Tuesday, September 11, 2012


Back-to-school meetings, PTA boards, church committees, and teacher conferences only mean one thing . . . soup for dinner. Here's a perfect one for the busy days of fall.

Autumn Minestrone

2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Vidalia onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
3 stalks celery, chopped
1/2 green pepper, chopped
3 zucchini squash (not peeled), chopped into 1/4 inch dice
1 can tomato paste
1 can butter beans
1 can kidney beans
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon basil
1/2 cup pepperoni slices, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
2 cups water
2 cups beef stock

In a stockpot, saute onion in olive oil over medium heat for five minutes. Add garlic and saute another ten minutes. Add celery, green pepper, and squash and saute another five minutes.

Add the water and broth and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and add tomato paste, butter beans, kidney beans, oregano, and basil. Simmer for 45 minutes. Add pepperoni. Salt and pepper to taste. Simmer another 10 minutes and serve.

Can make a double recipe and freeze half. Serves 8 - 10.

This soup is wonderful with a loaf of bread and a glass of red wine--for the adults, of course!

Friday, September 7, 2012


This is a favorite recipe, given to me by my husband's Aunt Carol. Since Carol and her twin brother (my father-in-law) turn 80 this weekend, I wanted to celebrate by making this cake. We'll just forget the chocolate birthday cake I made yesterday for my husband because bathing suit season is over!

Chocolate Pudding Cake

1 cup flour
3/4 cup sugar
3 Tablespoons Hershey's®  Cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup whole milk
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup Hershey's®  Cocoa powder
1 3/4 cups boiling water

Hard Sauce:
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
1 Tablespoon milk or brandy (your preference)
1 dash almond extract

Heat oven to 350º F. Lightly butter a 9-inch square glass baking pan. 
In a medium-sized bowl, stir together flour, sugar, 3 Tablespoons cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. Mix in milk, oil, and vanilla. Spread batter evenly in pan.
Combine brown sugar and the 1/4 cup cocoa and sprinkle the dry ingredients over the batter. Slowly pour boiling hot water over the batter and brown sugar mixture and bake for 40 - 45 minutes, until top is set. 

While cake is baking, cream together butter and sugar in a medium mixing bowl. Slowly beat in milk or brandy and the drop of almond essence.

Let cake stand for 5 minutes before spooning into dessert dishes. Serve with hard sauce.

Make sure you have glasses of cold milk ready! 

Thursday, September 6, 2012


Today is my husband's birthday, with my children's birthday coming up in a few days. This time of year, besides presents and candles, the one thing they all ask for is my triple-layer chocolate cake with homemade cocoa frosting. And with smiles like these, how can I say no?

Triple Layer Chocolate Cake with Cocoa Frosting

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups cold water
1 cup corn oil
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/2 cup plus 2 Tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
5 cups powdered sugar
8 Tablespoons (or more) whole milk
1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup plus 3 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter and flour three 9-inch-diameter cake pans with 1 1/2-inch-high sides. Sift dry ingredients into medium bowl. Mix water, oil and vanilla in a large bowl. Whisk in dry ingredients. Divid among pans. Sprinkle 1/2 cup chocolate chips over batter in each pan.

Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Cool cakes in pans on a rack for 30 minutes. Cut around sides of pan to loosen cakes. Turn cakes out. Cool completely.

Beat butter in large bowl until fluffy. Gradually beat in 3 cups sugar. Beat in 8 Tablespoons milk and the vanilla. Add in cocoa and remaining 2 cups sugar, beat until blended, thinning with more milk if necessary.

Place 1 cake layer, chocolate chips side up, on a cake plate. Spread 2/3 cup frosting over top. Cover with second cake, chocolate chips side up. Spread 2/3 cup frosting over top. Top with remaining cake layer, chocolate chips side up. Spread frosting over sides and top of cake.

Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover with cake dome and let stand at room temperature.

Serves 8-10.

This cake needs a tall glass of cold milk and maybe some ice cream!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012


My roses are fading and the kids headed back to school today. That means the nights will start to cool and the evenings will be filled with kid activities and homework. So hot soup will become a weekly supper event in our fall household. And this is one of my favorites!


2 pounds butternut squash (or a combination of winter squash and butternut squash)
2 Tablespoons butter
2 cups chopped Vidalia onions
1 1/2  teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 Tablespoon ground ginger
1 cinnamon stick
4 cups chicken stock
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 450º.

Peel the squash and cut into 3-inch chunks.  Put the squash and 1 cup of water into a glass roasting pan and bake until squash is tender, 30 - 40 minutes. Take out of oven and cool in pan.

Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and saute until onions are soft and translucent, about 15 minutes. Add the spices and the cinnamon stick, stirring constantly for five minutes. Add the chicken stock and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove the cinnamon stick and discard.

Add the cooled roasted squash to the saucepan and puree with an inverted blender until smooth. Reheat soup and add salt and pepper to taste.

Serves 6. This soup can be made three days in advance and/or frozen for up to two months.

NOTE: Serve with a side salad and warm baguette. Chocolate pudding would make a wonderful dessert!

Do you have a favorite soup recipe you'd like to share? I'd love to know!