What We Ate vs. Friday Favorites: Moist Chocolate Mug Cake with Strawberries

Happy Friday!

I thought I’d share another list of favorites to kick off the weekend, and one of the favorites happens to be a recipe, so I guess this post is a What We Ate and Friday Favorites mash-up… the best of both worlds! :)

Vader's Little Princess

Vader’s Little Princess

Beatrice received this book for Christmas from two of her wonderful aunts, and we pulled it out this past week in honor of May the 4th. Each page is a short comic or illustration imagining Darth Vader bringing up little Princess Leia (and tapping into his softer side). ;) Although I wish they’d put a little less emphasis on Leia as the “rebellious teen,” I get it… she IS a Rebel after all. There are a lot of funny Star Wars references and the illustrations range from cute to clever – it’s a fun little book. :)

White Collar

White Collar

I think my friend Anna first told me about this series several years ago, but I was probably too swept up in Psych or Merlin to investigate it further at the time. Last month, however, my sister-in-law Rebekah told us how much she was enjoying White Collar and suggested we might like it. We enjoy having a good show to follow together so we looked into it and were immediately hooked. The characters are likable and fun, the crime-solving is clever and interesting, the over-arching story is suitably mysterious, and because the crime is “white collar” every episode doesn’t start with a murder (unlike Monk or Psych). Will and I enjoy the sweet, supportive marriage between Agent Peter Burke and his wife Elizabeth, their almost parental relationship with smooth, charming ex-con Neal Caffrey, and of course the “Crazy Uncle” and conspiracy theorist extraordinaire, Mozzie. ;)

Will and I have a deal that we are only allowed to watch movies or shows on the weekend (unless by special dispensation ;D). I enjoy this rule because it helps us make sure we spend time just talking, reading, or playing board games together several nights each week, but it’s also fun having our little Friday Movie Night tradition, and we get really excited snuggling into the couch to find out what’s going to happen next and will Neal ever get his hands on that elusive music box?! ;) We’ve only just started Season 2 so I can’t speak for the entire show, but if you’re looking for a fun and interesting series to get started on, I would really recommend this one. Just be warned: it’s really hard to watch just one episode! ;D

Moist Chocolate Mug Cake with Strawberries (For Two)

Mug Cakes

While you’re all settled in for a weekend White Collar marathon, you’re probably going to need some snacks… and while baking is really fun, sometimes you just want a quick treat at 9pm without an hour of cook time and a sink full of dishes. I bring you… the mug cake. Now that Will and I have a microwave (that I actually remember to use 25% of the time!), I have been mastering the art of these magic little miracles. This recipe is our favorite so far, and makes enough for two mugs (because treats are better with a friend). You can easily halve it if you’d like though. :)

Moist Chocolate Mug Cake with Strawberries (For Two)

Moist Chocolate Mug Cake with Strawberries (For Two)
Adapted from Table For Two

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 4 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons milk
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil (melted coconut oil works too)
  • 2 tablespoons peanut butter (or Nutella!)
  • 8-10 strawberries

Method:

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients.
  2. Whisk in the milk and oil until all ingredients are combined and the batter has no clumps (there may be a few tiny clumps of cocoa powder – that’s okay).
  3. Divide batter equally between two microwave-safe mugs. Be sure you use a fairly generously-sized mug so the cake has room to rise (it doesn’t have to be massive, but just make sure it’s not tiny).
  4. Drop a spoonful of peanut butter (or Nutella) into the center of each mug, and push it down a little into the batter so the surface is level. This will form the moist, gooey center of your cake. Mmm.
  5. Place a paper towel in the microwave and set one of the mugs on top (just in case you have a volcano situation… it didn’t occur in any of my tests, but if your mug is a bit too shallow, you never know).
  6. Microwave the mug cake for 60-80 seconds.
  7. Carefully remove mug from microwave and repeat with the second mug. Top each mug with 4-5 sliced strawberries. Dig in with a spoon. YUM.

These cakes may not be gourmet but they really are delicious, and just the right amount for one person. :) They’d probably be even more scrumptious with some fresh whipped cream on top, if you’re feeling extra decadent.

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What about you all – any weekend plans? Are you reading any good books? Are you a fan of White Collar, or is there a different series you are currently enjoying? Are you a believer in the magic of microwaved mug cakes, or do you consider them to be a baking abomination? I’d love to hear what favorites you guys are enjoying this weekend – please share in the comments! :)

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Friday Favorites: Starbucks, Strawberries, and Star Wars – Oh My!

Happy Friday!

I hope you all had a great week and are looking forward to a fun weekend! Even though I’m a stay-at-home-mom now and don’t have a regular 9-to-5 job, I still look forward to Friday every week. It’s a universally fun day! :)

This Friday, here are a few things I’m looking forward to…Starbucks-Frappuccino-Happy-Hour-2014- Half-Price Starbucks Frappuccinos

Yes, Starbucks isn’t the most budget-friendly way to drink coffee, but I still love it. I make coffee every morning in the French press (with only the most gourmet of Kroger brand beans, haha) and if I’m honest, I think it tastes better than plain Starbucks drip coffee. If I think about it too long, it’s crazy to ever buy Starbucks coffee when you can buy a bag of beans that will last a month for the same price as a Grande Cinnamon Dulce Latte… but… I still can’t resist as an occasional treat. :) Besides, coffee tastes better if you don’t have to make it yourself, right?

In any case, Starbucks Frappuccinos are half price from 3-5pm starting today and continuing through May 10. Mocha Cookie Crumble and Caffe Espresso look pretty tasty, but I just discovered that there is a Cinnamon Dulce Frappuccino, so… say no more!

If you’re looking for other ways to save at Starbucks, my friend Erica recently discovered this article with some neat tips: 9 Cheap Starbucks Drink Hacks. I especially appreciated #4 (I love iced lattes but hate that they contain roughly 3 sips of coffee and 40 ice cubes). Will and I already are masters of using #7. :) strawberry Strawberry Season

Strawberry season has finally begun! Will and I are planning to visit a local u-pick farm tomorrow morning to pick strawberries together as a family. :) I’ve picked strawberries with my Mom every spring for as long as I can remember – I even flew home and picked with her last year when Beatrice was still about the size of a strawberry herself (see photo above). :) It’s so special to be able to continue this tradition with our own little girl now.

I’m hoping to make a few batches of jam and do some baking, and of course, eat as many strawberries as I possibly can. Prepare yourself for Strawberry Overload next week. I apologize in advance (but not really). ;)

Avengers: Age of Ultron
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Will and I enjoyed the first Avengers movie, and are looking forward to the latest installment (which hits theaters today). Despite a crash course from Will and his siblings over the past two years, I’m still pretty clueless about the Marvel world, but I really enjoy going to these movies with them and geeking out by proxy. :) Avengers: Age of Ultron looks a bit darker and creepier to me, but I’m sure it will be fun too. Will and I won’t be going to this one for quite awhile since we don’t have a babysitter, but we’re still excited about seeing it eventually (and trying to avoid spoilers in the meantime). ;)

Let’s be honest though, the movie we’re REALLY excited about this year is (of course)…

We definitely watched this teaser trailer three times in a row when it came out, and made a pact to hire a babysitter when the time comes. SO EXCITED.

And have you seen this cute video? When the pacifier pops out, you know it’s going to be good. IMG_20150429_161456 Bonus Favorite: Strolling with Beatrice

The weather has been gorgeous these past few days, and Beatrice and I have enjoyed going for walks around the neighborhood once or twice a day. :) Every time I look up and see blue sky, and green leaves, and dappled sunshine dancing on the pavement, I feel overwhelmed that we get to live here. And then I look down at this serious little lady staring back at me with her Daddy’s beautiful blue eyes and I feel like my heart might burst. I’m so very, very thankful for all that God has blessed us with in this past year, that we never could have deserved or dreamed of. He is so merciful and kind!

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What’s something you’re currently enjoying or looking forward to? What movie are you most excited about in 2015? Do you have any strawberry recipes I should look into? I have a few favorites but would love to try something new. :)

Sickness Survival Strategies and The Great British Bake Off

Hello Friends!

Well, I meant to put a post out on Wednesday but I was down with fever, chills, and a cracking headache so I’m afraid that didn’t happen. I haven’t been sick for months (unusual for me since I tend to catch every illness I come in contact with, a week after everyone else), so I suppose I was due for it. Normally, I almost enjoy being sick (unless nausea is involved… THE WORST) because as miserable and foggy as it feels, sometimes it’s nice to be able to make a nest of blankets, stock up on water and crackers, and just sleep and recharge in a happy feverish haze without feeling guilty about housework, just for a day or two. In fact, I usually bounce back from illness with more energy than I had before and ready to tackle the postponed chores, so I suppose being sick is often my body’s way of making me take a break.

Things were a bit different this time around. Motherhood doesn’t provide sick days, and it was pretty taxing being awake and engaged for Beatrice all day while my body was doing everything in it’s power to lie down and power off. There was definitely some exhausted crying involved when Will came home Wednesday night, but I actually felt kind of triumphant the next day (after an evening of Baby Back-Up from Will and a good night’s sleep), that even when I was feeling horrible I was able to push through and keep Beatrice fed, clean, and (mostly) entertained.

Since spring colds and seasonal allergies seem to be circulating these days, I thought I’d share a few of my favorite coping strategies that have helped me survive the spring flu season. Most of them are so common-sense they probably don’t even need to be stated but I will anyways so brace yourself for a voyage with Captain Obvious. ;)

1. Naps

This one is probably a no-brainer but if I am able to lay in bed and sleep for a day or two when I get sick, I recover so much faster. Besides, often with a pounding headache or fever it’s difficult to read or even passively watch a show, and closing my eyes is the only remedy. With Beatrice I wasn’t able to utilize this strategy much, so I’ll move on to  my next favorite.

2. Blanket Nest

Make yourself a nest of blankets on a couch or chair where you can curl up and relax, and make sure your essentials are within reach on a nearby table (water, snacks, tea, tissues, books, etc). This will become your home base from which you can make forays to the kitchen, baby’s room, etc., and allows you to rest while still keeping an eye on things.

3. Hot Showers

The steam helps you breathe better and I always feel a bit less groggy and more relaxed after a hot shower, especially if I have aches or the chills. Even though I’m going to feel gross no matter what when I have a cold, taking a shower in the morning makes me feel a little less gross. Changing out of pajamas into some loose, comfy day clothes helps too (or at least fresh pjs).

4. Copious Amounts of Crackers and Hot Tea

I’ve devoured several sleeves of Ritz crackers and at least a gallon of chamomile tea with honey so far. Don’t skimp on the honey – William taught me this. I used to put probably 1/2 a teaspoon in my tea and was appalled when I saw Will scoop a huge heaping tablespoon into the mug, but I’ve since come to my senses. When you’re sick, there’s no such thing as too much honey. Adding a squeeze of lemon to your chamomile tea with honey is just the ticket if you have a sore throat.

And now I come to my favorite.

britishbake-off-675x400

5. The Great British Bake Off

Beatrice and I have been watching probably way too much of this show in the past 48 hours, but it’s so much fun. For one thing, it’s about baking (enough said). But even better, they’re baking in a beautiful outdoor tent, and you get to listen to a lot of lovely accents. ;) There are three baking challenges per episode – a signature recipe, a technical challenge, and a “show-stopper,” and there’s a side piece about baking in history at some point in each episode. The show has a peaceful, cheery pace, it’s entertaining, and I’ve learned a lot of tidbits about baking techniques as well.

paul and mary

Most American cooking competition shows like Top Chef or Cutthroat Kitchen tend to wear on me a bit because as interesting as the cooking may be, the chefs are often a bit foul and half of the things they say are getting bleeped out… and there’s always so much drama! In Great British Bake Off the competitors are mostly very likable and range from grandmas to dads to students. I like that they cheer one another on and seem to be having so much fun (aside from the occasional time-crunch panic), and that the judges are fair without being mean-spirited or overly critical. They enjoy the food and really seem to want to see the competitors succeed.

paul-hollywoods-cob-loaf-recipe-from-the-great-british-bake-off

The main problem with the show is that it makes me want to get in the kitchen and try some of the methods and recipes (aside from sponge cakes soaked in syrup… no thanks), so it was very frustrating being sick yesterday. Also, it is now one of my life goals to get my hands on one of their baking stations – wouldn’t that be amazing to have in your kitchen, with the wood counter-top and the little proofing drawer and oven? So cool. And wouldn’t it be fun to get together and bake with all your friends outside on a nice day? ;)

rivals

I’ve only watched Season 5 and I’m only about halfway through, but I’m rooting for Martha, Richard, and Nancy. :) You can watch the show for free on YouTube (just search for “Great British Bake Off”), and there are a lot of extra videos about the techniques and recipes on the Great British Bake Off YouTube channel. I definitely feel inspired to do some baking once I’m feeling better. Just one caution: if you enjoy baking, this show is addictive, so make sure you have some time on your hands. ;)

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Do any of you all have a favorite cooking show, or a good series you recommend when stuck in bed with a fever? How do you like to kick a cold (or cope with one)?