Monthly Archives: July 2015

3 Layer Lemon Blueberry Cake with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting


  I’m back!  Did you miss me?  I’ve been away from the blog for a few days getting ready for a visit with my sisters.  I’ve been busy shopping and cooking and baking.  Shopping. And cooking.  And baking.  Oh my!  This was one of the three desserts I made for our cookout on Saturday.  Overachiever?  No.  Not at all.  Just couldn’t decide exactly what I wanted to make (one of my many flaws), so I made all I had time for.  It was such a great day!  I hadn’t seen my sister Kathi in almost 2 years and it’s been a few months since seeing Patty.  We talked a lot, laughed a lot and ate a lot.

This cake is light and airy, lemony and tart and beautifully marbled with blueberries.  It was the hit of the dessert table.  It’s tall and majestic being 3 layers.  And lemon cream cheese frosting?  That’s some seriously good stuff.  This has been adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction, recipe here.  Ladies and gentlemen, put on your aprons.  We’re going to make cake!

                                           3 Layer Lemon Blueberry Cake with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting


1 cup (16 Tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 1/4 cups sugar

1/2 cup light brown sugar

4 large eggs, at room temperature

1 Tbs. vanilla

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 Tbs. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature (or 1 Tbs. vinegar and milk to equal one cup, at room temperature)

zest and juice from 3 lemons

1 pint fresh blueberries (or frozen but not thawed blueberries)

1 Tbs. all-purpose flour


8 ounces (1 brick) cream cheese, at room temperature

1 stick (8 Tbs.) unsalted butter, at room temperature

3 1/2 – 4 cups powdered sugar

zest and juice from 1 lemon

1 Tbs. heavy cream

1 tsp. vanilla

pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray three 9 inch cake pans with non-stick cooking spray with flour.  Set aside.

In a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt.  Set aside.  Toss the blueberries and the tablespoon of flour together in another small bowl.  Set aside.  Place the butter in a large mixing bowl.  With the paddle attachment of either a hand electric mixer or a stand mixer on high speed, cream butter until it becomes pale yellow, light and fluffy about a minutes.  Add the sugars and mix on medium speed for another 2-3 minutes.  Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula.  On medium speed, add the eggs, one at a time, the vanilla, the zest and lemon juice.  Scrap down the bowl once again.  Alternately add the flour mixture and the buttermilk one third at a time.  Mix until just combined.  Fold in the blueberries.  Scraping the bottom to be sure all ingredients are well combined.  Pour batter evenly into the three prepared pans.  Bake at 350 degrees for 21-26 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cakes comes out clean.  Allow to cool on wire racks in the pans for 10-15 minutes before removing from pans to cool completely on the wire racks.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the cream cheese and butter.  Mix on high speed for 2-3 minutes until soft, fluffy and well combined.  Sift the powdered sugar into the bowl.  Mix on low speed for a minute so you won’t be covered in powdered sugar dust.  Add the zest, lemon juice, vanilla,  cream and salt.  Mix on high speed for 3-5 minutes until light and fluffy.  Spread with an offset spatula between the layers, on top and down the sides of the cake.  Garnish with thinly sliced lemon slices and blueberries.  Enjoy!

Wishing you love, laughter and cake,



Pasta with Vodka Sauce and Crispy Prosciutto 


  This sauce is….words just don’t do it justice.  It’s simply, perfectly, gloriously, deliciously, ridiculously wonderful!!!  Use it on your favorite type of pasta, but the kinds with lots of ridges and pockets that the sauce can stick to and fill up are the best. The parmesan cheese and crispy prosciutto put it over the top.  It’s like a flavor bomb going off in your mouth.  KAPOW!  I first tasted vodka sauce a few years ago.  My son wanted it so I bought a jar of it.  Nastiest stuff ever!   I told him I’d make some homemade and we’d try it again.  I made it, we tried it, we loved it and never looked back.  I think once you try it you’ll be hooked like we are.
                                                                 Pasta with Vodka Sauce and Crispy Prosciutto

8 slices prosciutto (or bacon, but the prosciutto gives it a wonderful flavor)

2 Tbs. olive oil, divided

1/2 cup chopped onion

1 tsp. minced garlic

2 Tbs. chopped fresh parsley

1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme leaves

1/2 tsp. dried oregano

1/2 tsp. dried basil

1 tsp. kosher salt

1 tsp. pepper

1 tsp. sugar, if desired

6 oz. can tomato paste

15 oz. can diced tomatoes

15 oz. can tomato sauce

1/3 cup vodka

1 cup heavy cream

1 cup grated parmesan cheese

1 lb. your favorite pasta, cooked per package directions

Place one tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet and heat on medium heat.  When hot,  place 3-4 pieces of prosciutto in the pan and cook until browned and crispy on both sides.  Drain on a paper towel lined plate.  Continue until all the prosciutto is fried.  Put the second tablespoon of olive oil in the pan with the prosciutto drippings.  Add the onion and cook for 3-4 minutes or until soft and translucent.  Add the garlic, parsley, thyme, basil, oregano, salt, pepper and tomato paste.  Cook and stir for 1-2 minutes.  Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, vodka and sugar.  Bring to a boil and reduce heat to low.  Simmer for 30-40 minutes until it thickens, stirring occasionally.  Pour in the heavy cream and cook until heated through.  Serve over your favorite cooked pasta.  Top with grated parmesan and crumbled prosciutto.  Buon Appetito!

Wishing you love, laughter and cake,


Round Two Cheesy Beef and Rice Burritos 


  I promised you a round two recipe from last night’s leftover you don’t need that hamburger helper casserole.  I won’t disappoint you and neither will this recipe.  It was really, really, really, really, really GOOD!  G and I made yum noises as we ate it.  Because of the creaminess of the casserole, it tastes like it has refried beans in it as well.  Did I mention this is delicious?  I can’t say that enough.  You can turn up the heat by adding more cayenne and red pepper flakes if you like a lot of spice.  With just a few extra ingredients, which you might already have in your fridge and pantry, you can make a totally different tasty meal from…LEFTOVERS!  I ❤ leftovers!  Hopefully having a meal like this will convince you to love them too.

                                                                 Round Two Cheesy Beef and Rice Burritos

1/2 recipe You don’t need that hamburger helper casserole found here

1/2 tsp. chili powder

1/2 tsp. cumin

1/2 tsp. dried oregano

1/2 tsp. smoked paprika

1/4 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. pepper

1/4 tsp. garlic powder

1/4 tsp. onion powder

pinch cayenne pepper

pinch red pepper flakes

10 oz. can enchilada sauce

4 oz. (1 cup) shredded taco cheese

1/4 cup cotija cheese

7-8 extra large (10 inch) flour tortillas (mine made only 7)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Combine the leftover beef and rice mixture with the next 10 ingredients (all the dried spices).  Mix well.  Warm the tortillas slightly in the microwave so they won’t crack when you try to roll them.  Take one tortilla and place 1/8 of the beef and rice mixture in a horizontal line about 2 inches from the bottom edge.  Top with 1-2 tablespoons of the taco cheese.  Roll the bottom up over the beef, rice and cheese.  Fold the sides in.  Continue to roll up burrito style.  Place in a 13 x 9 x 2 pan.  Repeat with the remaining tortillas, beef and cheese.  Pour enchilada sauce over the burritos making sure to cover all of them with some sauce.  Top with remaining taco cheese.  Sprinkle with the cotija cheese.  Bake for 20-25 minutes until cheese is hot and bubbly.   Enjoy!

Wishing you love, laughter and cake,


You don’t need that hamburger helper casserole 


   Put the box down.  Step away from the box.  You do not need that box of hamburger helper.

Not when you can make this casserole that tastes a million times better and you know exactly what the ingredients are in it.  I struggled most of the day trying to decide what to make out of this pound of ground beef.  All kinds of delicious thoughts came to mind.  Cheeseburger soup, pasta sauce, ground beef and noodles, goulash, hobo stew, cottage pie.  So many choices!  You see my dilemma?  But I decided I wanted rice.  And cheese.  Thus the creation of the you don’t need that hamburger helper casserole or for the hoity toity le riz costaud avec du fromage.  Imagine Larry the Cable guy saying this, “All I know is that’s good eatin’ right there.  I don’t care whatcha call it.”

Stay tuned tomorrow for a “round two” recipe (thank you for that term Sandra Lee) made from the leftovers.  It’s going to be a delicious alteration from the original.
                                                        You don’t need that hamburger helper casserole

1 lb. ground beef (I used 90/10 or ground sirloin)


1 cup rice

2 cups beef stock or broth

1 Tbs. unsalted butter

1 tsp. salt

Beef bechamel:

2 Tbs. unsalted butter

1/2 small onion, small dice

1 tsp. minced garlic

1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme

1 Tbs. chopped fresh parsley

1/4 cup flour

1 Tbs. tomato paste

1/2 cup milk

2 cups beef stock or broth

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. pepper

To complete casserole:

2 cups (8 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese

1/2 cup sour cream

1 cup milk

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. pepper

Combine all the rice ingredients in a medium-sized pan with a tight fitting lid.  Bring to a boil.  Cover and reduce heat to medium-low and cook for 15 minutes.  Remove from heat and let stand until ready to use in casserole.  Meanwhile, brown the ground beef in a skillet.  Drain grease and set aside.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Spray a large casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray  and set aside.

Add the butter to the pan in which the beef was browned.  Melt on medium heat.  Add the onion and cook for 2-3 minutes or until soft and translucent.  Add the garlic, thyme, parsley and tomato paste.  Cook for an additional minute.  Stir in the flour, cooking and stirring for a minute.  Pour in the milk, using a whisk to mix it around.  Add the beef stock and continue whisking for 4-5 minutes until the mixture becomes smooth and starts to thicken.

Pour the bechamel into the prepared casserole dish.  Add the beef, rice, cheese, sour cream, milk, salt and pepper.  Stir to combine all ingredients.  Bake at 350 degrees for 400-45 minutes.  Remove from oven and allow to stand for 15 minutes before serving.  Enjoy!

Wishing you love, laughter and cake,


Jelly Doh-Nut Cake


  Doh!  This cake would make Homer Simpson drool.  Listen to what he has to say about it here.  Oh Homey!  When I saw it on Facebook from Confessions of a Cookbook Queen (recipe here), I knew I had to make it.  G loves jelly donuts.  Me, not so much love for the donuts but this cake is awesome. One thing I found out the hard way that needs tweaking is the glaze. The original recipe calls for 6 tablespoon of warm water and 1 teaspoon vanilla.  I followed those directions and it was way too thin.  My advice is to add the warm water 1 tablespoon at a time until it’s a thick, smooth consistency like a glaze should be.  The cake is a jazzed up cake mix which makes it super simple.  Add your favorite flavor of jelly.  It doesn’t have to be red raspberry.  Although that makes it very tasty.  You can even use lemon curd if you’d like.  This is a pretty and very tasty cake you should make for all your donut lovers.
                                                                                    Jelly Doh-Nut Cake

19.5 oz. yellow cake mix (I used Duncan Hines)

3.4 oz. box instant vanilla pudding (4 serving size)

1/2 cup water

1//2 cup vegetable oil

1 cup sour cream at room temperature

4 large eggs at room temperature

1 cup your favorite flavor jelly (I used seedless red raspberry)

2 cups powdered sugar, sifted

1 tsp. vanilla

Warm water added one Tbs. at a time until glaze consistency is reached


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a bundt pan with cooking spray with flour.  In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine the cake mix, pudding mix, water, oil, sour cream and eggs.  With an electric hand mixer, beat on low for a minute until combined.  Increase speed to medium and beat for an additional 3 minutes.  Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula to ensure everything is well combined.  Pour into the prepared bundt pan.  Tap the pan on the counter top 3-4 times to release any air bubbles.  Bake at 350 degrees for 45-55 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the middle of the cake.  Allow to cool in the pan for 10-15 minutes on a wire rack before removing from pan to cool completely on the wire rack.  When completely cool, cut the cake in half horizontally.  Using a spoon, scoop out cake to make a circular jelly moat in the bottom layer about 1/2 inch deep and 1 inch wide.  Spoon in the jelly so that it just reaches the top of the jelly moat.  Place the top back on the bottom layer.  In a small bowl, add the sifted powdered sugar, vanilla and 1 Tbs. warm water.  Stir with a whisk.  Add more warm water one tablespoon at a time as needed to make a smooth. pourable glaze.  Pour the glaze evenly over the cake and top with sprinkles.  Enjoy!

Wishing you love, laughter and cake,


Honey BBQ Boneless Chicken “Wings”


  You know those boneless “wings” most restaurants offer?  I really enjoy them.  My favorite place to get them is not at a wing joint but at Pizza Hut of all places.  I think they’re great.  Being the thrifty person I am, I hate paying $5 or more for 8 measly pieces. I knew I could make my own and make them better.  I took a $1.89 one pound chicken breast and made 20-25 pieces out of it.  I dredged them in a seasoned panko bread crumb/flour mixture, dipped them in buttermilk and dredged them again.  I fried them to a nice golden brown and tossed them in my favorite honey bbq sauce.  Then my green-eyed Irish guy and I devoured them.  Oh my good golly!  They were so good!!  Don’t forget the napkins.
                                                              Honey BBQ Boneless Chicken Wings

1 lb. chicken breast cut into 20-25 pieces

1 cup buttermilk or 1 1/2 Tbs. vinegar with milk added to equal 1 cup

1 cup panko bread crumbs

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 tsp. kosher salt

1 tsp. pepper

1 tsp. smoked paprika

1 tsp. parsley flakes

1/2 tsp. garlic powder

1/2 tsp. onion powder

1/8-1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

Vegetable oil for frying

1 – 1 1/2 cups of your favorite barbecue sauce (I used Sweet Baby Ray’s honey bbq)

Measure the buttermilk or soured milk and place in a small bowl.  Combine the panko, flour, salt, pepper, paprika, parsley, garlic, onion powder and cayenne in a shallow dish.  Stir to evenly combine all ingredients.  Dip each piece of chicken into the flour mixture, shaking off the excess, then into the buttermilk, shaking off the excess and finally back into the flour mixture.  Heat about one inch of vegetable oil on medium-high heat in a large skillet until hot.  Add the chicken pieces in batches and fry until golden brown on each side, about 5-7 minutes.  Heat the barbecue sauce in a medium-sized bowl.  Add the fried chicken pieces and toss to coat each one.  Enjoy!

Wishing you love, laughter and cake,


Chocolate Cherry Dr. Pepper Cake


Let them eat cake!  Mmmmmm….cake!  Marie Antoinette sure had the right idea.  It’s one of my favorite things.  This cake is so simple.  The cake itself only has three ingredients and  the frosting only three more.  You and I both know how well chocolate and cherries go together.  Be sure to check your cherries for pits though.  I was surprised to find one of my cherries having one.  That was a broken tooth waiting to happen.  The recipe is very slightly adapted from The Slow Roasted Italian and you’ll find it here.  One thing that I did was to halve the frosting.  Another is to cut back on the powdered sugar in the frosting.  Come on, I love sweet stuff but 7 cups of powdered sugar?  Woo-whee!  That’s a lotta shugah!  You can see that I rearranged the cherries on the cake by the juice spots.  I had three cherries left in the jar and I wasn’t about to put that little bit in the fridge.  This is a very easy, very tasty cake your whole family will enjoy.
                                                                       Chocolate Cherry Dr. Pepper Cake

19.5 oz. dark chocolate cake mix (I used Duncan Hines)

12 oz. Dr. Pepper Cherry

42 maraschino cherries and juice, divided

1 stick (8 Tbs.) unsalted butter at room temperature

2 1/2- 3 cups powdered sugar, sifted

2 1/2-3 Tbs. maraschino cherry juice

pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 13 x 9 cake pan with non-stick cooking spray with flour and set aside.  Pour cake mix and soda into a medium-sized bowl.  Whisk until well combined.  Cut 24 cherries into quarters and add to the cake mix.  Whisk until distributed through the batter.  Bake 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Allow to cool in the pan on a wire rack for 2 hours or until completely cool.  Place butter in a medium-sized mixing bowl.  Mix with an electric hand mixer until smooth and pale yellow in color.  Add 2 1/2 cups of sifted powdered sugar, 2 1/2 Tbs. maraschino cherry juice and pinch of salt and mix.  If it’s too thick add the extra 1/2 Tbs. cherry juice.  It it’s too thin, add the extra 1/2 cup powdered sugar.  Using an offset spatula, spread the frosting evenly over the cooled cake.  Arrange the remaining maraschino cherries in a decorative pattern on the cake.  Enjoy!

Wishing you love, laughter and cake,