Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Simple Delicious Sweet

Anyone who knows me well enough knows that I spend 90% of my "down time" baking and taking on special requests for cakes and desserts. May is always jam packed with requests for weddings, birthdays, baby showers, and graduations! Whew! One of my favorite recipes (and my most requested icing) is my simple almond buttercream. I decided to share the recipe below along with my most requested cake decorations of the season, the princess birthday cake and the classic number cake. This is by far my favorite recipe for topping cakes because it's easy, delicious, and it just smells so darn good. It also holds up well for simple decorations. Enjoy and be sure to keep up with the weekly version of Chocolate Martha on Instagram!

Val's Simple Almond Buttacream :)

4 cups confectioner sugar

2 sticks of softened butter (not margarine) 1 stick salted and 1stick sweet cream

2 tablespoons of pure almond extract

2 tablespoons of half and half


In a mixer combine softened butter and confectioners sugar and blend well until smooth and fluffy. Add half and half and almond extract. Continue to beat together until the appearance is whipped and fluffy. 

Monday, January 12, 2015

Baked goods, babies, and being a housewife.

Sorry for the long break. No seriously. It was a super long break! Shortly after my last post I found out that our twosome was going to become a threesome...well to clarify, we were getting a new baby buddy! I took time off to prepare for our new addition who was born on 11/30/14 at 7lbs and 11oz. 😍 Now that our little bundle of sweetness is here, we're back to business. With the new year starting and with me taking on my new role as a mommy, I'm bound to have plenty of new ideas to share. The baked goods orders are  also hitting new milestones this year so stay tuned for lots of food, fun, and family shenanigans! 

Oh! Say hello to baby Jonathan!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Brunch Time Baby!

I had taken a bit of a break due to my super busy schedule so I figured there was no day better than Sunday to make friends with my kitchen stove again. Sunday is brunch day for us and I wanted sweet and my hubby always wants savory, so I decided to do both. I had a few apples, blueberries, and heavy cream so I decided to do an blueberry applesauce with Belgian waffles and an anchovy and lobster inlet for the hubby. Good food=good times! See below for pics.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Something New

My favorite place in the world is the farmers market. Any farmers market really, but of course I have fallen in love with my neighborhood market. It's only open from Friday until Sunday so I always get super excited on Friday evenings on my way home from work. There always seems to be something new to find there. Every time I visit it feels like the start of a new adventure. My favorite things to purchase are fresh produce and exotic fish from the local fish market. My husband and I have a ritual. Every Saturday evening we visit the market to make our rounds. We always start in the produce market where he picks out the fruits and I pick out the vegetables and herbs. After we check out we head over to the nearby fish market and observe the new arrivals and weekly selections. We usually buy a few staples like whiting and butter fish (We love butter fish with grits for breakfast). I'm referring to the peprilus triacanthus type and not the lepidocybium flavobrunneum type (Google is your friend) lol! This past weekend was no different.

 While visiting the fish market, we were both struck by an odd looking fish that happened to be inside of the ice case. I couldn't tell what it was and judging by the look on my husband's face, he didn't know what it could be either. I asked the man behind the counter what it was and he replied that it was "skate fish". I asked what family it was from and he said "It tastes like crab, cooks up like shark steak, and looks like a sting ray". Pause. Sting ray? Can you eat that? Is it good? What in the world?...I had so many thoughts tied up in my head in regard to this crazy looking sting ray/crab/shark hybrid. I look back at my husband. He looks back at me. "How much is it?" I ask. "$3.99 a pound" replies the fish man. My husband and I both stare at the fish and then at the man. Our curiosity got the best of us. We grab our fish and run home. I had no clue how to prepare the fish so I did the safest thing possible by simply seasoning and searing it with onion and pepper on the stovetop. I have to add that my fish market will skin, scale, and debone on request so I didn't have to worry about that. I simply cleaned and cooked the fish to our liking. The end result was amazing! Light and buttery in flavor, this fish is an easy win for anyone who likes a delicately flavored whitefish option. (Pics & recipe below)


1-1/2 lbs of skate fish

2 Medium japeleno peppers (sliced) (substitutes with sweet pepper if you are not a fan of spicy food)

1/2 Sweet Onion (chopped)

1 tbs of raw organic coconut oil (can also be substituted with butter)

1 Clove of garlic ( cleaned, peeled, and chopped)

1/4 tsp ground cumin

Salt and pepper to taste


Season fish lightly on each side with salt, pepper, and light ground cumin.

Melt coconut oil in a preheated frying pan and include onion and japeleno pepper after 20 seconds. Allow to cook until slightly wilted. The onion will begin to appear iridescent. Afterwards transfer cooked vegetables into a seperate bowl for later.

Keep heat on medium and place the seasoned fish in the same frying pan and oil used to prepared vegetables. Cook for  10 minutes on each side uncovered. After our cooked vegetables over fish and turn heat down to simmer for 3 minutes. Serve hot with rice.


Sunday, January 26, 2014

Dirty Thirty!!!

When you're ten you can't wait to be thirteen. When you're thirteen you can't wait to be sixteen. When you're sixteen you are just dying to be eighteen, and when you finally turn eighteen there's nothing like the idea of being twenty-one. If you are twenty-one or younger I want you to close your eyes and pass the laptop or cellphone to someone a bit older. I urge you to do so as I would not like to be responsible for killing your dreams of adulthood. Did you hand it over? Now then...WHEN YOU'RE OLD THERE AREN'T ANY OTHER BIRTHDAYS TO LOOK FORWARD TO! Or are there? Sure...birthdays happen after the age of twenty-one but does anyone really care?

 If you are my age you have probably figured out that at this point of life, you will never again enjoy the feeling of  complete excitement over your birthday. After years of hoping for the dreamy idea of freedom that's supposed to come with becoming an adult, you eventually realize it may never really come. Oh, the freedom of adulthood. That's all we're all really wishing for on all of those birthdays before the big 21. We are simply wishing for another string of freedom to do what we please. However, no one ever tells you that the older you get the less flexible you become (in more ways than one might I add). So when you get my age you're just happy for the prospect of a few extra dollars and a stiff drink!

Well today proves good reason for anticipating a stiff drink or two! Today we celebrate another after 21 birthday. If you knew anything about my friends and I you would know that we live for our birthday parties! I mean we LIVE for them. Every single one. Even if it doesn't come with the false promise of additional freedom. Even if it means that we have to take two Imodium, three Advil, and still wake up with the worlds worst hangover after having two cocktails and a beer! We are the league of extraordinary late twenties-early thirty somethings. We manage businesses, raise children, attend classes, tend to spouses, pay mortgages and still manage to save enough energy to dance like idiots and drink our faces off. Well maybe we aren't as good at drinking our faces off as we used to be but you get the point. We like to party.

 With all of this being said, today is awesome because me and my party loving friends are joining together for my best friend Kathy's "dirty" thirtieth and boy did she throw together a celebration! With her husband's band Perception playing, a photo booth, custom cakes, and a slide show you would think she's turning 21 again! Check out the awesome DIY decor she did and the cakes that I made! 

Theme: A Few of  Kathy's Favorite Things. (In case you didn't notice it's leopard and gold....and chocolate...and bacon. Lol) 

Sunday Funday

Everyone has been watching the Grammy's and I'm just over here like...."I jarred a giant pumpkin today!"

This weekend has been pretty eventful to say the least. Yesterday we had my best friend's birthday party, and today we woke to have an amazing brunch and I got to spend the whole day jarring with my friend April. April is a friend of mine from school and she just happens to love homemaking as much as I do. She has a great garden and even a few chickens that she tends to. She lives in a beautiful single family home outside of the city where she has cultivated her own little "farmette". I had only visited once before but I loved everything about it from the first time that I saw it. I had been meaning to get to April's house again for the last few months but our schedules just hadn't lined up. Back in November April told me that she had grown her first large pumpkin and that she wanted to make sure she made good use of it. Well today we decided to do just that. We spent a full day jarring pumpkin and making our own seasoned baked pumpkin and sweet and spicy pickled pumpkin! (Pics and recipes below)

Sweet & Spicy Pickled Pumpkin Recipe

10-12 Pounds of pumpkin (pure, cleaned, and cut into 3in. spears)
6-8 Hot red Chile peppers (chopped rustically)
1 large sweet onion (chopped)
8 cups of white vinegar
6 cups of granulated sugar
1 package of Ball brand 100% Natural Bread and Butter Pickling spice

Directions for preparing pickling solution

Bring vinegar, sugar, and package of pickling spice to a simmer in a large boiling pot.

Directions for prepping Ball jars

Bring jars and lids to a slight boil in a large pot. Use tongs to remove hot jars and empty any water out of the jar before use. Place pumpkin spears, peppers, and sweet onion inside of jars and fill to the top with pickle solution. Seal jars and let set for 4-6 weeks for optimum flavor.

Seasoned Baked Pumpkin Recipe

2-3 pounds of pumpkin (pure, cleaned, and cut rustically)
1/4 tbsp of evoo
2 tbsp Malt vinegar
2 tbsp of Pomegranate Balsamic vinegar
Salt, pepper, and mixed herbs to taste


Mix all ingredients together in a baking pan and bake on 375 degrees for 35-40 minutes. This recipe pairs well with poultry and seafood dishes.


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Love at First Frying Pan

How old were you when you first fell in love? I mean real, unfiltered, painstakingly true LOVE? Maybe you were a budding teenager who one day became startlingly aware of your attraction to the opposite sex. Maybe you were a bit of a late bloomer who became overwhelmingly intrigued by your sophisticated language professor in college? No? Well however old you were I'm sure it helped to shape every relationship you had moving forward. In the African American community we have a saying when something is good and filling. We say it "sticks to your bones". Well love has a way of "sticking" to your soul. You never really forget how it feels after the first time you meet it. I remember exactly how old I was when I first fell in love. I was four years old. Now don't be alarmed! I'm not about to share some stranger than fiction child bride story. No shenanigans over here! I digress. As I was saying, I first fell in love at the tender age of four.

 I remember standing in the kitchen watching my grandmother fry chicken. The memory is still the most vivid one I have. I recall the fear I felt seeing the wild flames under the pan and hearing the crackling and hissing of the oil for the first time. Maybe I had seen and heard it all before but this was surely the first time I truly noticed it. I can also recall the sense of wonder I felt. What was happening in there? Why was the sound of it so startling and why did my grandmother sometimes approach the pan with such caution and uncertainty? And most importantly...why did it smell so good? Now surely you must be thinking that it probably isn't normal for a small child to be so intrigued by someone frying chicken. You would probably be right. The taste of it didn't help to resolve my new fixation either. In fact, I wanted to see it again. I wanted to do it myself. I wanted to become the master of the flame.

 An experience so simple had probably changed the course of my life. Not in the way where I would be smart enough to realize my passion early and become a child prodigy, I'm simply not that extraordinary, but in a way where I could instantly find peace and happiness each time I reconnected with the pan. I am not a certified chef and I may never become one in the technical sense of the word. I am as I have always been. I am simply a girl in love.This love has introduced me to new people and things, it has assisted me in creating new opportunities for myself, and it has ultimately led me to the most important man in my life, my husband. That alone is enough.

 It was at four years old that I knew I had found love at first frying pan. This is the story of how Chocolate Martha came to be. With each day that passes and with each mastered meal a new page of this love story is written. I invite you to witness the progression of love.