The Best Darn German Chocolate Cake

Although I am German, I have never really enjoyed German Chocolate cake.

Something about the texture of coconut shavings lumped into the frosting has always turned my taste buds away. I really am not too crazy about coconut and I generally like vanilla over chocolate.

HOWEVER- all of that has changed. AMEN.

When I hosted book club, I wanted to make a German Chocolate cake and my fellow book nerd (and the best baker friend a girl could have), pointed me to this recipe. She swore that is was the best and I am pretty sure it is. The recipe is from the famous NY Mangolia Bakery and Carrie Bradshaw would have swooned over it. If you were to bake this and give a piece to Mr. Big, he would have probably dumped Carrie and fled to you.

Whatever was leftover the next day, I took to my parents for dinner and I am suprpised my brother did not lick the platter clean.

Does that not look divine? Ist sew tasteeeey.

Does that not look divine? Ist sew tasteeeey.

Magnolia Bakery’s German Chocolate Cake

  • For the cake:
    4 oz. Baker’s German Sweet Chocolate, broken into squares
    1/2 cup of water
    2 cups all purpose flour
    1 1/2 tsp baking soda
    1/4 tsp salt
    4 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
    1 cup butter, softened (two sticks)
    2 cups sugar
    1 tsp vanilla extract
    1 cup buttermilk
  • For the frosting:
    1 1/2 cans evaporated milk
    6 egg yolks
    2 cups sugar
    1 cup butter, cut into small pieces
    2 tsps vanilla extract
    4 cups sweetened, shredded coconut
    2 cups coarsely chopped pecans

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Grease 3 (I ONLY USED TWO) 9 x 2 round cake pans, then line bottoms with wax paper (I DID NOT DO THIS)

3. In a small saucepan over low heat, combine the chocolate with water, stirring to melt the chocolate and blend well. Set aside and let it cool.

This is the chocolate to use people. Do not eat it, you will be tempted to eat it.

This is the chocolate to use people. Do not eat it, you will be tempted to eat it.

4. In a medium mixing bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

5. In a small bowl, lightly beat the egg yolks together.

6. In a large bowl, on medium speed, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

7. Add the egg yolks, beating until well combined.

Whip it up real good.

Whip it up real good.

8. Add the chocolate mixutre and vanilla extract.

9. Add the dry ingredients in, alternating with the buttermilk, beating after each addition, until smooth.

10. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites on high speed of an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Fold it into the batter.

11. Pour equally into cake pans and bake 25-30 minutes or until a tester comes out clean. DO NOT OVER BAKE- it is very light and fluffy.

Directions for the frosting:

1. In a large saucepan, beat together evaporated milk and egg yolks.

2. Stir in sugr, butter, vanilla extract.

3. Stir over medium heat about 15-18 minutes or until thickened and bubbly and golden in color. Remove from eat.

4. Stir in coconut and pecans.

5. Transfare to a large bowl and cool until room temperature and of good spreading consistency (about 2 hours).

6. When cake is cooled, spread frosting between layers and over top. DONE AND EAT!

German Chocolate Cake!

German Chocolate Cake!

Baking this cake also gave me a perfect reason to use my pretty cake display stand that I got from my baker-book-friend from the shower. It pretty much was begging to be used ever since I unpacked it:

So pretty!

So pretty!

The spread from book club!

The spread from book club!

So….. how many people are fans of this type of cake? What is your favorite cake?

Mine is lemon! I love anything lemon-flavored.

Sincerely,

Lily

Healthy Ham and Lentil Soup

So remember how I cooked up that large ham for my family Christmas dinner? It was very large. And although we like to eat, we had a lot of left. I mean A LOT:

My mother cut up what was left because the ham bone FREAKS me out.

My mother cut up what was left because the ham bone FREAKS me out.

My mom suggested that I make some soup with the mountain of ham and since Michigan has been a frozen tundra, soup sounded perfect!

Love lentils? Love soup? Love healthy ingredients? You’ll love this:

Healthy Ham and Lentil Soup

Half a large white onion, chopped
3-4 large celery stalks, chopped
3-4 large carrots, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
8-9 cups of water
1 can of crushed tomatoes (optional, I don’t like tomatoes so I did not add them)
1 bag of lentils (16 oz.)
2 cups of ham, chopped (veggie? omit this and use some beans or meat replacement)
olive oil
salt and pepper
1 Tbl. basil
1/2 Tbl. parsley

ONLY 4 EASY STEPS! GAH! SO EASY!

1. Soak the lentils in water for 30 minutes and then drain. I have no idea why you do this but my Mom told me this needed to be done. It is science.

Lentils getting a bath.

Lentils getting a bath.

2. In a LARGE (LIKE THE BIGGEST ONE YOU GOT) pot, drizzle some olive oil and add the garlic, onion, carrot, celery and saute over medium high heat.

Mhhhmm I can smell this goodness.

Mhhhmm I can smell this goodness.

3. After these have all simmered a little, add all the lentils, along with 9 cups of water, tomatoes, spices, ham.

It is green... but tasty.

It is green… but tasty.

4. Bring entire mixture to a boil and then simmer for 1 hour. The lentils will soak up A LOT  of the water, so the soup is actually quite thick and not nearly as broth-like as you suspect, with all the water.

Enjoy with crackers of if you are like me, a tiny bit of parmesan cheese grated on top. It is green but it is super tasty and keeps you warm!

I actually served this to my friends on New Year’s Eve and then we partied by playing cards and drinking wine. Is that normal to serve soup to people during a party?? Whatever. Two guests were outside watching hockey all day so I think they more than enjoyed the hot meal.

XoXo

SO THICK AND TASTY AND HEALTHY.

SO THICK AND TASTY AND HEALTHY.

Sincerely,

Lily

PS Mr. Speedy’s dear friend knew that I have a problem chopping veggies and bought me a Mandolin Slicer for Christams that came with 4 safety settings so that I don’t chop any of my fingers off. I actually did not use it for this recipe because I am dork and forgetful (next time…) but it would have been probably perfect to use! Specail thanks to Tall C!

My Top 10 Gift ideas for HIM

Him.

You know who I am talking about- that guy. Him could be your husband, father, brother, friend, annoying co-worker, boyfriend, fiance, secret lover.

Him.

Here are my top 10 gift ideas for any HIM in your life:

1. Hand-crafted, uniquely scented soaps. This soap actually smells delicious and will make any man repel zombies but attract kissing partners, I am sure of it. Made by Cellar Door Soap Co, it is $6 a bar. Another AMAZING soap company is CerealFly (also in Michigan) and the owner is a sweet young lady. Her soaps sell a bit cheaper, at $4.50.

2. Personalized note cards. EVERYONE (and I mean everyone) will send mail at some point in their life. They must send mail. Or write a personal letter. And possessing stationary that is thick card stock with a professional looking typeface can make such a statement. I bought Mr. Speedy some and he loves them. I got these from NaomiLynn Etsy shop at $15.

Stationary! DUH!

Stationary! DUH!

3. Whiskey Barrel Kit. Mr. Speedy received one of these for being a groomsmen in his friend’s wedding and he LOVES it. He doesn’t even drink whiskey really but he loved actually making it and having this tiny barrel. Such a fun little gift. Find one at Bluegrass (includes personalized lines on barrel) for $54.99.

Pirate-approved.

Pirate-approved.

4. Towels.  HEAR ME OUT. Although boring and not… thrilling, towels are a great gift. Do you know why? BECAUSE MEN USE THEM EVERY FREAKIN DAY AND THEY GET OLD AND FLAKY AND GROSS QUICKLY. Generally, men like to leave wet towels balled up and never replace them. New towels are THE BEST. It is like rubbing a fresh, new bed sheet all over your body. Just give that gift of hygiene and buy that man some towels. These are from Kohls and only $7.99.

Seriously. So Practical but so needed.

Seriously. So Practical but so needed.

5. Tools. You really cannot go wrong with tools. Mr. Speedy told me of a few that he needed but one sounded like jigsaw puzzle and the other sounded like Obi Wan so I might have to investigate before I try buying anything. Get them at any hardware or manly store.

I don't know what these do but apparently, they are really neat.

I don’t know what these do but apparently, they are really neat.

6. Cook his favorite meal. Does your Dad have an absolute favorite meal ? Or does your guy just love scallops but never is able to eat them because you are scared of them? Muster up some courage and breakout of your cooking shell. Cook away. Find a recipe and FOLLOW IT. You can’t go wrong.

I recently made chili for the first time after Mr. Speedy told me he LOVES the stuff. It was fantastic. He was raving for a week. And farting.

I recently made chili for the first time after Mr. Speedy told me he LOVES the stuff. It was fantastic. He was raving for a week. And farting.

7. A Jewelry Box. Men have watches. Men have cufflinks. Men have tie bars. What men usually store these in are (at least in Mr. Speedy’s case) is a tiny box that used to hold one of these items. They are all mixed in together. Get that man a nice jewelry box so these items have a home. Here is one from Chasing Treasure for only $69.

watchbox8. A book about his hobby/passion. Even if he isn’t a reader, a book about something he loves will get browsed through… and you never know, he might read about something he didn’t know and suddenly become a book lover, just like you, and agree to spend lots of money on making a library in the house and buying you whatever books you want. Sigh. A girl can dream.

Running books! That last one is appropriate for men to read too! Promise!

Running books! That last one is appropriate for men to read too! Promise!

9. For that POOPER in your life….. Heavy Doody Poo Pourri. Yes, this is a real product. Yes, it works. Yes, get this. Order from the Catching Fireflies Store, only $9.95 and it will save your nostrils from toilet-smelling-deathly-encounters.

Ahhhhh! so funny.

Ahhhhh! so funny.

10. A reeeeeeally nice, durable last-for-a-lifetime robe.  This kind of is like the towels. He will use it daily. It will get its use. It is worth the investment. I got Mr. Speedy a Brooks Brothers robe (he is obsessed with this store and most of his wardrobe consists of their collared shirts and pressed pants). When he isn’t wearing this robe, I usually am wrapped up in it. It is amazingly comfortable and just feels rich agaisnt the skin. $348.

robe

Hope you enjoyed this….. Next post will be top ten gifts for women, so stay tuned! Happy shopping xoxo

Sincerely,

Lily

The Only Way to Make Cornbread

When I was in college and indulging in cafeteria food to sustain me throughout my academic career I made two grand discoveries.

One – that I loved humus and it could be pretty much added to anything and taste good.

Two – that cornbread with little bits of corn in it was HEAVEN SENT. I vowed never to eat plain cornbread again. Whenever cornbread was served, I acutally would sacrifice all other food and pile my plate high of the corny cornbread and just eat that for dinner. I am not sure if that is deemed disgusting but it was MY FAVORITE MEAL to eat there.

I am not sure if that is sad or admitting that my tastebuds are lame, but whatever. It seriously is the best.

Cornbread.

I used a flat cake pan to bake it and it came out sad looking. So I spiced it up a little with a menu topper. And love.

Does anyone else make their cornbread this way? IT IS THE BEST. And so easy!

1. Grab your cornbread – whatever kind, or maybe you are super cook and make it from scratch:

This is like only 60 cents.

This is like only 60 cents.

2. Mix in corn (anywhere from 1/2 – 1 c. depending how much corn you like).

Corrrrrn!

Corrrrrn!

3. Pour it into the pan and bake! (Isn’t this spatula THE CUTEST THING ??)

Yum. I love it.

Yum. I love it.

By adding corn, it completely changes the texture and the dullness of just a block of bread. It adds a little burst of extra corn flavor, a nice surprise. It makes you feel like you are eating more veggies and a healthier bread, which is always a plus.

I would show you a picture of the finished product, but alas, Mr. Speedy has an undeniable love for cornbread and ate the entire loaf in one sitting. I had some too, but he has most of it.

We love corny things. (That was corny).

Sincerely,

Lily

Healthy Broccoli Cheese Soup for Cold Days

I made this soup and it warmed me up so well, I just had to share.

Mhmmmm can you feel the warmth?

Mhmmmm can you feel the warmth?

Confession: I do not like thick soups. I do not like creamy soups.

Mr. Speedy loves creamy soups and has a special liking for broccoli cheese soup. I am a weirdo and prefer broth soups and am really not too crazy about this soup. But for the sake of his taste buds and my need to serve him new recipes, I thought I’d make some soup from scratch.

However, I modified the traditional cream base recipe and used broth. And added A LOT OF VEGGIES. We are a healthy household, or try to be.

Healthy Broccoli Cheese Soup

 1 cup chopped onion
3 garlic gloves, minced
Olive oil
2 cans of chicken-broth
1/2 of a large head of broccoli (remove stems, chop)
1 cup of finely chopped carrot
1 cup of finely chopped mushrooms
1 cup of finely chopped celery
2 1/2 cups of skim milk
1/2 cup of flour
Salt & Pepper & any other spices you enjoy
1 cup (and a bit more if you want) of shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese
Parsley

1. Chop up the onion, garlic, carrots, mushrooms, celery and broccoli. Just get it done and it’ll make everything easier. Promise.

2. In a large saucepan, drizzle some olive oil and saute the chopped onion and garlic for a few minutes.

3. Add the broccoli, carrots, mushrooms, celery and broth.

4. Bring to boil and cook over medium-high heat for about 15 minutes.

5. Blending time. If you have a blender, then you are in luck and this step will be easy. If you do not have a blender (aka ME) then this step might be messy and you might swear. You need to blend the entire soup mixture. I used a bowl and hand mixer:

6. Remember if you do use a blender, you need to keep the top open to let the hot air vent. Place a paper towel on top to avoid flying hot soup from shooting out.

7. After the mixture is blended (mine did not blend NEARLY as well as I thought), place back in saucepan over medium heat and add milk.

Milk!!

Milk!!

8. Then add the flour, salt, pepper, any spices, and cheese:

9. Stir often to help soup thicken. Keep over medium heat for about 5-10 minutes and then serve! Sprinkle parsley on top. Great with thick, crusy bread!

So much veggie goodness.

So much veggie goodness.

I really enjoyed this soup despite my disliking for creamy soups. The broth add enough liquid and the milk/flour thicken it nicely, so you don’t feel like you are slurping up heavy cream. And there are so many flavors with all of the veggies simmering together.

I think I need a blender though… should probably add that to the wedding registry.

What is your favorite soup in the winter? Tomato. Hands-down. Love that stuff.

Sincerely,

Lily

My First Casserole: Spanish Chicken & Rice & Mystery Sauce

This week, I got out my domesticated side out from underneath my cereal-consuming side and braved a new dish:

I present to you- zee casserole:

Mhmmmm

Mhmmmm

Mr. Speedy is a subscriber to the magazine, Cooking Light, and this month’s cover caught my eye with the casserole recipes.

It really is quite a good magazine if you are looking for meals that don’t require using 56 lbs. of butter and lard and don’t want your waistline to suffer.

I am immature. Sorry.

I am immature. Sorry.

Party pooper…. hehe.

Okay, I choose this mexican chicken rice recipe because a)I had a lot of the ingredients and b)it did not look too hard. I will warn you that I did not have any saffron, so my recipe is slightly different (and it has a mystery sauce)…. and I didn’t include olives because they make my soul die a little and tongue shrivel up like a raisin.

This recipe requires a lot of chopping which is DANGEROUS for me. Creating this was taking a risk, like trying to ride a horse bareback, while tweezing your eyebrows, and eating a cupcake. Quite risky business. I have cut my fingers multiple times while chopping things. I don’t know if it is my inability to aim or my directionally-challenged brain or what…. but it is a hassle when you are trying to be the next Julie Child for your man.

Mr. Speedy actually does not like it when I chop things and usually stands near-by, waiting for me to scream or for a finger to fly off in his direction. It is kind of romantic but kind of pathetic, on my part. He always says to me, “Be careful.. I don’t want to lose you because you bleed out while attempting to slice a cucumber. And don’t ever chop when home alone.”

You know how you aren’t suppose to swim alone? Or walk alone in the dark? I can’t use the kitchen knife when home alone.

ANYWAYS, I DIDN’T LOSE ANY FINGERS ON THIS ONE, KIDS. But, I did cut my finger later that evening while making my salad for work the next day.

HERE IS THE CASSEROLE- ENJOY!!!

Saffron cream? I did not do that just to warn you.

Saffron cream? I did not do that just to warn you.

  • 1 Tbl. olive oil, divided (divided? I just used like 2 Tbl. and did not divide b/c that sounds complicated)
  • 1 1/2 lbs. skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces (trim that fat off people!)
  • 1 c. chopped white onion
  • 2 ounces cured Spanish chorizo sausage, diced (I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT THIS IS. I USED 3 TURKEY SAUSAGE LINKS.)
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced (I MINCED LIKE, 7 CLOVES BECAUSE IT TASTE GOOD AND VAMPIRES WILL STAY AWAY)
  • 1 large bell pepper, chopped
  • 3 c. hot cooked long-grain rice (Uncle Ben’s long grain rice, 1 package, works wonderfully)
  • 1 c. frozen green peas, thawed
  • 16 pimiento-stuffed green olives, chopped (EWWWW NOOOO.)
  • 1 1/2 c. fat free milk
  • 1/4 c. tomato paste (I DON’T KNOW WHAT PASTE IS… SO I USED TOMATO SAUCE. PERFECTO.)
  • 2 Tbl. all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp. saffron threads, lightly crushed (I am lazy and didn’t know what this was or have it… so it didn’t go in)
  • 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1/3 c. fat free sour cream

1. You will need to pre-cook the rice and have it ready to go. I also chopped up my onion, pepper, garlic, chicken ahead of time. Made it easy-peasy!

2. Pre-heat oven to 375° and spray your casserole dish with Pam so nothing sticks.

3. Using a large nonstick skillet, over medium-high heat, add 1 Tbl. olive oil and cook chicken, turning to brown on each side. Remove chicken from pan and place in large mixing bowl, set aside.

4. In same large skillet, add 1 Tbl. olive oil, and onion and chorizo (OR TURKEY SAUSAGE IF YOU ARE LIKE ME). Cook for a few minutes and then add in the chopped up pepper and garlic. Cook for a few minutes and then add this mixture, along with the cooked rice, and the peas, all into the mixing bowl with the chicken.

5. Mix the entire mixture well. Set aside and don’t move it.

6. In same saucepan, over MEDIUM heat, pour in the milk, tomato paste/sauce, flour, salt, saffron (or not), and pepper. WHISK around constantly, mixing well and until you see sauce to begin to boil (a few minutes).

7. Let it boil for 1 minute (but no longer because this sauce will burn quick). It should be thickening. Take off burner and add sour cream, mix it in sauce with whisk.

8. Pour sauce over the chicken mixture in the bowl, and mix around well, till evenly coated.

9. Pour entire chicken mixture into the casserole dish, evenly.

10. Cover with tin foil and cook for 15 minutes. Then REMOVE the foil, and cook for another 15 minutes.

11. EAT IT UP. BUT SHARE WITH OTHERS.

I feel like you could add the following and it would be super tasty: corn, broccoli, cauliflower, salsa on top, or tortilla chips on the side, or spoon it into taco shells.

ANYONE HAVE ANY FAVORITE CASSEROLE DISHES??? Preferably easy ones that do not require TOO much usage of sharp knifes.

sincerely,

Domesticated-Knife-Chopping Lily

I have done this. I can relate.

I have done this. I can relate.

The Meatball Saga

So Mr. Speedy and I are moved in and all. We are enjoying nesting in our love nest and all. I am trying to cook new recipes. And all.

This week I attempted to make meatballs.

This so pretty. So... simple, right?

This so pretty. So… simple, right?

Meatballs were a very vital substance to my diet growing up. My mother would cook them, with a side of spaghetti, and they always came out as perfect little orbs of tender meat. She would add an egg or two to make them hold together, some bread crumbs and seasoning, and make it all look so easy.

One thing that my Mother never did was attempt to cook dinner while While You Were Sleeping was on in the background. I suppose this is where I went wrong.

Ahem-

Mr. Speedy went out for a quick run and it being my rest day, I stayed in to prepare a romantic dinner (it was our 15 month anniversary) of scrumptious meatballs and pasta. My Mother had texted me earlier all the necessary ingredients – a pound of ground beef, a pound of ground turkey, some chopped onion, two eggs, a big pile of ketchup, some Italian bread crumbs, and various spices- which I had picked up at the grocery store conveniently on the way home from work.

Mixing them all in a large bowl that was partially warped due to the dishwasher, I could see straight into the living room and view the t.v. and sympathize with a miserable Lucy (Sandra Bullock) in her monotonous ticket-booth job. I had the skillet already warmed up with olive oil, and using a spoon, dropped balls of mixed meat into the pan. Sizzle sizzle, they hissed at me and began to cook.

And this is where I went wrong. Well, this is where I made my first mistake.

Proud of my beautiful orbs of beef and turkey, I poured myself a bit of wine, leaned in the kitchen entryway. I was completely relaxed, admiring the fruits of my culinary labor sizzle and completely confident Mr. Speedy would be drooling all over it. I turned my attention to the movie and watched as the nurse hears Lucy say she was going to marry that man. GASP. She just did what!?! I love this scene. I love how then Lucy has to play it cool with her pretend engagement to a dreamy, successful man. I suppose if I saw Mr. Speedy get mugged, and I rescued him from getting squished by a train, I would totally impersonate his fiancé to stare at him while he slept…

This is me. I am her. The end.

This is me. I am her. The end.

And then I smelt burning. Something was definitely burning.

DSC_0019

Burnt. Burnt. So burnt.

Quickly, I turned the burner down from high to low, suddenly remembering that my Mother had warned never to use HIGH heat, always MEDIUM heat for meatballs. That was my second mistake. Ball-shape no more, they had become warped and misshapen under the high heat just like my mixing bowl.

Then, I did what any newly housewife-in-training/cook would do- I concealed all evidence of the disastrous meatballs. I plopped them neatly on top a bed of pasta, smothered in sauce, and grated a colossal serving of fresh parmesan cheese on top, making it look like a gourmet meal.

I strategically continued to cover the burnt areas with more sauce and cheese....

I strategically continued to cover the burnt areas with more sauce and cheese….

A few more spoonfuls of warm sauce, and the meatballs were hidden away… deep down there, just waiting to be discovered.

Mr. Speedy came home from his run, showered, and scooped a helping of the meal, eager to eat.

“Do you smell something burning?” he asked.

“Uh… burning? No.” I said sheepishly. “I mean I did have a candle going [lie] and I did light a match for that [another lie]. Also, I believe the dryer makes a funny smell [super big lie].”

“Huh,” he said and twirled his fork with some food. Then he took a bite, slowly inspecting the taste, and looked directly at me.

I quickly realized I had no idea who I was dealing with because I completely expected him to spit out the food, and accuse me of feeding him hockey-puck chunks of scorched beef.

But instead, this great handsome man whom cares oh-so-much about me and my cooking ego, explained that it was the BEST meatball he had ever had. The best. He quickly ate one, two, and then a third. He even said that he actually preferred the burnt crust because it made them crispy, almost like they were fried.

And I, taken aback and melting due to his endearing comment about the most horrible meatballs one could ever come across, showed him that I still had a huge bowl full of uncooked meat that I could make more meatballs with, you know, since he liked them so much.

“OH no….,” He said, rubbing my shoulders. “Let ME cook these, you go sit and relax.”

And you know what Mr. Speedy did? That man baked them on a cookie sheet until they were golden brown and perfect. I mean PERFECT. He could not have rolled them into better balls and he could not have timed the baking down to a better second. We even watched the rest of the funny love triangle between Lucy and Jack and Peter while they baked (Mr. Speedy obviously can multi-task in the kitchen).

We feasted on his balls (that sounds bad, you know what I mean) the next day, but only after he assured me that my meatballs were just as delicious and tasty.

Honestly, if this is not love, then I do not know what is.

Sincerely,

The-one-who-burns-things

PS I also managed to shrink multiple dress shirts of Mr. Speedy’s in the dryer this week. He simply stated that I am learning and it is okay, they are just expensive shirts… but that I’ll get the hang of it.

PSS I think I need to sent away to a boarding school on cooking and cleaning, and learn the basics.

PSSS At least I am an excellent kisser and companion in bed with long legs (I mean that in terms that I am very good at cuddling, not the… never mind. I don’t even know. I give up).