This cake is so delectably moist, it can be served without any frosting at all if you choose! (Recipe from Good Housekeeping)
Easy Chocolate Buttermilk Cake Recipe:
2 1/4 cups AP flour
3/4 cup cocoa, unsweetened
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 tsp baking soda
1 1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 cup oil (Canola, sunflower, olive, ect)
3 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350°. Grease two 9″ rounds or a Bundt pan, dust pans with cocoa and/or line with parchment paper. In large bowl, combine flour, cocoa, sugar, baking soda, and salt. In medium bowl, with a wire whisk, mix buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla until blended. Add buttermilk mixture to flour mix and whisk until smooth, but careful not to over beat. Divide batter evenly between pans or pour slowly into Bundt pan, spread evenly. Bake until toothpick is inserted and removed clean – about 30 minutes for rounds or 40-45 for Bundt cake. Cool in pans on wire rack for 10 minutes, then run knife around rounds and flip gently onto the racks. Or, if using Bundt pan, run tip of knife around to loosen edges and invert until cooled and easily removed from pan.
For the frosting, I wanted to try this vanilla/butter one I came across on the Pioneer Woman’s website. It was actually submitted by someone else, but just got great reviews. Here is the recipe. It turned out pretty good on the cake, but I won’t lie and say it was the BEST frosting ever, in my opinion is wasn’t. I thought it was too soft and whipped, at least for the hot summer; I kept the cake in the refrigerator and it helped it to set up a bit more. The flavor was a nice, smooth vanilla and butter taste, but I guess I was more used to a decoration frosting. In my full opinion, this cake really does NOT need a frosting, at most I think a light glaze would have been perfect! I loved the chocolate cake and it really was so simple to make!!! What do you think, have you tried this frosting before and if so, what did you think?
Although, I honestly cannot say that I have asked Mary to intercede on my behalf, I do not see it as a division of my faith anymore. I especially like the example of heeding God’s will and creating a “saint worthy” life to be left as my mark. There is still so much I am learning about this faith, and in spite of the fact that I am living in the country that full force practices Orthodoxy, I feel lost so much of the time with the language barrier. Church itself is so very different in practice than what I am used to or how I would even prefer to grow spiritually, but I am pressing forward with determination to make the most of where God has placed us for the time being!!!
Tomorrow, August 15th, is the “Dormition of the Theotokos” (Mother Mary) celebrating the death, resurrection, and glorification of Christ’s mother. According to Orthodox tradition, Mary died like all humanity, “falling asleep” not voluntarily, like her Son, but by the necessity of her mortal human nature which is invisibly bound up with the corruption of this world and then the ascension of her body into heaven. For a greater understanding and explanation of the icon (above) for this feast, please visit the GO ARCH webpage (Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America). We plan to celebrate with a huge feast for lunch, I will include a picture asap with all the wonderful delights we have/will prepare!
All of the struggles we have and will face, by the grace of God, make us not only stronger individually but together in our marriage and the unique faith we have found together! My prayer for each of you today is to not only be thankful for where God has you now (despite the ease or difficulty of season), but to whole heartedly trust – without evidence of what your eyes see, be led by your spirit instead – where He is taking you! I am in the middle of trying to do the same, so let’s journey together!
Side note: we will be in Lesvos another year after MANY ordeals and lack of communication from anyone within the department that sends teachers abroad! This is me trusting and looking by faith that God’s plan for our lives is better than our own, amen!
I will try to post some more pictures when things settle down a bit more, as of now we are in north Greece with the in-laws and trying to figure out exactly where we will be next year.
There is still a small chance we could be moving stateside, but we aren’t holding our breath until it actually happens. I will keep you updated as we find anything out! As of now, we will 99.9% chance be in Lesvos again. We are trusting that God is in control and not us, He always knows better, right?!
I haven’t been cooking lately either, just enjoying lots of gyros, summer fruits and vegetables, and now my mother-in-law’s amazing cooking. Especially during times of fasting like now (until August 15th for the Ascension of Mary) she can transform the most simple dishes into complete masterpieces!!! I will have to observe and learn some of her secrets, and maybe I will share them with you too!!!
Hope you are all enjoying the wonderful summer, especially if you are near a beach!!!
After two months, two weddings, two wonderful trips (one with family and one with friends), and still no official news from the Greek government, I am VERY ready to return back to Greece and see my husband! I have come to fully realize that you can be surrounded by lots of people and lots of things, but if you are away from the one you love – life just isn’t as sweet and time goes by twice as slow. I wonder why the grass always seems greener until you step over, then somehow you grow to miss the old, brown grass from where you came:) I am all for changes and challenges in life, but in less than 4 days, I will be back with the Mr., and even though not all will be right in the world, my heart will be back at ease and I will be in the arms of someone who loves me dearly. And maybe the brown grass will even seem a little greener once I get back, but then again, maybe not?! Ha ha.
Banana Blueberry Muffins with Streusel Recipe: Makes 12 regular muffins
1 cup all purpose Flour
1 cup whole wheat
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 – 1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup oil (EVOO or Canola)
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup buttermilk (or almond milk with 1 tsp. lemon juice)
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup blueberries (tossed in 1-2 T. flour)
2 small bananas
2 T. cold butter
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup oats
1/4 cup brown sugar
Line your muffin pan or grease very well. Wash and dry your blueberries and then toss them in a small bowl with your extra flour, set aside. Mash your bananas in another small bowl and set aside. In a large bowl combine brown sugar and oil, whisking or mixing quickly until light in texture. Add buttermilk, egg, and vanilla whisking until uniform. Either combine in a separate bowl all the dry ingredients or use a mesh bowl strainer to sift over the wet mix, stirring slowly using a folding form, careful to only mix until combined. Slowly fold in the bananas and blueberries, careful again not to over stir.
Preheat oven to 375°. In another small bowl mix all of your ingredients together with a fork or your fingers, until crumbly. Sprinkle over the tops of your muffins and put in preheated oven. Bake for 18-22 minutes or until the tops are golden brown and tester stick removes clean. Enjoy warm with a little butter or cold glass of milk!
I took these little guys on one of my trips with me and there were plenty to go around. I loved them as breakfast or as a mid day snack and I hope that you will too. Some people may not be into the combination of banana AND blueberries but feel free to replace with any fruit or nut you like instead. I also prefer the whole grain taste and slight “nutty” hint when using whole wheat flour, but it is also very easy to replace the wheat using 2 cups all purpose flour. Whatever floats your boat :) Make it work for you!
In another week or two I will be back in my comfort zone and home environment for cooking and taking pictures, believe it or not that has actually become Greece even through my limited options. I promise not only more regular posts but also better pictures and recipes too! Until then though, I truly hope that you are enjoying your summer and making the most of each sun filled (and super hot) day!
Finally… an updated blog post! These dips are both easy and delicious!
I am still in the States, moving around and staying busy as ever. Believe it or not, we have still not heard any updates about transferring abroad and I am leaving in 9 days back to Greece. As of tonight, the EU leaders are trying to determine what the future holds for Greece and how to prevent a domino effect of bankruptcy and default, although, “Greece is in a uniquely grave situation in the euro area,” the statement said. Article Here. And as of now, it looks that everyone is pulling together to help Greece, read further here. I won’t bore you with the details but the links above are from the BBC webpage and provide very insightful information if you are interested.
I hope to hear something, anything, as soon as possible so we can officially move forward with our lives. These last two months in the US have been bittersweet to say the least, although I have gotten much needed quality time with my family and friends, I miss my love. Although, there are endless things to see and do here, I miss my very bestest friend. All I can do it keep busy and not stop too long to think about how much I miss him, and also keep trusting that God has a plan for all of this – His will be done, not ours. We are both walking forward in faith, blindly trusting that the best is yet to come!
I wanted to share a couple of delicious and very simple recipes for parties or just fun appetizers. The first one is made with black beans and I love black beans!!! Greece doesn’t sell black beans (as far as I know) and I have been craving for them for the past year and half – they are my favorite legume by far :)
Summer Black Bean Salsa Recipe:
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can whole corn (white or yellow), drained and rinsed
1/2 red bell pepper or tomato, chopped
1 small avocado, neatly chopped
1/4 cup onion of choice, green or purple
1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
1 bunch of cilantro, finely chopped
1 – 2 limes, squeezed
1/2 – 1 tsp. cumin
salt and pepper
Drain and rinse beans and corn, chop all other ingredients and squeeze limes and stir in spices. Refrigerate overnight or for at least 3 hours, serve with tortilla chips – Scoops work great!
The second dip is more of a Texas classic with a funny name. Texas Caviar Dip was actually invented by a New York chef who moved to Dallas to work at Neiman Marcus, but had no clue what to do with black eyed peas. She eventually came up with this simple, affordable dip that the rich customers just loved!
Texas Caviar Dip Recipe:
1 can black eyed peas
1/2 bell pepper of choice, chopped, optional
1 can corn, drained and rinsed, optional
1 cup diced tomatoes
1 chile or jalapeno pepper, chopped
1/4 cup red onion, chopped
1/2 cup chopped cilantro (or parsley if preferred)
1/2 tsp. salt and pepper
1/2 tsp. garlic powder*
1/2 tsp. dried oregano*
1 tsp. cumin*
(*or as a spice substitute use italian dressing, a little goes a long way!)
Mix everything in a bowl and let refrigerate overnight or at least a few hours to enhance flavor!
I also had some extra black beans that I blended with a spoonful of sour cream, some jalapenos, salt and pepper, and some minced garlic. This was terrific drizzled over the dips, spooned onto a chip, or even served with a fresh quesadilla!
If you have never tried these, I suggest that you whip them up for your next get together. The summer is the perfect season to enjoy these bean melodies. Remember, make it suit you, use whichever bean you prefer most and mix and match the ingredients that you love.
Thank you again for all sticking around during this chaotic season of life and for each and every prayer said on our behalf. We trust and know that God has a plan, His will be done – not our own!
Hope you’re having wonderful summer.