November 12, 2011

Best. Chocolate. Cake. EVER!

I made this for a birthday at work. The BDay girl is a Huuuuuuuuuuge chocolate lover - the darker the better. So I searched long and hard for a dark chocolate cake. I ended up choosing the chocolate cake that had the biggest amount of cocoa that I could find, and used Hershey's Special Dark cocoa powder instead of unsweetened that was called for.

DOUBLE CHOCOLATE CAKE (smittenkitchen)

3 oz. fine-quality semisweet chocolate (I used semisweet chocolate chips)
1 1/2 cups hot brewed coffee
3 cups sugar
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process) (I used Hershey's Special Dark cocoa)
2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
3 large eggs
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups well-shaken buttermilk
3/4 teaspoon vanilla

Grease and flour round cake pans and line with wax paper. Combine chocolate with coffee and stir occasionally until melted.

Sift together sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl beat eggs for a couple minutes until thickened. Add oil, buttermilk, vanilla, and coffee mixture to eggs, beating until combined well. Add sugar/flour mixture and beat just until combined.

Bake 300* for 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes, until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Place pans on cooling racks and leave cakes in pans until they are completely cool, then invert cakes onto racks. Cake layers may be made one day ahead and kept, wrapped well in plastic wrap, at room temperature.

The recipe called for two 10" rounds, but I only have 9", and there was a LOT of batter. My cake pans were over 3/4 full and I was worried they would spill over onto the oven. So I ended up filling up ramekins for mini chocolate cakes.

Man o man, this cake looks reallllly dark! I thought it was burned when it came out of the oven (it wasn't). It didn't really taste like dark chocolate (not bitter), but had the strongest chocolate flavor I've ever had in a chocolate cake. It was sooooo good. And that frosting - perfect. Really great consistency for spreading on the cake and really great flavor. Make it today and again and again any time you need a chocolate cake!

I found the frosting recipe on the back of the cocoa canister. It was PERFECT for this cake:


1/2 c. butter or margarine
2/3 c. Hershey's Special Dark Cocoa
3 c. powdered sugar
1/3 c. milk
1 tsp. vanilla

Melt butter. Stir in cocoa. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency. Add small amount of additional milk if needed. Stir in vanilla. Yields about 2 c. frosting.

April 1, 2011

{recipe} Teriyaki Stir Fry

This recipe comes from a Pampered Chef cookbook that my sister lent me. I bookmarked several recipes that I'd like to try, but this one was the lucky first.

Teriyaki Stir Fry (from Pampered Chef: It's Good For You)

2/3 c. reduced-sodium soy sauce
1/4 c. packed brown sugar
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
2 tsp. peeled, finely chopped fresh gingerroot (I used 1 tsp ground ginger)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1 lb. boneless pork loin chops (or chicken), cut into 1/8" strips (I omitted this, and instead added sliced fresh mushrooms)
2 c. uncooked instant whole grain brown rice
1 medium red bell pepper, cut into 1/4" strips
6 oz. fresh snow peas, trimmed (I used frozen)
1 bunch green onions with tops, cut into 1" pieces (I used minced yellow onion)
1 tsp. sesame oil, divided
1 can (8 oz.) bamboo shoots, drained
(I also added sliced carrots, and next time will add broccoli)


In small bowl, combine soy sauce, brown sugar, and cornstarch. Whisk until blended, then stir in ginger, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Add pork (or mushrooms!) to soy sauce mixture, stir to coat, and refrigerate 15 minutes to marinate. Cook rice according to pkg directions. Heat 1/2 tsp. sesame oil over high heat until hot. Remove pork (or mushrooms!) from marinade and add to skillet (save the marinade!). Stir-fry 1-2 minutes until no longer pink. Remove from skillet and keep warm. In same skillet, heat other 1/2 tsp. sesame oil. add veggies and stir-fry 2-3 minutes until veggies are slightly tender/slightly crisp. Return pork (or mushrooms!) to skillet. Stir in reserved marinade and bamboo shoots, and bring to boil. Cook and stir 1 minute until sauce is thickened. Serve over rice.

Makes 6 servings.

YUM! YUM! YUM! So good! And once all the prep work was done, it cooked together in a flash. Slightly sweet, slightly spicy - a keeper!

March 31, 2011

New Wall Art

Blank wall behind my tv for the past year and a half. Time to fix it. Based on this tutorial, I came up with this:
CONAN! (I <3 U)
It only took a couple hours to cut out (while catching up on DVR). Easy!

Cake Decorating

I got a Wilton cake decorating set from my sister for Christmas, and I tested it out this week when I made a cake for a coworker's birthday. Here's the result:

I used Wilton tip #21 to make the stars.

And here's a link to the Old Fashioned Yellow Cake recipe I tested from Sing for Your Supper.

March 14, 2011

Quilting Experiment

When it came time to pick out a wedding gift for some friends, their registry was pretty well-picked over. So I decided to make a personalized appliqued wall-hanging. The only experience I have with applique/quilting was a baby blanket I helped my Mom make almost 3 years ago. To say the least, I was a bit rusty and inexperienced. Flash forward to a few days of scouring applique books at Hobby Lobby, searching for tutorials from various blogs, and a hand-drawn pattern...Here's what I came up with:

I'm very pleased!

The technique was largely based on this tutorial from Samelia's Mum.

Linking up to Get Your Craft On @ Today's Creative Blog.

January 29, 2011

{recipe} BBQ Chicken Pizza

I've never had the desire to try BBQ Chicken pizza before, but Tony had an idea to create one yesterday, so I went with it. It was delicious! Here's how it went down...


In crock pot, place 2 chicken breasts, 1/2 cup-ish BBQ sauce, 1/2 cup-ish water, 1/2 Tbsp. butter, 1/2 c. chopped onions, 2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce, 1/2 Tbsp. Mesquite seasoning, 1/2 tsp. each: thyme and oregano. All measurements are estimates as it was not actually measured. Cook 3-4 hours on high in little mini crock pot. Shred chicken and then strain off juice. Reserve the juice for the pizza sauce.


Make your crust. Preheat for 5 minutes so sauce doesn't soak in. Brush crust with reserved juice. Layer on chicken, cooked spinach (used about 4 oz., will add more next time), sauted fresh mushrooms (8 oz.), and cheese. We used a mix of sharp cheddar, mozzarella, and parmesan. Bake until yummy.

January 24, 2011

January 22, 2011

{recipe} Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

These are DELICIOUS! And now my go-to cinnamon roll recipe. They are also great for night-before prep. The best!


1/4 cup warm water (not hot, about 110 degrees)
1 package (2 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast
1/3 cup warm milk
1 large egg, beaten
3/4 cup pumpkin puree, either fresh or canned
1 tablespoon melted butter
2 cups (approximately) All-Purpose Flour
1 1 /4 cup Whole Wheat Pastry Flour (I've made with regulary whole wheat flower and also all AP flour. Still good both ways.)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom (I've made these twice and didn't have cardamom either time. Still good.)

1 stick butter
2/3 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon each of allspice and ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon cloves

In a large bowl, stir yeast into water to soften. Let rest for 5 minutes before stirring. Add milk, eggs, pumpkin, butter, 1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, ginger and cardamom to yeast mixture. Beat vigorously for 2 minutes.

Gradually add remaining flour (all purpose), a little at a time, until you have a dough stiff enough to knead. Start with about 1 1/2 cups and increase if necessary. Turn dough out onto a floured surface. Knead, adding flour as necessary, until you have a smooth, elastic dough.

Put dough into an oiled bowl. Turn once to coat entire ball of dough with oil. Cover with a towel and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.

Combine the white sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, allspice, ginger, nutmeg and cloves in a small bowl, set aside. Transfer the risen dough to a lightly greased work surface, and pat or roll it into a 16" x 12" rectangle. Spread softened butter over dough and then sprinkle with the sugar mixture.

Roll the dough into a log the long way; it'll stretch to about 20" long as you roll. Using a very sharp knife, slice the log into 15 slices. In order to cut down on drag, it helps to rinse the blade in hot water, and wipe it off, between slices. Place slices in a greased 9x13 inch baking pan (or in two 8 or 9 inch round cake or pie pans). Cover with a towel and let rise until almost doubled, about 45 minutes.

Bake in a preheated 375°F oven. Bake the rolls till they're brown around the edges and beginning to turn golden brown across the center, about 20-30 minutes. While rolls are baking, make cream-cheese frosting. Frost while still warm.

FOR NIGHT-BEFORE PREP: Prepare the rolls up to the point where you roll and place in the pan. Then, cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. In the morning, remove the pan from the fridge and proceed with the instructions where you left off. Rising time may be slightly longer than noted in the recipe due to the dough being cold vs room temp. (This is how I've made the rolls both times. I take off the plastic wrap, cover with a towel, and place in an oven set to Warm. Works great!)

4 ounces cream cheese
1 stick (4 ounces) butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon lemon juice
2 cups powdered sugar
While rolls bake, prepare the cream cheese frosting. Add the cream cheese, butter, vanilla, and lemon juice to a small food processor. Blend until smooth. Add the powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time, blending in between, until well mixed and desired consistency is reached.

*The original post on GoodLifeEats includes tips for baking with yeast, including how to know when your dough has fully risen to double-size.