Death by Chocolate

This past weekend we celebrated D’s and his mom’s birthday.  Celebrations started on Friday and ended on Sunday, visiting with all sides of the family.  I think he had a nice time.  I asked him what he wanted to do and we did it.  When I asked him what he wanted to do on his actual birthday, he told me he wanted me to make Italian Beef (simple) and maybe a dessert or something that Mini Me could also have.  After all, we don’t need a crazy 3 year old to be going on a jealous rage that she can’t eat cake when we are enjoying it.  So, Thursday night came, and Mini Me and I started making a cake.  She absolutely LOVES to help me in the kitchen.  Loves to help measure things, mix things, and just be with me.  I am flattered by it.  And because I was making a Vegan/Allergy Friendly cake, she got to taste every ingredient along the way.  I may have, too.

She's a great helper!

We first made the cake.  While it was baking, we moved onto the mousse, and then the ganache.  Once the cake was cooled completely, I spread the mousse between the two layers of cake, and added a thick layer to just the top of the cake. I let that set overnight in the fridge (in this awesome Wilton Cake Caddy) while the ganache also set.  Before the birthday boy got home from work, I spread the ganache evenly on the top of the cake and the sides with a large icing spatula (like this one), and put it back in the fridge until it was time to serve.  Please remember, if you do make this cake, that it needs to be refrigerated for the mousse and the ganache.  Don’t worry, it won’t dry the cake out, I PROMISE!

Let me tell you… This cake is ABSOLUTELY amazing, and you would have NO idea that it was vegan.  None.  I wanted to eat the whole thing.  I likely had too much of it over the weekend… Just sayin’.  I might as well own up to my indulgence.  It was totally worth it, though!

Kate’s Triple Chocolate Cake

100% Vegan!

Vegan Chocolate Cake

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups flour (all-purpose)
  • 6 Tbsp. cocoa (unsweetened)
  • 1 cup Truvia Baking Blend (or 2 Cups Sugar)
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. white vinegar
  • 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 2 cups water

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Prepare cake pans (I used these 8″ round aluminum cake pans from Wilton, and the Wilton Bake Even Strips which help the cake be more consistently level as it bakes)
  3. Mix all dry ingredients together in a mixing bowl
  4. Make “wells” for vinegar, vanilla, and coconut oil and pour each into a “well” (one should be big enough to hold coconut oil)
  5. Pour water over the top
  6. Mix with hand mixer until smooth
  7. Divide batter evenly into prepare cake pans
  8. Bake on center rack for 32-38 minutes, testing with a toothpick to be sure cake is done
  9. Remove and let cool on cooling racks for 5 minutes before removing cakes from pans to cool completely

Dark Chocolate Avocado Mousse

Ingredients:

  • 2 ripe Haas avocados
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 6 Tbsp. cocoa powder (unsweetened)
  • 3 Tbsp. almond or cashew milk (I used chocolate cashew milk)

Directions:

  1. Put all ingredients into a blender (I used my single serving Ninja cup) or food processor and blend until smooth.

(Seriously, its that easy!)

Vegan Salted Milk Chocolate Ganache

Ingredients:

  • 1 bag dairy free chocolate chips (I like Enjoy Life or Chocolate Dream)
  • 1 can full fat coconut milk
  • 2 Tbsp. coconut oil
  • 2 tsp sea salt

Directions:

  1. With a double boiler or a sauce pot with water topped with a glass mixing bowl, melt and combine all ingredients together until smooth.  I whisked along the way with a small whisk to be sure that it was completely smooth.
  2. Let set for at least 3 hours in the fridge before using as an icing.

(This also makes a great dip for fruit while warm!)

Enjoy this super fudgey cake!  It is my favorite cake I’ve actually ever had – saying a lot considering where I work!

Do You Want to Build a Snowman?

Come on let’s go and play…  Don’t judge… I’m a mom of a three year old.  I know that movie word by word, gesture for gesture, note for note.  Sigh.  weather reportIt is pretty fitting for the weekend we are having here in Chicago.  It started snowing last night (rain into snow), and we woke up to about 6 inches of snow on the ground at 6:30 this morning.  As of this moment (1pm) we have about a foot of snow, and its still coming down.  Winds are expected to pick up later today and blizzard conditions will be beginning.  Guess we aren’t going anywhere for the Super Bowl.

I had planned on getting up and getting some lifting done down in my ladycave (roar – home gym), but decided to make my workout more fun.  My workout today consisted of shoveling the long sidewalk in the front of the house, along with about half the driveway, and the piles the plows left on the end of the driveway (of course they came around RIGHT as I was finishing the driveway so I had to do it twice…).  Doesn’t sound like a lot, but 10″ heavy snow… Woo – workout!!!  Wore my HRM to track my burn (more so because I was curious than concerned)… 521 calories burned in 74 minutes.  I’ll take it for round 1.  I got some playtime in there, too.  Meanwhile, D and Mini Me built the biggest snowman on the block, and with the donation from a sweet little girl down the block, we were able to give him a face and a tophat.  So sweet.

Who wouldn't sunbathe in this weather?  Note:  Chair is resting on top of the snow...

Biggest snowman on the block!!       Yeah!!!  Snow!!!

As disappointed as I am that we won’t be going anywhere tonight for the Super Bowl (gotta keep the family safe), it won’t stop me from preparing a snack or two for the big game!  During my brief stint with the Whole30, I was able to refocus some of my unhealthy eating habits, and make conscious decisions to snack smarter when I feel I “need” or just want a nibble of a snack.  I have been eying baked coconut chips for a few years now, and decided to order  a giant bag of coconut flakes from Amazon (found here), and planned on making good use of them.  I am a total sucker for the sweet and salty flavor combinations, so wanted to really nail that down.  And I did!  Total winner, and a super filling snack!

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Sweet and Salty Cinnamon Coconut Chips

Ingredients

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  • 3 cups unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1.5T coconut oil, melted
  • 2.5T honey
  • 2.5t cinnamon
  • 2.5t sea salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Put coconut flakes in medium sized bowl. IMG_8064
  3. Whisk together melted coconut oil and honey; pour over coconut flakes.IMG_8063
  4. Pour cinnamon and sea salt over flakes and stir to combine all ingredients.          IMG_8061
  5. Pour flakes on a (preferably parchment lined) cookie sheet.  I love my gigantic cookie sheet – it’s sized for the shelf of my oven (found here).  IMG_8060
  6. Put flakes in the oven and STAY CLOSE!  Flakes will be done in about 6 minutes, and will continue to crisp when they are out of the oven.  I made the mistake of putting them in a little too long (don’t worry, I altered the timing here for you)… Whoops.

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Once cooled, enjoy!!!

Who got me a stripper??

It has been a busy week and a half for me!  Just about two weeks ago I got to help one of my best friends celebrate her 30th birthday with an amazing party at a local bar.  I donated a hotel room to the cause, which was the site of a little girl bonding time while we were getting ready and an after party.  Of course, it wouldn’t be a party that I was at (or hosting) unless there was a random pop-in by the police.  IMG_7651No… We weren’t that awful!  I am in my 30s… I am somewhat respectful (shush).  The people a few rooms down weren’t all that respectful, though, and filled the hall with some very rank weed smoke.  Blech!  The cops heard our music, stopped by, and of course I made friends with them.  Sometimes, making a police officer laugh (in this case five police officers laugh) is enough for me.  Brings me back to my birthday when my cousin, Sarah, and I moved into together when I was right out of college.  We were pre-gamming prior to going out to the bar when there was a pounding on the apartment door.  Me, being me, got up to answer the door and on the way to the door says loudly… “Which one of you guys got me a cop stripper???”  I open the door, and who else would be standing there but  a police man.  I don’t know whose face was more red… Mine or his.  Turns out he was looking for the previous resident.  Good laughs all around for that one.

The Monday after my friend’s birthday I started the Whole30 again.  I did this downloadonce before a few years back to help get my body rid of toxins and launched into a year of paleo eating.  I have pretty much eaten clean since, taking learning’s of my paleo stint into my cooking, but felt the need to get my system clean of hormones and toxins.  I’m now a week and a half into it and feel pretty good.  Not going to lie… The first few days were hell… My body wanted SUGAR!!!!  I stayed strong and maintained composure (sorry to my coworkers if I was snappy last week).

Last night I wanted to do something different for dinner.  I was doing just meats or eggs and veggies for dinners and lunches since I was low on time, but last night I felt inspired.  I had a leftover cooked acorn squash from the previous night that I wanted to use for D and I, and I wanted to stuff it.  One of my favorite acorn squash recipes is a turkey stuffed acorn squash with rice and butter and cheese… Well, three of those things are not allowed on the Whole30, so I got to brainstorming, and this is what I came up with.

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Creamy Cauliflower and Zucchini Rice

Ingredients

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  • 1 head of cauliflower
  • 3 medium zucchini
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic
  • 2T bacon fat
  • 1 cup coconut milk (canned, light or full fat)
  • 1T nutritional yeast
  • 1t sea salt
  • 1t black pepper
  • 1t herbes de provence

Directions

  1. Prepare food processor with the shredding blade attached.

2.  Slice cauliflower so that it fits in your food processor funnel, and go to town. Mini Me enjoyed helping me with this.  She was the official button-presser.

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3.  Once all of your cauliflower is “riced”, pour into a bowl and set aside. Cut the ends off the zucchini, and shred away!  Pour into a bowl and set aside.

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4.  Repeat shredding process one last time with the onion and garlic cloves.

5.  Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add 2T of bacon fat until melted.

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6.  Pour in onion and garlic combination and sauté for a few minutes (until fragrant).

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7.  Add coconut milk, cauliflower, zucchini, nutritional yeast, salt, pepper, and herbes de provence. Stir to combine, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 12-15 minutes stirring occasionally.

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This cauliflower rice can be used alone as a side, topped with a meat, over easy eggs (yummy breakfast this morning), or as a stuffing for various other vegetables.  Hope you enjoy as much as we all did!!

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Makes around 6 large servings.

Cal – 145, Fat – 9g, Carb – 15g, Protein – 5g