Award Winning Chocolate Cake

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup Nestle Quick Chocolate Milk Mix
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 cup canola oil
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup boiling water (put in last)
1 recipe chocolate butter cream frosting (recipe follows)

1. In large bowl, combine flour, chocolate mix, sugar, baking soda, and salt. 
2. Add eggs, canola oil, and buttermilk to dry mix. Stir until combined.
3. Add boiling water last and stir to combine. 
4. Pour into two greased 9 inch cake pans.
5. Bake in 350 degree oven for 20 to 30 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
6. After 10 minutes, turn cake out onto wire rack to cool.
7. Frost with chocolate butter cream frosting. 

Chocolate Butter Cream Frosting

4 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
dash of salt
1/2 cup softened butter
1/4 to 1/3 cup half and half (more for desired consistency)
1 tsp. vanilla extract

1. In medium bowl combine, sugar, cocoa, and salt. 
2. Cream in butter followed by half and half. 
3. Frost cooled cake. 

This cake recipe has a long and illustrious history. First it has been in the family for about three decades. This was one of those recipes we just did not give out like our famous family fudge. Back in the late 1980's, my mother put the recipe in a ward cookbook and took a sample of the cake to a church dinner. One of the owners of Magleby's Restaurant tasted my mom's cake and raved about it. 

Not long after, a very similar cake showed up on the Magleby's Restaurant Menu and has been garnering awards ever since. We will never know for certain if the Magleby's Restaurant uses my mom's recipe, but it is very suspicious. 

When I told my husband, Joe, that I was sharing this recipe on my blog, he begged me not to. But I thought what the heck, enjoy this amazing chocolate cake recipe with the rest of the us. Happy Thanksgiving friends!


Beautiful Youthful Skin in 7 Steps

Note: Upon request, I am reposting this information for my tips on beautiful skin. After 40, it seems that these steps and principles to nourished and protected skin gain more importance than before.

This post is for the adorable Reagan...former, award-winning Good Things Utah host and Fresh Market Store commercial star. On August 13, 2014, I did the cooking segment for Good Things Utah. Reagan, who was filling in for Gretchen was in the GTU kitchen with me. In between segments, we had some time to chat. We talked about our children, mothers and mother-in-laws, cooking, and skin care.

During one particular commercial break, Reagan said and I quote, "you have beautiful skin. Tell me everything you do!" I was incredibly flattered, because as you can see in the photo above, Reagan has fantastic skin! Reagan is three years younger, but close in age.

Then I continue to tell her about my 69 year old mother who has less wrinkles than many 30 year old women. I am not exaggerating in the least. In fact, my 47 year old cousin, a former international model asked my mother for skincare advice, because--well--my mom's skin is so phenomenal. My mother is a skincare guru. At one point in her life, she was working on developing her own line of skin cream. Nu Skin beat her to it.

Thirty years ago and now, women want to know her secret. I think they would pay good money for it, but fortunate for my readers, you don't have to, because I am about to give you her 7 Secrets to Beautiful, Youthful Skin. This educated advice is the result of trial and error, study, research, tons of product testing, and years of caring for our body's largest organ our skin. Did I mention that my mother is a registered nurse and an information junky. The gal knows what she is talking about.

The following tips and secrets are NOT in order of importance. They are all needed for beautiful skin.

1. Exfoliate. We use an exfoliating cleanser. Currently, I am using Neutrogena's Blackhead Eliminating Daily Scrub. This product contains salicylic acid which helps with skin turn around and exfoliation. I use this product day and night.

2. MOISTURIZE. Moisturize. Moisturize. Utah is the second driest state in the Union. Go ahead and look that up. My mother and I were both born and raised in this dry dessert and still have fared fairly well considering Utahns age ten years quicker due to the dryness.

However, even if you are privileged to live in San Diego, this tip still applies. There are a few moisturizers we love. The first--Dr. Pericone approved is Reviva's DMAE Cream found at GNC stores. Like the name connotes, it contains vitamins D, A, E and C esters. It is a powerhouse moisturizer. Use DMAE cream each night after using exfoliating cleanser.

The second cream we use is Avalon's Vitamin C Lotion with SPF 15 for our day moisturizer. The key words in the name are Vitamin C. About 8 years ago, I helped my son with a science fair project. It was on oxidation. We peeled and sliced two bananas. On one banana, we sprinkled it with crushed vitamin C tablets. The other was left alone. Both bananas were kept at room temperature, uncovered for hours. Then we observed. As to be expected, the plain banana was brown and withered. The Vitamin C treated banana was yellow and plump like when we first peeled it.

Admittedly, the experiment was stunning. Oxidation is real and damaging. This project emphasized that very fact. It also helped me realize the role vitamin C plays in skin care.

The third lotion we like and use for daytime use is Aveeno's S.P.F. 15 Lotion with Soy Complex. This is an excellent lotion we either alternate with the vitamin C lotion or combine with each morning. Who says you need to wear just one?

The fourth lotion is RoC's Retinol Correxion Deep Wrinkle Filler with RoC Retinol and hyaluronic acid. This cream "immediately fills creases and re-plumps skin. Diminishes the look of even deep wrinkles," claims the RoC company on the tube. I for one am a believer since this was the cream I had on under my make-up the day of the television show.

Another effective wrinkle filler I use before applying mineral make-up is Olay's Regenerist fill and seal wrinkle treatment. This is an effective way to fill wrinkles and prepare the skin for a flawless finish.

One last note: Seal the night cream in with Eucerine or Aquaphor Cream. This is a super-model secret.

3. Nourish from the outside. Here is the thing. We need to nourish our skin inside and out. Some people believe one or the other. I am a believer and doer of both. By using creams, lotions, and fillers with vitamins, we are feeding our skin with needed, crucial nutrients and fighting damage from the elements including sun, air, and oxidation.

If you are breaking out, try this nourishing, healing skin mask:

Protein and Vitamin C Mask

Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 egg white

1. In a small bowl, whisk together.
2. Apply to dry skin and leave on for 30 minutes.
3. Wash with cold water.
4. Use 1 to 2 times per week.

Did you know that eggs are a perfect protein? Yes. Eggs contain all the essential amino acids--the body's building blocks for life. Vitamin C enhances the action of protein and aids in healing and building tissue. This dynamic duo does wonders for your skin. 

4. Nourish from the inside. Do you want a face-lift? A few years ago, Dr. Pericone revealed his recommendation for stars preparing for the red carpet: The "3-Day Face-lift" is a non-surgical, inexpensive, food derived "face-lift." He suggests eating salmon, blueberries, and broccoli for 3 consecutive days and your skin will radiate, have beautiful natural color, be moister, firmer, and tighter. 

The omega-3 is a natural and powerful oil which feeds the skin. Blueberries and broccoli are potent anti-oxidants full of vitamins that nourish the skin and bring out the natural color of the skin. In essence, eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables and lean proteins in addition to healthy fats such as olive oil, avocados, and fatty fish like salmon, tuna, sardines.

5. Protect If you do nothing more than protect, you are doing your health and skin a big favor. Sun damage is accumulated over time. Each burn and all incidental sun exposure adds up. As a young kid or teenager, we may not pay much attention to protecting our skin. But as adults our skin pays the price with unsightly rough texture, brown spots, wrinkles and sometimes skin cancer.

Even if you do not plan on being out in the sun, put sunscreen with S.P.F. 15 on every day, because even as you drive in your car, you are getting what we call "incidental" sun exposure. If you know you will be out of doors, use a higher S.P.F. 30 to 50 with zinc.

Don't forget to put sunscreen on your neck and chest. These areas age and wrinkle along with your face.

6. Hydrate. Two-thirds of our body is made up of water. If you want to "fill" the wrinkles, drink water. Water is essential to avoiding wrinkles and having beautiful, vibrant skin. Water is essential.

7. Sleep. Our skin needs sleep just as our body needs sleep. Also, while you are sleeping, you may be causing wrinkles as your face is pressed against a cotton and or polyester pillowcase. This is a secret my grandmother employed. "Sleep on silk or satin pillowcases and you will avoid waking up looking like a road map," exclaims my mother. (My mom makes me laugh--which I personally believe is also good for your skin.)

Sleeping on silk is a super-model secret. Incidentally, sleeping on silk also protects your hair from friction damage.

There you have it. The 7 secrets to beautiful, youthful skin!


Cliantro Honey Lime Chicken

As a family of seven, we love grilled food. Even while we live in climate with four seasons, we grill year round. Cilantro Honey Lime Chicken is another grilling favorite. The lime and cilantro give it a bright taste. We paired this with Fresh Tomatoes with Herbed Feta and Corn on the Cob.

Serves 6

Calories: 150 per serving

6 chicken breasts cut into thirds
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
3 Tbls. honey
Juice and zest of 2 limes
2 Tbls. chopped fresh cilantro leaves
2 cloves minced garlic

1. In a 9 X 13 dish, place chicken.
2. Sprinkle with cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper.
3. In a small bowl, combine oil, honey, lime, cilantro, and garlic.
4. Pour marinate over chicken and let sit 20 minutes.
5. Discard marinade.
6. Grill chicken over medium coals about 3 to 4 minutes per side.