Almost Homemade Chocolate Cake

Almost Homemade Chocolate Cake

We love Chocolate Cake!  It’s one of my favorites!  I mean seriously what’s not to love?

So whenever I get hungry for a quick fix of chocolate cake I grab a box of my favorite mix, add a few extras, and bake an almost homemade chocolate cake. Of course I could make it from scratch, but sometimes I just don’t have the time.  When I’m pressed for time it’s either box mix or make a run to the store and many times it’s just easier to use the cake mix.

But just because I use a cake mix that doesn’t mean my cake has to taste like it came out of a box.  By adding and substituting a few things anyone can make a box mix cake taste like it was made from scratch!

Here’s how I make my almost homemade chocolate cake.  I’m pretty sure you’ll have the ingredients in your kitchen.  I usually have a box or two of cake mix, one yellow and one chocolate, and a couple of cans of frosting in my pantry; I like to stock up on them when they’re on sale.

What you’ll need:

1 Box Devil’s Food Cake Mix – or any type of chocolate – any brand will work

1 Cup Milk

1/3 Cup Butter, melted

5 Large Eggs

2 Tsp. Vanilla Extract

2 Tsp. Instant Espresso Powder

2   9″ Round Pans

Raspberry Preserves

1 Can Chocolate Frosting

Cooking Spray

Here’s what to do:

Heat oven to 350º

Grease the 2 pans

Substitute the water the box mix calls for with milk, and use melted butter instead of the oil

Use 5 eggs instead of however many the box mix calls for

Place the mix, milk, butter, and eggs in a bowl and mix on medium speed with electric mixer

Stir in vanilla extract and espresso powder

Pour equal amounts of batter into the 2 pans

Bake in oven for 25 minutes or until a tester comes out clean

Remove from oven and let cool about 10 minutes

Flip cakes onto a rack and cool completely

When cakes are completely cooled use a wire or sharp knife to level the tops and make them flat

Dust off any crumbs

Place 1 layer on cake plate, bottom side on the plate

Spread a thin layer of raspberry preserve on top to seal the crumbs

Spread a thin layer of raspberry preserve to the top of the second layer

Spread a layer of chocolate icing on the first layer

Flip the second layer over and place it on top of the first layer – your cake should be top sides together

Spread a thin layer of raspberry preserve on the top and sides of your cake – this seals in any crumbs

Frost the top and side of your cake

Garnish with fresh fruit or whatever you like before serving.

 

This cake is really great with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a cold glass of milk!

 

 

The Chocolate Chip Cookie

The Chocolate Chip Cookie

A chocolate chip cookie, the ultimate comfort food.  Who can resist them? But do you know its history?  Most of us don’t and it’s really quite interesting no matter which version you believe!

For starters the chocolate chip cookie is a true American concoction that came to be quite accidentally when its original baker ran out of Baker’s chocolate, or nuts.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Ok back in 1930 a dietician named Ruth Graves Wakefield and her husband Kenneth purchased a Cape Cod style house in Whitman a town between Boston and New Bedford,  Massachusetts.   The house was originally built in 1709 and was used by travelers to rest, change horses, have a meal, and pay any tolls needed to use the road.  Ruth and Kenneth soon turned their home into a lodge which, with a nod to its past, they named “The Toll House Inn”.

Now Ruth was a skilled baker and soon drew in visitors from all over the northeast.  Many came to sample her delicious baked goods.  One of her favorite desserts were Butter Drop Do Cookies and her recipe which dated back to colonial days called for Baker’s chocolate.  So one day in 1937 Ruth was making these Butter Drop Do Cookies and found herself lacking the chocolate, so she chopped up a bar of Nestle’s Semi-Sweet Chocolate into tiny pieces thinking that the chocolate would melt and spread throughout the dough.  When it didn’t the chocolate chip cookie was born!  Well that’s one version; another version is she ran out of nuts and substituted the chopped chocolate; still another version claims she accidentally dropped a bar of chocolate into the dough and it broke into tiny morsels.  Whatever the version it’s all part of chocolate chip cookie history!

The new cookies were a hit and Ruth called them “Toll House Chocolate Crunch Cookies”.  Her recipe was published in news papers all over New England and the sales of Nestle’s Semi-Sweet Chocolate bars rocketed.

Then in 1939 when “Betty Crocker” (she was a fictional character who had a radio show) featured them on her radio series “Famous Foods from Famous Eating Places” the chocolate chip cookie went big time!  Ruth being a shrewd gal approached Nestle’s and struck a deal, they could print her recipe on all their semi-sweet bars and later bags in exchange for a lifetime supply of chocolates.  Lucky lady!

In the 1940’s Ruth sold Nestle’s the name “Toll House” and the cookies were widely known as Toll House Cookies.  Nestle lost the trademarked rights to the name in 1983, Toll House is now legally the generic name for a chocolate chip cookie.

The cookie has become the most popular cookie worldwide and is the official cookie of Massachusetts.  As for Ruth and hubby they sold the Toll House Inn in 1966 and it burned down on New Year’s Eve 1984.

So now you know its history.   I’m sure you also know many versions of the chocolate chip cookie recipe have popped up, you may even have your own, I know I do!  But have you ever tried The Neiman Marcus Chocolate Chip Cookie?  It’s one of our favorites!  You can order it for dessert at their Mariposa Restaurant where you get a boxed set of 3 cookies and a recipe card, very cute!  Or you can buy the giant sized cookie at their Bistro.  And you can also buy tins of them from the Neiman’s gourmet food department at Christmas time.  We do all 3!  A box of 3 from the restaurant costs $6, the giant cookie at the Bistro is $5, and a tin of them will set you back about $20+.

But Neiman’s is nice enough to share their recipe, remember the boxed set at Mariposa comes with a recipe card.  So if you don’t feel like shelling out $5 or more for a cookie or two; or if you’ve never tried the Neiman Marcus Chocolate Chip Cookie then read on because I’m sharing it today!


The Neiman Marcus Chocolate Chip Cookie
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Servings
2 Dozen
Servings
2 Dozen
The Neiman Marcus Chocolate Chip Cookie
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Servings
2 Dozen
Servings
2 Dozen
Ingredients
Servings: Dozen
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees
  2. Cream the butter with the sugars using an electric mixer on medium speet until fluffy - approximately 30 seconds
  3. Beat in the egg and the vanilla extract for another 30 seconds
  4. In a mixing bowl, sift together the dry ingredients and beat into the butter mixture at low speed for about 15 seconds
  5. Stir in the espresso coffee powder and chocolate chips
  6. Using a 1 oz. scoop or 2 Tbs. measure, drop cookie dough onto a gr eased cookie sheet about 3" apart.
  7. Gently press down on the dough with the back of a spoon to spread out into a 2" circle
  8. Bake for about 20 minutes or until nicely browned around the edges. Bake a bit longer for crispier cookies.
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Banana Foster Dutch Baby for Father’s Day

Banana Foster Dutch Baby for Father’s Day

Dutch babySunday is Father’s Day.  Why night surprise dad with this yummy Banana Foster Dutch Baby?

You can serve it for breakfast or brunch or even as dessert after lunch or dinnerr.  It’s absolutely wonderful.  It’s creamy and rich caramel sauce, homemade of course, goes lovely with fresh bananas sliced over a yummy dutch baby pancake.

But first you might ask what exactly is a Dutch Baby.  Well it’s basically a German Pancake; it’s a cross between a crepe and a popover.  Traditionally German Pancakes are small round flat cakes but the American version somehow ended up being a large round pouffy cake best made in a cast iron skillet.

 

My Banana Foster Dutch Baby uses the basic recipe I use for the Dutch Baby with Lemon Curd and Blueberries.  I just use different toppings.  Click here for that recipe.

While you’re making the Dutch Babies in the oven you can make my simple homemade caramel sauce, or you can make the sauce earlier.  I always keep a jar in the fridge because the sauce is yummy on just about everything including ice cream, cakes, and fruit.  It’s great for dipping too!

Anyway once your Dutch Babies are done top it with sliced bananas drizzled with caramel sauce, then top it all off with whipped cream! You can’t possible go wrong!

Banana Foster Dutch Baby

Ingredients:

Dutch Baby or Mini Dutch Babies – Click here for the basic recipe

2 – 3 Bananas, sliced

Caramel Sauce – scroll down for the recipe

Whipped cream

Directions:

Make one large or 2 mini Dutch Babies according to the recipe

Make a batch of caramel sauce

Top with sliced bananas

Drizzle with caramel sauce

Top with whipped cream

Homemade Caramel Sauce
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Homemade Caramel Sauce
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Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. In a heavy sauce pan combine all ingredients except Vanilla Extract and stir over medium high heat
  2. Bring to a boil
  3. Cook for another 10 minutes or until it thickens - stir constantly
  4. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract
  5. Serve warm or store in a container in the refrigerator.
Recipe Notes

Refrigerated sauce may become too thick.  Heat in microwave for 30-60 seconds or until it loosens up enough to use.

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Avocado Toast With Mango, Chili Powder, and Mint Recipe

Avocado Toast With Mango, Chili Powder, and Mint Recipe

Juicy, tart mangoes are surprisingly excellent at cutting through the richness of the avocado in this open-faced sandwich. Unfortunately, it can be hard to predict just how sweet they’ll be. If you’re working with an especially ripe or fruity mango, make sure to compensate with additional lemon juice to keep the sweetness in check. A sprinkle of chili powder adds contrasting heat that more firmly anchors this toast in savory territory. Chopped mint delivers an aromatic, herbal touch, but basil would do nicely here as well.

Click Avocado Toast With Mango, Chili Powder, and Mint Recipe.

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Ingredients
1 slice country or sandwich bread, approximately 1/2 inch thick
Extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 medium pitted and peeled Hass avocado
6 (1/4-inch-thick) slices mango from 1 small peeled and pitted mango, or enough to cover surface of bread
Freshly squeezed lemon juice to taste, from 1/2 lemon
Ancho chili powder
Freshly chopped mint leaves, for garnish
Flaky sea salt

Directions

1.Lightly brush bread with olive oil and toast to desired level of doneness. Top with avocado and mash with a fork to cover entire surface. Add single layer of mango, sprinkle with a squeeze of lemon juice, and dust with a dash of chili powder. Garnish with mint and salt. Serve.

 

Avocado Toast With Mango, Chili Powder, and Mint Recipe
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Avocado Toast With Mango, Chili Powder, and Mint Recipe
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SOUTHWESTERN SWEET POTATO SALAD

SOUTHWESTERN SWEET POTATO SALAD

This Southwestern Sweet Potato Salad Recipe is an easy side dish recipe that is perfect for summer! The southwestern flavors from Sweet Corn, Black Beans, Peppers, Lime Juice and Roasted Red Pepper Dressing take this Sweet Potato Salad to a whole new level! I was a touch late to the full sweet potato party, however currently I’m inbound with this Southwestern Sweet salad and I’m coming back in with a bang! It’s loaded with black beans, corn, peppers, juice and roast red pepper dressing. Now, that my friends could be a Sweet salad that packs a punch!

To me, sweet potatoes were simply issues the items that came out at Thanksgiving and perhaps Christmas (and the thing I avoided just like the plague unless they were baked in a very Sweet Potato Bundt Cake or mashed in these Sweet Potato Biscuits).In fact, i used to be therefore late to the party; I didn’t even understand that sweet potatoes were oversubscribed year around. Fast forward to varsity and every This Southwestern Sweet salad formula is a simple entremots formula that’s excellent for summer! The southwestern flavors from Sweet Corn, Black Beans, Peppers, juice and roast Red Pepper Dressing take this Sweet salad to a full new level!

I was a touch late to the full sweet potato party, however currently I’m inbound with this Southwestern Sweet salad and I’m coming back in with a bang! It’s loaded with black beans, corn, peppers, juice and roast red pepper dressing. Now, that my friends could be a Sweet salad that packs a punch!For instance, the maximum amount as i like a classic salad formula, i used to be super fascinated by making an attempt to form a version with sweet potatoes. I wished to figure with ingredients that complemented sweet potatoes, making a novel summer entremots that centered on a special ingredient.

(This post has affiliate links)


 

Click here for southwestern sweet salad recipe!

Ingredients

3 cups diced sweet potatoes (about 3 med-large peeled sweet potatoes; or pre-cut sweet potatoes)
2-3 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 tsp ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups cups sweet corn (I used frozen that I heated until warm)
1 (15oz) can black beans, drained
1 1/2 cups diced bell peppers (I used green, yellow, red, and orange)
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped (plus more for garnish)
1 tsp seasoned salt (or to taste)
1 tbsp fresh lime juice
3-4 tbsp roasted red pepper dressing (or, you can use chipotle ranch, southwestern flavored dressing, etc.)

Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spread sweet potatoes onto a non-stick foil lined large sheet pan.
2. Drizzle with olive oil, beginning with 2 Tbsp. If you think it needs more, add the extra tbsp.
3. Sprinkle with salt and 1/2 tsp of pepper, reserving the remaining 1/4 tsp of pepper. Stir the sweet potatoes around until they are all evenly coated.
4. Cook for 25 -30 minutes, until they are browned and fork tender (a little crisp on the outside and soft inside), stirring the sweet potatoes with a spatula every so often.
5. Mix roasted sweet potatoes, corn, black beans, bell peppers, cilantro, seasoned salt, remaining 1/4 tsp of black pepper, and lime juice and dressing together (begin with 3 tbsp, and add more as needed).
6. Once combined, serve immediately, or serve chilled (this salad tastes great warm, at room temperature, and cold).

SOUTHWESTERN SWEET POTATO SALAD
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SOUTHWESTERN SWEET POTATO SALAD
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Dutch Baby With Lemon Curd and Berries

Dutch Baby With Lemon Curd and Berries

Lately I’ve been really loving these Dutch Babies!  You might be wondering what exactly is a Dutch Baby.  No, I’m not referring to those adorable blond haired blue eyed cuties one would expect to see in Amsterdam, I’m talking about these yummy dessert or breakfast pancake like creations topped which sweet or savory morsels of goodness.

A Dutch Baby is sort of a cross between a pancake, a crepe, and a popover.  And before you can ask it did not originate in the Netherlands, in fact there is nothing “Dutch” about it.  It is also called a German Pancake and in Germany is called an Apfelpfannkuchen and was originally served as 3 small pancakes with lemon squeezed on it and then sprinkled with sugar.  Somehow it evolved into larger sized pancakes.

But back to the name, the story goes that a Seattle diner called Manca’s Cafe back in the 1900s to the1950s served the German Pancake called Deutche Pancake (Deutche is the German word for well German).  The owner’s name was Victor Manca, and his young granddaughter could not pronounce Deutche, instead she called it Dutch.  And so the Americanized German Pancake was born!

However it got its name it’s still a delicious addition to breakfast, lunch, or even dinner; remember you can top it with just about anything.  I’m not a big pancake fan, but I do love crepes; unfortunately I seldom make them at home because I really don’t like standing at the stove frying either one, I find it tedious.  That’s why I love a Dutch Baby!  It’s not fried, it’s baked!  Now that’s something I can definitely get behind!.

Seriously Dutch Babies are super easy to make, you just mix the ingredients together, pour the batter in a cast iron skillet, pop it in the oven and in less than half an hour your Dutch Baby is ready to be topped and served!  Easy peasy nice and breezy!

I’m sharing this simple Dutch Baby recipe today.  I topped my Dutch Baby with lemon curd and fresh berries, it made a great dessert!  You can top it the same way; sprinkle it with powdered sugar; spread it with jam; or even top it with ham and cheese for a nice savory lunch or dinner.  In short just top it anyway you want!

Now this recipe makes a large Dutch Baby, I made it in a 10″ skillet.  You can adjust the recipe to suit your needs or if you like you can split the batter between two 5″ skillets and have personal pan Dutch Babies that each person can top the way they want.  If you’re making the large version just slice it up into wedges like you would a cake to serve.

 

 

Dutch Baby With Lemon Curd and Berries
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Dutch Baby With Lemon Curd and Berries
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Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Place eggs, flour, milk, sugar, vanilla, salt, and lemon zest into a blender and blend until smooth
  2. Place butter in a cast iron skillet or any type of heavy skillet and place it in the oven until butter has melted.
  3. Pour batter into pan and bake for 20 minutes until the edges have puffed up and the pancake is golden brown
  4. Lower oven temperature to 300 and bake another 5 minutes
  5. Remove from oven and spread with lemon curd, top with fresh berries, and sprinkle powered sugar over all.
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