Last week I tried a brownie recipe that I saw on Pinterest. I was really excited about these brownies, because the recipe called for Mexican hot chocolate tablets. I love Mexican hot chocolate, and I was just sure it would make an excellent brownie.
I mixed them up during O’s morning nap and popped them into the oven. According to the recipe they only needed 20 minutes to bake, so I cleaned up and took care of a few things while the house filled with the delicious smell of chocolate.
When the timer went off, I opened the oven door and could tell they weren’t done. Nothing an extra ten minutes wouldn’t fix…
In total, they probably baked for an hour before I finally gave up. I don’t know what happened, but something with that recipe was wrong. Queue sad trombone.
Talk about a major disappointment. I still wanted something chocolatey and cakey, but I was mad at Pinterest. I decided to go with something I had never attempted, but I knew to be tried and true.
Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you…
My mom used to make this for us all the time when I was younger. While I was at mom and dad’s on Friday, I asked for the recipe…Mom pulled out her trusty Millgrove Church cookbook and I wrote everything down, complete with mom’s changes (neither of us can follow a recipe exactly as it’s written).
Coke cake (adapted from the Millgrove Church cookbook):
For the cake:
2 sticks butter
1 cup Coke (not Pepsi, not generic, certainly no other flavor. Don’t even think of using diet. COKE)
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup milk
Preheat oven to 350°.
Combine butter, cocoa, and Coke in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, stir flour, sugar, and baking soda together in a large bowl. Crack eggs into a seperate small bowl, add milk and vanilla, and beat until combined.
Once the cocoa mixture is boiling, remove from heat, let cool briefly, and pour over flour mixture. Stir, check to make sure it isn’t too hot (You don’t want scrambled eggs!), then add milk mixture and stir until a smooth batter forms. Pour into a lightly greased 9×13 pan and bake for 30-35 minutes.
For the icing:
1/2 stick butter
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
6 tablespoons Coke
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)
Once again, bring butter, cocoa powder, and Coke to a boil. Add vanilla and powdered sugar and stir. Add nuts and stir again, then pour over cake and spread evenly. Let cool until icing sets (it’s more of a glaze, really).
It’s perfect, chocolatey, moist, delicious. Not quite health food (uh, hello butter) but a wonderful occasional treat. This tends to be a big hit at pitch – in dinners.
Just try not to eat the whole thing at once. I know it’s tempting…but be strong.
I’ve been trying to come up with new activities for O since it seems like we’re never EVER gonna get to play outside.
I actually kind of hate when people complain about the weather because, unless you just moved to Indiana, you should be used to this by now. We’ve had snow on Easter before, people… But I think I can say I speak for a lot of people when I say…We have had enough of winter. I repeat: WE HAVE HAD ENOUGH.
I’ve managed to get the boy outside to play exactly three times. I even made some bubble solution one day, but it was way too windy. Lame.
The thing is, O is perfectly happy to play inside, I just like to give him new things to do every now and then. A friend posted some pictures on Facebook of her daughter having fun with some homemade play dough and thought it would be perfect for a fun new activity. The fact that it was edible and used stuff I already had? Even better!
My friend suggested this recipe and it worked really well. I had to use peach apple oatmeal because we didn’t have rice, but I think it was fine.
It looks green in the pictures, but I actually dyed it blue. O poked at it for a while, occasionally looking up at me and saying, “Boo?”. It didn’t take long for him to eat the whole lump (thank goodness I only gave him a little). That made for some…interesting…diapers.
Of course I got busy and forgot to put it in the refrigerator, so I ended up tossing ours out. It was fun while it lasted, and I think it was a good way to use up the baby cereal we had left. I think for my next project I’ll find something that will survive being left on the counter, though.
Do you have a great toddler – approved indoor activity? Share it in the comments!
I finally went to the grocery store yesterday, without a list because I like to live dangerously. I had a very vague idea of what I wanted to get, but I thought it might be nice to just wander the aisles to see what called out to me.
I ended up with a pretty good haul for under a hundred dollars, even though I got home and realized I had forgotten eggs. Because, of course.
Forgotten eggs aside, it was nice to once again have a stocked pantry and a full refrigerator.
For dinner, I made an easy, one skillet smoked sausage and wild rice that was insanely good. Paired with 7-Up biscuits and some leftover roasted zucchini and cauliflower, it was a really satisfying meal.
Smoked sausage and wild rice
1 package smoked sausage (I used turkey), cut into 1/2 inch slices
1 green pepper, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
3-4 largeish mushrooms, chopped
3/4 cup brown rice
1/4 cup wild rice
1 box (32 ounces) chicken stock
Chopped fresh parsley (about a handful)
Heat a very small amount of oil in a cast iron skillet over medium. When oil is hot, add sausage and let cook undisturbed for a couple of minutes. Toss in onions, green pepper, and mushrooms, then give it a stir. Let everything cook until onions are slightly translucent. Scoot everyone to the side, then add the rice in the empty spot. Let it toast for a bit, then stir everything together. Pour in about half of your chicken broth (make sure everything is covered) and bring to a simmer. Let that continue to simmer for at least 30 minutes. Make sure to check it occasionally and add broth if necessary.
After 30 minutes, take a look at the liquid level. If there’s still quite a bit in there let it go a little bit longer. If most of the liquid has absorbed, reduce the heat to low and cover for about another 30 minutes or until the wild rice splits open and puffs up.
Toss in a handful of fresh chopped parsley right before serving. That stuff is magic, I tell ya.
Some days, I feel like a contestant on Chopped. Yesterday was definitely one of those days… I stood there, staring into my pantry and fridge, wondering just what I was going to do with pork chops, half a dozen assorted condiments, a head of lettuce, and three zucchinis I forgot about.
I should have gone to the store, but it was snowy (yes, in March) and I didn’t feel like putting real pants on.
I found a packet of onion soup mix hiding in the back of my pantry, and I wondered if it would be good mixed into barbecue sauce.
I ended up mixing about 3/4 cup of barbecue sauce with a little ketchup, mustard, Country Bob’s, Worcestershire, molasses, brown sugar, and the packet of soup mix. Once combined, I swirled some water in the almost empty barbecue sauce bottle (to catch all of the sauce that wouldn’t come out) and poured that in, too. The sauce was actually really good. Go figure.
I preheated the oven to 350° and lightly oiled a cast iron skillet. After spreading a thin layer of sauce on the bottom, I lightly seasoned four chops with salt and pepper and arranged them in the skillet. Most of the sauce then got poured over the chops, and I set the remaining sauce in the fridge. Once the oven was ready, I covered the skillet tightly with foil and popped it into the oven for an hour.
When the timer went off, I bumped the oven up to 425° so I could roast some veggies. I added the rest of the sauce to the chops, re – covered the skillet, and moved it to the bottom rack to make room for my cookie sheet of zucchini. I let everything bake until The BF got home and declared that he was hungry. About 30 minutes or so?
It turned out really well. The chops were really moist from baking in the sauce, and the onion soup mix added a really nice flavor to the barbecue.
I’d like to think the ol’ stuff shirt judges on Chopped would send me to the dessert round after trying this. As for the lettuce… well, I didn’t have anything to go with it but it needed to be used. I washed it and ripped it up for salad.
So what if the “salad” was just lettuce with dressing on it?
I’ve been craving Chinese food lately… Specifically, fried rice. We have a really good Chinese place in town, but I’m not patient enough to wait until we have time to actually go out to dinner. Good thing I can make my own, and it’s super easy!
Leftover white rice is typically used to make fried rice. I actually prefer using brown rice in mine, but either works.
Since I don’t usually prepare far enough in advance, I cook my rice in the morning and refrigerate it until it’s time to start dinner. You have a couple of options here. If you use white rice, a rice cooker is the way to go.
Use one measure of rice, about 1/4 teaspoon sesame oil, and I add chicken broth to just over the one measure line on my rice cooker. If you don’t have a rice cooker, just follow the cooking directions on the package of rice.
If you’re using brown rice, try this method from Pinch My Salt. I’ve managed to pull off perfect rice every time…Not even one grain sticks, even though you let it boil for 30 minutes without stirring. I use a box of chicken stock (32 ounces = four cups) instead of water and I add a little sesame oil because I think it adds to the flavor.
When your rice has cooked and cooled, put it in a container and toss it in the fridge until you’re ready to start cooking.
To make the fried rice, you need:
Leftover rice (see above)
Oil for frying (I use canola)
1 small – medium sweet onion, cut into largeish chunks (no need to be all pretty about it!)
2-3 cloves of garlic, sliced
1 small can water chestnuts, drained
2 eggs, beaten with a splash of milk
About 1/2 to 3/4 cup frozen peas and carrots
To begin, heat a couple of tablespoons in a pan (I used my trusty cast iron skillet) over medium to medium-high heat. You definitely want a HOT pan for this.
Add onions and garlic and sauté briefly before adding the cold rice and water chestnuts. Stir, then add soy sauce and sesame oil. I usually add about a tablespoon of soy sauce and a teaspoon of sesame oil to start. I like to let it sit for a couple of minutes while I beat my eggs, but be careful if you do…letting it sit for too long will mean burnt rice. Yuck.
Give it a good stir and make sure the rice is evenly hot. Scrape everything to one side of the pan and pour the eggs into the empty space. Just like when you’re scrambling eggs for breakfast, let them sit for a minute or so to cook on the bottom, then gently fold and stir to scramble them. Once the eggs are done, stir them into the rice and add peas and carrots. I like to cover the pan to allow them to steam for a couple of minutes. Once the veggies are cooked (but not mushy!), check for seasoning and add more soy if needed.
Last night we had it with pineapple chicken. It was delicious, and we have leftovers. Happy dance!
Nothing is out of his reach.
If your kid “isn’t much of a climber” then please understand that I hate you. Ok, not really…but try living with a kid that sees every surface as his personal jungle gym. I’m not sure I will ever recover from the scare he gave me when he figured out how to climb out of his crib. I guess that’s what I get for trying to pee by myself.
You’re basically living with a tiny drunk person.
If you’ve ever tended bar, you know what it’s like to be the sober person in a sea of drunks. Imagine that it’s only one tiny, destructive, loud, adorable guy with slightly more coordination BUT less inhibition than your typical full – size drunk. Oh, and this kid never sobers up. If he feels like stumbling in circles around the living room with a basket on his head while yelling gibberish, by God that’s what he’s gonna do. Utensils like forks and spoons are optional equipment at mealtime… Often shoving fistfuls of food in the general direction of his mouth is the way he likes to go. Try reasoning with the kid. Ain’t gonna happen…No way, no how.
No. No. No. No. No. I said no. No. No.
There will be days when you feel like the only word you say is “No.” Well, Except when you’re saying things like, “You know better”, or, “Get down from there!” But basically, it’s all the same.
Every day is a new adventure…but not really.
Pretty much all of our days have the same basic structure: wake up, diaper change, breakfast, brush teeth, play, nap, lunch, play, nap, play, dinner, play, brush teeth, book, bed. It sometimes feels a bit Groundhog Dayish. The thing is, as much as every day is the same, each day is also very different. He may learn a new skill and spend the day showing it off, or he could be grouchy because of a new tooth. Some days he will sit quietly in his favorite corner and play, other days he wants to RUN! and JUMP! and CLIMB!
Oh, you thought we’d be sleeping through the night by now?
Look, I’m pretty lucky as far as how much sleep I get most nights. Typically I’m in bed by 10:00 and we get up around 7:30. Yes, that’s more than 9 hours of sleep. I need those nights to make up for the ones that aren’t so peaceful. We recently went through a week of the FIRST MOLAR FROM HELL (AKA jerk tooth) that was rather slow in making it’s appearance. We’d give him Tylenol at bedtime, and he’d wake up as soon as it wore off. That was a very un-fun week for all of us. Of course, he also gets the occasional gas bubble or has a bad dream (I guess?)…And the walls in our house are so thin that I can hear most every noise he makes. Even during a peaceful night my sleep is interrupted.
Cheerios are a dietary staple.
My diet largely consists of coffee, Cheerios, and whatever O doesn’t eat. Ok, I’m mostly kidding, because I do typically eat an actual meal a dinner… but sometimes by the time I have a chance to sit down at the end of a day, I realize I’ve only ingested coffee and a handful of Puffs.
You develop a very high tolerance for embarrassment.
Toddlers are as unpredictable as the day is long. My kid is typically pretty well-behaved in public, but that doesn’t mean he won’t occasionally get a little nuts. Recently we ran into my SIL at the store, so I moved my cart out of the way to talk to her about something. I didn’t pay attention to the fact that a display full of batteries was well within his reach, so of course he began pulling the biggest packages off of the shelf and throwing them at the floor. One of the packages even burst open, much to my dismay. My SIL and I managed to get all of the packages back on the shelf, and I located all of the loose batteries from the open container and took them to customer service to apologize. The lady was super nice and told me not to be embarrassed…And I actually wasn’t. At least that time didn’t involve him lifting my shirt up in the canned goods aisle to point to my belly.
It’s crazy, disgusting, exhilarating, messy, frustrating, wild, fun, and exhausting…
…but you’ll love every minute of it.
I hate math. I mean, I really, really hate math. I checked out around third grade when long division showed up. In high school, I was the kid rolling her eyes and proclaiming that I would never use Algebra or Geometry (turns out, I was right). College? Forget about it. I dropped my one and only math class pretty much a week in. Did I say dropped? I meant that I just quit showing up.
Even though I think math is more Devil magic than anything, I get really excited about these silly nerdy holidays. I plan to celebrate by making personal pizzas for dinner. If you feel like getting into Pi day, here are a few recipes I recommend:
Are you excited for Pi day? How do you plan to celebrate?
Sometimes I think the most dangerous sentence one can say while scrolling through Pinterest is, “I have everything I need to make that!” Since I try really hard to keep my pantry well-stocked, I say it pretty frequently.
Such was the case a couple of days ago, when I saw this recipe for French Onion pork chops. I had planned on having pork chops for dinner, but I wanted to do something different with them.
While I continued to scroll, an email notification popped up. I don’t know if you’re familiar with Food52, but it’s quickly becoming my favorite website. I actually don’t regret subscribing to their email list because they always send me stuff that I want to try. Like, for example, this recipe for yogurt bread with molasses.
I ended up making both for dinner that evening.
I used one of my cast iron skillets for the chops so I didn’t have to wash another dish. They turned out to be super moist, but very salty. I added some water at the end but the saltiness was still there. I got no complaints from the BF, though, so I will probably try this again without the soup mix.
The bread was wonderful. There was definitely a molasses flavor, but it was pleasant, not OMGMOLASSES! I sprinkled a little cornmeal in the bottom of the skillet after the butter melted, just to make sure the bread wouldn’t stick. Next time I think I’ll throw in some oats and maybe a few other grains…Dried fruit might be good, too.
O and I have been enjoying this bread with everything. He had some with yogurt and blueberries for breakfast this morning while I toasted and buttered a slice for myself. It makes really good sopping bread, so it would go well with a saucy dinner or a soupy lunch.
I know I say this about every loaf of bread I make, but I also think it would make good French toast.
What I’m saying is, you need to make this bread.
Actually, you need to make this bread and invite me over…Because my loaf is almost gone.
I’m not very girly. I rarely wear makeup, I don’t do my nails, and “doing my hair” involves washing it and scrunching some mousse in. Lucky for me, I was blessed with the kind of hair that can just air dry into bouncy curls. If I had to drag a hair dryer and straightener out every day I’d probably just shave my head and be done with it because, seriously, who has time for that?
Not this girl.
Sometimes, though…Sometimes I do have time, or rather, I make the time. This usually happens when the BF and I make plans for an evening. For our anniversary I actually did drag out my hair dryer and curling iron…And I had to brush the dust off before I used ’em.
Saturday we planned to go to a friend’s birthday party. I wanted to do more than just scrunch up my hair, but I did NOT want to stand under that hot curling iron again… Am I the only one that gets sweaty when heat styling my hair? Yeah, probably.
So I was putting O down for his nap when I saw a piece of pool noodle on the floor. I bought one at the Dollar Tree a while ago to keep my tall boots standing up. After I cut it to fit my boots, I had some left over.
Why couldn’t I make foam rollers out of that noodle?
I washed my hair (yes, with my NEW FANCY SHAMPOO and it was glorious), added a touch of mousse, let it air dry for a bit, and rolled it up.
I also did my makeup again. Twice in one week? Unheard of.
So after basically hanging out with the rollers in my hair for half of the day, I took them out and ran a little more mousse through my hair. I even got a little cray (Is this still a thing? Do we still say this?) and added a shot of hairspray.
Oddly enough, my hair was pretty much the same as usual. Maybe a little bigger and a smidge bouncier.
But! I successfully executed a complete DIY, upcycle, repurpose project and it worked. Take THAT, Pinterest!
Yesterday was the three – year anniversary of the very first time The BF and I went on a date. In case you wondered, we went to dinner and then to his buddy’s birthday party. I wore a dark blue argyle sweater, jeans, and brown boots.
Ok, wait a minute. Ask me what I had for lunch yesterday and I will draw a blank…but I remember what I wore on a date three years ago? That makes sense.
So yesterday I baked some cupcakes, took a shower, and did my hair and makeup…I mean, I used a curling iron. I haven’t used one of those in years, so it’s big news. I even got to wear my red jeans and my new boots. Hey, when I leave the house (for something other than the grocery store) I get fancy.
Anyway, because we are the most exciting people you know, we had dinner at a newish Mexican/Peruvian place here in town and then went to Wal-Mart. I thought we were there to get O diapers, but The BF walked in the wrong direction and ended up in the shampoo aisle. That guy remembered me saying I wanted to try this sulfate – free shampoo I read about and wanted to get it for me, but he forgot what it was called.
I can practically hear everyone saying, “Awwwwwww…”
So now I’m seriously tortured because my new shampoo and conditioner is sitting on the shelf in the shower mocking me. I don’t wash my hair every day (most times not even every other day) but the waiting is killing me…I’ve even been sneaking in to sniff the bottle all morning. I just have to be strong and tough it out.
As for the cupcakes (because honestly, that’s why you’re reading this)…Wow. I know I have declared a couple of chocolate cake recipes the Best Ever! but this one is really, really good.
I used this recipe from the Hershey’s website , with a couple of minor changes.
Instead of plain water (bor-ring), I used cooled black coffee. I also threw in some ground black pepper, about 1/4 teaspoon. I know that sounds weird but please just trust me and try it out… I put it in every chocolate cake I make. I thought I was the only one that did it, but apparently The BF’s awesome grandma was a fan of it, too. No wonder she and I got along so well…Great minds!
For the peanut butter buttercream, I used Wilton’s recipe and altered it slightly. After following the recipe exactly, I decided it needed more peanut butter and added another 1/4 cup… In all, I used between 7 and 8 tablespoons of milk to get the consistency right.
These have been a big hit so far. I would definitely recommend baking them for your next special occaision… And if you don’t have anything special coming up, just find something to celebrate. Tomorrow is Friday? Well there you go!
You know you want to.