Monthly Archives: February 2008

Chocolate Lover’s Bundt Cake: A Potluck Pleaser!

Chocolate Lover's Bundt CakeIt’s time for yet another potluck! I think everybody is really tired of winter and ready to get out of the house any time the weather clears!

Since the days are longer, the chickens have started to lay more eggs and I am able to dig out my favorite multi-egg recipes, and this is definitely one of them.

I got the recipe for this rich chocolate cake from a magazine several years ago. It’s a great cake to take to a potluck because it’s so easy to transport and delicious. And, since it’s baked in a bundt pan, it looks fancy. It’s very dense, but still very moist and delicious!

You can see from the picture that this one is in my tupperware cake keeper and ready to head out the door. It’s a good thing we took a picture of it before we left, because not much of it remained when we returned!

Chocolate Lover’s Bundt Cake

Cream together until light and fluffy: 1 cup butter and 3 cup of sugar.

Add: 6 eggs, one at a time, 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla and 1/2 tsp. almond extract.

Combine: 2 1/2 cups of flour, 1/2 c. of cocoa, 1/4 tsp. soda.

Add to creamed mixture alternately with 1 cup of sour cream.

Beat till combined and add 2 cup of chocolate chips.

Pour into a greased and floured Bundt cake pan. Bake at 325 degrees for75-90 minutes. Cool 10 minutes, then remove from the pan. Cool completely. Drizzle with glaze and sprinkle with almonds or drizzle with white chocolate.

Glaze:

Melt together: 2/3 cup chocolate chips, 1/3 cup heavy cream, 1/4 cup butter

Stir till smooth.

Whisk in 1 cup of powdered sugar and 1/4 tsp. almond extract.

For the white chocolate glaze I just melted white chocolate chips, but was in a hurry so they were lumpy. Still tasted good though!

I’ve used raspberry/chocolate chips and the mint chocolate chips in this recipe and they were both wonderful!

Add this recipe to your potluck favorites and you’ll be the talk of the table!

Winter in the Old Farm House

I should have known. I thought I was prepared. But I had no idea when we moved here nine years ago how frustrating life could be living with five children in a drafty old farm house in the coldest months on the year.

Thermal socks and heavy hooded sweatshirts have been the normal attire for sometime now. (Actually I only see the boys heads on Sunday morning when they take their stocking caps off for church!)

The wood stove is like another child, always needing to be fed and changed. The need for wood is a never ending job with all the cutting, hauling, and splitting.

Yet, after nine years, despite the frustrations, I have learned to love and anticipate winter days here on the farm. It’s comforting to have the snow falling outside and know that you are all safe and warm inside. There’s a sort of rhythm and peacefulness about our days with very few interruptions.

Winter is when we get many books read, games played and we always have a 1000 piece jig saw puzzle set out to be put together.

On sunny days, we can strap on the cross county skis, walk out the back door and start to ski. The kids have hills all over for sledding and snowboarding.

I guess winter in the country can be summed up in one word, time. We have time to be together and do the things that are important. We have time to think, to grow, to explore, to experiment, to play.

Since time is a such a valuable commodity, I guess winter in an old farm house makes us rich indeed!

Time to Feed a Crowd: Chocolate Sheet Cake Brownies

Chocolate Sheet Cake BrowniesI love to feed a crowd! I had the opportunity last week end when our home school group got together for an informal potluck and time of fellowship. Since I had a partial package of Valentine’s M & M’s hidden in the freezer, I decided to make a frosted brownie and use them to decorate. ( I know it was a sacrifice, but what’s a mom to do!)

This recipe was given to me years ago when I was student teaching in Kansas City. It’s a classic that I use again and again. Although it isn’t as fudgy as some brownies, the buttermilk gives it a very rich cake-like texture that’s always a huge hit!

Chocolate Sheet Cake Brownies
(or Buttermilk Brownies)

Combine: 2 cups flour, 2 cups of sugar, 1/2 tsp. of salt. Set aside.

Combine: 2 stick margarine, 1 cup water and 1/2 cup cocoa in a saucepan. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat and pour over the flour mixture. Add 1/2 cup of buttermilk, 2 eggs, 1 tsp. soda, and 1 tsp. vanilla. Mix together.

Pour into a greased sheet cake pan and bake 15-20 minutes at 400 degrees. (I used a 17″ x 12″ pan.)

Remove from oven and immediately frost with buttermilk frosting.

Buttermilk Frosting

Combine: 1 stick margarine, 1/4 c. cocoa, 1/3 cup buttermilk in sauce pan. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in 3 1/2 cups of powdered sugar, 1 tsp. of vanilla and a dash of salt. Pour over warm brownies.

I added a handful or so of the chocolate raspberry chips to the brownie batter for added flavor. You can substitute regular milk for the buttermilk in the frosting, it will still taste great.

The brownies disappeared quickly at the potluck; but the M & M’s on top disappeared even faster! That is until we caught a couple of 2 year olds carefully removing them from the brownies and eating them! But this chocolate lady didn’t mind. I just wish I was young enough and cute enough to get away with it, too!

Possums, Coons and other Varmints

raccoon in treeI know it comes with the territory. Since we live in the country, we’re going to have critters of all shapes and sizes. Normally, I don’t mind them. It’s actually kind of fun to spot them. But when they empty a just-filled bird feeder, they become more of a nuisance than an excitement!

My husband’s dad keeps several bird feeders out all year round. He was gone on a trip last week and my sons were checking his feeders when they realized that they had to fill one feeder every day. Now this was a large feeder and should have lasted longer than that.

They suspected a varmint and scheduled a stake-out. Sure enough, the next day they crept into the yard just as a nice plump opossum slithered away from the now empty bird feeder. They followed him and discovered his den in the ravine nearby. They decided to remove the feeder for awhile and wait for Poppa to decide what he wanted to do.

Meanwhile, Poppa had another very large feeder sitting on the picnic table that was emptying very quickly. A middle of the night check showed several raccoons partying around the feeder. They had actually figured out how to open the top of the feeder and were helping themselves! The next day he took a bungee cord and secured the lid to the picnic table. That night he watched some very frustrated coons!

Woodlink squirrel baffleCritters can be a nuisance around a feeder, especially mid-winter when the snows are heavy and there’s little to eat. There are several things you can do to prevent it, such as being careful of your location, and using a squirrel baffle, but every veteran bird-watcher knows, those critters are smart and if you have food, they will try anything to get it!

Poppa moved the bird feeder so it’s harder for the opossum to get to, and he is waiting to see how long it will take those crafty coons to figure out how to undo the bungee cords! It’s all part of the game and adds a little excitement to the long cold winter days!

A Gift for Grandpa: Chocolate Cowpies?!

Chocolate Cow PiesGrandpa just had his 78th birthday. Do you know how hard it is to find a gift for someone who needs nothing?

We decided that this year we would give something he could really enjoy- snacks. Each of the five children took the time to make him a favorite treat and then wrapped them in a unique and special way. The older kids made O’Henry bars, Hot Chocolate Mix, Trail Mix, and Caramel Corn. But Buddy made him Chocolate Cow Pies.

Since it’s a no-bake cookie, it was the perfect recipe for him. He could measure all the dry ingredients in one bowl, the chocolate chips in another and then help to spoon out the cookies with lots of BLT’S (bites, licks and tastes!) It took a little help from Mom, but he was very proud of the results!

Chocolate Cow Pies

Melt: 1 2/3 cup chocolate chips (can use some butterscotch for fun), 3/4 cup peanut butter.

When smooth and melted, add 8-10 oz. of chow mein noodles and 3 1/2 cups of mini marshmallows.

Drop by spoonfuls on waxed paper. Refrigerate until set.

These were originally called Butterscotch Haystacks and used all butterscotch chips. But we substituted the chocolate chips when we were out of butterscotch and loved the flavor! We did have to change their name, however. Buddy decided that they looked a little like Cow Pies, and the name stuck.

By the way, Grandpa loved his gifts! He said they were extra special because the grandchildren took the time to make them for him.

Time and chocolate, now isn’t that a perfect gift!