The Most Incredible Chocolate Cake Recipe

Written by Lyndi. Posted in Recipes

For Max's 6th birthday, he requested a chocolate cake with white frosting.  I wasn't in the mood to make a cheesy "kid" cake, so I whipped up this bad boy and it was seriously the yummiest chocolate cake that I have ever had...and it was pretty easy too. cake1cake3Here is the birthday boy blowing out his candles...and don't mind Millie Kate in the background flirting with the boy that she says she is going to marry!cake2

Here are a few of his favorite presents
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Max with his buddies...I just love these boys! Oh and yes, Max is the youngest of this bunch, but a head taller than all of them.  
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I doubled this recipe for the picture above...this recipe will normally make a 2 layer cake. 

Incredible Chocolate Cake

1 package devils food cake mix

1 3.4 ounce package of instant vanilla pudding mix

1 cup sour cream

1 cup butter

4 eggs

1/2 cup warm water

2 cups milk chocolate chips

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

2 sticks butter (softened)

4 cups confectioners sugar

1/2 cup  heavy whipping cream

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a large bowl, mix together the cake mix, pudding mix, sour cream, butter, beaten eggs and water.  Stir in the chocolate chips and pour batter into a well greased 8 or 9 inch round pans. 

Bake for approximately 35-45 minutes, or until top is springy to the touch and s wooden toothpick inserted comes out clean.  

Frosting: Whip all ingredients until smooth...when cakes are cooled, put frosting on top of each layer and then frost the outside of the cake.  I chopped up chocolate chips and put that in the center and along the bottom.  EASY and so delicious!! ENJOY!

 

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Lemon Creme Cake – Perfect for Mothers Day

Written by Lyndi. Posted in Recipes

IMG_3298 I wanted to figure out how to make a delicious, moist, easy and light lemon cake recipe.  I played around and came up with this and I love it because it doesn't have a strong lemon taste.  The lemon is only in the frosting, so it gives it the perfect flavor.  I doubled the recipe to make it into a large 3 layer cake...it was huge and completely delicious!! 

 

Lemon Creme Cake 

1 box yellow cake mix

1 small pkg Jello instant vanilla pudding mix

1 cup sour cream

1 cup butter

4 eggs, beaten

1/2 cup milk

1 tsp vanilla

3/4 cup white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a very large bowl, mix together everything. Batter will be thick.  Pour batter into 2, 8 or 9 inch round pans.  For cooking time, I cook them for about 30-40 minutes…depending on your oven.  

 

Lemon Butter Cream Frosting

1 cup butter 

4 cups powdered sugar

1/4 tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 cup heavy whipping cream

juice from 1 large or 2 small fresh lemons

lemon zest

In a mixing bowl, cream butter. Add sugar and continue creaming until well blended. Add salt, vanilla, whipping cream and lemon juice. Blend on low speed until moistened. Beat at high speed until frosting is fluffy.

Spread frosting in between all the layers, then all over the top...I added a lemon slice and raspberries to make it pretty.  

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Bruschetta Chicken Recipe and Raspberry, Pear & Walnut Salad

Written by Lyndi. Posted in Recipes

I made this little combo for dinner tonight and all I have to say is YUM!! I enjoyed every bite...

 bruschetta chicken

Bruschetta Chicken

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup crushed garlic croutons
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted
  • 2 large tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoons minced fresh basil
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced (appox. 1 teaspoon)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • salt & pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease 9x13 baking dish. Place flour & beaten eggs in separate shallow bowls. Dip chicken into flour, then into eggs. Place into baking dish. Combine parmesan cheese, crushed croutons, & melted butter then sprinkle on chicken. Loosely cover with foil. Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until top is browned and chicken is cooked through. Chop tomatoes and combine with last ingredients. Spoon mixture over chicken, and return to oven for 5-7 minutes or until tomato mixture is heated through.

 

Raspberry, Pear & Walnut Salad

Ingredients:

  • Spring Mix Salad
  • 1-2 Pears
  • 1 cup fresh raspberries
  • 1/2 cup bleu cheese
  • 1/4 cup walnuts
  • balsamic vinaigrette dressing

 

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Benefits of Green Smoothies…plus, a delicious protein and omega packed green smoothie recipe that is dairy free…and you and your kids will devour it!

Written by Lyndi. Posted in Health & Wellness, Recipes

Yeah, I know...that is the longest title of a blog post in blog history!  But I wanted to emphasize the insane health benefits in this smoothie and to point out that it actually tastes delicious too!  

I think it is important to have fruits and vegetables on our plates for dinner every night, but that is not the main way I get my kids to eat their greens!  I like to find ways to hide veggies in different recipes or smoothies as much as I can so my kids get the adequate nutrition that they need!  We started drinking green smoothies a few years ago and I have seen amazing results from it. 

A few tricks on making a green smoothie: First, put in your liquid, then your spinach (or whatever greens you are using) and blend this together first before you add anything else.  This will get the spinach completely broken down and smooth.  Notice how much I put in...I stuff as much as I possible can into each smoothie...the spinach really has no flavor and it is soooo good for you (see reasons why down below). Then add your flax seeds, chia seeds, and peanut or almond butter...blend again to get a smooth consistency...add fruit and ice and blend one last time.  If your kids are picky, spray some whip cream on the top of it and put it in a fancy cup so they will think it is a treat.  IMG_3027IMG_3017

Chocolate Protein and Omega Packed Green Smoothie-Dairy Free

(Makes approximately 4-6  smoothies)

3 cups Almond Milk

3 cups Spinach

2 scoops Chocolate Protein Powder (my favorite is muscle milk-cheapest at Costco)

3 tablespoons Almond Butter

1 tablespoon Chia Seed

2 tablespoon Flax Seed

2 Bananas

Ice

It is the perfect snack for after school, before swim team or after dance class...and it's great to add to a healthy breakfast too.  The kids will ALWAYS  ask for seconds of this recipe!

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Health Benefits of this recipe

Flaxseeds: Two tablespoons of flaxseed meal contains 4 grams of fiber, 2.4 grams of the short-chain omega-3 alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), and 300 milligrams of a particular type of antioxidant called lignans. Both ALA and lignans are anti-inflammatory, and lignans may also help lower cholesterol levels. Flaxseeds should be eating ground, otherwise they won’t be fully digested—and you won’t extract the nutrients.

Chia Seeds: While most associate them with the infomercials trying to convince you to buy green furry pets, chia seeds were originally eaten by the Mayan and Aztecs. One of the goals of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans was to have people choose foods that provide more dietary fiber. The typical American only eats 40 percent of their daily fiber goals (women should aim to consume 25 grams a day). Chia seeds can help you close this gap. With 5 grams of fiber per tablespoon, just adding two tablespoons of the seeds to your oatmeal or smoothie in the morning will double the fiber intake of the average American. Like flax, chia seeds also contain the omega-3 fat ALA.

Spinach (this is all in 1 Cup):

  • High in Protein - The highest vegetable protein around! One cup of spinach equals 5g of protein. (12% DV)
  • Super high in Vitamin A – Over 18,000 IU (377% DV). Vitamin A benefits the heart by preventing cholesterol from becoming oxidized in the body.
  • Crazy high in Vitamin K – Second only to Cauliflower with over 880 mcg (1111% DV) Vitamin K is essential as it helps calcium adhere to the bone making them stronger.
  • Great source of Folate/Folic Acid – Over 260 mcg or 66% DV. Which is particularly important for pregnant or nursing women.
  • Nice source of Vitamin C – With 17.6 mg or 29% DV. This also benefits the heart by preventing cholesterol from becoming oxidized in the body.
  • Great source of Minerals - 84% DV of manganese, 39% DV of magnesium, 36% DV of iron, 24% DV of potassium, and 24% DV of calcium.
  • 13 Flavonoids that help to fight cancer, protect against age related memory loss, and prevent heart disease.
  • Decent source of Fiber with 4.3g or 17% DV.

 Health Benefits of Green Smoothies

1 – Natural Weight Loss

Drinking a green smoothie is the best thing you can do to lose weight. Green smoothies provide the nutrition, vitamins, minerals, healthy carbohydrates, fiber and low fat whole food that you need to lose weight quickly, safely and effectively without starving yourself. 

2 – Increased Consumption of Fruits and Vegetables (Particularly Greens)

The American Cancer Society recommends that we eat 5-9 servings of fruits and vegetables each day to prevent cancer and other diseases. Green smoothies are a quick and convenient way to get your vegetables and dark, leafy greens without tasting them. The fruit masks the flavor so even though all you taste is pineapple, mango, banana or strawberry, you are consuming a healthy dose of spinach, carrots, tomatoes and any other vegetable that you put in.

3 – Easy Digestibility and Nutrient Assimilation

Blending fruits and vegetables together breaks down the cells of plants and improves digestibility. Your blender unlocks the nutrients and maximizes their delivery to your body more than chewing any salad could. Smoothies are quicker and more convenient than preparing and thoroughly chewing a salad, especially when you are on the go.

4 – Antioxidants

Green smoothies are high in antioxidants and phytonutrients. Not only are you giving your body the best defenses for disease, but you are ingesting a variety of natural substances that are essential for optimum health and fitness.

5 – Increased Energy

Smoothies provide a powerful boost of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other nutrients without bogging down your digestive system. Since you are eating natural, whole foods in the most optimum form for your digestion and nutrient absorption, you will have more energy to get things done and enjoy your day.

6 – Mental Clarity and Focus

With a healthier diet comes greater mental clarity and focus.  You will experience greater alertness, energy and dramatically reduced anxiety and nervousness.

7 – Increased Fiber Intake

Unlike fruit juice or using a juicer, green smoothies use the whole fruit and vegetable so that you get all the fiber and nutrition. Fiber is essential for good colon health and it keeps your bowels in working order.

8 – Clearer Skin

Clearer, radiant skin is an often-reported benefit to eating healthier. Smoothies are high in fiber and allow your body to eliminate toxins the right way instead of through your skin. 

9 – Reduce Cravings

Green smoothies reduce cravings for junk foods, unhealthy sweets, salt and fats. You will find that after a few weeks of drinking smoothies, you will crave healthier foods such as fruits, vegetables and greens.

10 – Rich With Chlorophyll

Green smoothies are rich with chlorophyll which some natural health experts say enhances the immune system, purifies the blood and rejuvenates the body.

11 – Alkalizing

Fruits and vegetables are alkaline foods and many natural health experts claim that consuming these foods helps maintain a proper alkaline balance in the body. Acid-producing foods (as well as the over-consumption of protein) can raise the PH level of the blood, which can cause your body to leach calcium from your bones to neutralize it, thus increasing your risk for osteoporosis. 

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75 Healthy Substitutions for Recipes & Gluten Free Options too!

Written by Lyndi. Posted in Health & Wellness, Recipes

This past week was so much fun...we had Easter, plus Spring Break, plus having family in town, all equals lots of cooking delicious food in my kitchen!  Although I enjoyed every bite,  it's time to get back on the healthy eating train again!   Here is a list of healthy substitutions for recipes...some are very surprising, but they really do work! You can download the link below if you would like a copy!!

healthysublist

1. Black beans for flour

Swapping out flour for a can of black beans (drained and rinsed, of course) in brownies is a great way to cut out the gluten and fit in an extra dose of protein, Plus, they taste great. When baking, swap out 1 cup flour for 1 cup black bean puree (about a 15oz can).

2. Whole wheat flour for white flour

In virtually any baked good, replacing white flour with whole wheat can add a whole new dimension of nutrients, flavor, and texture. Because whole wheat includes the outer shell of the grain, it also provides an extra punch of fiber, which aids in digestion and can even lower the risk of diabetes and heart disease. For every cup of white flour, substitute 7/8 cup of whole-wheat.

3. Unsweetened applesauce for sugar

Using applesauce in place of sugar can give the necessary sweetness without the extra calories and, well, sugar. While one cup of unsweetened applesauce contains only about 100 calories, a cup of sugar can pack in more than 770 calories! This swap is  perfect for oatmeal raisin cookies. Pro tip: You can sub sugar for apple sauce in a 1:1 ratio, but for every cup of applesauce you use, reduce the amount of liquid in the recipe by 1/4 cup.

4. Unsweetened applesauce for oil or butter

Don’t knock this one till you’ve tried it. The applesauce gives the right consistency and a hint of sweetness without all the fat of oil or butter. This works well in any sweet bread, like banana or zucchini, or in muffins (like in these low-fat blueberry muffins) — and even with pre-boxed mixes! On your first try, only try swapping out half the fat (so a recipe using 1 cup of oil would use 1/2 cup oil and 1/2 cup applesauce). If you can't tell the difference with that swap, try swapping a bit more of the fat next time around.

5. Almond flour for wheat flour

This gluten-free switch gives any baked good a dose of protein, omega-3s, and a delicious nutty flavor. Check out these classic butter cookies for a simple example. A word of advice: almond flour is much heavier than other baking flours, so when subbing go 1/4 cup at a time (so 1 cup wheat flour would become 3/4 cup wheat flour and 1/4 cup almond flour). Or, if it's all or nothing for your recipe, remember to increase the amount of rising agent (by about 1/2 teaspoon per cup of almond flour added) to account for the extra weight.

6. Avocado puree for butter

They’re both fats (albeit very different fats) and have nearly the same consistency at room temperature. The creaminess and subtle flavor of the avocado lends itself well to the texture of fudge brownies and dark chocolate flavorings. Check out this recipe for perfect proportion guidelines. It can take some experimenting to get this swap perfect, but generally, using 1 cup of avocado puree per cup of butter works

7. Brown rice cereal with flax meal for Rice Crispies

Brown puffed rice has the same texture as conventional white rice, but with half the calories. The flax adds extra fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, and phytochemicals to the mix without compromising flavor!

8. Marshmallow Fluff for frosting

Replacing the fat and sugar in frosting with marshmallow achieves the perfect consistency with many fewer calories. While two tablespoons of marshmallow has just 40 calories and 6 grams of sugar (and no fat!), the same amount of conventional frosting can pack up to 100 calories, 14 grams of sugar, and 5 grams of fat. Need we go on?

9. Natural peanut butter for reduced-fat peanut butter

While they may appear better than traditional Skippy or Jiff, reduced fat versions of peanut butter can actually have more sugar — and an extra-long list of artificial additives— than the classics. Natural peanut butter (preferably unsalted) provides the same sweetness without call the extra junk.

10. Vanilla for sugar

Cutting sugar in half and adding a teaspoon of vanilla as a replacement can give just as much flavor with significantly fewer calories. Assuming the recipe originally calls for one cup of sugar, that’s already almost 400 calories cut out! You can't sub this one in equal ratios, but next time you're whipping up some cookies, try cutting 2 tablespoons of sugar and adding an extra 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract.

Read More...

Adapted from greatist.com

 

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Finally! The Ultimate Italian Dinner…Part 3 {Main Dish}

Written by Lyndi. Posted in Recipes

Finally, the main dish...this recipe I created myself and I love that it is a great recipe for kids and adults alike...it also makes awesome left overs too!

{Cheesy Baked Ziti}

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Cheesy Baked Ziti {Serves 12}

  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 3 Cloves Minced Garlic
  • 1 whole Large Onion, Diced
  • 2 pounds Ground Beef (you can do half italian sausage if desired)
  • 1 can (28 Ounce Can) Whole Tomatoes, With Juice
  • 2 cans (14.5 Ounce) Tomato Sauce 
  • 1/2 cup Honey (this is one of my secret ingredients...please don't tell my dad that I told you the family cooking secret!!)
  • 2 teaspoons Italian Seasoning
  • ½ teaspoons Red Pepper Flakes
  • Salt And Pepper, to taste
  • 16 ounces Ziti, Cooked Until Not Quite Al Dente
  • 8 ounces Heavy Whipping Cream
  • 1/2 cup Sour Cream
  • 1-½ pound Mozzarella Cheese, Grated

Instructions:

Heat olive oil in a pot over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and saute for several minutes, or until starting to soften. Add ground beef/italian sausage and cook until browned. Drain off fat, leaving a bit behind for flavor and moisture.

Add tomatoes, tomato juice, honey, salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, and red pepper flakes. Stir and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes. Add heavy whipping cream and sour cream to sauce mixture...remove 3 to 4 cups of the sauce to a different bowl to cool down.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Drain the pasta and rinse under cool water to stop the cooking and cool it down. Pour it into the bowl and toss with sauce mixture.

Add half the coated pasta to a large casserole dish. Spoon half of the remaining sauce over the top, then top with half the remaining mozzarella cheese. Repeat with another layer of the coated pasta, the sauce, and the mozzarella.

Bake for 20 minutes, or until bubbling. Remove from oven and let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Enjoy My Friends!!

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The Ultimate Italian Dinner…Part 2 {Side Dishes}

Written by Lyndi. Posted in Recipes

Have you ever tried the Outback Steakhouse Wedge Salad??...Oh it is my absolute favorite!! So, I was determined to find this recipe and I have been making this plate of deliciousness for a long time.  This salad is a great addition to any type of meal...great with a steak, salmon and in this case even Italian!

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The Outback Steakhouse Wedge Salad {Serves 4}

Blue Cheese dressing

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/2 cup sour cream

1/2 cup buttermilk

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon dry mustard

1 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons sugar

6 ounces crumbled blue cheese 

In a large bowl, combine mayonnaise, sour cream, and buttermilk. Mix well. Next, thoroughly mix in the remainder of the ingredients. 

Afterwards, refrigerate the dressing for up to 24 hours before serving for best flavor. 

 

For the salad

1 head iceberg lettuce, cut into 4 equal wedges 

1 cup grape tomatoes, halved 

1/2 cup chopped red onion 

8 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled 

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar 

6 ounces crumbled blue cheese 

Black pepper to taste 

 

First, you need to cook the balsamic vinegar into a glaze. Heat the balsamic vinegar in a saucepan on medium heat. Cook until reduced by half, then remove from heat and allow to cool. 

Meanwhile, place the iceberg lettuce wedge on a serving dish. Then liberally pour blue cheese dressing over top of wedge. Next, top with halved tomatoes, chopped onion, crumbled blue cheese, and crumbled bacon. 
Drizzle a little of the balsamic glaze on top of the wedge, and sprinkle with black pepper.

This salad can be a little time extensive because you have to make the salad dressing, the balsamic glaze, and cook the bacon...but recently I found the best substitute for those, so I can whip this salad up super quick! This Bleu Cheese dressing from Wild Coyote, is almost identical tasting to the homemade version and I was so excited to find this balsamic glaze already prepared!  Also, I buy the precooked bacon for a super quick finish...and it doesn't smell up my whole house!

 

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When you have three little chef helpers (and one half naked) like I do, and they want to help you cook everything, then you need to come up with some shortcuts on some recipes.  These breadsticks are made from frozen rolls...but you would NEVER guess it.  They are huge, moist, delicious and soooo EASY!
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Easy and Delicious Breadsticks {Serves 8-12}
 
Ingredients
 
24 frozen rolls
 
1/2 cup melted butter
 
2 tbsp garlic salt
 
fresh grated parmesan cheese
 
Directions
 
Let frozen rolls unthaw, then roll each one out to make it look like a snake...take two pieces and braid them together.  Let raise (about 1 hour)...brush melted butter over each one, sprinkle garlic salt and fresh grated parmesan cheese over each breadstick.  Bake for approximately 12 minutes or until the tops are barely starting to brown.  Brush one more coat of melted butter on the top while still warm. Hurry and eat one before they are GONE!

Happy Eating!

 

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