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My friend, Heather, told me about this awesome chocolate cake recipe.  I figured, coming from her, it must be pretty incredible, because she’s not the biggest fan of chocolate cake.  If she says it’s fabulous and moist, it must be!

So, I decided to make it for Jason’s birthday.  Jason is not much of a cake fan, but he always loved my mother’s Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake, because it’s so moist.  Heather’s recipe (which she got from her sister-in-law, who got it from someone else) sounded similar.  But it’s not.  It’s even better.

The recipe calls for baking in a bundt pan, but since I don’t have one, I baked it in two 9″ rounds and made a layer cake.  I must say, frosted as a layer cake, it’s still incredibly good, especially when you buy the triple-chocolate frosting that also has chocolate chips in it.

One word: Yum.

Okay, more than one word: Oh my freaking wow, this is soooooooo good.

THE Cake:

1 box Devil’s Food Cake
1 large box instant chocolate pudding
4 eggs
1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup water
1 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Mix cake mix and instant pudding in one bowl.  Mix sour cream, eggs (one at a time), oil, and water in a separate bowl.  Pour wet mixture into dry mixture and stir together.  Batter will be extremely thick.  Add chocolate chips and mix through.  Pour into greased bundt pan and bake for 45-55 minutes.  Let cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes.  Turn it out of the pan and continue to cool completely.

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Yes, the boys insisted on 35 candles.  He did manage them all in one breath!


My children, that is. AND my husband.

That means…wait, can it be true? All four of us agree on a side dish?

Me: We’re going to be seeing a lot more cous cous around here, guys.
Kids: Yaaaaaaay!!

You see, my kids don’t like rice. Rice! White rice, brown rice, the color doesn’t matter; they don’t like it. Who doesn’t like rice? I know, they’re weird. And, since hubby and I are trying to eat a certain way, that third dinner dish (#1 – main dish, #2 – veggie, #3 – healthy grain) is always an issue. Brown rice is one of our staples. The kids simply don’t like it. Oh, Nicky will eat some, especially if I mix it in with whatever that night’s meat is, so he can’t taste it quite as much. Nicky’s become quite philosophical about eating foods he doesn’t like. I wish I had adjusted so well to it. But Kalen whines about it, and when I remember how much I hated eating the veggies and such I disliked as a kid, it doesn’t seem at all nice to feed them brown rice three nights a week. So, next week I’m heading to the farmer’s market to buy cous cous and quinoa in bulk. (I don’t know yet whether the kids like quinoa, but I love it with leftover chicken for lunch.)

Don’t get me wrong, I so do not cook around my kids’ preferences. With some rare exceptions, they eat what we eat for dinner. No “good” foods for us while the kids have grilled cheese, fish sticks or mac & cheese. Heck, if they’re getting grilled cheese, so am I, dammit! Yeah, it’s better to avoid the whole cheese thing…I’m not losing weight as it is. Mmmm…cheese….

Where was I? Ah, cooking for the kids. Nope, I’m totally unindulgent when it comes to food. I don’t cut off sandwich crusts, I don’t stock sugary cereals (Honey Nut Cheerios is as sweet as we get, and I only buy that about every fourth box of Cheerios), white bread is never brought into the house, and I don’t cook separate dinners. So, I’ll still make brown rice, because it’s healthy and Jason and I love it, but it looks like the cous cous will be replacing rice at least half the time.

I don’t really have a group of recipes that I rotate through the kitchen. Well, I do enchiladas now and then, spaghetti, etc., and the George Foreman and Crock Pot both get their fair share of use. But mostly I just throw dinner together out of whatever ingredients appeal to me that evening, or whatever I can find when we’re approaching Mother Hubbard status. Sometimes I end up with something really great. Usually I end up with something fine. Once in a while, I end up with something even my loving, appreciative husband can’t stomach. (Thankfully, that last one’s rare – once or twice a year.)

Monday night, I had a package of boneless, skinless chicken breasts thawed. I so did not feel like cooking, but the chicken was on its last day of usability, so it had to be done. I set some rice to cook (Rice-a-Roni whole grain boxed rice – yummy stuff), put a few teaspoons of safflower oil – my new favorite healthy oil – in the skillet, and cut the chicken into 1″ slices, so it would cook faster. Once the chicken was all cut, I turned the stove on (about medium-high), sprinkled some salt and pepper over the meat, and topped it off with a clove of pressed garlic. At that point, I was stuck. It wasn’t enough, but I wasn’t sure what else to add. I wasn’t in the mood.

After standing in front of the open pantry for a couple of minutes, I grabbed a can of Navy beans and dumped the whole thing over the chicken, followed by more salt and pepper and another clove of garlic (pressed). I stuck the lid on, turned the burner down to medium, and left it. A while later, the chicken was cooked through, and I served it up with the rice and some previously frozen peas.

And, wow!! A success! The chicken & beans were incredible…so good, in fact, I’m craving them again and may make them tonight. The kids, picky little guys they are, didn’t eat the beans, but they loved the flavor of the chicken, and they asked me to add it to our “list of favorite meals.” I figured I’d better type it up so I don’t forget what I did, and while I’m at it, why not share? Isn’t everyone in search of fast, easy, yummy meals? Let me know if you try it!

My boys

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