Jackson’s preschool Valentine party..Somehow I volunteered my baking skills..lol. I love how Makena is so involved! Love the step by step instructions too! Have I told you how freakin talented you are? YOU sooo rock! BTW..where’d you get the cute cutter?

My “100 in 2010″ & Coconut Lime Cupcake Recipe { take 2 that is }

Not bad, 2 for 2 now and I have the next 3 recipes/blogs all fresh and rarin' to go in my head!  Have I mentioned I love 2010?  So may hopes and dreams lol!  Actually, I attempted to come up with a list of 100 things I would like to accomplish this year.  I only came up with just over 50, but am hoping to add to my list as the weeks/months pass, things catch my attention in life, AND as I am able to cross other things off:) I suppose that one could call that a list of "New Years Resolutions", but I don't like looking at them in that way.  In all honesty, I think people set themselves up for failure when they come up with a NY's resolution list…  typically they are the SAME goals every year so what fun is that?  I tried to pick things that I have always wanted to do, things that I know I am capable of, things that hopefully won't look like a "chore" to me, things that I needed a little push to do, but have been on the horizon already, and some just silly things I'd like to do!  So here it is, my incomplete list for 2010 (maybe I need to add that to my list… "finish my list" lol):


  1.  complete Project 365
  2.  plant an herb garden
  3.  launch a new website
  4.  buy an investment property
  5.  complete my “at least a treat a week” blog project (2 down, 50 to go)
  6.  run at least 3 miles without stopping
  7.   sign up and run a 5K
  8.   find a charity or good cause and donate my time
    and/or talents somehow
  9.   send out Christmas cards NO later than December
  10.   create
    5 marketing sets for my photo site
  11.    create
    at least 12 new digital kits (1 down, 11 to go)
  12.    create
    6 template sets for Polaroid
  13.    book
    a session in another state
  14.    make
    a set of handmade aprons for Makena and I
  15.    surprise
    Joe with a weekend getaway, just the two of us
  16.    surprise
    the kids with a trip to Disneyland when they are supposed to be at school
  17.    complete
    my canvas wall for the hallway
  18.    send
    out handwritten cards for no particular reason… just because
  19.    book
    a family session for US with another photographer
  20.    learn
    Illustrator enough to create a vector drawing from beginning to end
  21.    get
    a short, cute (or maybe NOT so cute as it turns out) new hairdo (completed January 11, 2010)
  22.    donate
    an entire photo session to a deserving family/person, maybe even twice
  23.     read
    at least 1 book every 2 months
  24.    double my blog traffic by updating
  25.    make
    a photo book of family pictures
  26.    take
    a really good photog workshop with someone I admire
  27.    try
    a new genre of photography
  28.    buy a new lens, preferably the 50mm 1.2 OR the 35 mm 1.4
  29.     enter
    a photo contest
  30.    print
    our family, everyday pictures each and every month
  31.    attempt to learn another language (preferably Spanish or Sign language)
  32.    try
    learning an instrument
  33.    join
    AND use Twitter
  34.      listen
    to an audio book
  35.    bake cupcakes for a friend for no reason
    and surprise them with a little gift package
  36.     double the amount of weddings I shot in 2009
  37.       host
    a real, grown up dinner party
  38.    cook dinner 6 times a week for 2 months
  39.    do something nice for someone without
    them knowing I did it
  40.    go scuba diving
  41.   WRITE in a personal journal at least
    once a week
  42.   take a trip to Florida to visit Lizette
  43.    scrapbook 1 page a month
  44.   make a tiramisu (completed January 9, 2010)
  45.   double my photography income, but only
    book ½ as many sessions as 2009:)
  46.   make 5 different tablescapes for our dining table (1 down, 4 more to go)
  47.   try eating fish again…. gross, but I will try again
  48.   babysit for a friend to let mommy and daddy have a romantic evening together
  49.      scale
    my closet down by at least 50% and donate everything to my local women's shelter
  50.   sign up and do the Susan G. Komen 3 day walk 
  51.   take an entire month OFF from shooting and photography just to play  
  52.   finally get the prints done for the playroom of the kids

I seem to be off to a hopping start so far… should be an interesting year to say the least!!!  Alrighty, onto the yummy's of the week!

So, last year I attempted a couple of recipes for these and while they were tasty and perfectly fine to eat, I have been on the lookout for an even better recipe.  After giving 2 or 3 more a try, I think I have the most perfect, scrumptious, super fabulous, and EXTRA yummy delicious coconut lime cupcake batter ever… I'm getting excited just thinking of how it tasted today when I made it:)

Alright, so here goes…

Coconut Lime Cupcake's





6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

1 cup of granulated sugar

1 egg

zest of 1 lime

juice of 1 lime (approximately 2 teaspoons)

1 1/2 cup all purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup coconut milk

1 teaspoon coconut extract/flavoring


1 cup heavy cream

1/4 cup granulated sugar

2 teaspoons lime juice

2 teaspoons lime zest

3/4 cup shredded toasted coconut


Preheat oven to 350° F

1. grease or line a 12 cup muffin tin with baking cups.  


2. Sift your dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt) together in a small bowl.  Don't know if I will ever get tired of the flour in action shot…



3.  In a separate bowl or bowl of your stand mixer, beat butter and sugar together until smooth & very pale in color, approximately 2-3 minutes.  

4.  Beat in egg and mix thoroughly until light and fluffy.



5. Add lime zest, lime juice, and coconut extract.  




  6. Scrape down sides of bowl. At low speed, add your dry ingredients AND coconut milk alternately starting with the dry and ending with the milk.




7.  Scrape down sides of bowl and give 1 final, quick mix.  Batter will be thick!  Begin to spoon your batter into the cupcake liners/pan.  Fill to 2/3 full.   I like over filling a 1/4 cup measuring cup! 


And seriously… before you go and clean the bowl, you HAVE to take a little lick (or 2 or lick the entire damn bowl, it's THAT good)!

Set timer for 24 minutes. I like to turn my pans around in the oven when I bake HALF way through the baking time just to make sure that everything has baked evenly! 



8.  Bake 24-28 minutes or until cupcakes have literally JUST started to turn ever so light golden on top.  Do NOT over bake, please, it will just make me sad!!!  



Remove from oven and let cool completely.

Meanwhile, begin to make your garnish and frosting.  Heat oven to 325° F. Put your

shredded coconut on a baking sheet in a single layer.  



9.  Bake for approximately 12-15 minutes OR until coconut is slightly toasted and golden brown.  Remove and let cool completely.

10.  In a large bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer, beat heavy cream, until soft peaks begin

to form.  Slowly add sugar, then lime zest and lime juice.  Beat until stiff peaks form.  Do NOT




When cupcakes have cooled, spread frosting using a knife or a pastry bag

fitted with a large, fun tip.  My favorite tip is this one.  I adore how big and fat the swirl is:) 



The easiest way I have found to fill the bag for piping is to put it in a large cup, tip down.  Then you fold the sides of the bag over the edges of the cup… use them to scrape off the sides of your spatula!  By the way, isn't my pink Valentine's cup from Target perfectly cute?



11.  Go ahead and pipe your frosting on… start on the
outer edges of the cupcake and circle around towards the center.  



But really… in the grand scheme of things, just hurry and get the frosting on so you can EAT them lol!!!

12.  Sprinkle the tops of them with cooled toasted coconut.  I normally only sprinkle a little bit on and then add some more as they are ready to be eaten.  This way you still get a little texture and crunch from the fresh layer.



 Refrigerate… and thats if you don't manage to eat them on the way:)

Printable Recipe Found HERE… cheers!!!


Joyce Dy - January 13, 2010 - 7:29 pm

Hey Corina! I’m inspired by your list! Happy new year!

Rebeccah - January 20, 2010 - 1:27 pm

oh my GOD! I tried your recipe and I was in heaven. These are really superb. Thanks for sharing.

The new object of my affection & a Chocolate Hazelnut Biscotti recipe to boot…

One of my favorite gifts this Christmas, perhaps of all time, is my precious Keurig… 


Beat still my heart… now, Im not even a huge coffee lover.  Don't get me wrong, I almost always swing by Starbucks when I get a chance.  Normally I only get an iced tea, but every now and then I splurge a bit and get a grande something or rather.  Im not cheap, but I just find something wrong with paying $5 for a cup of coffee, call me crazy, but I can go to Michael's or Joanne's and spend that money much better:)

Anyways, back to the Keurig.  Next to my KitchenAid stand mixer, it has to be the greatest "appliance" in my kitchen.  For anyone that isn't familiar with the machine… its a single cup maker and instead of messing with grounds and pots of coffee that go to waste, you use these cute little KCUPS.


You just pop one of them in the machine, it pokes a hole in the bottom and top, you choose your size or if you even want iced… so yummy, and then it brews it in a few seconds.  Genius I tell you!  There are a TON of different flavors of not only coffee, but teas and hot chocolates well.  Joe bought mine from Costco and it actually even came with 72 KCUPS!  Such a great deal IMO.  Once I get the order I placed for more KCUPS from an online vendor, I have to be sure to review my favorites:) I will say, though, that  since Im not a big coffee person (or at least I wasn't until now), I ALWAYS add some extra stuff to my brews.  #1 2 scoops of:


and then my super duper amazingly spectacular ingredient and all time favorite creamer:


OMG, seriously, the BEST flavor… alright, so thats my secret recipe for an awesome cup of coffee:)

Enough about my new toy, for now anyways!  With all of this coffee and tea drinking going on now while planted in front of the computer editing and such, my mouth and stomach had been feeling a little empty just drinking.  So I figured I would go ahead and make a little snack for myself, something that didn't require me heating anything up or putting anything in a toater, microwave, etc.  Just a little nibble!  What could be better for that AND coffee than biscotti right?  So onto one of my favorite kinds… I had tried a few different recipes and wasn't completely happy with the results, so adapted them a bit.

Chocolate Hazelnut Biscotti Recipe


2 1/4 cups all purpose flour

3 tbsp's unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

3 large eggs

1 1/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup Nutella (hazelnut/chocolate spread)

1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts


Preheat over to 350 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or Silpat.

1. Sift dry ingredients (flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt) together in a small bowl 


2. crack eggs and beat until smooth


3. Add sugar and beat for a couple of minutes until sugar has almost dissolved


4. measure out Nutella and add to the egg and sugar mixture.  Mix until well combined.


5. Add dry ingredients to mixture.  Do this in 3 batches, making sure to mix until JUST combined before adding the next batch.


Remember to scrape down the sides of the bowl after each addition:)


6.  Stir in chocolate chips and hazelnuts until combined



7. Roll out dough onto a LIGHTLY floured surface



8. Divide dough into 2 fairly equal disks and place them on the baking sheet with a couple of inches between them.  Begin rolling the dough out to 1/2" thickness.  Try to get them as close to rectangle shape as you can… 


9.  Place in oven, on middle rack, and bake for approximately 20-24 minutes.  Take them OUT of the oven and reduce oven to 300 degrees.

10. Carefully cut disks into 1/2" to 1/3" pieces.


11. Arrange biscotti on baking sheet with some space in between each one and put BACK in the oven for approximately 12-15 minutes.



No need to bake those end pieces either!  Since those are now the most baked, dry pieces, you can eat those while the rest finish off in the oven:)


12.  Now I don't know how pertinent this step is, BUT I do it, just because:) I like to turn my biscotti over every 5 minutes or so, just to make sure that I really dry them out.  I do this a total of 2 times, baking for a few minutes on each of their sides.  If you don't want to do this step, just bake for a total of 13 minutes!


13. Take the biscotti out of the oven and leave them on the baking sheet or you can transfer them to a wire rack to cool and dry a bit more if you feel so inclined.  I don't like adding to my dirty dishes, so I leave em on the pan:)

Once they are completely cool, nice and dried out, put them in an airtight container… voila!  All done and super easy.  Now that I think of it, the recipe isn't that bad for ya either!  No butter or oil?  Not bad huh?

Now enjoy them with YOUR favorite cup of coffee, I know I am!!!


EDITED: I got a request for the recipe to be put onto cards for printing, so here ya go!!!

Chocolate Hazelnut Biscotti  

Happy New Years everyone… here is to fabulously GREAT year.  I can just feel it on my bones!



Jasmin - January 6, 2010 - 9:52 am

yummy! Can’t wait to try this. Thanks for the step by step instructions. It looks completely easy, even for me! Isn’t the Keurig great too?

Summer has finally come to an end :(

Fall is definately my favorite season… being in Southern Cali we dont get too much change in our weather, but this summer was SO mild and the past week or so, it has completely felt like Fall, going down to about 65 or so!  I have been loving it.  As a matter of fact, today was the first day I wore pants and a light sweater, this brand new one I got at American Eagle:


Totall comfy and cozy and unbulky!  Hope the weather doesn't change too much! 

I was getting ready to update the last of my summer pics on Facebook and realized I hadn't posted these from the end of August… I had been dying to get a slip and slide (for the kids of course!) so when I saw one on sale at Target, I hopped all over it!  Makena and Blake had a blast!



Makena didn't really run and slide, she kinda just walked fast and plopped under the "vortex of horror", then she would jump in the little pool at the end of it!


Then when the vortex thing would break, she would entertain herself in the sprays that came from it!



And I love this picture I got of the 2 of them… they are so rarely in a good mood at the SAME time lol!


Makena's birthday is right around the corner and for the first time, I'm going to go all out on a birthday party at home… decorations, games, goody bags, food, even baking a cake myself:)  I guess I was lucky with Blake because he always wanted to do something "big" like Disneyland, Boomers, we did rock climbing 1 year.  Maybe because he is a boy, he didnt want all the cutesy stuff? lol  In any case, Im totally excited because not only do I get to use a lot of pink, its PRINCESS themed!  I swear, it doesn't get much better than that!  Lots of ideas and stuff to share soon!