Easy Chocolate Pound Cake

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

A few weeks ago, Janssen and her family were in Utah, and came to dinner at our house (actually, they brought us takeout, so I didn't have to cook dinner at all!).  As always, I knew dinner would not be complete without dessert, so I had this marvelous plan to stop by a local bakery and buy a few things.  Of course, said bakery didn't have the variety that I was looking for that day, so I decided to stop by another bakery and pick up a few supplemental things.  It would be perfect, I thought!  Aaaaand, that bakery was closed. Whomp, whomp.

Suddenly, what was going to be a super easy purchased dessert, wasn't going to work anymore.  

With no other good options, my baking self kicked into gear, and I decided to make a chocolate pound cake.  I admittedly don't like most chocolate cake very much (it is usually kind of dry for my taste), but this seemed like a good idea despite that.  Plus, the recipe was from SmittenKitchen, whom I trust implicitly, so I decided to try it out.  

Maybe you trust Smitten Kitchen, too, and I don't even need to share this one, but it was surprisingly tasty!  Perfect for your last minute guests or for a busy weeknight dessert.  It is truly delicious.  Particularly for chocolate cake.   

The next day, Adam and I were eating the last few pieces, and topped them with raspberry jam, and poured about 1/3 cup half and half over the top.  Holy cow, that was delightful!  Even better than the original!

Easy Chocolate Pound Cake
adapted slightly from SmittenKitchen

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 egg, room temperature (feel free to put it in some warm water for 5 minutes instead)
1 cup buttermilk (I used 1 cup of milk, minus 2 Tbs, and replace the 2 Tbs with 2 Tbs white vinegar. Let it sit for 3 minutes, and you will have a great substitute for buttermilk)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups white flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

2 Tbs powdered sugar
1 pint half and half
raspberry jam

Preheat your oven to 325°F.

Line a loaf pan with parchment paper.

In a stand mixer, cream the butter, then add the sugars and beat for about 3 minutes.  Add the egg and beat well.  Add the buttermilk and beat, then add the vanilla and stir in.  With a sifter or strainer, sift in the flour, baking soda and salt on top of your wet ingredients.  Once they are all added, stir with a spatula until combined, but do not over mix.

Pour the batter into your lined loaf pan, and cook in the oven for 50-60 minutes or until a knife comes out clean.   After about 5 minutes, remove loaf from pan, and place on a cooling rack for 10-15 minutes.  While it is cooling, take your strainer or sifter, and sift some powdered sugar over the top of the loaf.

Top your slice with raspberry jam and pour half and half over it! Enjoy!

Favorite SLC haunts

Friday, August 19, 2016

Salt Lake City has always been one of my favorite cities to visit.  My grandparents have lived here for a number of years, and I have been up here dozens of times over the years (not to mention living an hour south of SLC for 4 years during college).

The city has a really great vibe, with lots of history and cool old buildings and houses, and some amazing places to eat and shop. This is a short list, but here are a few of my favorites places to visit when we come.  

(Capo Gelato)

Jolley's gift and floral - Jolley's is one of the most memorable places in SLC for me.  Almost every time I visit my grannie, we go to Jolley's.  They have a fun assortment of kitchen, home, and baby stuff as well as some toys and a pharmacy.  It is a nifty little store, and their buyer gets the coolest stuff.  We just bought a few wrapping paper pieces to put on Fox's nursery wall.  One is an antique-looking moon phase chart and the other one is some kind of map, I think.  Anyway, they are awesome and just one example of the fun things Jolley's sells.

Hip and Humble - Go to SLC location.  I haven't been to that one in a few years, but it was fabulous last time I went, and full of nifty home and dining nicknacks.  Really a cool place.

Maison Confiserie et Boutique - I went here for the first time a few weeks ago, and loved it!  They have a lot of cookbooks, bakeware, an old fashioned candy shoppe and some gorgeous kitchen towels that I wish I had bought.  It has a beautiful vibe, and is worth stopping by.

City Creek - This is a cop out, because it is just a mall, but it is really beautiful and there is really a creek running right through the center.  It is also an indoor/outdoor mall, so it is great during the winter months. I don't know that I have ever bought anything there, but I have always enjoyed visiting.

(Pirate O's)

Bruges  - I mentioned this in my Provo Eats guide, but I had to mention it again, because it is just so delicious.  I first tried Bruges in their downtown location, and loved it then, too.

Eggs in the City - I have only eaten here once, and I think the food was good, but mostly the atmosphere is amazing!  It was built in an old gas station and it is a darling and hip place for breakfast.

Bombay House - I also mentioned this in my Provo Eats post.  In case you can't make it to Provo, there is a location in Sandy, and one over off of Foothill Drive in SLC.  Get the Tikka Masala.  But really.  I have tried a number of things off the menu, and this one wins hands down.

Capo Gelato - They have delicious gelato!  I can't remember what flavor I got, but it was tasty!  They have a tasty pizza place next door as well, called Settobellos. I have heard great things bout Settobellos from friends and family, but i thought the pizza was a little soggy in the middle from the boatload of toppings.

The Grand America Afternoon Tea - My grandparents are the classiest people I know, and a few years ago, they took Janssen, me and our husbands out to afternoon tea at The Grand America. It was a wonderful experience, and made me feel super classy and cool.  Relatively expensive, but a great experience.

Pirate-O's:  This place is sort of out in the sticks in a suburb south of SLC, but it was a fun experience!  It is a food type grocery store that sells a lot of foreign foods, chocolate and cheese.  They also have a decent deli menu there.  I haven't tried it, but it looked pretty tasty.

Harmon's Emigration Market: This market/grocery store is across the street from Jolley's and is really fun!  They have a huge cheese selection, gelato, pastries and more.  If I lived closer, you can bet I would frequent it all the time.

Places to See:  

Leonardo Museum - I have been here a few times, and have always enjoyed the exhibits. It is an extremely creative museum and is particularly good for kids, as there are some big interactive sections (This is also great if you have fun-loving adults in your group).

Temple Square - We try to go every time we come for Christmas because of the amazing amount of lights they have, but we also like going during the summer.  It is fun to see all the weddings, and the enormous amount of tulips and other gorgeous flowers they plant in the spring and summer.

For a far more complete list of cool places to visit, check out this Design Sponge guide.

 (Capo Gelato)

(Harmon's Emigration Market)

Menu Plan for the Week

Thursday, August 18, 2016

On Monday and Tuesday of this week, Adam and I celebrated our 5th Anniversary (our anniversary was a few weeks ago, while we were at Bear Lake for a family reunion).  That meant we left Fox with my in-laws overnight (our first over night without him!).  He did amazingly well, and became best friends with my in-laws, going for walks, petting the dog, and eating like a champ.  It was reassuring to hear, but we missed him a lot, and spent some time that night looking at photos of him.  This is actually pretty typical for us, even when he is in the next room. We love looking at photos of him... :)

For our mini trip, we went up to Park City, and ate at a terrifically delicious restaurant called Handle for dinner, where we had Lamb belly (incredibly delicious, dispelling all my previous fears of eating lamb), a fabulous and beautiful goat cheese and berry salad, and fancy tater tots.  Adam and I had a total ball analyzing the food, deciding what we liked about it, and didn't, and how we want to change our eating habits after eating there.

We decided we would be okay with only going out to eat once a year, if it meant we could eat somewhere as carefully crafted and beautiful as this restaurant. Eating here also made me want to up my cooking game.   I guess we will see what comes out of my kitchen this fall.  I have big plans for lots more vegetarian meals, and ways to use up your CSA (we are planning on starting again when we get to Texas).  I am getting pretty excited!

Here are a few things that were on our menu last week.  Hopefully they will inspire you to get cooking in your kitchen as we head into fall!

Thai Chicken Curry Soup/Over Rice - I tried one bite and was super disappointed that it didn't have more flavor.  So I added a ton more curry paste and a boatload of sour cream, and oh my goodness, it was amazing!  The first night we ate it over rice, the second day we ate it as a soup.  It was great both ways.

Roasted Vegetable Enchiladas - These have been a long favorite.  I love that you can pack about 8 cups of vegetables into one dish, that even the 19 month old will eat!

Thai Chicken Pizza - I could swim in the sauce for this pizza.  It is SOOO good.  Also, the night I made these, my brother and a friend were coming over, and about 10 minutes before they were going to show up, I realized that my oven was not preheating.  It has been sitting at 135° for about 10 minutes, and had never gotten beyond that.  After several minutes of panicking, we decided to broil the top (that part of the oven was still working), and then we pan-fried the bottom.  They both got quite brown, and I was surprised and thrilled at how good they tasted despite not being able to cook them in the oven.

Taco Salad- Just your basic taco salad with ground beef, lettuce and beans topped with salsa.

Sweet Potato Honey Lime Tacos - I actually didn't love these, but Adam had a stroke of brilliance with serving them, and we made a white corn quesadilla and then topped it with the filling and ate it like a taco.  I still didn't love the filling, but corn tortillas hold up way better if you put cheese in the middle as a binding agent.  Way to go, Adam!

Millet Shortbread Cookies

Monday, August 15, 2016

A few weeks ago, Adam and I decided to go a week without sugar.  You see, I am the kind of person who has very little self-control in the food department, so once I have started eating sweets, stopping is next to impossible for me.  It is sort of pathetic and I am terribly ashamed of this tendency, and this week off of sugar was a step towards strengthening my self control.  

So, we had gone just about the whole week without sugar, and I realized I was actually fine without it.  I hadn't stopped eating all sweet things (I still had a morning bowl of granola or oatmeal with a drizzle maple syrup on it), but I was skipping dessert and sugary bread and other foods with refined sugar, and was feeling great about it.  

Then, my mom and brother came for dinner one night, and I wanted to serve a dessert-like treat, but I didn't want to do anything that would completely shatter my week of no sweets.  

I had seen some quinoa cookies from Food & Wine a few months before, and when I checked the sugar content, it was quite low, at least for cookies.  So I figured those would do the trick, so after a few alterations, I had some delicious shortbread cookies topped with a slightly sweetened cream and strawberries.  

Millet Shortbread Cookies with Sweet Cream and Strawberries
slightly adapted from Food & Wine

1/8 cup raw millet
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

Hulled and sliced strawberries

1 cup heavy whipping cream
1- 2 Tbs sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla

In an electric mixer, combine butter and sugar.  Then add the egg and the vanilla.
In a smaller bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt and combine.  Pour the flour mixture in with the butter mixture, and then dump the millet in.  Mix until just combined, then chill for 30 minutes (I usually chill it in a sealed tupperware).

Preheat your oven to 350°F. Turn your dough onto a clean, lightly-floured surface, and roll it out into a sheet about 1/4 inch.  You can then cut them into rounds with a biscuit cutter, or take a knife and cut the raw edges off and cut them into 2" squares.

Transfer the cookies to a silicone-lined baking sheet, and cook them for 10-12 minutes, until they are a golden brown and kind of puffy.

While the cookies are in the oven, put the whipping cream, sugar and vanilla in a cool bowl, and whip until thick and fluffy.

Remove the cookies from the oven, and let them cool for 5-10 minutes, then top with sliced strawberries and whipped cream.

Capsule Wardrobe In Action

Friday, August 12, 2016

This summer has been amazing and insane.  We spent 4 weeks with my in-laws, then moved to Provo while Adam worked for summer term, now we are going back to stay with my in-laws for a few more weeks until we move back to Texas for an undetermined amount of time (probably close to a year).  

During our summer here, we have been hiking, been to Bear Lake, had probably 2 dozen people over for dinner, had dinner with family eight or so times, have been overnight guests, have had overnights guests, been on walks, visited museums, the zoo, libraries, and restaurants.  It has been a fabulous summer.  Really.  One of the best! But so very busy!

One of the things I have been super grateful for is how carefully I packed for this trip/move.  When we began planning to come out here, we made extensive lists of what we would bring to make sure we were only bringing the minimum, while still maintaining a semi-normal life.

This has simplified my life no end!  In my wardrobe, particularly, I feel like I am on auto-pilot, but in a good way!  I just don't have to worry about choosing an outfit because my summer capsule wardrobe has made it very easy.

I am looking forward to pulling out some fall stuff in a few weeks (or months, because Texas is crazy hot still), and changing things up, but I have been remarkably happy with my capsule.  Have any of you done a capsule this summer?  What did you think?  Did it help tone down your busy lives?

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