Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter and Chocolate Ganache

Welcome to adult life. I'm a new kitten mom and starting a real job on Friday. With a retirement plan. So weird, honestly. But also I read a tweet saying that adult life gets better once you realize you don't need an occasion to make and eat a cake. So that's what I did, although arguably I'm celebrating my new kitty.

Meet Nissa:

I got Nissa unexpectedly this past Saturday. My fiance and I had been talking about getting an animal for quite awhile, but he was gunning for a dog or bunny. I had begged for a cat, but pretty much given up on ever having one. I made all my arguments for a cat, explaining that it was probably the best pet for our lifestyle, but my fiance wasn't really swayed.

Enter Nissa.

On Saturday I was in a store with a friend when I suddenly heard high pitched meowing. A guy had come in with a little kitten in a cardboard box. He explained that he had found her under his car and couldn't keep her and that since it was kitten season all the ethical shelters were full. My heart melted. I asked if I could touch her, and she leaped right into my arms. I explained to the guy that I needed my fiance's permission, but was interested in keeping her.

After some begging, sweet Alex reluctantly agreed. Nissa was mine. The Humane Society thinks she's about 8 weeks old, and other than being a little skinny, was healthy. They even gave me a grant to get her spayed and her shots for free, a long with some kitty kibble.

She is the kitten I always wanted. She's playful but loves to cuddle, and loves to "talk" to me. She's the sweetest little thing, purrs like a lawnmower. I'm so in  love. I feel like a new mom, constantly posting pictures of her everywhere, but I can't help it. She's mine. Since I haven't started work yet, we just cuddle and play all day.

Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter and Chocolate Ganaches
2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup coffee, cooled

1/2 cup peanut butter
1 tsp coconut oil
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/4 cup whipping cream
8 Reese's miniatures, chopped

1 stick butter
3 cups powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste (buy it on Amazon. it's cheaper than buying the pods. and amazing.)
1/4 cup whipping cream
  1. To make the cake, start by stirring together the dry ingredients.
  2. Add in the eggs, milk, vanilla, butter, and blend together until smooth.
  3. Pour in coffee. Batter will be thin, once stirred together.
  4. Pour into two pans (I used 9x9 squares, but rounds will work just as well). Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until the middle springs back when touched.
  5. Let cool thoroughly, and remove from pans.
  6. Using a wooden spoon, poke holes in the top of one of the cakes (like the picture above).
  7. While the cakes are cooling, make the ganaches. Melt together the peanut butter and coconut oil, then stir until smooth. Let cool.
  8. Melt together the chocolate chips and cream. Stir until homogeneous.
  9. Once the cake is cool, spread the peanut butter onto the cake, making sure to get it into all the holes. Sprinkle on the peanut butter cups, then carefully spoon on most of the chocolate ganache. I sprinkled on some salt at this point. Highly recommend.
  10. Stack the other layer on top, and let set.
  11. Make the buttercream frosting. Ensure that the butter is room temperature and soft. Stir in two cups of the powdered sugar.
  12. Add in the cream, the remaining sugar, and vanilla paste. I also added a dash of salt, but that's up to you and your taste.
  13. Carefully frost the cake, then drizzle on remaining ganache, swirling with a spoon. Keep in the fridge until ready to eat.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Strawberry Shortcake Waffles

Hi. I've spent too much time talking about how much I love breakfast food to not share more breakfast recipes, so here I am. With waffles and whipped cream, which makes me feel like Leslie Knope. These are the important things in life.

Anyway, let's talk podcasts. I love them, because I like having stuff to listen to while I walk or clean or do other mindless stuff, and audiobooks are way to expensive. Most of mine revolve around either true crime or psychology, but I'm open to most things, so if you have recommendations pleeeease send them my way.

Let's see, on the true crime vein, I loved Serial. Season 1 is much better in my opinion, but both are good. Sarah Koenig takes you inside her investigations of a couple crimes, and I loved "seeing" it all slowly come together. She also lets her listeners form their own opinions which I really appreciate.
I also highly recommend Serial Killers, if you're into that. They spend a couple weeks on each serial killer and talk some about the psychology of psycopathy, and I LOVE that. Neither of the hosts have psych degrees, so their opinions are kinda questionable sometimes, but other than that, GREAT. Just don't listen if you're easily scared.

For psychology, I highly recommend Invisibilia. They talk about different human phenomena and the reasons behind them, such as our insatiable need to solve things--even if it's a problem that should maybe be left alone. There are a lot of deep truths about life and human nature in this one and sometimes it makes me cry.
Another one is The Hilarious World of Depression. Comedians come on and talk about their experiences with depression and other mental illnesses, and I'll be honest--if you have the right sense of humor, they have a point. Depression is kind of funny.

Strawberry Shortcake Waffles
1 1/2 cups flour
3 tbsp sugar
1 tsp baking powder
dash of salt
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1/4 cup butter
1 1/3 cups milk

1 pint strawberries, sliced
2 tbsp sugar (more if it's not berry season)
juice of 1 lemon
whipped cream

  1. Start by browning the butter: place the butter in a pan over medium heat. As it melts, swirl the pan a bit. It will start to crackle--this is the water boiling out. It's a good thing. Once the butter turns light brown, remove from heat and let cool.
  2. Next, make the topping. Gently stir together the strawberries and sugar. Dribble in the lemon juice, then set aside to do their thing. This is called macerating; it means the strawberries will release their juices.
  3. To make the waffles, stir together the dry ingredients in a medium bowl.
  4. Create a well in the center, then add eggs, vanilla, and butter. Stir together.
  5. Add milk and stir until smooth. Let sit while you preheat the waffle maker.
  6. Butter the waffle maker and ladle in about 2/3 cup of batter (depending on size of your waffle maker). Cook for about 3-5 minutes.
  7. Serve waffles with strawberry topping and a swoosh of whipped cream.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Watermelon Lemonade

Hello summer.

I just love watermelon, so much. To me it tastes like summer, especially if it's cold from the freezer. Unfortunately, I grew up in a melon-hating household, so it wasn't something I got to eat that often. But now I'm an adult (apparently) and do what I want.

I made this lemonade to go with brunch this past weekend, and I'm not exaggerating when I say that it was the perfect accompaniment. If you're into it, you could probably add some champagne and make brunch more fun. Actually, sweet tea probably wouldn't hurt this at all either.

It tastes like summer in a glass, friends. I highly recommend making it, pouring it over ice, and sitting on your front porch sipping it with a colorful straw. If you have a front porch, that is. Otherwise, drink it at brunch with your favorite people who love bacon.

Watermelon Lemonade
1/2 cup lemon juice (for me this was 4 lemons)
1/3 cup sugar
4 cups warm water
1/5 of a large watermelon, cut into chunks
  1. Combine the lemon juice and sugar in a pitcher. Stir.
  2. Add the water and stir until the sugar is dissolved.
  3. Place the melon chunks in a blender and puree until smooth. Add to pitcher and stir.
  4. Refrigerate until cold and serve over ice. Enjoy!

Saturday, June 3, 2017

My Favorite Way to Eat Vegetables

I ate most of this in one sitting....
If I've ever made you dinner, or if you have me on SnapChat, or honestly, if you let me tell you about food at all, you're probably well-aware that I love roasted vegetables. Especially broccoli. Like, I know it's lame, but I'm pretty sure roasted broccoli is my favorite food. I eat it almost every day. If not broccoli, it's probably Brussels sprouts. All roasted. Always. It's the best way to eat vegetables, I promise. It's also vegan friendly, if you're into that. Oh yeah, highly recommend dipping the broccoli in hummus. I love.

I got you a new phone background.
The day I made this, my car broke down. I'd love to say it came out of nowhere, but I like to think we're all friends here, so I'll admit that it was a part my dad told me to fix a month or so ago. So.....lessons learned. Sorry Daddy. But I digress.
Anyway, I pulled out of the apartment I'm currently trying to sign a lease at, and realized my power steering had quit. Have you ever had to use your entire body weight to move the steering wheel? It's interesting. So, I pulled into the nearest parking lot and called my dad, who probably would've laughed at me if he'd been in a better mood, and then informed me that I couldn't drive the car. While I was freaking out to him, for some reason trying to talk him into saying it was okay to drive, a man appeared. He told me that he was the owner of the bike shop (which apparently was the parking lot I pulled into) and that he knew what was wrong with my car and was willing to go buy the part for me and put it in.
I was shocked and confused and explained it to my dad on the phone, who told me to take help where it's offered. The man (his name is Paul, he owns the bike shop on the corner of NW 6th St. and NW 21st Ln. support his business if you're a Gainesville local.) proceeded to fix my car, and only asked that I reimburse him for the parts and buy him a lottery ticket, even though I offered beer and cash. As someone with a stats background, this feels like a stupid statement, but I really hope he wins. I returned the next day with cookies. I don't know how I got so lucky. All I can say is that God was keeping an eye on me. 

Sometimes good things happen. Celebrate with broccoli, that's what I did.

Roasted Veggies
1 head of broccoli/1 lb. Brussels sprouts/1 lb. green beans/1 sweet potato/etc
3 tbsp olive oil
garlic powder

  1. Place the veggie of your choice on a baking sheet lined in foil in a single layer.
  2. Drizzle with the olive oil and toss to coat. It's okay if they aren't all coated, they just need a little sheen.
  3. Season to taste.
  4. Bake at 425. For broccoli, I find that it's best after 20 minutes, Brussels sprouts are great after 25, green beans take 20, and sweet potatoes take more like 30-40, depending on size. You just want the vegetables to be cooked through and golden brown where they touched the foil. So good.