Category Archives: celebration

Baltimore & a Cherry-Chocolate Birthday Cake

Two of my close friends from Iowa (go Hawks!) also live on the East Coast.  Beth lives in Baltimore, and Becky lives in Boston (lots of B’s).  When Sam and I went up to Boston in April we visited Becky and her husband Gary, thanks to them we stopped by the Sam Adams Brewery and checked out some great food in Boston!

This past weekend we had a little reunion in Baltimore to run the Baltimore Women’s Classic 5K with Beth.  Coincidentally, last week Becky turned another year older, so I thought this would be a great excuse to make a birthday cake!  Of course, I had to find one that was easy to carry on public transportation (the bad part about not having a car!).

Before I get to the cake, which was delicious, I want to tell you about some of the places we checked out while in Baltimore:

Friday night dinner was at Mother’s Federal Hill Grille.  I’ve been here before, and always enjoy the relaxed atmosphere and great food.  Definitely a place to grab a quick burger or a couple of beers.  From my many visits to Baltimore I’ve noticed that there are always people there, but it’s never too crowded!

If you yelp “brunch” in Baltimore, the top restaurant will be Miss Shirley’s Cafe.  And it’s definitely a place everyone should check out just once.  The menu is very creative, as you will find out in just a second!

This was the Key Lime Cheesecake Stuffed French Toast.  Very decadent and can satisfy someone’s craving for key lime pie, although they are nowhere near Key West!

This was the Soft-Shell “BLT” Benedict: poached eggs, corn-meal encrusted soft shell crab, tomato, lettuce and bacon on sourdough rounds with Old Bay.  I did take a bite of this, and definitely enjoyed it!  The only complaint we had was that it was served on iceberg lettuce- it would be nice if there was something a bit more nutritional.

One of us also ordered Eggs, Bacon & an Onion-Potato Hash.  They have gluten-free bread here, so feel free to make the alteration if needed.

Lastly, I ordered a Lunch Combo (1/2 sandwich, 1/2 salad).  The sandwich (which I can’t wait to replicate) was a Summer Strawberry Grilled Cheese and it had: goat cheese, strawberries and spinach.  It was perfect with the salad- and a great way to enjoy a lovely Saturday with my friends!

Our last stop, which I really want to share, was at The Abbey Burger Bistro.  I wish I had taken pictures of our food- but that will have to be for another time (I definitely want to go back!).  They have a great selection of beers, and a very relaxed atmosphere.  But what makes this place great (in my opinion) is that you can make your own burger!  They have a great checklist, and you can “build it” any way you’d like.  For example, the meat choices are: bison, black angus, kobe beef, chicken, lamb (shenandoah valley), elk, kangaroo, turkey, wild boar and meat of the month!  Definitely not just your regular burger bar.

Alright, now it’s time for the cake.  I really enjoyed this dessert since it wasn’t overly sweet and the fruit I added to it can be anything you’d like.

Cherry-Chocolate Birthday Cake
Adapted from: Orangette

Cake:
1 stick (8 tbsp) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/3 cups sugar
3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp rose water
2 cups all-purpose white flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp cocoa powder
1/2 cup 2% milk

Topping (this is optional):
8 oz dark chocolate, roughly chopped
3 tbsp half ‘n half
fruit
powdered sugar (optional)

Preheat the oven to 375ºF.  Spray a 9-inch springform pan with cooking spray.

In a stand mixer, beat together the butter and sugar until they are light and fluffy.  Then add the eggs, vanilla extract and rose water; mix well before adding each new component.

Add in half the flour and mix well.  Then add the baking powder, salt, nutmeg, cocoa powder and milk.  Beat the batter well, then add it the rest of the flour and mix again.

Pour the batter into the springform.  Bake for 35 minutes, or until a toothpick is inserted into the middle and it comes out clean.

Optional: Once the cake has cooled off, then prepare the chocolate topping.

Heat water in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Once it is boiling, place a bowl on top (the bottom of the bowl shouldn’t be touching the water) to create a double-boiler.  Add in the chocolate and let it slowly melt.  Every couple of minutes add in a teaspoon of the half ‘n half.  As the chocolate melts, keep stirring and adding the half ‘n half.  You might not need as much liquid to get it to the consistency you’d like.  Once it’s ready, drizzle over the cake or spread it out (like I did).  Place in the fridge for at least 1 hour.

Since my cake had a bit of a dent in the middle, I added some cherries- but any kind of fruit would be perfect.  Also, if you’d like, sprinkle the top with powdered sugar.

Chocolate & Wine to Celebrate

We did not post anything about a wonderful blog milestone or an exciting event that has happened in our lives.  So although both are a little delayed, we’re glad to be sharing it!

First the milestone: the blog has been up and running for over a year and we didn’t even realize it.  It all started on October 20, 2010 with this blog post!  So we’re almost going into Month 13, unbelievable!

Having this blog has been a great experience.  It’s definitely pushed us to try different recipes and tastes.  Although we have always tried new recipes, having this blog ensured that we keep looking for something we hadn’t made before.  It did not allow us to be stuck in a dinner rut.  Over the last year we’ve realized more of what we like, what we’re good at making, and have higher goals of learning even more.  Sam has always been a little more adventurous in the kitchen, rarely following recipes.  It’s been a bit of a learning curve for me, but I’m getting much better at adjusting recipes to our tastes, or taking ideas rather than following exact directions.

Our goal is to continue this project (a hobby I guess).  We hope that all of you are learning and trying out some of these recipes.  Definitely let us know of any feedback- that’s the only way to improve!  And keep up with new posts through our Facebook page!

And now for another exciting announcement!  I know some of you already know this, but for those that don’t…we’re engaged!  It’s been a couple of months since the engagement, but I never felt like there was a right time!  Since we’re celebrating a 1 year anniversary of the blog, I thought it’d be perfect to also celebrate an engagement.

For this joyous occasion, I decided to make a chocolate cake!  The taste had a wonderful depth, and it’d be a great dessert for a girls dinner night, paired with some red wine!



Red Wine & Vanilla Yogurt Chocolate Cake

Adapted from: 17 and Baking

1/2 cup of butter, softened
1 1/2 cups of brown sugar
1 large egg
3/4 cup of wine (I used Merlot)
1/4 cup of Greek vanilla yogurt
seeds of 1 vanilla bean (substitute: 1 tsp vanilla extract)
1 1/2 cups of flour
3/4 cup of cocoa powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 scoop of vanilla ice cream (optional)

Preheat the oven to 375°F.  Spray a 9″x5″ loaf pan with cooking spray.

Beat the soft butter on medium speed with your mixer, until the texture become smooth.  Slowly add the sugar and egg, continuously mixing the batter.  Once everything is beaten, add the wine, yogurt and vanilla.  Continue mixing the batter and slowly add the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt.  Stir well until everything is incorporated.

Pour the batter into the loaf pan.  Bake for 1 hour, but make sure the batter is cooked through (the toothpick method).  Depending on your oven, you might need an extra 5-10 minutes.  Cool the cake for 10-15 minutes before serving.  A great addition is a scoop of vanilla ice cream!