Yogurt Cake

imagePut aside your measuring cups and spoons, because you simply won’t need them for this quick French cake.  It’s great as a last minute, friends are coming over for coffee, kind of deal.  Kids will also love it as an after school snack.  You can dress it up (with a little fruit coulis, like I did here) or serve it au naturel.  No mater how you slice it, (pause for pun appreciation) it’s an easy and delicious dessert.

So what’s the deal with no measuring cups or spoons?  Well, since it’s a yogurt cake, you use your little old yogurt container to measure out all the other ingredients.  Guess I should have also mentioned that clean up is a snap with this one – you toss the yogurt container and only have one mixing bowl and spoon to wash.

In exactly this order, here’s what you plop in the bowl:

  • 1 personal size container of plain unsweetened yogurt
  • 1/2 of the yogurt container full of oil
  • 2 yogurt containers full of sugar
  • 3 yogurt containers full of flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. of baking powder (OK, so you will have to measure one thing.  Here in France the baking powder comes in little individual serving packets and you just need to dump in about half a packet)
  • Some lemon zest – your call on the quantity.  I like a good lemon flavor and so zested a little over half of a lemon.


After all the ingredients are in the bowl, you simply mix with a spoon until  well blended.

If you have an interesting or cute pan, it’s fun to use it here.  I searched high and low and this is the best I could come up with – a pan typically used to make a Charlotte.  I was a bit worried that the batter would be too deep and thus take too long to bake, but ultimately, it worked out OK.


I baked in the oven at 350 for about 40 minutes.  Like I said, my cake was quite deep and so it took a bit longer.  If you go with a standard depth cake pan, you can count on closer to 30 minutes.  Just keep an eye on it and watch for that just right, still moist, golden brown stage.


I flipped it out of the pan after about 10 minutes.  I let it cool completely and then just dusted with powdered sugar. I blended some frozen raspberries to make a little coulis and served it to 4 hungry mouths as an after school snack.  Silence in the room for at least 3 minutes as they all devoured it.


All Before 8am – Pumpkin Pie Cupcakes

Somewhere back in my 30s, I think I spent idyllic mornings before heading off to work where I would sit and sip a cup of coffee in silence and maybe leaf through a book, magazine or newspaper.  Unfortunately for me, I didn’t recognize that “pre-child” era for the paradise that it actually was.  Yet every year, with the arrival of summer, I cling to some deeply repressed notion of a smooth, peaceful and easy morning since we “don’t have school or anything else to hurry off to”.  And every year, about a week into summer I realize what a hopeless romantic loser I am for even believing in “smooth”, “peaceful”  or “easy”.

In case you can’t relate to what I’m describing here, let me give you a run down of a common pre-8am landscape in our little slice of the earth.  That is correct, all of this -and more- occurs prior to 8 o’clock in the morning; approximately only 60 – 90 minutes after 8 small feet hit the floor to welcome a glorious new day.

10 – Hand soap smeared on a wooden nightstand because “I was decowating it”.  This particular day it was hand soap, but you can feel free to sub in toothpaste, Mom’s expensive moisturizer, calamine lotion, butt cream, or any other gooey substance that is supposed to stay in the bathroom.

9 – Apple core dropped in the toilet because the potty was closer than the trash. (OK – this isn’t a regular occurrence, but the fact that it even happened once kind of makes you wonder.)

8 – All out tantrum because “I wanted to po my own ceweal.”

7 – Wet pull-up left in the middle of the kitchen floor. When are they going to make them so that they can absorb the pee and dispose of themselves?

6 – Reader on page 360 of the book you just got her (that was supposed to last all week) and completely oblivious to the ensuing morning chaos.  I should never have talked to her so much as an infant; then maybe she wouldn’t have become such a voracious bookworm.

5 – Breakfast sweetly made for younger siblings (she calls it the Hot Cocoa Cafe), but the kitchen not so sweetly hiding the remnants of said breakfast (aka – crap all over my kitchen!)

4 – Question “What are we going to do today?” already uttered at least 57 times.  Answer: NOTHING.  But they still keep asking as if the question can change the course of their future.

3 – Dragon, lion, and other “animal of the week” pictures already littering the dining room table that was clean last night when I went to bed.  Darn FuntoDraw with Mei Yu videos on YouTube.  She should have named it FuntoKillTrees with the amount of paper these children plow through.

2 – Animal hospital, complete with a gazillion bandaged stuffed animals, set up and completely blocking my front door.  Here’s hoping the fire marshall won’t visit today.

1 – The words Mom, Mama, Mother, and MacoCheena (don’t ask) uttered, shouted, whined, screamed, whispered, and repeated in varying tones, pitches and cadences at least 700 times (or so it seems).

Picture painted now?  Good.  So how is your summer going so far?  And yes, it’s often on days that start like this that I retreat into my mixing bowls and measuring spoons just to take a moment.  On this particular day, I tackled Pumpkin Pie Cupcakes with some home grown sugar pumpkins from the garden.  I figured everything else is so wacky, why not bake with pumpkin in early July.

I started by roasting up one of the cute little guys.

roasted pumpkin

I then scooped out the yummy filling and mashed with a potato masher.

roasted pumpkin puree

I mixed together the dry ingredients of flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, pumpkin pie spice, and salt.  Then I mashed together sugar and butter until they were well combined.

pumpkin pie cupcakes

To that mixture, I added an egg white, my mashed pumpkin, some milk, and a bit of vanilla.  Then I added in the dry ingredients and mixed it all up until smooth.

pumpkin pie cupcakes

I used mini cupcake papers and a tin and filled each one.  I baked them about 12 minutes.  While they were baking, I mixed together some powdered sugar, cream cheese, and butter.  After the cupcakes cooled, I frosted them and Voila.

pumpkin pie cucpakes

Please note that no specific children were identified in this post.  There are really no behaviors in and of themselves that are horrific, atypical childlike behaviors.  It’s simply the gestalt of it all compacted into a 60 minute time period that drives this mother to her oven.

Here’s the complete recipe for Pumpkin Pie Cupcakes.



Feeling Lucky – Chocolate Stout Cake

November?!  Yes, November since I have given you any attention, little old food blog.  What a pitiful shame.  I wish I could chalk it up to having too many kids and not enough time.  Or maybe being too busy with real estate.  What if I had simply stopped cooking?  Now there’s a good joke.

The truth is that Thanksgiving happened and I said to myself, “The world is overrun with pumpkin pie and stuffing posts, and I am simply overrun, so I am going to opt out of my blogging life for a bit.”  Then Christmas happened, and, well . . . Christmas happened.  We all know what that entails, so no need to expound there.”  Any normal person would have been able to jump right back into the fray of things post haste, post Christmas, right?  Maybe not so much.  Or maybe I’m not as normal as I would like to delude myself into thinking I am.  Because the truth is that since January I have slipped deeper and deeper into a total state of inertia.  The kind of inertia that first pulls you down by your toes and you think, “Oh, I just need to take it easy and recharge for a day or two.”  Then it seeps up to your waist and you think, ” This is ridiculous and I really need to shake it off – – – and delete Candy Crush Saga from my phone.”  Finally, as it creeps up to your shoulders and you feel it reaching for your neck, you panic and start to think that maybe you will never snap out of it, that you are officially done being productive / creative / efficient / proficient, and any other “-ent” or “-ive” that you may use to describe your person.  “Blah” no longer describes your state of being.  “In a funk”  seems like just a cheap excuse.  Some people might label it “depressed”.  Personally, I prefer to call it empty.  I have just been battling emptiness for the past three months.

Believe me, it is not easy to type that.  It’s even scary, if you must know.  Does confessing emptiness indict my mental stability?  Does it undermine my love of my husband and family? Does it undermine my faith and gratefulness?  I choose to believe that it simply affirms my humanity, that it marks a not so glorious season, that it is through being stuck in my own crud that I can grow more compassionate toward others who are mucking their way through their crud.

So that is where I have been, dear blog.  And little by little, I have regained perspective.  Little by little, I have dug my way out of my little hole.  Little by little, I have told myself that by being reduced to less that I can become more.  And no, the cooking hasn’t stopped through this slump.  After all, cooking is therapy to me.  Keeping things real, seasonal and local, I have served my little brood more, potato, rutabaga, turnip, radish, and other root vegetable concoctions than I should probably admit.  Those aren’t real sexy in their culinary appeal though, and I wanted to re-emerge on the blog with a little more pizazz. Plus, if you are like me, then maybe you find solace to your sadness in chocolate.  Not to mention, that it’s St. Paddy’s tomorrow and any good recipe with Guiness is a sure winner this time of year.  So with no further explanation, apologies, excuses, or ramblings, I give you THE BEST chocolate cake recipe of all time – Three Layer Chocolate Stout Cake.

First let me make the disclaimer that this makes a HUGE cake.  I have found that cutting it in half (not the frosting, just the cake) still makes an ample three layer beauty.  I have also made the whole recipe and been able to make a three layer cake AND about a dozen cupcakes which I have frozen and kept on hand for “emergencies”.  And then there have been times when I have just gone for it, made the full recipe and had three large, luxurious layers of chocolate bliss.  Whatever route you choose, start by buttering three 8″ round cake pans, then lining with parchment, and then buttering the parchment.  Then heat your oven to 350 degrees.

In a saucepan, I then bring 2 cups of stout (I have only used Guiness) and 2 cups of butter to a simmer.  To that, I whisk in the dutch process cocoa powder and then let that cool.


In a separate large bowl, I whisk flour, sugar, baking soda and salt.  In yet another bowl, I beat together eggs and sour cream with an electric mixer.


I then add the stout/butter mixture to the egg/sour cream mixture and beat just until it is combined.


The flour mixture gets added in next.  I beat it only briefly and then continue to fold in with a rubber spatula so as to not over mix.


All of this yumminess gets poured into my three prepared cake pans and baked for about 35 minutes.  When they are done, I cool them in the pans for about 10 minutes and then turn them out onto racks and cool completely.

For the frosting, I recommend buying the best chocolate your budget allows for.  Simply bring the whipping cream and chopped chocolate to a simmer in a saucepan, whisking constantly until it is melted.  Then transfer to the fridge and allow to cool.  Here is where you need to really keep an eye on the frosting and stir about every 10 minutes until it reaches frosting consistency.  I have botched this part and had it turn to “fudge” on me.  If that should happen to you, don’t panic.  Just put the pan back over very low heat and stir constantly until it melts back down and start the whole refrigeration and stirring process over again.  Once you have your frosting at the perfect consistency, frost between layers and over top and sides and . . .  voila!


So this St. Paddy’s maybe forgo the Irish Soda Bread and whip up this treat instead.  And if, like me, you are struggling with your own version of “emptiness”, I hope you remember that this is only a season and it too shall pass.  In the meantime, a little chocolate cake never hurt anyone!

Here’s the complete recipe for Three Layer Chocolate Stout Cake,

~ adapted from epicurious.com.

Kiddos in the Kitchen – Scones & Flourless Chocolate Cakes

We have a really amazing little gig going in our neighborhood called the Children’s Resource Center.  It’s geared for educators really, but open to everyone.  We try to hit it at least every two weeks.  We check out games, books, puppets – you name it.  It’s basically the library concept, but with a lot more to choose from.  The upside is that we get to try without the BUY.  I especially love this for games since so often we buy a game, are hot on it for a couple of weeks and then it goes to rest in the game cupboard with all of the other various games that were once all the rage in this household.  With the Resource Center, we just return it once the love affair is over.

The down side to this system is that we have to be uber careful of how we treat these borrowed items.  Now for Big Little One and Medium Little One, this is a great lesson in responsibility. Little Little One even gets this and it’s good practice for her as well.  Wee One?  Not so much!  Just last week I had to go slinking back to the Resource Center, head hanging, tail between my legs, and broken game board in hand.  Yep, she quartered it!  Maybe surgery is in her future, because it sure was a clean cut and I can’t imagine that it was that easy to rip through.  I mean it WAS a game board and not her usual construction paper victim!

Recently, we have been on a little cookbook borrowing spree from the Resource Center.  Now I must admit that I’m really not a fan of the kids cookbook genre.  If I’m going to spend time cooking with my kiddos, I want the end result to actually taste good.  My experience has been that so many kids cookbooks sacrifice taste for ease of preparation and really miss the point when it comes to actually letting the kids COOK and not just assemble.  So you can imagine my jubilation when we hit on a cookbook that produced not one, not two, but three wonderful culinary treats.  Yes, we were three for three.  They whipped up a trio of recipes and every one was tasty. Safe to say the Around the World cookbook, will be checked out again by our little clan.


Big Little One first whipped up some marvelous scones, and in my opinion, scones are not an easy one to nail.  They’re often too dry.  These ones were just right – to quote Goldilocks.


Medium Little One pulled her own weight in the kitchen and served up a Tunisian soup (typically eaten at breakfast time in Tunisia) known as Leb Lebi.  So easy and yet very flavorful – and no, we didn’t go all cultural and eat it for breakfast; we stuck with it as dinner fare.


And just because we force teamwork around these parts from time to time, the sisters collaborated on a little flourless chocolate cake number that even surprised me.  I just wasn’t expecting great results from something made in cupcake papers and using chocolate chips.  But they were good.  Like really good.  Like wow.  Like they disappeared so fast I am sorry to say that I don’t have a photo to share with you.

So there you go.  Another stereotype blown away – kids cookbooks can actually groove with some flavor and Abigail Johnson Dodge definitely does so in this one.  Hope you will find some time to bond with your kiddo in the kitchen.  If you do, here are a couple of the recipes mentioned above.

British Scones

Flourless Chocolate Cakes

Dreaming Simple – Moscato Cake with Grapes

When I was a younger woman, I dreamed of adventure.  Maybe riches.  Sometimes romance.  I have a very vague recollection of what it was like to let my mind wander and get lost in my own thoughts.  As a much older woman now, let’s just say my dreams have shifted slightly.  I have adjusted to my current season.  Some might delicately put it that way.  But the blunt truth of the matter is that I dream of very simple things these days.  Like finishing a sentence without being interrupted. Just to pop out the first one that comes to mind.  Yes, yes, yes . . .  I am trying to train my children in this arena, so let’s not even go there.  I mean really – there are four of them, and one of me.  I’m grossly outnumbered.

Some weeks, having fun with this blog is one of the only times I can reassure myself that I’m still capable of maintaining  a train of thought.  I’ve also realized that I have a new way of rating my friends in regards to this new dream.  A REALLY good friend is one who, after I have had to stop mid-sentence and run after my two year old, will say upon my return, “OK, so finish what you were telling me about xyz”.  That friend was actually listening and cares about what I have to say.  Then there are the friends who will say nada, zilch, zero upon my return.  I always wonder whether they weren’t even listening in the first place or are actually just happy the toddler split when she did because they were over what I was saying 10 minutes ago.  Then there are the friends who have their own 2 year olds  (or a various aged gaggle of other children) with intermittent fleeing, climbing, and falling bouts.  Pretty safe to admit, that we’re basically just smiling and nodding at each other and pretending to catch even  1/10th of what the other one is saying.

I know there will come a day in the future where I will wish I had a kid interrupting me.  I also know that day will come sooner than I can probably imagine.  I know I should make a mental recording of their angelic little voices that won’t always be calling my name (of course I would need some major sound engineering to lower out the whining, screaming, and/or sniveling).  So I’ll try to keep that all in mind as I maneuver through each day.  But I’ll also continue to dream my here-and-now-dream and let my reveries take me to the land of coherent, uninterrupted conversations while being surrounded by my offspring (other current dreams include reading a book on an airplane and peeing without an audience, in case you were wondering).

And with that, I think I was mentioning when we last spoke (before I was interrupted)  that I had this great little grape and cake combo to tell you about, didn’t I?  Well let’s get back to that .

Our CSA box has been bursting with grapes these last three weeks.  Really delicious grapes. Autumn Royal Grapes, they are called and they come from A H Organics.  After the second delivery, curiosity got the best of me and I started wondering what exactly I could do with grapes besides just rinse them and feed them to the troops as a snack or have a stomp fest in the back yard and teach a home school lesson on wine making.  Well lo and behold, I found a recipe for a Moscato Cake with Grapes.  I got really excited about this since I had never made a cake with moscato, nor had I ever confectioned with grapes.  So off I went.

I started by brushing  a spring form pan with olive oil, lining it with parchment, and then brushing the parchment with olive oil.

Moscato Cake with Grapes - 7

After that, I mixed some flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda and set the dry mixture aside.  Then I whisked together some sugar, butter, and olive oil.

Moscato Cake with Grapes - 1

To that, I added a couple of eggs, some grated lemon peel, some grated orange peel, and vanilla.

Moscato Cake with Grapes - 2

Here’s where it got fun . . .  and started to smell divine.  To this mixture I alternately added the dry ingredients and 1 cup of moscato, making sure to blend well after each addition.

I poured the batter into my spring form pan, and then scattered my grapes over the top.

Moscato Cake with Grapes - 3

I baked it at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes until the top was set.  Then I dotted the top with butter and sprinkled with sugar and baked another 20 minutes.  When it was golden I pulled it out of the oven and let it cool for about 20 more minutes before releasing it from the pan.

Moscato Cake with Grapes - 4

The result was surprisingly good.  Kiddos claimed it tasted like baked apples (hmmmmmm?)  Every last crumb was gone in one sitting.  Even the Hubs, who generally isn’t a fan of any baked fruit, liked it.

Moscato Cake with Grapes - 6

So chalk that one up to a new adventure . . . grapes in a cake, and some moscato to boot.  Oh, and I feel so much better now that we had a chance to actually finish this conversation.

Here’s the complete recipe for Moscato Cake with Grapes, adapted from Epicurious.

Yin / Yang: Hot / Cold – Broccoli, Yellow Pepper & Cheddar Chowder and Cantaloupe Limesicles

No, I didn’t fall off the face of the planet.  More like swallowed up by the busy-ness of end of summer and back-to school.  And, as if those two numbers weren’t enough to keep me on my toes, we decided to fit in a little jaunt back to Ohio to visit the grand parents.  It was kind of a last minute decision, actually.  I mentioned that we should probably try to schedule a trip sometime soon.  The Hubs suggested October.  Sounded good enough to me, but then I realized that the Wee One would turn 2 on September 3rd.  The cheap-o in me said, “Get that clan on the plane before 9/3 and then you won’t have to pay for another seat and you can take Wee One as a lap baby.”  The masochist in me, then added in, “Of course you want to fly to Cleveland via San Francisco ALONE with four girls!”  So with all of my split personalities speaking their piece, I dove in and booked the tickets.

The upside of the Ohio visit?  Seeing family and catching up.  The down side?  Two words: muggy and buggy.  And to think that I had just recently contemplated what it would be like to move my family back to the land of my childhood.  Ummmmm, no thanks.  Just that one visit let the girls get in their tractor driving, lightening bug catching, box trap building, and toad hunting.  Now we’ll just return to our OC suburban life, thank you.

Unfortunately, I think Mr. Muggy decided to stow away in our suitcase or something.  This OC heat is ridiculous and immediately upon returning I remembered a crucial point – I detest OC in September.  It’s as if I have a honing pigeon like instinct born out of my mid-western roots.  The minute it is September my brain starts to think chilly, crisp, fall.  I want to wear sweaters, sip warm tea, and decorate with red, orange and yellow foliage.  But no, it’s a sweltering over here in September and you just can’t escape the heat.

Also, in the midst of all this traveling, and back-to-school planning, and other time consuming stuff, I decided to subscribe to our local CSA program.  Basically this means I’m getting a box of wonderful local and organic produce delivered to my doorstep every week.  I chose Abundant Harvest Organics and so far, love the fruits and veggies.  However, this week’s box gifted us with an abundant harvest of broccoli and we are just not a broccoli eating family.  Call me strange, but my beef (ha! no pun intended) with broccoli is that it doesn’t retain its heat.  And the only thing I hate more than bland food is cold food.  So . . . all this to say that in this blazing weather, I, the genius that I am, decided to make Broccoli Soup.  Yes, you heard right, soup in 98 degree weather.  So here goes.  You, being a more intelligent person than I, can just tuck this little recipe aside and whip it out on a chilly fall day.

I started by chopping up an onion. a yellow bell pepper, and a russet potato.

Broccoli soup - chop

I separated the broccoli florets from the stem and then peeled and finely chopped the stem.

Broccoli soup -florets

I boiled some salt water and then added the florets and boiled for about 3 minutes.  I removed them and plopped them right into some ice water to stop them from cooking.  I saved about 4 cups of the cooking water for later.  I sat the florets aside and went to work on the other veggies.  I sauteed the onion, potato, pepper, broccoli stems, and some garlic for about 10 minutes.    Then I added in some cumin, salt, pepper, and some flour.

Broccoli soup - sautee

I added the reserved cooking water to this sautee and let  it simmer (partially covered) until the potatoes were tender – about 10 minutes.   Then I added in some half and half and grated sharp cheddar.  I whisked it well until the cheese was all melted.  After that, I pureed about 2 cups of the soup and returned it to the pot.  I then added in the broccoli florets and heated until everything was piping hot.  I served with a little French baguette and we were good to go.  The kids gave it rave reviews, even while thinking their mother was insane for serving soup on one of the hottest days of the year.

Broccoli soup - final

So just to redeem myself, I pulled out the coolest dessert ever.  Throughout the summer I have been experimenting with homemade popsicles.  We’ve done orange-raspberry creamsicles (a hit!), watermelon-basil-honey pops (so-so), and then, the the chef d’oeuvre of the summer – – – -cantaloupe limesicles.  So easy and delish!  I took about 3 slices of cataloupe, and, in the blender, combined it with 1/4 c. water, 2 Tbsp. sugar, and the juice of one lime.  Into my popsicle molds it went and hours later we had a wonderful treat to combat the heat!


popsicle13 - 1

So call me crazy for my soup concoction, but in the blazing weekend ahead, whip up your own cantaloupe lime-sicles and enjoy!

Here’s the full Broccoli, Yellow Pepper & Cheddar Cheese Chowder recipe, adapted from Epicurious.

Want to browse other broccoli recipes?  Here are some to get you started.

Just Not a Pajama Girl – Plum Upside Down Cake

This week has had us running in a million different directions.

I foolishly thought that with a little respite from water polo that I would have a few low-key, kick-back kind of days.  Wrong.  The Hubs non-chalantly announced at dinner on Sunday that there was an intensive soccer clinic going down this week and that Medium Little One would be there EVERY night.

But at least our mornings have been much more relaxed than usual.  We’ve eaten pancakes together, done puzzles, played Monopoly, played in the sand box, fiddled in “the garden”.  So my confession is that I have to try really hard on those slow paced mornings.  I guess it’s time to come to grips with the fact that I’m simply not a stay in my jammies and lounge kind of gal.  I make it until about 10:30 and then it’s like something just flips inside of me.  I myself need to shower and get dressed.  I need my small people showered, dressed, and coiffed.  And then I start looking around at the sheer mess resulting from our lounging and I freak.  I start tasking out orders and our leisurely morning comes to a grinding halt.

Oh, we may still have fun and relax over the course of the day, but that 10:30ish mark is just a breaking point for me.  I need to know that “things are in order” and everyone has done what they need to do to start the day.  Psychotic?  Most definitely, but that’s just the way this girl is wired.  All I can hope for is that my small people don’t undergo too much therapy later in life as a result of it.  I can hear it now, “It was weird, we were having so much fun, playing Monopoly, when all of a sudden my mom’s head started spinning, her eyes rolled back in her head, and she started drilling out orders about everything that needed to be picked up, and gave us 10 minutes to get dressed and be presentable.”  As I see it, I will have either created post-10:30-pajama-avoiders like myself, OR my progeny will be like those ones that you see in the bagel shop on Saturday morning living life in their PJs as if no one will notice or care.

Usually, after we switch gears and get “presentable”, we also launch into some kind of productive activity.  Yes, productivity will be a whole other topic for adult-life therapy. I just keep telling myself, there could be worse evils, right?  Anyway, this week, one of our productive activities together was to make this Plum Upside Down Cake.  We bought a ton of plums and they all seemed to ripen at exactly the same time.  Knowing we couldn’t possibly eat them all in time, I whipped out this recipe and off we went.

We started by mixing some butter, date palm sugar, and honey together in a skillet.  The actual recipe called for brown sugar, but I was curious as to how the date palm sugar would substitute in.  It didn’t melt as smoothly as brown sugar usually does, but the end result was just as good.

plimglazeDSCN1755  We poured that glaze into the bottom of a regular cake pan.  Then I sliced up the plums into wedges and the little helping fingers arranged them in this lovely spiral pattern on top of the glaze.


After that, we mixed together some butter and sugar with the electric mixer.  We added in a couple of eggs along with some almond extract and some vanilla.


We mixed together the dry ingredients which included flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.

plumdryDSCN1759Then we alternated between adding the dry ingredients and milk to the butter and sugar mixture.  When the batter was done, we spread it over the top of the plum swirl.


We popped it in a 350 degree oven and baked for about 55 minutes.  We let it cool in the pan for 30 minutes after taking it out of the oven.


We ran a knife around the edges of the pan to unstick the gooey glaze.  Then we inverted a platter on top of it and flipped out the cake.


It was surprisingly light and very tasty.  We are still staring at a good amount of very ripe plums, so we may just be looking at a repeat dessert another night this week, and another little “productive activity”.


Here’s the complete recipe for Plum Upside Down Cake, adapted from Epicurious.

Have your own supply of oh-so-ripe plums?  Check out these other plum dessert recipes.

It’s a Win-Win (Part II) – Blueberry Drop Biscuit Cobbler

One thing I failed to mention in Part I of It’s a Win-Win, is that I really wasn’t a blueberry fan prior to finding Temecula Berry Company. I always adored  McCloskey’s book, Blueberries for Sal – a family favorite in our house, but the fruit itself didn’t hold much appeal for me. I would eat them occasionally in fruit salads and when they were served by others, but I never bought them.  To me they were generally tasteless.  Well let me tell you, eating directly off the bush is a whole different experience.  They are just so flavorful – almost like a completely different fruit to me.

So if you haven’t ever gone blueberry picking, I really recommend it.  Here’s a handy little site that can help you locate places to pick berries as well as various other fruits and veggies – http://pickyourown.org/

Our No Bake Blueberry Cheesecake wiped out about half of our take in the picking.  That doesn’t account for all of the random munching – of which there was A LOT.  So with the other half we just had to go for a classic cobbler.

We did one with a drop biscuit crust and so started off by whisking together some flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.  Then we mixed in butter with our fingers until little lumps formed. Finally, we mixed in sour cream being super careful not to over mix.


We sat the dough aside and got to work on the filling.  Super simple, really.  We just mixed the berries with sugar, a little flour, some lemon zest, and a bit lemon juice.


Once the filling was mixed, we spread it into the bottom of our dish, and then dropped the biscuit topping, by quarter-sized pieces, all over the top.  Nothing fancy at all.


Doesn’t it kind of look like cauliflower?

The whole thing baked for about 50 minutes, until it was golden brown on top, and then we let it cool for about an hour.  Of course, we had to eat it a la mode.  I mean it would have been a total cobbler travesty to have eaten it any other way.


And that, dear friends, completely finished off the fruits of our picking.

Here’s the recipe for Blueberry Drop Biscuit Cobbler if you want to give it a go.

Recipe adapted from Epicurious

It’s a Win-Win (Part I) – No Bake Blueberry Cheesecake

I spend a significant amount of time doing things that I’m not exactly dying to do.  This always seems to astonish my children.  I think they actually believe that I’m INTO  driving back and forth to Water Polo and Soccer.  They are convinced that I get a real kick out of washing and folding laundry and loading and unloading the dishwasher.  Just last week, I was at a fundraiser at Pump It Up with four of my small people.  I finally said to the mom next to me, “Is it just me or are the hands on that clock simply not moving?”  Thankfully, she was down with my sentiment and didn’t look at me as though I were the worst mother on the face of the planet. So yes, the things that fill my days aren’t always high ranking on my dream roster or bucket list. A season for everything, right?

Now granted, I have made the choices leading me to where I am.  I recognize that and accept that.  I am not complaining, just being honest, folks.  I refuse to believe that even the most saintly of mothers jumps with joy over the prospect of, say, reading The Little Red Hen for the 42nd time in one morning or going to the library on the third Wednesday of the month for Read to Rover (yes, sitting and watching as your child reads to Guide Dogs.  Dogs.  I repeat – reading to dogs. Point made).  So you can easily understand, I hope, what a treat it is, when THEIR entertainment and enrichment can cozy up with any of MY passions.

Thus, my pure enthusiasm over heading out to go blueberry picking this past week.  They were exuberant at the thought of picking berries, and with friends at that.  I was looking forward to spending time with friends, but my wheels were already turning as to what we would make with so may fresh picked blueberries.  We headed for Temecula Berry Comany, a little blueberry farm that the fam and I discovered about four years ago.  We’ve made an annual pilgrimage there every year since.


Altogether, we picked 8 pints of berries.  Not too shabby, but I’m always astonished at how quickly they disappear.

We were invited to a friend’s house for dinner over the weekend and so of course I felt compelled to take a blueberry dessert.  Specifically, a No-Bake Blueberry Cheesecake.

I started by tossing together some graham crackers, brown sugar, rolled oats, and salt for the crust.  I mixed it in the food processor until fine crumbs were formed.


After that, I mixed in melted butter and vanilla with the processor running until evenly moist crumbs were formed.  Then I pressed it into the bottom and up the sides of a springform pan.


I baked the crust at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes until it was golden brown.

While the crust was baking, I sprinkled some unflavored gelatin over a bit of water and let it sit for about 10 minutes.


I then heated it over low heat until all of the gelatin was dissolved.

In the food processor, once again, I combined some cream cheese, whipping cream, sugar, and lemon juice and blended until it was smooth. Then I added a bunch o’ berries and blended again.


I slowly added the dissolved gelatin mixture with the processor running and mixed until everything was well blended.

I poured the filling into the crust and sent it off to chill.  I actually left it in the fridge overnight, just because I had enough time to do that and because the flavors blend so much better the longer they set.


The next day, I beat some cream and sugar into stiff peaks.


I spread the cream over the filling, and then topped all of that with more blueberries tossed with some melted blueberry jam.  Another few hours in the fridge and our blueberry treat was ready for prime time.


Now that’s what I call harmony – kids were entertained, food was gathered, and dessert resulted.  If you are a blueberry lover, stay tuned.  Next post on the way  . . . Blueberry Drop Biscuit Cobbler.

Want the recipe for No Bake Blueberry Cheesecake?  It’s here.

Recipe from Epicurious.

In a real blueberry mood?  Check out these other great blueberry recipes.

Why We Don’t Have Cable – Banana Bread French Toast A La Mode

For the longest time, I have hidden behind the facade of doing the right thing for my children.  We do not have cable – haven’t for about the last 4 years.  Sure, I chalk it up to some lofty ideal about screen time and critical thinking and imaginative play.  Right!  The truth of the matter is that we do not have cable because if we did, I think child services would be knocking on my door.  The charge?  Neglect. Specifically, neglect from a mother completely consumed by The Food Network.  I. Am. Not. Joking.

Since we don’t have cable at home and only use our TV for watching DVDs, one of the high points of family getaways is watching TV in the hotel room.  I actually have my offspring bamboozled into thinking The Food Network is better than the Disney channel.  Quite a feat if you ask me.  The Little Little One even refers to a hotel as “The Food Network Place”.

Last weekend we took a little roadtrip up the coast.  I could go on telling you about the elephant seals we saw in Piedras Blancas, the mission in Santa Barbara, the walk along the shore in Cambria, or the sand dollars we collected in Pismo Beach.  But none of that would compare to the episode of the Food Network we saw where one of the Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives that Guy Fieri was visiting cooked up Banana Bread French toast on their dessert menu.  I couldn’t wait to get home and try it.

I started off by just baking my usual banana bread.  Then whisked some eggs just as you would for making regular French toast.


I dipped each slice of banana bread into the egg and then added to the butter I had melted in a large skillet.  Once one side was nice and golden brown, I gave it a flip.


While all that was going on in one skillet, I put together the sauce in another skillet.  Starting with “a little” butter and brown sugar, I heated it until the sugar dissolved.


I then added some sliced bananas and cooked until they were starting to soften.


I put the completed French toast on the plates, topped with some sauce, and then added a couple of scoops of vanilla ice cream.


Three words: To – Die – For!

Click here for the full recipe for Banana Bread.