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Dear Readers,

I know you don’t come here that often anymore, but if you’re here looking for more recipes, you’ll find them over at Cooking Whims. More variety and more fun!

Thank you!

These days, I only bake when there are a bunch of people to help eat what I make. (Sorry for the lack of posting!) In this case, I was going to a surprise birthday party for one of my best friends. And she deserves only the best of the best. So this is what I created.

When I bake cupcakes, it’s nothing like what you see on Cupcake Wars. I don’t think I could infuse my cupcakes with alfalfa sprouts and still have them taste good…but I don’t make them from the box, and I like to try out different frosting recipes to kick it up a bit!

Frosting the cupcakes is my absolute favorite part of this process. Ask Chris, he witnessed me piping these cupcakes and getting incredibly giddy over the process. Anyone need a cupcake baker in their bake shop??

The Cupcake:

Ingredients: (I found this recipe on Joy of Baking)

1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 cup boiling water
1 1/3 cup flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla

Directions:

1. Stir boiling water and cocoa powder together until cool. Let cool.

2. Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.

3. Beat together butter and sugar. Add eggs one at a time, beating until smooth. Add vanilla. Then slowly beat in the flour mixture. Then add the cooled cocoa mixture and stir with a rubber spatula until smooth and incorporated.

4. Pour into cupcake tins lined with muffin liners. Fill the liners 2/3 of the way up.

5. Bake at 375 for 16-20 minutes or until springy to the touch. Let cool on a wire rack before frosting.

This will yield about 18-20 cupcakes. (I didn’t have enough room in oddly shaped muffin tins to make all of them, and was far too lazy to put in 2 more cupcakes, so I poured the rest of the batter in a mug and put it in the microwave for 1 minute. Instant cake. Also delicious.)

Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients: (I found this sugary delight on the side of a Domino’s Confectioners sugar box)

1/2 cup butter, softened
3 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 tsp vanilla
dash of salt
3 3/4 cup confectioners sugar
1-2 tbsp milk
2 squares unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled

Directions:

1. Combine butter, cream cheese, vanilla and salt. Beat until light and fluffy.

2. Add confectioners sugar slowly, beating on low speed. Stir in 1 tbsp milk and melted chocolate. Beat until fluffy. Add additional milk if it is too stiff.

3. Scoop the frosting into a 1 gallon ziplock bag. Snip off a tiny bit of a corner of the bag. Then pipe away!

To. Die. For.

Sour Cream Chocolate Cake

Baking Whims has been sad lately because I am busy updating Cooking Whims.

However, I do manage to sneak in a baked good every now and then. Most recently, I baked a fabulous sour cream chocolate cake with my friend (who just moved 20 minutes away from  me–which I’m so psyched about!) :) We decided to put together this cake, stick it in the oven, do a 30 minute workout with our friend Jillian Michaels, then reward ourselves with a large piece of the cake at the end. What? At least we’re not just baking the cake and eating it…we make up for our lost calories ;)

Ingredients (Note: I found this recipe at cdkitchen.com)

1 3/4 cup flour
1 3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2/3 cup butter, softened
2 cups sour cream
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla

For the Frosting: We made a buttercream frosting that my friend is crazy about, but since I don’t have that recipe with me, I’ll give you the one from the website. I think the one from the website would be equally delicious.

3 tbsp butter
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 cup confectioners sugar
2 tbsp milk
1/2 tsp vanilla

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 13 X 9  baking pan.

2. In a large mixer bowl, combine the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda and salt, blending well. Blend in the butter, sour cream, eggs and vanilla. Beat for 3 minutes on medium speed. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until a wooden pick, inserted in the center, comes out clean. Cool in the pan on a wire rack.

3. When cool, frost with the frosting.

4. FROSTING: In a small saucepan over low heat, melt the butter. Add the cocoa and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture begins to boil. Pour the mixture into a small mixer bowl and allow to cool completely. Add the confectioners’ sugar to the cocoa mixture alternately with the milk then beating to a spreading consistency. Blend in the vanilla.

This cake was sinfully good. It was very very thick and very rich–almost thick enough to be a brownie, but it had the soft and moist texture of a cake. I’m ashamed to admit that I ate a half a piece for breakfast the next morning. Luckily though, I only took two pieces home with me and the rest was sent away…

Enjoy!

Featured Blog: Leslie Sarna

I stumbled upon this site by way of StumbleUpon. I love everything about this chick’s blog! The pictures, the writing, the vegetarian recipes, and most of all–her desserts!

I want to try the chocolate silk cheesecake she has featured in her last post. Maybe you’ll see a copycat version of it on here someday soon.

In the meantime, please click and enjoy all the yummy treats from Leslie Sarna.

a.) I don’t eat all of those baked goods.

b.) When I do, I consider them a treat. They aren’t something I indulge in every day.

I actually get that question a lot — “Why are you so skinny?” And this is something I’ve been wanting to address for a while.

Like most people, I look in the mirror and see something else. Why is my stomach jutting out like that? When did that line of cellulite appear? Are those love handles? Since when do my thighs jiggle like that? Then I look at everyone else and think their body is better. It’s a ruthless cycle, and most people are stuck in it.

But I’ve found healthy ways to deal with this, and it all boils down to eating right, exercising, and thinking positively about my body.

My new love affair with food has led me to browse through dozens of cookbooks. I usually stay away from titles like “Southern Comforts”, and gravitate towards ones like “Hearty and Healthy Meals”. The Healthy meal cookbooks usually have excerpts in the front on how to eat well, and not starve. They also almost always come with dessert sections, emphasizing that you don’t need to take away dessert in order to be healthy. You just don’t need it every day.

Okay, alright, so how do I really stay skinny? Here are the rules I follow and the things I do every day to maintain an average weight for my height and age. (Yes, I am completely average!)

  • Never skip meals. Actually, I like to call my eating style “grazing.” I never have huge meals throughout the day. I eat a bowl of cereal in the morning with skim milk. Then I eat a mid-morning snack. Then for lunch I usually have a sandwich with either 1 slice of deli meat, 1 slice of cheese, and a handful of spinach or the occasional Friday PB + J. I also pack a midafternoon snack, and for dinner I eat small portions. If I get hungry at night–I’ll usually grab some crackers or fruit for a night time snack.  If I do things right, I’m never famished at any point throughout the day. If I find myself getting hungry–usually around 3 or 4–instead of going to the vending machine, I’ll try to fill myself up on water.
  • Pack your lunch. I see so many people both waste their money and their diets by buying lunch at work. Pack it. I look at the serving size for crackers and pack myself that many. That way I stay on track and avoid the lines and the calories of that tuna melt you’re craving at 12:30.
  • Eat more fruits and vegetables. You don’t have to like every single vegetable in order to get your daily dose. I don’t like cantaloupe or blueberries, but I love kiwi and grapes. I hate green beans, but love peas. You get the picture. Don’t live off of ramen noodles or quick fixes. These things will fill you up more than you think plus they are so good for you–so snack on them instead!
  • Stay away from fast food. I love Wendy’s too, but do yourself a favor and don’t eat there. It’s tragic for both your arteries and your thighs.
  • Don’t drink soda. I don’t know what else to say about that. Did you ever think soda was good for you?
  • Exercise. This might seem obvious, but a lot of people think that they’ll get a great looking body just by cutting back their calories. Although you will be skinnier and weigh less, it won’t help all that much with all of your jiggly parts. And by exercise, I don’t mean run 10 miles and lift weights for an hour. To be honest, I do those silly workout videos, and I love them. Most cable providers have them for free on demand. If you find one you really like, buy it! I do a Jillian Michael routine for 30 minutes every day. Sometimes I skip a day or two here and there (tired, sick, or a jam-packed day). But most of the time, you can set aside 30 minutes. You’ll feel so energized afterwards! I never used to work out until this year, and I see a definite improvement in both the way I feel and the way I see myself in the mirror. Plus, exercise is crucial to a healthy heart. Heart disease is the #1 killer in America, afterall.
  • Treat yourself. No need to stick to carrots and celery day after day. If you eat right and exercise, there’s no reason you should feel guilty for eating a piece of cake at that family gathering.
  • Decrease your salt intake. Having too much salt will cause you to feel bloated. It’s also terrible for you. Clogs the arteries. Raises cholesterol, etc. When cooking, always reach for the low-sodium or reduced-sodium products. Avoid shaking a bunch of salt on your food or adding it to your pasta, etc. Your heart will thank you later for this.
  • Read the labels. You’d be surprised.
  • Eat lean ground turkey instead of ground beef. I don’t often eat beef–If I cook sirloin or things like that, I always cut off as much fat as I can. And when a recipe calls for ground beef, I always replace it with ground turkey. A lot of substitutions like this can be made with food.
  • Don’t sacrifice real sugar for Splenda. There really is no need, and I’m a little weary on Splenda still and the affects it might have later in life. We already know that a large amount of sugar is bad for you–as are many other things, such as butter–just eat them in moderation.
  • Don’t buy cookies. Or any other junk food that you think you might pig out on. If you don’t have the junk food in the house, you won’t eat it. It’s as simple as that.
  • Do buy a healthy cookbook. Do some research on it. Go to the library and take out some cookbooks so you can build up a solid recipe box/folder/notebook. If you have the directions to cook healthy things, then that’s what you’ll cook!
  • Eat whole wheat/whole grain products. When my mom went on the South Beach Diet, she revolutionized the way the entire family ate. At first, we missed our enriched flour pasta and white bread, but whole wheat is better for you and keeps you feeling full after you eat it. White grains mostly turn into sugar after you digest it, and thus, go straight to the thighs.
  • Go outside. Sunshine makes you happy. Happy makes you more active. More active makes you think less about food/crave it. So go take a walk or sit outside with your favorite book. But don’t forget to apply sunscreen if you’ll be out there for a while!
  • Tell someone they look fabulous. It will make you feel good for making someone else happy, and they’re going to tell you that you look good too!

I think that’s pretty much it.

And remember, you don’t have to weigh 110 lbs. In fact, I encourage you not to weigh that much. No matter your weight, I think it’s important to follow a healthy diet and eat the right things. You’ll feel so much better–and that in turn will make you feel better about yourself.

And then treat yourself to a fabulous dessert once in a while! :)

Get your drool on…

http://foodporndaily.com/

Be prepared to drool over this website. It’s literally just amazing pictures of food. You can click the links underneath the pictures you like to go to the photographer’s website and get the recipe.

I hope you enjoy this site as much as I do!

…because I’m dying to make one!

In the meantime, if you want to see what I make for dinner, head over to Cooking Whims, my sister blog.

To be perfectly honest, I don’t eat dessert unless I bake something…so someone give me an excuse to bake!

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