My husband and I just returned from a wonderful kid-free vacation getaway with some of our very best friends. Several days of sunshine, good restaurants, great scenery, yummy beverages, beautiful company, and as always when we get together with these friends…fun and memorable times. Jan, Rob, Stacy and Bryon…we love you guys and miss you already!
While we were traveling to see some sites one day, we got to chatting and someone asked the question "If you could change one thing about yourself right now, what would it be?". My answer was that I wish I could find my ability to focus again. I know I keep rambling on about this throughout my blog lately, but I feel like I am doing a ton of things but really not accomplishing any one thing well. I’m not complaining… I love everything I am doing. Of course, I LOVE being a mom and everything involved with that. I also really enjoy the recruiting I am doing…it is such a nice change of pace from my old recruiting job. Writing for the magazine (which, by the way, published its first issue this past week! If you want a pdf copy, e-mail me) is a dream come true and I love it as well. I love it all, but feel like I am going in a thousand different directions. I completely lack focus. For the first time in my life, I have a stack of library books sitting on my island that are way overdue at the library. I have piles of folded laundry in my room that I cannot seem to find the time to put away. I have e-mails to send, late birthday cards to get out, bills to pay, groceries to shop for, friends to call, budgeting to do, projects to complete, etc….and nothing is getting done.
When I started thinking about my focus, one thing that I really began to realize that I missed doing was cooking and blogging like I used to. I have not been the best at keeping up on my blog and I have been horrible about planning and cooking our meals lately. I have also found zero time to visit my favorite blogs out there and to comment on your comments left here, and I hate that. I don’t think of blogging as an obligation. I think of it as something I enjoy doing and come hell or high water, I’ve decided to put blogging and visiting your blogs near the top of the list. It is a stress reliever for me…just like cooking. I am determined to find my focus again. It may take a little time and some schedule/priority changes, but I will be the organized, focused individual I once was.
Speaking of lack of focus…while on vacation, Nick and I decided to make dinner for our friends one night. We had the menu all planned out and then at the last minute, right before heading to the grocery store, the cover of the October 2007 issue of Family Circle magazine caught my eye and my plans changed for dessert. On the front cover was a picture of a delicious looking triple layer cake. The chocolate-glazed maple spice cake seemed like the perfect dessert for a fall day (even though it was 90 some degrees where we were at). Our friends agreed to be the guinea pigs for this recipe and I set out to make the cake. Due to lack of tools, we only made a double layer cake. Taking it out of the oven, it smelled fantastic and I couldn’t wait to get it frosted and to give it a try. By the time dinner was over and we had made some room for dessert, I was practically salivating. Salivating to taste a bite of this cake, only to taste it and to be completely disappointed. Yep…this cake did absolutely nothing for me and my taste buds. I believe, in all honesty, that the problem with this recipe was the lack of focus. It had so many flavor combinations going on with the chocolate, the maple and the pumpkin that it just missed the mark. I will make this again, but next time instead of adding the additional maple flavoring, I will skip that piece and add vanilla instead.
If you try the recipe, let me know what you think. There are people out there who rave about this cake, so don’t just take my word for it. Also, if you have any tips on staying/keeping/gaining focus, please, oh please, pass them on!
Choclate-Glazed Maple Spice Cake
Makes: 12 servings. PREP: 20 minutes. BAKE: at 350 degrees for 28 minutes. REFRIGERATE: 15 minutes.
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup solid vegetable shortening
1 cup packed dark-brown sugar
3/4 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon imitation maple flavor
3/4 cup milk
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/4 teaspoon imitation maple flavor
3 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
Whole walnuts, to garnish
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Coat three 8 x 2-inch round layer-cake pans with shortening; dust with flour, discarding excess.
2. Cake: Whisk flour, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice and salt in bowl.
3. Beat shortening in second bowl until smooth and creamy. Beat in sugar and maple syrup. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each. Add maple flavor; beat until smooth. On low speed, beat in half of the flour mixture, then milk, then remaining flour mixture. Spread batter in prepared pans, dividing evenly.
4. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 28 minutes, until golden brown. Cool in pans on rack 10 minutes. Remove cakes directly to rack to cool completely.
5. Filling: Beat cream cheese, butter and maple flavor in bowl until smooth. Add sugar; beat until good spreading consistency. Place cake layer on serving dish. Top with 1 1/4 cups filling. Place second cake layer on top, then remaining 1 1/4 cups filling. Top with third layer.
6. Frosting: In saucepan, heat cream just to a simmer. Pour over chocolate in a small bowl; whisk until smooth. Cool 5 minutes, until thicker but still pourable. Pour over cake, spreading to allow some to dribble down sides. Top with walnuts. Refrigerate 15 minutes before serving.