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Read & Eat: Almostkinda Shrimp Gumbo & The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz

You may recall that one time and the other time that I paired up and reviewed a recipe and a book in one sitting. Because nothing beats scarfing something down while flipping through some awesome pages. So let’s all take a break from analyzing the VMA awards and Googling what twerking is. Please.

Disclaimer: Depending on the food you’re eating, take care when turning pages. Loaning out a book with cheeto-fingerprint-corners can be awkward.

Read & Eat: Almostkinda Shrimp Gumbo & A Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz | Painting Sunny

Yes, I love my soups and my novels… Almost equally. Not sure which one edges the other out, but in this case, it was pretty much a dead heat. I’m excited to share with you Junot Diaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Woa and a maybe-not-all-that-authentic-but-really-yummy Shrimp Gumbo. Let’s hit the books first.

Read & Eat: Almostkinda Shrimp Gumbo & A Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz | Painting Sunny

Yes, this is when I was dueling books at the airport with a somewhat strange pairing.
It totally worked though.

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz

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If you’re in the mood for a novel that is both substantial and engaging, here it is. Every family’s story is both a comedy and a tragedy, and every individual is influenced by their heritage in ways we often don’t understand. This highlights the balance in one family and the insight into what drives us from one generation to the next.

Sometimes with a determined grimness and sometimes with a smirking humor, Diaz baldly lays out historical backgrounds and cultural experiences as a foundation for characters that feel very real. It’s rare to find a book that blends modern experiences so comfortably with a sense of ancestry and deep-rooted ways. There is perseverance, fear, and destiny – Beli, Lola, and Oscar are always moving from something, towards something and through something at the same time.

With multi-perspective storytelling, it can easily feel jarred and confused; somehow this novel manages to avoid that. Yunior serves as an anchor while the books moves fluidly through several characters, stories, and time periods to create a more rounded understanding of the family as a whole. Get 1/3 of a way through the book, and you’re sunk into it – you’ll feel compelled to stay up late and finish.

If you’re into this kind of thing, might I suggest some other fav’s of mine such as House of Sand and Fog by Andre Dubus III, The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson, and Pigs in Heaven by Barbara Kingsolver.

Okaybees, let’s get to the food!

Read & Eat: Almostkinda Shrimp Gumbo & A Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz | Painting Sunny

Sources: Pinterest and Original

Yes, this took a little bit of time to make. Consider it an investment. This stuff is very customizable, delicious, filling, and even freezes awesomely. Try it asap with some brown rice (not only a healthy choice, but a little more substantial when paired with the goodness of gumbo) and some fresh-baked rolls. Wegman’s were responsible for ours, of course.

Check out the original source, and keep in mind how easily you can make it your own. I changed a few things up, myself…

  1. Instead of being a seafood gumbo, mine was simply a shrimp one. Shrimp was a more affordable choice, and one everyone in our fam will eat a little more readily.
  2. I skipped the green bell peppers – I don’t eat them.
  3. I used vegetable stock instead of water/seafood stock. I keep vegetable bullion cubes in the house at all times since they are so useful.
  4. I skipped the boiled ham, as two out of our four don’t eat meat (but do eat fish & seafood).
  5. I use one of these fresh seasoning tubes in EVERYTHING as they are amazing, instead of dried herbs, etc.
  6. Obviously, I added cayenne pepper. You know me.

I give this recipe 4 stars, as well.

Read & Eat: Almostkinda Shrimp Gumbo & A Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz | Painting Sunny

My little guy even tried some out. What a champ!

Anyone else reading Junot Diaz? Think cayenne pepper is the finishing touch to pretty much anything? Finally watching Orange Is The New Black? I’m obsessed.

PS: This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are my own, and I have not received compensation for anything written. Links to products on Amazon may be affiliate links. Keepin’ it real.


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Read & Eat: Chocolate Chip Cookies & Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson

Who loves cookies and humor about taxidermy? I’m estimating at least 6% of the population, that’s who. Doesn’t that pique your appetite? Let’s read and eat with my all-time-favorite-and-I’ve-tried-a-lot chocolate chip cookies (they are even healthified) and Jenny Lawson’s Let’s Pretend This Never Happened. Both are delicious.

Read & Eat: Chocolate Chip Cookies & Let's Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson | Painting SunnyLet’s whip up these cookies based on Bev’s Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe at Eating Well and then settle down with a good book. Maybe make some tea or grab some milk? Or tea with milk? Do people really do that still?

The only real differences between the original recipe and my version are:

  • I used quick oats instead of rolled oats, because I had some and can never tell the difference.
  • The I use whole wheat flour as the recipe calls for, but I usually use whole wheat pastry flour, or sometimes “white whole wheat”. The pastry flour makes them much more light and delicate, crispy around the edges but still substantial. Mmmmm. It isn’t always easy to find at the grocery store, though.
  • I used a bunch of random types of chocolate to use up my stash and to change it up.
  • I TRIPLE the recipe. Go big or go home – I’m not playing games here.

Read & Eat: Chocolate Chip Cookies & Let's Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson | Painting SunnyThe first step of the recipe calls for grinding the oats in a blender or food processor.  Honestly, it’s prob not necessary to do if you don’t have one or don’t feel like it. Still, when I do I food process the oats into a course meal as shown in Exhibit A the picture above.

Read & Eat: Chocolate Chip Cookies & Let's Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson | Painting SunnyDid I mention I used a bunch of random chocolates? Yep. Different recipes call for different things, and I end up with bits of everything. Since I tripled the recipe I needed 3 cups of chocolate. This included milk chocolate chips, semi-sweet chocolate chips, another brand of semi-sweets, and chopped up baker’s semi-sweet chocolate. The melted chunks in the cookies are always so nice from the chopped stuff… mmm.

Read & Eat: Chocolate Chip Cookies & Let's Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson | Painting SunnyIf you make an obscene amount of cookie dough (I’m pretty self-aware) there are several methods for what to do with it. Sometimes, I just spend an afternoon baking them all, cool them all thoroughly, and then freeze them in freezer bags with the air sucked out of them. Other times, I freeze the dough.

You can see above my method for what to do with the dough when freezing it. I keep in the bowl what I want to bake that day, then portion the rest into pieces of saran wrap which I wrap tight around the dough until it looks like a tube, then twist the ends. The dough-tubes can now be placed inside a quart-sized freezer bag. Just stick them in the fridge to thaw the night before you want to cookie-it-up.

BTW, I usually use a plastic straw to suck the air out of the bags. It’s high tech.

Read & Eat: Chocolate Chip Cookies & Let's Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson | Painting Sunny

Strange bed fellows?

Yes, the above picture was posted to Twitter in May, from an airport lounge where I was waiting on a flight to take me to a job interview. I got the job – so I guess I may owe it partially to Jenny Lawson… and Junot Diaz. Probably not sharing the salary, but a sincere thanks seems to be in order.

Travel is totally exhausting, for me. I always have a hard time staying focused and energized. Usually I’m not that person who is reading several books at once, but on an airplane I like to pick two and switch between them. A combination of one book that is intense/serious and one book that is hilarious/irreverent seems balanced and provides some perspective when you’re considering a 5 dollar bagel while breathing in recycled air. Try it out sometime.

Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson

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She is funny, and so is her book. So let’s just get that settled right at the start. Jenny Lawson is irreverent, charming, mildly concerning, and very entertaining. She makes your weird family feel at-least-normal-level-weird. Jenny somehow both self-deprecates and ego-inflates herself. It’s weird and sounds impossible, but makes for some well-rounded story-telling.

I’m not going to use the word “quirky” or say she is the “female David Sedaris” because everyone else has a million times. I will say it is just a good book, all comparisons aside. If you’re a fan of her blog (The Bloggess) you know how she works, and I honestly don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

If you aren’t a Lawsbian (the name given to her fans, though I’m not clear by who…) be honest with yourself before reading. If you like the idea of “edgy” but cringe at swear words or morbid dead-animal jokes, this is probably not your cup of tea. I don’t know why I keep talking about tea today either, let’s put that aside.

Loved the Let’s Pretend This Never Happened? Check our Laurie Notaro (my favorites are this one and this one). She has been a fav of mine for years, and while a little less morbid and a little more raunchy than Jenny Lawson – it’s good times, for sure.

You can find the book here, or The Bloggess at her blog and on Twitter, where she is sort of omnipresent. If you’re just starting, try with this post – it’s a quick and accurate introduction.

PS: This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are my own, and I have not received compensation for anything written. Links to products on Amazon may be affiliate links. Keepin’ it real.

PSS: If you’re interested in more Reading & Eating, check out this post.


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Read & Eat: Blueberry Oatmeal Muffins & The Next Best Thing by Jennifer Weiner

I really love to read. I also really, really love to eat and the two end up coinciding frequently. I believe I obsessed over The Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon while cuddling one of those giant cardboard boxes of Goldfish Crackers. I pretty much devoured both.

Considering a book can be paired with a snack like you can pair a wine with a fancy cheese, I thought it would be fun to try something new over here. I’ve done food recipe reviews and I’ve done book reviews, but never at the same time. So, let’s read and eat.

Read & Eat: Blueberry Oatmeal Muffins & The Next Best Thing by Jennifer Weiner | Painting Sunny

For me, Jennifer Weiner novels are a comfort food and a sweet indulgence, all at once. They are the quintessential beach reads, but also perfect for a cozy night in with a cup of tea and some sort of baked good. I think The Next Best Thing pairs very nicely with these warm, blueberry oatmeal muffins that are also indulgent, but from the Cooking Light website aren’t quite a guilty-pleasure. The paperback copy of The Next Best Thing was part of my Mother’s Day gift from Mr. Sunny – thanks babe, love you!

The Next Best Thing by Jennifer Weiner

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I’ve long been a Jennifer Weiner fan, and my bookshelf serves nicely as evidence. Any time I read multiple books by an author, over time, I always connect more with some books than others. Among an author’s complete works, some books just feel fresher, sweeter, and more true to the writer as well as the topic. This is one of those books. Not since Little Earthquakes Everywhere (yes, my all-time favorite by Weiner) have I enjoyed one of her novels so much.

Ruth provides a new perspective, with a new set of challenges than the usual characters within Weiner’s books, or the genre for that matter. Like Little Earthquakes, it had light and funny moments and yet still retained a poignancy and insight into some very real hardships for women in our lives. The one note that fell a little funny for me were the antagonist supporting-characters. While Ruth is easy to love and can be the underdog you truly hope to see succeed, the starlets felt hollow and very much like the Hollywood stereotypes I’m accustomed to. Then again, Jennifer has been in real Hollywood and I haven’t – so maybe those stereotypes are more tackily true that I want to believe.

Speaking of Hollywood, when I read the Q&A and made the connection between Jennifer Weiner’s similar experience and the novel, I almost wished I had stayed in the dark. The storyline felt so original and effortless to sink into, I wanted to preserve it that way in my mind and not begin comparing it to any real-life drama. So, don’t Google it too fast, okay? The novel’s insight into the television-pitch process is fascinating enough, I promise.

Blueberry Oatmeal Muffins by Cooking Light


The original draw of this recipe was to find a healthy-ish addition to my kid’s school lunches and snacks that they would still find tasty. You know, they made a pretty tasty snack for myself as well! Warm out of the oven, the blueberries work well with the heartier density of the oatmeal and wheat flour, so don’t skimp on the berries. I make it a point to follow a recipe to a T the first time I make it, and tried to do the same here. The only change is that where the original recipe recommends using all-purpose flour and wheat flour separately, I went ahead and used “white wheat flour” for both amounts – it’s what I had on hand and I was in a bit of a hurry.

The batter comes out thin, but the muffins come out surprisingly springy and filling. The lemon zest was pretty crucial, I found – it added a fresher taste that kept the muffins from feeling too heavy, and made them smell divine.  They don’t have the lightness and sweet bliss of more indulgent, bakery-style muffins so keep in mind that to add that healthy quality, sometimes you have to adjust your expectations a bit. Still, I’ll be making them again.

Read & Eat: Blueberry Oatmeal Muffins & The Next Best Thing by Jennifer Weiner | Painting Sunny

Anyone else believe that zest can be like the glue that holds the recipe together? Read Jennifer Weiner’s latest release? Eat those goldfish crackers shamelessly straight out of the giant box?

PS: This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are my own, and I have not received compensation for anything written. Links to products on Amazon may be affiliate links. Keepin’ it real.


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The First Five: School Lunch Updates, Celebrating One Full Week!

We survived our first week! Surprisingly well, I might add. Well, at least when it comes to lunches… we are figuring all the rest out, too. I received a couple of requests for an update when I had some lunches under my belt… well, the kid’s belts anyway. JK, kid’s don’t wear belts. Or at least mine don’t… except for seat-belts, obviously. I hope that was obvious. Anyway, I feel completely off track now.

Here is a break-down of what I put together for the first five days, and at least for the most part they seem to have been a hit with both kids! That almost qualifies for a miracle.

BTW, I’m using Easylunchboxes brand boxes and loooooove them! The Mini-Dipper containers are pretty nifty too. (Those are Amazon affiliate links). I’m not paid or perked to say nice things about them; they are just working out really well for us!

Day 1: Monday

School Lunch Idea, Day 1: Cheese, crackers, watermelon, muffin, dried mango | Painting Sunny

Cheese, crackers, watermelon, dried mango, and an apple-cinnamon oat-bran muffin

The muffins… well, did not turn out well. I went back and read the reviews and apparently the original recipe left out a couple things that would have helped, so I’m determined to try again. Also, notice those snacks set out along the side? My daughter needs two snacks sent along for her day camp, too. Those are a fruit & grain bar (generic brand) and some goldfish crackers/pretzels mixed together.

Day 2: Tuesday

School Lunch Idea, Day 2: Tortilla chips, salsa, berries & grapes, yogurt, dried mango | Painting Sunny

Tortilla chips, salsa (hidden in the little dip holder), berries & cut-up grapes, Greek yogurt, dried mango

I love those Chobani yogurt tubes, and so do the kids – and honestly, if they are on sale they can be more affordable than regular yogurts. I buy the big 16-pack at one time. They just barely folded in half to fit in the boxes!

Day 3: Wednesday

School Lunch Idea, Day 3: Mini Bagel, hummus, apple, string cheese, carrots | Painting Sunny

Mini Bagel, hummus (hidden in the little dip holder), apple, string cheese, carrots

So, I read a few somewheres that if you tossed apple slices with orange juice until they were lightly coated, they would not brown. I wasn’t there at lunch time when the kids got them out, but I can vouch that it appeared to work in the morning; I tossed the slices in the juice and they immediately stopped browning an stayed fresh looking through the entire packing process. Cool, right?

Day 4: Thursday

School Lunch Idea, Day 4: Quesadilla, watermelon, peas, muffin | Painting Sunny

Cheese quesadilla, watermelon, peas, muffin

This was a quick one to make! The kids had watermelon and peas for dinner the night before, so it was easy to put some in the lunchboxes at the same time I added it to their dinner plate. They don’t mind eating any of the stuff cold (they can’t heat their lunches at school, so it is all straight from their cooler bag). I made the quesadilla the night before with just some shredded cheese and a tortilla, and they each got half of one.

Day 5: Friday

   School Lunch Idea, Day 5: PBJ (or nut free butter), string cheese, apple, carrots, red peppers | Painting Sunny

PBJ (or nut free butter), string cheese, apple, carrots, red peppers

Lo’s has a blue note visible in the photo (later stuck to the top of the lunchbox) explaining that it is not peanut butter but “No-Nut” brand butter made from peas. I know, crazy, right? We will see how he likes it… I’ve never used it before! His preschool is nut-free, so I wanted to try out an alternative. The jar is expensive, but it is only him eating it for an occasion lunch, so I think it’ll be alright. Haven likes red bell papers and Lo doesn’t (honestly, I can’t stand them either) and since we had half of one in the fridge I added that to just hers.

You might notice that there is no meat in any of the lunches; Haven doesn’t eat meat (her own adamant choice when she was five) and Diallo does, but it is just easier to pack the same lunch for both of them. He can have meat at dinner, and I don’t think he really needs it more than when he is at home. It’s mostly just because it’s easier this way, and he doesn’t seem to miss it.

Anyone else trying out peanut-butter alternatives? Heard of this apple-dipped-in-orange-juice phenomenon? Hate a food that your kid loves? Please, share any other lunch ideas! I’m bound to run out eventually…

PS: This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are my own, and I have not received compensation for anything written. Links to products on Amazon may be affiliate links. Keepin’ it real.


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A Birthday Amidst The Move (Pretty Cake Pinspiration, too!)

Well, things have been… a bit crazy this week. I’ve started my new position full-time and it is awesome but I’m also learning a lot! The kids are transitioning into their new school/camp/etc. and start full-time next week, and my parents just got into town this past weekend to visit so we are happy but busy fo-sho.

On a related note, my Mama arrived on Sunday after they spent two days on the road driving and it was on her birthday! It’s always fun to get to see someone you love on their birthday (when you don’t normally live near them) and I’ve made my own little tradition of baking a home-made cake whenever we are in the same local on her big day. This year I went for a chocolate cake just like the Hershey’s version I made and posted about before and decorated it in a new way (at least new to me).

Chocolate Cake Decorated, Birthday Fun! | Painting SunnyAfter being inspired by this pin which links back to this original inspiration source. I had to try this simple but pretty method of creating lovely little flowers from raspberries and almond slivers. Affordable, yummy, and quick – It comes with my highest recommendations!Chocolate Cake Decorated, Birthday Fun! | Painting SunnyYum.

Chocolate Cake Decorated, Birthday Fun! | Painting Sunny

Speaking of things that are sweet, this is my favorite picture of my mother and I (obviously when I was a child). Awww… :)

Mom's Birthday | Painting Sunny

Well, off to spend some time with family and prepare for another big day tomorrow!

Anyone else baking for a special birthday? Starting a new job? Sticking raspberries all over everything?

PS: This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are my own, and I have not received compensation for anything written. Keepin’ it real.


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Introducing Ginger Dijon Salmon, Our Most Favorite Fish

For a few months now, every Saturday evening the husband and I make dinner together for just us, and it is usually this salmon with a ginger Dijon sauce. That sounds like it would get old, but with something this good we just never get tired of it. “Salmon Saturdays” even rhymes, so obviously that makes it more delicious.

This is really guest post, as the salmon recipe was created by the very own hubs. Thanks babe! He was inspired by this recipe, and went on to tweak it and add ground ginger, which is what catapulted it into the realm of fav recipes.

The roasted red potatoes are also so delicious. Mental Note: remember to bring those back up another day.

Our Favorite Ginger Dijon Salmon | Painting Sunny

Can you see how delicious that glaze is?

Our Favorite Ginger Dijon Salmon | Painting Sunny

The best part is the crispy edges, as seen above. I’m not a girl who likes things “blackened” under almost any circumstance, but with this a little bit of crunch is good.

Our Favorite Ginger Dijon Salmon | Painting Sunny

(Full and concise recipe at bottom of post)

Ingredients

  • 2 – 4 salmon fillets
  • 1 tbl extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 c. light brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger (a little less)
  • 2 tbs Dijon mustard

Our Favorite Ginger Dijon Salmon | Painting Sunny

This is so, so simple. To start, clean and prepare your salmon fillets then lightly coat them with extra virgin olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. We use fresh ground pepper.

Our Favorite Ginger Dijon Salmon | Painting Sunny

Whisk together the Dijon mustard, brown sugar, and ginger until smooth.

We are generally only preparing two salmon fillets, and have about half of the sauce left over. I keep thinking we need to find a way to save the rest, but generally come to the conclusion it wouldn’t be as fresh and good the next week so we continue to prepare it fresh each time.

Our Favorite Ginger Dijon Salmon | Painting Sunny

Coat the salmon fillets generously with sauce, but not to the point that it is dripping off of them.

Broil on low until cooked to your liking. Mr. Sunny likes it well-done with no pink, so broils it for 14 minutes. This also makes the edges nice and crispy. To achieve the same affect with a more rare-cooked fish, I imagine you could broil it on high for less time.

We add another light layer of sauce to the top after it comes off of the broiler.

Our Favorite Ginger Dijon Salmon | Painting Sunny

Serve with your favorite sides. We often do roasted red potatoes, or baked potatoes, or mashed potatoes with a vegetable side as well. This vegetable side was from a frozen prepackaged mix, which we sometimes default to for convenience.

Anyone else have a weekly dish they never get sick of? Is it salmon? With half our family not eating meat but all of us eating fish, it is something we can agree on. Any tips on bottling up your own sauce?

Our Favorite Ginger Dijon Salmon

Ingredients

  • 2 – 4 salmon fillets
  • 1 tbl extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 c. light brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger (a little less)
  • 2 tbs Dijon mustard

Clean and prepare your salmon fillets then lightly coat them with extra virgin olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Whisk together the Dijon mustard, brown sugar, and ginger until smooth. Coat the salmon fillets generously with sauce, but not to the point that it is dripping off of them. Broil on low until cooked to your liking. For well-done, broil for 14 minutes. Optional, add another light layer of sauce to the top after it comes off of the broiler. Serve with your favorite sides.

PS: This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are my own, and I have not received compensation for anything written. Keepin’ it real.


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Quintessential Chocolate Cake

This is less the unveiling of a new original recipe, and more a review of and shout-out to a classic one I stumbled upon. Not using StumbleUpon, just to be clear.

Last weekend, the daughter and I were lazing about watching Cupcake Wars (our fav show to watch together) when I suddenly felt a deep instinctual inspiration to get up and bake a cake. However, like I mentioned – we were being lazy. Obviously a trip to the grocery store for ingredients was totally out of the question. Instead, I challenged myself to make a recipe with only ingredients we already had in the pantry. After turning to AllRecipes.com (my usual go-to resource) I noticed that a very highly rated chocolate cake recipe had all these snarky comments about how it was just the one off the Hershey’s Cocoa box.

A) People can be so harsh with their recipe commentary. I mean, cool it people – she probably didn’t jack the Hershey’s recipe on purpose… it is a pretty obvious recipe. There are only so many ways to bake a cake. Sheesh.

B) It totally was the exact same recipe as the one on the Hershey’s container. I got up and happened to have a box of Hershey’s Cocoa in the house – yep, a perfect replica of the Hershey’s “Perfectly Chocolate” Chocolate Cake.

Which is when I realized I had every single ingredient to make that cake. You see what happened there? The fates aligned…

Quintessential Chocolate Cake | Painting Sunny

… and it was delicious.

I know, I know – you should use the fanciest cocoa you can possibly afford for any chocolatey recipe, since the right cocoa can make all the difference. I totally agree. Sadly, my Discover Card often does not. So Hershey’s is usually what’s knocking around the pantry.

Quintessential Chocolate Cake | Painting Sunny

The original recipe is located right on the back of the container, or here.

I’m not going to copy the entire ingredient list and recipe to this post since it feels a little redundant, and they have a better system for putting it in a print or email view. What do you expect? They are Hershey’s, and I’m a suburban mother of two and college administrator. It’s all about resources.

I will share my review of the recipe, a couple tips about how I made it quick and easy, and some pictures to make you crave chocolate cake. This story totally goes full circle here, people.

As you can see from above, this recipe does take more than a handful of ingredients… but not by much. They are also pretty much standard staple ingredients I would guess your average person has on hand, and I’m sure you’re totally above average.

Quintessential Chocolate Cake | Painting Sunny

This is seriously no-lie a one-bowl recipe. I heart those. It also takes only a few steps to get the batter together, so the time between Food Network making you jones for refined sugar and having a finished, frosted cake is pretty reasonable.

You begin with adding the dry ingredients to a bowl (as shown above), mixing it up a bit, adding the wet ingredients, mixing it up a bit, then adding the boiling water. See how quick that is?

TIP: I highly recommended sifting your cocoa into the bowl. I did not, and regretted it. I redeemed myself by sifting the cocoa in the frosting and it was so much more consistent and easy to mix.

Quintessential Chocolate Cake | Painting Sunny

Cool the cakes in the pans for a bit, then move to the cooking rack until completely cool. Or, if you are me, cheat and stick the rack in the fridge once it is mostly cool so you don’t have to wait an extra 10 minutes.

TIP: I use springform pans because they are the most straight on the sides, and I just think are easier to get the cakes out of. However, with a thinner batter like this one, I put foil around the bottom of the outside of the pan to catch any drips. I also hate to have a ton of pans in storage, so just using springform pans for all round cakes saves some cabinet space.

Quintessential Chocolate Cake | Painting Sunny

In the meantime, let’s make some frosting. Since it is literally built into the cake recipe, I figured I might as well try it out. Look how few ingredients it takes! This turned out so creamy, I was more than pleasantly surprised. How is that even possible without butter being added? Color me impressed.

Quintessential Chocolate Cake | Painting Sunny

See? Doesn’t it look melt-in-your mouth creamy and chocolatey? Okay, frosting doesn’t really photograph well on it’s own. I can’t tell if that picture is appetizing or not. I mean, if you didn’t know it was frosting… well, never mind. It’s delicious chocolate frosting and that’s that.

Quintessential Chocolate Cake | Painting Sunny

I doubted there would be enough frosting to actually cover the middle, top, and sides of a full-sized two-layer cake so I skimped on the frosting in the middle, just to be sure I’d have enough to cover the whole cake. Well, I regretted that – it made a TON of frosting. I just couldn’t waste it, it was so tasty… so the sides and top ended up a little heavy on the application.

Quintessential Chocolate Cake | Painting Sunny

I love a fancy and modern recipe, but you know I love a classic one as well. Think of how many kitchens over the years have made this cake for an after-supper dessert! How many little kid’s birthdays have included this recipe? Okay, if you’re now feeling all misty-eyed nostalgic, go ahead an read this history of chocolate cake post from Nice Chocolates. Yes, I’m a nerd. A nerd on a sugar-high.

Anyone else discovering recipes right off the back of boxes? Which totally isn’t discovering something at all, since it is literally on the back of the box? It’s kind of like when you start using a trendy new word and then everyone acts like you’re crazy, and you realize it hasn’t actually been trendy since the 90s. And you better stop rolling the cuffs on your acid-washed jeans, too.

PS: This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are my own, and I have not received compensation for anything written. Keepin’ it real.