Friday, January 31, 2014

Be my Valentine

Games of tag go around the blogosphere on a regular basis. I’m always both mortified and honored when I’m tagged. Mortified because, although they’re a great chance to get to know more about bloggers personally, I’m uncomfortable posting what I call a “narcissistic me-fest”. I just don’t think people come to this blog to hear me talk about, well, me.

But I’m honored too. Because people, when choosing who to include in the game, choose me. I’m not left standing on the sidelines as the teams of participants grow. I’m especially grateful because everyone knows I never follow the rules, I always change it up a bit and make it mine, and they choose me anyway.

Be My Valentine | graphic designed by and property of | #MyGraphics

Which brings me to today. In one of the December games I was supposed to pick 5 bloggers and name two things I liked about them. Of course I picked 12 people and named one thing.

On that very day I started writing this post. Because although I held myself to 12 bloggers back then, there were so many more I wanted to include. So I’m starting my own game, Valentine-style. It’s very similar to the one Cassandra started last month. I’m asking everyone tagged, if they choose to play, to pick 5 bloggers to be their virtual valentines.

Rules of the game:
1. Pick 5 bloggers who’ve inspired you, meant something to you or been kind to you to be your valentine and tell us all why you chose them.
2. Feature the Virtual Valentine graphic in your post.
3. Inform the people you’ve chosen by sharing with them a link to your post and this set of rules.
4. Leave a link to your Virtual Valentine post on Baking In A Tornado FB page so I know to visit your post.
5. Don’t feel obliged to follow the rules, we all know I don’t.

Now I’m going to prove that I can’t even follow my own rules. At least you can say I’m consistent. So I’m taking this opportunity to continue my list from December with 12 more bloggers. Tag, you’re it. Will you be my Virtual Valentines? I’ll bake you a cake . . .

Chocolate Strawberry Brownie Cake | recipe developed by | #recipe #cake

Chocolate Strawberry Brownie Cake
Chocolate Strawberry Brownie Cake | recipe developed by | #recipe #cake

I just want to mention, as I always do with these kinds of posts that tagging is a compliment but not an obligation. Play only if you want:

You are so much fun and I just love your unpretentious approach to food.

April of 100lb Countdown
Your journey through life and the way that you share it is an inspiration.

You were one of my first blogging friends. I often miss those late nights of group-tweeting and laughing until 2 am. So many great friends from those days are gone from blogging but I’m so grateful to still have your irreverent humor in my life.

Becca of It's Yummi
I am in awe of your amazing cooking and baking creativity. I’m always excited to see what you’ll come up with next.

Cassandra of Dates 2 Diapers 2
I love how you value connections. You’re always working to make new ones and strengthen the ones you have. For me, this is what blogging’s really all about.

Eli of Coach Daddy
You’re the one I look to when I need to be reminded of what’s important in life. It’s all about being a good person and a good role model. You’re both.

You are one of blogging’s great cheerleaders. I love the selfless way you promote causes and other bloggers.

Jennifer of Outsmarted Mommy
When I first “met” you on twitter I thought you were all about humor. But I was wrong, I got to know you and realized that you’re all about heart. I’m so glad you pressed “publish” and added your heart to the blogosphere. It’s a better place with you in it.

Karen of Dinosaur Superhero Mommy 
What I admire most about you is that everything you write, you write with everything you've got. You welcome us in and hold nothing back.

Lorinda of The Rowdy Baker
I love your sense of humor and the bravery you showed by entering blogger idol. You made it far but you know I think they got it wrong the week you were eliminated.
You are a ray of sunshine in the polar vortex. I don’t know how you do it but I’m glad to be a part of it.

Phil of The Regular Guy NYC
 I love living the NYC life vicariously through your blog. And I appreciate knowing I'll always be treated to your comments on my blog and your shares on twitter.

So that’s my second list of 12 (in alphabetical order), now to figure out what to do about that third group . . .

Baking In A Tornado signature | | #MyGraphics

Chocolate Strawberry Brownie Cake
Printable Recipe
Ingredients, Cake layers:
1 box of Strawberry Cake mix and required ingredients listed on box
1 box instant Strawberry Crème Pudding Mix (can substitute instant Strawberry Pudding Mix if you can't find the Strawberry Creme Mix)
Flour for dusting pans
1 pouch of Brownie mix (10 oz pouch, a box mix will be too much) and ingredients listed on pouch
Baking cocoa for dusting pan
Ingredients, Filling:
1 cup heavy cream
½ cup chocolate syrup
Ingredients, Drizzle:
1 oz unsweetened chocolate
2 Tbsp butter
¾ cup powdered sugar
3 Tbsp milk
OPT: Ingredients Decoration:
White candy melts
*Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
*Grease and flour 2 round cake pans. Prepare the Strawberry Cake mix as per package instructions but add in the pudding mix before beating.
*Divide the batter into the 2 cake pans.
*Grease a springform pan that’s the same size as your cake pans. Dust it with baking cocoa. Prepare the brownie mix as specified on the pouch. Pour into springform pan
*Put into oven and bake, using package directions as a guideline until brownie is set and until center of the cake springs back to the touch. Put the cake in the back of the oven and brownie in the front as brownie may be done first.
*Remove from oven, gently run a knife around the edge of the pans and allow to sit for 10 minutes.
*Remove cake from pans and allow to cool completely. Remove sides from Springform pan but keep brownie on the bottom until cooled.
*Beat heavy cream until it starts to thicken. As you continue to beat the cream, slowly add in the chocolate syrup and keep beating until stiff peaks form.
*Put half of the chocolate cream onto the bottom strawberry cake layer.
* Run a spatula gently under the brownie to release from bottom of pan, then cover with a plate, flip upside down, remove bottom and turn gently onto the chocolate cream.
*Cover with the rest of the cream followed by the final strawberry cake layer.
*Put unsweetened chocolate and butter into a microwave safe bowl. Microwave and stir in 10 second intervals until smooth.
*Mix in powdered sugar and milk, whisk until smooth.
*Immediately pour onto top of and drizzled down the side of cake.
*Melt candy melts in microwave until creamy. Dip the strawberries, halfway up, into white chocolate. Allow to set, then use to decorate top of cake.
*Store in the refrigerator. Use a large serrated knife to cut.


  1. I am honored to be included in your post Karen!! You are always invited to Maine, when the weather is actually the best in the world, in the Summer!! You made my whole morning brighter reading your post, love you dear friend! I am so lucky to have you as a friend, you have opened up my blogging world so much more! Love, Nettie xxoo

  2. Lady, you are a REBEL. And I like it!
    Almost as much as I want to eat my screen just looking at that cake.

    1. No eating your screen, but you should try the cake, it's pretty easy to make.

  3. That cake! My word, it looks gorgeously delicious.

  4. YOU are a sweetheart, Karen! I feel the looooooooooove. Thank you for the kind words and your valued friendship!
    And that cake is a masterpiece...a seriously beautiful work of art.

  5. Very Sweet Post... Such kind words for everybody. Happy Friday.

    The Cake looks Amazing... Slu

    1. Thank you, Slu. Glad to see you're still around, haven't seen you post in ages.

  6. I'm honored to be listed and thanks for your sweet sentiment, Karen. I'd love to be your Valentine ♥

  7. You are GREAT! I love this post and love the cake, too!

    1. Thank you. So many great bloggers out there, hope you check some of them out.

  8. Ah, that cake looks delicious Karen, could you send me a piece in the post please?
    And thanks for sharing some of your fab bloggers, I'll be sure to check them out too, as I only know 3 of them so far.
    Have a lovely weekend :)

    1. I bet you'll find some new favorites to follow in this group.

  9. Oh my goodness that cake looks delicious. You're valentines post is sweet. I know Phil too. He is a sweet guy.

    1. Phil's a great blogging friend, not at all surprised that you know him too.

  10. You always take great pictures of your food. That looks like something I've seen on the cover of a food magazine. So sweet of you to acknowledge people in this! I love April, too. She's great. I share your feeling about writing all about me. It can be hard to do it all the time. I try to do it on linkups like TTOT and FTSF since it sort of calls for it, but it can be a bit awkward always writing like that. :)

    1. Yes, it's just really uncomfortable writing about me personally. I write about my family, food, what's on my mind, but putting personal stuff out there is very difficult for me.

  11. What an awesome idea...and I love what you wrote, especially about the two that I know. :) Your cake looks amazing too! I can't say I will make it because I am pretty pathetic with anything to do with desserts and baking. Half the cake would end up in the pan. That's what happens when I try to make things like this. I'm happy to eat them though.

    1. I honestly was surprised myself that this came out so well. Usually they're beautiful in my mind but not so much in the kitchen. This one actually worked the way I imagined it!

  12. The cake looks yummy. I like the Valentine game you have started, a great way to get to know people.

    1. Thanks, Dawn. Hope you try the cake, we loved it here.

  13. Your recipe definitely beats the lame rice-krispies treat hearts that i made. The cake looks beautiful! I bet that it tastes great too. xx

    1. I bet your kids loved those rice-krispie treat heats. My kids did when they were growing up.

  14. Thanks so much for making me a Velantine! Now if only I could eat that cake through the computer screen.

    I appreciate the love and the shout out!

  15. I gained 5 pounds just looking at the photo! This looks amazing and I will definitely be trying it soon!

    1. If you want to, when you make it post a picture of it on my FB page, love seeing when others make my recipes.

  16. This cake looks absolutely delicious! I love the flavors and layers! Thanks so much for sharing at Saturday Night Fever!!

  17. Hi Karen, I plan on making this cake tomorrow however I cannot find the strawberry pudding anywhere! Is there a substitute for it??

    1. Yes, you can use Strawberry instant pudding mix, you could even use Cheesecake flavor or White Chocolate flavor. If you use the Cheesecake or White Chocolate flavor you may want to add a half tsp of strawberry extract, but it's up to you. You can skip the pudding altogether if you need to, I just think it adds flavor to the cake mix and makes for a more moist cake.

      Hope you love it.

  18. I'm so grateful to be tagged. Life been so hectic lately and I never got up a post. I will however follow your lead and break the rules. I'll come up with something soon!

    1. Breaking the rules is fine with me. I have no problem with life coming first. I know how hectic it can get.

  19. How do you not have neighbors knocking down your doors? They have to be smelling all the wonderful aromas from your kitchen!
    THat's my girl: never follow the rules :)

    1. When my kids were young I DID feed the neighborhood. In fact there were times when I was sure I had just fed the entire school.


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