Sunday, November 21, 2010

Rivarly Week Recipe #2—True Blue Velvet Cake

Even though I hate the expression, I needed to kill two birds with one stone. (If anyone knows a less violent phrase, do share.) First of all, we had a 1/2 birthday to celebrate at the office, and I wanted to make something to post on the blog in connection with the BYU vs. University of Utah Food Drive. The student alumni association from each school tries to collect the most food and money the two weeks leading up to the big rivalry football game.

I'm the advisor for the BYU Student Alumni, and these students have been doing an amazing job raising funds and collecting food for a wonderful cause. Everything collected by BYU goes to Community Action Services and Food Bank of Utah County. Here's an interesting fact. Did you know Community Action Services can leverage every dollar donated to equal about 15 to 20 lbs. of food? That's amazing! And, even in Utah there is a great need. Please take a moment to donate by clicking here.

Before I get to the recipe, here is a video the students made to promote the food drive. Enjoy!

If you haven't seen the commercial this parodies, click here.

Now, the recipe...

I decided to make a red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting but with a twist. Instead of using the color of the opposition, I substituted blue food coloring. I didn't have enough food coloring on hand to make it real BYU blue, but it turned out pretty well. And, it was a lot of fun.

I just hope it brings good luck to the Cougars as they face the Utes, and inspires everyone to give this holiday season.
Happy 1/2 Birthday, Lisa, and GO Cougars!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Rivalry Week Recipe #1—Chocolate and Cinnamon Spiced Pancakes

The big game is almost here—BYU vs. University of Utah.

For those of you not familiar with this rivalry, it's one of the biggest. Usually, I don't care that much for college football, but I do pay attention to this game. I am the advisor to the BYU Student Alumni, an amazing group of students. Each year the Student Alumni at BYU and the University of Utah have a competition the two weeks before the football game to see who can collect the most food and money for the local food banks. It's a great way to use the rivalry to generate donations, and in the end, it's the community that wins.

Before I get to the recipe, I thought I would share a video for the food drive made by the students. I am very impressed because it was made on a budget of basically zilch, or even less. I don't know if it's because I'm old, but I had never heard the phrase "cool beans." However, since watching this, I've begun to hear it quite a bit. For others not in the know, it basically means great, cool or awesome. So, enjoy! And, watch in the coming days when I will share a couple more videos that are cool beans. (That doesn't sound right. Ugh, I've turned into an old fogie.)

Now on to the recipe... I've decided this year to offer you, my adoring fans (all 23 of you), special rivalry week recipes leading up the game. I thought I would begin with a recipe I found on BYU Dining Services website for chocolate and cinnamon spiced pancakes. Not only did they sound yum, but November 18 is Pancake Day at BYU. Dining Services is serving all-you-can-eat pancakes all day all over campus for only $3. And best yet, proceeds go to the food drive. I love their slogan, "Flip a pancake; fill a pantry." If you are in the Provo area, I highly recommend you stop by campus for pancakes.

If you're not in the area, give these pancakes a try. And then, I ask you to please make a donation to the food drive by clicking here, or at least give to your local food bank. The food drive runs until November 27.


I tested these out on the two pickiest eaters I know, my six year-old Tomas
and his friend Jeffrey. They gave the pancakes the thumbs up. But, I 
confess, I'm the world's worst pancake flipper. Don't let the ugliness fool
you, these pancakes are mighty tasty.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Chocolate Orange Cheesecake

Cheesecake. I love it.

We had another birthday at work—a perfect excuse to make a cheesecake.

What took me the longest was to decide which from among our many, possibly hundreds, of cheesecake recipes to make.

I finally decided to go with one Katie and I have made countless times, Chocolate Orange Cheesecake. In my opinion, chocolate and orange go perfectly together. Those chocolate oranges (by Cadbury?) are a must have each year in our Christmas stockings. And, I recently found a recipe for candied orange wedges dipped in chocolate that I think might have to try very soon.

This cheesecake is fairly easy, and always a crowd pleaser. However, I did make one slight modification this time. After I took the cheesecake out of the oven, I forgot to loosen it from the sides of the pan as stated in the recipe. This caused the cheesecake to develop a giant crack. Usually, this doesn't bother me, but since it's for a birthday, I decided to cover it up with a ganache. Not only was this a simple way to cover up the flaw but it added pizazz. And, ganache always makes everything better, right?

I skipped breakfast (a no-no, I know), so it's truly a miracle I
made to work with the cheesecake intact. 

Birthday boy, Steven, with the remnants of
the snarf-fest. And since it was his birthday,
I let him have that last piece. I was sure
tempted to call that lunch.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Unguilty Pleasure Chocolate Cake

My mom is diabetic. About a year ago, she went to the doctor, and one of her tests came back very bad. Normal for the test is below six, and she was over eleven. The doctor was none too pleased and read my mom the riot act. Good thing he did because she decided she to get serious. She went totally sugar-free and has been going regularly to the gym.

Recently, my mom went back to the doctor. The doctor came into the examination room to give my mom the latest test results. He said, "You know that it's illegal to switch blood samples with someone else's, right?" My mom didn't really know what he was talking about. That thought had never crossed her mind. But then, she realized he was joking. It turns out her level was just above six. The doctor said she is now only pre-diabetic, and he was very proud of her. And, I am, too.

Hence, when my parents came to visit this week, I wasn't going to make anything to take her off track. I decided to look online for a sugar-free dessert. After searching a while, I came across a chocolate cake which uses agave nectar, a syrup made from a cactus. It's available at many grocery stores and at most health food stores. I modified the recipe some and added my own chocolate cream cheese frosting, also using agave.

The result was, in my humble opinion, pretty darn amazing. You would never believe it's sugar-free. The cake is dense and moist and guaranteed to satisfy any chocolate craving. Everyone in the family loved it with the exception of my six year-old, who didn't care for the frosting. Since it's made with cream cheese, it has a bit of a tang. Give him time, and his pallet will mature, right? Anyway, I found that the cake was even better the next day. If the cake is chilled the frosting becomes fudgier.

The cake does take a bit of work, but it's completely worth it, even if you're not into the whole sugar-free thing. So, make a healthy choice, and give this recipe a try. Although, I must warn you. You may be tempted to devour the entire cake yourself, which probably isn't so healthy.

Y. U. M. 
Even though the light wasn't so great, this photo is making
me salivate in a major way.