Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Harold's Old-Fashioned Chocolate Cake.

We celebrated a family birthday this past weekend {my father-in-law!}, which gave me an opportunity to bake a cake for the first time in I don't know how long. I love to bake but don't do it often enough - except for a special occasion. This is because having cake around on a regular basis is dangerous for my willpower on a Monday night {not that last night would be an example or anything...}

This is my Grandma K's chocolate cake recipe, named after my grandpa Harold as it was his favorite dessert. This is the only chocolate cake recipe Grandma ever made. Grandpa Harold loved it with chocolate frosting and he used to spread butter on each slice like you would on bread. A Midwestern delicacy? My grandparents have since passed away, but this photo was displayed at our wedding last summer in memory. So sweet and young!

This recipe for homemade chocolate cake has been tucked away on my cookbook shelf for a few years, originally published in a local church cookbook from my hometown in Iowa in 2001. Grandma submitted Harold's Favorite Chocolate Cake recipe as a "tried and true" dessert. She was right - it is.

The recipe calls for the addition of 1 cup of cold water to the batter. For an extra special ingredient, I used cherry juice instead. The juice was leftover in my freezer from making Raw Chocolate Cherry Brownie Bars, after cooking down the cherries on the stove. If you're looking for a subtle flavor to go along with chocolate, you can sub any other type of liquid for the cold water in this recipe.

Instead of Grandpa's favorite chocolate frosting, I used a whipped frosting recipe from Basically Yummy Baking. {I used 2 Tablespoons of tart cherry juice and skipped the maraschino cherries}. This was my first attempt making whipped cream frosting and it was incredibly easy and light. Covered with sprinkles of course.

Harold's Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake

2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 and 1/2 sticks butter
2 and 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup cocoa {unsweetened}
1 cup cold water
2 teaspoons baking soda + 1/2 cup hot water

How to~
*Cream together the sugar, eggs, and butter.
*Add flour, cocoa, and cold water - mix well.
*Add 2 teaspoons baking soda, dissolved in 1/2 cup hot water - add and mix well.
*Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes {9x13 inch pan}.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Oatworks Smoothies {A review}.

A few weeks ago, I received my first package in our new house - a box with Oatworks smoothies to try. These guys were one of the first things to go in the new kitchen! I'm generally skeptical of bottled smoothies and prefer making my own at home, hiding as many greens as possible into the mix. If you have been reading here for long, you'll know I am a huge smoothie fan {recipe evidence: Healthy Peach Pie Smoothie; Green Tropics Smoothie; Green Smoothie Base Recipe; Cherry Chocolate Protein Smoothie; Strawberry-PB2 Chocolate Smoothie; "Green" Banana Cherry Smoothie; Green Strawberry Smoothie; Secret PB&J Smoothie; Pumpkin Pie Smoothie}.

However, I was excited to give Oatworks a shot and the smoothies did not disappoint. I realize it's not always possible to make your own smoothie at home on a whim, or you may be missing key ingredients for your favorite combo. These drinks are perfect to fill in, especially when you're on the go. Oatworks smoothies are dairy-free, friendly to vegans, and gluten free {if that's your jam}. Each bottle is 170 calories without any added sugar {besides the fruit already included!} and contains 100% juice. The bottles are also free of scary additives {this is a big win in my book}.

Each smoothie contains the equivalent of two bowls of oatmeal - in soluble fiber. You can tell in drinking them, as they're thicker than most bottled smoothie drinks I've tried, and kept me going much longer. I tried these smoothies three ways - as breakfast for a very early morning road trip for work; half a bottle as pre-run fuel; and as a snack on a busy afternoon.

The smoothies come in three flavors, including:
*Peach mango --> a perfect summer smoothie combo. You can't go wrong with these fruits!
*Strawberry banana --> this classic smoothie combo was my favorite of the three.
*Pomegranate blueberry --> this one is on the sweeter side, with a very strong blueberry flavor.

The smoothies are currently available on Amazon {not an affiliate link} and Whole Foods stores in New York City. 

{I was not compensated for this post and opinions are 100% my own. I received free samples of Oatworks to taste + review.}

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Caprese Salad Bruschetta.

Caprese Salad Bruschetta is a quick appetizer or light dinner for summer. Lemon basil is combined with tomatoes and mozzarella and topped with balsamic glaze.

A few weeks ago, K and I visited a new farmer's market in our neighborhood {new to us that is}. At the top of my list to buy was a carton of tomatoes - I can't stop eating them right now, and I was dreaming of a caprese salad. The market vendor convinced me to buy a package of lemon basil as well, an herb I hadn't tried before. We stopped for a baguette loaf on our walk home to eat the salad as bruschetta. This is an easy summer lunch that came together in under 10 minutes. Promise.

I also used an extra special ingredient to top the bruschetta - balsamic glaze. You can make your own, but I have no judgment for using the bottled version. It only takes a small amount to bring this bruschetta a lot of extra flavor.

Caprese Salad Bruschetta
Serves two.

Baguette slices
4 ounces mozzarella {from a mozzarella ball}
3 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
5 small-medium sized tomatoes {chopped}
10 lemon basil leaves, chiffoned
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper 

How to~
*Chop the tomatoes and mozzarella into similar-sized pieces. Add olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper.
*Chiffon the basil leaves {this creates small strips - my favorite how-to is available on the Kitchn}. *Stir it up and serve on slices of bread - I used a rosemary baguette loaf.
*Top each bruschetta slice with a small swirl of balsamic glaze.

Affiliate link:

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Happy Blog Birthday + Hot Chocolate 15k/5k Race.

Note: Registration for the Chicago Hot Chocolate 15/5k is sold out, as of November 4, 2014. Thanks for visiting! 

It's a special night in this tiny corner of the internet - the one year blog anniversary of Chicago Jogger!

{Image via we heart it}

I started this blog to share running and healthy cooking experiences, and for motivation. I can't wait to see what's to come in year two. Here are a few of my favorite posts from the past year:
*Run to Green City Market + Bruschetta with Ramps and White Beans
*Race Recap: Soldier Field 10 Mile
*6 Week Endurance Challenge
*Roasted Butternut Squash & Chickpea Salad
*40 Minute Interval Workout

To celebrate, I'm announcing my first Blog Ambassador race experience coming up later this fall - for the Hot Chocolate 15k/5k in Chicago! The Hot Chocolate race begins in Grant Park and takes place on Sunday, November 9th. I ran this race with a friend three years ago {on a very cold November day}. Fall is my absolute favorite season to run. I'm planning to race the 15k this year and will post a training plan in early September.

The Hot Chocolate race has numerous locations around the U.S. The 15k Chicago race course loops downtown and heads south, ending along the lakefront path back in Grant Park. The post-race party includes chocolate fondue and hot chocolate, obviously. There are volunteer and charity running opportunities for this race as well.

If you want to join the Hot Chocolate fun this year, click here to register for the race. Please enter the code ChiJogHat - every registrant using this code will receive an extra in their race goodie bag, a Hot Chocolate hat. You will also help earn a free race entry giveaway to be hosted on Chicago Jogger - thanks for the support!

PS: From October 1st-12th, enter to win a free race entry on Chicago Jogger to any Hot Chocolate race this season. Click here!

{I was not compensated for this post and all opinions are my own. I am posting information about the Chicago race for readers as part of the Hot Chocolate Blog Ambassador program.}

Friday, August 1, 2014

August Running Challenge + Storm the Stadium Discount.

I have at least one long race coming up later this fall {more on that soon!} but right now I'm still in summer mode to get every bit of light and warmth possible. Since today starts the last full summer month {I can't believe it's August already} I have a running challenge that I'm planning to start today, with three miles on my lunch break.

In February, I posted a 6 Week Endurance Running Challenge, intended to increase speed through a combination of a long run, maintenance run, and interval training each week. This is a similar challenge, with one long run each week. I'm planning to sprinkle in a few intervals runs this month as well. There are four full weeks in August, plus a few extra days on either side. Finishing this challenge will result in 51 miles - who's with me?

If you need another reason for training motivation this month in a different capacity, I have a discount code to share today for the only open-air stair climb and one of the longest consecutive stair challenges in the U.S. - Storm the Stadium. The event takes place at U.S. Cellular Field {home of the White Sox!} on Saturday, September 6th.

The challenge includes 6,000 steps. The Elite Climb will begin first on the event day. An Elite Group is considered proficient and has competitive climbing experience. "Survivor Teams" will consist of Survivor Team Captains from the CBS show "Survivor." Participant climbers are divided into three groups. All Survivor Team participant times will be averaged. If you fail to complete the full climb you will receive a penalty score. The team with the lowest average climb time will be declared the winner.

There is also a half climb event, starting later the morning of the event, totaling 3,000 stairs. To get $10 off your registration, enter the code RB10 {the discount code is available for those who register online by August 9th}.

{I was not compensated for this post and I am not affiliated with the Storm the Stadium. All opinions are my own. I just want to pass on a deal for an event that looks like a great time!}