Crockpot Chocolate Fudge Cake

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

When the warm weather is upon us, the last thing I want to do it turn on the oven. So it is the season to start using the crock pot more often. Plus, with summer vacation that means that there are kids under foot all day long and therefore less time to actually spend in the kitchen. I love 'mix, pour, and forget about it' recipes. Therefore I love using a slow cooker . This recipe for chocolate cake in the crock pot comes from one of the Betty Crocker publications from September 2000. (I always seem to buy those little Betty Crocker or Taste of Home recipe books at the checkout line and there are always little books for slow cooker recipes.) But as always, I seem to stray a bit from a recipe so there are few of my own alterations. It's egg free so it's safe for those of you who want chocolate cake but can't eat eggs. This is so easy that your kids can even help you with this as well.
Click here for printable recipe

The Ingredients:
1 c flour
1/2 c sugar
2 Tbsp cocoa powder
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 c milk
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 package chocolate chips (optional but you'll thank me later)
1/2 c chopped nuts (optional)
1 c brown sugar
1/4 c cocoa powder
2 c hot water

The Directions:

First spray the inside of your slow cooker with non stick spray or rub butter all around inside the bowl. Mix the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, and salt in a bowl.Stir in the milk, oil, vanilla until smooth. At this point you can add chocolate chips/and or nuts. I add the extra chocolate chips because it gives the cake a more deep chocolate taste. Spread the batter evenly in the crock pot.Meanwhile, heat up the water in a microwave safe measuring cup (4 cups size or bigger). Add the brown sugar and the cocoa powder and stir until smooth. You may need to use a whisk or fork to get out the lumps of sugar.Pour the liquid mixture carefully and evenly over the top of the cake batter in the crockpot.
Cover with the lid and turn the slow cooker on high for 2-2 1/2 hours or until a toothpick comes out clean. Then turn off the slow cooker. The longer you wait to serve this, the thicker the sauce will get.

Now you're probably wondering what kind of cake this will be and you're skeptical about all the liquid on top of the cake. Well, while it cooks, the cake batter pushes its way to the top and the sauce thickens up and ends up on the bottom. What you end up with is chocolate cake floating within its own fudgy goodness. Serve with the sauce and vanilla ice cream.
Yes, you can double this. Use a 4-5 qt crockpot. I think this one was made in a 2 1/2 qt or 3 qt crockpot.


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Root Beer Floats on a Stick

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

I may have gray roots protruding from my home-colored hair.  I may be stressed and overscheduled.  And I  definitely am dog tired this week, but despite all I feel AWESOME.  Yesterday, in amongst sleek Speedos and colorful swim caps,  in a swimsuit store of all places, I met my very first real life blog fan.  Someone who wouldn't know me otherwise.    While she was a little embarrassed to introduce herself as a blog fan, I, for one, was super excited to meet a fellow mother of five who loves this blog!  It turns out that she wasn't actually a complete stranger, as we have a mutual friend and had kids on a soccer team together a couple years back, but since there's no way we would have conversed at the swimsuit store without the blog, I'm still counting it.  :)    It was an exciting experience for me, even if she did get to see me in all my glory-- unshowered, wearing my grubbies, and toting around a dressed herself six-year-old.   :)  Thank you to her for making my day!   

Now onto the recipe of the day.    This recipe is super easy and perfect for a summer activity for your kids.  Just mix a few ingredients together, stick them in a Dixie cup, freeze, and VOILA ..... Root Beer Floats on a Stick!  The root beer portion of the popsicle is only two ingredients and is delicious in an of itself, but if  you decide to add the optional cream layer, they actually taste just like frozen root beer floats.  My kids are enamored!  Enjoy!

Source:  Smilemonsters
Click here for printable recipe. 

The ingredients:

1-1/2 cups root beer  (flat is fine)
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk

CREAM LAYER (optional):
1/3 cup whole milk
1 Tbs. sweetened condensed milk
1/4 tsp. vanilla

Directions for the root beer layer: 
In a medium size bowl, mix root beer and sweetened condensed milk together with a whisk. If the mixture gets too foamy, just set it in the fridge for a few minutes until it settles down.

Pour into popsicle molds (we just used 3-ounce Dixie cups and popsicle sticks).  Let the popsicles set up for about an hour before inserting the sticks.  Or if you're forgetful like me, cover the top of the cup with a piece of aluminum foil  and place the stick in the middle of the foil.  The foil should hold it into place while it is setting. 

Directions for layered popsicles with the cream layer
(the cream layer makes it taste just like a root beer float):
Mix together root beer layer as indicated above.  Set aside in the refrigerator.  For cream layer, mix together milk, sweetened condensed milk, and vanilla.  

If using 3-ounce Dixie cups, add 2 tablespoons of cream mixture into the bottom of each cup.  If using a popsicle mold rather than a Dixie cup, then fill it about 1/3 full with cream mixture.  Either way, freeze the cream layer for one hour.   At this point, the mixture should be set enough (with at least the top layer frozen) to add the root beer layer without the two layers mixing together.  Gently pour the root beer mixture over the cream mixture.  Freeze for an additional hour before inserting the popsicle sticks (or use the tin foil trick mentioned above).  Freeze for 3-4 more hours or until completely firm.  Tear away Dixie cup before serving.


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Menu 6/27 - 7/3

Sunday, June 26, 2011

My kids are only three full days into their summer vacation, but boy has it been a loooooong few days already.  I like my kids being home, but it somehow seems that our summer schedule this year is even busier than our school year schedule...and with five kids at three different schools that's really saying something!  We're keeping it on the simple side this week with  several of our favorite quick and easy summer dishes.   

Monday--Potato Kielbasa Skillet--one of my husband's very favorites!

Tuesday--Grilled Fajitas (new)
Lion House Corn Bread--with a can of diced green chilies added to the batter, this the best cornbread we've ever had

Wednesday--Asian Chicken-Peanut Wraps--simple, easy, and yummy!

Thursday--Creamy Spinach Sausage Pasta (new)

Friday--eating with our teens at church Youth Conference

Saturday--Easy Apple Danish (new)

Grilled Honey-Lime Chicken Sandwich--one of our summer favorites!

Honey-Mint Fruit Salad--my 10-year-old loves to make this up for us

Sunday--Peach Pancakes (new)

Chicken-Mango Quinoa Salad--delicious and nutritious!

Pull-Apart Garlic Buns (new) 

White-Chocolate Fresh Strawberry Cookies
I recently came up with the recipe for these unique cookies and now my family keeps asking me to make again.
Go check Organizing Junkie for lots more Menu Plans!

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Fruit Custard

Friday, June 24, 2011

**Note from Lara--To get to know my new blogging partner Jen a little, check out her new profile on our About Us page

This is a great dessert if you're looking for something light and not too sugary. It reminds me of rice pudding just minus the rice. There is actually a dessert here in France called "Clafoutis aux Cerises" which is a custard or flan with cherries. Since I love all things cherry, I decided to give it a try. Then I thought "why not use other fruit?" This one is made with canned peaches, although I'm sure that pears, blueberries, or other fruit would be just fine. Give it a try and let me know!

Click here for printable recipe. 

The Ingredients:

1 (15-oz) can peaches, drained and diced
3 Tbsp flour
1/4 c sugar
3/4 whole milk (I suppose that 2% or maybe skim would be fine too)
2 eggs
pinch ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

The Directions:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray or butter a shallow baking pan like a Pyrex pie pan. Arrange diced peaches around on bottom of the pan. In a bowl mix together the flour and sugar. Add in milk and beat until smooth. Then beat in the eggs, nutmeg, and vanilla. Beat until smooth.Pour the batter over the fruit carefully so as to not move the fruit around too much. You want to keep it as evenly spaced as possible so each bite has its fair share of fruit.Bake in oven for 1/2 hour or until set and the edges are puffed and golden. A toothpick inserted in the middle should come out clean.
Right before serving, sift powdered sugar on top. This can be served warm or cold. If served warm, you could add a dollop of whipped cream as well.

This is what the cherry one looks like. I used canned cherries. (Not cherry pie filling!) Just make sure they are pitted. If you want to use fresh cherries, just pit them, and mix them in a bowl with a little lemon juice first. If you're using tart cherries, then also mix them with a little powdered sugar.


Mommy's 20-Minute Spinach, Hot Dog, and Cream Cheese Pasta

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Most of my last-minute creative kitchen inventions are far from being blog-worthy, but after eating this  "throw-together-whatever-I-found-in-the-fridge" dish, my family actually demanded that I put it on the blog so I could recreate again another night.  While I'm used to my kids telling me their opinion on what I cook, it's not often that their opinions stretch into blogging advice.  So you won't find any ingredient or process pictures in this post and I figured I may as well take pictures of it on the paper plates we ate off of that night, but in acquiescing to my kids' it is!  With hot dogs and noodles, it's kid and husband-friendly.  With  the super quick prep-time and  all the spinach and whole-grain noodles it's also mom- friendly.  And with the Garlic and Herb cheese, it was taste bud-friendly too!    Enjoy! 
Click here for printable recipe.  

Spinach, Hot Dog, and Cream Cheese Pasta
(in case you like more traditional names)
Recipe by Lara

The ingredients:
1 pkg. (12-13-ounces) noodles (penne, rotini, macaroni, whatever you have)
1 package (16-ounces) hot dogs, chopped into bite-size pieces
2-3 cups fresh spinach, coarsely chopped
1 Tbs. vegetable oil
1 package (5.2-ounces) garlic and herb flavored creamy cheese (we used Boursin)
3-ounces low-fat cream cheese

Directions:  Cook noodles as directed on package.  While noodles are cooking,  have the kids the chop hot dogs, while you chop the spinach.  In large skillet, heat oil and add hot dogs and spinach.   Saute for 3-4 minutes, then add drained noodles and cream cheese.  Stir until cream cheese is melted and evenly distributed.  Remove from heat and serve immediately.  Makes 6 servings.  Enjoy! 

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Taco Tarts

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Today I was thinking of what to make for dinner, and I was standing in front of the refrigerator looking at what I had on hand (because I'm not taking 3 kids to the grocery store for last minute quick dinner ingredients). All of a sudden I saw a Tupperware dish of leftover taco meat and I remembered a recipe I once saw in Halloween pamphlet. Taco tarts were the answer to my dinner dilemma. This is a great way to get your kids involved making dinner. Let them choose the shapes of the taco tarts and cut them out. I would have done that, but while I was making dinner my kids were suspiciously quiet* so I left them alone. When the kids finally emerged from their activity, they were so excited for dinner. My 8 year old ate about 4 or 5 Taco tarts. And in case you were wondering, yes that is the Millennium Falcon**.
Click here for printable recipe. 

The Ingredients:

1/2 lb leftover taco meat (or 1/2 lb cooked hamburger, 1/2 chopped onion, 1 pkg taco seasoning)
2 packages pie crust (or Lara's best pie crust recipe here.)
8 oz shredded cheddar cheese
1 egg white
1 egg yolk
cookie cutters at least 3 inches

Roll out pie dough and cut out shapes with cookie cutters. Make sure you do 2 of every shape as you will need a top and a bottom. Brush the edges of the pie dough with egg white.
Place 1 tablespoon (or bigger depending on the size of your cookie cutters) of cooked taco meat in the middle and top with a pinch of cheddar cheese.
Place the tops of the matching shapes onto the taco meat and seal around the edges. Brush with egg yolk. Bake in oven at 375 degrees. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until crust is a golden brown.

*My kids were quiet because apparently they were in their room, with the door closed, throwing Legos at each other.

**In case you wanted to know where I got a Millennium Falcon cookie cutter, click here to go to Williams and Sonoma. They're even on sale with a vintage Star Wars lunch box to store them in.


Patriotic Pancakes (with blueberries, strawberry sauce, and yogurt)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

 One of the things I love about the summertime is having more time for eating breakfast.   Although we like our cereal and oatmeal too, we love heartier, more filling breakfasts even more.  These patriotic looking pancakes are an excellent way to start the day.  Not only are they tasty and eye-catching with the natural red, white, and blue colors, but with whole grains, fresh fruits, and very little added fat, these pancakes are good-for-you too! 

Source:  Food Network Canada

Click here for printable recipe. 
The ingredients:

1-1/3 cups all-purpose flour (we used 1/2 white, 1/2 whole wheat flour)
2/3 cup oat bran (near the oatmeal and other hot cereals in the grocery store)
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1-3/4 cups buttermilk
1/2 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 1 medium sized banana)
2 Tbs. butter, melted
1 egg
1 Tbs. maple syrup
1/2 tsp. vanilla
3/4 cup fresh blueberries
1 cup low-fat vanilla-flavored yogurt (for the topping)

Strawberry Sauce

2 cups diced fresh strawberries
3 Tbs. pure maple syrup
1/4 cup orange juice
1 Tbs. cornstarch

Directions :
Combine flour, oat bran, baking powder, and baking soda in a large bowl. Set aside.  Whisk together buttermilk, mashed bananas, melted butter, egg, maple syrup and vanilla in a medium bowl. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix just until dry ingredients are moistened. Do not over-mix! Fold in blueberries.

Using about 1/2 cup batter at a time, cook on a greased preheated griddle.  Serve with generous dollops of vanilla yogurt and strawberry sauce!   Makes about 10 pancakes. 

For strawberry sauce, mix together diced strawberries and maple syrup in a saucepan. 
In a separate small bowl, whisk together orange juice and cornstarch and add to the strawberry/syrup mixture.   Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until mixture bubbles and sauce thickens, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat.  Serve over pancakes. 


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Menu 6/20-6/26

Sunday, June 19, 2011

This week's another busy week at our house.  Summer vacation starts on Wednesday and it's my hubby's 40th birthday on Saturday.  As a result, I've got some of my easiest recipes mixed in with some of my husband's favorites.  One of these days I hope to be able to slow down and take a breath again!  Have a wonderful week!

Monday--Turkey Tacos (with shredded chicken instead of turkey)--my teenage daughter has been begging me to make these for weeks

Tuesday--BBQ Chicken and Cheddar Sandwiches--one of our favorite summer sandwiches

Wednesday--Peanut Butter Pancakes--this is the first day of summer vacation for us and I know my kids will be eager to eat a hearty and leisurely breakfast

Thai Chicken Peanut Noodles--my kids love this dish

Thursday--Baked Chicken and Bean Taquitos--quick and easy for a crazy day.  These are tasty and healthy as well.

Friday--order pizza. 

Saturday--Hearty One Dish Breakfast--a manly breakfast for my man's birthday
Dinner:  Out to eat for husband's 40th birthday!!!

Flourless Chocolate Cake--don't be scared off by the garbanzo beans in this recipe, this is our favorite chocolate cake by far.  In fact, we recently went to DC Cupcakes from the TLC show (which in reality is called Georgetown Cupcakes) and found that we preferred our flourless chocolate cake recipe more than their version.    Check out this 17-layer version of the cake my sister-in-law made for someone's 17th birthday! 

Sunday--Banana Chocolate Chip Pancakes--this is one of my husband's favorite new pancake creations

BBQ Chicken Skillet Pasta (new)

Key Lime Bars--cool and refreshing, I've been craving a good citrusy dessert lately

Go check Organizing Junkie for lots more Menu Plans!

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About This Blog

My name is Lara and while I'm definitely not a gourmet cook, I do love preparing tasty, healthy meals for my family. Finding new recipes to try and sharing the ones we've already fallen in love with is a passion I've had since college and the reason why I've started this blog! With five kids, I'm usually in a hurry, so you'll find most of these recipes kid friendly and simple to make.

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