Salted, Malted Chocolate Bundt Cake

This cake came to me in a snow-covered dream. I woke up Sunday knowing I had to do three things: shovel my driveway, take my kids sledding, and bake something. It’s no secret I love to be snowed in; I view it as nature’s permission to let everything go — I don’t stress about it, I don’t complain about it, I just let it all go. Northern Virginia was in the epicenter of the recent “snowzilla” storm. We had historic snowfall and the world shut down for a few days. It was pretty wonderful. I’ll be back at work tomorrow, so while I’m enjoying my last day of snowed in freedom, I thought I’d hop back on the blogging wagon and share this wonderful, easy recipe. No mixer required, and I bet you have most of the ingredients in your pantry.

The malt powder isn’t absolutely necessary — meaning your texture won’t suffer if you leave it out. You’ll still have a delicious, moist chocolate cake — but it’s so, so good. If you grew up drinking malted milkshakes like I did (my dad made/makes the best milkshakes), you might already have a container in your pantry, and if you want a treat, you’ll want to make a special trip to grab some. It’s sold in most grocery stores in the coffee/tea/hot chocolate section usually. You can stir it into cold milk, add it to your favorite cookie recipes, or, of course, make milkshakes with it. It’s nostalgic, old-fashioned, and truly one of my favorite things. My son loves it too, which just makes me so darn happy– have I ever told you how much I love that little guy?


Salted, Malted Chocolate Bundt Cake

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Difficulty: easy
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Credit: Ani Hughes —

For the cake:

  • Non-stick baking spray (I am in love with Baker’s Joy) or butter for the pan
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/3 cup malt powder
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup brewed coffee 1/2 cup hot water (you can use all hot water, but I love the richness the coffee gives)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 & 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 & 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

For the chocolate glaze:

  • 1 & 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
  • 4 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 4 tablespoons malt powder (plus a pinch or two for sprinkling)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 tablespoons milk (or enough to make a smooth, pourable glaze)
  • a sprinkle of sea salt (maldon flaked sea salt is my favorite, but kosher salt will work just fine)


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a 10 – 12 cup bundt pan, or spray generously with baking spray. Set aside.
  2. Melt butter in microwave or a small saucepan, remove from heat and add cocoa powder and malt powder. Whisk until smooth. Add coffee/water, eggs, sour cream, and vanilla and whisk again until smooth.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, sugar, baking soda, and baking powder. Add butter mixture and whisk until smooth–this is a loose batter so don’t worry if it looks too thin.
  4. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes—don’t over bake! Let the cake cool in the pan for 15 minutes and then invert onto a large platter or cakestand. Let cool completely before glazing.
  5. While the cake is cooling, make the chocolate glaze. Place all ingredients except salt into a medium bowl and whisk until smooth and a thick ribbon forms when you hold your whisk in the air. You want this pourable, not spreadable.
  6. Generously drizzle the glaze over the cooled cake. Wait 5 minutes for glaze to set a bit and sprinkle with malt powder and sea salt.
  7. Slice and devour


Moldovan Borscht (Chicken and Vegetable Soup)

I am quickly reminded when I say things like, “I learned how to make this soup from a Moldovan woman while I was visiting my father in Kabul, Afghanistan,” what an interesting life I’ve had—privileged, not in a monetary sense, but full of diversity, culture, and once in a lifetime experiences (some good and some bad). My goal is to write more about those experiences, starting with this recipe.

So, as I’ve just illuminated, I learned this recipe from a Moldovan woman in Kabul, Afghanistan several years ago. She made this soup while I peeked over her shoulder and took mental notes. Hers was a bit more rustic than mine (If you buy a chicken from a local market in Kabul, it will have its feet still attached, and if you grew up in a small village in Moldova, those feet will go into your soup pot). Regardless of my lack of chicken feet, I feel I really nailed the flavors and recreated the soup I remember eating. The dill and beets are key and my favorite part of this soup. There is no butter in the recipe, but the combination of rich vegetables and the irreplaceable flavor you get from cooking the chicken skin-on and bone-in both result in such a satisfying, buttery depth of flavor in the finished soup. IMG_8973I love any recipe that starts with a whole chicken; something about the process of breaking down a whole chicken makes me feel so capable, like I can do anything. Silly, I’m sure, but you should try it sometime. If jointing a whole chicken intimidates you, feel free to buy one already jointed, or ask your friendly butcher to do it for you.


In case you’re confused, this is not the widely-known bright pink, creamy borscht. Moldovan borscht is commonly a brothier soup, with variations on the meats and sometimes the vegetables. Clearly, I am not Moldovan, but in defense of my credibility, I did learn this recipe from a woman born and raised in Moldova, and hers was a brothy, hearty chicken soup full of root vegetables and packed with flavor like this one. I’ve also done quite a bit of research into Moldovan Borscht and her version and mine are pretty much spot-on. This is rustic, peasant food—restorative and good for you on every level. The wine is my touch. I don’t think she added any, but the French in me has a hard time not adding wine to soups and stews. It is entirely optional, but it adds a nice acidity.

Regardless of its origins and history, it is delicious, healthy, and comforting—hearty enough for a cold winter night, but light enough for warmer months, too. It’ll cure what ails ya.

PS: The leftovers are fantastic and taste even better a day or two later.

Moldovan Borscht

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 1 whole chicken, about 3 pounds, cut into parts (breast, thighs, legs, wings)
  • 1 medium head of green cabbage, sliced
  • 2 large beets, peeled and cubed (or 4 small beets)
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced or grated
  • 4 waxy potatoes, such as red bliss or yukon gold, peeled and cubed
  • 3 tomatoes, diced or 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and diced
  • 2 tablespoons dried dill (feel free to use fresh if you have it)
  • 2 dry bay leaves
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons veg oil
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 8 cups water

To prepare:

Heat oil over medium heat in a large, heavy pot, cast iron if you have it. Salt and pepper chicken and place skin side down in a single layer. Allow skin to get very crispy and brown; don’t rush this step. Once all chicken has been browned, remove to a dish and pour any excess fat from the pot. Add chicken back to pot along with onions, carrots, tomatoes, garlic, beets, dill, bay leaves, 1 tablespoon salt, 1 tablespoon pepper, wine, and water. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook, uncovered for 1 to 1 1/2 hours until chicken is completely cooked through. Note: You won’t get any meat from the wings, but it is important to simmer them as they are packed with flavor and will result in a richer broth.

Remove chicken to a clean dish and set aside to cool slightly. Add cabbage and potatoes to pot and continue simmering for one more hour until tender. Taste broth at this point and add more salt and pepper to taste.

When chicken is cool enough to touch, remove and discard skin, and pull meat from bones in large pieces. Discard bones and wings. I prefer to leave the chicken in larger chunks, but shred or chop as you prefer.

Once vegetables are tender, skim any excess fat from broth and add shredded chicken back to pot. Heat through and serve with a garnish of fresh chopped parsley and dill and crusty bread with butter.

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Paleo Portobello Mushroom Stir Fry with Cauliflower Rice

I feel like I have to preface this recipe. I am not a vegetarian. I do not follow a paleo or low carb diet. I eat what I feel like eating and cook what I want (you’re not the boss of me!). I am not trying to convert you to a new fad diet. I just happened to make a really amazing stir fry that falls into a bunch of trending diet categories.

Ok, preface over: This is a recipe that really surprised me. I created it for a guest blog post, and I was so pleased with the results. I love mushrooms—I knew it was going to be good, but I just didn’t expect it to be SO good.

This stir fry hits all the right notes: salty, spicy, really savory with a tiny hint of sweet from the honey. The portobellos are really beefy and satisfying, even for a carnivore like me and the ginger, garlic, chilis, and soy give it the unmistakeable flavor and balance of a classic Asian dish. It is just so packed with flavor.

And, hello, cauliflower rice. Where have you been all my life? It’s such a funny thing. I did NOT expect to love it so much. I’ve been reading all of these cauliflower recipes, from cauliflower pizza crusts to cauliflower “mashed potatoes,” and as much as I do love cauliflower, I have to admit that some of the recipes made me roll my eyes. But I finally gave this a try to keep within the paleo/vegetarian/low carb theme and I take back my eye rolling. It is surprisingly delicate and satisfying and serves exactly the same purpose as rice: soaking up all the yummy stir fry juices!


I drove a plate over to my mushroom loving friend and her daughters (ages 7 and 6) begged to have it for dinner that night! She texted me a picture of them holding their clean bowls! A vegetarian, gluten-free, paleo, low fat/low carb recipe that kids beg to eat? I’m still patting myself on the back. Oh, and I’m pretty sure the stir fry would be vegan-friendly, too, if the honey was swapped for something else… just a thought.

You can check out my BeFunky post here: 5 Pinterest Tips for Food Bloggers Featuring Paleo Stir Fry Recipe! 


Paleo Portobello Stir Fry with Cauliflower Rice

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Portobello Stir Fry with Cauliflower Rice

Serves 2-4
Time: 20 minutes


5 large Portobello mushroom caps, gills removed and sliced
1 inch chunk of fresh ginger, peeled and julienned
3 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
5 green onions, sliced thinly on a bias
1 or 2 red fresno chili peppers, ribs and seeds removed and finely sliced
3 tablespoons gluten-free soy sauce
2 tablespoons dry sherry
¼ cup water
2 tablespoons arrowroot powder (if you are not strict paleo you can use corn starch here)
2 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons coconut or vegetable oil
1 head of cauliflower

To prepare rice:

Cut cauliflower into florets, removing any large pieces of stem. Either grate the cauliflower on the large holes of a box grater, or pulse florets in food processor until you have fine, rice sized pieces. You will need to work in two or three batches to ensure you don’t over process the cauliflower. You want it fine, but don’t take it to the point where it becomes wet.
Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet and add the cauliflower. (**The stir-fry I served this with is so flavorful I don’t even bother with seasoning the rice in this recipe, but if you are serving it as a plain side dish add a sprinkle of salt and pepper**)
Cook over medium-low heat stirring occasionally for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, cover, and let steam off the heat for 5-10 minutes.

To prepare stir fry:

  1. Mix soy sauce, sherry, water, and arrowroot in a bowl or measuring cup and set aside.
  2. Heat two tablespoons coconut oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add mushroom slices and cook for about 5 minutes on each side until they are soft and golden brown.
  3. Add ginger, garlic, and peppers and cook for about a minute.
  4. Add soy sauce mixture to skillet, stir and cook until sauce becomes thick and glossy.
  5. Stir in green onions and serve over cauliflower rice.

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Sweet and Salty Graham Cracker Toffee

Since this is my second time making these in February (or in two weeks to be more precise), I figured I’d better share the recipe so you can all become addicted, too. I made them first with almonds, and today I made them with pecans. I love them both, but if I had to pick a winner, pecans would take the prize. Either way, they are delicious, and if you don’t like nuts, leave them out altogether.

These really need no introduction. Just look at the pictures, and imagine the taste of salted, caramelized brown sugar with crunchy pecans or almonds and buttery graham crackers.

Yes. You need it. I know.

Sweet and Salty Graham Cracker Toffee


  • About 14 sheets of graham crackers broken along perforations into 4 pieces each
  • 2 1/2 sticks butter
  • 2 cups brown sugar, light or dark (I used dark)
  • 1 cup slivered almonds or chopped pecans
  • Sea salt

To prepare:

Preheat oven to 350.

Line a rimmed 1/2 sheet pan (18x13x1) with parchment or a non stick silicon baking mat. Cover baking sheet with Graham crackers. Get as many as you can on the sheet in a single layer, breaking some if necessary.

In a saucepan, heat butter and sugar until melted and bubbly. Add nuts.

Pour sugar mixture as evenly as you can over Graham crackers. Carefully (it’s hot!) spread to distribute nuts.

Place in oven and bake for 12 minutes.

Remove from oven and sprinkle with sea salt while still hot.

Let cool for an hour at least, but longer is fine, too. Overnight is even better. (Try to wait that long to eat some. I dare you.)

Break into pieces and enjoy!

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Slow Cooker White Chicken Chili Verde

I get a lot of slow cooker recipe requests, so here is a new one to add to the list!

I had a hard time calling this just “white” chicken chili, because I used my favorite “verde” (green) enchilada sauce ingredients. The “white” in white chicken chili, to me, simply denotes the fact that there are no tomatoes or red chiles, and obviously chicken is whiter than beef. But I use thighs in this which are dark meat. Anyway, technicalities aside, this is so delicious and easy! Thighs can slow cook forever, so this is great to get prepped the night before, stash in the fridge overnight, and pop in the slow cooker before a long, busy day. You can even streamline it if you want and skip the browning of the thighs, but I really think this adds so much flavor and color. This is not a spicy dish either, as I replaced the typical jalapeños with just one large poblano in order to make it family friendly as well as slow cooker friendly. If you want to kick it up, add a jalapeño or two to the veggie mixture.IMG_8810

Slow Cooker White Chicken Chili Verde

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 1.5-2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs (usually one regular-sized pack)
  • 1 lb tomatillos (6-7), husk removed
  • 1 large yellow or white onion, peeled and quartered
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 large poblano pepper
  • 3 16-ounce cans white cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 16-ounce can hominy, drained and rinsed
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • salt and pepper
  • vegetable oil
  • fresh cilantro—one cup for recipe, plus more for serving
  • lime wedges and tortilla chips or strips for serving

To Prepare:

Preheat broiler to high.

Place tomatillos, onion, garlic, poblano in a large, oven proof skillet (I prefer cast iron), drizzle with vegetable oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and place under broiler until the vegetables are blistered and very dark in spots. Alternatively, you can do this on the stove top over very high heat.

Remove from oven and let cool slightly, carefully peel the skin from the poblano—don’t get too fussy; it’s ok if you don’t get every speck of skin off—and remove and discard the seeds and stem along with the skin. Place the charred vegetables in a blender with a cup of fresh cilantro, one can of drained and rinsed cannellini beans, and one cup of your chicken stock. Blend until smooth and add to slow cooker.

Generously salt and pepper chicken thighs, and in the same pan you charred your vegetables, brown chicken thighs very well on both sides. Transfer thighs to slow cooker. While the pan is still hot, carefully remove excess fat from pan, pour in some chicken stock, and scrape to remove any brown bits of goodness. Add this liquid to slow cooker.

Add cumin, coriander, remaining two cans of beans, one can of hominy, and remaining chicken stock to slow cooker. Give it a stir and turn to low for 6-8 hours.

When you’re ready to serve, taste for salt and add more if desired—this will depend heavily on the saltiness of your chicken stock.

The chicken will be so tender and buttery, you can just shred it gently with tongs or a spoon. I like it a little chunky, but shred it however you prefer.

Serve with lime wedges, sour cream, fresh cilantro leaves, tortilla chips, and hot sauce. Enjoy!

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Mini King Cakes for Mardi Gras!

Let the good times roll with these festive little cakes! Surprisingly, even with the Acadian blood I have running through my veins, I have never made a king cake! The cakes have a rich, interesting history: a combination of French, Spanish, and Catholic traditions dating back centuries, they are inarguably a very New Orleans tradition now. I did not include a plastic baby in my recipe, but feel free to add one (or eight) to yours. Click this link to learn more on the tradition.

IMG_8801The photos from this recipe are so colorful, and perfect for the Be Funky photo editing app! Check out my article on Creating Instagram Graphics for your Recipes to see some really fun, creative collages and graphics of my photos, and grab the recipe for these bold little cakes below.

I made my dough from scratch, but this could easily be, and often is, made with store bought, frozen bread dough. (I have some in my freezer right now—you will get no judgment from me). This is a great dough recipe though, very easy to work with.

And, If you want something savory to enjoy for your Mardi Gras celebration, give my Dad’s Chicken and Sausage Gumbo a try!

Mini King Cakes

  • Servings: 8cakes
  • Difficulty: medium
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(Click Here To View Ingredients)

or use two large loaves of store-bought yeast bread dough, follow thawing instructions on package


  • 4 tbs soft butter
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Glaze and topping:

  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • tiny pinch of salt, about 1/8 tsp
  • Purple, green, and gold/yellow sprinkles

Cook first 4 dough ingredients in small saucepan over low heat until butter melts and ingredients are combined. Set aside and cool slightly.

Stir together yeast, 1/4 cup warm water, and 1 tsp sugar in a glass measuring cup or bowl; let stand 5 minutes until yeast foams.

Beat cooled sour cream mixture, yeast mixture, egg, and 1 cup flour in stand mixer with paddle attachment until smooth. Reduce speed to low, add the rest of the flour, and once combined, switch to a dough hook and beat on medium low speed for 10 minutes.

Spray the dough with non-stick spray in the same mixer bowl, turning to coat the bowl and dough. Place bowl in a warm place covered loosely with a clean towel or plastic wrap. Let rise 90 minutes or until dough is doubled in bulk.

Combine all 3 filling ingredients and stir to make a smooth mixture.

Turn dough onto a clean surface, and flatten into a 22- x 12-inch rectangle. Cut the rectangle into 4 even rectangles, about 6 inches by 12 inches each, Spread 1/4 of the butter mixture onto each rectangle in a thin, even layer.

Starting at the wide end, roll the dough toward yourself until you have a long thin log like a jelly roll. Repeat this with the remaining dough. When you have 4 long rolls, cut each on in half and pinch the seams and the ends together to form an oval ring, somewhere between a doughnut and a bagel sized ring. Do this with all 8 pieces of dough and place on parchment lined baking sheets. Cover with plastic wrap that has been lightly sprayed with non-stick spray and let rise for about an hour in a warm place. The best way to check that they are done rising is to give the dough a light poke with your index finger. If the dough springs back, they are not ready. If your finger leaves an indentation that remains, they are ready to bake!

Bake in a preheated 375 oven for 15 minutes until lightly golden brown. Let cool on wire racks while you prepare the glaze. Combine all glaze ingredients in a large measuring cup or bowl. Once cakes have cooled for about 15 minutes, pour glaze over and quickly sprinkle to make a yellow, purple, green pattern. Allow to set and enjoy!

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Valentine’s Day: Nutella and Jam Pie Pops

I am so excited to share this recipe for a few reasons. First, I created it for my first guest blog writing gig with, an amazing, user-friendly, and really cool photo editing application. All of the photos and collages in this post were edited and created using the app. The collage credit goes to JC Gibbs. She really helped me out this first post, and I am so grateful and lucky to be working with her!  Nutella Jam Pops RecipeNext, it is the first time my little hand model is being featured on my blog—she was very excited to be a part of the process. Look at those hands! Long fingers and short nails like her mama. (and that little freckle… Sigh.)


And finally, this is just such a cute, fun recipe! My daughter and I had such a fun time creating, baking, sharing, and eating these treats! You can customize the fillings to suit your tastes, change the shapes and sprinkles to suit any holiday or occasion. Have fun and let your little ones help!

Nutella Valentine Pie Pops Recipe

Follow this link to get the recipe and see my first BeFunky blog post!:

Baking Valentine’s Treats With Kids: Nutella & Jam Pops!

Nutella Kids Pie Pops Recipe3

A small drinking glass or two works well for displaying them, or a super cool antique wooden thing-a-ma-jig you picked up at a thrift shop years ago.IMG_8471Happy Valentine’s Day. I hope your day is filled with sweetness and love. And maybe this Crème Brûlée recipe of mine.

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