The boys are back in town … or, in our case, the girls.
For six years, my husband has been a dorm parent in a boys’ dorm at the private high school where he teaches and we live. We were in one dorm for a year; and then, when we moved into our last apartment, another dorm for five. I LOVED those boys – and still do, of course. We knew at the end of last year with us moving it was likely my husband would be assigned to a different dorm. And he was. A girls’ dorm.
Most of my part in dorm parenting has been baking for the boys. It brings me a lot of joy, and I think it helps them feel a little more like school is home. I was a little hesitant about the girls’ dorm, wondering if they would eat like the boys do. I have been assured from every side that yes, they do.
So now I have 40 high-school daughters. And they wiped this platter clean the other night. Mr. V said one even said she doesn’t usually love chocolate, but she really liked this cake!
We’re living in a house now, so we’re not in the dorm with the kids, which is kind of weird after six years of being in one. But we’re still on campus and eating in the dining hall and trying to love these kids like our own. So I’ll still be baking up a storm!
Slightly adapted from Barbara Bakes. I love bundt cakes because they are so easy to serve and don't require as much frosting (I am not huge on frosting), but you could also bake this as a 9x13 or a layer cake, adjusting the time.
1 c. (2 sticks) butter
5 T cocoa powder
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 cup water
2 c. all-purpose flour
1 3/4 c. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 c. sour cream
1 tsp. vanilla
3/4 c. chocolate chips
1 T honey or corn syrup
3 T heavy cream
Preheat oven to 350F. Spray a bundt pan with cooking spray with flour and set aside.
In a medium-sized saucepan, stir together butter (cut into slices), cocoa powder, salt, and water. Cook until the butter is melted, stirring, and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, and baking soda. Add half of the butter mixture and stir until well blended. Add the remaining butter mixture and stir until uniform. Stir in sour cream and vanilla until uniform.
Pour the mixture into the prepared bundt pan. Bake 35-40 minutes, until a tester comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 minutes, then invert onto a cooling rack or platter to cool completely.
Put chocolate chips into a microwave-safe measuring cup. Add honey or corn syrup and heavy cream on top. Microwave 30 second on high power, then stir together until the chocolate is smooth. If it will not all melt, give it another 15 seconds or so. (Do NOT add more heavy cream once the chocolate is hot; it will make it seize up.) Drizzle or spoon over top of the cake and let set.
I posted this recipe approximately eight million years ago, or in 2011. At the time, I wasn’t 100% happy with it, but I didn’t know why.
Last year, I started tinkering again, and found that lowering the oven temperature to let the muffins rise slightly slower and using whole-milk buttermilk did wonders. Now these are fluffy and luscious and one of my favorite muffin recipes. And they are all whole wheat, using the magic of white whole wheat flour. (Which they’ve stopped carrying at my Food City AND Walmart. GRUMP! This bag I found at Target.)
Next time you have some very ripe bananas, make these! In fact, make a double batch. Because they’re going to get gobbled up, especially if you have many small and hungry children as I do.
The 2011 Jessie would have never believed she could take a picture that good with a phone. Kind of amazing! After holding out on getting a smartphone for a long time, we caved two years ago. And about two weeks ago, I upgraded to the iPhone 7 plus. It takes pretty pictures. And you know I need those of my babies.
(Four. Have I mentioned I have four kids now? It’s been almost 10 months and it still feels surreal.)
On the way to the grocery store, I was listening to Anne Bogel’s What Should I Read Next? podcast. And in an ad, she mentioned a recipe for arugula salad with peaches, goat cheese, and almonds. Once I got into Publix, I couldn’t stop thinking about an arugula salad with peaches. I love both of those ingredients a lot, and it sounded so good.
(Which, if you know my kids, was most of theirs. Surprisingly, David and Libbie did actually try arugula and at least ate peaches and the bagel chips.)
As with most salads, I recommend throwing in whatever quantity of ingredients looks good to you. This recipe is an approximation of what I used, but make it to your tastes. And then enjoy the applause of those around you, because SO YUMMY.
Well, hello! It’s been approximately eight million years since I posted a recipe. This possibly has to do with the insanity of having four children and the added bonus that right before I had Hannah in October, my real camera decided to stop working.
(I’m pretty sure it has sand in the lens and won’t retract … but it would probably cost more to fix than to replace it. Argh.)
My husband keeps telling me my iPhone will take pictures that are just as good. I don’t really think so, but they’re good enough for me, for now.
This is one of the recipes I’ve probably made the most over the last six or seven years. It’s my go-to when I want to take a meal to someone; I find that when there’s a meal train, people usually bring chicken casseroles or pasta. And that is fine and AWESOME, but I think breakfast for dinner mixes it up a little.
This Berry French Toast recipe comes from Cooking During Stolen Moments, which was one of my VERY favorite food blogs ever. Almost everything I ever made from there was a hit. Unfortunately, the site is not accessible any more. I am so glad I had this one written down in my recipe book so I didn’t lose the recipe! I’ve only adapted it slightly – mostly I just skimp on the berries because I like a lot of chewy, eggy bread. It’s delicious with fresh berries of any kind, but you could also use frozen ones – or peaches!
Serve with a side of bacon or sausage for a delicious meal any time of day.
Delicious berry-enhanced French toast casserole is taken over the top with a brown sugar drizzle.
1 loaf French or Italian bread
2 to 3 c. berries
1 1/2 c. milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. almond extract
2 oz. cream cheese, cut into cubes
4 T butter
1 c. light brown sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
Start with day-old bread, or cut bread into large cubes a few hours before you want to start making this and let them sit out to get slightly stale. Slice strawberries into quarters. Blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries can be left whole.
Place a layer of bread cubes in a 9x13-inch baking dish. Add most of the berries, reserving about 1/2 cup. Top with the rest of the bread cubes.
Whisk together eggs, milk, vanilla, and almond extract. Pour evenly over the bread. Top with remaining berries, then dot with cream cheese pieces. Refrigerate at least 6 hours or overnight.
Preheat oven to 375F. In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add brown sugar and whisk together until the sugar begins to melt and the mixture is smooth, about 4-5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in cinnamon. Drizzle sugar topping over the casserole. Bake for about 40-45 minutes, covered, until egg is set.
Let sit for a few minutes before cutting and serving.
To make dairy-free, use almond milk instead of dairy milk and leave out the cream cheese. If you are taking to a new mom who is breastfeeding, you might ask if she is avoiding dairy. (I usually am.)
This is one of my favorite summer side dishes. It comes together quickly, and makes a nice alternative to a rice side for Mexican dishes. It would probably be more purely Mexican if you use cotija cheese, but I have feta on hand a lot of the time, so I just throw it in there.
I could pretty much just eat this for dinner. How about you?
This quick side dish goes well with tacos or enchiladas.
2 T butter
2 T minced yellow or sweet onion
kernels from two ears of corn
1 clove garlic, minced
15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
juice of one lime (1-2 T)
1 T chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup (or so) crumbled feta cheese
In a large skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until translucent. Add corn kernels and garlic; stir and cook for a few minutes, until the corn starts to brown a little. Add in beans and stir to mix.
When beans are warmed through, add lime juice and cilantro. Remove from heat. Stir in feta. Taste and season with salt and black pepper if needed. (The feta is pretty salty by itself.)
Well, y’all, I have some kind-of-sad news. After five years, this is going to be my last Secret Recipe Club post. I have loved being part of this fun every month, being exposed to new bloggers and recipes, and hunting down a recipe. But since my blogging has kind of died down, I didn’t feel like it was fair to those assigned to my blog. (Even though I do think I have a great backlog of recipes!)
Thanks to all those who have made this experience so wonderful! I started doing the Secret Recipe Club in June 2011 and have only missed a couple months the whole time. Can you believe it?
Anyway, enough about me! This month, my assigned blogger was I’m Hungry: Words of Growing Boys. Do I get that! My boys (and girl) are still small but I feel like every time they see me, their first words are, “I’m hungry! Can I have a snack?” Traci is a mom to two sons and an educator by day, supermom and cook by night. I love that Traci shares things like her family’s favorite meals and meal plans each week.
I was sold on this recipe for Pressure Cooker Sausage, Peppers, and Onions as soon as I saw it; first, because it’s something my family loves, and second, because I got an Instant Pot recently and have been trying to use it a lot! We loved the recipe, and our only regret was not throwing in twice as much sausage so we’d have leftovers for sausage sandwiches.
Serving Size: 4 to 8 servings, depending on amount of sausage
1 to 2 lbs. sweet sausage or bratwurst links
2 sweet bell peppers, sliced
1 sweet onion, like Vidalia, cut into rings
28 oz. crushed tomatoes
8 oz. tomato sauce
1 T Italian seasoning
salt and pepper
cooked pasta (I used egg noodles)
Parmesan cheese, grated
Add crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, and Italian seasoning to the pressure cooker. Cut sausages into thirds and place on top of sauce. Top with onions and peppers, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Seal pressure cooker lid and cook on high pressure for 25 minutes. Use quick or natural release to release pressure, then safely uncover and serve over pasta, sprinkled with Parmesan cheese.
(If you want to cook your pasta in the sauce and you have an Instant Pot: After pressure is released, change setting to slow cooker on high. Add uncooked pasta and cook covered, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes, until pasta is cooked through. This works especially well for egg noodles.)
This can also be made in a slow cooker. Cook on low for about 6 hours, until sausage is cooked through.