Elena Aquilanti / Daily Nexus

Recipe routine feeling lackluster? Find inspiration on Foodstagram!

As college students trying to balance school, work and social(-ly distant) lives, it’s easy to put creativity in the kitchen on the back burner. I know when life gets busy, especially with midterm season rapidly approaching, I get stuck making the same recipes even when I’m tired of them.

I’ve found that one of the best ways to fight this slump and spice up your recipe rotation is by keeping up with some fun food influencers. Found on Instagram, TikTok, Youtube and even good ol’ blogs, food accounts are an easy way to find new flavors or challenge yourself in the kitchen. It could be said that I’m addicted to Foodstagram, but having new recipes and food videos pop up on my Instagram feed always inspire me to switch things up when my usuals are feeling a little bit stale. 

My favorite Foodstagrammer is Tieghan Gerard, 28-year-old owner of the food blog and Instagram account, Half Baked Harvest. I found Gerard’s Instagram on my explore page and was immediately drawn in by her aesthetically styled dishes and creativity with flavors. Whenever I’m bored of my dinner schedule or in the mood to try out a new treat, Half Baked Harvest is my go-to. Filled with healthy alternative recipes, unique fusion dishes and modern takes on comfort food classics, Half Baked Harvest has something for everyone, whatever your style in the kitchen may be. And what’s even better, Gerard makes all her instructions easy to follow, links her recipes directly to her Instagram stories and often has video reels to go with the recipes posted on her blog to save and follow along with later. So if you’re in need of a mid-quarter refresh like I know I am, check out Gerard’s account on Instagram and revive your mealtime routine with just a few taps. If you’re feeling extra inspired, check out Half Baked Harvest’s cookbooks!

Feeling ready to try out one of these recipes? This weekend, I was, too. 

In the mood for a new dessert and having some delicious blackberries on hand from the farmers market, I decided to try Half Baked Harvest’s recipe for the Swirled Blackberry Lavender Sheet Cake. With an easy, homemade jam swirled through a vanilla cake batter and a decadent, white chocolate frosting, this cake is a simple yet delicious way to impress your friends or family. 


Blackberry Lavender Jam:

  • 6 cups fresh or frozen blackberries
  • ½ cup honey
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons dried lavender 

Blackberry Cake: 

  • 1 cup melted coconut oil
  • ½ cup sour cream 
  • 3 large eggs 
  • 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup milk 
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda 
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder 
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

Vanilla White Chocolate Frosting: 

  • 2 sticks (1 cup) salted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 ½ cups powdered sugar
  • 6 ounces of white chocolate, melted and cooled
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 


  1. Combine the blackberries, honey, lemon juice and lavender in a medium-sized pot. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then use a fork or masher to mash the berries. Cook for an additional 5 to 8 minutes, until the mixture is thickened and reduced in volume by ⅓ . Remove from heat and cool. 
  2. In a large bowl, beat together the eggs, sour cream, vanilla, sugar and coconut oil. Add the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Mix it until just combined and then add the milk slowly, beating until fully combined. 
  3. Line a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with parchment paper and pour the batter into the dish. Distribute ½ – ¾ cup of jam over the batter and use a knife to lightly swirl through the batter. 
  4. Bake at 350 F for 30 to 35 minutes, until the top is just set. Remove and let cool completely before frosting.   
  5. To make the frosting, beat the butter and powdered sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy in texture. Melt the white chocolate in the microwave (use 30-second intervals, stir in between and until melted) then let cool. Add the melted white chocolate and vanilla extract to the bowl, beating until combined. 
  6. Spread a thin layer of jam over the cooled cake and then add the frosting on top. Swirl some extra dollops of jam through the frosting for extra decoration and deliciousness! 

You can also swap out the coconut oil for butter, or add some different berries to the jam to make it your own! I added some raspberries and a few extra berries for garnish on top. This dessert is a light, refreshing twist on the classic vanilla sheet cake we all know and love. The perfect crowd pleaser and just one of many great recipes on Gerard’s site, this Half Baked Harvest Swirled Blackberry Lavender Sheet Cake is a great treat to add to your repertoire this season.