Chocolate Birthday Cake

This is a great basic chocolate cake. It was moist and chocolatey and I’m definitely going to make it again. I made it for Iris’s birthday so I used this recipe and then another 1/2 recipe to make the 3rd one.

This recipe makes TWO cakes.

(Original recipe here)


  • 1 3/4 C. All Purpose Flour
  • 2 Cups Sugar (I used full amount and it wasn’t too sweet)
  • 3/4 Cups Cocoa Powder (I used a good quality dark chocolate one)
  • 1 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 Cup Milk
  • 1/2 Cup Vegetable Oil
  • 2 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Cup Water, Boiling


  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour two round 9 inch cake pans.
  2.  In a large bowl combine all the dry ingredients ( Flour through Salt)
  3. In a smaller bowl (that can stand a bit of heat) combine wet ingredients (Eggs through Vanilla). Whisk together and when combined, add the boiling water.
  4. Add the wet into the dry and stir till combined.
  5. Pour the batter into the pans and cook for about 27 minutes (Its done when a knife comes out clean or with minimal crumbs)
  6. When finished, let cakes cool on wire rack (they’re fragile little cakes so move them slowly)

Notes to self: I mixed this cake in a bowl by hand, not with my Kitchen Aid mixer. Next time I may try the mixer? Maybe I can get more height out of each cake?


Black Beans

I don’t really have time to think about soaking beans overnight so i’ve combined a couple recipes to arrive at this. My bean plan.  It takes a couple hours but is a easy rainy day project.


  • 1lb bag of dry black beans
  • Water
  • Olive Oil
  • Onion, diced
  • 4 Garlic Cloves
  • 2 tsp. Cumin
  • 1 tsp. Coriander
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • 1 T Oregano
  • 1/4 C Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Salt


  1. Bring 8 Cups water to a boil. Rinse beans and add to boiling water. Boil for 2 min.
  2. After 2 minutes, remove pot from heat, cover and soak for 1 – 1.5 hours.

The Beans are now ready to be used in recipes. Heres what i do:

  1. Remove beans from pot so you can saute Onions and Garlic in Olive Oil (Red pepper is good here too if you have it). When translucent, add in Cumin and Coriander and stir to combine.
  2. Add Beans back in and 6 Cups of cold water. Bring to a boil for 10 minutes.
  3. Lower to a simmer and add in Bay Leaves and Oregano and Apple Cider Vinegar.
  4. Cook  for a couple hours. Keep checking them till you like them.  Add salt at very end.

Pickled Hot Peppers

I actually plan meals around these little guys. I eat eggs in the morning JUST so i can eat them. I put them on pizza, grilled cheese, pot roast, EVERYTHING. The best part is that they’re still spicy but not melt-your-face spicy. Just do yourself a favor and do this whole project outside on a picnic table. Dealing with bulk hot peppers inside is NO JOKE.

Ive tried all of these either solo or in different combinations:

  • Jalapenos
  • Hungarian Wax Peppers (<My favorite)
  • Chili Peppers
  • Poblanos


  1. Cut peppers in half and take out seeds
  2. Dice up into small bits (these will eventually be atop your food so decide on your desired size that way)
  3. Put all the diced peppers in a mason jar and fill with Distilled White Vinegar.
  4. Thats it! Store in fridge. They mellow after a couple days.


Bread & Butter Pickles

These things. Jeez. I don’t even like bread and butter pickles but these are something. My recipe is adapted from the brilliant Smitten Kitchen, though I’ve changed almost every amount for my tastes.

Per always, I’ve decreased the sugar (because wtf with all the sugar) and I may even take more out because i don’t like pickles for dessert.

(Note to self: The first time you made these there was a salt “situation” but this is the recipe with the correct amounts. Don’t freak out and change things.)

(makes 1 Large mason jar of pickles)


  • 1 lb pickling cukes, sliced in 1/4 in rounds
  • 1/2 Vidalia (or sweet) onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/8 C. Trader Joes Sea Salt table salt (or 6 tsp)
  • 1/4 Cup Sugar (less than smitten calls for)
  • 1/2 C Distilled white vinegar
  • 1/8 tsp Turmeric
  • 1 tsp Mustard Seeds
  • A sprinkle of coriander seeds (not my favorite so use more if you like)
  • 1/4 tsp celery seed (oh how i LOVE these in there)



1)Put Cukes, Salt and Onion in a large bowl. Mix and then cover with ice. Let stand at room temp for 2 hrs.

2)In a non reactive pot, combine vinegar, sugar, and spices and let boil. There will not be a ton of liquid and you will think. ‘How on earth is this going to work with this little liquid.’  Just trust and continue.

3) Drain the vegetables (discard liquid and ice) and add vegetables to the vinegar and spices in the pot and bring almost to a boil.  Remove from the heat and put in a large mason jar, fasten the lid and turn jar all around to coat vegetables in the liquid. Store in the fridge.

4) The cukes will release a ton of liquid and eventually be floating…. but honestly, they aren’t going to last long enough for you to care about that.

Banana Bread

I may have another one of these recipes on the site but I’m gonna erase that one cuz this ones great. Its a mixture of a couple recipes I found.

serving size: 1 loaf

  • 1/2 C. Yogurt
  • 1 – 2 Bananas
  • 1 Egg
  • 1/3 C. Butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1.5 C. Flour
  • 1/2 – 3/4 C. Brown Sugar (somewhere in between these two measurements)
  • 3/4 tsp. Baking Soda
  • Nuts (mmmm pecans for us… as many as you like)
  • Cinnamon (I pile this on but you do what you like)
  • pinch Cardamom


  1. Set oven for 350 degrees.
  2. Mix wet ingredients together in a large bowl
  3. Mix dry ingredients together in a smaller bowl
  4. Combine dry into wet and mix until well combined and cook for 50min.


Made these for the little ones pre-birthday celebration with Grammie. Came out so good I had to write it down to remember about the brilliance of this Magnolia Bakery recipe! (No wonder there was a line around the block). Original recipe from NYT here.  (I made it into a half batch because nobody needs 24 cupcakes…. which is why some of the measurements are weird looking)

serving size: 12 Cupcakes

  • 1/2 C. Unsalted Butter, left on the counter till softened.
  • 1/2 C. plus 1/8 C. All Purpose Flour
  • 3/4 C. Self Rising Flower
  • 1/2 C. Milk
  • 1/2 tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • 1 C. Sugar
  • 3/4 C. plus 1/4 C. Yogurt
  • 2 Large Eggs

1.Oven to 350 degrees. Put the cupcake papers in the tin.

2. Mix the flours in a small bowl. Mix the milk and vanilla in another small bowl.

3. In the kitchen aid mixer, cream the butter on medium speed until smooth. Add the sugar gradually and beat for 3 min-ish or until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time and beat well after each one. Gradually alternate adding the flour mix and the milk mix while the mixer is running. Spoon butter into muffin tins.

4. Cupcakes are ready when they spring back when you lightly touch them – 20 – 22 min.

Clam Chowder

<Picture to come!>

This one is my first attempt at a chowder (which is ridiculous given that we live in a fishing town). Its a mix of lots of recipes that I’ve read  and I’m sure I’ll update as I make this more often this summer but we had this version tonight and it was really… really…. good.

+++ servings 4 – 6 +++


  • 5 or 6 small Potatoes (we used a mix of sweet potatoes and purple potatoes)
  • 1 small Sweet Onion, minced
  • 1 Garlic Clove, minced
  • A couple Tablespoons of Butter
  • 1/4 C Flour
  • 2 Cups Chicken Stock (more if you need to thin it out)
  • 1 Cup Half & Half (more if you like that kind of thing)
  • Dash Lemon Thyme (because I don’t like regular Thyme)
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • A bunch of Frozen Corn (however much you like)
  • Cooked Clams, chopped up small (no bellies). (We used about 20 leftover steamers)
  • Scallions on top


  1. In a pan that isn’t the one you’re going to cook the soup in, heat up water to boiling. Throw in the potatoes and cook for 5 minutes.  Drain and run water over them to cool them. Set aside
  2. In the mean time, saute the onion and garlic in the butter in the bottom of your soup pot.
  3. When they’re good and translucent, (about 5 min) add in the flour and stir around.
  4. Add in Broth, Half & Half,  the cooled Potatoes, Thyme, Bay Leaf,  Frozen Corn & Chopped Clams.
  5. Cook for 20 min or so or until it all comes together. Salt & Pepper to taste.
  6. Serve with some scallions on the top (unless you have children who will cry their faces off and never touch the soup because of those tiny evil beings floating in their dinner)

Cauliflower Tacos w/ yogurt lime sauce

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We’re doing a whole lot of vegetarian lately. This is a family faaaavorite. (recipe ingredient amounts altered on 4/12/17)


  • 1 Head Cauliflower
  • 2 T Olive Oil
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Smoked Paprika
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher Salt
  • Pepper (to taste)


  1. Turn your oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Cut up the Cauliflower into bite sized pieces. Try to keep them all around the same size so they cook evenly.
  3. Put into a bowl and toss with Olive Oil, Cumin, Garlic Powder, Paprika, Salt and Pepper. (We always end up using more than it calls for because we like more flavor)
  4. Spread out Cauliflower onto a baking sheet and cook for 30 min. You should flip them a couple times… every 10 minutes or so.
  5. From here you can customize. Any simple cabbage slaw works well. Also saaaauce. (directions below)

Sauce ingredients: (updated 4/22/17)

  • 1/4 Cup Yogurt
  • 1/8 Cup Mayo
  • 1/2 Lime – juice and zest
  • 1/4 tsp Cumin
  • 1/4 tsp coriander
  • 1/4 tsp dill
  • Dash Garlic Powder
  • A dash of Hot Pepper or Siracha (We use 1/4 tsp Aleppo Peppers)
  • Dash Paprika
  • Pickles (chopped tiny) to taste
  • Salt/ Pepper

Combine yogurt and mayo and whisk in lime juice. Add the rest of the ingredients and Salt and pepper to taste. I think it tastes best when you make it ahead but do what you gotta do.

Gingerbread House


Every year I search for these recipes and can never remember which ones I like to use so here they are! All nice and together in one place. (Oh and thats Hogwarts above)

Caramel Glue:

Put 1/2 Cup White Granulated Sugar in shallow pan (we use a small frying pan). Turn on medium heat and when it starts to melt, stir with wooden spoon and then shut heat off. Use quickly. If it hardens, you can turn heat on slowly to get it back to being workable. Watch the heat because it could burn.

Royal Icing:

  • 3 Egg Whites (1/2 Cup of Lucerne egg whites in a carton)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of Cream of tartar
  • 1 lb box of Confectioners Sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon Vanilla

Combine ingredients in Kitchen Aid Mixer and whip on high for 7-10 minutes until fluffy. Put in piping bag right away. If there are leftovers, cover with plastic wrap (push it down right on top of the icing or it will dry out.)

The House:

  • Graham Crackers (multiple boxes because some are always broken)
  • Mass amount of candy (especially small things like smarties and nerds and sprinkles)


  1. Make a drawing of what you want your house to look like. Decide which graham cracker shapes go where. (there is no time for planning when the glue is ready)
  2. Then make a bowl of ice water for when you burn yourself on the sugar. (hopefully you wont but i always do)
  3. Dip each cracker into the pan and stick everything together and place on a movable surface… we use the back of a cookie sheet covered with foil
  4. Once the house is assembled, make the icing.
  5. Scoop into a piping bag already fitted with the small circle tip and glue everything together. Glue it down to the surface as well.
  6. Decorate like crazy.

Homemade Pasta

Pasta Making.jpg

We’ve just started to venture into the world of homemade pastas. Ive tried a couple recipes but i think this one below was our favorite. Theres another recipe over at Smitten Kitchen that I have tried before but I don’t remember how it came out so I’ll have to try it again and update this.

Note to self: that Smitten Kitchen one uses a ton of egg yolks so its a great one to make after making a birthday cake that requires lots of egg whites.


  • 2 Cups Semolina Flour
  • 2 Cups All Purpose Flour
  • 2 Large Eggs, Beaten
  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1 Cup Cold Water


  1. In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment mix the wet ingredients together.
  2. In another bowl, mix the dry ingredients.
  3. Switch out the paddle attachment for the dough hook and then begin to add the dry to wet. Knead for 2-3 minutes in the mixer until a dough ball forms.
  4. Remove from bowl and hand knead on pastry cloth or cutting board for 2-3 min until elastic. Form into a ball.
  5. Let dough rest in plastic wrap in fridge for 1 hour. (Note to self: Dont skip this)
  6. Remove from fridge and let rest for 15
  7. Cut dough ball into 8 slices and flatten enough to get into machine. Roll it through each level until you get to desired level (we like 6 or 7)
  8. Lay out pasta in small nests on a cookie sheet.
  9. Cook a couple nests at a time. Pasta cooks in 4 min in boiling realllly salted water (ocean salty)


Flour Flour FLOUR while you’re cranking it through the machine and the cutter will work better.