Saturday, August 29, 2009

Deep Dark Chocolate Goodness

Hmm...right now I'm listening to Jon Schmidt on Youtube. He plays really beautiful classical piano music. It's very mellowing. : )
I had a chocolate craving a few days ago, so I did some experimenting. I wanted something with cake and frosting, but something a little different and exciting too. So, I made my Aunt's Deep Dark Chocolate Cake recipe (my favorite chocolate cake!) as a layer cake and made a chocolate mousse filling, then frosted it all with sour cream chocolate frosting. Yum! I sure enjoyed it. : ) The cake was wonderfully rich and dark and moist, the mousse gave it a nice creamy contrast without being too sweet, and the frosting had this great zing from the sour cream. I don't typically like frosting at all, but this one was really good. And now I'm getting another chocolate craving. I'm considering making chocolate souffle. I've never made it before, and it's always interested me. I'll keep you posted. ; )

Aunt Marianne's Deep Dark Chocolate Cake
1 3/4 cup flour
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup cocoa
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup oil
2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup boiling water

Combine dry ingredients. Add remaining ingredients except boiling water; beat on medium speed two minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin.) Pour into two greased and floured 9" pans. Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes.

Chocolate Mousse Filling

In small bowl, beat 1 cup (1/2 pt.) cold whipping cream, and 1 tablespoon cocoa until creamy. Slowly whisk in a package of chocolate pudding mix.
Cover; refrigerate. About 2 cups. When cakes are cool, spread evenly between layers.

Sour Cream Frosting
2 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup of sour cream
3 cups of powdered sugar
1 tsp of vanilla

Beat sour cream with sugar and vanilla until smooth. Mix in melted chocolate. Spread over cake. Store in refrigerator.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Kansas Beauty

My husband and I took a drive today, just wandering around back roads. We ran into a couple of old bridges and some pretty sunflowers. It was lovely.

She's a Kansas beauty too. : )

Saturday, August 15, 2009


So my husband and I really love steamers. When we were on our honeymoon we went to this great little coffee shop to get internet several mornings and the owner served us some of the best steamers we'd ever had. My favorite is Irish Cream. Anyway, tonight we decided to try to make homemade steamers. And it worked! I'm sure we will be drinking lots of milk this winter- good for the bones! We made a homemade vanilla syrup and then just scalded some milk on the stove. The syrup definitely doesn't look like the professional, Starbucks stuff, but it got the job done. My talented husband did most of the work on this recipe, so he really deserves most of the credit. :)
For the syrup:
2 1/2 cups of water
1 cup of granulated sugar
3/4 cup of brown sugar

Boil on medium heat for 15-20 minutes. The syrup may thicken some, but don't expect it to thicken too much. Stir in 4 tbs vanilla extract (or, whatever flavor you want.)

Pour 1/8-1/4 cup of syrup into a mug (we did 1/4 cup for 8 oz. and it was a little on the sweet side, but I think 1/8 would have been too little. Depends entirely on your preference.) You will have plenty of extra syrup to last you all winter long, so just stick it in a canning jar and toss it in the fridge to use when wanted.

Pour 8 oz of milk into a saucepan and heat to scalding. Pour milk into mug. Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Photoshop Craze

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I just recently discovered that my husband has Photoshop on his desktop. I was rather excited. I also came into a nicer camera than what we had before. Our brother-in-law gave us his old Canon Powershot. It's not my dream camera, but it's a significant step up from the Kodak. I have always been really interested in photography, even when I was little. When my dad was in college he had a camera and a darkroom, and I was always fascinated with the idea of really good photography. I was in 4H photography too, and that helped me learn a few basics. When I was in highschool I bought my first camera, a Minolta Freedom Zoom. I think I bought it for around $200. I saved up for a long time for it. It was a great camera, but of course it was film, so in the age of digital photography it's kind of lost it's usefulness. Now I'm saving for my Nikon, but I figure while I wait I may as well start getting familiar with Photoshop. Here are a few of my experiments so far. Let me tell you, I have a loooot to learn. Mostly I just pushed buttons and ran actions until it ended up looking how I wanted. But, in time I hope to get a lot better. I am sure enjoying it! I just can't wait until I have a really trully great camera to work with...

This is my beautiful niece. She's four. She was my model on Sunday. The kid's a natural. All I did was ask to take pictures with her and she started picking spots to sit and posing.

Isn't she gorgeous?

And this is her little brother. He's my baby. I just can't get enough of him and his big blue eyes!!

This is my nephew (on my husband's side.) I just had this one picture of him, and he has such great blue eyes that I really had fun messing around with it. He sure is a cutie : )

This is our beagle puppy, Beaker. He looks a lot more innocent than he really is.

Here are a few nature photos. I feel like portraits are easier to do. I'm gonna have to work on taking nature pictures.

One of my friends actually took this picture, I just edited it. It was taken in Colorado.

Here are a few from our honeymoon.

And here's my very favorite picture of all time. It's my handsome devil of a husband. Man I married a looker.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Only the Best Meatloaf Ever

Be prepared. I'm about to provide you with the single most amazing meatloaf recipe on the face of the planet. I kid you not. Back in June we went to Boston for our friends' wedding and stayed with a lovely couple. He is reportedly quite the cook and on our last night there he made us this meatloaf. We had been eating out for almost a straight month by this point and this homemade meatloaf was pure comfort food. Now, this recipe has a rather strange combination of flavors, but don't let that deter you. It's good.

1 cup of bbq sauce
1 16 Jar of mild salsa
Teriyaki Sauce (recipe to follow)
2 lbs ground beef
1 lb ground turkey
3 large eggs, beaten
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp kosher salt
50 crushed Ritz crackers

Bake uncovered at 375 65-75 minutes; every 25 minutes drain fat with a baster. It's done when there are some charred places on top, but could easily cook for longer. This is a very moist and forgiving meatloaf. Sometimes I crank it up to 400 for the last few minutes to char the top and firm it up a bit.

Teriyaki Sauce

1/4 cup of soy sauce
1/2 cup of water
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1-3 minced garlic cloves
1/4 cup of brown sugar
2 tbs of honey
2 tbs of cornstarch dissolved into 1/4 cup of cold water

Mix everything but the cornstarch mixture in a saucepan and heat. Drizzle cornstarch mixture into pan and whisk. Heat on low, whisking, until it thickens to a honey consistency.

Along with the meatloaf I made Fresh Corn Casserole

and Sweet Potato Chips. For the chips just peel a sweet potato, slice it into thin circles,
drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt,

then bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes, or until cooked through and crispy.

Sweet potatoes are my favorite veggie, so I try to come up with new ways to cook them! My favorite though is still on the grill with butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon. But these make a good salty version.

And I finally got my Colorado Peaches!! They were selling them at the local Farmer's Market. Look at how gorgeous they are. I would make something out of them, but they are so absolutely perfect plain. So sweet and juicy and delicious...

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Beggar's Chowder

So this past Saturday my sister and I had a garage sale. Since things were so busy getting ready Friday night, I just tossed some chicken in the crockpot and used one of my recipes from my Crockpot Cookbook. It was called Beggar's Chowder. Basically you season up some chicken legs, cook them in broth for a while, then add some veggies and cream and shred up the chicken and there you have it! The first night we ate it as a soup, but with the leftovers we had it over rice. All very yummy!

PS- the notable increase in photo quality is due to the fact that I discovered that my husband has Photoshop! So, now I can edit my photos.