Monday, January 25, 2016

Chocolate & Nutella Layer Cake Part 2

Hi Y'all!

I am back today with part 2 of the cake recipe I shared last week. The icing on the cake. :) 

This icing is luscious. That's the only word I have for it. I'm not even a huge icing fan, but this stuff is luscious. Of course, considering that it includes Nutella, sour cream, and melted dark chocolate, it's no wonder this is sooo good.

It's really easy to make too! If you have a food processor, you just throw everything in and pulse until smooth. Easy-peasy. If you don't have a food processor, a mixer will work just as well. Or if you want to get a good arm workout, grab a spatula and mix by hand! ;)

The entire process of frosting this cake does take about 1 and 1/2 hours, so make sure you have enough time set aside for this. Enjoy the photos below and see the recipe at the bottom of this post. :)

Start by taking a dollop of the icing and spreading it on the center of a cake board. This will 'glue' the cake to the board so that it doesn't shift.

First cake layer gets iced.

Second cake layer loaded up!

Once you place the third cake layer on, ice the top and sides of the cake. wrap in plastic wrap, & refrigerate for 15 minutes. This is the crumb coat & refrigerating it seals the crumbs in so that the rest of the icing goes on flawless.

Two more layers of icing and the cake is ready to be touched up and decorated. :)


Decorate the cake however you'd like. I used a star tip to decorate the edge of the top layer. I almost left if just like this because to me it already looked pretty enough :), but . . .

. . .then I decided to use some cake crumbs that were stuck to the parchment paper (the cake bottom I lost mentioned in last post, hehe) to sprinkle on the top. 

This cake is super moist, so the crumbs were clumpier than I envisioned them on top, but I still liked the contrast it added.

Now, it's time to cut yourself a slice after all of that hard work! ;)

Ahhh, look at that. Is there anything more beautiful? 

Dig in! ;)

Chocolate & Nutella Frosting


4 & 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 & 1/2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup Nutella (or other hazelnut spread)
3/4 cup full-fat sour cream
11 oz. best quality dark chocolate, melted and cooled slightly*
1 tbsp. pure vanilla extract
pinch of salt

    1. Put all of the ingredients in a food processor, and pulse until smooth & glossy, about 1 minute. The frosting will be very soft. Refrigerate until it thickens slightly, about 15 minutes.
    2. Put a dollop of frosting on a cake board. Place your first layer on the plate & spread 1 cup of frosting evenly across layer. Repeat with second layer. Put the final cake layer top-down. Cover the layers with plastic wrap and wiggle into place. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. 
    3. Frost entire outside of cake with a thin layer of frosting to seal in the crumbs. Chill until the frosting begins to firm, about 15 minutes. Repeat with another thin layer of frosting, this time working to achieve smoothness. Chill for an additional 15 minutes. 
    4. Apply a third coat of frosting to the cake. You can use a frosting spatula dipped in hot water (will have to wipe clean and dip in water again several times) to smooth the icing or use a pastry comb for a pretty design on the sides. Decorate the cake as you wish with a star tip or sprinkles or whatever you fancy! :)
    5. Chill until the frosting firms up again, about 30 minutes.
    6. The cake will keep refrigerated up to 3 days.

* I use Ghiradelli's baker's chocolate

**Recipe from**

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Chocolate & Nutella Layer Cake Part 1

Hey Y'all! 

I am sharing a cake recipe on here for the first time (I think)! :) Cakes are so pretty and there's an endless amount of things you can do to them. However, I don't make cakes very often because despite how pretty they are, I don't like to eat them that much. Yes, you read that right - I don't particularly like cake. It's just too sweet for me, particularly the frosting. Nevertheless, I love making different types of frostings and enjoying how they look while someone else enjoys how they taste. :) 

This cake came about because my husband had been asking almost every night if there was any good dessert in the house. I spoiled him over Christmastime with cookies & fudge but, for the sake of my waistline, I hadn't made anything sweet for a few weeks. And I hadn't made a dessert other than cookies for who knows how long! A big dessert was way overdue. So, I gathered my cookbooks, pulled up Pinterest, and perused both for a cake recipe I wanted to bake that I thought my husband might also love. I ended up finding this one on Pinterest. I chose to make it because it's chocolate on chocolate + Nutella & my hubby is quite fond of both of those! ;) Plus, I already had two of the ingredients - Nutella & sour cream - sitting in my pantry/fridge where they had been for quite some time and I wanted to use them up, particularly the sour cream, before they went bad & would be wasted. (I hate wasting food!) This cake was exactly what I was looking for. It is a bit involved, as many cakes tend to be. Since I work during the day, I split it up over two evenings. You could also make the cakes a few days or even a few weeks ahead of time and just freeze them until you are able to make the frosting as well. Anyway, LOTS of photos in this one! :) Enjoy & I'll have part two with the frosting recipe on Monday.

*Quick tip I learned from my mother-in-law once. Whenever a recipe calls for superfine sugar, don't feel like you have to go out and buy some. Instead, if you have a food processor, just put the necessary amounts of regular granulated sugar in there and pulse it a few times until the sugar is superfine. :)

This had been sitting in my pantry for . . . an embarrassingly long time, but it was still good & did the job! All-purpose flour is perfectly fine in place of cake flour.

Mmm, now here comes some chocolate goodness.

If you have never heard of espresso powder, but frequently make chocolate desserts, go buy some now. That's not a suggestion. ;) This stuff will take your chocolate desserts to the next level. It's seriously one of my favorite 'extra' ingredients to keep in my kitchen.

Also, homemade vanilla. I always use this in baked goods. Store-bought vanilla just does not compare (not to mention the jar is way cuter & that's important). And the smell, ahhh, let me just go inhale this for a moment. hehe ;)

About halfway through, your kitchen might look like this.

Or, even worse, this. Yikes!

This is what the batter looks like once it's all come together. This is also the point where you pause your preparations, grab a spoon (we'll be sanitary and not use our fingers ;) ), and have a taste . . . or two or three or four of the batter to make sure it's safe for everyone else to eat. ;)

Now, this recipe makes a 3 layer cake. However, I only have two cake pans because I don't like a lot of kitchen clutter & don't need more than two that often, so I just baked the first two layers & once they were done, baked the third layer separately. You'll want to grease each pan and place some parchment in the bottom as well. Please be smarter than me though & remember to grease the parchment paper as well or you will run the risk of taking part of your cake's bottom with the paper when taking it out of the pan. Oops!

Isn't it a beaut?

Chocolate Layer Cake

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/3 cups superfine sugar
3/4 cup dark Dutch-process cocoa powder
2 1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 1/4 cups buttermilk*
3/4 cup brewed coffee or espresso
2/3 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs, room temperature
1 tbsp. vanilla extract 

1. Preheat oven to 350. Prepare three 7-in. round cake pans with nonstick spray and parchment.

2. Sift all dry ingredients together. Combine buttermilk, coffee, oil, eggs, & vanilla in a large measuring cup & beat lightly with a fork.

3. Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture for 1 minute on medium speed. Divide batter evenly among prepared pans.

4. Bake the first 2 layers for 20 minutes and rotate pans in the oven. Continue to bake until toothpick comes out almost clean (a few crumbs), about 5 minutes. Cool on wire racks for 20 minutes. Repeat with remaining layer, then invert cakes onto racks until completely cool. 

*If you don't have buttermilk on hand, add 1 tbsp. of white vinegar to 1 1/4 cups of milk and let it set for 10 minutes.*

Now, wrap your cakes securely in plastic wrap, freeze, & stay tuned for the chocolate-Nutella frosting recipe on Monday! :)

*Recipe adapted from Sweetapolita*

Monday, January 18, 2016

Whole Wheat Waffles + Easy Fruit Topping

Hey y'all! It's Monday and we all know Mondays are not a favorite of many people - myself included! But, that is the very reason I'm sharing this recipe today. I mean, who doesn't love waffles? I'm pretty sure a plate of waffles is one of the absolute best ways to start a Monday. :) And this recipe is just easy enough that you can make it on a weekday morning without being pushed for time. 

I loooove waffles. Like seriously, I have a slight obsession with them. Just ask my husband; he'll tell you I mention cravings for waffles multiple times a week! ;) They're just so good. But, I've been trying to eat better lately so I decided to try a recipe that uses whole wheat flour instead of white flour. I was delighted to find this recipe from King Arthur Flour! I love KAF and they typically have great recipes, so I knew this one would taste good despite being so simple. The one thing I would add is a teaspoon of vanilla just because I think vanilla always goes well in a waffle recipe. :)

I think one of the reasons I like waffles so much is because of the almost endless possibilities for toppings. I really love fruit topping on waffles; berries on top of a hot, buttered waffle is just perfection in my mind. This topping is very simple & affordable. And a great way to get the health benefits of berries even in the wintertime. So go ahead and make yourself a batch of these waffles and start your Monday right! ;)

Whole Wheat Waffles

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tblsp. sugar
1 large egg
1 1/2 cups lukewarm milk
1/3 cup melted butter

1. Preheat your waffle iron while you prepare the batter.

2. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, & sugar.

3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, milk, & butter.

4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir just until combined. Lumps are good!

5. Cook the waffles as your waffle iron instructs.

6. Top with syrup, berries, whipped cream, chocolate syrup, or whatever you fancy! :)

Warm Berry Topping
(makes 1 serving)

2 tsp. butter
1/2 cup fresh or frozen berries (I use frozen - more bang for your buck!)

1. Melt the 2 tsp. of butter in a saucepan until bubbly.

2. Add the berries and let cook down until thawed through and juicy.

3. Add a sprinkle of cinnamon, mix.

4. Pour over your (buttered) waffles. Bon appetit! :)

*Waffle recipe from King Arthur Flour*

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Cheesy Chili Pasta Bake

Y'all, I have a delicious dish to share today. It's so easy & quick enough to make on a week night. However, you can also do quite a bit of prep ahead of time to make it even quicker - just pop it in the oven and let it cook 30 minutes! I personally am not a huge fan of chili, so I was slightly hesitant about trying this recipe. But, it looked like a recipe my husband would really like & it has a lot of cheese, so, oh heck, why not? :) 

Turns out - it was one of the best pasta dishes I've ever tried! And, it makes so much for just the two of us, I separated it into thirds & froze some of it. We were able to enjoy it for several weeks. :) 

I really like the black beans for the chili part rather than traditional kidney or red beans. It is perfectly good just the way it is, but if you want to add a little more flavor some good toppings are sour cream, green onions, or . . . bacon bits! Yes, bacon bits (real ones - bacon that's been cooked & crumbled) go on everything. And of course, a side of bread never hurt anything. ;)

Chili Pasta Bake


1/2 Tblsp. oil
1 whole onion, chopped
1 lb. ground beef
1 dash salt
1 dash black pepper
1/2 pound pasta (I used shells)
15 oz. tomato sauce
14 1/2 oz. diced tomatoes & green chiles
15 oz. black beans
1 1/2 Tblsp. chili powder
2 tsp. cumin
3 dashes Cayenne pepper
1/4 cup water
2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese

Optional toppings: sour cream, green onions, bacon bits 

1. Preheat oven to 350.

2. Drizzle the oil in a large skillet on medium high heat. Add the onions & saute for about 3 minutes. Add the ground beef and season with salt & pepper. Cook until the beef is no longer pink.

3. While the ground beef is cooking, cook your pasta. Once cooked, drain off the water and set the pasta aside.

4. After the ground beef is cooked, add the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes & green chiles, beans, chili powder, cumin, Cayenne, & water. Give it a stir and let it simmer for about 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, stir in the cooked pasta to combine,

5. Pour the chili pasta mixture into a 9x13 pan. Flatten it out with a spatula & sprinkle with cheese. Place in the oven for 30 minutes or until the edges are bubbling and the cheese has fully melted.

6. Enjoy! :)

--Recipe from

Monday, January 11, 2016

New Year + Photos

Hi Y'all! Happy New Year! I know I've been gone for a while, but - life happens. :) Anyway, this fresh new year made me want to get back into the habit of blogging again; I've missed it. So, here I am!!! :)

I just want to share a few photos today of some of things I have cooked or whipped together over the last couple of months. If you follow the blog's Facebook page, you may have already seen a lot of these photos, but photos of food never get old, right? ;) If you haven't seen any of these yet, then enjoy browsing through them. I also realized I haven't posted an actual recipe in forever - none of my most recent posts were recipes! - so I will be posting a recipe on Wednesday. Be sure to watch for it!

Poor Man's Steak

Biscuits (won 2nd place ribbon at State Fair 2015!)

Apple Pie (won 3rd place ribbon at State Fair 2015!)

Chicken & rice w/ mushroom gravy + Cheesy Garlic Bombs

Homemade fudge sauce 


Chicken Pot Pie 
(I will share this one soon when I have better photos of it!)

The World's BEST chocolate chip/M&M cookies

Grilled chicken & veggie kabobs 
(one of my new favorites)

Party Food!

More specifically . . . Cheesy Pepperoni Bites

And . . . Polar Bear Cookies 

And finally, all of the fixin's for . . .

White Christmas Sangria!