What joy the gospel gives me. I can approach the throne of God with confidence, not because I've done a good job at my spiritual duties, but because I'm clothed in the righteousness of Jesus Christ. ~ C.J. Mahaney

Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake

Still stitching like crazy on the quilty give-away.  I know.  I said it would be done by now.  It should still be done by Friday.  What happened was that I decided to do more quilting on it, which is a prerogative with quilting; you get to decide how much or how little you do.  I started out thinking I would do less.  I ended up doing more.  So, this afternoon I sat outside enjoying incredibly mild temperatures, stitching, while my mind wandered to all things fall.

Meanwhile, I thought I'd share this recipe with you.  If you have a few minutes to putter in the kitchen, try this from-scratch cake that you can mix in one bowl in a hurry.  If I can mix it up in less than ten minutes with a couple of eager assistants and a crazy dog under foot, while simultaneously taking photographs, surely you can beat my time.

Mayonnaise replaces the egg and the oil in this moist, chocolaty favorite. The flavorful brown sugar frosting is the perfect topping.  Oh, man.  We loved this.  It's really a good thing I gave most of it away.

Flour, sugar, cocoa powder, and baking soda go in the bowl first.

Next in goes the water and mayonnaise and vanilla.

Mix until smooth.  You can use a mixer, but you don't have to.  
Mine's dead, so I mix my hand.

Pour into greased pan.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

After the cake cools, start the frosting.  
Place butter and brown sugar into the the pan and heat until bubbly.

Add milk and powdered sugar.

Beat until smooth.

Frost the cooled cake.

Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons baking cocoa
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup (regular not low-fat) mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
Brown Sugar Frosting:
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1-3/4 cups sifted powdered sugar
In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, cocoa and baking soda.  Add water, mayonnaise and vanilla.  Beat until smooth.  Pour into a greased 9" square or 11"X 7" baking pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.  Cool completely.  For frosting, melt butter in a saucepan.  Stir in brown sugar; cook and stir until bubbly.  Remove from heat and stir in milk.  Gradually add powdered sugar; beat by hand until frosting is of spreading consistency.  Immediately frost cake.  Yields 9-12 servings.  


Getting There

Several hours in an easy chair-- Little League World Series baseball droning in the background (yay California, USA!)--and this fall give-away table runner is nearing completion.  I should be able to finish the quilting tomorrow while the girls do school.  I like to have something to keep my fingers busy while they read, do sums, or recite verses. 

I'm slightly behind the eight ball on this; I forgot to pack it along when I went to visit my folks in NC last week.  Just imagine all the stitching I could have completed during my dad's history stories!  I think I can still have it finished in the next day or two.  The edges will be trimmed up nicely and bound in a lovely light turquoise print.  The plan is to draw a name for this on Friday, so holla if you want in.


Peanut Butter and Bees

The surest, fastest way for me to take a quick trip back to my childhood is to make a peanut butter and honey sandwich for lunch.  Since sandwiches aren't high on my list of favorite foods, I don't eat them very often.  When I do, you can bet this is what it will be.  My sweet mama fixed more of these for me than any other kind of sandwich when I was growing up.

Caleb calls honey "bees."  It's the cutest thing.  When offered jelly for his bread yesterday, he said no, he wanted "bees."  So bees it is, and bees it will likely remain, as the adorable sayings of our children routinely become part of our family tradition.

Homemade bread, natural peanut butter, and bees straight from a local bee keeper.  The sweetest things in life are often the simplest.

Enjoy your weekend!


Pesto Pasta Salad (or The Salad That Stole the Show)

Trying to come up with food that is child friendly and still interesting for adults can be a problem when you're planning a birthday party menu.  Last week when Abby and I were deciding what to prepare for Maggie's party, I remembered this pasta salad that my friend Diane told me about.  She promised that it was well received whenever she served it.

Let's just say that excluding the cake, it was the biggest hit on the table.  The children and the adults alike just inhaled this stuff.  I heard exclamations such as, "My child is so picky!  I can't believe she is eating that!!"  And I had several requests for the recipe.

I've had my share of pasta salad.  Some are good; others are so-so. Some are downright bland.  This one is the best I've had.  The pesto makes it unusual.  Super simple to assemble, it's easy to make ahead and store in the refrigerator until party time.  It consists of six ingredients: pasta, mozzarella cheese, cherry tomatoes, black olives, pepperonis, and pesto.  That's it.  Diane uses bow tie pasta; I used shells, in keeping with the beachy theme.

I wanted to buy the tiny little pepperonis because they were, you know, cute.  However, Abby squelched that suggestion in a hurry.  "Mom, they're twice the price per ounce as the regular pepperonis."  I trained her right.  So I opted to cut the pepperonis into quarters which only took about 2 minutes.   If you want to go vegetarian, omit the pepperonis.  Incidentally, Diane often serves this at dinners for international students, many of whom do not eat pork.  So, she substitutes turkey pepperonis.

Unquestionably, the leftovers are just as delicious. We took what was left to the beach the following day and shared with Brad and Hannah.  If we weren't the loving, considerate, unselfish family that we are, we'd have been knocking each other out for the last morsel.

Pesto Pasta Salad

  • 1 lb bow tie or shell pasta, cooked and drained
  • 1/2 lb mozzarella cheese, cubed
  • 1 lb cherry tomatoes, cut in halves
  • 1 can black olives, drained and cut in halves
  • 1/2 of a package of pepperonis, cut in quarters
  • 1- 8 oz. jar pesto
Mix all together in a bowl, cover, and refrigerate for several hours.  


This recipe will be on the short list for lunch around here.  Served with fruit on the side, it really can be a meal all by itself.


Mermaids and Pirates

We celebrated Maggie's eighth birthday with a pool party on Friday night.  

Every fun party calls for fun food. 


Sparkly undersea critters fashioned by Holly and Maggie helped to depict the ocean theme.

Around 4PM the sky was threatening rain.  By party time, blue skies prevailed.

Speaking of punch with fish in the ice cubes.

Happy smiles....

More happy smiles.

Still more happy smiles.

Pool time.

Pops establishing the rules...

Not really sure what all that was about, but it's obvious why Caleb calls him Jonfun.

Little pool for little people.

These minnows got eaten by the shark.

Happy Birthday Cake by Tracey Thorpe

Happy Birthday Girl with Happy Birthday Cake

Time out for Kyle cuteness.

Opening gifts...she's more excited than she's letting on.

Art stuff.  Always a hit with Maggie.

Time out for tippy-toe adorableness.

Truly, she is the gift!

Making fun memories creates a great, big splash!  


Chocolate Chip Cake

Thanks so much for the comments about the table runner.  I really appreciate them.  The hemstitching is complete and I'm ready to "sandwich" the top, batting, and backing tonight after dinner.  So far, so good.  I'm still on schedule to have it quilted by hand and ready to give-away by September first.  If you've said you want in the drawing, you can be sure I've made a note of it.  

Now I think it's high time that I posted the recipe for a yummy, yummy cake.  It's really a wonder that it isn't the first recipe I ever blogged.   My friend Sharon passed this one along to me over 20 years ago, and I honestly think this is one of the best cakes I've ever had in my life.  It's a little bit like pound cake, but even better.  Typically, I'm an icing person.  This cake has no icing, just a crumb topping, and that is all it needs.  

Chocolate Chip Cake is my go-to when I need to take a dessert somewhere.  Or when we're having company.  Or when I'm just craving it.  It's made from scratch, but it's a cinch to put together.  It's one of those cakes that gets better the longer it sits.  Great the first day, but possibly even more delicious the next day or the day after that.

For this one-bowl cake, you won't even need your mixer.  Just grab a wooden spoon and get a good upper arm workout instead.

Into a big mixing bowl go the flour, sugar, brown sugar, and butter.

With a pastry cutter, mix that all up until crumbly.

Scoop out 1/2 cup of the mixture and reserve for topping.

Assemble the rest of the players.

Add eggs and vanilla....

....then the buttermilk and mix well!

Now comes the exciting part.  Add the chocolate chips and nuts!

Load up the prepared Bundt pan.  If you live dangerously, like I do, 
stick your finger in there and taste that delicious batter while no one is looking.

Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes or until golden brown and completely done.
Let cool for 15 minutes before inverting on your cake plate.
Top with reserved crumb mixture.

Chocolate Chip Cake

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup white sugar
Mix together with a paster cutter till crumbly.

To above add:
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 6 oz. chocolate chips
  • 1 cup nuts
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
Mix well.  Pour into greased and floured Bundt pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes or until done.  Sprinkle with reserved crumbs.

Oh, honey!  Try this one soon.  I guarantee you'll like it!