Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Chocolate Beet Cake With Beet Cream Cheese Frosting

Recipe from Joy the Baker

I hate beets.  They taste like dirt.  But one Valentine's Day when Ken and I were recently married we went to a fancy Italian restaurant in downtown Salt Lake.  Dinner wasn't that great but the dessert....oh my the dessert....was fabulous! It was a beet cake with chocolate frosting.  We were slightly skeptical at first but once we had a bite, we were sold.  The secret with the beets is that you can't taste them but they add an amazing moistness to the cake.  The cream cheese frosting in this recipe is tinted with roasted, grated beets to give it a natural, pink color which I think gives it a more homemade, natural look.  If you want to impress a group then make this cake! It is very, very yummy!

For the Cake:

2 medium beets, unpeeled but trimmed of their greens
1 t. vegetable oil
3/4 c. unsalted butter, softened plus more for greasing the pans
1 c. packed brown sugar
3/4 c. granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 t. vanilla
2 c. flour plus more for dusting pans
2/3 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. baking powder
1 t. salt
1 1/4 c. buttermilk

For the Frosting:
1 c. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
4-5 c. powdered sugar, sifted (I used 5)
2 T. finely grated beets, mashed
1 t. vanilla
1-2 t. milk, depending on desired consistency (I used 1)
1/2 t. fresh lemon juice
pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Thoroughly wash beets and trim leaves.  Place in a piece of foil.  Drizzle with vegetable oil.  Seal up foil (I did about 3 layers of foil).  Place on baking sheet and roast beets until they are tender, about an hour (I did mine for an hour and a half).

Remove beets from oven and open up foil and allow to cool completely.  Peel beets with a paring knife.

Using a box grater, grate the beets on the finest grating plane.  Measure out 3/4 c. grated beets for the cake and 2 T. for the frosting.  Set aside.

Reduce oven to 350 degrees.  Use butter to grease two 8" or 9" round pans (it's easiest if you use your hands).  Cut out 2 parchment paper circles to go in the bottom of the pans.  Butter the parchment paper.  Dust flour in the pans.  Set aside while you prepare the cake.

In the bowl of an electric mixture with the paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugars until light and fluffy.  About 3-5 minutes.  Beat in eggs, one at a time, for one minute after each addition.  Scrape down sides of bowl as necessary.  Once eggs are incorporated beat in beets and vanilla until thoroughly combined.

In a medium bowl whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt.

Add half of the dry ingredients to the butter and egg mixture.  Beating on low speed, slowly add the buttermilk.  Once just incorporated, add the other half of the dry ingredients.  Beat on medium speed until milk and dry ingredients are just combined.  Try not to over mix the batter.  Bowl can be removed from the mixer and folded with a spatula to finish incorporating ingredients.  Cake will be on the thick side.

Divide the batter between the two prepared cake pans.  Bake for 23-25 minutes (for a 9-inch pan) or 30-32 minutes (for a 8-inch pan).  Cake is done when a skewer comes out clean.  Remove cakes from oven and allow to cool completely (you can also transfer to wire rack after 25 minutes to finish cooling).

To make the frosting:
In the bowl of an electric stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat cream cheese for 30 seconds until pliable and smooth.  Add the butter and beat for another 30 seconds until well combined.  Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary.  Beat in the beets.  Add the powdered sugar, vanilla extract, milk, lemon juice and salt.  Beat on medium speed until smooth and silky.  Refrigerate the frosting for 30 minutes before frosting the cooled cakes.

To assemble the cake, place one layer of cake on a cake stand or plate.  Top with a generous amount of pink frosting.  Spread evenly.  Place the other cake on top of the frosting (I did the flat, bottom side of the cake up so that I had a really smooth surface to frost versus a mounded surface).  Top with frosting. Work onto the sides of the cake.  You will have extra frosting left over.  Refrigerate for an hour before serving.  Cake will last well wrapped in the fridge for up to 4 days.

Hello good friend.

Coconut Banana Bread With Lime Glaze

This recipe is from Our Best Bites and these girls know what they're doing! Almost every recipe I have tried from them is sooo delicious.  As we speak I have an Overnight Apple-Cinnamon Oatmeal in the crock pot.  But that's a post for later! This bread is very yummy.  It is banana bread with coconut in it and toasted on top.  Then it's drizzled with a glaze of fresh lime juice and powdered sugar.  My husband even said it was good! And that is saying something because he usually doesn't make comments about food.  I used 4 mini loaf pans but their recipe is just for one large loaf.  If you do make mini loaves (which I just think are cuter anyways) adjust baking time to about 30 minutes.  Each oven is different though so keep an eye on it.

2 c. flour
3/4 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1 c. sugar
1/4 c. butter, softened
2 large eggs
1 1/2 c. mashed bananas (about 4)
1/4 c. sour cream
3 T. milk
1 t. vanilla
1/2 c. coconut

Topping: 2 T. additional coconut
Glaze: 1/2 c. powdered sugar whisked with 1 1/2 T. fresh lime juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.Whisk flour, baking soda and salt together.  Set aside.In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar until blended.  Add eggs and beat to combine.  Add banana, sour cream, milk and vanilla.  Beat until blended.  Add flour mixture and beat at low speed until just combined.  Stir in 1/2 c. coconut.

Pour batter into 9x5" loaf pan that has been sprayed with non-stick spray.  Sprinkle additional 2 T. on top.  Bake in the oven for 1 hour or until toothpick comes out clean.  If halfway through coconut is getting too toasty cover with foil.

When done, remove from oven.  Cool on wire rack for 10 minutes and carefully remove from pan.  Whisk powdered sugar and lime juice together.  Drizzle on top.

Cream Cheese Chicken

I know that the title and picture isn't very appetizing but trust me, everyone in Utah and their dog makes this and for good reason! It's delicious! Comfort food at it's best.

5 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
8 ounce package cream cheese
2 cans cream of chicken
1 1/2 packages dry italian salad dressing mix

Combine all ingredients except chicken.  Put chicken in crock pot and cover with cream cheese mixture.  Cook on medium for 5-6 hours until cooked through. Remove chicken, shred and return to crock pot.  Serve over mashed potatoes.

Here's a couple tips:
* You can add a little chicken broth to this to thin out the sauce
* I learned a great tip from The Girl Who Ate Everything.  To get perfectly shredded chicken put the chicken in a bowl and shred it with a hand mixer.  I did this and was super impressed with how great it turned out!

If you think the salad looks good click here to get the recipe.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

S'mores Cookies

Do you remember the scene in "Father of the Bride Part II" when Franck sings the little tune of "Every party has a pooper, that's why we invited you! Party pooper! Party pooper! Every party has a pooper, that's why we invited you, George Baannkks! That's you." It makes me giggle thinking of that part.  Well, the Hubby and I were party poopers on Fourth of July.  I had to work the next day so we just stayed home and chilled out.  I wanted to do something special though.  So I found these yummy S'more's Cookies from The Girl That Ate Everything.  D-E-L-I-C-I-O-U-S!

11 T. unsalted butter, softened
1 c. brown sugar, packed
1/2 c. granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 t. vanilla
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. sea salt (I used normal salt)
1 t. cinnamon
2 1/2 c. flour
1/2 c. semi sweet chocolate chips (milk chocolate is yummy too!)
1 c. mini marshmallows
3 regular sized Hershey's bars, broken into pieces
1-2 packages graham crackers, broken into squares.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, sea salt and cinnamon to combine.  Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream butter with white and brown sugars until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs and vanilla and mix until combined.  Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and combine on low speed.  Fold in the chocolate chips and marshmallows. Chill dough in refrigerator for 1 hour to overnight (I did mine right away, didn't make any difference).

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line baking pans with parchment paper.  Lay out graham crackers as close as possible. Place heaping tablespoons of dough on each graham cracker.  Press down slightly with fingertips.

Bake for 5 minutes and then remove from oven.  Press a Hershey bar on top.

Bake for 5-7 minutes more or until dough is starting to turn golden brown at the edges.  Remove to wire rack to cool.  Once cool use a sharp knife to cut cookies apart.  Enjoy!

Mixed Berry Smoothie

In my recent posts I have been talking about my journey on the program Couch-to-5K.  One of the things I have been doing to be healthier is making smoothies! It's really hard for me to eat enough fruit to get the daily requirement.  Let's be honest, it almost never happens.  So a great way for me to get a lot of fruits in is to make smoothies! I got a big bag of frozen mixed berries from Wal-Mart, good vanilla yogurt (please don't use store brand, yuck!), ice, and good orange juice.  The recipe that follows is really just suggestions.  I don't measure.  Taste as you go and see if you want to add more of something.  I'm going to be experimenting with smoothie ingredients in the future so be looking for more posts! 

2 c. frozen mixed berries
1/3-1/2 c. ice
1/3-1/2 c. vanilla yogurt
1/3-1/2 c. orange juice.

Blend together and enjoy!

I kinda loved it.

Couch-to-5K: Week 4

Hello friends! I am now on Week 4 of the program Couch-to-5K.  I have had some great success on this program! I have lost some weight! I have lost 8 lbs since my heaviest.  Haza for me! Yes that is a medieval times reference! I am soo happy!  There's a tiny problem though.  My left foot is hurting.  I don't know why but I am glad tomorrow is a "rest" day from the program.  I am going to take so much care of my foot tomorrow it's not even funny! I actually am repeating Week 3 of the program.  They said that if you feel like you need to repeat a week then to do it sooo I am going to repeat Week 3.  Wish me luck on this week and my foot!  I will do an update next week on weight loss and how the program is going.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Week 2: The Couch-to-5K & Disney Running Events


If you know me at all you know I love ANYTHING Disney.  Disney movies, Disneyland, Disneyland Dole Whips, Disneyland get the point.  I am on a 9 week journey to running a 5K and one thing I also really want to do some day is a Disneyland 5K.  They have them once in a while and I want to go and be as happy as this lady! Okay, so there probably won't be cartoon characters holding up my finish line at the end but there are lots of fun things they do during their running events! They always have a fun theme, cute medals, snacks, characters, etc.  It sounds like a par-tay to me!  If you want to see the dates of their different events just click here.  

On that note I just finished my second week of The Couch-to-5K program and I am sore! Which is a good thing right? I have a couple rest days and then resume training Tuesday of next week.  I think Monday I am going to do some sort of exercise though. Maybe yoga.  Can I just say how much I like my Yoga dvd.  Even though it is BEYOND cheesy I still enjoy it.  They say things such as, "the light in me salutes the light in you" which is something I would normally mock but it's oddly calming and relaxing.  As Jacques from "Finding Nemo" would say, "I am ashamed." 

Any who, back to the topic at hand.  I am excited to be doing this program! I really like it.  I like that there is structure to it. It's nice to have set "rest" days too.  Instead of feeling like I need to be exercising 6 days per week and then feeling disappointed in myself because I don't do it.  If you want to participate in The Couch-to-5K program you can go here to read about it.  

I will post next weekend after my Week 3 is done.  Wish me luck on my running this week! 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Couch-to-5K

I have a desk job.  I sit 8 hours a day. I used to be a runner.  And then I wasn't.  Time went on and exercising wasn't happening.  I then started to exercise a lot more then I had been and then I decided I wanted to do a 5K.  Now I know that a 5K isn't a big deal for a lot of people but for someone who has had a desk job and sits a lot, it is.

I thought it would be fun to chronicle my progress and journey.  The website I am using for a program is called The Couch-to-5K.  You can go here to view it.  I am on Week 2.  I would eventually like to do a 10K and a Half Marathon but I figure you have to walk before you run, literally.

I forgot how much I LOVE running.  It is like therapy.  A way to work out any frustrations or just think about things.  My goal for this week is to push myself but not to the point where I feel totally burnt out.

I will be chronicling my journey throughout the 9 weeks.  Wish me luck!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Better Than Anything Brownies

Recipe from Six Sister's Stuff

Good gracious! These brownies are the  So incredibly delicious! Layers of chewy brownie, toffee bits, carmel and chocolate chips.  Done and done!

Better Than Anything Brownies:

1 pkg German chocolate cake mix
1 (5 3/4 ounce) can evaporated milk
1 (14 ounce) bag caramels
3/4 c. melted butter
1 bag milk chocolate chips
1 (8 ounce) bag Heath toffee bits

Mix together cake mix, melted butter and 1/3 c. evaporated milk.  Press half into the bottom of a greased 9x13 pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 6 minutes.  Remove brownies from oven and sprinkle on half of the bag of Heath toffee bits.  Melt together caramels and rest of evaporated milk, pour over toffee bits.  Sprinkle on half bag of chocolate chips.  Spread remaining batter on top (this is easiest if you take pieces of the batter, flatten each individual piece in your hands and place on top).  Sprinkle remaining toffee bits and chocolate chips on top.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.  Refrigerate for 3 hours before serving.  

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Chicken Taco Soup

Slightly adapted from The Girl Who Ate Everything

I am not a beef person.  The thought of beef actually makes me gag a little.  So drumroll please....Chicken Taco Soup! This is hot and spicy! Just the way Mama likes it! If you don't like very spicy things then 1) you are bananas and 2) you can just use less taco seasoning.  

1 white onion, finely chopped
1 (15 oz) can Nalley Turkey Chili
1 (15 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 (15 oz) can corn, drained
1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes with green chiles
3 1/2 T. taco seasoning
3 whole skinless, boneless chicken breasts completely thawed
1/4 c. water

Combine onion, turkey chili, black beans, corn, tomato sauce, tomatoes with chiles, taco seasoning and water in large crock pot.  Mix well.  Submerge chicken breasts in crock pot till completely covered.  Cook on high for 4 hours, stirring occasionally.  Take out chicken and shred.  Return to crock pot and cook on medium for another hour.  Eat with shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream and tortilla chips.  This would also be really tasty with some diced avocados in it.  I had leftovers tonight and to reheat it I added a splash of water to it and cooked it on the stove till heated through.  

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Monster Cookie Dough Dip

This recipe is from The Girl Who Ate Everything and it is delicious! There are a few things I would do different next time but overall it is a great recipe for a baby shower, bridal shower, game night, etc.  Keep in mind this recipe makes a TON.  I would definitely only make half next time.  The picture above is only about half of what it made.

And a closer pic.  Yum yum!

Monster Cookie Dough Dip:
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened (I did mine room temp.)
1/2 c. butter, softened (I did mine room temp.)
1 c. creamy peanut butter
2 c. powdered sugar
3 T. brown sugar
1/4 c. flour
1 t. vanilla
2 1/2 c. rolled oats, old fashioned or quick
2/3 c. plain M & M's
1 c. semi sweet chocolate chips

Combine cream cheese, butter and peanut butter with a hand held mixer.  Stir in powdered sugar, brown sugar, flour and vanilla.  Stir in oats (I only did 2 c. and I really should have added in the extra 1/2 c.  It would have been better with it!), M & M's and chocolate chips (next time I would use the mini morsels and only do a 1/2 c. instead.  It had too many chocolate chips for me and they were too big). Refrigerate until ready to eat.  Serve with apples, graham crackers or pretzels.  I also think they might be good with Teddy Grahams.