Monday, February 25, 2013

Chocolate Mocha Cake with Raspberry Filling

Ooh la la!  My dear daughter made me this cake for my birthday celebration.  Several  years ago she made this cake and I LOVED  it.  When she asked what one I'd like, it didn't take me long to request this beauty.  Doesn't it look like it came from a bakery??  I love how she used fresh raspberries on top with a sprinkling of cocoa.  It's a very rich cake and you don't need much to enjoy the outstanding flavor and texture of it. 

For my birthday tea, I'm having a slice of cake with a cup of raspberry tea.  I'm burning a lavender candle that a dear son and daughter-in-law gave me awhile back.  My sweet sister sent me the teapot lamp for my birthday. 

The tea cup painted with violets was one from my great aunt's collection and is from Bavaria.

Isn't this a pretty pattern for the month of February?

Wish I could share a slice with you!


for the cake

2 cups all-purpose flour                                                                   
1 cup cocoa powder (I used Hershey's Special Dark)
2 cups sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup canola oil
1 tsp. white vinegar
1 cup hot coffee (hot water will work too)

for the filling

1 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
3/4 cup seedless raspberry jam
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar

for the frosting

1 cup  unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted and slightly cooled
2 cups marshmallow cream
1/4 tsp. almond extract
6 Tbsp. confectioners' sugar

Prepare the cake:

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Butter 2 8x2-inch round cake pans. Line the bottoms with parchment paper, grease the paper, and then flour the pans (gently tap out any excess flour.)
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the eggs, vanilla, sour cream, oil, vinegar, and hot coffee (or hot water). Using a large rubber spatula or wooden spoon, mix everything together until the batter is smooth.
Divide the batter evenly among the prepare pans and bake for 35-40 minutes or until a thin knife inserted into the center of a cake comes out clean. Remove the cakes from the oven and allow them to cool in the pans for about 20 minutes before releasing them onto cooling racks. Cool completely before adding the filling and frosting. [Note: Cake can be made in advance. Well covered, the baked cakes can be refrigerated for 2 days, or frozen for a month.]

Prepare the filling:

 In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with paddle attachment (or any large mixing bowl, if using hand-held beaters), beat the butter on medium-high speed until creamy (about 3-5 minutes). Add the raspberry jam and beat to combine. Turn the mixer down to low speed, and add the confectioners' sugar. Beat until smooth. Cover and set aside until ready to use. [Note: You can make this a day in advance, just be sure to cover it well and to keep it refrigerated.]

Prepare the frosting:

In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with paddle attachment (or any large mixing bowl, if using hand-held beaters), beat the butter on medium-high speed until creamy (about 3-5 minutes). Add the melted, cooled chocolate and beat until well combined and fluffy. On medium-speed, add the marshmallow cream, almond extract, and confectioners' sugar. Once everything is combined, increase the speed to medium-high and beat until the smooth and fluffy. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for 30 minutes. [Note: The frosting can also be made a day in advance, just be sure to keep it well covered and chilled until ready to use.]

Assemble the cake:

 If the cakes have domed tops, use a serrated knife to gently slice off a thin layer...just enough to give them an even surface. If the raspberry cream filling has been in the refrigerator, give it a good stir to soften it up a bit. (If it's too stiff, leave it covered at room temperature until spreadable.) Spread the raspberry cream over one of the cake layer. Place the other layer on top of the filling. Frost the rest of the cake (top and sides) with the chocolate buttercream.

This pretty hankie was sent to me from a sweet blogging friend!

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Seasonal Sundays

             Thank you for visiting me!  xo

Friday, February 22, 2013

Scallops Provençal

I wanted to try this recipe of Ina's during Lent and it is quick, easy and delicious. Scallops are pricey, but I bought a bag at Costco and there's no waste to them. Don't let this recipe fool you, as they are company worthy for sure.  I always figure that it's cheaper to make at home than to go out, therefore, I can splurge once-in-awhile!!


  • 1 pound fresh bay or sea scallops
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • All-purpose flour, for dredging
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter,divided
  • 1/2 cup chopped shallots (2 large)
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves (I used a sprinkle of dried parsley)
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • 1 lemon, cut in 1/2


If you're using bay scallops, keep them whole. If you're using sea scallops, cut each 1 in half horizontally. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, toss with flour, and shake off the excess.

In a very large saute pan, heat 2 tablespoons of the butter over high heat until sizzling and add the scallops in 1 layer.

Lower the heat to medium and allow the scallops to brown lightly on 1 side without moving them, then turn and brown lightly on the other side. This should take 3 to 4 minutes, total.

 Melt the rest of the butter in the pan with the scallops, then add the shallots, garlic, and parsley and saute for 2 more minutes, tossing the seasonings with the scallops.

 Add the wine, cook for 1 minute, and taste for seasoning. Serve hot with a squeeze of lemon juice.


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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Sweet 'n Spicy Popcorn

My birthday this year falls on Oscar Night.  Since we are celebrating with the family on the night before, I'll be watching the show by myself, as my hubby doesn't really care for it. For my easy tray scape, I'm using my comfy nightie as the backdrop, as I like to DRESS for the occasion!! LOL!!
 A $ Tree  popcorn bag is filled with some pretty tulips (a glass inside is holding the water) and a popcorn bowl,  from Ross holds the delicious flavored popcorn.  To toast the winners, I'm using my wedding crystal with my favorite diet Vernor's Ginger Ale.

I've been doing "The Zone" diet for over thirteen years now. One of my favorite snacks is popcorn (2 cups) and a stick of part-skim string cheese. I never get tired of it!  Recently, bloggy buddy,  Lynn at Happier than a Pig in Mud posted this popcorn recipe.  I knew right away that I wanted to try it.  Lynn got the recipe from another bloggy buddy,  Nici, at Posed Perfection.  It's really a yummy treat and too good to not share!

I made half of the recipe, which is perfect for two people. I also used my microwave popper, which makes a great small batch. After the other ingredients are melted together, they can be poured right into the microwave popper bowl, cover the lid and shake.

Cheers to the winners!

Sweet 'n Spicy Popcorn

2 quarts popped popcorn, 1/4 cup in my microwave popper
2 1/2  T. butter
1- 1 1/2 T. sugar
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg, I used freshly grated
Sprinkling of salt, I used Himalayan sea salt

Melt the butter and then add the sugar and spices.  Stir until the sugar is melted. 

Pour over the popcorn and sprinkle with salt.  Mix well and enjoy!!

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Sunday, February 17, 2013

Fresh Apple Cinnamon Scones

I'm not quite ready for winter flavors to be over and the warm, cozy flavors are what I love the most.  Wanting to find a new scone recipe to try,  King Arthur Flour never fails to inspire.  I adapted this recipe for what I had and for my desire NOT to have to go to the grocery.  I used sour cream (light) in place of the applesauce and I cut back on the topping.  For the original recipe go here.

My Johnson Brothers Friendly Village is perfect for tea and scones.  How about some Bigelow Eggnogg'n tea?



  • 2 3/4 cups flour
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • about 1/4 t. freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) cold butter
  • 3/4 cup chopped fresh apple, in 1/2" pieces (about half a medium apple); leave the skin on, if you like
  • 3/4 cup cinnamon chips
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup sour cream


  • 2 tablespoons coarse white sparkling sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon


1) In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and spice. 
2) Work in the butter just until the mixture is unevenly crumbly; it's OK for some larger chunks of butter to remain unincorporated. 
3) Stir in the chopped apple and cinnamon chips.
4) In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, vanilla, and applesauce.
5) Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until all is moistened and holds together.
6) Line a baking sheet with parchment; if you don't have parchment, just use it without greasing it. Sprinkle a bit of flour atop the parchment or pan. 
7) Scrape the dough onto the floured parchment or pan, and divide it in half. Gently pat and round each half into a 5" to 5 1/2" circle about 3/4" thick.
8) To make the topping: Stir together the coarse sugar and cinnamon. Brush each circle with milk, and sprinkle with the topping.
9) Using a knife or bench knife that you've run under cold water, slice each circle into 6 wedges. 
10) Carefully pull the wedges away from the center to separate them just a bit; there should be about 1/2" space between them, at their outer edges.
11) For best texture and highest rise, place the pan of scones in the freezer for 30 minutes, uncovered. While the scones are chilling, preheat the oven to 425°F.
12) Bake the scones for 18 to 22 minutes, or until they're golden brown. When you pull one away from the others, it should look baked all the say through; the edge shouldn't look wet or unbaked. 
13) Remove the scones from the oven, and cool briefly on the pan. Serve warm. When they're completely cool, wrap in plastic and store at room temperature for up to several days. (I freeze the extras and thaw and reheat in my toaster oven.)
Yield: 12 scones.

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    Thank you for visiting me for tea today! xo

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Valentine's Day at the Coffee Table


I did a quick tablescape for Valentine's Day on the coffee table, since my hubby recently came home from the hopital.    I used the barn wood box that my dear hubby made me back in December.    I have always admired the pretty box that Marlis from Creative Journey's uses.  Isn't it nice how we get inspiration from others?  You can see how I did a makeover on the cherubs here.



We had pizza and used our Johnson Brothers Old Britain Castles.  Who needs flatware when eating pizza??  We sure don't!!  I placed them on a pretty runner and used red napkins to hide any tell-tale pizza stains. 


For my hubby, I made his favorite meal after coming home from the hospital.  You can read all about that pizza here.  I hope you make some homemade pizza for someone you love.


My hubby's favorite candy bar is Snickers.  I was in such a tizzy when I made these, that the caramel layer went on top...OOPS!  Oh well, they still tasted good.  The recipe for the homemade snickers can be found here


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Thanks for visiting and Happy Valentine's Day! xo 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Sweet ❤ Pizza

My dear hubby recently had surgery after fracturing his right humerus.  How did this happen you may wonder?  He was putting together a basketball goal for one of our grandsons, we heard a snap and he fell to the ground in pain.  After being on chemo for over 25 straight months and also being on prednisone, off and on the past years, his bones have weakened, and caused the bone to fracture as he was tightening the pole.

What is his favorite food in the whole world??!!  Pizza, he would tell you!  I have been making pizza since we've been married.  I have tried so many dough recipes, and I have never met a dough I didn't like!!  However, the one I have been using consistently is this pizza crust from King Arthur Flour.  Making pizza is good for all the senses.  This pizza sure put a smile on my hubby's face!!

Make a sweetheart pizza for someone you love! xo

Here are my tips:

Sprinkle parchment paper with cornmeal.

After dough rises, place on parchment.

Cover with a bowl and let rise again for 15 minutes.

Sprinkle the dough with some olive oil and shape the dough.  Cover with plastic wrap

and let the dough rise according to directions. 

Spread the dough with sauce, cheese and toppings.  Cut around the parchment paper and

use a non-rimmed baking sheet as a pizza peel.

Slide the pizza onto a baking stone that has been pre-heating in a 450 degree oven.  A hot pizza stone makes for a crisp crust on the outside and tender on the inside. We love to sprinkle the pizza with Parmesan cheese and dried oregano when it comes out of the oven. 

                                          Make someone happy by making some homemade pizza!
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Monday, February 11, 2013

Cherub Makeover for Valentine's Day

Here's one of the cherubs with a makeover, in the box that my sweet hubby made from old barn wood. 
When I visited Ross, several weeks after Christmas, these cherubs were on clearance. Here they are before their makeover. The shiny, silver finish just wasn't quite what I wanted.    However, I thought, why not paint them? 

Here they are after a spray paint of flat white.  I didn't want to buy anything for this project, but used what I had.  I put the little darlings in a box to cut down on spray residue and sprayed outside.

After the white dried, I used a small sponge brush and some leftover latex paint, in a dark sage color, and just dabbed it on in spots and wiped with a paper towel to blend.

For the final touch, I used some Rub 'n Buff in Spanish copper, because that's what I had. I used this sparingly and just rubbed it on here and there.  

I kind of like the way they turned out. 
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Sunday, February 10, 2013

Dried Cherry and Chocolate Chip ❤ Scones

I love scones and wanted to make a chocolate cherry version.  I  found this recipe at Epicurious and here's my adapted version.  Maybe you'd like to make some for your sweetheart this Valentine's Day?

  • 2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 7 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, diced
  • 1 teaspoon (packed) grated orange peel (I omitted)
  • 3/4 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips (I only used 1/2 cup)
  • 3/4 cup coarsely chopped dried tart cherries
  • 2/3 cup chilled buttermilk (I used  2 1/2 T. powdered buttermilk and 2/3 cup cold water)
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • Milk (for glaze)

Butter and flour baking sheet.
Whisk 2 cups flour, 1/3 cup sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in large bowl. Add butter and grated orange peel; rub in with fingertips until coarse meal forms. Mix in chocolate chips and dried cherries. Whisk buttermilk, egg yolk, vanilla extract, and almond extract in small bowl to blend. Add buttermilk mixture to dry ingredients; stir with fork until dough comes together in moist clumps. Gather dough into ball. Press out dough on lightly floured surface to 3/4-inch thickness. Using 2-inch heart-shaped cookie cutter, cut out scones. Gather scraps, press out dough and cut out additional scones. Transfer to baking sheet, spacing 1 inch apart. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover; chill.)
Preheat oven to 400°F. Brush scones lightly with milk; sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons sugar (I used red colored sugar). Bake until scones are crusty on top and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 15 minutes (or up to 20 minutes if refrigerated). Serve warm or at room temperature

Can you guess what my fabric is from?? 

 It's a nightgown from Target!!

  Yes, I even wear and dream about tea and food!!

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Valentine Party

               Happy Valentine's Day!  xo

Friday, February 8, 2013

Avocado Salad

I recently made this delicious salad for a family dinner and it was a BIG HIT. Anything with a recipe containing avocados always catches my eye!! The recipe came, via email, from the California Avocado Commission and they gave credit to the original source as The Cafe' Sucre' Farine. I contacted Chris and asked if she minded if I shared this wonderful recipe, and she was gracious to let me post it. I will definitely be making this fabulous salad again. In fact, we did have it and added some leftover steak to it and made it a meal. If you would like to WOW your guests, I suggest you make this recipe!

1/3 cup sugar (I used sugar substitute)
1 1/2 T. poppy seeds
1 1/2 T. sesame seeds
1/2 t. paprika
2 t. dried mustard
1 T. minced onion
1/2 t. sea salt
1/4 t. freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup white balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
12 oz. baby spinach or field greens
2 ripe avocados, peeled, seeded and sliced
3/4 cup dried cranberries
3/4 cup candied spiced almonds (see the recipe here) or you could use the candied almonds from Accents. I made Chris's recipe and the candied spiced almonds are WONDERFUL!


  1. For the dressing, combine all ingredients in a pint sized glass jar and shake well to dissolve sugar.
  2. For the salad, place greens and cilantro leaves in a large bowl. Add avocado and dried cranberries and about 1/4 cup of the dressing and toss gently. Scatter candied almonds over salad and sprinkle lightly with sea salt and pepper. Extra dressing can be passed around, if needed.
         Thanks for visiting my kitchen!  xo

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Sausage Soup

For my kitchen Valentine table, I made this topper which has vintage Valentine's printed on the fabric. 

Here's a close-up of one of the designs.  Isn't this sweet?

The heart bowls were purchased at JoAnn's last year.  Red flatware is from Homegoods.  I used my English Countryside plates. 

I used my hurricane from Target that is filled with conversation hearts and topped with a heart-shaped candle.

I had been wanting to make a sausage soup ever since our waiter at the Tupelo Honey Cafe' mentioned that it was one of his favorites.  I checked some online and finally put one together with things that we like.  It turned out to be a fairly quick, yet very flavorful soup.  It's a new favorite and perfect for a wintry meal!!

1 T. olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 cup diced carrots
1 lb. Italian sausage (I used Italian chicken sausage)
4 cloves garlic, minced
a sprinkle of crushed red pepper
1/2 t. basil
1/2 t. oregano
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can Great Northern beans, drained
1 qt. chicken broth
2 cups fresh spinach, roughly chopped
Parmesan cheese, for serving

Cook onion and carrots in hot oil for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently.  Add the sausage and garlic and breaking up the sausage, cook until it is no longer pink. Add the  crushed red pepper, basil, oregano, diced tomatoes, beans and broth.  Bring to a boil and then turn down to a simmer, cover and cook for 15 minutes.  Uncover, add the spinach and cook for an additional minute. 

Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

NOTE:  Tiny, cooked pasta would be wonderful in this, too!   Just make sure that you cook the pasta separately from the soup in order that it doesn't get soggy.

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On the Menu Monday                                                       
Table Top Tuesday                                                                
Let's Dish!
Open House                                                                  
Tablescape Thursday

        Thanks for visiting my kitchen!  xo

Monday, February 4, 2013


I have been wanting to make these little treats for awhile and thought they'd be perfect for Valentine's Day.  I looked at Ina's recipe and Anne Burrell's and finally did an adaptation on Anne's. I loved the idea of both cinnamon and orange zest in the palmiers.   Here's how I made them:

Bloggy buddy Marsha from
sent me some Pomegranate Pizzazz herb tea!  It was
delicious with my palmiers. 
1/2 cup sugar
1 t. cinnamon (Anne used 2)
1 t. orange zest (Anne used zest of 1 orange)
1/2  (17. 3 ounce) package (1 sheet) frozen puff pastry, thawed

Combine the sugar, cinnamon and orange zest in a bowl.  Sprinkle the sugar on a clean work surface.  Lay the puff pastry on top of the sugar and sprinkle remaining sugar on top of the pastry.

Using a rolling pin, roll the sugar into the dough and roll the dough into an even rectangle, about 1/8" thick.

Working from the short ends of the rectangle, roll up each end of the dough to meet in the middle.  Lay the rolls on top of each other and gently press to secure.  Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let sit in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Cut the dough into slices about 1/4" thick.  Lay the slices onto two parchment- lined or silpat-lined baking trays and bake for 12 minutes.  Turn the slices over and bake for another 6 minutes, or until golden brown.

Cool on a rack.

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               Thanks for visiting me!  xo

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