Saturday, June 13

Chocolate BEET Cake!

Let's talk about beets. It was while perusing the farmers market I spotted them. The largest beets I have seen in my entire life. Of course, I had to have them. It was only days before that I had saved Joy the Baker's Chocolate Beet Cake recipe. The timing could not have been more perfect. It was as if Joy had sent them down from heaven just for me. So thanks again, Joy, for another recipe that turned out perfect!

For the Cake:
2 beets, trimmed of their greens
1 tsp vegetable oil
3/4 cup unsalted butter
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
2/3 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups buttermilk

For the Frosting:
1 cup unsalted butter
8 oz. cream cheese
5 cups sifted powdered sugar
4 tbs finely grated beets
1 tsp vanilla
2 tsp milk
1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice
pinch of salt, to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Thoroughly wash beets under running water, and trim their leaves. Place cleaned beets in foil.  Drizzle with vegetable oil, and seal foil together.  Using a baking sheet, place your beets in the oven.  Roast them until tender, about 1 hour. After baking, allow the beets to cool completely.  Beets will be easy to peel once completely cooled.

Grate the peeled beets with your finest grating plane.  Measure 3/4 cup of grated beets for the cake and 4 tablespoons for the frosting.  Then set them aside.

Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F.
Grease two 8 or 9-inch round baking pans.  Trace a piece of parchment paper so it is the same size as the bottom of the cake pan.  Cut it out and place inside the cake pan.  Now, also grease the parchment paper.  You can set these aside while you prepare the cake.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together butter and sugars.  Then, beat them on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes.  One at a time, incorporate the eggs, for about a minute each.  You may need to occasionally scrape down the sides of the bowl.  Once all eggs are incorporated, beat in beets and vanilla extract until thoroughly combined.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add half of the dry ingredients at a time to the butter and egg mixture.  Beating on low speed , slowly add the buttermilk.  Once just incorporated, add the other half of the dry ingredients.  Beat on medium speed until milk and dry ingredients are just incorporated.  Try not to overmix the batter. Cake batter should be on the thicker side.

Divide the batter between the two prepared cake pans.  Bake for 23 to 25 minutes (for a 9-inch pan) or 30-32 minutes (for an 8-inch pan).  Cake is done when a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.  Remove cakes from the oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes.  Invert cakes onto a cooling rack to cool completely before frosting and assembling the cake.

Preparing the Frosting:
In the bowl of an electric stand mixer, beat softened cream cheese until pliable and smooth, about 30 seconds. Add the butter and beat until well combined.  Scrape down the bowl as necessary.  Add in the finely grated beets.  Followed by the powdered sugar, vanilla extract, milk, lemon juice, and salt.  Beat on medium speed until smooth and silky.  Refrigerate the frosting for 30 minutes before frosting the cooled cakes.

To assemble the cake, place one layer of cake on a cake stand or cake plate.  Top with a generous amount of pink frosting.  Spread evenly.  Place the other cake on top of the frosting.  Top with frosting.  Work frosting onto the sides of the cake.  You will have extra frosting left over.  Refrigerate for an hour before serving (it will make the cake easier to slice).  Cake is best within two days, but will last in the refrigerator for up to four.  

 This recipe has been modified, but was based on THIS Joy the Baker recipe.

Saturday, April 11

Cheese Ravioli with Asparagus and Walnuts in a Brown Butter Lemon Sauce

Spring is here. So are vibrant green veggies. Asparagus, zucchini, broccoli, and artichokes - the produce section is coming alive again.

With beach season upon us, I have been trying to limit my pasta (bread, cheese, chocolate) intake. I probably should have never even walked into Trader Joe's, but alas. I left with all the of the items previously mentioned. Remembering a recipe I had pinned a few weeks ago from the Green Valley Kitchen blog, I threw together this little dinner.

The asparagus and sauce take just about as long as the pasta to cook. Dinner was ready in 10. You really can't beat that... especially for a Monday.


1 12 oz package cheese ravioli
1 lb fresh asparagus
1 lemon
4 tbs butter
1/2 cup walnuts
1/4 cup parsley
freshly grated black pepper


Start by boiling your pasta water. While it boils cut up your asparagus into 1 inch long pieces, trimming the ends. Place the ravioli in the water and cook per package instructions.

In a medium size pot, brown half the butter. Add the asparagus and walnuts to the butter and allow the asparagus to cook until bright green and tender. Remove the asparagus and walnuts from the pot and with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add the remaining 2 tbs of butter, allow to brown, then squeeze in half of the lemon.

When ravioli is ready, add it to the asparagus and walnuts. Toss in the parsley, Parmesan, and browned butter lemon sauce. Mix well and serve with warm bread.

Friday, April 3

Homemade Tomato Soup and Rosemary Croutons

There is no better cure for a scratchy throat during allergy season than a delicious, warm, bowl of soup. I was delighted to find this simple tomato soup recipe from Bon Appetit. Grill up some cheese sandwiches and you have a perfect pair for dinner tonight!


1 28oz can of whole peeled tomatoes
8 garlic cloves
1/2 cup of olive oil
1 large onion
2 tbs tomato paste
4 cups chicken broth
2 tbs unsalted butter
Fresh ground pepper
Crusty French Bread


Preheat your oven to 425. Add the canned tomatoes to a 9x12 baking dish. Mix half of the olive oil, the garlic, and some rosemary with the tomatoes. Roast tomatoes until getting brown on the tops about 45 minutes. 

Half-way into roasting the tomatoes, begin to saute your onions. Slowly heat the butter and onions in a heavy-bottomed pot. To release the most flavor do not rush this process. It could take up to 25 minutes. Once the onions are translucent, add the tomato paste. Cook the tomato paste with the onions until they become a dark red color. Season with salt and pepper.

When the tomatoes are done roasting, break them up using a potato masher. Add them to the pot with the onions along with the chicken broth.

Allow the soup to simmer for 15-20 minutes. Then puree in batches until smooth in a blender. Be careful to vent the soup as it blends for the steam to release.

While the soup simmers, cut up the bread into crouton sized pieces. Toss with the remaining olive oil, salt, pepper, and rosemary. Toast bread in the oven for 8-10 minutes until golden. 

Sunday, March 15

Chocolate Chip Cookie Ice Cream Sandwhiches

It's spring break, and this 80 degree weather was signaling for  ice cream. When it comes to sweets, my first love has always been cookies. My second is ice cream. 

Before bedtime, my dad and I would always either have milk and cookies or a big bowl of ice cream. Now when I eat sweets, my body automatically wants to go to bed. Does anyone else have this problem? or is it just me?

Here is the obvious answer for ringing in spring: Chocolate Chip Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches. For kids and adults alike, this combo is irresistible. Now you may remember, I have featured my chocolate chip cookie recipe here, but you can always do like I did and just pick up cookies from your local bakery. It'll save you time not only making the cookies, but then allowing them to cool.

No doubt these will be enjoyed in a hurry!


1 gallon of chocolate chip ice cream
2 dozen chocolate chip cookies
1 10oz package of bittersweet chocolate chips (optional)
1/4 cup of vegetable oil (optional)
sprinkles, toffee, or nuts for topping (optional)


Lay half of your cookies flat on a foil lined baking sheet. Evenly spread ice cream over the top (I let mine set out for 20 minutes to soften). Top the ice cream with the remaining cookies. Place in the freezer for 2 hours. With a knife, trim the edges of to make the ice cream sandwhiches more even. Place back in the freezer for about 1 hour.

You can stop there, or continue with dipping the cookies in chocolate. Heat up the chocolate chips with the oil in the microwave for a minute and a half, stirring every 30 seconds. Allow the chocolate mixture to cool (I placed mine in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes). Then dunk your cookies into the chocolate, topping immediately with the treat of your choice.

These can be made 2 days ahead and wrapped individually for safe keeping.

Friday, March 13

Beef and Brocoli Stir Fry

While attending college, my husband and I were kind of into this hole in the wall Chinese place - Jade China. We would get take out, eat on it for three days, you know, in typical college years fashion. His go-to order was always beef and broccoli. Over time, it became mine too.

The past few years I've made stir-fry weekly (that is no exaggeration). Most of the time, it involves a hunk of flank steak and, you might of guessed it, broccoli. I add other veggies based 1) what's in the fridge and 2) what's on sale. In this particular stir fry, I am pretty partial to carrots, red peppers, and snap peas.

My sauce varies (in addition to the veggies added), and I usually end up with some blend of soy sauce, oyster sauce, brown sugar, rice vinegar, sesame oil, and Sriracha.That's the fun part... playing around with ingredients you have, tasting as your go, and making something delicious.

Here is a rough drat to guide you in building your perfect beef and broccoli stir-fry. Enjoy!

Serves 4

1 lbs (atleast) of flank steak evenly sliced into strips
2 cups of broccoli chopped into bite size pieces
1 red pepper
1 cup of carrots
1 cup of snap peas
1-2 tbs minced garlic
1/4 cup of soy sauce
2tbs oyster sauce
2tbs brown sugar
1tps rice vinegar
1tbs seasame oil
Sriracha to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
Red pepper flakes (optional)


Start by mixing up your sauce, test tasting as your go, then setting aside.

Using a wok or saute pan with fairly high sides, heat your sesame oil and garlic. Salt and pepper your steak, then evenly add it to your wok in rows, turning to ensure an even cook. Once the steak meets your desired temp (I like ours medium rare here because it will cook a little more later), remove it with a slotted spoon to a plate and set aside. This takes 6-8 minutes.

Add your broccoli and carrots. Saute until starting to soften up and the broccoli turns bright green. Then toss in your the remaining veggies. Once all the veggies are done, add your meat back to the wok. Pour your sauce over the stir-fry incorporating it into the meat/veggie mixture. Allow to cook 10 or so minutes. Top with red pepper flakes.

Delicious served on its own or over rice.

Wednesday, March 4

Chocolate Chip Cake with Strawberries

The Strawberry Festival in Plant City, 30 minutes or so outside of Tampa, is in full effect. Sadly, we missed it last weekend due to the rain, but I hope to get to try their world famous strawberry shortcake this Saturday! 

While it rained, I channeled all my festival vibes and threw together this lovely chocolate chip cake topped with sliced strawberries. Chocolate is such an obvious pair with strawberries, plus I love the texture chocolate chips add to cakes!

The prep work here is minimal, but the cake does cook for a good hour. Like with any cake where fruit is the star, it is best enjoyed fresh and will keep for three days tightly covered. 

Serves 8


1 and 3/4 cups flour
1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons greek yogurt
1 and 1/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup chocolate chips, plus more for the top of the cake
1 pound of strawberries, hulled and sliced


Preheat the oven for 350. 

Sift the first three ingredients together in a medium bowl then set aside. Cream butter, yogurt, and sugar in a stand mixer.  Incorporate the egg fully, then mix in the milk and vanilla. Add flour mixture in three parts. Fold in the chocolate chips while trying to avoid over mixing.

Pour batter into a greased pan (I used a 9 inch round ceramic tart pan). Top the cake with sliced strawberries, then add chocolate chips into open spaces.

Bake for 1 hour or until the middle has started to turn golden. Let cake cool and enjoy with a cold glass of milk. 

Sunday, February 15

Chicken Tortilla Soup + 5 Ingredient Guacamole

The perfect Sunday afternoon for me starts with a pot of soup. Sundays have become "soupdays" at our house - especially this winter. While soup simmers on the stove I can get so much done around the house - vacuum the rugs, fold some laundry, empty the dishwasher, etc. Plus, having the leftovers in the fridge makes packing lunches for the week a cinch.

I have been pretty bad about posting recipes the past few months, but this one had to get on the blog ASAP! This is not a recipe to save for the weekends, either. Not only does it taste amazing, it comes together in under and hour making it perfect to throw together for a weeknight meal. If you buy your chicken already cooked it's even faster!

When making this chicken tortilla soup - I really don't advise housework unless you feel like you just have too. Instead, throw together this five ingredient guacamole (a great soup topper) and make a pitcher of margaritas. Trust me!

Serves 4

Chicken Tortilla Soup

2 large chicken breasts (cooked)
6 cups of chicken broth
2 tbs canola oil
2 green onions chopped (white and green bits)
1 small yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 jalapenos, seeded and chopped
Juice of 1-2 limes
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped finely
1 tbs cumin
1 tsp cayenne pepper
3/4 cup of black beans, rinsed and drained
3/4 cup roasted corn, seasoned with cayenne, cumin, and salt
salt and pepper to taste
Optional toppings: guacamole, queso fresco, tortilla strips, and fresh jalapeno slices

Heat oil in a heavy bottomed stock pot. Add onions, garlic, and peppers. Saute on medium-high heat until tender about 4 minutes. Add chicken broth, chicken, beans to the onion mixture. Season with lime juice, cilantro, cumin, cayenne, salt and pepper. Allow flavors to come together while you roast the corn, reducing heat if needed.

In a cast iron skillet, add corn (either cut from the cob or frozen) and stir to ensure even seasoning. On high heat, allow the corn to brown, stirring minimally, and then add to soup. 

Allow soup to simmer on low for about 20 minutes. Taste regularly and adjust seasoning as preferred.

While soup simmers, throw together guacamole. It is delicious stirred into the soup and along side with some chips. 

5 Ingredient Guacamole

2 ripe avocados
1/2 small yellow onion, chopped
1/2 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
Juice from 1 lime
Salt to taste (a little cumin and cayenne pepper are nice too!)

Add all ingredients to your food processor or blender on low until you reach desired consistency. 

Thursday, February 5

Cardamon Almond Loaf Cake

Recently, I began testing out alternative flours in the kitchen. I failed, more than once, before starting to get the hang of one in particular - almond flour.

So why, almond flour? In this recipe, it's nutty flavor pairs perfectly with the cardamon. The texture is a little dense, but still fluffy and moist kind of like a pound cake. Not to mention, almond flour has a ton of health benefits. It is a good source of protein and antioxidants, and is loaded with calcium, iron, and fiber.

The almonds on top add a slight crunch, plus even more protein. Besides, almonds are such a super-food! If not already, I highly recommend adding a regular dose of almonds to your weekly snacks. They help control blood sugar and cholesterol, build muscle, and increase your metabolism.

If you can't find almond flour at your grocery, or want more information about its health benefits, definitely check out They have a great selection of nuts and alternative flours! Click here for a link to their almonds page!


1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cardamom
3/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 cup whole milk
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
3/4 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. almond extract
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cups almond flour


Place a rack in middle of oven and preheat to 350°. Grease a 9x5x3” loaf pan.

Whisk baking powder, cardamom, salt, and flours in a medium bowl; set aside. 

Whisk milk and sour cream in a small bowl; set aside.

Using a stand mixer on high speed, beat sugar and butter in a large bowl until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating to blend between additions and occasionally scraping down sides and bottom of bowl with a spatula, then add vanilla and almond extracts.

Reduce speed to low and add dry ingredients in 3 additions, alternating with sour cream mixture; beat just until combined.

Scrape batter into prepared pan, smooth top, and sprinkle with sliced almonds.

Bake cake, rotating halfway through, until golden brown, about 55–65 minutes. (You might try tenting with foil if browning too quickly.)

Transfer pan to a wire rack and let cake cool in pan 15 minutes. Gently remove cake from pan and transfer to rack; let cool.

Enjoy warm with a drizzle of honey and some fresh fruit!

Saturday, January 17

Green Ginger Smoothie

Talk about the breakfast of champions! This little ol' recipe came with my Vitamix (Merry Christmas to me!!) and I have literally had some version of this smoothie every morning since.

I am totally one of those cannot-survive-without-breakfast people. Without it, I go the entire day feeling like I imagine a wilted flower might. This smoothie offers amazing fulness all the way until lunch (well... at least 11:00). Plus, it's quite nutritious because obviously... it's green.


1 cup of water
2 teaspoons of honey
2 cups of frozen peach slices
1 teaspoon of peeled, grated, ginger
2 large handfuls of spinach

Add ingredients, in order listed, to your blender. Blend on low, then slowly increase to high.

Thursday, January 8

Spinach Artichoke Dip

The Pioneer Woman never lies. Her recipes are always spot on, and quite frankly I think she's funny as hell. When I am looking for something new to take to a potluck or for any event, I gravitate towards her blog. It's like my safety blanket. 

As I was making her Spinach Artichoke Dip for the first time three or four years ago, I knew it was going to be a show stopper based simply on its ingredient list. The only people I've come across who don't just love this dip are allergic to artichokes (that's what they've said, anyway) and couldn't even try one tiny chip full. Sad, I know.

Furthermore, and in full disclosure, I follow this recipe methodically. I have yet to try any adaptations, although I keep thinking corn would add a fun texture and that bacon could bring this whole thing to another level. Some day, maybe I'll get around to all these ideas, but until then just enjoy The Best Spinach Artichoke Dip Ever. [Click for a link to the original recipe.]


3 Tablespoons Butter
4 Tablespoons Garlic, Minced
1 bag Spinach
Salt And Pepper, to taste
2 cans Artichoke Hearts, Rinsed And Drained
3 Tablespoons Butter (additional)
3 Tablespoons Flour
1-1/2 cup Whole Milk (more If Needed)
1 package (8 Ounce) Softened Cream Cheese
1/2 cup Crumbled Feta
1/2 cup Grated Parmesan
3/4 cups Grated Pepper Jack Cheese
1/4 teaspoon Cayenne
Extra Grated Pepper Jack
Pita Wedges, Tortilla Chips, or Crackers

Preparation Instructions
Melt 3 tablespoons butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the minced garlic and cook for a couple of minutes. Crank up the heat a bit and throw in the spinach. Stir around and cook for a couple of minutes until the spinach wilts. Remove the spinach from the skillet and put it in a small strainer. Squeeze the excess juice back into the skillet. Set the spinach aside. 

Throw in the artichokes and cook over medium high heat for several minutes, until liquid is cooked off and artichokes start to get a little color. Remove the artichokes. 

In the same skillet or a different pot, melt 3 additional tablespoons of butter and whisk in 3 tablespoons of flour until it makes a paste. Cook over medium-low heat for a minute or two, then pour in milk. Stir and cook until slightly thickened; splash in more milk if needed. 

Add cream cheese, feta, Parmesan, pepper jack, and cayenne and stir until cheese are melted and sauce is smooth. Chop artichokes and spinach and add to the sauce. Stir to combine. 

Pour into buttered baking dish. Top with extra grated pepper jack and bake at 375 for 15 minutes, or until cheese is melted and bubbly. 

Serve with pita wedges, chips, or crackers!