Monday, June 30, 2008

Chocolate Cake

In the middle of last week, someone brought a cake to Keeneland. Greg said that it looked like a chocolaty hot mess, but it didn't have any flavor and was overall a bit disappointing. Since I love to spoil him so, I decided to treat him to a cake this weekend while he had to work!

This is a pretty classic recipe. It's not creative or unique, it's especially not healthy, but it is WONDERFUL! I found this recipe on the back of a Hershey's cocoa box, along with my brownie recipe. I haven't messed around with the cake batter, but I have made different frostings. My favorite alternative is a mocha frosting, and I would love to try a dark chocolate-orange frosting. Yum!


2 C. Sugar
1 3/4 C. all purpose flour
3/4 C. Cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 C. milk
1/2 C. veg oil
2 tsp vanilla
1 C. boiling water

-Mix sugar, flour, cocoa, baking soda and powder, and salt.
-Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla
-Stir in boiling water
-Bake 30-35 minutes at 350 degrees

1 stick butter, melted
3/4 C. cocoa
4 C. powdered sugar
1/3 C. milk
1 tsp vanilla

- Melt the butter
- Add the rest of the ingredients, mix with a mixer. Add more powdered sugar if needed to get a desired consistency.

Let cakes cool all the way, frost and eat up! Great with a cup of milk!


Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Layered Lemon Dessert

This post is for my sister-in-law Beth. Beth is soon to be a first time Mom, and last I heard, citrus had been among her cravings.

This week at work my office moved, and to "celebrate" there was a company bbq. Dan did a great job grilling, and everyone else brought something for a potluck. I volunteered a "summery lemon dessert", but needed a recipe. I wanted something super super easy, a little creamy, and with good lemon flavor. ended up having just tons of different versions of lemon desserts. The ones that sounded best were all layered with cream cheese and lemon pudding. Most of the recipes called for a homemade crust using a food processor. Normally I'm all for being very homemade, but I just wanted something I could throw together without turning the oven on, and that would taste great. Instead of cutting flour with butter, pressing and baking, I bought ginger snap cookies, broke them into pieces, and made a "crust". A "first layer" may be more appropriate since they didn't end up covering the whole bottom, and got slightly incorporated into the second layer. The coolness of the rest of the dessert really cuts the heat of the ginger (good for those who don't like ginger that well), but the ginger and lemon make a wonderful flavor combination. I also wanted to really taste the lemon flavor, so I added the juice and zest of a lemon to "zest" things up a bit. I think it worked really well, and Greg agrees. There is so much sugar in here that the extra lemon doesn't make the dessert tart at all, but just really "bright".

Greg got to have a serving or two when I got home from work. This is one of those desserts that you can easily just take a forkful of, walk away, and come back again in 30 minutes. It seems pretty light, which is great, and it is cool, which is wonderful. We'll be making this again because it is so delicious, very easy, and can serve at least 20 people.


2 1/2 C. of crushed/broken ginger snap cookies
1 package of lemon pudding
1 8oz package of cream cheese
1 tub of cool whip
1 lemon
1 C. powdered sugar
1 1/2 C. milk

-Spread ginger snap pieces on the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking pan
-In a mixer, mix the cream cheese, 1 C. of cool whip, powdered sugar, and juice from the lemon until smooth.
-Pour the cream cheese mixture on top of the ginger snaps, gently spreading across the pan.
-Mix the milk and pudding, pour over the cream cheese mixture and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
-Spread the remaining cool whip on top of the set pudding.
-Cover the top of the cool whip with the lemon zest.
-Cover and serve cold.


Saturday, June 7, 2008


This past week has been super hot. Each day has been in the mid to high 80's or low 90's, and only getting down to the 70's at night. It's hard for me to want to eat and cook (or anything else) when it is that hot. I know it will only stay this way or get worse, so I figured we needed to start acclimating, and that gazpacho would help!

My Mom used to make gazpacho in the end of the summer when we realized that there were way to many tomatoes and cucumbers for us to put on salads or sandwiches. I remember taking a large yogurt container full of this cool raw soup to football practice/training in August, and that it was always super refreshing.

Since we don't have a garden, Greg and I ventured out to the local farmers market this morning to gather our bounty. I figured that there would be a noticeable difference between store bought tomatoes and the farmers market ones, but I had no idea just how much better they would be! There was so much meat on these baseball and larger sized tom's that you could have easily eaten one like an apple! They were just wonderful!

Staying to form, I browsed as many gazpacho recipes that I could find, and saw that there are really only three main ingredients: tomato, garlic, and bread. Yes, bread; I don't remember my Mom putting any in hers, but every other recipe calls for bread! Other common ingredients included: cucumber, bell pepper, cumin and paprika. Celery, jicama, and jalapeƱos were listed on several recipes, but I don't like that the celery flavor overpowers other more subtle flavors, so I opted to not use any. My end result is really not so much a true recipe, but a "technique" as my Mom would say.

The end result was pretty good. I like that the bread adds texture and substance to the soup, without changing any flavors. Next time I would put more cucumber and less Worcester sauce, but try to keep everything else about the same.


2 pieces of bread
5lbs of tomatoes
1 large cucumber
1 red bell pepper
3 cloves of garlic
1 1/2 C. of tomato juice (I'm sure V- 8 would also work fine!)
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp cumin
2 tsp Worcester sauce (I recommend using less, though)
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper

- Chop up half of the tomatoes, cucumber, and bell pepper. Keep skins, juices and seeds. Place into a large pot. Thinly slice the garlic and add to the vegetables. Tear apart both pieces of bread and add to the vegetables. Add the tomato juice, paprika, cumin, Worcester sauce, salt and black pepper. Blend this mix until it has formed a smooth puree.

-Finely chop the remaining vegetables. Add to the puree. Chill and serve cold. Stirring a spoon full of sour cream through the soup is also a delicious garnish.


Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Cinnamon Rolls

Yummy!!! Cinnamon rolls are one of my favorite treats. They are good for breakfast, a mid day snack, a late night snack, any time really. I'm always surprised how infrequently I make or eat them, since I love them so much!

I guess the best and worst part of the recipe for these is that it makes 2 dozen rolls, and you can't really divide the recipe in half! So, we are either stuck eating 24 rolls and end up feeling awful, or I have to wait until I can bring these somewhere. This week at work provided the perfect opportunity to bring a treat in. Believe it or not, I actually bribed our maintenance crew to do their job. We are in the beginning of our busy season, and I said that if they stayed on schedule over the weekend I would bring in cinnamon rolls. They were ahead of schedule when I got back on Monday. They were a huge hit, and yes, they are still ahead of schedule. I was able to save a few for Greg, and he did snag one fresh from the oven during game 5 of the Stanley Cup. What a lucky guy.

Greg actually acquired this recipe from one of his old Kentwood co-workers, Rena. She would bake them every so often and bring them into morning briefing. I was surprised that she gave Greg the full recipe; a photo copy of the original! We've kept the base recipe the same, and just messed with the filling and glaze. We love these rolls because they are sweet and buttery, and stay soft and moist!

We've talked about making a chocolate version, with mini chocolate chips and a chocolate glaze, and possibly using a hazelnut drink powder instead of cinnamon. I think it would be fun to make a chocolate dough, too. I also found out the hard way that they bake much faster in a clear pan.

Cinnamon Rolls:
2 packets of active dry yeast
1/2 C. warm water (~110 degrees)
8 C. flour
1 3.5 oz package of vanilla pudding mix
2 C. warm milk (~110 degrees)
1/2 C. Sugar
1/2 C. vegetable oil

1/4 C. Melted butter
White Sugar

2 C. powdered sugar
2-4 TBS milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
4 TBS melted butter

Disolve yeast in warm water. Add flour, instant pudding mix, warm milk, eggs, sugar, vegetable oil and salt. Mix well. Place in a grease bowl, turn to coat and let rise in a warm place until double (about an hour). Punch dough down, roll onto a floured surface. Divide the dough in half, make each half into a log and roll out into a 12x8 inch rectangle.

Melt the 1/4 C. butter. Brush on each rectangle. Now for the filling; sprinkle sugar on the melted butter so that it dissolves. Add enough so that it looks grainy. Cover with cinnamon. Rub the cinnamon and sugar together (yes, your hands get dirty).

Roll each rectangle into a log. Slice each log into 12 rolls, placing them into two greased 9x13 pans. Cover and let rise until doubled, about another hour.

Once they have risen again, bake for 25-30 minutes at 350 degrees. Remove from oven, cool on cooling racks. Start making the glaze.

Mix all glaze ingredients together. Once the rolls are warm to the touch and the pan is not hot, cover the rolls with the glaze.