Saturday, November 8, 2014

Death By Chocolate Bundt Cake

Today is my husband's birthday, so I asked him if he had any requests for a birthday cake. Now, my husband is a huge chocolate lover. His mentality: Is there any other flavor? So naturally, he requested a cake that has become one of our family's favorites - chocolate zucchini cake.

This cake is truly the most decadent, moist cake I've ever made (the ganache is seriously to-die-for), and I know how much he enjoys it, so initially, I agreed to make the cake - but then the wheels in my head started turning . . .

A while back, we attended a church dinner where bundt cakes of all flavors served as the center piece to each table, and we were lucky enough to sample one chocolate bundt cake that was insane. From the first bite, I just had to know who made this cake. I asked around and found the culinary genius, and asked her if she'd be willing to share the recipe. She said she would get it to me, but since I was in nursery at the time (I've since been released and received an exciting, new calling. More info to come on that at a later date), and am never in Relief Society, I haven't seen much of her, and still have yet to get the recipe. This, my friends, is why I love Pinterest. :)

With that deliciously decadent slice of heaven in mind, I recently searched on Pinterest for a recipe, and to my satisfaction, there were plenty. Hehe. I was initially searching for one I could make from scratch, but most of them required espresso, or coffee liqueur, so I pinned one that starts with a devil's food cake mix and adds a few simple ingredients to bring about this chocolatey goodness, in all it's glory.



I tweaked the recipe that I found a bit to fit my preferences, so where the recipe asks for water, and oil, I used milk and melted butter. I also replaced the sour cream with greek yogurt, as it has the same consistency and works just as well in creating moisture in baked treats, yet it has several health benefits as well, and is lower in calories. If you want to reduce the calories of the cake even further, you can also use 1/2 cup of unsweetened applesauce instead of butter, and I do this often enough - but for today, we are keeping things simple . . . and personally, I just think that butter makes for a better cake. I know, I am an enabler. No shame here. ;)

Anyway, the cake turned out beautifully. My mom was over last night to watch the kids so my husband and I could enjoy a night out to celebrate our birthdays (mine was on Halloween), so we enjoyed the cake as a family before going out . . . and can I just say that I have a NEW favorite cake! It was so chocolaty and moist. I felt like I died and went to chocolate heaven with every sinfully delicious bite.

Also, because I love the ganache from the chocolate zucchini cake recipe, I decided to use that as a topping on our bundt cake (the recipe that I found on Pinterest suggests chocolate syrup . . .bleh!). It was literally "the icing on the cake" . . . so stinkin' yummy!

"Get in my belly." lol.


Yum sauce. :)

No licking the computer screen, please. Hehe. If you have a special occasion to celebrate for that special chocolate lover in your life, though - or heck, if you are just in the mood for a nice slice of chocolaty goodness, give this recipe a try. I promise, you will not be disappointed.

So, without further ado . . .


Death by Chocolate Bundt Cake:

Ingredients:
-1 package devil's food cake mix
-1 small package instant chocolate pudding
-1/2 cup milk
-1/2 cup melted butter
-4 eggs
-1 cup plain Greek yogurt
-1 11.5 oz. package chocolate chips (approximately 2 cups)
-chocolate ganache and powdered sugar to garnish.

Directions:

Combine your first 6 ingredients and whisk until there are no dry clumps! (I just threw them into the bowl of my stand mixer for about 2 1/2 minutes). Stir in your chocolate chips and pour batter into a greased/floured bundt cake pan. Bake at 375 degrees for 45-50 minutes.* When cake is done, a toothpick or fork will come out mostly clean. Leave in pan until completely cooled. After plating cake, drizzle with chocolate ganache and a dash of powdered sugar to garnish!

*Note: I learned a few years ago from my sister-in-law at Silver Spoon Catering that the trick to a super moist cake is to not over bake it. I usually set my timer for a few minutes before the time given in any recipe, then check my cake with a toothpick. This particular bundt cake was baked to perfection in about 38 minutes. ;)


Chocolate Ganache:
6 oz heavy cream
9 oz chopped chocolate (semi-sweet or milk)

Directions: To prepare the ganache topping, heat the heavy cream in a saucepan over medium heat until simmering. Remove from heat and pour over the chocolate chips. Wait 3-5 minutes then stir to combine. It may take a few minutes of stirring for the ganache to come together… but it will. It will thicken as it cools. When warm (but not hot) pour over cake and allow to drizzle down sides. Allow frosting to set for about 30 minutes before serving.

Happy Birthday to the love of my life. Now, let's eat cake! :-P





Credits:
Chocolate bundt cake recipe adapted from Pretty Providence.
Chocolate ganache recipe found at Parsley, Sage and Sweet.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

50 Shades of Tantrum

I seriously think I deserve an award (maybe Mother-of-the-Year?) for my NEAR psychotic breakdown in the grocery store yesterday afternoon. Any mother, no matter how many kids she has - whether it be one or . . . seven - knows that yes, there are days when your little "darlings" are complete angels. Perhaps they received a supremely recovering night's sleep and somehow miraculously decided to join forces to bring about a magical day of puppy dogs, rainbows and butterflies . . . and then there are days like the one I had yesterday. In reality (or at least it seems for me, lately), those magical days of peace and tranquility have come to be few and far between; yesterday being no exception. 

For some reason that I can't seem to recall at present, I had this super bright idea to make a trip to the grocery store yesterday afternoon with my three youngest kids (ages 4, 2, and 6 months) in tow, sans the luxury of a backup set of hands. Maybe deep down inside, I secretly enjoy torturing myself. Maybe subconsciously, I thought, "What better way to challenge my patience, to flirt with the edge of insanity, than to venture into the depths of the Inferno with some kind of sinister death wish. Yes, that must be it. I must have a death wish.

In all reality, this specific trip could not have been avoided. There were some groceries that I needed to pick up, and only had a small window of time in which to do it. Trust me when I say that if I'd had any other option, I would not have made the aforementioned faux pas of attempting this feat at all. But it is what it is. 

This actually reminds me of one Saturday a few months ago when Zach was busy with work and I had to take all four kids with me to Costco. That, too, had been a similarly frustrating experience, and as I stood in the check-out line - with a full basket of groceries, one know-it-all, cantankerous teenager, two rambunctious toddlers, and one starving, screaming baby - on the verge of ripping my hair out, or simply curling into the fetal position on the floor with my thumb in my mouth, a passerby (a lady who must have thought it would be amusing to break me) chose that particular moment to "commend" me on my bravery for venturing out into the world with four kids in tow. Come on. Really? I tell you, it took everything in my power not to come unglued on the lady. I had to actively remind myself that she too is a child of God (lol), that she was probably well-meaning, and that it would be in no one's best interest for me to tell her where to shove her "encouragement". Generally, I do try to have patience with people, even if they are ignorant or have a complete lack of empathy for others, but man - some people seriously have no tact . . . which brings me back to our most recent fun, little outing.

From the minute we entered the grocery store yesterday, L-Bear was acting all kinds of crazy. He kept leaving my side to run down the aisle, around the corner, then back up the other side of the aisle, and he did this with a maniacal cackle, as if he thought it was the most hilarious thing in the world. The first time he did it, I gave him a warning. The second time he did it, B-Boo followed suit, and I suddenly had two screaming banshees running through the produce section of the grocery store. I finally grabbed him by the shoulders, looked him straight in the eyes and told him to calm down or he was going to get a spanking when we got home. 

He discontinued running around after that, but almost immediately started begging me for a treat. I told him that I would give him a treat IF he could manage to make good choices and survive the rest of the shopping excursion without being disobedient. Yeah, he didn't last five minutes, and when I took his treat out of the cart and threw it into a random aisle as we passed by, the meltdown ensued. By then, I was completely over the whole experience, so I decided to cut my losses and head for the check-out lines, L-Bear following behind in a pathetic state of misery. There was weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth - and every judgmental head turned and stared as we walked by. ((sigh))  

As I stood at check-out unloading my cart of groceries, he continued begging and pleading with me to let him have a treat. I reminded him (calmly, I might add) that I don't reward disobedient behavior, and so the cries continued until finally I felt like bending him over my knee and giving him a good sound lashing right there in the middle of the store. Just kidding . . . kind of. lol. I don't really beat my kids, but that day . . . 

Anyway, B-Boo must have felt like it would be a good idea to follow suit and start running amok, because as I was checking out, she started diving under the checkout counters on each side of me, and now both kids were completely filthy.

As soon as the cashier was finished with my transaction, she took off to who-knows-where, just in time for B-Boo to start crying that she was bleeding. I looked down, and sure enough, she had blood all over her left hand. "What in the heck did you do?!?" I exclaimed. "I don't know," was all she could muster as a response, yet there was blood coming from two separate cuts she had managed to give herself. One on the back of her pinky finger, the other on the tip of her index finger, the former of which was quite a little bleeder. 

I looked around for a cashier to ask for some paper towel, but everyone seemed to suddenly be avoiding me, so I quickly fished the baby wipes out of my backpack and wiped as much of the blood off before applying pressure to the bleeder. I couldn't get the darn thing to stop; though, so I stood up to look for an employee to ask for a band-aid, and had to say, "Excuse me," several times before two cashiers nearby would break from their conversation long enough to help me. 

One of them finally went to retrieve a band-aid for me, and as she did, I looked down and saw B-Boo throwing up all over herself. ((sigh)) I don't know if it was the sight of blood that made her sick, or what. But sheesh. I am telling you, it was not a good day. 

So yeah, there I stood - well, I guess it was actually more of a stupor - wiping up my kid's vomit with baby wipes, as the aforementioned cashier returned with the band-aid. As she handed me the band-aid, she clearly saw me cleaning up the vomit, but still turned and WALKED AWAY. I was seriously almost in tears at this point, and I could not believe that there wasn't a single store employee nearby offering any amount of help. 

So yes, I deserve an award - for not snapping and burning the whole place down, if anything. I tell you one thing, I don't think I will be frequenting that particular establishment any time soon, and my kids will definitely not be getting ANY treats from the grocery store any time soon either. I think it is about time they learn the difference between "right" and "privilege." I tell you one thing that I've learned from all this malarkey: nothing, and I mean NOTHING, is so important that I'll ever need to venture into the grocery store with all three babies on my own EVER again. That's for dang sure. smh.  




Monday, October 20, 2014

A Poem about "Like"

Madison came home from school today with a homework assignment to write a poem in iambic pentameter, and since we had a crazy schedule this afternoon of doctor's appointments, running errands, picking up kids from hellandgone, and trying to squeeze dinner in before softball practice, we didn't even get around to the assignment until a time when Madison is usually being sent to bed. That being said, we were both pretty exhausted (maybe even bordering hysteria? lol) when we joined forces and came up with this gem, and the fruits of our labor are pretty hilarious:

A Poem About "Like"

I've read a lot of poems about love,
But those sad suckers can go take a hike.
There's something else that I am thinking of,
So I will write this poem about "like".
I like to read imaginative books.
They allow me to leave this world behind.
To get by on more than just my good looks,
I must keep creativity in mind.
I like to eat bologna on white bread
with mustard, but please hold the yucky cheese.
I like to act, but that just goes unsaid,
And poetry - but keep it simple, please.
I like to play with my new softball glove,
But chocolate, THAT'S something that I love!

The poem even comes complete with artwork of epic proportions . . .
Artwork courtesy of MaddieMae. :-P
You're welcome. :)

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The Home Stretch

I seem to have been on an emotional roller coaster lately with all these pregnancy hormones (hence the minimal attention to the blog), and as we enter into this last little stretch of the pregnancy, I now find myself battling feelings of insecurity one minute, experiencing excitement the next - only to end in a mini freak out session about the fact that in just six short weeks, I will be the mother of FOUR kids. Yikes. How has the time gone by so quickly?!

The chaos all started with an abnormal test result that came back after I had my prenatal blood work done in January. That had me pretty messed up for a few weeks until we had some confirmatory testing done and everything came back normal just a few weeks ago. I'll get into more detail where that is concerned in a later post, but talk about dealing with some unnecessary stress. Good grief. I was pretty much an unproductive basket case for the duration of that trial. Thank heavens it is over, and I can focus on this pregnancy and getting prepared for the delivery.

Now that the end is in sight, though, I must admit that I am feeling a little ill-equipped for baby #4. I remember when I was pregnant with L-Bear, we had the nursery finished and even re-painted MNM's room MONTHS before he was due. I even made both of them cute little quilts to welcome him into the world and to help her feel not-so-left-out. When I was pregnant with B-Boo, I bought all the material to make her a quilt, but never got around to it, and it is still sitting in a bag next to my sewing machine almost two years later. lol. Now, we have another baby coming and we still don't even have a vehicle big enough to fit all of us in it. Sheesh.

Maybe one day I will get it together. Maybe one day I will have the babies out of my bed and into a room of their own. Maybe one day I will even go through all of B-Boo's baby clothes and re-organize them for the new baby in her new dresser (which we have yet to purchase. lol).

We did decide to have another baby shower, which will transpire in a few weeks, and I am really looking forward to actually celebrating this great blessing. Hopefully, after all is said and done, we can start to settle down a bit and get a little more organized. Go ahead and say it. I am a disorderly mess. I won't hold it against you. ;)




Thursday, February 20, 2014

Focusing on Gratitude to Get Through the Day

So, these last few weeks, I have been feeling pretty lame due to illness and some other stress factors that I have been facing - And as I usually tend to do when life gets chaotic, I have been neglecting the blog as a result. 

I have been a bit too scatter-brained lately to produce anything halfway worth reading. I think about my blog every few days - heck, I even think I might have something worth talking about, but then the dust starts to settle, life and stress start to surface, and my brain is toast again. I start to think that maybe I will feel much better after this week is over when we'll (hopefully) have some more answers where my health is concerned. I even think I will try to sit down and focus on positivity more, and who knows - maybe a miracle will happen, and something somewhat legit or even halfway interesting will emerge. 


In the meantime, however, I am trying to recall the wise advice I received recently, which inspired my last blog post: Every single day you make a choice. I know that I am so blessed to have such an amazing support system, and I thank Heavenly Father daily for the strength I am able to receive through the Atonement and through the joy my family brings to me. I was reminded of these blessings again today during my personal scripture study, wherein I read about the pre-existence and how we were foreordained to do certain things. I have a firm testimony of this principle, and I know that I was foreordained to be a mother. I receive a tremendous amount of comfort knowing that I am taking on such an important role in our Heavenly Father's Plan of Happiness by striving to be a faithful wife and mother, and raising my children unto the Lord.


So to get through today, I choose to focus on these blessings, and will lean on the comfort of the Savior to bring me out of this funk. In an attempt to do so, I decided to write a list of the things I love about each of my children. Obviously, this list could go on for miles, so for all intents and purposes, I will focus on a few, simple things I love about each of them - some of the things that make them uniquely special in my heart.


So without further ado:


1. MNM (my 13-year-old daughter) - I love how:

a. she still likes to lie with her head in my lap and cuddle every once in a while, as if she were still a small child;
b. she loves to read and always has a book in her hand; and 
c. she likes to show her gratitude in simple, thoughtful ways, like a homemade card or a song that she sings and dedicates to me. She has such a big heart, and I am so lucky to be her mom.

2. L-Bear (my 3-year-old son) - I love how:

a. he is constantly telling me that he loves me and cares about me "so much";
b. he climbs into bed with me each night and tells me all the things he is sorry for doing that day - bless his little heart; and
c. he wants to go with me everywhere I go, and always wants to be a helper in the kitchen. He is my right-hand little guy, has such a thoughtful, loving spirit, and I am so lucky to be his mom; and 

3. Baby Boo (my 21-month-old daughter) - I love how:

a. she wraps my arm around herself every night to fall asleep;
b. her eyes light up and she gets so excited every time she hears the song, "Do You Want to Build a Snowman?" from "Frozen." She even clicks her tongue at the appropriate time, and has started repeating a word or two of the song, which is absolutely adorable; and
c. every time L-Bear hits her or does something to her out of impatience, I tell him to say he's sorry - yet without missing a beat, SHE will go over to him and wrap her arms around him - almost as if to say, "It's okay, brother. I love you." She truly has such a sweet spirit. Her smile lights up my heart, and I am so lucky to be her mom. 

It's amazing how having an attitude of gratitude can instantly change your mood. I am thankful for each of my children. They are the shining beacon in my life that reminds me of how truly blessed I am. They are my saving grace, and it is they who are constantly teaching me how to be the best version of myself, how to be a better daughter of our Heavenly Father, and how to truly love. I am so thankful for the blessing of their presence in my life, and I am thankful that Heavenly Father entrusted me to be their mom. :) 


Friday, January 31, 2014

Every Single Day You Make a Choice

These past few weeks have been a bit of a challenge with the babies being so sick. It all started over the Martin Luther King Day holiday weekend when L came down with a cough - out of nowhere. We still went to church that Sunday, but by Monday night, his cough had gotten progressively worse and he was up half the night coughing so badly that he almost threw up several times in bed.

I kept him home that Tuesday as a precaution, and was glad that I did, as he ended up throwing up all over the floor, leaving a trail from the couch to the bathroom door at about 10:00 a.m. that morning. Had I sent him to school, I'd have had to walk to go pick him up since we still don't have a second vehicle. As I stood with him in the bathroom afterward, trying to clean him up well enough to stick him in the bathtub, B comes traipsing into the restroom and slipped on his vomit. I spent a good portion of the rest of that morning cleaning up children and puke, then rubbed them both down with essential oils before laying them down for a nap.

L ended up missing school Wednesday and Thursday of that week as well, but was feeling much better by Friday (although, he doesn't have preschool on Fridays). Only by then, B had come down with the same virus, full blown. Thursday night and Friday night were pretty horrible for her, the poor thing. She had such a difficult time coughing and choking on mucous that she threw up several times both nights. Friday night, we went through every last towel, sheet, and blanket that we had in the house before the coughing subsided enough for her to finally get a few hours of sleep. I had to do 5 loads of laundry (linens and clothes) the following day, just to get through the pile of laundry that had been soiled from the whole fiasco. By that time, she had also started to battle a fever off and on, and continued to do so throughout the course of the next few days.

Saturday night, she didn't throw up at all, but she started this extremely bizarre behavior, where she would wake up in the middle of the night screaming her little head off. She would also start scratching at her face in a fit of rage and would hit herself in the head, sometimes grabbing onto her hair and pulling, as if trying to yank it out. It was almost like she was possessed or something, like she was out of her mind. I don't know if she was just in a severe amount of pain, or what, but we tried applying and diffusing essential oils, offering her a drink of water or something to eat, but nothing seemed to get through to her. She just kept going back and forth from Zach to me, then back to Zach, and by the time she finally started to calm down, the three of us (Zach, the baby, and I) were out on the living room couch practically sleeping in a sitting position. We were so exhausted.

Sunday night, the fiasco started again, only this time it lasted a total of almost three hours. Poor Zach had to get up at 4am for work in the morning too. I dare say that neither of us could have possibly gotten more than three hours of sleep that night, so the next day was pretty challenging for both of us. I was sure glad when B finally slept through the night (for the first time in almost a week) on Monday night.

Since Tuesday, both kids have been on the mend, but life has still been pretty stressful, as it usually is when kids aren't feeling 100%, and can tend to be clingy and whiny - not to mention all the naughty little annoying things they have been doing all week to drive me bonkers. Zach has been gone a LOT with work and lessons, too, and I've been stuck home without a car for the majority of the day (each day) with not much of an opportunity for any kind of break from it all. I think that especially has been pulling on my sanity strings a little.

Anyway, through the chaos of the last few weeks, I started to feel a bit down. I think the Lord has really recognized my need for a little extra TLC, though, for I have felt His love in abundance - particularly over these last few days.

It all started one morning with a simple, little meme that a friend posted on Facebook. I had had a particularly stressful time fighting L tooth and nail all morning just to get dressed, and after he was finally on the bus and on his way to school, I was left feeling on edge and emotionally beaten. I happened to log on to Facebook shortly after returning to the house, and the meme was one of the first things I saw. It was an animation of a scene from the inside of a tour bus. On one side, there sat a man who stared out his window at the dull, rocky side of a mountain, a sad frown painted on his face. On the other side, there sat a man peering out of his window at a beautiful scene of sunshine and rolling hills, a smile illuminating his expression. At the top of the picture were the words:

Every single day you make a choice.

Seeing this image immediately put me in check. I was reminded that I am in control of my feelings, and that I have the power to either see the positive things in life, or dwell on the negative, overwhelming things, ultimately leading to feelings of sadness and frustration.

That same day, I felt the prompting to recommit myself to daily, personal scripture study - to invite the spirit into my life, and to give myself a constant reminder of our Heavenly Father's love for me. It's only been a few days, and I cannot tell you the incredibly positive impact it has already had on my emotions AND my thinking. I think when we focus on the blessings in life, the many marvellous things we have to be thankful for, it's easy to see the beauty in simple things that challenge us, things that might otherwise be devastating to our happiness, should we choose to only see the frustration in our situation.

Yes, I have a lot on my plate on any given day, as many stay-at-home mothers do - shoot, as parents in general do - but I am so grateful that I have that opportunity to begin with, that I have such beautiful, healthy, amazingly magnificent children, and that I get to be the one they run to when they are sick, scared, tired, sad, etc.

I know that they are only small for a very short while, and that before long, they will prefer to hang out with their friends or to be left alone in their room to read or listen to music (as I am already getting a taste of this with my oldest, M), and I won't be such a desired commodity in their everyday life. I know that then, I will have much more time to do that personal reading I long for now, to go grocery shopping on my own, or to just stinkin' use the restroom in peace - but it will be then that I long for the days that  they were small and just wanted me hold them in my arms. It will be then that I will look back on this time, wondering how it all passed by so quickly.

I am thankful for the love that my Heavenly Father has shown me through my trials these last few weeks, for the blessings in my life, and for the constant reminders that as one of His beloved children, I am loved and I matter. I am also grateful for a friend who acted on the prompting to post a simple meme on Facebook - one that reminds us that, "Every single day you make a choice," because from here on out, I am choosing to focus on gratitude and love. :)





Thursday, January 9, 2014

Delicious, Remineralizing Fruit Smoothie

If you read my post from yesterday, you'll already know that I have been doing some reading lately on how to remineralize your teeth. Well, this morning, I came across this great article that has some very good information on some of the diet changes that can be made to start the process. I read in the article that adding coconut oil to your diet can be very beneficial, so I decided to try it today when making the smoothie that I have been making for the babies with the cod liver oil/butter oil capsules.

Well, the smoothie was a huge hit. Both babies chugged it down, and I thought it was absolutely delicious (although, I took my portion of the smoothie out before adding the cod liver oil/butter oil capsules since I can just swallow those whole. I wanted to make sure the babies got as much benefit from the capsules as possible).

Anyway, since this smoothie was such a success (it definitely met with my little ones' approval), I thought I would share my recipe, in case any of you were interested in trying something like this yourselves.


Delicious, Remineralizing Fruit Smoothie

2 cups raw milk
1 container greek yogurt
1 cup organic spinach or kale
1/2 cup organic coconut oil
1 Tbs. local organic honey
1 banana
1 cup frozen mixed berries
1 cup frozen strawberries
2 cod liver oil/butter oil capsules (per person) - I used Green Pasture Butter Oil/Fermented Cod Liver Oil Blend capsules.

Directions: In a blender, combine all non-frozen ingredients (except for the oil capsules) until smooth. Add the frozen ingredients, blending well after each addition to ensure smooth consistency. When contents are blending smoothly, remove any portion of the smoothie to which you don't wish to add the oil capsules. Add oil capsules to the remaining portion of the smoothie (in the blender) at this time and blend until smooth. Serve and enjoy.

I know it's best to always go fresh/organic when possible, and that not everyone likes to add frozen berries to their smoothies, so if you choose to use all fresh, organic fruit, you will need to add a little bit of ice at the end to give it a slightly frozen consistency.

And there you have it. If you try this smoothie, let me know what you think. Or, if you have a good remineralizing smoothie recipe that you would like to share, please feel free to do so. I am still learning the ropes of the remineralization process, so I may tweak the recipe a bit as I become more knowledgeable. In the meantime, enjoy. :)