This year, one of the things I wanted to do this year was share more of my daily eats. And I thought it’d be kinda fun to share my birthday eats with you! So, here it is…
My birthday celebrations started Friday night with a relaxing wine night with my beloved girlfriends. We met and had some appetizers and wine together, sharing life, laughing and nearly crying together, and just getting real as good friends do. Since moving to New York, I only recently have felt so connected and at home with new friends here. I honestly don’t know what I’d do without these girls.
Paul and I woke up at 8:30, got up, showered and got ready for the day. We took our time drinking some coffee, I had a stomach cramp so I ate a banana, then we face-timed our best friends from South Carolina and some family. By the time we got going it was already 11:00, so we headed out for brunch. My one wish was that we went for brunch somewhere. It’s funny, I never realized what the big deal was with brunch. But brunch is always something I want to do, but hardly ever plan on or think of planning. So brunch it was. We decided on Barnes & Noble Kitchen, a Barnes & Noble in Eastchester, NY that has an amazing restaurant inside. You can eat, then grab a book and order a coffee and read for hours…or at least I could!
I ordered the avocado toast which I’d eyed frequent times in the past, and Paul ordered a polenta with mushroom ragu and a sunny side up egg. Both dishes were delish, the epitome of what I want in a brunch meal. So…success! Along with our meal, both of us enjoyed a tea. I got a Sencha green tea with honey and lemon since I’d never had Sencha before, and Paul got a mint tea.
What makes this location for brunch so enjoyable for me is that after eating I will usually go browse the bookshelves and pick out something interesting to read. I found Katie Daleabout’s book, “Let it Out”, which I’d been thinking of reading for a little while. I got through just the intro and immediately was hooked! It’s all about journaling and how to find healing and just overall insight through writing your thoughts in journal form, and guides people in this process. I love journaling, and did it a lot when I was in high school and college, but hadn’t picked it up again until a couple months ago. I’m excited to grow in this skill and accomplish great things through it.
Ok, so next we went home and I had been talking about making my own birthday cake. It’s crazy, but I’d always wanted to make a layer cake in the past but never really had an excuse to. Also, side note, in my disordered eating years I was fearful of making desserts because I always felt the need to modify with “healthy ingredients”. Now being free of this and knowing that there’s a time and place for all types of food in a healthy diet, baking this birthday cake for myself was SO enjoyable! I decided on making a chocolate merlot cake (of which I’ll share the recipe below just for fun!), and it was full on white flour, white sugar, lots of butter, and chocolate…oh and of course red wine! It tasted just as good as it looks!
For dinner I originally was going to make something like a green curry, but last minute Paul and I decided to order from a little tex-mex restaurant down the street called “Tomatillos”. I ordered a basic burrito because I was craving something simple, made with rice, beans, queso, and green salsa. Sooo good! Though I oftentimes like fancy and exciting foods, sometimes just plain simple ingredients is what hits the spot.
After dinner we went over to our neighbor’s house and enjoyed the cake and games. I also was treated to my first espresso martini. So good, but I could not finish it all because, man it was strong! We ended the night with more espresso and some card games (i.e. our two current favorite games: Sushi Go and Dutch Blitz).
All in all it was a wonderful birthday, celebrating with such amazing people and my beloved husband who made it incredibly special. What I ate throughout the day was guided as usual by how I feel and what I’m craving. It was my birthday, so of course I enjoyed some indulgences, but I enjoyed them both without guilt and also without the feeling of needing to diet or restrict the next day.
I’m already so pumped for 25 and know that there are some amazing things coming in this upcoming year!
Recipe for Merlot Chocolate Cake
1 cup unsalted butter at room temp
1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 1/4 cup cake flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
3/4 cup merlot wine + 1 cup (for sliced strawberries)
1 cup sliced strawberries + 1 Tbs white sugar
For the frosting:
2 sticks of unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 tsp vanilla
5 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup merlot wine
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare your 2, 6 inch cake pans by cutting out parchment paper in circles to line the bottom of the pans and then spraying with non-stick spray.
Using a stand mixer, cream butter until smooth, creamy consistency. Then add in sugar and beat until fluffy. Add in eggs, vanilla, and applesauce and continue beating for another 2-3 minutes.
In another bowl, sift together flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Once combined and sifted, pour a third of the dry mix into the wet mix and fold with a spatula. Then add in a third of the wine. Repeat until all of the dry mixture, wet mixture, and the 3/4 cup of wine are combined by folding very gently. You don’t want to over-mix otherwise the cake won’t be fluffy.
Pour batter into the prepared cake pans and bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when stuck in the middle of the cake. Allow cake to cool for 20 minutes before removing from pan and placing on cooling rack.
While cake is cooling, prepare frosting and marinated strawberries. Slice strawberries and place in small bowl with the 1 cup of wine and sugar and allow to marinate for 30 minutes. Next you can make the frosting. Cream butter using stand mixer and then add in vanilla, cocoa powder, and powdered sugar until well combined. Slowly add in wine until creamy consistency develops. Set aside for use when cake is completely cool.
Once cake is cool, spoon out thin layer of frosting on top of one cake. Then spoon out strawberries with slotted spoon and place evenly on top of frosting. Then place second cake on top. Begin to frost top and sides of cake, smoothing out with a just knife. Now it’s time to decorate how you please!
Recipe adapted. View original recipe HERE.