Black Bottom Cupcakes with Raspberry Filling

“Don’t Think That Chocolate Is A Substitute For Love! Love Is A Substitute For Chocolate.” ~ Miranda Ingram

But with this recipe, you can have a little bit of both…

Let’s Blog Over Chocolate!

I know it’s Tuesday and all, but let’s just pretend it’s Friday. Yesterday I went to Target to get a thermometer for Aven’s science project, and as soon as I walked in I was immediately distracted by all the hearts, flowers and pink. Target was giving me a friendly reminder that love was in the air, and that I should probably be preparing for Valentine’s day.

Every year for the past 9 years I have had a date with Skylar & Aven for Valentine’s Day. I know… Cute right? I always bought bears, candy, make a nice breakfast, we have a picnic for lunch, and for dinner, we always mix it up. However, we have always, A L W A Y S ended the day with a cupcake! They’re a little older now, so the gift exchange doesn’t consist of teddy bears, and little carnations, but the Black Bottom Cupcakes with Raspberry Cream Cheese Filling and topping is a favorite tradition of ours that I’m so happy I can say remain the same.

The cupcake itself is perfect for chocolate loves, moist with a full flavor. The filling is a sweet surprise that blends perfectly with the cupcake itself. Sometimes I add a light and fluffy icing on top just to give it that extra yumminess everyone loves.

Here’s What You’ll Need:

2 1/4 cups cold water

3/4 cup vegetable oil

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

5 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup cocoa powder

2 teaspoons baking soda

2 1/4 cups sugar

1 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips

For The Filling:

1 egg, at room temperature

1/2 cup sugar

1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, at room

1/2 tsp raspberry extract


Preheat the oven to 350. Line two 12-cup muffin pans with paper liners.

To make the filling- In a bowl, using an electric mixer, beat together the egg, sugar and cream cheese, and extract on medium speed until smooth, about 2 minutes.

Prop up a pastry bag in a sturdy glass or mug with the bags wide opening at the top. Fold the top of the pastry bag down over the glass. Using a rubber spatula, scrape the filling mixture into the pastry bag. Set the filled pastry bag aside.

Mix the liquids- In a large liquid measuring cup, combine the water, oil, vanilla and balsamic vinegar. You don’t have to stir these. Just put them together in the cup. Set aside.

To Make the batter-In a large bowl, using a whisk, stir together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, sugar, and salt until evenly blended. Slowly pour the water mixture into the flour mixture, stirring with a wooden spoon until the batter is smooth.

Pour in the batter- The cupcake batter will be quite runny. If your bowl has a spout, you can pour the batter directly into the muffin cups. Otherwise, it will be easiest to pour the batter into the liquid measuring cup and use it to fill the cups. Fill each lined muffin cup three-fourths full. Do not fill them any fuller than that or there will not be anywhere for the filling to go when the batter rises!

Add the filling- Pick up the pastry bag. Plugging the tip with one hand, twist the top of the bag to close it. Using one hand to guide the tip and the other to squeeze the top of the bag, insert the tip into the center of one of the cupcakes. Gently squeeze a small amount of the cream cheese filling into the batter. You will see the chocolate batter rise as the filling fills the middle.

Keeping in mind that you need to fill 24 cupcakes, squeeze a small amount into each one or just make more.

Bake the cupcakes-Sprinkle the top of each cupcake with the chocolate chips.

Put the muffin pans in the oven and bake until a thin skewer inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean so about 26 to 28 minutes.

Put them on the cooling racks. Let the cupcakes cool in the pans for 20 minutes, then lift out the cupcakes and put them directly on the racks. Let cool completely, about 30 minutes. Top them off with frosting if you’d like!





Coffee Talk

Let’s Pour This Coffee & Chat…

I’ve gotten my Masters degree in the HR, but I have no experience. I don’t want to start at entry-level, but it seems that with my lack of experience that is my only option. I’ve been wondering if you have any suggestion for climbing the HR ladder?

You have everything needed on paper to grab the attention needed to get you in the door. However, lack of experience is something you definitely want to acquire. I’m learning that most companies are now more interested in people who have that experience, and it’s been making up for having a degree. Not to say a degree is not needed. It’s just that now I’m noticing that the degree is the added bonus. I say start entry-level to gain that experience needed and maybe find a mentor. Stay up to date with HR regulations and policies as they are ever evolving. Network. There is always an HR Mixer going on here in Houston. That can be another great way for you to get your foot in the door and take advantage of amazing opportunities.

I have recently broke up with my boyfriend. He was a little abusive mentally, a cheater and everything bad in between. I stayed because I was used to him only, he was a great provider, and contrary to all the bad it was mostly good. When it finally ended, he ended things because he wanted to see what was out there. Truth is I’ve been so happy since the breakup. However he feels he made a mistake and wants me back. He won’t leave me alone. He keeps calling, emailing, anything he can do to reach me. Since I’ve refused to take him back he says things like I’ll never find better, or no one will love me more. I slipped up and had a little meeting with him, but I don’t know what I should do. My friends said I should block him and move on. When it was time to move on with your life how did you handle removing them from your life? Was it the best move to open the doors to meet new people? I feel like if I don’t close the door, then he’ll always be there…

G I R L ! Drop and Block him! My last relationship was like that. It was very dysfunctional. When it was time to end things, it was hard for me at first. Even with all the wrong that happens, you still go through the pain of losing someone you’ve been with. Like your ex, he too tried to come back, and he keeps trying to come back. I changed my number, deleted my email address, and my social media. When I finally started to come around social wise, the first hint of him, he got blocked. When leaving a relationship, they say the best way to move on is find something new, but I don’t think so. I think that’s the time for you to really look at what you want, and to heal from your situation. When you least expect it the right person will come along.

What were your most dependable workout shoes this year? I’m planning to jump back into a workout routine January 1st and need some good options! Also, what do your workout’s consist of?

You’re asking the wrong person this question. My trainer says I need velcro toddler shoes because my laces are always coming untied. I haven’t been working out, but my diet is completely changing in the upcoming year. It’s so hard to work out with all the holidays and eat right with all the food. My workout usually consists of jump rope, tons of weight squats and anything he feels like killing me with that day. I may try to do a video showing how my workouts work.

I really loved your relationship Q&A. I also loved how direct, open and honest you were with a side of funny. Considering what you are going through it has to be really hard, and it’s admirable that you continue to maintain your relationship and continue to grow. Claps Hands For You! Are you going to touch more on the relationship topic in the future? I think we’d all be interested to hear what you have to say.

Thank you! I’ve received a lot of positive feedback from that post. People that know me and see my relationship would have never imagined that we were dealing with that, and everyone has offered their support to not only me, but my guy as well. I can truly say that we have an amazing group of friends, family, and my readers are just as amazing. I have been thinking about touching more on this topic, but it’s something that would happen some time next year if it does.

Will you be posting more recipes in the future? Each one I’ve tried has come out so good. Where did you learn to cook?

I’m so glad to hear that!! I will be posting more recipes, but it’ll probably be clean eating. My body is tired of alcohol, heavy food, and junk food.

Hi Riley. I recently came across your blog as I was stalking Perez Hilton and saw that he liked and followed. LOL (i’m not crazy). It eventually led me to reading every single post on your blog and scrolling through your instagram. I saw that you gave one of your commenters the finger and I decided you’re someone I can get with! I was thinking of starting a blog, but I’m a little afraid of the criticism or not getting the support. Any Advice?

LOL!!! I was so shocked when that happened!!! I woke my guy up out of his S L E E P ! ! !  I usually don’t just give people the finger. It’s usually a friend of mine. Other people I ignore. My guy is probably my biggest supporter next to my mom. Don’t get me wrong everyone around me is so supportive, but he and my mom are the biggest. Some advice they always tell me is that people will always have something to say or criticize, but at least you tried. Everyone isn’t brave enough to go after their dream.

I’m in Houston and I was looking into attending something fun for the new year. Is there anywhere particular you’ll be?

I will particularly be at home. We’re having a small New Year’s thing at home. We’re going to cook, light some cigars, and toast to 2018.

I’ve noticed that you’ve taken a few quick getaways, but you haven’t posted about it on the blog. I’m dying to know where you’ve been and where you’re going in 2018!

I’ve been meaning to post so many things on here, and I just did not have the time. I’m going to do so much better next year. We have a few trips coming up that I’m so excited about, so stay tuned to that.

I love your style. You never disappoint!!! What is your inspiration, and have you thought about starting a line of your own?

Thank you! My style has evolved so much from when I was younger, but I think that goes for everyone. I wouldn’t say that I had inspiration exactly. I just know what I want to look like in my head, and I look for the pieces that makes my vision sort of come alive if that makes sense. I don’t know if I’ll be starting a line, but that is something to be considered.

Hello! I was a reader even back when you were Blogging Over Wine. I liked that you incorporated your favorite books. It was always my favorite part and something I looked forward to. Have you thought about bringing it back?

I absolutely have!!! There’s some great books that I’m going to be sharing very soon!!!

That’s all the questions I have time for today. Don’t forget that I’m giving away $1,000 to Nordstrom. So don’t forget to subscribe and follow me on Instagram @Ralijah. You have until January 2nd.


Cravings | Filet Mignon

“The Only Time To Eat Diet Food Is While You’re Waiting For The Steak To Cook.” ~ Julia Child

Let’s Blog Over Filet Mignon!

It has been a very busy week for me so far. My Mom finally came back home from Alaska (Grandma in tow), and since their arrival it’s been non-stop fun, Christmas preparations, and running these H-Town streets.

Thursday was date night. It was such a busy day that by the time I was done running all over Houston the last thing on my mind was going home to get dolled up just to go back out. That just wasn’t happening. At all. Instead I decided to pick up a giant gingerbread house, some filet mignon, lobster, and champagne, and chill at home.  So glad I did!

I’m mostly pescatarian, but I have to admit that my favorite animal is steak. Yes. I really did just say that. Not only do I love steak, but I think I’ve just outdone myself with this recipe. I mean the myriad of flavors exploded on my tongue, shimmied through my mouth, slapped my taste buds, and called them filthy bastards, and I L O V E D it. You will too! I promise.


Here’s What You’ll Need:

2(8 ounce) filet mignon steaks

Kosher Salt

Fresh Cracked Black Pepper

12 tablespoons unsalted Butter, softened 

tablespoon Olive Oil

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon fresh parsley chopped

1 tablespoon fresh thyme

1 tablespoon lemon zest

Cayenne Pepper


Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Season your filet generously with salt and pepper. Get your cast iron skillet and lightly season the inside of your pan with the cayenne pepper. Heat your skillet to a searing hot pan. Not too hot that it’ll turn your smoke detectors on, but make it really hot. Add 8 tablespoons of butter, and the 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Once the butter has melted add your filet’s to the skillet. Let them cook 2 to 3 minutes per side until a nice crust has formed. Do not touch them while they are cooking. Get a spoon and top with butter while they are searing. Once each side has been seared, carefully take the entire skillet with the filets and put it in the oven for about 8 to 10 minutes depending on how thick your steak is and how you like it cooked.

For your butter- add the 4 tbs of butter to your kitchen aid mixer, (whatever works best for you). Add in the parsley, garlic, thyme and lemon zest and blend on high until the butter is smooth and the ingredients have mixed well.

Once your steak is done, add the compound butter to the top and serve! I served my steak with lobster and asparagus. I also used the compound butter on the lobster and asparagus.

Can’t wait to hear your thoughts!





Cravings | Gingerbread Cookies

“I Want To Take All Our Best Moments, Put Them In A Jar, And Take Them Out Like Cookies And Savor Each One Of Them Forever.” ~ C.W.

Let’s Blog Over Gingerbread Cookies…

Happy Friday!!! I hope everyone is having the best week! I’m so excited for this weekend. We have a lot of fun activities planned. I wanted to share a fun kid friendly activity with everyone just in case you needed some ideas on how to entertain the little ones this weekend. The activity just happens to be gingerbread cookies!!!

Everyone knows Christmas isn’t Christmas without baking some cookies, right??? I love baking cookies with the kids. We started doing this when they were very little. 2 and 3 to be exact. My best friend Trashon insisted on this tradition with Skylar and Aven. I, however, didn’t want to be left out, so I help out. Now it’s O U R tradition. Now that they are 10 and 12, they actually look forward to doing this every single year.

Trashon and I are very domestic, and most definitely know our way around a kitchen. We refuse to use store-bought dough (not that there is anything wrong with it), and decided we should come up with a recipe. After a lot of arguing, bickering, back and forth, and profanity (because we both think we know E V E R Y T H I N G, and H A T E to be wrong) I can say we finally have the best gingerbread cookie recipe.

This is a fun way to get creative with your family, children, and friends. I’d suggest making a big batch because these will most definitely go fast! Make sure all of your ingredients are room temp. before starting.

Here’s What You’ll Need:

All Purpose Flour 3 cups 

Baking Soda 1 teaspoon 

Ground Cinnamon 1 teaspoon 

Ground Ginger 1 teaspoon 

Pumpkin Pie Spice ½ teaspoon 

Salt ½ teaspoon 

Black Pepper ¼ teaspoon

Unsalted Butter Room Temp ¼ cup 

Shortening ¼ cup 

Light Brown Sugar ½ cup packed 

Molasses ⅔ cup 

Large Egg 1 

Vanilla Extract 1 tablespoon 



Sift the flour with the baking soda and all of the spices and the salt and pepper, set aside. Cream the butter and shortening with the brown sugar until light and fluffy about 4-5 minutes. Add the molasses to the creamed butter mixture and mix well, scrape the sides of the bowl and then add the egg and vanilla extract. Add the sifted flour – spice mixture while blending on low-speed, mix until it is all incorporated evenly. Turn out the entire dough onto a large piece of plastic wrap. Wrap the dough tightly and press into a disc. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours, preferably overnight before rolling. Once out of the fridge you must re-roll this dough. Mash it all together and knead it back together, then RE-roll on a floured work surface until it is pliable. Cut your shapes, and place on a parchment lined sheet pan. Preheat the oven to 350° F, you will bake for approximately 12-18 minutes or until light golden brown.  



Cravings | Chili

“If I Were A Food, I’d Be A Chili Because You Know… I’m HOT.” ~ Louis Tomlinson


Let’s Blog Over Chili…

Happy Friday Everyone!!! I have been having the best week and each day has been getting better and better. So many great things are happening this way, and I just can’t help but to be in the best spirits because of it. Not to mention that it’s snowing here in Houston, and I absolutely L O V E it!!! We have these huge floor to ceiling windows in my home, and I love looking outside seeing all snow,  the Christmas lights, and hearing the holiday music blaring. And (I know never start a sentence with AND) did I mention that it’s S N O W I N G ? ! 

With the weather, the fireplace burning, and Home Alone blasting on my T.V., I figured nothing would be better than cozying up with a nice bowl of chili as well right???

I wasn’t even going to post this recipe as I feel I haven’t perfected it yet, but when I put it on my Instagram snaps, and Facebook, I received a lot of messages in either handing over a bowl or sharing the recipe, or having a cook off. My family and friends are so competitive. They know they can’t, and W O N ‘ T beat me… I think I’ll be quiet just in case my luck changes and I start taking some major L’s.

Moving on…so to be fair, I have never made chili. My mom and friends usually make the chili and I just eat it. A lot of it. My household insisted on me making a big pot. My friends Caroline and Alex got me this bottle of hot sauce that I needed to try in food since it just about killed me when i poured it on my spoon to taste it, so I decided why not? Why not make a big pot of chili so I can use this hot sauce on something T O D A Y ? From my reviews, and the fact that the pot is empty, and was just basically licked, I think I’ve just made the best chili ever!!! So much that I wasn’t able to take proper pictures of anything but chili’s… Gosh…


So this recipe has a balance of sugar, spice, and everything nice. Seriously…that should be enough to get you excited a little, right??

Here’s What You’ll Need:

4 Tbs of good olive oil

1 yellow onion, chopped

1 red bell pepper chopped

1 Anaheim chile pepper chopped

2 red jalapeno pepper, chopped

4 garlic cloves, minced

2 1/2 pounds lean ground beef

1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce

1 pinch garlic powder, or to taste

2 beef bouillon cubes

1 (12 fluid ounce) can or bottle light beer

1 (28 ounce) can crushed San Marzano tomatoes

1 (14.5 ounce) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes

1 (12 ounce) can tomato paste

1/2 cup white wine 2 tablespoons chili powder

2 Tbs ground cumin

1 Tbs light brown sugar

1 Tbs of dark brown sugar

3 Tbs Mad Dog 357 Gold Edition 

2 1/2 Tsp dried basil

1 1/2 Tsp smoked paprika

1 Tsp salt

1/2 Tsp dried oregano

1/2 Tsp ground black pepper

2 (16 ounce) cans Bush dark red kidney beans


Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat; cook and stir onion, bell pepper, Anaheim pepper, jalapeno peppers, and garlic in the hot oil until softened.

Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook and stir beef in the hot skillet until browned and crumbly, 5 to 7 minutes; add Worcestershire sauce and garlic powder. Crumble bouillon cubes over beef and add beer. Continue to cook , scraping any browned bits from the bottom of the skillet, until liquid is hot, about 3 minutes. Stir beef mixture into pepper mixture.

Stir crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, and wine to the beef mixture. Season with chili powder, 2 tablespoons cumin, brown sugar, pepper sauce, basil, paprika, salt, oregano, and black pepper. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer until meat and vegetables are very tender and flavors have developed in the chili, about 90 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Mix kidney beans into beef and vegetables. Continue to simmer until beans are hot, about 30 minutes more.

Garnish with sour cream and cilantro. Do it. It gives it S O much flavour.

Please email me your photos and thoughts on this dish! Can’t wait to hear about it!!!