Millionaire Cake

Millionaire cake

Chocolate? Check.

Caramel? Check.

Cookie Crunch? Check.

Vanilla? Check.

HIIT Cardio done? Check. Check.

This cake has it all. Anything and everything a millionaire could want all wrapped up in one 6″ round. I totally get why this is called a Millionaire Cake because it is so rich and decadent. Except it doesn’t have any of the attitude a millionaire may have. No, this cake just wraps you up in love and gives you little kisses. Trust me…..who needs money when you can just have this cake?

The inspiration for this cake came from The Cake Bake Shop, just named for the best chocolate cake in Food and Wine Magazine in Indianapolis. So you know they’re delivering some good stuff. There’s also a Millionaire cookie. It has a shortbread cookie crust, layered with caramel and chocolate. Throw all that into a cake and smother it in chocolate fudge frosting? Yep. I’m on it.

First step is to make the shortbread cookies.

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Luckily shortbread cookies are one of the simplest cookies on earth to make. Four ingredients later and you have cookies!

Next the chocolate cake, one of the easiest cakes to make! Mix dry ingredients in one bowl, mix wet in another, mix them together and your done! The tricky part is making sure that all the batter is measured out evenly in the baking pans. The scale is key. I weighed my mixing bowl before I started, took note of the weight, then once all the ingredients were in the bowl mixed together I weighed it again. Noted the difference and divided the total by 3 (I had three 6″ cake pans). I know…I know. Math. But I’ve accepted its part of baking. And lifting. And life for that matter. Dang it, I really did need it after all. So there’s that.

I set each cake pan on the scale and weighed out the perfect amount of batter in each pan. Seems complicated, but it actually makes the process really simple. Takes all the guess work out. All the bending and stooping looking through one eye trying to see if all the pans are equal. Setting them side by side trying to look for level heights. Save your sanity and buy a scale.

So while the cakes cool I start the process of making the caramel, vanilla buttercream and the chocolate fudge frosting. Each of these steps are not super complicated individually. However, when made for one cake it can feel a bit overwhelming. Anytime you jump into the process of starting a new recipe, no matter if you’ve made the individual components a million times, it’s really important to read over the recipe several times. Think about the timing of each component . Be thinking about mixing time, baking time, cooling time etc. Helps to make the process organized and efficient.

For this cake I started the vanilla buttercream and the caramel at the same time. I know I don’t have to “watch” the butter whip. I do however need to watch the sugar caramelize, but only at the very end. So I know I can whip butter at the same time I stand and watch caramel. Then next thing you know both things are done at the same time!

Last step was making the Chocolate fudge frosting. Same process as making buttercream, only added step is melting chocolate. Which I had accomplished while making the caramel and buttercream. That’s a step that doesn’t involve much, except to stir a couple of times just to ensure even melting. Plus I wanted to give it time to cool.

Now its time to assemble. Exciting!! But this is where it starts to get real. You have all the components to the cake made. They all taste great by themselves. But now you have to put it all together in the right balance and hope you get it right. There’s really no turning back once you get it all stacked and frosted, you just hope for the best. At least that’s how I roll. I think I got this one right. For my first go of taking several different recipes to compile one cake, I’m pretty happy with the outcome.

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I really like the fudge frosting because for someone who lacks the skill to make perfectly flat, smooth vanilla buttercream cakes, this frosting is so easy to work with. Very forgiving.

After tasting the constructed cake, I definitely loved the moistness of the cake. It has a great rich flavor with a perfect chocolate cake consistency. The only thing I would’ve done differently is added more caramel and cookies. They both kind of got lost in the chocolateness of the cake. So when you make this, don’t be shy with the caramel!! With New Years Eve around the corner this would be an awesome cake for any party!

Here’s how to whip this cake up!

Chocolate Cake

  • 1 1/2 cups or 180g all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups or 300 g sugar
  • 3/4 cup or 90g dark unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp or 6g baking soda
  • 1 tsp or 4g baking powder
  • 1 tsp or 5g salt
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 3/4 cup hot brewed coffee
  • 2 eggs room temperature
  • 2 tsp vanilla

Pre-heat oven to 350º. Prepare three 6″ round cake pans with butter, flour and parchment paper for the bottom.

In the bowl of an electric mixer sift together all dry ingredients. In another medium bowl whisk together all wet ingredients. Add wet ingredients into dry and mix on medium speed for 2 minutes.

Using a digital scale, divide batter equally between each cake pan. Bake for 20 minutes then rotate pans and bake for another 5-10 minutes until wooden skewer comes out clean. Do not over bake!

Let cakes cool in pans for 10 minutes then, loosen from pan with knife and invert onto wire racks to cool completely.

Shortbread Cookies

  • 2 cups unsalted butter, cold and cubed
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 4 1/2 cups all purpose flour, divided
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Heat oven to 325 and line cookie sheets with parchment paper

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add in about 3 cups of flour and salt until the dough starts to take shape. Keep adding flour until your dough starts to resemble play dough. It should not be too sticky. Remove from bowl and toss out onto a floured surface. Kneed dough a few times to make into a round then cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3o minutes.

Roll out dough to 1/2″ thick and cut into squares/bars/shapes. For the purpose of this cake, it doesn’t matter much because it’s going to be crumbled. Bake for about 15-20 minutes until edges are slightly browned. Let cool on wire rack, then crumble into 1/2″ sized pieces.

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

  • 1 cup butter
  • 3 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
  • 1 tsp milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/8 tsp salt

In the bowl of an electric mixer with a paddle attachment whip butter on medium/high speed for about 6 minutes until light and fluffy. Add remaining ingredients and whip for another 6 minutes. Your buttercream should be really light and fluffy.

Caramel Sauce

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 heavy cream
  • 2 tbs butter
  • generous pinch of sea salt

In a heavy bottom sauce pan heat sugar and water over medium heat and bring to a boil. Heat until the sugar turns a dark amber color. Remove from heat and slowly pour in the cream, while whisking. Put back on low heat and stir in butter and add sea salt. Remove from heat and pour into a heatproof container. Set aside.

 

Chocolate Fudge Frosting

  • 1/4 cup + plus 2tbsp (45 g) unsweetened Dutch process cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup + 2tbsp (90ml) boiling water
  • 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks, 341 grams) unsalted butter room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (63 grams) confectioners sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 pound (454 grams) good quality semi-sweet chocolate, melted and cooled

Over a double boiler, melt semi sweet chocolate, set aside and let cool. Add cocoa powder and boiling water together in a glass measuring cup and stir until smooth and cool.

In the bowl of an electric mixer with paddle attachment, whip butter, sugar and salt on medium/high speed until light and fluffy. About 5 minutes.

Reduce speed to low and add in cooled melted chocolate, beating until combined, scraping down sided of bowl as needed.

Beat in the cocoa mixture until well incorporated.

Assemble Cake

Trim tops off the three cakes layers to make flat, even cakes.

Place one cake layer on cake stand. Add layer of chocolate fudge frosting. Next pipe a thick layer of vanilla buttercream, leaving and inch from outside of cake. Sprinkle a good handful of shortbread cookies over buttercream. Then drizzle caramel over the cookies. Next carefully place second layer of chocolate cake on top. Repeat with second layer.

After the third and final layer is added on top, frost entire cake with a crumb coat of the chocolate fudge frosting. Place in refrigerator to chill for about 10-15 minutes. Once the first layer of frosting has had a chill, remover cake and frost with final layer of chocolate fudge frosting.

Lastly, sprinkle top of cake with shortbread cookie crumbs and drizzle with caramel. Place in fridge to chill and set. Remove cake about 30 minutes prior to serving.

Enjoy!!

 

 

 

 

Meyer Lemons

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I love lemons.

Lemon everything. Lemon candies, lemon ice cream, lemon cakes, lemon custards, cheesecake, lemon cocktails.  And what’s with the almond flavor poppy seed muffins? Let’s get real, they’re so much better being a Lemon Poppy seed muffin. Yep, I’m in that camp. Although, that’s not what we’re talking about today. I digress.

I drink 20 oz of water with a slice of lemon in it every morning. Before my coffee. I know. That may be going a bit overboard. But its my ritual and its working for me. Lemons not only taste good they have a lot of health benefits as well. They’re a great item to have as a staple in your kitchen.

So, it should come as no surprise that lemons have been one of my favorite fruits to use in baking. The tart, yet sweet flavor is wonderful in so many dishes. I add it to blueberry muffins. You can make a wonderful lemon cream sauce for chicken or pasta. The juice can be used for vinaigrettes, marinades or simply squeezed over fresh seafood. They add the perfect touch to many foods.

At your local grocer you’re likely to find the common Lisbon or Eureka lemon on the store shelf almost year around.  This variety of lemon is large with a thick, textured skin. It has a very bright yellow color with a medium pulp. Their flavor has the traditional “lemon” tang, very tart and bright, perfect for savory dishes.

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On the left is the smaller Meyer Lemon. As you can see it has a smoother skin than the larger common lemon and is also a bit more orange in color.

 

Meyer Lemons are smaller in size. They are slightly more orange in color with thinner skin. The pulp is smaller and they have a sweeter, slightly more orange flavor to them. They come into season in December and are available through May. The Meyer Lemon is native to China and was brought over to the U.S. in the early 20th century. They are said to be a cross between a lemon and a mandarin orange.

Because of this combination of flavors,  it gives these lemons added depth of flavor. It makes a world of difference when baking with them. Making creams, curds, or custards with a Meyer Lemon are extra flavorful. Give it a try sometime!  They are extra special when home grown and given to you as a gift. When life gifts you lemons you bake with them. Lemonade? Pfft…zest those babies and make a cake!

My first go to recipe when I have Meyer Lemons in the kitchen are Lemon Sugar Cookies with Lemon Buttercream Frosting. These little tasty bites of heaven melt in your mouth with lemony goodness. Instead of all purpose flour, you use cake flour, which gives lends a very tender cookie. Then add in the lemon zest and the lemon juice to give them a gorgeous lemon flavor and color.

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The kitchen always smells so fresh and bright after zesting. It’s interesting how this is a winter harvest, yet it is so fresh, it feels like spring or summer!

You can see the bright little specks of lemon zest in both the cookie batter and the Lemon Buttercream.  I dare you to resist all the BLT’s (bites, licks, tastes) you’ll take of this batter and frosting.

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This year I set up the coffee table to frost all of them while I sat and watched a few Christmas programs with the kiddos. Usually I’m standing in the kitchen doing this tedious task. Cold hard tile is not the best medium to be standing on…..toggling from foot to foot. Eventually you find yourself hunched over the counter with poor posture. Live and learn. Now I know I can sit and do this.

 

Lemon Sugar Cookies with Lemon Buttercream Frosting (as adapted from motherthyme.com)

For the Cookies

  • 3 cups Cake Flour
  • 3 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons fresh juice from any lemon preferably Meyer Lemon
  • 1 whole lemon zested
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

For the Lemon Buttercream Frosting

  • 1/2 cup unsalted Butter at room temperature
  •  3 cups Confectioners Sugar (I like to reduce this to 2 1/2 cups to make the frosting a bit more buttery tasting)
  • 1 Whole lemon zested
  • 2 TBSP fresh lemon juice (Meyer Lemon if available)

Directions:

Heat oven to 350°

In a medium bowl mix together the cake flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer combine the butter and sugar. Mix together on medium speed until light and fluffy. I like to run mine for about 3 minutes. Add in eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides after each addition. Stir in lemon zest, lemon juice and vanilla. On the lowest speed gradually add in the flour mixture until just combined.

Cover and chill dough for at least one l hr in the refrigerator.

Using a 1″ ice cream scoop, scoop chilled dough and roll into little rounds. You can leave them round or flatten them slightly with the bottom of a glass.

*I’ve done this part of the process so many different ways. I’ve used a small 1/2″scoop. You’ll get more cookies (like little tea cookies). This year I used the 1″ scoop but did not roll them and flatten them. They had a bit more of a rustic look.

Place dough rounds on parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 9-10 minutes. Do not over bake!!

Remove from oven and let cool on wire rack.

For the Buttercream Frosting

Whip butter with the paddle attachment of a stand mixer for 5 minutes at medium speed. Add powdered sugar, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Continue to whip for another 5 minutes until light, fluffy and creamy.

Once cookies have cooled completely, frost with buttercream and let sit out so frosting sets a bit.

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These little cookies are packed with so much flavor. They have the perfect balance of sweet and tart to them. The texture is perfect. The frosting is smooth and creamy. Made into little tea cookies, they’ll be a one bite treat. Maybe next holiday season you can add these to your cookie exchange!

Go on out and find some Meyer lemons! Once you taste the difference, you’ll always want to make a point of including them in your baking rotations.

Life with Pancakes

But First…….a small soliloquy about letting go.

One of the very first lessons I learned in Pilates was about letting go. We have muscles, that over time, have built up a memory to hold on because the other muscle that is supposed to be doing to work won’t or can’t.  It can create imbalance and sometimes lead to injury over time. The muscle that holds on so tightly will, at some point, run out of strength to hold on any longer.

Life is no different. Our hearts are no different. Holding on to things that no longer serve you will lead to injury. Apparently I’ve been earning my masters degree in letting go over the last two years. Its hard. Everyone’s capacity to hold on is different. Some can go decades holding on. Some can go only days. Some muscles are stronger than others, but eventually they have to let go. What I learned, was that letting go doesn’t mean not caring anymore. Not loving. Or feeling you have to be indifferent to the situation. Its actually the opposite. Its accepting. Its accepting where you are, what you’re given and work with it. Letting go of how you thought it should be. Letting go of what you wanted, to accept that what you need is more important. It sucks ass, right?? I know. I’m working at it everyday too. One day at a time to keep digging that ditch to where you feel like you don’t have to hold on so tight. Accept and let go to move on.

 

Ok. That’s done.

 

So we have an Elf on the Shelf. Its a racket. It was given to the kids as a gift. Sometimes I wish the Elf had never made it to the shelf. Acceptance. It’s in our lives now. Anyway, I’m about as good at remembering to move the elf everyday, as my dishwasher is at cleaning the caked on almond butter off the knives. However, a good idea was given to me the other day which had him sitting in the whisk beater of the stand mixer. I had some pumpkin puree, so the elf and I quickly got to work. We made the pumpkin muffins from Smitten Kitchen. Its one of the kids’ favorite morning treats.  If you don’t already know about Deb and Smitten Kitchen go check it out. Love everything about her site. Naturally this was a big hit!

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The great thing about making the kids happy, is that I had left over pumpkin. One of my favorite treats in the morning, is pumpkin protein pancakes! MMMMM! If you haven’t already heard about Kodiak Cakes….you’ll be happy to know that they are the best thing ever. So many things you can do with this awesome cake mix. I can whip up wholesome, protein packed goodness in a matter of minutes!

The Kodiak Cake mix has a fairly neutral flavor base, like a traditional pancake, so it makes adding whatever flavor you want really easy. You can also add in different flavored protein powders to make them really interesting. I’ve added a vanilla, cinnamon bun and chocolate protein to them.

I’ll show you my top two; pumpkin and vanilla cinnamon.

 

Pumpkin Protein Pancakes

  • 53g Kodiak Power Cake Mix
  • 46g liquid egg whites
  • 40g pumpkin puree
  • sprinkle cinnamon to taste

Weigh each ingredient separately into a bowl (making sure to tare your scale in between each ingredient). Stir all ingredients together until mixed thoroughly. Spray skillet or pan with non stick spray (I use a coconut oil spray). Cook until done! (I topped these with Josephs Sugar free maple syrup)

Vanilla Cinnamon Protein Pancakes

  • 53g Kodiak Power Cake Mix
  • 25g NLA for Her Vanilla Cupcake protein powder
  • 3 fl oz Almond Milk
  • Cinnamon and nutmeg to taste

Weigh each ingredient separately into a bowl (making sure to tare your scale in between each ingredient). Stir all ingredients together until mixed thoroughly. Spray skillet or pan with non stick spray (I use a coconut oil spray). Cook until done!

Ok, so since I track my food based on the macronutrients, this is what each one looks like:

Pumpkin Protein Pancakes (with sugar free syrup):

264 Calories, 38g of Carbs, 4g of Fat, 20g of Protein, 540mg sodium, 5g sugar

Vanilla Cinnamon Protein Pancakes:

304 Calories, 33g Carbs, 6g of Fat, 28g of Protein, 562mg sodium, 3g sugar

On this mornings Vanilla Cinnamon pancakes, I added a topping of Greek Yogurt with sugar free syrup and cinnamon. OMG……heaven!

The addition of the Greek yogurt and syrup changed the macros a bit:

350 Calories, 37g of carbs, 7g fat, 34g of protein, 584mg sodium, 5g sugar

Not bad!! Such a delicious, filling breakfast.  Perfect for the pre-workout meal to fuel your body to help make that workout as strong as possible!

There is no way you will ever feel like you are missing out on pancakes ever again. You could even make a large batch to freeze and store. Ready to pull out of the freezer for a breakfast on the go! Love that!  They even sell this mix at my local Costco now. So dash out and get yourself some cakes…..your cakes will thank you.

LET GO of the notion you need to starve to be fit. LET GO of the notion that eating healthy needs to be boring. LET GO of how you thought your fitness journey “should” go. It will not go as you planned. At least not everyday. LET GO of where you’re starting. Instead accept it and know you want something new. LET GO of the fact it make take you a while to get to where you want to be. Accept that fact and just start. You’ll be one day closer to your goal.

V~

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Other 80%

The cold kept me home again today, but it didn’t keep me down!  I fired up what energy I did have (with the help of coffee) and meal prepped!! I told you I would.

But brace yourself for a big dose of reality……..

Here is what no one, and I mean NO ONE, wants to hear……..

Its all about…..What. You. EAT.

Especially on those days where your ass does not meet the stair climber.

When I started  Jessie Hilgenberg’s  programs, I was introduced to a macro based diet or IIFYM (If It Fits Your Macros). In this nutrition plan, you track how many grams of Carbohydrates, Fats, and Protein you eat in a day. You can easily find out how to calculate your macros by doing a quick search on the web. It’s not any big secret. What is unique about calculating your macros is its based on your body, amount of activity you do and what your end goal is. So you can make it very unique to you and your desired results.

The other thing no one wants to do or hear is, you have to Track. Your. Shit…….I mean food. Your food people. You have to. I honestly don’t know how people make a salad , throw a whole bunch of stuff in a bowl and not track it!! How in the world are you supposed to know if it’s even balanced?? It kills me! Take a cake recipe for example. You absolutely cannot make a cake without the proper balance of ingredients. Everything is weighed and measured. If you don’t, you will not have the desired outcome. YET, you expect to just throw together a days worth of “healthy” food  and expect to walk away with the body you want. I’m here to tell you that will not happen. Ever. So start thinking about what your shoving into your mouth. And track it.

Ok…….that takes me to todays meal prep. Get your scales ready people. It’s just the way it has to work.

I chose to keep my meal prep pretty basic today. I wasn’t up to planning 3-4 meals per day for an entire week. I’m sick. I also don’t really need to do that. I mostly like to meal prep because it’s just another tool to help keep me on track. I know that on those days that get away from me, I have food ready to rock in the fridge. I can grab it and go. I can grab it, add a few extras and have a great meal. Keeping it simple now, pays off in the days to come.

First off, I made Turkey Meatballs. Simple yet delicious. Easy to grab. Easy to put into other dishes. Easy to eat on the go.

I used 20 ounces of ground extra lean turkey meat, one egg, 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese and some seasonings. I like Mrs. Dash, its easy to find, inexpensive and salt free!! I did this all in one bowl on the scale so I knew how much of each item I had.  I divided it into 15 meatballs, baked on a parchment lined baking sheet at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. I kept them relatively plain because I like to take my prepped food and add it to other  dishes.  For example, these could go in a soup base later in the week. Or over rice with some teriyaki sauce.  I could even break them up, throw it in a tortilla for a taco. Make sure you take your weight from the scale and divide it out so you know how much of each ingredient is in your meatball. SO easy! Took me about 10 minutes to prep this!

Next, (while the meatballs were baking) I cut up and prepped my butternut squash. I bought a whole squash, so I had to sharpen up those knife skills today. To drastically cut away time here, you can buy pre-cubed squash. I just happened to have a whole one. I like chopping food up.

As you can see I ended up with 998g of squash. I added 2 tsps. of olive oil, some sea salt and pepper. I baked this at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes or until fork tender. I broke this down into four servings. Now when I go to log my butternut squash I know I’ll need to divide those numbers by 4.

I should add, that I keep a little log book of all my totals. Then after I’ve made everything and I break it down into the serving sizes, I sit and do the math in the log book. (I hope you’re better at math than I am)

By the time the squash was cut up the meatballs were done, so I was able to put them directly into the oven. AH! THATS the other thing I did!! The oven temp was the same for all the items!! A good tip to remember. Makes going from one dish to the next, seamless.

While the butternut squash baked I chopped up all my zucchini, yellow squash and red bell pepper. Again, if time is of the essence for you, there are a lot of grocery stores that sell all these items pre-cut. May cost a bit more, but you can decide if its worth the time savings. Again…..I don’t mind the chopping.

Here, you can see my little work station. I chop up each of my veggies individually on a silicon mat. When I’m done chopping, I can fold it up and pour it straight into my bowl on the scale! Then take note of the weight, then transfer it to the baking sheet. Super simple. Hardly any mess. I keep a colander near by for all the scraps as well. Love it!!

While those were baking I pan seared some boneless, skinless chicken breasts in a little coconut oil spray. Another kitchen staple of mine. Then I cleared the decks and started dividing up the food.

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I started this process at 12:30 and was done with kitchen cleaned (that’s what I consider done, when all things are washed and put away) by 3pm. That includes a 20 minute diversion with a guest who came by. Not bad! Again, some of that time could’ve been shortened with pre-cut veggies. I ended up with 4 servings of each of the veggies. About 4 servings of the meatballs and quite a bit of chicken. I cooked 6 chicken breasts, so that will be enough for  roughly 3 meals per day that would include chicken.

Some examples of what I’ll do with this food:  I will weigh out some chicken and eat that along with the zucchini/red pepper combo. I love to add a little teriyaki sauce to that, or soy (being mindful of added sugars or sodium). I will have the butternut squash with the meatballs or chicken. I love to put my salmon with the zucchini combo. So tasty! I could literally grab a bag of veggies and a meatball and jet out of the house if I needed to. I should’ve added rice as a pre-made side (I will do that tomorrow for sure!) Rice is always a great carb to have on the ready to mix with your protein.

Meal prep is all about setting yourself up for success. The few hours you spend in one afternoon can make all the difference on those days where you’re running ragged and barely have time to fill your cup with water. It’s really hard to make a decent choice in those moments.

This way of life is a choice. Everyday, I chose to eat well. I chose to fuel my body so I can build strength. When I don’t, it shows. Plain and simple. The results of what I chose to eat today show up on my body. There is no amount of time I could spend in the gym that would make up for food choices that don’t get me to my goal.  It’s not that their wrong, or bad, or I should feel guilty……they just don’t get me to where I want to be.

I have found that if I stick to and 80/20 rule, I get to live that balanced life and still reach my goals. Basically that boils down to one day a week I can relax a little. Take a break a little and not let it overwhelm me. Trust me when I say, there have been plenty of weeks where that doesn’t happen, it quickly becomes like 60/40. But there are more weeks where its 80/20. Even some that are 90/10 and yes I do have spurts of weeks where I’m 100% all in (that’ll be the next two weeks leading up to Christmas, damn cold).

Find what balance you need today to get you to your goal. Is it 100%? Or is there a balance you can find? One step at a time, one choice at a time. Always with your vision in your heart and mind.

V~

 

 

Birthday Cake!!

I would love nothing more than to say this birthday has been epically stellar. It’s been good…..maybe even great! I’ve made it another year. So there’s that. And I did get to see Rob Thomas in concert last night (front row no less). But alas, I now have a cold. On my birthday. I still need to drag my butt to the gym. (update: that never happened ). My diet has been really off today (not eating nearly enough nor the correct balance). My palate is off. And by “off” I mean, it’s practically non existent.

Hey, here’s a great idea……I’ll bake a cake and since I’m at it, it’ll be a new recipe too!!! Not a wise choice people.

But its my birthday darn it and I’m making my cake!! Yes, I wanted to make my own birthday cake.  Yes, I’m now second guessing that decision. However,  I had a vision and I dug in. Take that cold!!

Ok, so if any of you have ever seen some of Sweetapolita’s cakes, you’ve feasted your eyes on some really gorgeous confections. If you’ve ever been so inclined to make one of her cakes,  you know they are delicious. You also probably know they aren’t something you just whip up in 20 minutes. Oh no. These take time, patience and dedication. Especially todays cake.

Her version of this cake is absolutely gorgeous…..all pink, contrasted by dark chocolate ganache. Mine, was, well my own creation with the inspiration coming from her. All I can say is, I’ll keep trying.

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I jumped in and made a chocolate cake with raspberry buttercream and a marshmallow buttercream filling. Great balance of flavors. Chocolate and raspberry are always a classic flavor combination. Plus the marshmallow filling balances it all out. The easiest part of this chocolate cake is making the cake portion of it. Chocolate cakes are, without a doubt, the easiest cakes to make. You can measure your dry ingredients in one bowl, combine your wet ingredients in another, stir the two together and bake. SO easy!! In a pinch this is what I will make for cupcakes, as it goes super fast and makes a lot of cupcakes quickly.

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The cake that inspired this creation was Rosie’s  Dark Chocolate and Raspberry Buttercream Cake.  One thing that I love about her recipes, is she gives you both the scoop measure and the weighted measure. I prefer the weighted measure for the dry ingredients especially. Try it someday. Not all flours are created equal! You won’t ever scoop the same amount of flour each time either.  The only way to know exactly how much of each ingredient you are using is to weigh it. I found that for cakes this make all the difference. I found that when weighing and measuring my food for meal prep days this makes all the difference. Takes all the guess work out, I know how much I’m eating. I love my scale!!

I did change it up a little bit today.  I ended up making a traditional buttercream instead of a Swiss meringue buttercream.  Swiss meringue is a little laborious. If you’re not accustomed to making them and  don’t have 10 eggs on hand, then skip it all together and go with a traditional buttercream. Once you have your vanilla base, adding in whatever flavor you want is exactly the same either way. Easy enough to change and adapt. The marshmallow filling was really easy as well. So tasty too! Not an overwhelming marshmallow flavor, but it added a really nice touch to the cake.

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Today’s epic journey through cake making helped me realize a few things:

  1. If you can, avoid baking when you cannot properly taste test
  2. New recipes take time and should be prepared only at optimum health levels
  3. I love pink cakes
  4. I go through more butter than my thighs actually show….so I’ll mark that in the “win” category today.

Today my persistence paid off. I had to re think almost every part of this cake today. I stuck with it and in the end I got a birthday cake out of it. According to my taste testers it was “the best cake ever!” I wouldn’t know. Maybe tomorrow I will actually be able to taste it.

All in all it was a really great day. I got to do what I love. Happy Birthday to me!! Tomorrow will be a day of meal prep, fire water (aka my cold remedy), and maybe some gym time.  I suppose I should show you what I eat the other 80% of the time. For now……tea, water, food, bed.

V~

Digging My Ditch

Yes, the above title is from a Dave Matthews song. But lately its kind of been my mantra. I tend to go through different Dave mantras. What can I say? The guy is wise. Right now this one seems to fit.

Its also a bit about starting over. We all have to start over from time to time with something. A lot of us find ourselves starting over with our fitness journeys. If you think about it, everyday you wake up, you’re actually starting all over. After all, its only the present moment that is real. Only the present moment is what matters.  So lets all just get past the “starting over” part and focus on digging your ditch. (go play the song now…..it will help you understand my perspective).

I’ve come to realize that instead of focusing on the starting over, its more about what I’m doing every day to get me where I want to be. I can’t change what happened yesterday. I have no way to predict what will happen in the next hour, let alone tomorrow. I know there’s quite a few of you that have had life change in the blink of an eye. All of a sudden you’re starting over with a whole new reality. But you’re not really starting over, so much as you are dealing with a new path to your vision. So what are you doing right now to get you to where you want to be? What are you doing to dig your ditch for when your done?

 

Lately I had been noticing (others too), that I was spending a bit too much time on social media. That habit had clearly taken up too much space in my day.  I also noticed that I was allowing other worries to take up internal space that was not allowing me to get where I wanted to be. In other words I was not spending any time digging my ditch to where I wanted to be. Instead, I was spinning circles in the sand. A friend and I decided to give ourselves a 30 day respite from all the distractions. Some silence in my head to let other thoughts in. Now look where I am…..I started my blog finally!! Now every week I spend a few days writing out an entry for my blog. I’m digging away. I’m not sure where it will take me, but at least I’m digging my ditch in the direction I want the energy to flow.

The other thing I do daily is think about the direction I want my fitness journey to go. Sure I have ups and downs. Great days, decent days, and the days from hell. I have three kids…..so most days are faced with some challenge or another. The biggest thing I do is, I’m thinking about my future self. That ditch. What do I want to see at the end? Will eating the entire piece of cake get me to where I want to be or will just a bite do or none at all?  Look where you are and then where you want to be. What is it going to take in this moment to get you there? Don’t focus on how long it will take you to dig that ditch (BTW its your whole life you’ll be digging, so no worries, you have plenty of time) but look more at what vision you had in mind at the end. It truly does not matter how long it takes, the time passes regardless of what you choose to do. That’s what we all forget! The sun will rise tomorrow just as it has every single day of your life!!! A fresh start.

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Dig. The. Ditch.

So today you ate that whole pizza. Oops! Alright, you had a bad moment.  I get it. We all do. What are you going to do in this moment to change that? You could start by drinking water and letting that shit go. As Dave so masterfully says “Where all these disappointments that grow angry out of me, will rise.” We are all faced with disappointment. You will rise above and get heavy on digging your ditch.

This attitude did two things for me. First,  when I really had to work hard  on my fitness, it helped me to stay super focused. I wasn’t focused on what I had to do tomorrow or the next day. I was focused on the vision. So in the moments where I had to make food choices, I remembered my vision. In the moments where I really did not want to wake up at 4:30 in the morning to go workout, I remembered my vision. I literally took it moment by moment. Soon I noticed I was making the right choices far more than I wasn’t. Soon, I was seeing my vision come to life.

For example: Lets say my plan for the day was to go to the gym, meal prep and get some work done. The kids plans were to be home sick. So, I ask myself, what am I going to do today that fulfills my vision?  I make healthy food choices. I drink plenty of water (and coffee, because well, the kids are sick). I may not get to work out, but that’s actually not the end of the world. Food choices are far and away the most important decisions I make toward reaching my goal. Plus, I’m busy buzzing around the house taking care of kids and cleaning up after them. Always something to do. Always some way to keep digging that ditch in the direction you want to go.

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The second way its helped me:  I can let that vision keep me clear on those days where I want to have a break. Or I need a break. Or life made it damn near impossible to keep me on track. Its ok to take some time away and rest. Unplug. Do something that also fulfills me, but still keeps me digging my ditch. Maybe some yoga. Maybe sleep. Maybe wine. Ok….that last part was not a maybe….its always wine. But you get my point. On the days where I’m not on point the whole time,  I know I’ve done at least one thing to keep me in the right direction of my vision.

In fact I’m digging right now. I’m writing, cooking salmon and drinking water. Yesterday it was wine. Today, it’s water. Yep, digging that ditch people. And when the day arrives where my life changes again, and I have to start over? I will come up  with a new plan that keeps me digging. Always thinking ahead to that end goal.

My kids always ask me what I want to be when I grow up. I tell them I want to be a grandma. What they don’t understand is, I want to be the grandma that still plays, still goes places, is still active, bakes, takes care of them and their babies. All that comes from the ditch I dig today. That’s the long term vision. Naturally my short term vision is to have the best booty I can for summer time 🙂 Hey…..gotta have that short term goal to carry you all the way to the end!

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Sometimes we have to start on a new path. But its staying persistent with your vision that will keep you digging your ditch.

V~