Have you heard of the Real Food Diet? Less about losing weight (though that is a side benefit), the Real Food Diet is, in my opinion, more about eating nutritionally.
In this eating plan, the individual focuses on eating foods that are “real” — meats, veggies, fruits, grains, dairy — that have not been processed. It’s incredibly healthy and a great way to remove excess sodium, processed sugars and chemicals from your diet.
If you are on this food plan, this week’s DIY is not for you.
All the rest of us: let’s talk about CAKE! More specifically, boxed cake mixes. These incredibly versatile, slightly chemical-laden mixes have proved to be many a cook’s dessert time saver. If you’ve ever baked a cake from scratch, you know what I’m talking about: Measuring and sifting dry ingredients, measuring and mixing wet ingredients, slowly combining the two — especially if you’re baking in a small kitchen (or with kids) or are in a time crunch — can feel like an hours-long process. And if it’s a new recipe, there is no guarantee that you’ll even like the outcome.
A box cake mix, however, can be a fast, reliable way to get dessert DONE. And one not-so-secret secret? You don’t have to follow the recipe instructions to the letter of the law. A few simple enhancements or substitutions can take the came-from-a-box flavor out of the cake.
In fact, cake mixes aren’t just for cakes anymore. Here are 2 quick dessert ideas using that mix.
Giving credit where it’s due, I came home one afternoon to find our daughter Gabby and her friend, Katie Archer, making these amazing little cookies in our kitchen using — you guessed it — a cake mix. How easy is THAT? Answer: Super, super easy. And the cleanup is even better.
What you’ll need (makes 10 to 12):
• 1 box of cake mix
• 2 eggs
• 1/3 cup oil
• OMIT the water.
In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients (MINUS the water). Place evenly spaced-dollops of batter on a baking sheet. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes. The end result is a chewy on the inside, slightly crisp on the outside, sweet cookie that pairs nicely with a glass of red wine (if I do say so myself). But let’s call these cakies instead of cookies — because, of course.
Buttermilk coconut cupcakes
What you’ll need (makes about 18):
• 1 box of cake mix
• 3 eggs
• 2 Tbsp. coconut-flavored extract
• 1 cup buttermilk
• REDUCE the amount of water to 1/4 cup
Put it all in the mixer and let ’er rip. Fill the liners and follow the baking instructions on the box. Decorate as desired. The outcome is a delicious, slightly more dense cake without the box flavor.
TIP: When filling the cupcake liners, use a 1/4 cup scoop and fill the liners about 2/3 of the way. The cupcakes will end up all about the same size, with slightly-rounded tops.