Friday, February 14, 2014

Naughty and Nice

I know it’s still technically the New Year. I know the ink is barely dry on your gym membership contract. I know, I know, I know. However.

It’s Valentine’s Day, our God-given right to indulge!

I have a question for you. Okay, two: Do you like chocolate?  Do you like Snicker’s? Then you’ll probably like my mom’s Snicker’s Cake. The following recipe is an ‘ol family favorite in these parts, something that my mother, Mama O, has made since I was knee-high to a grasshopper. I’m telling you, everyone in my family goes crazy for this cake that doesn’t even need icing. Add some vanilla ice cream and you’ve got yourself a dessert that is downright splurge-worthy.
Here’s what to do:

1 package German chocolate cake mix
½ cup margarine
1 12-ounce package of caramels (Oh, how I used to love unwrapping these for my mom when she made this recipe!)
1/3 cup of milk
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup of peanuts

Mix cake according to the package directions. Pour half of the batter into a greased 9x13 pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Melt caramels, margarine, and milk together in a small pan. Pour over the baked cake and top with chocolate chips and nuts. Pour remaining cake batter over top. Bake at 275 degrees for 20 minutes, and then at 350 for 10 to 15 minutes.

In the photo above, the cake has been drizzled with extra caramel, which you don’t have to do; but it does make the cake look fancier. And after you’ve gone overboard eating that, you can redeem yourself with this… 

Quickie Quinoa

Lately, I’ve really tightened up my act in the dietary department. Gaining nearly fifty pounds during pregnancy will do that to you. But, calories notwithstanding, I have to like what I’m eating. It has to taste good. I don’t care if gnawing on a tree branch will melt my saddlebags, if it tastes like, well, a tree branch, I’m not eating it.

The following has been a tasty – and healthy – go-to meal I’ve been making for myself for years. And now that my dinnertime routine involves making a meal for a toddler, nursing an infant, and trying to eat myself, I need something quick and easy. In fact, this is so easy, there’s really no recipe to follow. Here’s what you do:

  1. Wash one cup of 100% whole grain quinoa according to the directions on the package. I prefer a brand exclusively sold at Kroger stores called Simple Truth – both their plain and red quinoa are delicious – but any brand will do.
  2. Combine quinoa with 2 cups of water in a medium saucepan. Here is where I add a Wyler’s chicken flavor bouillon cube. If you prefer to go vegetarian on this step, substitute the chicken bouillon cube for a vegetable one by Knorr. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover, and continue cooking until grains are translucent and the germ has spiraled out from each grain. Approximate cooking time is 15 minutes, and when it’s all done, you’ll have about four cups of quinoa. I scoop into a bowl what I plan to eat right now, and then store the rest in a glass container in the fridge. (You can, of course, store it in a plastic container, but I prefer glass.) Now move on to the next and final step.
  3. Top quinoa with a handful of raw almonds and sprinkle with a few dried cranberries. Oh, and there’s one more step…
  4. Enjoy!

A note about the wonder grain that is quinoa (pronounced keen-wah): Although it is cooked and eaten like a grain, quinoa is actually a seed, and is related to spinach, chard and beets. Quinoa is a complete protein, which means it contains all the amino acids necessary for our nutritional needs. Complete proteins are rare in the plant world, making quinoa an excellent food for vegetarians, vegans, or anyone looking for a healthy protein source, including, but not limited to, mothers who cannot seem to lose their postpartum baby weight fast enough. (Sorry, couldn't help myself.) It's also high in iron and calcium, and is a good source of manganese, magnesium and copper, as well as fiber.

Happy Valentine’s Day, my lovely readers! (A friendly reminder that you have until 11:59 p.m. this evening to enter the Chicken Soup for the Soul Valentine’s Day book giveaway here.)
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15 comments:

  1. I'm going to try that quinoa recipe. Sounds good!

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    1. Hi, Tiffany! Happy Valentine's Day, and thank you for commenting...TRY THIS. And when you do, e-mail me and tell me what you think. This is one of the few things that, when I go overboard and help myself to seconds (and -- gasp!) thirds I don't even feel bad. :-)

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  2. Oh my gosh, if I had the get-up-and-go to make a cake, that's the cake I would make. But I'm a very lazy woman, and instead I'll be polishing off the entire cheesecake coffeecake I bought last night to "share with the kids."

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    1. Hey, Happy Valentine's Day! First, you're not lazy. You're tired. There's a huge difference. Hell, the way I see it, you're actually helping the kids by eating their share of the cake. Sugar keeps us awake, therefore, it helps us to be a better mommy. ;-)

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  3. That cake looked good and then I read 'german chocolate cake' and it looked REALLY good! That is looking so much better than the treat available in my house right now...

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  4. That cake looked good and then I read 'german chocolate cake' and it looked REALLY good! That is looking so much better than the treat available in my house right now...

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    1. Hi, Susan! Don't leave me hanging -- what is the treat at your house? If it fits within the category of treat, it can't be all that bad...right? Happy Valentine's Day...and thank you for commenting!

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  5. That's the dirty little secret about dieting. Food that's healthy and good for you doesn't taste good, but the "bad" stuff is delicious! I'm retired and don't care about saddlebags, so I eat what I want now! Wahoo!

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    1. Hey, Lexa! Go 'head with your bad self; I'm not mad at you. Actually, we should all take a page from your playbook: Life truly is too short to deprive ourselves -- and that's the truth...hey, speaking of sweets, what is Valentine's Day like where you are? Is it even a big deal at all? Thank you,as always, for commenting!

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  6. This cake sounds really good! Only thing is I don't like chocolate. I'm going to pin this.

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    1. Hi, Louida! I'm actually not a huge fan of chocolate...cake, that it. But candy bars? In particular, candy bars made of chocolate AND peanut butter??? That is my jam! LOL I hope you're having a great weekend! Thank you for commenting. :-)

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  7. Don't hate me but I could take or leave chocolate. However, caramel? Or um, well the salty stuff like NACHOS? Goner, here.
    Also? Holy ______, I'm dumb. All these years, I see the word quinoa (never used it) and thought in my head that it sounded like quin-oh-ah.

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    1. Hi, Kristi! Thanks so much for commenting!! You are certainly not alone in the take-it-or-leave-it chocolate category. In fact, I'm not a huge fan of chocolate cake. But because I LOVE this cake in spite of, I kind of figured those who REALLY like chocolate would absolutely flip over it. And you are certainly not dumb about the quinoa!! That is how most people -- including me for a while -- think it is pronounced. Have you eaten it, though? What do you think?

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  8. Oh Courtney, this looks devine! And finally someone who understands my pain. If it doesn't taste good... I'm not eatin' it. HA!

    Side note: keen-wah? I had no clue! Glad I never said it out loud to anyone!!! Have a great day.

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    1. I know, right? Now matter how much I want to shed a few pounds, I just can't get past eating completely yucky food. I'm sorry, I wish I could. And second the bit about the pronunciation of quinoa; it is such a strange word. I used to botch it up pretty bad before I knew better...

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