Chocolate Tres Leches Cake

Quote of the Day: "If the doors of perception were cleansed everything would appear to man as it is, infinite." - William Blake

Ladies and gentlemen, I'm back, even though I know I've said this a million and one times since I started this blog. I was having a major case of writer's block, and on top of that, trying to have a healthier lifestyle was kicking my butt! Working out is hard, people! It was leaving me beyond exhausted without energy to even check my email. But now, I decided to learn how to manage my time a lot better. Between 8:00am to 5:00pm, I'll be working. Then, after commuting back home, I'd be at my neighborhood gym by 6:30pm to 7:00pm, which would be followed by making dinner, studying, and... blogging! I'll be posting Tuesdays, Thursdays, and most Saturdays, starting with today. So folks, grab your forks, spoons, and knives, and prepare to (hopefully) be inspired. Let me begin by introducing today's fine specimen: a tres leches cake, but not your ordinary tres leches... Its main star is CHOCOLATE! This cake is a kind of like a hybrid of a T.L. cake with a poke cake. Depending on your finesse, or maybe just your technique, you'd end up with an all-over chocolatey cake, or a pseudo-marbled cake of sorts mixed with moist chocolate yummy-ness. You can start with a boxed cake mix, like how I started (not my usual pick) or you could probably start with a basic white cake recipe. However you decide to go about it, the chocolate flavor will definitely be in the spotlight, and the whipped topping rounds out all the flavors by mellowing yet uniting the sweetness. The one downside about the recipe was having to wait for the cake to absorb all the chocolate! :) Seeing as how Mother's Day is right around the corner, why not give this bad boy a shot and let me know how it goes. I'd love to hear your feedback, both about this recipe, or my site in general. I'm open to opinions and suggestions.

Chocolate Tres Leches Cake
adapted from: Comida y Familia Otoño 2009 by Kraft Foods

*serves 16*

1 package/box Classic White cake mix
3 oz semi-sweet baking chocolate, divided
14 ounces sweetened condensed milk
12 oz evaporated milk
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup whipped topping, thawed
cocoa nibs

1) Prepare the cake batter and bake in a 13x9-inch pan as instructed on the box. Cool it in the pan for 10 minutes. Pierce the cake with a large fork at 1/2 inch intervals.
2) Melt the chocolate. Blend the milks and sour cream until they are creamy. Add the melted chocolate and blend well. Pour over the cake, piercing when necessary in order for the cake to absorb the entire mixture. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
3) Frost the cake with the whipped topping; decorate with the cocoa nibs. Store it in the fridge.

Supreme Pizza Spaghetti Sauce

"Never go on trips with anyone you do not love." - Ernest Hemingway

After a long and hot Miami day, it's now humid and cloudy outside, which makes my brain scream for comfort food! Instantly, I started to crave mac 'n' cheese, and pizza, and pepperoni, and intense flavors, but alas, I don't exactly have everything to make any of those completely. So, why not blend them into a recipe that I can still have veggies in without feeling too guilty? I mean, c'mon, it's the weekend. I need to have a little diet leeway on the weekends, but I don't necessarily want to completely cave by eating McDonald's or Pizza Hut. Oh, and, I need to keep A's food ways in mind, which sometimes is like dealing with a picky hungry teenager! So, why not blend pasta and pizza together with this featured spaghetti sauce? Well, that's exactly what I did, and let me tell you... My cravings were definitely satisfied. It's quick to make, and you could cook the pasta (I used pre-cooked tortellini) at the same time, so in under 15 minutes, you have a great and delicious dinner, good for anyone from kids to the older crowd. I bet you could also use this as a dip, because I definitely wanted to dip some bread in the leftover sauce on my plate (but shhh, hope you keep my secret craving!). Even though I made this recipe on the stovetop, this recipe can be adapted to the slow cooker; I bet cooking it in the slow cooker would bring out a whole new depth of flavor to this recipe that would blow anyone's mind away! Maybe this sauce might end up on an actual pizza one night... I'd just have to buy some pizza dough and try it out. I'd love to find out how you use this sauce, so feel free to share.

Supreme Pizza Spaghetti Sauce
adapted from: New Cook Book 14th Edition by Better Homes and Gardens

*makes 5 1/2 cups*

4 1/4 oz Italian Style Herb pork sausage, chopped
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
1/2 tsp minced garlic
24 oz jarred chunky Italian Garden pasta sauce
1 green sweet pepper, finely chopped
2/3 cup mini pepperoni
1 tsp dried basil

1) In a large skillet cook sausage, onion, and garlic until meat is brown. Drain off fat.
2) Add pasta sauce, pepper, pepperoni, and basil. Heat to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 15 minutes or until the pepper is tender.

Slow Cooker directions:
Prepare as above through Step 1. In a 3 1/2 or 4 quart slow cooker combine pasta sauce, pepper, pepperoni, and basil. Stir in the sausage mixture. Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 3 hours and 15 minutes.

Mussels with Creole Sauce

"In the kingdom of the blind, the one-eyed man is king." - Desiderius Erasmus

Let me make a quick announcement: I lost 2 pounds! It may not seem like much to you, or much to me when I think of the -45 pound goal I have for myself, but baby steps count, specially if you've been having weight-loss battles your entire life. I've been watching what I eat, working out for at least 30 minutes a day, and drinking almost half my weight in water, and I feel better and healthier. Now that the weekend's coming up, it's going to be a little hard to keep the goal in mind, but this is where I can start to experiment with healthier foods or tastier alternatives to junk food. Such as this recipe, for example. I've always associated eating mussels as part of paella, but I've never thought of making them separately as the star of the show. In comes this recipe from my Better Homes & Gardens book. It seemed like a great recipe to try, with lots of seasonings and flavor, and hey, how unhealthy can it really be? The heartiness of this recipe makes this a great dish to either serve as an appetizer or as a main dish. It's also really easy to make, so it can serve as a good date-night recipe to either cook with your partner or cook for your partner. When making, it's your choice whether you'd like to use fresh mussels, or frozen, but I used frozen. I bet all the herbs and ingredients in the Creole Sauce can be used to even adapt this recipe to fish, or chicken. Hmmm... makes me wonder. For any of you who know more about Creole cooking, does this recipe or do the ingredients match up to an authentic Creole flavor profile? I'd love to hear feedback, since I've never dabbled in it before! Also, I'll make sure to keep you updated on my progress even though I'll still be diversifying my posts between healthy and not-so-healthy; I hope to have your full support! Only positive vibes allowed :)

Mussels with Creole Sauce
adapted from: New Cook Book 14th Edition by Better Homes and Gardens

*serves 4*

1 1/4 lbs frozen mussels in shells
1 cup salt
1 small green sweet pepper, finely chopped
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 tsp minced garlic
1 tbsp sweet unsalted butter
1 tsp Louisiana Cajun seasoning
1 cup white cooking wine
1 medium tomato, chopped
2 tsp snipped fresh oregano
2 tsp snipped fresh thyme
8 French dinner rolls
lemon wedges

1) Scrub frozen mussels under cold running water. In an 8-quart Dutch oven, combine 4 quarts cold water and 1/3 cup of the salt. Add the mussels; soak for 15 minutes. Drain and rinse, discarding water. Repeat twice with the remaining salt and additional water.
2) In a large Dutch oven, cook and stir sweet pepper, onion, and garlic in hot butter over medium-high heat for 4 to 5 minutes or until onion is tender. Add Cajun seasoning; cook and stir for 2 minutes more.
3) Carefully add wine; bring to boiling. Add mussels. Cook, covered, for 5 to 7 minutes or until shells open and mussels are cooked through. Discard any that do not open.
4) Using a slotted spoon, transfer mussels to a large shallow serving bowl; set aside. Stir tomato, oregano, and thyme into cooking liquid in Dutch oven; heat through. Pour tomato mixture over mussels. Serve with bread and lemon wedges.

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