Posted by: Lauren | April 21, 2010

gwen’s birthday

Last week we celebrated my mother-in-law’s birthday. Joe’s family has this awesome tradition of going around and saying sweet things about the person when it is their birthday. Seriously, we all don’t know where to start when it comes to my MIL-and I’m not just saying this because she reads the blog-Hi Gwen! 😉 She is so loving, patient, self-less, kind, encouraging, generous…we can go on. I know I am incredibly blessed to have not one, but TWO amazing moms. In case you’re gagging now from all the sap, I’ll move on. 

I baked a cake.


There it is naked.


There it is covered in the good stuff.

Chocolate Chip Yellow Bundt Cake with Chocolate Glaze

(slightly adapted from Better Homes and Gardens)

  • 2-1/2  cups all-purpose flour
  • 2-1/2  teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2  teaspoon salt
  • 2/3  cup butter 
  • 1-3/4  cups sugar
  • 1-1/2  teaspoons vanilla
  • 2  eggs
  • 1-1/4  cups milk
  • 1/2 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

I greased a bundt pan, but you can also: grease and lightly flour two 8×1-1/2-inch or 9×1-1/2-inch round baking pans or grease one 13x9x2-inch baking pan; set pan(s) aside.

Combine flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

In a large mixing bowl beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add sugar and vanilla; beat until well combined. Add eggs, one at a time, beating 1 minute after each. Add dry mixture and milk alternately to beaten mixture, beating on low speed after each addition just till combined. Stir in chocolate chips. Pour batter into the prepared pan(s).

Bake in a 375 degree F oven for 30 to 35 minutes or until a wooden toothpick comes out clean. Cool layer cakes in pans on wire racks for 10 minutes. Remove cake from pans. Cool thoroughly on racks. Or, place 13×9-inch cake in pan on a wire rack; cool thoroughly. Frost with desired frosting. Makes 12 servings.

Chocolate Glaze (from Better Homes and Gardens)

  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 4 oz. semi sweet chocolate chips (I estimated about 1/3 of the bag)
  • 1 1/2 cups sifted powdered sugar
  • 2 Tbsp hot water

Melt butter and chocolate chips in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and stir in the powdered sugar and hot water. Stir in additional hot water if needed, to make drizzling consistency (I did not need to). Top cake with glaze and try not to double dip your fingers into the pan.


Backtrack to that morning. I marinated asparagus to bring to dinner. Recipe idea from my momma!

Marinated Asparagus

(Sorry, I didn’t measure, so I will try and give approximate measurements. Side note: when I was little I thought approximate meant exact. It does not.)


In a 13×9 dish, pour in about:

  •  1-2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp of minced garlic
  • dash of red pepper flakes
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper (maybe 1/4-1/2 tsp each?)

Meanwhile, in a medium pot, let water come to boil. Once boiling, add washed and trimmed asparagus spears, cover and cook for only 3 minutes. Strain asparagus and place in an ice bath.

I know, an ice bath.

When I would see an “ice bath” in a recipe, I thought, “ugh. complicated.” Turns out putting cold water and some ice cubes in a bowl really isn’t complicated. Imagine that.


Drain and place asparagus in 13×9 dish. Cover with a lid, toss around to coat marinade, and place in fridge for 6-8 hours. Serve at room temperature.


For dinner, my sis-in-law, Lora, made Coconut Almond Salmon and Roasted Potatoes. Yum! I think for the salmon, she put some coconut oil and crushed & slivered almonds on top and baked in the oven.




IMG_2352 Hahah look at that hilarious baby. 😀






      IMG_2320 IMG_2354

Us kids all pitched in to get her a new knife set.


Joe and I got these Calphalon knives for our wedding and we love them, not only because they work so well, but also because at the end of the knives is the kind of knife, (like chef, santoku, or utility), branded on there, so you don’t have to take the knife in and out of the block to grab the right one.

After dinner we went on a perfect walk (it was 80 degrees that day!) and Anna, baby Madelyn, and I swung on the swings at the park. I love swings. And family. And birthdays.

*edited to add: Look what I came home to today!

IMG_2427 Joe made a swing for this tree in our backyard! Told you I loved swings.


“Your kindness and love will always be with me each day of my life,
and I will live forever in your house, LORD.” Psalm 23:6





  1. Holy smokes! Lauren. saw a picture of your cake on facebook and couldn’t help but follow the link.

    Good. Lord.

    I’m not sure I can read your blog anymore. I just get too hungry! Joe must be the healthiest, happiest hubby around! Seriously, I think I just drooled on my keyboard. ok…nice to catch up on the internet. I’ve gotta go find me some cake now…

  2. That cake looks amazing!! I need to bookmark it and make it the next time I need a cake! Love the swing too!!

    • Thanks Katie, Blake, and Julie!! Julie, I think the ice bath just stops the cooking-so the asparagus stay perfectly tender with a little crisp, and nice and green too!

  3. OH my…I am bookmarking both the cake, the asaparagus, the salmon-I want to try it ALL this weekend!
    Lauren-do you know the reasoning behind the ice-bath for the asparagus? Very interesting to me, and wondered the advantage…:)

    Everything looks amazing as usual. Tell Gwen I love her too, and happy bday! I laughed out loud at the pic of little madelyn laughing at her blowing her candles out-precious!

  4. Mmmmm……the food for your MIL’s party looks amazing! Joe’s parents look wonderful! How cool that Joe made that swing! Oh, was that other pic (swinging near the water) something you found?. I’m thinking you’re not that close to water. Gorgeous pic!!! Looks heavenly. Happy weekend! Love you!

    • Joe took that picture of me in Michigan (it’s Lake Michigan) about 3 years ago. Love you!

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