Orange Chocolate Streusel Coffee Cake

IMG_2414Hello friends–  There’s a reason I love coffee cakes– They’re easy and homey and always good with mugs of tea (or possibly coffee, being “coffee cake”!!)   This one has a lot to recommend it– a pronounced citrusy flavor, tiny bits of sweet chocolate, and that crumbly, nutty streusel over the top. Yogurt makes it moist.  It’s pretty darn good!


1  cup brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup butter
1 cup walnuts (or pecans), chopped

3 cups flour
1 1/3 cups sugar
3 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
3/4 cup canola oil
3 eggs
1  1/2 cups unflavored yogurt
1  1/2 tsp. vanilla
grated peel of one orange
1/4 cup orange juice
1 cup mini chocolate chips*

IMG_2400To make the streusel, stir together the brown sugar and 1/2 cup flour.  Then cut in the butter with a pastry blender (or use a food processor if you don’t mind cleaning it all up!) until it’s like coarse sand.  Mix in the walnuts and set it aside.

For the cake, stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.  Then mix in the oil, eggs, yogurt and vanilla.  Finally blend in the orange peel, orange juice and chocolate chips.

Spoon the batter into a 9″x13″ baking dish (or I used an 11″ spring form pan) that has been sprayed with cooking spray.  The sprinkle the streusel over the top.

Pop it into the oven at 35o degrees for 35 to 45 minutes, until it is firm to the touch.


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One Thousand Posts

10463722_10103321999558063_6632792410892087368_oHey there friends–  I opened up this blog last week and a little orange box popped up.  I hadn’t seen that before!  And then I figured out that it said this was my 1,oooth post!  I guess I wasn’t keeping track, but I have been pounding away here since August of 2008, back when my mom was my only reader and my few photos were downright awful.

At first I watched all those “rich & famous” blogs scroll by, hoping one day I would do so well!  But over the years I’ve become content to have my own small blog be sort of a personal scarpbook– that I happen to send out to friends who read.   It gives me joy to go back and reread about a weekend in San Francisco with the kids or remember a meal we had in the backyard summers past.

So if you’re reading, along with me,  thank you.  I’m grateful for the company.  You’re encouraging comments  (and I mean you– Sophie, Brenda, Cate, Daisy, Serena, Seana,  Marissa and Poli– and you, Ruth, LeAnn and Brenda…)  are so fortifying.  It means a lot.

And to mark the happy event of 1000 posts, I thought I would list my favorites.  They remind me of happy times and good food.  And I thought you might like them too…


farm-girls-along-the-roadDay in the Chinese Countryside

We’ll Always Have Paris

img_4018A memorable week with the kids in SF

img_4066A week of good eating in San Francisco

img_2902A rollicking ride through a Bamboo Forest



img_9382Best Blueberry Cobbler

img_8460Ginger Soy Chicken Skewers

img_82031-1Roasted Parmesan Aspragus

img_9223Simple Strawberry Cake

img_8136Chopped Kale Salad with Honey Ginger Dressing

img_9301Blackberry Cornbread Muffins



img_0900Beachy Summer Evening

img_7097Mom’s 80th Happy Birthday with all the fam!

img_2123Up to SF to meet baby Mae!

img_7228Out and About in San Francisco

img_7128A Walk in the Woods


My All Time Favorite Books

Best Thanksgiving Books for Kids


God is Awake

601243_10151393472684807_467856040_nEaster Week

Loving People, Loving God

Whew!!  That was quite a lot!  If you are by chance still reading along at the end of this long list, thanks!  It’s been nostalgic and made my heart thankful to read back through some sweet times.  God is good.

P.S.  Laurel–thanks for all your blog help on this!!  You’re a genius.


Posted in Books, Faith, Family, Food, Travel | Tagged | 28 Comments

Cauliflower Chowder

IMG_0655Hello all–  Wish I could invite you to sit down with a cup of this warming soup.  It’s the kind you’d like to sit and talk over with friends.

The real truth is –it’s not really soup weather here yet in So. California– but I’m tired of waiting and it’s the end of October for Pete’s sake!!  So we’re eating soup.  I love making a big pot and having lunch leftovers to take to school.  So here’s to soup– even when its 85 degrees outside!

4 slices bacon, cut into bits
3 tab. butter
1 onion, minced
2 carrots, cut into chunks
3 cloves garlic
1 head cauliflower, cut into nice chunks
1/3 cup flour
4 cups chicken broth
2 cups whole milk
salt & freshly ground pepper to taste

garnish–the bacon, green onion, shredded cheddar
Cut the bacon into small bits and drop it into a hot soup pot to brown.  When it’s crispy, remove it from the pan to drain on a paper towel.

While that’s cooking, trim the cauliflower and cut it into bite size bits.

Then after the bacon’s cooked, wipe out the pot with a paper towel and melt the butter in the bottom of the pot.  Drop in the onion and cook until it starts to become translucent.

Add in the carrots, garlic and cauliflower.  Cook it for 4 or 5 minutes more until they are softened.

Sitr the flour into the pot to coat all the vegetables.  Then slowly pour in the chicken broth and the milk, stirring to help it all thicken.  Season the pot with salt and pepper to taste.

And let it all simmer on low heat until the cauliflower and carrots are tender, about 10 minutes more.

Spoon the hot soup into bowls and garnish it with the cheddar, bacon and sliced green onions.  Hearty and hot!!

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Caramel Pecan Apple Cobbler


Hello there–  I wish I were my friend Janet.  I’ve had apple cobbler at her table– It’s delish!  And she just walks out in the backyard and picks the apples off her old apple tree just like a farmer!! And whips them up into a dessert.   I have to trudge to the market for mine.  But in the end, we both have a sweet plates of cobbler– and all the better with caramel and pecans.  Wherever you get your apples, I’m hoping you get a few heaping servings of apple cobbler this fall…

4 cups tart apples
1/2 cup caramel sauce*
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
dash salt
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 cup pecans

ice cream & a little extra caramel sauce to top your cobbler

In a mixing bowl stir together the brown sugar, flour, cinnamon and salt.  Then cut in the butter with a pastry blender (or a food processor) until it resembles coarse crumbs.  Stir in the pecans.  Set aside.

Peel and core the apples.  Then cut them into small chunks and spread them into a 9″ or 10″ pie dish sprayed with cooking spray.  Drizzle the 1/2 cup caramel evenly over the apples.

Spoon the flour-pecan mixture over the apples and pop them into the oven at 375 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes.

Most luscious served warm with ice cream and little more caramel sauce…

*If you’re more ambitious than I am, you can make your own caramel sauce– I really like the Hershey’s caramel in the jar.  Thin enough to pour and buttery good.


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Quick Trip to San Francisco

Larry browsing in the Booksmith Shop on Haight–my favorite SF book store.

Hi all– This past weekend found Larry and I zipping up and down the interstate 5 for a quick trip to see kids in San Francisco–  It involved scrumptious eating, a favorite book shop, sweet girl hugs and a lot of cheering at a football game.  Here’s some of
the fun:

IMG_0525     IMG_0512
Watching my favorite part of the football game– the half time show!  And 3 fervent football fans– Go Bears!!  (I won’t mention who won– Cal v. UCLA).

IMG_0558     IMG_0560

IMG_0538     IMG_0533
Jessica served us flavorful, fortifying bowls of lentil soup at their new place.  Loved sitting around the table with them.  And we dipped in to a family style supper with Ani & Brian at the very Italian Trattoria da Vittorio.

IMG_0566     IMG_0595
And here’s our huggable Mae– in her small rocker and walking home from the playground with Dad and her Grandpa Larry.  We can’t get enough of that girl…

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Honey Rosemary Baked Chicken


Hi all– Here’s an easy weekend night dinner– soaked in flavor.  It bakes in the oven while you put together some rice and a salad. Just lovely.  I think you might like to add it to your dinner time list…

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
salt & pepper
splash olive oil
1 cup red onion, chopped fine
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tab. dijon mustard
2 tab. seedy brown mustard*
1/3 cup of honey
4 or 5 sprigs of rosemary (+more for garnish)

Filet the chicken breasts, slicing them lengthwise, the flat direction to produce two flat filets.  Put them in a baking dish sprayed with cooking spray and liberally shake on salt and freshly ground pepper.

In a small skillet, heat the olive oil and then throw in the onion for 3 or 4 minutes until it is all wilted.  Add the garlic and cook a minute more.

Then spoon the two mustards and honey into the skillet with the onions and mix it all together.  Scrape the mixture out over the chicken and top with rosemary sprigs.

Cover the baking dish with foil and bake it at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, remove the foil and bake for 15 to 20 minutes more until the chicken is cooked through.

We ate this up with a nutty brown rice mixture, an arugula & apple chopped salad and slices of crunchy sour dough bread…

P.S. — The photo is just half the recipe– enough for just Larry and me.  But it would be easy to amplify for a crowd.

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Pumpkin Fudge Oatmeal Bars

IMG_2910Hi friends–  If you live around here, you’ve gotten the flyer from Trader Joe’s in the mail– It’s a pumpkin-palooza!!  I was with friends this evening and everyone was talking about the pumpkin items they’ve picked up there– pumpkin ravioli and pumpkin butter, pumpkin scones and pumpkin beer…  the list goes on (and on).

So it’s officially pumpkin season around here.  And in that vein, here’s a little pumpkin offering of our own–hearty oatmeal laced with pumpkin and a fudgey chocolate layer that sweetens it up.  It’s pumpkin time!


1/2 cup butter (1 stick), room temperature
1 cup pumpkin puree (canned pumpkin)
1  1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice (or cinnamon)
2 eggs
2  1/2 cups oats
2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup walnuts, chopped

Fudge Layer:
14 oz. can condensed milk
2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips

IMG_2913With an electric mixer, beat together the butter, pumpkin and brown sugar.  Then beat in the eggs and pumpkin pie spice.  Finally mix in the flour, oats, baking powder, salt and walnuts.  The batter will be stiff.

Spoon 3/4 of the pumpkin batter into a 9″ x 13″ baking dish that has been sprayed with cooking spray.  Smooth it flat with a spatula.

Then put the condensed milk and chocolate chips into a glass bowl and microwave them for 1 1/2 minutes.  Pull the bowl out of the microwave and stir the chocolate and condensed milk together until they are smooth.

Spread the chocolate mixture over the pumpkin batter in the baking dish.  Then pinch pieces of the remaining batter (it will be sticky!) into little clumps over the top of the chocolate layer.

Pop it into a 350 degree oven for 30 to 35 minutes — do not over bake–or sadly it will dry out.  Let the bars cool at least an hour and then cut them into happy little squares!

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