Rum Apple Cake

IMG_1740Hi there– When I came upon this recipe, it really caught my eye– chunky apples popping out all over and it’s flavored by rum instead of the usual cinnamon.  This little cake has more apples than batter, so it’s almost like eating apple pie– in a cake!  (does that possibly make sense?)

Anyway, We had it with friends and mugs of coffee on an evening las week.  I think you might like it at one of your meals with family and friends ahead…

4 medium apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1″ chunks
1 cup flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
3 tab. light rum
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup canola oil
powdered sugar for dusting


Peel & core the apples and cut them into nice large 1″ chunks

In a mixing bowl, stir up the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar.  Then mix in the eggs rum, vanilla, and oil.  Finally fold in the apples.

Spoon the batter into an 8″ cake pan* spray with cooking spray.  Bake it in the oven at 350 degrees for 50 to 60 minutes, until the cake is a pretty brown and the apples are tender.

When it’s cooled, dust the top with powdered sugar through a sieve.  Enjoy!

*I used a springform pan to be able to remove the cake easier.


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Cottage Walk

Hello there- Last weekend a car full of friends trundled up to Pasadena for a morning strolling through a craftsman cottage neighborhood with our opinionated, but likable docent Bob.  Here’s a few of the century old homes we explored…

IMG_1646 IMG_1652

IMG_1637     IMG_1651
Most of the cottages were the low slung, wood clad craftsman homes, but I loved the little Norman style shuttered cottage and the tiled Spanish house as well.  And the last photo is from our tour guide Bob’s living room with the fireplace surround carved with the image of the Santa Barbara Mission.  Exquisite.

Then we traipsed across Pasadena for a pretty lunch at Europane and a little shopping at a craft fair.  Thanks adventure buddies for the big day out!!  Where we headed next?
IMG_1653   IMG_1662

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Peanut Sweet Potato Chicken Stew

Hello all-  I have a new favorite soup.  Love this savory bowl of stew– right up there with steamy pozole or a spicy cup of chili.  It has some of my favorite flavors all simmered up together– sweet potato, curry powder and surprisingly peanut butter!  –with just enough red pepper to give is a little bit.

The recipe I worked from said it was a stew from west Africa.  It’s just different and so delicious.  I’m imaging a tableful of friends over to try it out on a chilly evening soon.

1 medium sweet potato
4 cups chopped cooked chicken (1 roasted chicken)*
1 cup peanut butter
2 14oz. cans petit cut tomatoes with garlic
1 tab. curry powder
1/4 tsp. red pepper**
6 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup chopped peanuts
chopped cilantro for garnish

Cut the sweet potato into large chunks, and cook them in the microwave 8 to 10 minutes, until they are tender, but firm.

Then in a soup pot, mix the chicken, peanut butter, tomatoes, curry powder, red pepper and chicken broth.  Bring it to a low simmer and cook for 15 minutes.

When you are ready to eat, shake the cornstarch along with 1/2 cup water in a container with a tight fitting lid until it’s thoroughly blended.  Stir it into the simmering soup and stir about 3 or4 minutes until it thickens.

Serve it up hot garnished with peanuts and cilantro.

*You can cook up your own chicken, but I am happy to pick up one all cooked for me at the market.
**I thought this was plenty of spice, you can add more to taste if you like a real kick.



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Simple Cranberry Cake

IMG_1558Hi all– Seems like every week at the market I pass by piles of bags of cranberries and cannot resist picking up a bag or two.  It’s that time of year.

Tonight the college kids are coming in and, of course, we need cake.  So cranberries in hand, I googled cranberry cake and here’s what I found.  It’s perfect– the recipe needs all the things you probably already have in your kitchen –and happily, one bag of cranberries.

If you have cranberries sitting in your fridge, you should give it a try!

2 eggs
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup butter (1 1/2 stick), softened and cut into small chunks
1 tab. vanilla
1/4 cup whole milk
2 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
2 1/2 cups cranberries (12 oz. bag)
garnish(optional)– whipped cream*, a handful more cranberries, a couple spoons of sugar, mint leaf

With an electric mixer, beat together the eggs and sugar on high for 3 minutes until it expands and bit and is a creamy yellow color.  Then beat in the butter, vanilla and milk.  Finally, beat in the flour and salt.

Fold the cranberries into the stiff batter and spoon it into a 9″x13″ baking dish (or a 10″ springform pan) that has been sprayed with cooking spray.

Bake it at 375 degrees for 50 to 60 minutes until it’s golden on top and cooked through.

So homey served warm from the oven with mugs of tea–

Or let it cool.  Then shake together the extra spoons of sugar with the cranberries in a zip loc bag until all the cranberries are coated with sugar.  Layer the whipped cream,* cranberries and a sprig of mint on top the cake to add the pretty part!

*When you whip the cream, if you stir in 1 tsp. powdered sugar and 1 tsp. instant vanilla pudding mix to 1 cup whipping cream, it will stay stable all day and not melt all over your cake.


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Counting Blessings blog


Hi friends– Are you a late night worrier?  I’m especially good at it.  At times I can drum up enough worries to keep me awake for hours.  But on the other hand– I do love this counting blessings plan.

Isn’t that what Thanksgiving time reminds us to do?  My 4th graders in room #2 are beavering away on their “Thankful Heart Charts” to fill them up before the holiday.  They draw on things like donuts and Minecraft as well as moms and math and God.

And I’m trying to remind myself of blessings through my days this month.  We’ve been blessed with our cozy small house, with friends of many years and our kids we’ll be with Thanksgiving week.  And there’s more blessings, if I just keep counting.  I’m hoping to be awash with thankfulness for blessings, large and small as Thanksgiving comes along.

I’m sure you have your own list of ways you’ve been blessed.  I’m hoping you and I can both slow down enough to be true blessing counters in this season of Thanksgiving.

“Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything.”     –Epsesians 5:19-20

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Chocolate Pecan Pumpkin Bread

IMG_1458Hi friends– Here’s a happy little loaf of quick bread.  And it’s quite nice that you can stir it together and drop it into the oven in about 10 minutes.

But on the other hand, I take this recipe to school every year on the day before Thanksgiving vacation and my fourth graders mix together more than 30 loaves–  flour flies and eggs are dropped.  It’s a whole lot of messy fun.  The cafeteria lady is kind enough to let us tuck them all into her commercial ovens.  And it takes a whole lot longer than 10 minutes!!  But it’s twice the fun with a room full of 9 year olds.

3/4 cup pumpkin puree
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
2 eggs
1  1/4 cup flour
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips*
1 cup pecans, coarsely chopped

In a mixing bowl, stir together the pumpkin puree, sugar, oil and eggs.  When that’s all blended mix in the flour, baking powder, salt and pumpkin pie spice.  Then fold in the chocolate chips and pecans.

Spoon the batter into a standard bread pan that has been spayed with cooking spray.

Drop it into the oven at 350 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes until it is cooked through.  Test it with a toothpick to see if the batter has turned to crumbs.

Hope you like it–my fourth graders think it’s grand!


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Pasta e Fagioli

IMG_3793Hi friends– here’s a steamy chunky soup that I had for dinner last weekend and leftovers for lunch all week.  That’s a big pot of soup!  With a sturdy loaf of bread and a bright salad slathered with balsamic vinegar, you can pretend you’re eating in an Italian village (or just sitting in the teacher’s lunchroom at school).

1 cup macaroni*
1 pound milk Italian sausage
2 tab. olive oil
1 onion, cut fine
2 carrots, cut to small bits
3 cloves garlic
4 cups chicken broth
2 14oz. cans petit cut tomatoes with garlic
1 cup water
1 tsp. dried basil
1/2 cup roasted red pepper, chopped
1 can cannellini beans (small while beans)
garnish: basil (or marjoram)** and parmesan

Cook the pasta according to the package directions.  Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, in your soup pot, heat the olive oil.  Then crumble and cook the Italian sausage til it’s well browned.

Remove the cooked sausage from the pot and drop in the onions and carrots.  Cook 3 minutes, until they soften a bit and add in the garlic.

Next stir in the chicken broth, tomatoes, water and basil.  Cook at a simmer for 10 minutes.  Then add in the white beans, pasta and roasted pepper and cook just a couple minutes more to heat it all through.  Serve it up hot with a sprinkle of grated parmesan and some shredded basil or  marjoram.

*The recipe I worked from called for digitali pasta– but I used the smaller version, macaroni salad pasta because I had it in the cupboard.
**I used marjoram, because it grows like a week in the side yard.


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