Thursday, October 30, 2014

When Lisa Meets Annie (Or: The Chocolate Extravaganza Cake)

I want chocolate cake, he said...  Surprise me, he said..  So I ventured out to get a new, perfect chocolate cake recipe for my amazing hubby's birthday.  The wonderful Lisa from The Meaning Of Me was kind enough to share not only one but two of her family's favorite chocolate cake recipes. I used one of them, tweaked it a little (as I usually do, driving poor hubby insane), and added tons and tons of chocolate. The design I stole from Annie over at Annie's Eats, and of course was not nearly as skillful as she is (my cakes would ALWAYS be at the "Nailed it" sections of the Pinterest meme). Hubby still loved it (even though he did not recognize Jack Skellington - and I didn't want to push the issue), and it tasted wonderful.

Meet: the Chocolate Extravaganza Cake (i.e. chocolate cake with chocolate cream filling, chocolate sprinkles, and a double-chocolate frosting)

(c) Life, Unexpectedly

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 cups flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1-1/2 cups buttermilk

Pre-heat the oven at 350°; line a round cake pan with baking paper and lightly grease the sides.
Cream butter and sugar; add eggs one at a time and mix in well.
Combine flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt in separate bowl.
Add to sugar mixture, alternating with buttermilk.
Fill batter in prepared pan and bake at 350° for about 20 - 30 minutes or until inserted toothpick comes out clean.

While the cake cools, prepare the chocolate cream:

1 pack of non-cooking chocolate pudding mix
1 cup of whipping cream

Beat whipping cream. Prepare pudding according to instructions on the pack, using about 1/3 less milk. Fold in cream into the pudding.

Cut the top off the cake and slightly hollow out the middle. Spread cream on the cake and top with a generous layer of dark chocolate sprinkles. Put the top back.

Melt about 6-7 oz of dark chocolate and pour over the cake, letting excess chocolate run over the sides of the cake. Wait until the chocolate has cooled off and hardened. Then melt about 3 oz white chocolate and pour a circle on top of the dark chocolate. Decorate with black food coloring, melted dark chocolate, or dark chocolate sprinkles.


PS: Hubby mentioned that there could have been a little more chocolate. CHALLENGE ACCEPTED, SIR!!!!   :-)

PPS: I have entered the Chocolate Bread recipe I've shared a while ago for the Great Denby Cake Off. Wish me luck!!!!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Time For A Change

I've always wanted to have long hair. Maybe it's a remnant from my childhood trauma. Never EVER ask me to share pictures of myself between the ages of 2 and 8!!  My mom had the idea that keeping my hair short will make it grow thicker (tip: it did not work!!).

Last year, I therefore decided to finally start the project "long hair" and started to let it grow out. Big mistake! I realized, I'm not the person for long hair and it will have to go. But first, I will need to find the perfect hair dresser for me. I usually just went to the inexpensive places to have my ends trimmed, or just cut off a few centimeters. But this time I want it done right. I want a cut that I love, not something that is alright.  To find out what I may like, I turned to my favorite time machine (aka Pinterest), and that's what I came up with:

Classic Short Bob Haircut for Thin Hair

Bob Haircuts For Fine Hair


Marion Cotillard Frisur

What do you think?  A little longer or a little shorter? Blonde or brown?  I'm still so undecided..

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Week In Review - Ten Things Of Thankful (71)

Ten Things of Thankful

Does that sometimes happen to you: You get up in the morning, start your routine, check your appointments for the day, just to find out 10 minutes later that it is not Friday, as you thought but only Thursday.  It somehow threw off my entire day, and it wasn't even 8am yet. Luckily, I've caught myself again; just need to remember now to change the clock in the right direction tonight!

1. A wonderful long fall walk with the entire family. We walked all the way to the next town and had a snack at the bakery there. It was perfect t-shirt weather, but I could feel just the crispness of fall in the air. We have had a wonderful fall so far, and this is something to be thankful for as well.

2. Staying dry. This Wednesday, we had near constant cold rain all day long, and this was also the day Richard needed to car to get to his German class. Luckily for me, the rain stopped just when it was time for me to pick up Violet from kindergarten and we got home without getting soaked. And just as Lily was walking in the door coming home from school, the rain started again.

3. Spending about half an hour gazing into Calvin's biiiig baby eyes, holding his hand and touching his face. He had been asleep but woke up again and was in that really calm and alert state for a while. He almost drifted off a couple of time, but eventually became fuzzy, so I picked him up and cuddled him back to sleep.

4.  A beyond beautiful fall morning. There was very dense fog when I drove shopping with Calvin in the morning, and on the way back home, the first rays of sun pierced through the fog and illuminating the beautiful fall leaves. It was so magical. Of course, I did not have a camera with me, and even if I had, I'm not nearly skilled enough with it to capture a moment like that. So I simply enjoyed it for what it was.

5. Lily being confident enough to stand up for herself against the majority of the class and her teacher. With another friend, who is an atheist as well, she is standing up against the pressure, remains seated during morning prayer and refuses to sing religious songs. Two other atheist girls have sadly caved, one after being bullied by a christian kid in class. Hopefully, we will be able to be successful eventually and ban prayer and religious songs from the regular classes where they simply have no place.

6. A long, long nap with Calvin today. After a somewhat restless night with all three kids joining us in our bed at various times of the night, I went down again for a nap around 11ish, and didn't emerge again until 2:30.

7. Hubby playing another concert in early December. I can never get enough from watching him perform on stage!

8. Lily being on her fall break. She was so excited on Friday to have her first school holidays. On Thursday, she crafted a card for her teacher to wish her a fun fall holiday, it was so sweet. Still, Lily said that she was missing school already.

9. A very, very good friend confirming he's going to come visit us from the U.S. in early spring. He's hands-down Lily's favorite uncle, which is the reason why we're not telling her about his visit yet; but we know she'll be beyond excited!!

10. Enough food on our tables, a warm bed tonight, everyone in our family safe and sound. I am thankful for these every day, but with so many conflicts going on and wave after wave of refugees flooding into Germany, I felt that it was important to spell those out again.

I hope you all have a great weekend!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Why The Hate??

Soooo, there's a new Doctor. It happens, we all know that (at least those who have bothered to watch the show). For some reason (which I did not know about until yesterday), Peter Capaldi seems to polarize - and I don't get it.

I started to watch Doctor Who when it came back in 2005 - with Christopher Eccleston as The Doctor. He was The Doctor for only one season and was then replaced by David Tennant. Not being used to the concept of the main person changing like that, it was hard for me (I cried a little inside), but I became attached to the new actor pretty quickly (my favorite Doctor so far, to be honest).

The next switch, to Matt Smith, was not too traumatic for me anymore, even though I missed David Tennant a little.  And quite honestly, I was looking forward to this new change to Peter Capaldi very much. It felt as if Matt Smith had played The Doctor for one season too long.

The first half hour or so of the new season's first episode I wasn't sure. I was a little annoyed with The Doctor's whining about his older appearance; I could imagine if I was as old as The Doctor, I would not care about looks any more. But then hubby made the point that with the shell, also the personality changes a little. And quite honestly, I came to really like Pater Capaldi's Doctor, being a little like a confused genious. And I certainly love his interaction with Clara.

So why do people hate Peter Capaldi, or who are the people who hate him?  Is the Matt Smith fan girl community running beserk?  The only group of people I could imagine going to such lengths (and making a "Keep Calm" meme about it) are fan girls, and this is not what Doctor Who is about, in my opinion. The Doctor is not meant to be a sex symbol; thus, having a Doctor who will be not followed by a bunch of hysteric girls feels a little refreshing to me.

I'm looking forward to see the rest of the season, and - of course - look forward to your opinion. Fellow Whovian Susannah:  What do you think now??

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Favorite Fall Recipes - Fall-Flavored Chocolate Bread

 UPDATE: I have submitted this recipe to the Great Denby Cake Off!! Wish me luck  :-)

This is so awesome, I want to eat it all the time. A while ago, I found this recipe for a double-chocolate banana bread, and loved it (like everything double-chocolate really). But to be honest, I have tons of banana bread recipes already, and with fall being in full swing, I am more into fall flavors these days. Which left me one afternoon with time on hand (i.e. Calvin napping and the girls enjoying their daily quiet time), some home-made apple sauce from my trip to the semi-public apple tree, and a sprinkle of creativity to create my fall-flavored chocolate bread.  Yum is all I can say!

(c) Life, Unexpectedly

1-1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce (if you use sweetened apple sauce, reduce sugar accordingly)
1/3 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 - 2 Tbs. maple syrup
1 egg
1 tsp. baking soda
1 pinch of salt
1 cup flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 heaping Tbs. cocoa powder
1/2 cup dark chocolate sprinkles

Pre-heat oven to 350°F.
Grease and flour a loaf pan.
Mix applesauce, butter, sugar, and maple syrup; add egg and stir well.
Add flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, cinnamin, and salt ; mix in until just combined.
Mix in chocolate sprinkles.
Fill batter in prepared pan and bake at 350°F for about 20 - 25 minutes or until a tooth pick comes out clean.

Let cool for about 10 minutes and remove the bread from the pan. Let it cool completely so you can cut it without the bread crumbling. Keeps wrapped up in wax paper or foil for up to 5 days (longer when you store it in the fridge).

- If the batter seems too dry, just add a little milk, apple juice, or apple cider.
- Add an apple cut into small cubes to the batter to make it extra moist and to increase the apple-flavor.
- Melt a bar of dark chocolate and pour it over the cooled-off cake to make a nice chocolate frosting.
- Serve with whipped cream and a nice cup of cappuccino.