Boxed Cake Mix Transformed

Boxed Cake Mix Transformed, or “how to make a cake from a boxed cake mix that doesn’t appear to be a boxed cake”. I know that a lot of you are super busy and those new gluten-free cake mixes look so appealing, so I’m giving you my best tips for using them! 

Boxed Cake Mix Transformed 2

Before I jump into today’s post: 1. If you didn’t know, Treats With a Twist is now SIX Years old! Holy moly! and 2. Happy Anniversary to my hubby. Love ya! 

I never thought I’d be doing a post like this, not because I’m so against boxed cake mixes, but honestly because there have been so few gluten-free boxed cake mixes on the market. Well, now they’re everywhere! Even Pillsbury has a gluten-free confetti cake mix, which just blows my mind.

So, since making a box mix may be your go-to, you may also be wondering how to oomph it up a bit so it isn’t immediately noticeable as “not from scratch.”

I will preface this by saying, I still 100% believe in from-scratch cakes. I think they are a labor of pure love, they are gorgeous and taste wonderful and are always worth it (unless you burn the cake…then that sucks).

My husband is one of those guys who likes things to be “regular” or “normal”. In his eyes, the more flavors or substitutions he knows about, the less he likes something. He rolls his eyes at pumpkin pancakes and begs for buttermilk ones, he sighs when there are too many extras in his banana bread, and he likes chocolate or vanilla cake, no fluff. So, his birthday was coming up and I decided not to go “all out” in homage to him…but I still wanted to eat the cake and play with the mix too, so I went with a boxed confetti cake mix (this was the cake I also made for my Virtual Baby Shower). I even used a pre-made frosting! Gasp! Something I haven’t done in maybe 5 years.

This mix called for 3 eggs, 1/3 cup oil, 1 cup of water, and the mix. Instead, I used egg whites (4-5), 1/3 cup melted coconut oil, water, and a splash of imitation vanilla (the primary flavor in confetti cake, the only place I use imitation vanilla). For the frosting, I added a couple drops of blue food gel and I added my own sprinkles on top of the cake too.

Even baking it was different than the instructions, just to make it my own. I baked it in a ½ jellyroll pan then used a 6” ring to stamp out 3 layers. Making it a small layer cake just made it extra special. I decided to crumb-coat frost it, leaving it “messy” looking, versus layering the frosting into a hugely frosted dome (my husband isn’t a frosting fan, and I’m not a fussy-looking frosting lover, so this works for us!).

Boxed Cake Mix Transformed 1

Did he notice the difference? In the best way, no (he didn’t know it was from a box). But I did!

For me, I’d made the cake more special, a touch healthier, and I didn’t feel ashamed about “just” making a boxed cake. There’s no shame in making a boxed cake, but I used to hate having to admit I used a mix.

Here are my favorite tips to make a boxed cake mix your own. Use one tip, a couple, or as many as you’d like, and have fun!

  1. Add pure vanilla extract to a vanilla-based cake, add coffee to chocolate mix, add immitation vanilla to funfetti/confetti cake mix. I always do this. The splash of extra flavor really makes a difference.
  2. Add pudding mix! Add chocolate or vanilla pudding mix, depending on the cake flavor, to add lots of moisture to the cake. I usually just add ½ a box, but you can add the whole box (they even make sugar free or fat free varieties).
  3. Use coconut oil instead of vegetable oil or butter
  4. Make it a different shape! Presentation is key. You can bake it in a jelly roll pan and cut out 6” layers or bake it in a decorative bottom cake pan, just be sure to grease and flour the bottom so the details pop.
  5. Use food coloring and dye the cake OR the frosting. I use gel food coloring, because it is so vibrant and doesn’t add extra moisture to your mix. Just the tiniest drop makes a bright, bold difference.
  6. Use egg whites only or one whole egg and the rest egg whites. Also, try using applesauce, Greek yogurt, melted coconut oil or another healthy substitute for the canola/vegetable oil that is called for. Making chocolate cake? Try adding canned pumpkin (instead of most of or all of the oil) and a couple teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice!
  7. Refrigerate the cake overnight before frosting to trap in moisture. I like to cut out my layers, wrap them well with plastic wrap, then refrigerate overnight every time I make a cake. This is a tip I learned from a bakery I worked in, and it really does make a difference.
  8. Dice in fresh fruit or fold in chopped nuts.

Boxed Cake Mix Transformed //

Do you have a Boxed Cake Mix Transformation tip? I’d love to hear it! Which of mine jumps out at you? 


Note: this is not a sponsored post, all opinions are my own.

SIX Years

You may have noticed on Instagram earlier, or not, but today I am celebrating SIX years since starting Treats With a Twist.

6 Years //

I can’t thank you enough for all of the love and support you’ve shown me over the past 6 years. You, my readers, are why I’m still making treats and still having so much fun sharing my life with the world. I never thought I’d be one of those people who loves their job and truly does what she wants, and yet here I am.

I also appreciate you letting me overshare my personal life here. I think I originally intended to keep it just to the treats, but life happens and I was so glad to have an outlet to share whatever was going on at the time. From my weight-loss journey to fertility struggles, I’ve never been more nervous to push “post,” yet doing it always set a part of me free.

Treats With a Twist has experienced some crazy life events with me. I met this really nice, blue-eyed guy; ended up marrying him; experienced so many health and fertility problems that I tried to keep bottled up inside, but really couldn’t; got pregnant and shared our miracle news; and you were there for it all!

I’ve had the opportunity to work with brands I’d only dreamed of working with. I traveled to headquarters and conferences. I developed recipes and played with appliances I never thought I’d ever get to touch. I also met some of my best, closest friends, just through blogging!

We ate so many delicious, gluten free treats this year. I mean, seriously, do you remember these?! And this?! Yes please!

You even let me gab about the makeup I slap on my face and the books I can’t get enough of! 

All I can say is, THANK YOU. Thank you for reading and supporting Treats. Thank you for being supportive of my dreams. And thank you for letting me slip a bit of sugar into your life.

This space will certainly see some huge changes over the next year (goodbye Fabulously Fit Fridays, hello new baby and lots more travel), but I will continue to be here, dousing you in sarcasm and gluten free treats for breakfast, snack and dessert. I can’t wait to see what the next year brings!

Trashed Up Halloween Bark

Trashed Up Halloween Bark is a fun, super simple Halloween treat that you can make all Fall long. Fun and delicious candy corn and pumpkin spice cereal are combined on dark chocolate, plus a few secret spices that blow it over the top. 

Trashed Up Halloween Bark //

I had one of those days where almost everything I tried to make ended up not tasting so good. It would fall apart or have a weird texture and it was really blowing my mind. Then I realized that really all I wanted was something super simple and primarily chocolate…

Candy corn was gleaming in a glass jar out of the corner of my eye…

A new box of Pumpkin Spice Trader Joe’s O’s cereal was summoning me…

Yup, I got trashy and decided it all needed to meet. Plus pumpkin pie spice. And sea salt. Duh.

And holy moly was this ever a success!

I think all bark should be this way. A hint of spice, a pleasant hit of salt, rich chocolate, a bit of crunch. This is just too good to not make right now!

Plus, you could totally gift some of it, if you’re nice like that.

Trashed Up Halloween Bark 1

I meant to gift some to my friend who stayed with us for the weekend…it slipped my mind as she packed her bag and left. Whoops. Guess I’ll be eating it all.

Trashed Up Halloween Bark 2

Trashed Up Halloween Bark //

Trashed Up Halloween Bark 4

Try this super simple recipe for Trashed Up Halloween Bark! It’ll easily be the most satisfying thing you make today. Plus, it contains two of the major food groups in one hit (candy, candy corn).

Trashed Up Halloween Bark
Trashed Up Halloween Bark is a fun, super simple Halloween treat that you can make all Fall long. Fun and delicious candy corn and pumpkin spice cereal are combined on dark chocolate, plus a few secret spices that blow it over the top. (makes 6 servings...or 1 if that makes you feel better)
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  1. 12 ounces semisweet or dark chocolate (or your favorite chocolate)
  2. 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  3. ½ cup “pumpkin spice Trader Joe’s O’s” (or Honey Nut Cheerios)
  4. 1/3 cup candy corn
  5. sea salt
  1. Lay out a piece of parchment on a flat surface (you’ll want a 12x20” piece or so).
  2. Melt your chocolate gently, either on the stovetop or in the microwave, until just melted. Stir the chocolate well. Pour it in an even layer on the parchment and use a silicone spatula to spread it into a rectangle, leaving the chocolate at least 1/8” thick.
  3. Sprinkle on the pumpkin spice. Next sprinkle on the cereal and candy corn, making sure it’s spread evenly. Finally, carefully sprinkle a bit of sea salt over the top of the whole thing (just a few pinches is plenty).
  4. Let the chocolate set up. If you’re impatient, carefully pull the parchment onto a flat cookie sheet and place in the fridge. Once it is completely set, break it into pieces. Enjoy!
  1. Keep bark in the fridge or freezer in an airtight container if you live in a warm climate, otherwise you can keep it in an airtight container on the counter.
Treats With a Twist

Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal

Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal is the best of both worlds: breakfast, and pumpkin pie! But, it’s healthy, gluten free, vegan, and low sugar, unlike traditional pie. My Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal is loaded with vitamin-rich, fiber-full pumpkin, traditional spices, and naturally sweetened with maple sugar. Have your pie and eat it too.

Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal // gluten free //

We finally had our first crisp, Fall weekend here in northern Mississippi. It was amazing! Leggings and plaid as far as the eye can see.

I guess when I feel Fall roll in, I immediately think of Fall flavors as comforting. I am brewing pumpkin chai tea, scouring magazines for new ideas for Thanksgiving sides, and digging glass pumpkins out of my décor drawers to decorate my bookshelves.

I even attended an outdoor market, filled with new and vintage pieces, and the there were huge displays of thermoses as art work.

Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal 1

Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal 4

This bowl of Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal is going to be your favorite breakfast for the season. It is packed with real pumpkin puree, those classic pumpkin pie spices (if you don’t have a pre-blend, which I got from Trader Joe’s, then mix together two-parts cinnamon to one-part of each cloves, allspice and nutmeg), and subtly sweetened with maple sugar. I love how quickly it comes together, and how quickly I can be eating pumpkin pie at the crack of dawn.

You can make this breakfast in the microwave or on the stovetop, whichever one is convenient for you. This is all about you, and all about getting a comforting Fall breakfast to your table as quickly as possible.

Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal // gluten free //

Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal 3

Whip up a bowl of Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal and you’ll be tasting Fall in no time.

Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal
Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal is the best of both worlds: breakfast, and pumpkin pie! But, it’s healthy, gluten free, vegan, and low sugar, unlike traditional pie. My Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal is loaded with vitamin-rich, fiber-full pumpkin, traditional spices, and naturally sweetened with maple sugar. Have your pie and eat it too. (makes 1 portion)
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  1. ½ cup old fashioned oats
  2. 1 cup water
  3. ¼ cup pumpkin puree
  4. 1 ½ tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  5. 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  6. pinch of sea salt
  7. 1 Tbs. maple sugar or maple syrup
  1. In the microwave or on the stovetop, cook the oats and water until completely cooked (in my microwave, it takes 3 minutes on 60% power). To the cooked oatmeal, add the rest of the ingredients and stir until completely mixed.
  2. Taste, and add more maple if you like your oats sweeter, or add more pumpkin pie spice if you like things spicier. Eat, enjoy!
Treats With a Twist

Fabulously Fit Friday 67 and Fall Fitness

It’s time for another Fabulously Fit Friday! This time, I’m talking Fall Fitness, specifically the fall fitness challenge I’ve gotten myself into! 

Fabulously Fit Friday 67 and Fall Fitness //

Haaaaaaappy Friday!

So, I am currently 30 weeks pregnant, almost 31, BUT this isn’t a “prenatal workouts” only thing, just to preface.

Here’s what I’ve been up to lately!

The Tone It Up challenge for fall, Fit For Fall, has begun! I do their challenges every season and I really love them. They have such a wonderful, supportive community and the workouts really are fun.

This was week 1 of the 8-week challenge (you can still join in!). All of the cardio done in this challenge (goal is 100 miles) actually donates money towards charity because I am using (and everyone in the TIU community is using) the Charity Miles app. If you aren’t already using it, you should! You basically turn it on before every walk or run and it tracks your distance, and then at the end of your workout it donates money to your designated charity! How cool is that?!

The workouts this week included shoulder toning, all over toning, yoga, cardio…

I skipped the HIIT workouts because they were designated on days that I was going to my Body Pump class, and they highly encourage you to just go to the classes you love. That, and I can’t do HIIT easily because bouncing around with this giant medicine ball stuck to my front (and back) is just too hard now.

My goal is to complete 100 miles of cardio (walking, jogging, elliptical, etc) after this 8 weeks, and be stronger, happier and ready to give birth and bounce back! That seems like a huge goal now, but I really want to do it! 

Fabulously Fit Friday 67, Fall Fitness, , yoga

I’m still going to Body Pump, ideally twice a week. Also, I’ve been going to yoga most Fridays and a prenatal yoga class on most Sundays too! Namaste.

Green Protein Pancake // Fabulously Fit Friday 67 //


I’ve been using the Vega Protein & Greens powder for my pancakes lately and loving it! I also have been using the Vega One protein powder in the flavor Coconut Almond, which I think is my favorite.

I’m honestly not strict in any way with my food, letting myself eat whatever comes to mind when I’m hungry (which happens all the time now since my stomach can hold very little now, so I’m hungry really quickly after eating). This being said, I’m a pretty healthy person as it is. I do salads for most of my meals because I truly love them, and now most of my snacks are apples and cheese (I’ve never eaten so many apples in my life!).

I’m currently loving the Nature Valley protein bars and my Quest Bars too when I’m stuck in the car and starving or when I need dessert but there’s no cake around (ie every night).


Ok I need help here! Music! I’ve been listening to the Of Monsters and Men station on Pandora when I’m up at the crack of dawn walking (because it doesn’t jar me awake), and the Tone It UP: Fit For Fall playlist on Spotify in the afternoons during my workouts.

Do you have any heart-pounding music you use? I need suggestions.


That’s about it for this week! I’m on my way to my baby shower for the weekend! What are you doing for fall fitness?

Note: this is not a sponsored post.