Celebration Cake

Celebrations are the landmarks of our lives.  A celebration can mean different things to different people.  For me, it has to include friends and family, food and cake.  This is my Go-To Birthday cake.  It is deliciously dense.   I found this recipe on themodernproper.com.  It’s a great website.  You should check it out.

I had a comment on a Facebook post recently from a woman who never used olive oil for sweet recipes.  I like olive oil in cakes and brownies because it creates such a moist and rich dessert.  Remember that you can substitute the butter for olive oil at a 1 to 2/3 ratio.  In other words, if it asks for 1 tablespoon of butter, use 2/3 tablespoon of olive oil.  I suggest that you substitute all your recipes that use any other oil for olive oil, even coconut oil unless you are seeking that coconut taste.  Make sure you use unrefined coconut oil.  Remember that any oil that is refined has been processed with heat and/or chemicals.  That’s not the case with olive oil.  Please make sure that your olive oil is fresh.  Smell it, taste it, make sure it isn’t rancid or you will taste the rancidity in your baked goods.  Check the date on the bottle.  Does it have a harvest date or a best used by date?  More importantly, how long have you had it opened?  Longer than three months?  Six months?  It might be rancid after three.  It will probably be rancid after six.  It might be rancid right from the store shelf!  YES, that’s right, straight from the market.  Don’t worry if your oil is a robust and strong olive oil.  If it is fresh, it will not flavor your recipe.

I don’t recommend substituting olive oil in baking mixes.  Those boxes of cake and brownie mixes take on the olive oil flavor sometimes.  Really, baking a cake or brownies from scratch is not that much more work and the results are definitely worth it.

Talking about work, this recipe is a little more complex than your average cake.  This is a naked cake and so it has very little frosting on the side. It has some really good for you ingredients.  Notice I didn’t say healthy.  That word is so over used plus this is a cake, so you know where I’m headed with that.  The ingredients include Olive Oil, Yogurt, Pistachios, and Lemon.  All good for you ingredients.  I used my homemade Yogurt in the pictured cake but if you buy a commercial yogurt, make sure you check the ingredients.  Many of the Greek-style yogurts have gelatin and other unnecessary ingredients.

If you have never worked with parchment paper, I have some tips below.

Let me know how it went.  Leave a comment below.


**You will need three 8-inch round cake pans.**

1 cup unsalted, shelled Pistachios

2 cups Cake Flour

(I did’t have any in my pantry, so I used Bread Flour instead.)

4 tsp. Baking Powder

2 tsp. Ground Cardamom

1/2 tsp. Salt

2 cups Sugar

1 cup Olive Oil

1/2 tsp. Vanilla

1 cup Plain Greek Yogurt

6 large Eggs

2 Tbsp. finely grated Lemon Zest

Lemon Butter Cream Frosting

1 cup Butter

3-4 Tbsp. Lemon Juice, freshly squeezed

1/2 tsp. Vanilla Extract

3 cups Confectioners’ Sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter and dust with Flour the bottom and sides of three 8-inch round cake pans lined with parchment paper. (See TIPS below.)

Pulse in a food processor the Pistachios until finely ground for about 1 minute.

Add Flour, Baking Powder, Cardamom, and Salt.  Pulse a few times to combine.

In a large bowl, mix Sugar, Olive Oil, Vanilla, Eggs, Yogurt and Lemon Zest until well incorporated.

Mix in the dry ingredients.

Pour batter evenly into the pans and bake until a wooden skewer inserted in the center comes out clean, 30-40 minutes.  Cool in pan on a rack for 10 minutes.

For FROSTING, beat all the ingredients until light and fluffy.


Once the cakes have cooled, run a knife around the cake to loosen and invert onto a rack.

Remove parchment paper and level out the tops of each cake by slicing with a serrated knife.  (I passed on the last line.  I would eat all the shavings plus I don’t care if my cake is a little rustic.  It still looks great.  But if you are a perfectionist, you will be pleased to make the tops of the cakes flat, I’m sure.) This makes the cake even.

Divide the buttercream into thirds.  Place one layer on a cake plate.  Put a few pieces of wax or parchment paper underneath to keep the plate clean while frosting.

Spread one third of the frosting on cake.  Repeat with 2nd layer. Place the third layer on the cake and form a very thin layer frosting on the top and sides of the cake.

Remove the wax/parchment paper.

I do hope that you try it for your next special occasion or just to celebrate any day in your life.


Parchment paper can be a slippery dude.  To fit the paper for your pan.  Put the pan on the paper and trace the bottom of the pan with a pencil.  Cut out the shape with a scissors.  Butter the bottom of the pan and place the paper, pencil side down.  Then continue with the instructions.  In this cake, you are to butter and flour the paper and the sides of the pan.

I thought I’d throw in another of my tips.  I like to keep empty butter wrappers, especially of the butters that were left at room temperature.  I fold the wrappers in half and put them in a baggie in the frig.

Then, when I need to butter a pan, I find there is enough butter left on the wrap to do the trick and if there isn’t, I add a little more.  It makes for easy smoothing and I don’t get my hands all buttery.

This was a long one!  Thanks for sticking with me to the end.  I appreciate it.  I hope your life is full of celebrations.  And until we meet again, eat well, drink well and live well.



The Battle of Banana Muffins

Do you remember when muffins were considered so healthy?  Everyone is trying to stay away from carbs now, especially the gluten variety, so muffin recipes are not as common as they were.  I have gluten sensitivity and so I watch how much flour I ingest.  I love bread and pasta but I try to not overdo their consumption on a regular basis.  I will try to incorporate more gluten-free recipes in the future, but not today.

I have two Banana Muffin recipes to share in this post.  Both of them have olive oil in them instead of butter, that elevates them a little higher in the “healthy scale”.  I used to make Banana Muffins for husband on a weekly basis and they were low in sugar and fats but it’s been a while and I’ve forgotten the recipe.  No matter, if you are looking for a healthier alternative for a muffin the second recipe will do the trick.  It has no sugar, no butter and it has oatmeal.

The whole healthy eating subject is driving me pretty crazy lately.  There are so many theories out there and they are so contradictory and confusing.  It’s 2017 and we don’t have an exact science on what we should be eating.  There’s the protein, fat and few carb diet, vegetarian diet, the vegan one, the calories in – calories out diet, the fasting one, the intermittent fasting diet, the organic nutrient rich diet… Should I go on?  I’m all for eliminating processed foods.  Although, I don’t always count my frozen yogurt as processed… but it is.  Or my mayo… it is.  I try to keep everything on a wholesome and fresh scale but as you can see, I do make exceptions.  One thing I do know and that is SUGAR is the devil.  I can’t live with it and I can’t live without it.  I just know that the less sugar I consume, the better I feel.

I am a little late starting my resolutions this year.  I usually try to start on the first or second.  And yes, they don’t last more than one month if I’m lucky.  This year, I am trying to really prepare myself for the long haul and so I am researching, planning and getting it together before I start.  I’m, also, being a little more gentle with myself and not going full speed ahead.  I’ll let you know how it goes.  How are your resolutions going?  Do you have any?  Leave me a comment.  Maybe we can help each other succeed.  Meanwhile, see if you like these muffins.

Best Ever Banana Muffins adapted from FOOD.com


3 ripe Bananas

1 1/2 cups unbleached Flour

1 tsp. Baking Powder

1 tsp. Baking Soda

1 1/2 cups Sugar

1/2 tsp. Salt

1/3 cup Olive Oil

1 Egg, slightly beaten

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Grease a 12 muffin pan.

Mash the Bananas with a fork and incorporate them into the eggs with a whisk.

Add the Sugar and stir in.     Add the Olive Oil and stir.

Add Flour and blend.

Fill the muffin tins and bake for 20 minutes.

Maple-Sweetened Banana Muffins from cookieandkate.com


1/3 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1/2 cup Maple Syrup

3 Eggs at room temperature

3 ripe Bananas

1/4 cup Milk

1 tsp. Baking Soda

1 tsp. Vanilla Extract

1/2 tsp. Salt

1/2 tsp. Cinnamon

1 3/4 cups White Whole Wheat Flour or Regular Whole Wheat Flour

1/3 cup Old-Fashion Oats, plus more for sprinkling on top

1 tsp. Turbinado Sugar or granulated Sugar, for sprinkling on top

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Grease 11 cups of your muffin tin.

In a large bowl, beat the Olive Oil and Maple Syrup together with a whisk.

Lightly beat Eggs.  Add Bananas and whisk well. Mix in Milk, followed by the Baking Soda, Vanilla Extract, Salt and Cinnamon.

Add the flour and oats to the bowl and mix with a large spoon, just until combined.

Divide the batter evenly between the 11 muffin cups, filling each cup about two-thirds full. Sprinkle the tops of the muffins with a small amount of oats (about 1 tablespoon), followed by a light sprinkling of sugar (about 1 teaspoon).

Bake muffins for 23 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into a muffin comes out clean.

Place the muffin tin on a cooling rack to cool.


Best Ever Banana Muffins have 249 Calories, 7.6 g. of Fat, 43 g. of Carbs, 3.4 g. of Protein per muffin.

Maple Sweetened Banana Muffins have 233 Calories, 8.8 g. of Fat, 35.7 g. of Carbs, 5.3 g. of Protein per muffin.

As you compare the nutritional values of each recipe, they are pretty much the same.   Here is where the argument of healthy eating comes in.  The Maple Sweetened Banana Muffins, in my opinion, are healthier because of the whole grains and the absence of sugar.  Maple Syrup doesn’t lower the grams of sugar in a recipe but, in my opinion, is healthier because it is not as processed.  They both have olive oil which brings a healthier aspect to both.  Hope you try them and leave me a comment.

Happy New Year!  Good luck on your resolutions and remember to eat well, drink well and live well.


Baked Corn and Bacon Pudding

I am sharing this recipe not because I specially liked it, but because since the beginning I said I would share my failures along with the exceptional recipes.  I can usually spot a good recipe but this one was didn’t have many redeeming qualities once it was baked.  It was OK, not bad, not terrific.  I got it from Raleys.com and didn’t alter at all.

I am not much for casseroles.  My mother never made them.  I don’t have the experience of eating Green Bean Casserole at Thanksgiving or Tuna Casserole, which sounds so disgusting to me.  My mother loved Cream of Mushroom soup.  We always had a can of Campbells Cream of Mushroom soup but she just made soup with it.  I don’t have the experience of adding “cream of soup” cans to vegetables and meats with the crispy onion toppings.  The closest thing we had to a casserole was canneloni.  My mom’s canneloni was made with crepes instead of pasta.  I make them with crepes, too.  It makes for a more delicate dish and allows the filling to be the star.  Mom’s filling was always calf brains in a white sauce, sometimes with a little spinach and sometimes without.  I thought it was OK but I’d rather put in a homemade ricotta and spinach or chicken and spinach filling.

Thanksgiving is coming up soon.  Maybe I’ll share some of my Thanksgiving recipes with you. They are not very elaborate.  We had our first Thanksgiving when I was in the Third Grade.  We had just moved to a new city and I had started in a new Catholic school.  The neighborhood was quite nice and if I remember correctly, I was one of two hispanic students in the school.  It was run by priests and nuns that where mostly from Ireland.  I guess they thought that we were needy and so they sent us all the fixings for a Thanksgiving feast.  Mom had made turkey before for Christmas or New Year’s.  We just had never had it at Thanksgiving before.  It wasn’t your typical American meal but we continued the tradition from then on.

This recipe will go on the must improve pile.  I’m not sure if I will tinker with it and make it more my taste or just leave it and start from scratch.  Send me any ideas you may have to improve this recipe.


6 strips Peppered Bacon. thickimg_6319

1 large Onion, Chopped

6 Tbsp. Flour

3 cups Milk

4 Eggs

6 Tbsp. Cornmeal

1/2 cup shredded Parmesan Cheese

3 cups Corn Kernels, 2 cans if not using fresh

1 1/2 tsp. Garlic Salt

1 1/2 tsp. Sugar

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and lightly butter a 13 x 9 inch casserole dish.


Cook Bacon in a large skillet until very crisp.  (I only had 5 strips left!)  Remove from skillet and drain on paper towels.  Coarsely crumble.  Drain all but 1 Tbsp. grease from skillet.


Add Onion to skillet and cook for 5 minutes over medium heat to soften.


Add Flour and cook for 1 more minute.


Transfer to a large bowl and whisk in Milk, then Eggs and Cornmeal.  Stir in remaining ingredients.  Pour into prepared dish and bake for 30 minutes or until center is set.


Each 6 servings has 171 Calories, 3 g. Protein, 9 g. Fat, 23 g. Carbohydrates.

Eat well, drink well, and live well.  Talk to you soon.

Carrot Cake

I love Carrot Cake.  It’s great with Cream Cheese Frosting or without, but the fact is, the frosting makes it heavenly.  I’m sharing with you a family recipe.  I hope I won’t get into trouble with all these family secrets I’m posting.  You see, they don’t come from my side of the family.  They come from my husband’s side.  Hehe  My mom never really got into American cuisine.  This recipe comes from my husband’s Godmother, Jane.  Jane was a funny, outspoken, cigarette smoking Italian woman.  She loved life and enjoyed laughter.  When I first tasted her Carrot Cake, I asked for the recipe.  I was not much of a cook back then.  In fact, when my husband and I were first married, he did all the cooking.  I did have to steam vegetables because he didn’t like them much and wouldn’t cook many.  It wasn’t until I had my children and stayed home with them that I decided to learn how to cook.  I figured if I didn’t have an outside job that I should do my daily work –  the cooking, cleaning and child raising –  as best as I could.  So began my culinary discoveries.  I made my own baby food and cooked dinner every night.   I still do, cook dinner every night, I mean.  It was difficult to get too fancy because my husband was a picky eater but little by little I was able to introduce more foods into the home.

I have made this cake in a 9 x 13 inch pan which makes if very easy to transport.  In this post, I made it in an 8 inch tube pan.  I have a confession to make.  My 8 inch tube pan is not a cake pan but a gelatin mold.  I keep forgetting this fact when deciding on a recipe until I am ready to pour in the batter and realize that it will overflow.  So, I baked a small cake separately.  I have previously explained how cheap I am and I love the challenge of making due with what I have but I am getting tired of this tube pan issue.  I’ll keep you posted if I buy a new one. I changed the recipe only to substitute the vegetable oil for olive oil.  I don’t know if I’ve told you this but I have not owned a food processor until lately.  So, in the past, I’ve had to grate the carrots by hand.  It’s not that tedious and it can be quick but with the processor, it is a breeze.  I consider this a quick and easy recipe.  Give it a try.



1 cup Sugarimg_6378

2 Eggs

3/4 cup Olive Oil

1 1/2 cups Unbleached Flour

1 1/2 tsp. Baking Powder

1 tsp. Baking Soda

1 1/4 tsp. Salt

1 tsp. Cinnamon

1 1/2 cups Grated Carrots

1/2 cup Undrained Crushed Pineapple


12 oz. softened Cream Cheese

1/4 cup Butter

1 3/4 cup Confectioner’s Sugar

1 pinch of Salt




Preheat oven at 350 degree.  Grease a 9 x 13 pan or 8 inch tube pan.

Beat Sugar, Eggs, and Olive Oil on high of an electric mixer for 4 minutes.


Stir together Flour, Baking Powder, Baking Soda, Salt and Cinnamon.


Add Sugar mixture and beat on medium until smooth.  Stir in Carrots and Pineapple, mixing until incorporated.


Pour batter into 13 x 9 baking pan or 8 inch tube cake pan.


Bake for 30 minutes or until cake spring back when lightly touched.


While cake is cooling, prepare the frosting.  Cream Cream Cheese and Butter.  Gradually stir in Sugar and Salt.


I decorated the cake with ribbons that I made a a vegetable peeler and leftover carrots.  I just stuck them on the cake but you can boil the ribbons in 1/4 cup of sugar and 1/2 cup of water for 3 minutes to make them sweet and pliable.  The option, of course, is to leave them off all together.  Keeping it simple.


It’s a crowd pleaser.  Send me a picture of your creation.


Remember to always, eat well, drink well and live well.  Until next time!




Ghostly Cupcakes

It’s Halloween eve and I found a skull cupcake pan.  So, of course, I thought I better try to make some skulls.  My plan was to make Red Velvet skull cupcakes and then decorate them like Día de los Muertos skulls.  The pan is made from silicone and I remember I had used it before. I couldn’t remember if I had sprayed some Pam on them but this time I didn’t.  I thought with silicone it didn’t need it.  Well, I’m not sure if it was the cake recipe or the pan but the skulls did not turn out.  I did make cupcakes and just decorated with Cream Cheese Frosting to make them look like ghosts.

This was my first attempt at making Red Velvet cupcakes.  It was interesting but I don’t like the idea of using a lot of food coloring.  It’s OK every once in a while but it really doesn’t add anything to the taste.  I know that we eat through eyes, too, but I don’t think it’s very healthy.



1/2 cup Butter, at room temperaturedsc00973

2 Tbls. Cocoa Powder

1 1/2 cups Sugar

2 Eggs

2 tsp. Vanilla extract

2 Tbls. Red Food Coloring

1 tsp. Salt

1 tsp. Baking Soda

2 1/2 cups Unbleached Flour, sifted

1 cup Buttermilk

1 Tbl. Vinegar


8 oz. Cream Cheese

1/2 cup Unsalted Butter

2 3/4 cup Confectioner’s Sugar

1/2 tsp. Vanilla Extract

1 handful Mini-Chocolate Chips

Reheat oven to 350 degrees.  Fill muffin pan with cupcake paper cups.

Cream Butter and Sugar.  Add Eggs one at a time and beat until well incorporated.  Mix in Vanilla.


In a separate bowl, make a paste with 2 Tbls. of Cocoa and Food Coloring.  Blend into butter mixture.


Sift together Flour, Baking Soda, and Salt.  Add Flour mixture and Buttermilk alternating in two batches.  Mix in Vinegar to the last batch of buttermilk before adding to batter.


Mix well.


Pour batter into cupcake papers and bake for 20 to 25 minutes.


Cool cupcakes on a rack.


Meanwhile beat Butter and Cream Cheese until smooth add Confectioner’s Sugar and Vanilla.  Beat until light and fluffy.  Spoon into a plastic bag and cut a 1/2 inch tip.  Squeeze in a circular spiral to create the ghost.  Add two Mini-Chocolate Chips for eyes.


Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to eat.

Happy Halloween!