Keep on Swimming. . .

everyday life inside the fishbowl

Tasty Tuesday: Mom’s Meatloaf {with tomato sauce gravy, caramelized onions, and french fried onions}

024First let me warn some of you off. If you never veer off the path of pure healthy eating, you will not care for this recipe. Second, if you like your meatloaf dry and able to be perfectly sliced like a loaf of bread (as my husband does), then this recipe is not for you either.

But, if you are willing to occasionally indulge in a splurge of homey, meat-and-potato goodness. . . . If you relish the thought of a moist bite of meatloaf, topped with caramelized onions and crunchy fried onions, all smothered in a tomato gravy atop a bed of mashed potatoes . . . then this recipe is for you! 🙂

Initially, my mom’s recipe did not have the onions on top. Years ago, though, I ordered meatloaf at a restaurant (something I rarely do, because–well–who orders meatloaf at a restaurant??). Anyway, it was some of the best meatloaf I ever had, smothered in caramelized and french fried onions. I decided to make the onions a staple (and defining, I might add) part of Mom’s meatloaf recipe.

One more note before I get into the recipe: Technically, this recipe does call for hamburger, which usually has a higher fat content than ground beef. The higher fat content helps the loaf better stick together. However, I usually use ground beef, which does mean that the slices of meatloaf  somewhat fall apart when sliced. This does not bother me, but if it bothers you, use hamburger, as the recipe calls for.

I love to serve the meatloaf over mashed potatoes, spooning a little more of the gravy on top, then sprinkling the caramelized and french fried onions on top. Absolutely delicious!

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds raw hamburger
  • 1 large onion, chopped fairly finely013
  • Onion and garlic powder (to taste)
  • Salt and pepper (to taste)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup cracker crumbs (I used saltine-type crackers)
  • 1 tbsp A-1 sauce (any steak sauce will do)
  • 3 8-oz cans tomato sauce
  • 2 cans golden mushroom soup
  • 1-2 green peppers (chop ½ of 1 green pepper and slice the remaining to place on top of the meatloaf)

Directions:

  • Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Combine hamburger, chopped onion, spices, eggs, cracker crumbs, A-1 sauce, 1 can tomato sauce, and the chopped green pepper in a large bowl. Use hands to mix thoroughly.
  • Form into a loaf shape and place in a casserole dish. (I recommend a 9×13 if you are going to make the gravy.)020
  • Place the pepper slices on top of the meatloaf, pressing them slightly into the meat mixture.
  • Mix the remaining 2 cans of tomato sauce and 2 cans of golden mushroom soup. Pour the soup mixture on top of the meatloaf.
  • Bake uncovered for 1 hour, 45 minutes.
  • While the meatloaf is cooking you can prepare your mashed potatoes and caramelize your onions.
  • For each serving, place a slice of meatloaf on top of mashed potatoes, add gravy, and sprinkle with caramelized and french fried onions.
  • Enjoy! 🙂

{On Tuesdays, I share a yummy recipe. Typically, my recipes will be super easy, because I’m a mom with littles. I try to be healthy and frugal as well. But I like good food, so it will always be delicious! }

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Tasty Tuesday: Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Truffles

chocolate chip cookie dough truffles (2)This month my husband’s family celebrated his parents’ 50th wedding anniversary. It was a grand celebration honoring both their faithfulness to each other as well as the faithfulness of God in their lives.

I had the fun and challenging task of deciding the menu and making the food. As always, the desserts were the most fun part. I wanted to make something that would be simple for people to just grab and eat, without requiring forks. I also wanted something I could make ahead, if possible. And of course, there must be a chocolate option; the difficulty was choosing which chocolate option! When I came upon this recipe for truffles at iheartnaptime and tested them out, my mind was made up. My only modification was using semi-sweet chocolate chips in the cookie dough, as well as in the coating.

These cookie dough truffles contain no raw egg, so they are perfectly safe to eat (if you can really even consider chocolate chip cookie dough truffles safe! More like dangerous to your healthy diet!!) The extra vanilla (1 Tbsp per batch) is what makes up for the lack of egg, I believe, in order to help everything stick together.

I definitely recommend the coarse sea salt on top. You can make them without it, but the additional saltiness places these truffles out of this world–definitely worth the extra purchase! It also makes them  more visually appealing, in my opinion. chocolate chip cookie dough truffles

Each batch makes about 20, more or less, depending on the size of the dough balls. If you make large batches of these (I made 240), you will not need as much of the chocolate for dipping, I found. I multiplied the batch by 12, but I did not need the entire 24 cups of melted chocolate for dipping. I recommend starting with less and melting more as needed (unless of course you have some strawberries, pretzels, graham crackers, or nuts on hand to dip in your leftover chocolate; I may or may not have done so! 😉 ).

Here is my (almost-exact) version of the recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup chocolate chips (I used semi-sweet)
  • 2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (for dipping)
  • Sea salt (optional, but highly recommended)

Directions:

Line a baking sheet with wax paper. In a bowl mix together butter, sugar and vanilla. Then add flour and mix just until combined. Stir in the1 cup of chocolate chips. Make one inch balls with the dough and place on the pan. Freeze for about 30 minutes.

When the dough is firm, melt the two cups chocolate chips in the microwave at 50% power. Then dip the cookie dough in the chocolate with a fork. Tap off an excess chocolate. Place back on wax paper and top immediately with sea salt if desired. (If you forget to sprinkle the sea salt immediately, the chocolate will dry fast, and the salt won’t stick. If this does happen, you can dab a bit more melted chocolate on top of the truffle and sprinkle salt on.) Place back in the freezer until chocolate has hardened. Store in the fridge. (Extras can be stored in the freezer as well).

Enjoy! 🙂

{On Tuesdays, I share a yummy recipe. Typically, my recipes will be super easy, because I’m a mom with littles. I try to be healthy and frugal as well. But I like good food, so it will always be delicious! }

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Tasty Tuesday: Homemade Guacamole

ImageI remember that once-upon-a-time I didn’t really know what avocados tasted like. Whenever I ordered Red Robin’s BLTA (Bacon, Lettuce, Tomato, and Avocado) wrap, I would request {the now-unthinkable request!} no avocado.

Then I married my husband, the man who has been making guacamole (made out of avocados for those of you who do not know that) since he was a boy. He then taught me how to make guacamole, and we eat it ALL the time! It actually amazes me that people buy store-bought guacamole, seeing that it is so incredibly easy (and much more delicious and probably cheaper) to make.

I am constantly surprised, however, at the number of people who have never had guacamole. I think they must be afraid of it because of the long name and the green color?? 😉

Here is my husband’s basic recipe. It is very basic, because guacamole is very basic! You can obviously use more than 2 avocados, but you would obviously increase the ratio of the other ingredients as well.

Ingredients:

  • 2 avocados
  • Salt & pepper, to taste
  • Chopped onion, to taste (I don’t like the onion crunch, so we use onion powder, to taste)
  • ½-1 roma tomato, chopped (you can actually use any tomato you want)
  • Lemon juice (if we don’t have fresh lemons, we just use half a cap-full of lemon juice)

Directions:

  • Cut the avocados in half (there is a big seed in the middle, which you will remove)
  • Scoop out the avocado flesh with a spoon into a bowl
  • Add salt, pepper, and onion
  • Mash the avocado (we use a potato masher)
  • Add tomato and lemon juice; stir with spoon until tomato is well-incorporated

Avocado Tips:

  • The ripeness of the avocado you buy should be determined by when you are planning on using the avocado. If I’m planning on using it the day of or day after I buy it, I look for very dark green (almost black) that are slightly soft when I gently squeeze them.
  • If it is going to be a few days before I use the avocados, I buy the brighter green ones.
  • If I want to hurry up the ripening process, I put my avocados in a paper bag with several apples, then close up the paper bag, leaving it on the counter. Works great!
  • Another way to assess the ripeness of an avocado is by looking at the brown “plug” (I don’t know what it is actually called) on the skin of the avocado. If you remove that, a ripe avocado will be bright green underneath. An over-ripe avocado will be brown. (I always remove that plug first anyway, because it may accidentally get spooned out with the rest of the avocado flesh; no fun biting into that!)
  • One of the reasons to put lemon juice in the guac, is that avocados begin to brown very quickly as soon as they are open to oxygen. Even when you do put leftover guac with lemon juice in the fridge, it will likely start to brown. We often cover all the surface area with plastic wrap (right against the guac), then put the lid on the bowl. This helps, but not completely. Even if it does start to brown on top, it is still ok to eat; just stir it up (the bottom should still be bright green). If it has been sitting for more than a couple days, it may brown all the way through and taste over-ripe.

And that, my friends, is how you make guacamole. Super easy, delicious, and healthy too!

Enjoy! 🙂

{On Tuesdays, I share a yummy recipe. Typically, my recipes will be super easy, because I’m a mom with littles. I try to be healthy and frugal as well. But I like good food, so it will always be delicious! }

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Tasty Tuesday: How to Peel an Apple in 3 Seconds

490px-My_Mother_Peeling_Appleshttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S1hTKfkJtzM

Tired of using your apple peeler (or knife)? Especially on those apple pie- or applesauce-making days? Follow the link above and try this tip! Enjoy! 🙂

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Tasty Tuesday: Chili’s Inspired Black Bean Burgers on Homemade Buns {Delicious & Healthy!}

Black bean burger on homemade bunI am not a vegetarian, and I do appreciate a delicious meaty hamburger occasionally. But I also enjoy a tasty non-meat version as well. Not to mention the health benefits as well as time- and cost-saving that a homemade non-meat burger provides. If you substituted the egg for an egg substitute, I think my vegan friends could even enjoy this one! 😉

I did not tell my husband before he bit into this burger that it contained no meat. After he took a bite, I asked him how he liked it. He said it was good, and when I told him it was made out of black beans, he said, “Really?” Score! 🙂

So, I am actually going to share two recipes today, one for the bean burger and the other for the homemade buns. Both are tasty, frugal, and healthy–can’t beat that!

Chili’s Inspired Black Bean Burgers (found here at my favorite bargain website, hip2save.com!)

Ingredients:

* 1 can (14 oz.) black beans or 1 and 1/2 cups cooked dried beans
* 1 small onion
* 2 cloves garlic (crushed)-substitute appx. 1/4 tsp. garlic powder or minced garlic
* 2 tsp. cajun seasoning
* 1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs
* 1 egg
* 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce (like Sriracha)
* 1 teaspoon parsley flakes
* Hamburger buns [see my recipe below]
* Cheese or any toppings desired

Instructions:

Drain beans well. Put onion and garlic in food processor and blend until fine. Add beans and blend well until mashed consistency. Place into a mixing bowl and add bread crumbs, egg, hot sauce, parsley, Cajun seasoning, and stir. Mix well and shape 4 patties (I opted to make 3 larger patties). Place on a well greased stovetop grill pan like I did or use an outdoor grill. Cook 5-6 minutes on each side. You can also cook in the oven on Broil for 10-12 minutes per side on a greased foil-lined pan.

Notes: These are fragile patties and tricky to turn so be careful. I used two spatulas to flip the patties and I think thicker patties are much easier to flip.

Soft Hamburger Buns (from Pennies & Pancakes)

*Makes one dozen

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (or just over 4 cups whole wheat flour)
  • 2 1/2 tsp. yeast
  • 2 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 beaten egg

DIRECTIONS

  • Warm the milk, water, and butter in the microwave to the temp. of a warm bath (NOT hot). Stir until butter melts completely.
  • In a large bowl, mix together the flour, yeast, sugar, and salt. Mix in the milk mixture, then add the egg. Dough should be only slightly sticky. Knead until the dough is smooth and elastic (8-10 minutes).
  • Divide the dough into 12 balls, and place them on a large, greased baking sheet. Lightly press down on the top of each ball of dough, so that the top is more flat than rounded. They will puff up more during rising and baking. Sprinkle with sesame seeds if desired.
  • Cover with a dishtowel, and let rise 30-40 minutes. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  • Bake for 12-14 minutes, until golden brown on top. Serve as desired, and store for 3-5 days on the counter, or 4-6 months in the freezer.

[I made these again on Saturday and used all whole wheat flour plus a couple tablespoons of ground flaxseed for added health benefit. They were good and hearty! If you do like a little softer bread (and, unfortunately, less healthy), use all white flour or half-white/half-wheat; I’ve done both.]

Enjoy! 🙂

{On Tuesdays, I share a yummy recipe. Typically, my recipes will be super easy, because I’m a mom with littles. I try to be healthy and frugal as well. But I like good food, so it will always be delicious! }

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Tasty Tuesday: Homemade Stovetop Mac & Cheese {15-minute Recipe!}

ImageThere are some days–like today–when comfort food is more appealing than usual. I’ve been sick for a while and have been sleeping on the couch for the past few nights due to my almost-constant cough. Now, Mackenna is sick too and Calvin seems to be on the verge. {May I just add that my wonderful husband just brought me a large lemonberry slush from Sonic and told me to add it to the “medical” portion of our budget?! Love him! Slushes are ½ off at Sonic today to “celebrate” tax day, by the way. 🙂 }

All that to say, mac & cheese sounded like the perfect lunch. I usually keep a box or two of Aldi’s max & cheese around if Dave is making dinner or if I get desperate for lunch, but I didn’t have any. But a couple weeks ago I tried this homemade recipe for the first time, and it is delicious, quick, and easy. And comforting! 🙂

Here is the recipe from NewLeafWellness.biz

Homemade Mac ‘n Cheese

Ingredients

  • 1/4 of a 1lb box of elbow macaroni (about 1 cup uncooked macaroni)
  • 1/4 pound sharp white cheddar cheese, shredded (about 1 1/2 cups – please shred your own for the best result)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 cup 2% milk (or whatever you have on-hand)

Directions

  1. Cook macaroni according to directions on package.
  2. While macaroni is cooking, create cheese sauce: Melt butter in saucepan. Add flour, salt, and onion powder and stir until it forms a paste.  Add milk and bring to a boil.  Let boil for one minute or until sauce thickens.  Remove from heat and add cheese. Stir until cheese melts.
  3. Combine cheese sauce with cooked macaroni and serve!

The first time I made this recipe, I did shred my own white cheddar cheese, because for the first time in my life, I actually had some in the fridge. It wasn’t sharp, which I think would be even better. Today, I just used pre-shredded cheddar cheese, and I think I actually liked it better. I didn’t measure the salt and onion powder this time; I just added it to taste. I also used skim milk.

So much tastier than box, and it takes about the same amount of time–as long as it takes to boil your noodles. Yum!

Calvin absolutely loved it. His bowl was empty in very short order. 🙂  Image

{On Tuesdays, I share a yummy recipe. Typically, my recipes will be super easy, because I’m a mom with littles. I try to be healthy and frugal as well. But I like good food, so it will always be delicious! }

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Tasty Tuesday: Mrs. Bubba’s (Cardino) Delicious Potato Salad

ImageFirst of all, I don’t know Mrs. Bubba personally. She is either someone my brother-in-law Steve knows or a friend of his friend. But that is beside the point. This potato salad is delicious!

When I saw Steve making it recently, I questioned what exactly he was making. He was mashing the potatoes. Hmmm, I thought (and probably said) when he informed me he was making potato salad. Creamy potato salad?? But, I should have trusted the man who makes the best steaks in the entire world {No lie. Think of cutting into an amazingly flavorful, juicy steak with a butter knife. Think of sitting in the comfort of your own home being served the best filet mignon ever. All that being said, I should have trusted him. . . }

It was so good, I almost went for another (third? fourth?) helping instead of the chocolate cake for dessert. This is good stuff.

I will copy the recipe exactly as I received it, then I’ll add some notes that Steve or I recommend:

  • 5 lbs Potato boiled till soft
  • 1 doz hard boiled eggs
  • 1 quart Hellman’s mayonnaise new jar room temperature
  • Dijon mustard 2 tbs or to taste
  • Pickle relish 8 oz or to taste undrained
  • Onion powder / chopped fresh onions to tasted  / red onions may give it contrasting color
  • Season [with] salt to taste
  • Mix cooked potatoes, eggs, mayo together until creamy; stir in other ingredients. Serve hot; it’s really goooood.

*Steve recommended (and  I did) boiling the potatoes whole and unpeeled to save time. Once the potatoes are soft, you can run them under cold water and peel the skin off with your fingers.

*I used a potato masher to mush the potatoes. Mine were still a little chunky. I will probably cook my potatoes a teeny bit longer next time, so that they are really soft. You probably don’t want to mash them as much as you would mashed potatoes though.

*I cut up the eggs a little, then used my potato masher to mash them up more once I added them to the potatoes.

*I used whatever brand of mayonnaise I had. I think room temp is mostly recommended if you’re planning on serving the salad warm.

*I used onion powder.

*It is really good warm, but it’s really good cold too. I made mine the day before a potluck and refrigerated it overnight.

Enjoy! 🙂

{On Tuesdays, I share a yummy recipe. Typically, my recipes will be super easy, because I’m a mom with littles. I try to be healthy and frugal as well. But I like good food, so it will always be delicious! }

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Tasty Tuesday: Taco Salad Supreme

taco saladThis salad was SOOO good. And this comes from someone who wishes I was but is not a salad person. I like salads when they are loaded with delicious stuff like meats, cheese, fatty dressing, real bacon bits, every topping imaginable, etc. But a salad with some tomatoes and a bit of low fat dressing is just not my thing (unlike my husband who will eat handfuls of raw spinach all by itself!).

Now, this salad is pretty loaded, but it is loaded with deliciousness and healthy stuff. I highly recommend it. The recipe is from a cookbook I have called Healthy Heart One-Dish Meals. I will copy the recipe here exactly, adding any changes I made or recommend in brackets.

I know the ingredient list looks long, but it’s actually pretty basic. If you are looking to cut out extra fat, you could probably cut out or reduce the cheese and sour cream, believe-it-or-not, because the salad is so flavorful and moist. I recommend not leaving out the cilantro; it gives a great boost in flavor!

Ingredients

3 (6-inch) corn tortillas

Vegetable cooking spray

½ pound freshly ground raw turkey {I actually used ground beef, b/c I had ½ pound already  thawed, but it would be just as good with ground turkey or even chicken strips)

1 cup chopped onion

1 cup frozen whole-kernel corn, thawed {I’m not a corn-in-my-food person, but I found this a good addition}

2 tablespoons minced jalapeno pepper {I liked this, but between this and all the chili pepper, my husband thought it was too spicy. I will probably cut this out in the future}

2 teaspoons chili powder

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 (15-ounce) can no-salt-added black beans, rinsed and drained {mine were not no-salt}

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

1 tablespoon lime juice {I used lemon juice}

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon vegetable oil {I used olive oil}

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon ground red pepper {I used black pepper}

8 cups thinly sliced romaine lettuce leaves

1 cup (4 ounces) shredded reduced-fat Cheddar cheese {I used regular}

1 cup seeded, diced tomato {I didn’t seed mine}

¼ cup minced fresh cilantro

2 tablespoons sliced ripe olives {I used more}

½ cup nonfat sour cream {I used light}

{I also added sliced avocado on top}

Directions

  • Coat tortillas on both sides with cooking spray; cut into ¼-inch wide strips. Place in a single layer on an ungreased baking sheet; bake at 400* for 15 minutes. {I found 15 minutes way too long; mine were done after about 7}.
  • Coat a nonstick skillet with cooking spray; place over medium heat until hot. Add turkey and next 3 ingredients; cook over medium heat until turkey is done, stirring until it crumbles. Stir in chili powder, cumin, and beans; cook until thoroughly heated. Set aside.
  • Combine vinegar and next 5 ingredients; cover and shake vigorously.
  • Combine lettuce and vinaigrette {I combined mine in my salad spinner; this allowed the vinaigrette to coat the lettuce but drain off a bit, which I thought was perfect}. Place 2 cups lettuce mixture on each plate. Spoon turkey mixture over lettuce. Top with cheese and remaining 4 ingredients; serve with tortilla chips. Yield: 4 servings.

There you have it, folks! A delicious, easy, healthy, satisfying dinner. I was actually full the rest of the evening, which I thought was pretty impressive for a salad-as-the-main-course meal! 🙂 If you’re looking to go meatless, you could probably even substitute the meat for another can of black beans or pinto beans. I might try this some time too.

{On Tuesdays, I share a yummy recipe. Typically, my recipes will be super easy, because I’m a mom with littles. I try to be healthy and frugal as well. But I like good food, so it will always be delicious! }

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Tasty Tuesday: Light and Cheesy Broccoli Casserole

Image

 

My mother-in-law made this dish for us years ago, and I really enjoyed it. She gave me the recipe, but I kind of forgot about it until recently. My husband and kids really enjoy this dish, and it’s hearty enough to be the only side dish with a meal (we had it with fish last night). I did double the recipe this last time, baking it in a 9×13 pan for about 10-15 minutes longer.

 

Ingredients

1 pkg (10 oz) frozen chopped broccoli {I used about 2-1/2 cups of chopped fresh broccoli that I steamed in the microwave for 5 minutes }

1 cup sour cream {last night I doubled mine but forgot that I had just under a cup of sour cream left; I used homemade yogurt to get the full amount, and it worked great!}

1 cup creamed cottage cheese {I used low-fat small curd}

½ cup Bisquick baking mix {I used homemade baking mix}

¼ cup margarine or butter, melted

2 eggs

1 tomato, peeled and sliced thin

¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

  • Heat oven to 350. Grease 8x8x2 dish. Spread broccoli in dish.
  • Beat sour cream, cottage cheese, Bisquick, margarine, and eggs with beater 1 minute. Pour over broccoli.
  • Arrange tomato slices on top.
  • Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
  • Bake until golden brown and when a knife inserted halfway between center and edge comes out clean, about 30 minutes. {I find it always takes a little longer}

I usually put some salt and pepper on my serving, but it’s good without it too. Enjoy! 🙂

{In a couple future posts, I’ll post on making homemade yogurt (easy!) as well as homemade Bisquick–both money savers!}

{On Tuesdays, I share a yummy recipe. Typically, my recipes will be super easy, because I’m a mom with littles. I try to be healthy and frugal as well. But I like good food, so it will always be delicious!}

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Tasty Tuesday: Salted-Caramel Six-Layer Chocolate Cake

salted caramel 6 layer cake 1This cake recipe, for lack of a better description, takes the cake! 🙂 It is absolutely the most amazing, moist, delicious cake I have ever had. In fact, for Valentine’s Day, my husband requested this cake instead of cheesecake (which is saying a lot). And my 3-year old Calvin wants this for his birthday cake. It is that good.

The chocolate cake itself is good, but then you add between each layer a layer of homemade caramel. And then you top it with a layer of homemade frosting that hardens into perfection. And combined. . . Mmmmmmm!!

Now, this is a Martha Stewart recipe, so that usually means it takes a bit of time (which this does) and calls for a few ingredients I don’t have (or care to buy, for that matter). Even with a couple tweeks, though, it was DELICIOUS! This last time, I made the cake and caramel the day before I assembled the cake and made the frosting. I recommend doing that.

And now, for the recipe (from Martha Stewart  with my modifications noted in parentheses):

INGREDIENTS

FOR THE CAKE

Unsalted butter, room temperature, for pans (I used cooking spray the first time, which was ok; the last time I used butter, and the cakes popped out perfectly)

3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans

3 cups granulated sugar

1 1/2 cups unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder (Mine didn’t say “Dutch-process,” and it was fine)

1 tablepoon baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

Coarse salt

4 large eggs

1 1/2 cups low-fat buttermilk (I used 1-1/2 tbsp vinegar [or lemon juice] plus enough milk to equal 1-1/2 cups, which I let sit for at least 5 minutes)

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons safflower oil (I used vegetable oil)

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

FOR THE CARAMEL

4 cups granulated sugar

1/4 cup light corn syrup

2 cups heavy cream

Coarse salt

2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons

FOR THE FROSTING

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons Dutch-process cocoa powder (same as above)

2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature

1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar

Coarse salt

1 pound semisweet chocolate, chopped, melted, and cooled (I used choc chips)

Garnish: flaked sea salt, such as Maldon (I could never find flaked sea salt; the first time I made this, I tried coarse salt, but used way too much. This last time I sparingly sprinkled coarse salt, which was amazing!)

COOK’S NOTE : To make this cake ahead of time: The caramel can be refrigerated for up to 3 days; bring to room temperature before using. Cake layers can be refrigerated for up to 3 days (they actually taste better when refrigerated and have a better texture for stacking). When finished, the frosted cake can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.

DIRECTIONS

STEP 1

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Make the cake: Butter three 9-inch round cake pans, and dust with flour, tapping out excess. Sift flour, granulated sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt into the bowl of a mixer. Beat on low speed until just combined. Raise speed to medium, and add eggs, buttermilk, 1 1/2 cups warm water, oil, and vanilla. Beat until smooth, about 3 minutes.

STEP 2

Divide batter among pans. Bake until cakes are set and a toothpick inserted into the center of each comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Let cool in pans set on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Turn out cakes onto racks, and let cool completely.

STEP 3

Make the caramel: Combine granulated sugar, corn syrup, and 1/4 cup water in a medium saucepan over high heat. Cook, without stirring, until mixture is dark amber, about 14 minutes. Remove from heat, and carefully pour in cream (mixture will spatter); stir until smooth. Return to heat, and cook until a candy thermometer reaches 238 degrees, about 2 minutes. Pour caramel into a medium bowl, stir in 1 teaspoon coarse salt, and let cool slightly, about 15 minutes. Stir in butter, 1 tablespoon at a time. Let cool completely.

STEP 4

Meanwhile, make the frosting: Whisk together cocoa and 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons warm water in a bowl until cocoa dissolves. Beat butter, confectioners’ sugar, and a generous pinch of coarse salt in a clean bowl with a mixer on medium speed until pale and fluffy. Gradually beat in melted chocolate and then cocoa mixture until combined. Let stand for 30 minutes before using.

STEP 5

Trim tops of cakes using a serrated knife to create a level surface. [This last time I wrapped my cooled cake in plastic wrap and frozen them overnight–so much easier to cut in half this way!] Cut each in half horizontally to form 2 layers. Transfer 1 layer to a serving platter, and spread 3/4 cup caramel over top. Top with another cake layer, and repeat with remaining caramel and cake layers, leaving top uncovered. Refrigerate until set, about 1 hour.

STEP 6

Frost top and sides of cake in a swirling motion. Sprinkle with sea salt.salted caramel 6 layer cake 2

SOURCE: Martha Stewart Living, November 2011

I recommend watching the tutorial on how to level and split a layer cake that is on the recipe page. It probably would have helped me a bit. It looked pretty scary before I frosted it. Even after, it didn’t look perfect, but it sure tasted perfect! 🙂

{On Tuesdays, I share a yummy recipe. Typically, my recipes will be super easy, because I’m a mom with littles. I try to be healthy and frugal as well. But I like good food, so it will always be delicious! }

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