Our Favorite Chocolate Cake

My little girl turned two yesterday and today I am busy baking cupcakes for a Cinderella party tomorrow! We are so excited and busy but I had to take a moment and share our favorite recipe for chocolate cake with you! It takes only minutes longer than a box cake mix and tastes so good!

Hershey's "Perfectly Chocolate" Chocolate Cake 
(From the back of the Hershey's Unsweetened Chocolate Box)

2 cups of Sugar
1 3/4 cups of All Purpose Flour
3/4 cup Hershey's Unsweetened Cocoa
1 1/2 tsp. Baking Powder
1 1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
1 tsp. Salt
2 eggs
1 cup of milk
1/2 cup of vegetable oil (I use applesauce every time and it's GREAT!)
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup of boiling water

1. Heat Oven to 350' Grease and Flour two-9-inch round cake pans (or in our case it makes 30 cupcakes.)
2. Combine dry ingredients in bowl of your electric mixer.  Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed for 2 min. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin.) Pour into pans.
3. Bake 30-35 min. (cupcakes bake only 22-25 minutes) or until a wooden pick comes out clean. Cool Ten minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely. Frost.

For the Frosting, you can use whatever you like but our favorite is Hershey Bar Icing from Amanda and her mom. It is sooo good.

Hershey Bar Icing:
8 oz. of cream cheese, softened
1 cup of regular sugar
1 cup of powdered sugar
12 oz. of whipped cream or cook whip
2-3 Hershey Bars, grated

Mix all ingredients together well and frost your layers or cupcakes! Store in the fridge if possible, it makes it so good!

I'm linking up to Kelly's Korner and her SUYL-Desserts!

Have a great weekend!!!


May 26, 2011

Two years ago today, I got up, went to work (feeling slightly HUGE) :) and then went to an afternoon Doctor's Appointment... Several hours later, this bundle of beauty and joy joined our lives.

6 lbs. 11 ounces... 19 3/4 inches long and the softest little head of hair.

an instant Daddy's girl of course...

And then the night we brought her home from the hospital she looked so content in her own little bed... and I sat and stared and stared at her...

And before we knew it she was ONE!

And now here she is, in her best "Ta-DA!" pose.
Our girl is really getting bigger every day. In the last 6 months, she kicked the paci habit completely (we were just doing it at bed-time) and has really started making strides in the potty-training department.

Her vocabulary has just exploded so quickly that I have lost track of all the words and phrases she says. It's so funny at this age, it seems as though they watch you do something or say something once and they can repeat it. Sobering thought, isn't it?

She can count to 10 but usually it's "1-2-3-7-8-9-10" We will keep working on the others. :)

She knows her colors  and all her main shapes and can identify so many different things. What a joy it is to teach her and watch her learn!

Her favorite meals are Chick Fil a and Spaghetti. HA! She is definitely a girl who knows what she wants and can tell you what it is. We are still working on expanding her eating-- and slowly but surely, it's happening.

She is a true blessing every single day and we are so very grateful to be her parents and to be able to raise her to Love God and Love Others.


Spaghetti Bake

This recipe was shared with me in college by my roommate, who got it from someone else, who no doubt, got it from someone else. I have changed several things about it--and I would LOVE to share it with you! This is one of my "go-to" meals especially when cooking for someone else because it is such a crowd-pleaser!

Spaghetti Bake

One Large Family Size jar of Prego (45oz.)
One Regular Box of Spaghetti, boiled and drained
4 oz. of Cream Cheese, softened
4 oz. of Sour Cream
2 cups of Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
Italian Seasoning (Basil, Oregano, etc.)
Garlic Salt
Parmesan Cheese (Such as comes in the green can)

Preheat Oven to 350'
Once your Spaghetti has been drained, mix in the cream cheese and the sour cream and sprinkle a small bit of your three seasonings (Italian, Parmesan and Garlic) Stir to incorporate the cream cheese and sour cream into the hot pasta and try to eliminate any clumps.

In a Glass 13x9 baking dish, layer a bit of the sauce--just enough to cover the bottom of the dish.

Layer the pasta mixture with the sauce mixture several times in the dish. Each time you top with sauce try to make it cover the edges so the pasta does not dry out or get crispy in the oven. Half way through, sprinkle half of your mozzarella cheese on and then finish out your layers ending with plenty of sauce for the top.
Once all your sauce and spaghetti are gone, top with the remaining mozzarella and then a bit more parmesan and italian seasoning.

Bake at 350' for about 20-25 minutes or until the sauce is bubbling and the cheese is melted.

Allow dish to sit for 10 minutes before serving.


Meals and Memories...

       Anyone who knows me relatively well would say that cooking for people could very well be my "love language." I LOVE that aspect of hospitality and I always have. I know there are many ways you can serve and bless someone but for me, preparing a meal for loved ones is at the top of my list. (In fact my husband will be the first to tell you that he weighed a bit less when we first met than he does now--what can I say? He was a bachelor eating bowls of cold cereal and calling it a proper meal! Ha!)

     Tonight I have the rare opportunity to prepare a meal for some long-time close friends of ours who enjoy cooking (and eating!) as much as we do and I am a mix of ecstatic with a little bit of nostalgia mixed in. You see, this girl and I? We've shared many meals over many years. Many. And as I sit here, I cannot help but remember so many of them.

Some of my very best memories in college are of sitting with this girl... eating and chatting. It's a wonder we didn't gain more weight!

We discussed the drama of life with bagels and coffee and leather couches.

We braved the cold of the snow like true Florida girls with bowls of chili and playing cards and lots of laughing.

 We shared tea and scones at the super girly place down the street. In fact, we shared a luncheon there just hours before she wed her great husband.

We shared early Thanksgiving dinners for several  years in a row with this couple and those meals remain some of my favorites.

She brought me her famous chicken and rice when my daughter was born and I instantly felt more like myself again.

And just 6 short months ago, we shared several of our "last meals" (for awhile) together when we prepared to move here.

Days later, they helped us move here and we drank one last cup of coffee together while organizing our new kitchen.

And now, they are embarking on their own BIG journey. A new exciting adventure awaits them as they have faithfully waited for the Lord's timing and direction. He is taking them somewhere they have never been before for at least a season of life.

And our home happens to be a small stop off the interstate. And I couldn't be happier to be able to fix them a home cooked meal. I may have had the meal planned out for over a week--but to tell the truth, we would enjoy PB&J sandwiches just as much-- as long as we could share them together.


Mother's Day: Then and Now

 My First Mother's Day- 2009 Just Weeks before Lucy was born! (WOW.)

Mother's Day 2010- The day Lucy was dedicated at EBC in Raleigh

Mother's Day 2011- Augusta, GA 
(I would like to point out that apparently, we really got our money's worth out of our dresses! HA!)

Lance and Lucy completely spoiled me and we had a great day together. Worshiping together at our church (which we absolutely love) and then lunch at home with some new dear friends and then we relaxed together. I am so thankful to be Lance's Wife and Lucy Mom-- God has truly blessed us and we continue to be amazed by it every day!


Finer Things Friday: Beach Baby

Today I'm linking up to one of my favorite bloggers over at The Finer Things in Life.

After growing up a Florida girl, I have no idea why it has taken me this long to expose my almost two year old to the beach!!! This past week we had a brief amount of time in Myrtle Beach and so one morning, I jumped at the chance to take her. We only stayed about 30 minutes-- but hearing her say "Wowwwww!" when she got her first glimpse of the water was certainly a FINER thing!

Little Sandy Feet

Crazy beach hair-- I love it!


Cinco De Mayo Recipes: Creamy Chicken Enchiladas

       Since tomorrow is Cinco De Mayo, (Not to mention, the National Day of Prayer!) I wanted to share my favorite Enchilada recipe. I received this recipe about ten years ago when I was working at the bank and it has been one of my favorites through the years. I have tweaked it several times based on what we have or like at the time but this is the basic recipe. It's a winner in my book, because I really don't like red enchilada sauce and it does not have any!

Creamy Chicken Enchiladas

One Package of Medium Flour Tortillas (we like mission but I think I might make my own this time-- I'll let you know how it goes!
One Packet of Taco Seasoning (this I usually do make myself-- just because I know what's going into it.)
One Can of Cream of Chicken Soup
4 oz. Cream Cheese (Half a brick-- we use low fat.)

One onion, diced small
Other Vegetables, cut into bite sized pieces (we like to use mushrooms, spinach and we have even added drained black beans.)
One lb. of Boneless, Skinless chicken, cut in bite sized pieces (In a pinch, you can certainly use a rotisserie-- just take it off the bone and shred it.)
8 oz. of shredded cheddar cheese (you won't need all of it.)
8 oz. Sour Cream (you probably won't use all of this either, but you may want it for garnish!)

In a saucepan, mix together the soup, taco seasoning and cream cheese. Heat on medium until the ingredients begin to melt together in a sauce. Add milk as needed. Lower heat to low and stir as needed to avoid sticking. This will be your creamy enchilada sauce.

In a large skillet, add a small amount of olive oil or pam and then add chicken. Cook chicken pieces until brown on all sides but not over done.. a few minutes on each side. Add onion, saute for 3-4 minutes and then add other vegetables (if using.) Cook until crisp- tender adding a pinch of salt if necessary.

Drain any excess liquid (this is especially important if you use spinach.) and then add two large handfuls of shredded cheese and then stir. Add about a half a cup of sour cream. Mix to incorporate.

Prepare a 9 x 13 Glass dish by spreading a thin layer of the enchilada sauce reserving plenty for the top of the casserole. Working one at a time, take a tortilla and place no more than a 3-4 tablespoons of meat-veggie-cheese filling and then roll the tortilla up tightly and place seam side down in the dish. do this until you run out of filling, placing them side by side as tightly as you can. If you want to make less, use a small dish so they will be compacted nicely. Top with the remainder of sauce and then sprinkle extra shredded cheese if you like. Bake at 350' for about 20 minutes until the cheese and sauce are bubbling. We garnish with sliced green onions, sour cream and cilantro. You can cut into squares or serve them by enchilada.

*** I also use to make this for a vegetarian friend, substituting cream of mushroom for the chicken and ramping up the veggies instead of meat!

Also try our favorite Salsa recipe!!!

And here's one for taco seasoning!