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Archive for March, 2009

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This is my boyfriend Mike’s absolute favorite cake. His mom has been making it for his birthday ever since he was little and it’s honestly all I ever hear about! He was hoping that she would make it this year for his birthday, but she wasn’t able to, so I made it this weekend for another special occasion that we were celebrating. I’ve never had a cake like this before- basically it is full of chocolate and lots of cherries. You mix cherries into the cake batter and then put them on top too! It’s a very rich and decadent dessert and it’s huge, so it will serve a lot of people- I would say 10-12. Pair this with vanilla ice cream and everyone will clean their plates! 🙂

Ingredients:

  • 1 box chocolate cake mix (most likely you will be adding eggs, oil, and water to it)
  • 1 can chocolate frosting (if you love frosting, feel free to use more)
  • 2 10 oz cans maraschino cherries

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Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees (or whatever the box mix tells you to).
  2. Grease and flour two 9 inch circle cake pans.
  3. Prepare cake mix according to package directions. 
  4. Drain one can of the cherries and fold into the cake batter.
  5. Evenly distribute cake batter into both cake pans.
  6. Place in the oven and bake for the time stated on the box, testing with a toothpick to make sure it’s fully cooked through. Mine said to cook for 31-35 minutes.
  7. Let cakes cool for at least 30-45 minutes. 
  8. After cakes have cooled, gently run a knife along the edge of the cakes and the pans to loosen them, then invert the cakes onto a flat surface or cooking racks and let them cool completely.
  9. Set one of the cakes onto the surface that you will be frosting and serving it on, flat side facing up. Frost the top of this cake, using a spatula. Keep in mind that you will need to reserve enough frosting for the other cake top as well as the sides of both cake. You can use another can of frosting if you want to, but I was able to use one just fine. 
  10. After the first cake has been frosted, gently invert the second cake on top of it, this time, round side facing up. Frost the top of this, then the sides of both cakes.
  11. Drain the second can of maraschino cherries and gently press them onto the frosting on the top of the second cake. 

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Serve with vanilla ice cream!

 

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Looks like everyone liked it! 🙂

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imgp2638My boyfriend and I love to grill. Well, he loves to grill and I love to eat what comes off of the grill! Burgers, chicken, salmon, you name it! We finally got our grill hooked up after moving in November and have been dying to use it. Then the blizzard hit! Today was still cold, but sunny and nice, so we decided to make cheeseburgers for dinner! We put together a few sides and had a great meal. I can’t wait until the summer when we can grill every night! 

Here is our fabulous BBQ lineup:

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    Note: Grilling is great to do when you are entertaining- you can make everything in large quantities and it’s generally all easy to put together. The clean-up is a breeze too!

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    imgp2633These are a great side to have when you are BBQing or with many main course dishes. They are super easy to prepare, but just know that they can take awhile to cook, so you will need to plan accordingly when to start them, depending on what else you are cooking. The thicker you cut the potato wedges, the longer they take to cook, so I recommend cutting them about 1/2 to 1/4 inch thick. Serve these with burgers, chicken, your favorite meat dish, or fish. 

    Ingredients:

    • 1-2 large white potatoes (this will serve about 3-4 people)
    • Olive Oil
    • Herbes de Provence
    • Ground Pepper
    • Garlic powder

    Directions:

    1. Wash your hands since you will be directly handling the potatoes. 
    2. Cut potatoes in half and then slice into medium sized wedges. Set in a large bowl, drizzle over with olive oil, and season with spices. Mix potatoes with your hands so that olive oil and seasoning are distributed evenly throughout the potatoes.
    3. If you are already grilling something that you are eating these with, I would recommend placing the potatoes on the heated grill before the burgers or whatever else you are making. Turn every 4 minutes for about 15-20 minutes, depending on the thickness of the potatoes. Be careful not to burn them! To test if the potatoes are cooked through, you can cut into one and taste it.
    4. If you aren’t grilling, you can place the prepared potatoes on a large baking or cookie sheet, in a 400 degree heated oven. Turn after 10 minutes or so, when the potatoes start to brown. Cook for another 10 minutes, then make sure the potatoes are fully cooked through before eating.
    5. Serve with burgers, chicken, fish, or a roast.

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    imgp2638Cheeseburgers are a favorite of so many people, my boyfriend and I included, especially during the summer months when we can make them at home on our grill. What I like about burgers is that you can be really creative with your toppings, bun types, and cheese. Not burger ever needs to be alike (unless you want it to be of course)! The possibilities for sides are endless too- pasta salad, potato salad, green salad, fruit salad, baked beans, corn on the cob, etc. Burgers are a great thing to make when you are entertaining as you can make a lot of them at the same time and adjust the amount of sides and toppings you are making to the people you are serving. Below is our basic recipe for cheeseburgers- some people like to put chopped onion or green pepper in the hamburger patties, but we keep ours simple and just load on the toppings afterwards! 🙂

    Ingredients:

    • Ground beef- we use 93/7
    • Your choice of hamburger buns- we like whole-wheat
    • Your choice of cheese- Swiss, Cheddar, Pepperjack
    • Desired seasonings- we use ground black pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder

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    Burger Toppings (all are optional of course):

    • Sliced avocado
    • Tomato
    • Lettuce
    • Onions
    • Pickles
    • Mustard
    • Ketchup
    • Relish

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    Directions:

    1. Turn on the grill to high and let it heat up.
    2. Wash your hands! You will be handling the meat directly, so this is very important.
    3. Take your preferred type of hamburger meat, place in a bowl and add your favorite seasonings. Mix it together with clean hands. 
    4. Form the hamburger meat into the size of the burgers that you would like. Since it will shrink a little while cooking, you may want to form it slightly bigger than you want it to be. 
    5. Place the hamburger patties onto your heated grill. Close the grill and cook for 5-7 minutes on each side, depending on how well you like your burger cooked. 
    6. Add desired type of cheese to the patties and cook until it melts. This is also the time to, if desired, place hamburger buns on the grill and toast lightly. 
    7. Now it’s time to put it all together- place cooked hamburger patties on the toasted bun bottoms, place toppings over the cooked patties, then cover with the bun tops. 
    8. Dig in!

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    imgp2616I love to read. During the day, at night, when I wake up in the morning if I don’t feel like getting out of bed, pretty much anytime! I probably read the most during the summer when I’m lounging at the pool or at the beach, but the winter is a great time to read too since I’m not a skier or a snowboarder like a lot of my friends are. I spend a lot of time inside in the winter so reading is a perfect way to fill my time! I love share books with my friends and family too- my mom, grandma, and I often rotate books and will pass them along to friends too. Lately I have been really interested in books about healthy eating, cooking, and how to live a healthy life. There are so many different takes and perspectives on this and I love to get a variety. I don’t think just one person is ever right in what they think and are promoting- often I will take certain tips from one book and different ones from another. Like my dad says- everyone has their own opinion and what works for one person doesn’t necessarily work for another. So- like I said, I like to read and learn as much as possible and take tips and ideas from lots and lots of books. 

    Here are the three books I am reading (and will finish!) this month:

    Skinny Bitch, by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin– this book shot to fame when Victoria Beckham was spotted carrying it. This book guides women on making smart and informed decisions about food and eating. It’s a New York Times Bestseller and is written by two “smart-mouthed” women, one a former model and one a former agent for Ford Models. Skinny Bitch is the first book and they have come out with a few more since then, including Skinny Bitch in the Kitch, which contains recipes! To learn more about the Skinny Bitch books and to order them, click here!

    Naturally Thin, by Bethenny Frankel- Bethenny is one of the stars of the show The Real Housewives of New York City and she is also a natural foods chef and owner of BethennyBakes, a natural foods company, among many other things. This book provides over 30 simple recipes and her top rules and tips for everyone to get started on the Naturally Thin Lifestyle, including Heavy Habits (to be stopped) and Thin Thoughts (to embrace). To learn more about Bethenny and her new book, which is currently #5 on the NYT Bestseller List, click here!

    Super Cleanse, by Adina Niemerow- this book tells readers how to “unleash your life force with the power of cleansing.” The author is a personal chef who has studied holistic cooking and nutrition all of over the world and now leads group and individual cleanses. This book shares ten cleanse plans and contains over 100 recipes to help you complete the cleanses. What I really like about this book is the testimonials from successful cleanses- this proves that Adina’s clients and happy and satisfied with her services! To learn more about Adina and her book, click here

    Note- In my opinion, the best way to learn about new and interesting books is through conversations with friends and family. My friend Christine told me about Skinny Bitch and Naturally Thin, and I returned the favor by sharing my find of Super Cleanse with her!

    What are you reading this month?

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    imgp2600In my opinion, Old Chicago has the best pizza in Colorado! The best I have had at least. Our favorite is the Chicago 7 Pizza, described on their menu as “a conspiracy” of Italian sausage, pepperoni, fresh mushrooms, black olives, green peppers, red onions and Mozzarella cheese.” Pure deliciousness is what I call it! 🙂 They have so many other pizzas on their menu to choose from, or you can make your own with their massive list of toppings. Since this pizza may not be the healthiest meal choice, I like to pair it with a big salad full of colorful veggies which I just make at home. We were thinking of ordering their mozzarella sticks too, which are so cheesy and gooey and yummy, but I knew I would be stuffed after having just a few of those. So, while my boyfriend went to pick up the pizzas, I put together salads with the veggies we had in the fridge- lettuce, tomato, yellow and orange peppers, and avocado. Pair a few slices of pizza with a super healthy salad and no guilt! The best thing about ordering a big pizza- you can eat it cold for lunch the next day!

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    The healthy appetizer/side salad!

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

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    The aftermath...

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    To find an Old Chicago restaurant near you and to check out their pizza and many other fabulous menu items, click here!

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    This has been a very mild winter so far in Colorado, but I knew we weren’t lucky enough to not even get hit with one storm. Last Sunday it was 78 degrees, so I knew something was about to happen! Usually when we have a really warm day in the middle of the winter, it is a sign that a storm is sure to come! The news reports since Monday had been warning us of a storm, so I knew it was imminent. Thursday morning, we woke up to a whiteout! I had two meetings in Denver, both of which were easily rescheduled, thank god. My boyfriend had to go to work and got a super early start and had no problems getting to work in Boulder, which is about 30 minutes, but he was not as lucky on the drive home, which took nearly 2 hours! And that was at 11:30am- not a prime traffic time! I thought I would share my pictures with our readers and also my top tips for staying safe and warm in a blizzard.

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    Here are my personal top ten tips for staying safe and warm at home in a blizzard!

    1. Plan ahead- you won’t always know in advance when a storm may hit or how severe it will be, but you should always have lots of food and canned goods in the house, so you won’t have to risk the roads to go to the store. Have flashlights, candles, and matches in a place where you can easily find them. 
    2. Have a good shovel in case you do need to shovel your driveway- our plows didn’t come until after 3pm! By this time, my boyfriend had shoveled our driveway and several of our neighbors’ driveways!
    3. If you don’t need to go anywhere, definitely don’t! This is what the news reports were saying since 7am. I was really glad I was lucky enough to not have to go to work, but if your office is not closed, ask your employer if you can work from home or even take a vacation day if they don’t agree upon you working from home. Nothing is more important than your safety. 
    4. Catch up on whatever you have to do at home- a blizzard is a perfect opportunity to spend time in paying bills, writing notes to people, long phone conversations with friends or your family, cleaning, cooking, baking, etc! 
    5. Stay warm- have lots of blankets available and if you have someone to stay close and snuggle with, do it! 🙂
    6. Make something warm and comforting for dinner- I made tuna casserole and my boyfriend was so happy.
    7. Turn on your faucets a bit so that they are dripping- the last thing you want is for your pipes to freeze!
    8. Let people out of the area know that you are okay so they don’t worry- I always call my parents and my grandma who I know will get anxious if she sees a blizzard in our area. I called my grandma right away and told her not to fret, I planned to stay inside all day. 
    9. Try to relax- if there is one thing we can’t control, it’s the weather. I had a full day planned out of the house, but obviously didn’t get any of it accomplished but didn’t let it upset me, because there was really nothing I could do about it.
    10. Wait for the storm to pass and plan what needs to be done out of the house when you finally can go outside! Make a list so that nothing gets overlooked.

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    Here is a selection of some of my favorite news articles that I came across this week, all from the New York Times!news_newspaper_newspapers_237451_tn

    Getting Your Grains — and Greens, Too – This is part of the Recipes for Health Series and the article discusses mixing carbohydrates and veggies for a balanced meal.

    An Almost-Meatless Diet-This blog post discusses cutting back on your meat consumption, but not giving it up completely. I really liked this post because it was basically describing me! My boyfriend always laughs at me when I say I am a vegetarian who eats chicken and fish, but it’s true! I honestly would say I eat fish or chicken no more than 2-3 times a week and the rest of the time, I eat vegetarian. I probably have red meat once a month- if at all! This post also contains 3 recipes- all of which I want to try, especially the corn and cod cakes!

    Eating Food That’s Better for You, Organic or Not– Is eating “organic” food really better for you? Read this article and find out!

    Obamas to Plant Vegetable Garden at White House- Read all about the new vegetable garden that the Obamas are planning for the White House and how they are promoting healthful eating.

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    imgp2531For some reason lately, I’m on a tomato kick! I don’t know why, but my body has just been craving them lately. Tomatoes contain lycopene, one of the most powerful natural antioxidants, as well as Vitamins A, B, and C, Potassium, Phosphorus, and Iron. No wonder tomatoes are one of the top superfoods! Not to mention they are very tasty and there are so many different things you can do with them! Cherry tomatoes were also on sale at the supermarket this week and sine Saturday I have bought 3 packages of them and used them all! If I turn into a tomato soon, this will be why! 🙂 Tonight for dinner I made bruschetta (since it was so good and we have been wanting it since the last time we had it) with one package of cherry tomatoes and I tossed the other package into my pasta dish. Dinner was light and healthy and there is enough leftover that I shouldn’t have to cook until at least Thursday of this week! 🙂

    Here is the recipe for tonight’s pasta dish:

    Ingredients:

    • 12 oz package spaghetti noodles (regular or whole wheat)
    • 3 medium chicken breasts, boiled and cut into bite sized pieces
    • 8 oz container mushrooms, chopped in halves
    • 1 small package of cherry tomatoes, chopped in halves
    • 1 small container pre-made pesto
    • 1/2 white onion, chopped
    • 2-3 tbsp olive oil
    • Salt for cooking the chicken

    Note: Since the pesto has so much flavor, I don’t add any salt or pepper to the pasta- but please feel free to if your taste buds want you to.

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    Prepared chicken


     

     

     

     

     

     

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    Prepared veggies

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Directions:

    1. Place chicken breasts in a large pot of boiling salted water. Reduce heat to low and cook for 45-60 minutes, until chicken is fully cooked through. Remove from pot, let cool, cut into bite sized pieces, and set aside.
    2. Cook pasta according to package directions. This should take about 10-12 minutes, until pasta is al dente.
    3. While pasta is cooking (or before, while chicken is cooking), prepare veggies- chop onion, mushrooms, and cherry tomatoes in halves.
    4. Place onions in a large frying pan and sautee in 1 tbsp olive oil. When onions become translucent after a few minutes, add in mushrooms and 1 more tbsp of olive oil. Cook for about 3 more minutes, then add in chicken and 1 more tbsp of olive oil if needed. Mix the chicken in, then add in the cherry tomatoes. 
    5. Drain pasta and add it into the chicken and veggie mixture. 
    6. Add pesto and mix in well.

    Serve immediately with bruschetta or garlic bread! 

    Note: I have a feeling this will be really yummy leftover cold for lunch tomorrow- I can’t wait to try it! 🙂

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    valentine_heart_candle_268954_lLast night my boyfriend and I were trying to figure out where to go out to dinner. We had actually eaten out the past two days in a row, so I don’t know why we wanted to go out again, but I think we were both just feeling tired after a long walk, hungry, and not wanting to cook. Going out on a Saturday night can be pretty chaotic- restaurants are always crowded, noisy, and have long waitlists. As we were driving by the grocery store, we decided to stop in and see what we could figure out to make. I remembered this really yummy pasta dish from Giada’s Everyday Italian Cookbook that is also really quick and easy to put together. We picked up the ingredients for that and the ingredients to make tomato mozzarella salads (one of our all time favorite appetizers). Total cost of the groceries was under $30! Dinner out would be at least double that. Dinner was ready in under 30 minutes too! This is definitely a stay at home dinner that will make you happy that you didn’t go out!

    Here is the menu for our Saturday Date Night Dinner at Home:

    Tomato Mozzarella Salads

    Giada’s Fusilli alla Caprese

    Recommended but not required 🙂 : Garlic bread or your favorite bread spread with butter and strawberry sorbet for dessert! 

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    Tomato Mozzarella Salad

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    Fusilli alla Caprese

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