Fresh Orange Apple Cake

Today I had volunteered to bring an apple cake for a dear friends birthday celebration. This is one of her favorite cakes, especially the praline frosting. If she was at the house when I might be making the frosting, she would stand there with a spoon, eating the frosting right out of the bowl. So, as per her request, I made an apple cake with her favorite frosting. There is an apple cake that is already on the blog, but for some reason, this new recipe caught my eye, as it had a 1/2 cup of orange juice in the batter. Because it is so much fun to try new flavor combinations, this one intrigued me. All I can tell you is the women at the party all commented, saying they wanted the recipe. It really was, we thought a great flavored apple cake. Very moist, yet not mushy or soggy, as some apple cakes tend to get. Because it had a little less than the 3 cups of chopped apples that a lot of recipes call for, it had a little more cake texture to it. This will now be my “go to” recipe for apple cakes.

1 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup orange juice
1 teas vanilla
3 cups flour
1 teas baking soda
1 teas cinnamon
1 heaping teas pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teas salt
2 1/2 cup chopped apples, finely diced (Gala apples worked well in this recipe)
* If you add 1 cup of chopped pecans, add them when you add the apples

Combine melted butter, oil, sugar, eggs. Mix until well combined. Add orange juice and vanilla. Stir until completely mixed.

In another bowl, combine flour, spices, baking soda, and spices.
Stir flour mixture and then add to sugar/oil mixture. Mix until no lumps remain. Then add the apples and nuts (if desired). Stir until well combined. Pour into a greased and floured large bundt pan. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 50-60 minutes, or until cake test done.

When cool, turn out onto a cake plate. Pour praline frosting over entire cooled cake.

Praline Frosting

Melt 1 stick unsalted butter in a small saucepan with 1 cup of light brown sugar. Stir consistently until butter is melted and sugar is dissolved.

Pour over 2 cups powdered sugar and beat until smooth. Add chopped nuts if desired. If needed, add about 2-4 tables whipping cream to get frosting to spreading consistency. Add 1 teas vanilla and continue beating. When cake is cooled, pour over entire cake.

Veggie Dinner With Squash Dish (Calabacita)

How was everyone’s Thanksgiving? Hope that all of you had the blessing of gathering around the table with family and friends to make some wonderful new memories. We were blessed to have two of our kids and their families here. Isn’t it just so wonderful to be able to enjoy your adult children? I heard about a family gathering that escalated into yelling and screaming because some of the relatives began to argue about something. That is something I just cannot even begin to understand. Years ago, my oldest sone, Jason, was in college and some of his friends came over when Jason came home for the holidays. They began to tell me how Jason would just walk into a room that was full of college boys, arguing over sports, or girls or something and Jason would yell “why can’t we all just get along?” and everyone would then start laughing. It is with a heart full of thanksgiving that we do enjoy our kids and so appreciate the time which we spend with them. Well, all that said, last night, after a full 5 days of cornbread dressing, potatoes, turkey, ham, pies and cakes and wonderful rolls, we realized yesterday that even our very unhealthy bodies were tired of all the greasy, rich meats and dishes. So we put on a pot of beans, cut up a head of cabbage, onion, cut up a couple of potatoes and got the small iron skillet out for cornbread. As I was looking in the fridge to get more butter out, (do not even think about asking me how many pounds of butter I have used the last 2 weeks, because I am too embarrassed to ell you.Lets just say that there is now an empty corner in the fridge where all the butter was stored) there was the Mexican squash I had bought, thinking that I might use it in a dish for Thanksgiving. But, there it was just sitting there waiting to be cooked. So out it came and it was such a great addition to our veggie meal. So, (after all the above 1000 words that was probably more than you ever wanted to know about our Thanksgiving) here is the recipe I used and it was so good.

2 cups cut up Calabacita Squash (Mexican squash)
2 tables olive oil
1 tables unsalted butter
1 teas fresh oregano
1/2 teas garlic powder
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil and butter in a small skillet. Add the cut up squash and seasonings to skillet. Stir until squash begins to brown a little on the edges. It was at this point that I added about 1/4 cup water to the pan and put a lid on so the squash would get tender. As it cooks, stir every few min so squash does not burn. If you like the flavor of the oregano, and garlic, you might like to add a little more per your preference. This squash is also great in vegetable soups.

Chicken Supreme

This is a recipe I posted back in 2009 when I first created chocolate castles. As I was looking through some of my old recipes which were in a file last night, I came across this one. It was such a great casserole that is so easy to prepare and had such a great flavor. The ladies at the luncheon raved about it and so I thought I would repost it. Thanks Martha Samuelson for sharing the recipe. Can’t wait to make if for a luncheon in December. Goes great with a spinach salad and a little cute side of a marinated mozzarella ball, cherry tomato and a little piece of fresh basil, sprinkled lightly with EVVO, all put on a toothpick. Makes a pretty plate for the holidays.

1 whole chicken boiled and deboned (save some broth for cooking the rice)
1 pkg of Uncle Ben’s Wild Rice, made according to directions on box but cooked in the chicken broth instead of the water the box calls for
1 can cream of chicken or cream of celery soup (I like to use the celery)
1 cup of mayonnaise
1 cup of grated cheddar cheese
1 can chopped canned pimentos with liquid
2 cans French style green beans, drained
1 can French onions for topping

Combine all ingredients except onions. Bake for 45 min at 350…remove from oven and top with the french onions and bake for another 5 min or until onions are lightly browned.

Sugar Cookies (taken from Martha Stewart Cookie Cookbook)

These sugar cookies are so very good and so very easy. Because they have a little brown sugar in them, the flavor has a little different twist.

One of my dear friends tells me that these are now her very favorite cookie and to please keep them coming.

3 cups flour

1 teas baking soda

1/4 teas salt

1 3/4 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup light brown sugar

1 cup of softened butter, unsalted

2 large eggs, at room temperature

1 teas vanilla or almond extract

Granulated sugar, or Colored sugar for coating

Preheat oven to 350. Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt.

Put the brown sugar and 1 3/4 of the granulated sugar in a bowl. Add the butter and mix until mixture is well combined and fluffy. Add the vanilla or almond extract and mix in well.  Add the eggs, one at a time and beat after each addition.

Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture in gradually. When cookie dough is completely blended,, use a 1″ cookie scoop  and dip the top of each cookie into colored or granulated sugar and space about 2″ apart on parchment lined cookie sheet.

Bake cookies until golden, about 10 minutes, or until they are done. Time depends on your oven. Transfer cookies to wire rack. Let cool completely. Can be stored in airtight container for about 3 days. I usually wrap some in wax paper, then put in freezer bag and freeze for later when we are needing something sweet, like every night.

Pumpkin Dream Cake

  • This morning I received a text from one of my DIL’s asking me to make this cake for her!

She began the text with “since you are my favorite MIL will you make me this cake?” To which I replied “I hope I’m your fav MIL since I’m your only MIL but yes I will make this for you!”

As I looked at the recipe, it did look somewhat different from other pumpkin cakes I have made! The simple fact that it is a sheet cake, not layered makes it easy to begin with! But the fact that stood stood out to me was the cream cheese frosting that had added cinnamon to it! After thinking about what the lady who posted this recipe had shared, I knew this cake would be a winner! Thursday when I bake it, I will take a picture and post comments of the results! Taken from How Sweets Eat

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 15 ounce can pumpkin puree
  • 1 ¾ cups brown sugar
  • ½ cup plain greek yogurt
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 8- ounce blocks cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9×13 inch baking dish with nonstick baking spray.
  2. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg. Note: If you LOVE spice, feel free to add some extra spice in here (pumpkin! allspice! more cinnamon! – you can add another 1/2 to 1 teaspoon if you’d like) as this isn’t overly spiced.

  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, sugar, yogurt and oil. Once smooth and combined, whisk in each egg one at a time. Whisk in the vanilla extract.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet, mixing until combined and no large lumps remain.
  5. Pour the batter into the greased baking dish. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.

  6. Note: every time I’ve made this cake, it has smelled “eggy” in the oven which has scared me. No worries – once the cake comes out and cools, it does not taste eggy!
  7. Cool the cake completely. Once the cake has cooled, frost with the cream cheese frosting. Slice and serve!

Soul Shampoo

TThis morning as I stepped into the shower, I happened to glance at once to the shampoo we had in the shower rack. At eye level, I noticed that of the two shampoos we had, both had words that caught my attention. On the VO5 bottle, the words, “refresh and renew” were on the label. On my shampoo, “Hair Food”. Why this morning did these words jump out at me? As I stood there and allowed the hot water to spill over me (and yes, it does take quite a lot of water to spill over me) it hit me why, today, that these words gave me so much thought.

As I thought back over the last few days, some of the Psalms came to mind. Scriptures that remind me that God wants to be the one who not only guards my soul, but wants to renew and refresh me each and every day. HE wants to be my Soul Food. The Great Shepard Who not only gave me life, but is able to keep me, to love me and protect me.

What is my first thoughts in the morning? What and who do I turn to when I need encouragement or wise counsel? Who do I rest in when trouble fills my soul? Is it my Creator, The God who gave up His Son that I might find eternal life? Where does my help, my joy and my strength come from?

What fills my mind these days? Do I look to God to guide me? So many questions began to fill my mind as I began to think about my day. Is He the first thing on my mind or is checking FaceBook? Do I begin to plan my day before asking the Lord how He wants to use me? Do i consider that He might have plans for me that I have to surrender my time and will to do His? Do I look to Him as the giver of the many blessings that pour into my life or do I just think that “it was just a great day” without giving thanks to Him for allowing the good things that do come my way?

It was such a wonderful feeling stepping out of the shower. Not only did I feel so very clean, but “renewed, refreshed” and had been reminded that not only did my hair need cleansing, but my soul needed that reminder this morning (as it does quite often) that God, the great King of Kings and Lord of all, is waiting and longing for me to look to him for all that I need to renew, refresh and feed my soul. He is the Great Shepard and lover of my soul!
Psalm 139:1,3,5,17,23 “O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me…You chart the path ahead of me and tell me where to stop and rest….you place your hand of blessing on my head…how precious are your thoughts about me, O God…Search me, O God and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts.”

Asa 121 “I look up to the mountains, does my help come from there? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. He will not let you stumble and fall,the one who watches over you will not sleep. Indeed, he who watches over Israel never tires and never sleeps. The lord himself watches over you!…The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go, both now and forever.

Isn’t it wonderful that our God, who loves us more than we can ever hope or imagine can talk to us through a shampoo bottle?

in the words of an old chorus “isn’t He wonderful, wonderful wonderful, Isn’t Jesus my Lord, wonderful? Eyes have seen, ears have heard, it’s recorded in God’s Word, Isn’t Jesus my Lord, Wonderful” Yes He is! Let that little chorus be in our hearts today, giving thanks and worship as we surrender this day to Him.

Apple Bundt Cake

This cake is very different from the apple cakes I make. It cooks the apples in a butter-cinnamon mixture before adding to cake batter!

Kelly Minter is a wonderful teacher and author of Bible studies for women for which I am taking right now! At the end of each week of study, Kelly gives recipes that I have loved! This apple cake sounds so good. I am making it this weekend!


1 cup chopped apples (I am using Gala)

2 tables butter

1 tables sugar

2 tables light brown sugar

1 teas cinnamon

Cake Batter

1 cup sugar

1 cup brown sugar (I use light)

1/2 cup softened butter

1 cup sour cream

1 teas vanilla

5 large eggs

2 1/2 cups flour

1 teas baking powder

1 teas baking soda

Pinch of salt

1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts or pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees!

Butter A Bundt cake pan, including the tube, and dust lightly with flour, shaking out any excess. Set aside.

in a skillet over medium heat, cook the apples with the butter, sugars, and cinnamon. Don’t over cook the apples as they should keep their shape. Set aside.

for the cake batter combine the sugars, butter, and sour cream in a large mixing bowl and beat until fluffy. Add vanilla and eggs until well combined. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture. Fold in apples and nuts. Bake at 350° for about 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Transfer to wire rack and let it cool in the pan for 10 minutes before turning out on a plate. Frost with your favorite brown sugar or browned butter frosting!

Old Fashioned Pecan Pie

What better way to begin this cold weather than with a slice of pecan pie for yourself or for you northern folks PEE CAN pie! We just got back from having our traditional Wednesday night enchilada dinner! It is a windy evening with temps in low 40’s and as we drove home, the beginnings of trees having been already decorated with tiny white lights line our street! What a glorious sight and just makes me want to bake more. Because I was just dying to bake this afternoon, I couldn’t make up my mind what I wanted to bake as everything sounded good. So I ask Peter Pumpkin what he might like for desert tonight. He replied with “well, if you really want to know what I would like I would say pecan pie!” So that’s what we have! When I began to look thru the different recipes from some of my cookbooks I came across this one from Fredericksburg Home Kitchen Cook Book (which my MIL gave to me years ago). It sounded perfect AND didn’t use as much butter as the recipes I have used in the past so I decided to give it a try! After all, Peter Pumpkin reminds me that since we are in our “golden years” we probably should start thinking about cutting back on good foods like butter! It was then that I informed him that our golden years were appropriately named for the fact that we were the age where we should be able to have all the butter we liked! Butter is golden!!!

So here is the recipe and I hope you like it as much as we do! And since I only ate one enchilada I can have two pieces tonight!

3 eggs

3/4 cup sugar

2 teas vanilla

3/4 cup light corn syrup

1 cup finely chopped pecans

3 Tablespoons butter, melted

1 9″ unbaked pie shell

Combine eggs and syrup, mix well. Add sugar and beat with wire whisk. Add vanilla. Let stand for 5 minutes. Add pecans and melted butter. Mix well and pour into pie shell. Bake in preheated 375 degree oven for about 35-40 minutes until pie is firm to touch in middle!

Seriously cut back on butter, who is he kidding? After all, we went without a lot of butter for 3 months in Italy so our arteries had a chance to clear!

The Long Way Home

This week has been such a time of reflection of where we have come from and how God has brought us back to this place.

Maybe it is the Fall temperatures which have been so welcomed this past week (even had a tornado hit about 1/2 mile from where we live) which has given us a few nights of rain and cloudy days and of course, made me want to bake everyday.

Things now are back to normal as we are totally settled and feel that sometimes we never left Dallas at all! We kind of somehow just fell into our old way of life with some of the same friends who we have done “life” with for some many years. And while that feels wonderful to be able to do that, we also get excited to see the new ways God will use us and new folks that we are getting to meet! This week we had some new friends over for dinner along with a friend who we have known for 20 yrs. It was such a great reminder to us that while it is always so good to still get together with friends who we have memories with, it is so neat to be sitting there making a new memory with people who we have just met!

As we continue to think back over the last 10 yrs of our lives, it is with a great fondness that we can talk about what The Lord has done for us in spite of some trials and unwanted circumstances which came our way! Looking back, we know that God was still working in our lives to bring us to a point which grew us closer to Him and that He has allowed our hearts to heal from the hard days back in 2013 when we left California. Today as we drove out of the church parking lot, I turned to Randy and said “this is the first time I have truly felt like I’m home since we left Pasadena”. It has been a long journey back here! The Lord allowed us a time in a wilderness, not only physically but spiritually! Each place He has taken us has taught us lessons which we might not have learned without being there! Lessons which included times of learning to trust God when we didn’t feel His presence! A lesson that taught us that He is always faithful to lead and guide even though some of the places He took us were not places that “felt right” at the time and used us in spite of our inadequacies. We have learned that if we want to experience spiritual blessings in our lives, we must be totally surrendered to His will, not ours! We must, in our times of brokenness, remember that we still have things that God can take and use for His glory! That our faith, no matter how small, can grow “even when our vision is blurred! That faithfulness isn’t measured in performance or perfection, but by endurance.”

“Our loyalty to God is determined by our faith in His promises, particularly when it requires waiting through bleak and troubled times!”

Our journey these past 5 years has been filled with days of doubt sometimes, but we know we have been given the opportunity to come full circle back to the place that we call home! Not only physically, but in our hearts as well!

We are not only grateful for the lessons we have been learning but for Gods love and PROVIDENCE over our lives!

” Great is thy faithfulness O God my Father, there is no shadow of turning from Thee! All I have needed thy Hand hath provided, Great is thy faithfulness Lord unto me! ”

Quotes are taken from Daily In His Presence

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Cupcakes

Having been assigned to bring a dessert to a luncheon today, I quickly started to explore cookbooks for something pumpkin, since it is officially Pumpkin Month here in Pumpkinville. As I leafed through The Cake Doctor, I came across a Pumpkin spice cake, which I used for the cupcake base (making a few adjustments) and then just added a little cream cheese surprise for the middle, topping it off with cream cheese frosting. The result received many compliments.

Preheat oven to 350.
1 Duncan Hines Yellow or Spice cake mix*See below
1 package (3.4 oz) french vanilla instant pudding mix
1 cup pumpkin, canned puree of pumpkin, not pumpkin mix
1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup water
3 large eggs at room temperature
1 teas cinnamon
1/2 teas ground ginger
*because I didn’t have a spice cake mix, I used a yellow one and added an additional 1 teas of pumpkin pie seasoning to the mix, if you use spice cake mix, I would leave this out.

Cream cheese filling
1 8 oz softened cream cheese
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teas vanilla

1 (1 lb) box of powdered sugar (equals about 3 1/2 cups)
8 oz (1 stick) softened butter
1 (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream (add a little at a time, as it might not need all of this, but might need a little more, depending on how thick you like the frosting.

Mix all ingredients together in large mixing bowl and beat for about 2 minutes on medium. Set aside

Cream cheese filling:
Beat softened cream cheese and powdered sugar together and beat until smooth. Add vanilla and mix well. Beat until no more lumps appear.

Place cupcake liners in cupcake pan. Add enough batter to liner to cover bottom. Drop about a tablespoon of cream cheese mixture into middle of the batter. Cover this mixture with more of the pumpkin batter until cupcake holder is about a little more than 1/2 full. Bake in preheated 350 oven until cupcakes test done. About 20 minutes, depending on your oven. I always take mine out when the tops look a little shiny but still feel done to the touch. Let cool and continue using batter and filling until all is used. (You will probably have some of the filling left over, but just keep covered in fridge for another use or you can actually add it to your frosting ingredients, as it is just cream cheese and powdered sugar.)


Beat all ingredients until smooth and then frost cooled cupcakes. Keep covered in fridge. Remove from refrigerator about an hour before serving time.