Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Yummy Chocolate Chip Cake

It has been awhile since I've posted a blog here!! I have been busy, busy, busy and I have a list of things to start posting again (I hope you like Mickey Mouse because my 2 year is having a Mickey Mouse birthday party in a couple weeks and I have some super cute crafts to share with you!)

Here is a recipe for a super yummy, super moist, super easy Chocolate Chip Cake that I've been meaning to share with you.

The original recipe is from my girl Paula Deen and can be found here.

  • Cooking spray
  • Flour for dusting pan
  • One 18 1/4 ounce yellow cake mix
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • One 3 ounce package instant pudding mix
  • One 12 ounce package semisweet chocolate chips
  • Confectioners' sugar for dusting top of cake
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a bundt pan with cooking spray then put about 2 tablespoons of flour in the bottom of the pan. Tap the pan and turn it all around until the flour coats all surface of the pan. Dump out any excess flour into the trash can.

In a large bowl, combine the cake mix, sour cream, eggs, oil and pudding mix. Combine with an electric mixer until very smooth. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Place the batter evenly in the bundt pan and smooth the top. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes until the top appears set and the cake begins to pull away from the sides of the pan. 

Allow the cake to cool in the pan for about 15 minutes, then take a butter knife and run it around the sides of the pan. Invert the cake onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Dust the top by placing confectioners' sugar into a strainer, holding it above the cake, and tapping the sides of the strainer. Move the strainer from place to place until the cake is dusted.

 This cake is so easy to throw together when you need a quick dessert, but it is also absolutely delicious! I promise you will love it and have hardly any leftovers!!

Enjoy and Happy Cooking!!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Menu Planning: A Week of "All New" recipes

This post is a bit over due.

So a couple weeks ago (it actually turned into a couple weeks when you count leftovers and separate holiday and birthday dinners), my menu planning theme was "All New" which only meant that I couldn't make anything I'd ever made before. All the recipes were new. Dinner was an experiment at our house, which is all at once a little scary and a little exciting.

I have a pretty extensive cookbook collection; I rip pages out of magazines to the point that I have to start a second binder to hold them all; my "Foodie" board on Pinterest is a collection that is taking on a life of its own. I usually try to mix up tried-and-true recipes with new ones every week, but I suppose with it being the end of the year, I was feeling particularly adventurous. Some recipes were FANTASTIC while others weren't so great. No matter, I would do it all over again with a whole new set of recipes and I encourage anyone else to do the same. Its a fun little food adventure and you can learn some great techniques. What's the worst that could happen? If it's terrible, you can always order pizza!

Here is how our meals turned out:

1. Cheesy Zucchini Enchiladas (I used the Finding Hope's [great blog!] "revised" recipe, but the original can be found here.): I really, really, really wanted to love these. I love enchiladas, I love zucchini, and I love cheese. I did not, however, love these. I only just barely liked them. There were very easy to make, which I appreciate, but I just felt like they were missing something, like chicken maybe? I haven't entirely given up on the idea of putting zucchini in my enchilada, but maybe instead of giving it the starring role, it could be demoted to a supporting character. Two notes: 1. I didn't use canned enchilada sauce because I'm not a fan; I used the McCormick's enchilada sauce seasoning package mixed with one small can of tomato sauce and half a can's worth of water, mixed well and boiled until reduced just a little (makes a great enchilada sauce and one that I always use.) 2. My friend Jenn, who originally brought this recipe to my attention, said she served hers with sour cream and avocados as a sort of garnish. I highly recommend doing this. The sour cream mixed extremely well with the enchilada and the bites that included the sour cream were my favorites. I didn't think dousing the whole thing in sour cream was such a great idea though :0)

2. Crock Pot Orange Chicken (I've heard the original came from A Year of Slow Cooking blog, but I don't know): I'm just going to blunt with this one... it was awful. Terrible. It was like orange flavored candy chicken dipped in Orange Crush. It was far too sweet. I didn't even finish mine. The problem was that I made a lot, so the hubby had it for lunch for the rest of the week (he's a trooper). He added his favorite ingredient, Tapatio, and he said that made it a lot better (code: edible). I think the hot sauce probably cut through the sweetness and added another layer of flavor. I watched him put it on his serving though and he added A LOT of hot sauce. I don't know if I like hot sauce enough to have to add that much. I will say one good thing about this dish: The chicken texture came out GREAT! It was really tender and juicy; it didn't dry out at all. I will use this technique again, but I will use a different sauce. I would not recommend this recipe and I am probably going to delete the pin from my Pinterest board.

3. Brown sugar and Balsamic glazed pork: OK, so I'm actually going to have to make this recipe again because I didn't exactly follow the rules on this one. I didn't pull the pork roast out in time to get it in the crock pot, so I ended up just roasting it in the oven (a 2 lb roast at 350 degrees for 3 hours). While I love what slow cooking a roast does to the meat (absolutely fall apart tender!), this was a perfectly acceptable substitute. The meat was moist and the balsamic glaze was perfect. It was almost like a balsamic bbq sauce. I will absolutely make this again, except I will try to plan a bit better and use the crock pot this time.

4. Hungarian goulash with potato pancakes: I made this one without a recipe at all and it was pretty tasty. I saw someone make this on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives and it looked super yummy. When I went to the Food Network website, though, the recipe wasn't on there! Single tear... So I just kept the episode on my DVR and tried to replicate it the best I could. I put a seasoned a beef roast with salt and pepper and paprika and put it in the crock pot with a bunch of peppers (I didn't have the specific ones she mentioned in her segment, but I just used one jalapeño, 1/2 green bell pepper and about 4 or 5 small sweet orange, yellow, and red peppers), sliced mushrooms, a lot of garlic, beef stock, and bay leaves. Let it cook for 6-8 hours on low or 4-6 hours on high, until done. You can brown the roast before putting it in the crock pot if you want, but I didn't think it was necessary. On the show, the girl made potato pancakes with what looked like mashed potatoes, but she had taken the starch out somehow. It all looked very restauranty. Guy Fieri commented that they tasted like mashed potatoes in the middle, so I was going to just make mashed potato cakes (mashed potatoes, cold, made into patties and pan fried. you can add mix-ins too). I didn't have potatoes, but I did have frozen hashbrowns (lightbulb!), so I thawed out what I needed and mixed in some sour cream to help bind it together, then I made patties and pan fried them in a little bit of canola oil. I served the beef (which had a lot of great flavor) over the potato cake with the sauce that the beef had cooked in. You can cook it up and make a roux and turn it into a true gravy if you really wanted to, and I may do that next time. The combo of flavors was really good with this one. I may also add a few more veggies too, like carrots; turn it into a sort of Hungarian pot roast! It was yummy!

5. Mexican Stuffed Shells: This is another Pinterest find and O.M.G. these were so wonderfully fantastic!! I can't say enough about them! They were by far my favorite of the new dishes of the week. I was a little cautious because I don't usually think to mix mexican with pasta and the recipe was so simple, I thought it was going to be just "Ok," but boy was I wrong. These were so good!!! I wish I had made more. I wish had some right now! The beef filling with the taco seasoning and the cream cheese (what? random, I know, but DO NOT SKIP IT!) was nothing short of delicious. I was tempted to add the whole thing of cream cheese because at first it didn't look like it was going to be enough, but fight the temptation if you find yourself in the same mindset. It will be enough. If you do want to add the whole block of cream cheese, just add another pound of ground beef and make some more shells and sprinkle some more cheese... you'll want the extra! I'm sure these would even make a great freezer meal. Hmmm... I may have to stop by the grocery store on my way home and pick up a few things for dinner tonight... :0)

6. Potato veggie cheese soup: This was another really simple recipe that was actually very good. And another Pinterest find :0). I don't really have much to say about it, except that mine didn't look like the picture at all. It looked good still, and it tasted really good, but the picture of the recipe looked a lot thicker. They actually call it a "chowder" on the site. I probably could have pureed some of it and added it back to the pot, but I didn't. It was good the way it was for me. This is a great recipe for a cold fall or winter night. It was very comforting, especially served with fresh bread :0)

Sunday, January 1, 2012


"Success is not a goal, it's a byproduct." - Coach Taylor (Kyle Chandler), Friday Night Lights

When I first heard this quote on FNL, I loved it! I think it is such a great way to look at how you do things in life. Doing things gradually and following the right steps will get you to the end result. Set small, manageable expectations for yourself and you'll not only be happier, but you probably won't feel like giving up when things deviate from the plan even just a little bit.

That being said, here is my list of resolutions. I don't normally do this, but I'm thinking if it share it online, there is a bit of accountability I can expect! :0)

- Work out everyday or as often as I can. Somedays it won't happen and I can't get myself down for that.

- Try to eat a bit healthier. This is hard because 1) I love to cook and I don't like to limit myself. At least I know cooking meals at home allows me to control all the ingredients and know exactly what is going into our food. 2) I like to snack. My goal this year is to maybe snack a little less. With food, it's all about portion control.

-----> hopefully with those two resolutions, I can get healthier and more in shape. A nice side effect should be a little weight loss and clothes fitting a bit better. I always get so frustrated when I pick a weight loss goal and it seems to take so long to get there. This year I'm trying a new approach and hoping to form good habits.

- do more crafts because I enjoy them, including expanding my sewing skills and learning how to crochet.
- do more life-enriching reading, whether that's a devotion or a biography or a short essay. We have a lot to learn from other people and hearing about the great things God can do in our lives and through our lives
- do more things for other people
- make cleaning and organizing my house a continual habit rather than a to-do list that I feel burdened my when I let it get too long.
- leisurely build up my product stock for my side business so when I am invited to a show/boutique or have the opportunity to do a show/boutique I can do it without stressing about getting things done.
- follow through on more date nights with the hubby. We are both so busy it is easy to forget about each other.
- spend more time doing things outside the house with JJ
- find an agent and hopefully a publisher for my book and get a running start on a second one.

I hope you all have a great and blessed 2012!!