Wednesday, August 29, 2012


Zucchini time at the market or in the garden can be a good thing or it can be, "What do I do with more zucchini?"  Tom's cousin from Mississippi, Joyce, made this simple zucchini dish when she was at her cottage down the street.

With Joyce's zucchini, huge flavor is developed from a few simple ingredients.  There is the caramelized sweetness from the zucchini, the rich succulent flavor of the olive oil, the nuttiness of the Parmesan cheese, the bite from the black pepper which is all intensified by the salt.  The flavors dance around the taste buds and offer delight to any summer meal. 
Fresh zucchini or summer squash
Olive oil
Parmesan cheese, freshly grated if possible
Black pepper

Ingredients:  Zucchini and/or summer squash, olive oil, Parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper.  My daughter, Dede, gave me these Dutch salt and pepper shakers. 
Slicing the zucchini lengthwise gives the zucchini a different look as most of the time it is cut crosswise.  Joyce used a knife, I used a Madeline to cut the squashes.  Put sliced zucchini on a cookie sheet with sides.  Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Toss to coat and mix.  Place cookie sheet in a preheated 425 degree F. oven for about 7 minutes.  Turn over the zucchini and bake an additional 7 minutes until edges of zucchini start to caramelize.  If the zucchini is cut thicker than mine, it might take a little longer to cook.  Watch carefully.  Remove cookie sheet and heavily sprinkle zucchini with Parmesan cheese.  Serve.

Slice squash thinly lengthwise with a knife or Madelaine.  Never use a Madelaine without the safe guard seen to the far right.

Place sliced zucchini on a cookie sheet with sides.

Drizzle the zucchini with olive oil.

Then sprinkle with salt and black pepper.  Toss to mix.  Place in a preheated 425 degree F. oven for 7 minutes.  Turn the zucchini over and continue baking for another 7 minutes.

Grate the Parmesan cheese if using fresh grated cheese.

Remove zucchini from oven and sprinkle heavily with Parmesan cheese.

Serve and enjoy!!!



Tuesday, August 28, 2012



Texas, with all its cattle and dry brush country, has chocolate, cinnamon-flavored Texas Sheet Cake.  This lovely vanilla-flavored cake comes from Montana, the state of island mountains, and mountain ranges topped with glistening white snow and icy glaciers.  The vanilla flavor gives the cake a hint of home and times gone-by.  There are other recipes for white sheet cake, but they are almond-flavored.  I love almond, but it does not highlight the buttery, rich flavor of this sheet cake as well as vanilla does.


A sheet cake is more my style than the cake I bought for Bradley's Hunger Games Surprise Party.  This sheet cake is made in a 10x15-inch pan so it serves many people, is quick and easy to make, and the frosting is just poured on the hot cake.  For decorations, if needed, I use candles or candy.  For my son, Mitchell's, 39th birthday I put a line of three candles.  Then I left a space and put 9 candles in a 3 candle by 3 candle square.  As I said I am not a cake decorator, but his cake was unique looking and a conversation starter.

I learned from my dear assistant, who died too young of brain cancer, to always add a pinch of salt to frostings or icings wither the recipe called for it or not.  She was a fantastic baker and built a wedding cake business for herself.  I can't even imagine assembling a wedding cake, decorating it, and transporting it.  Doing all that is way above my pay grade! 


This wonderful white cake gets better and better as it ages if it lasts long enough to age.  Like its cousin Texas Sheet Cake, it feeds a crowd, is simple, and quick to make.

1 c butter
1 c water
2 c flour
2 c sugar
1 t salt
1 t baking soda
2 eggs, beaten
½ c sour cream
2 t pure vanilla extract

½ c butter
6 T milk
4 ½ c powdered sugar
Pinch of salt
1 t pure vanilla extract
1 c nuts, chopped, optional

Cake ingredients:  Flour, sugar, baking soda, butter, water, eggs, sour cream, and vanilla.

 Frosting or icing ingredients:  Milk, salt, butter, vanilla, milk, and powdered sugar.

For the cake:  In a saucepan, bring butter and water to a boil or you can use a microwave safe measuring cup and microwave the butter and water.  Remove from heat.  In a large bowl, stir in flour, sugar, salt and baking soda together.  Add butter/water mixture and mix well.  Beat eggs together and stir in vanilla extract.  Add egg mixture and sour cream  to flour/butter mixture and beat until smooth.  Pour into a 15x10-inch jelly roll pan which has been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.  Bake in preheated 375° oven for 20 to 22 minutes or until cake is done.  Cake is done when a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean and cake pulls away slightly from the sides of the pan.  For the frosting:  Combine butter and milk in saucepan or microwave safe bowl.  Bring to a boil.  Remove from heat.  Add sugar, salt, and vanilla extract.  Mix well.  Stir in nuts, if desired, and pour on warm cake.  Carefully spread frosting to cover cake.

Spray a 10x15-inch cake pan with non-stick cooking spray.

In a large bowl, mix dry ingredients together.


Mix well.

Beat eggs together and add vanilla extract.  Combine together.

Put butter and water in a saucepan or microwave safe bowl and heat to melt butter.

Pour melted butter/water into flour mixture.

Beat well.

Beat in egg mixture and sour cream until well mixed.

Pour batter into prepared pan.  Bake in a preheated 375 degree F. oven for 20 to 25 minutes.  Cake is done when a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean and cake pulls away slightly from the sides of the pan.


While cake is baking, melt butter into the milk for frosting.

When butter is melted, add powdered sugar.

Beat the butter, powdered sugar and a pinch of salt together until mixture is smooth.

Add vanilla extract and beat well.

When cake is baked, pour frosting all over the cake.

After frosting is carefully poured on cake, spread to cover cake.

Cake is ready to party!!!




 I wouldn't mind if you sent me a piece too.

Monday, August 27, 2012


The Hunger Games.

Wouldn't it be nice to always have the odds in your favor?


My birthday cake for Bradley.  Aren't I a good decorator?  NOT!!!

The cake was decorated at Ryke's Bakery, the home of Traditional Dutch-Mexican Food.

Jenna dressed as Effie Trinke.

The surprise!

The joy! 
Pose for Grandma.

Discussing the games to come.

Players are getting ready.  Cousin Martha is ready to run!

Jera, the organizer of the party.  "Effie" has her gong and drumstick.

Jillian and Bradley celebrate a win.

Please, Effie, don't hit the gong and make me dead.  I still want to play.

Effie hits her gong to announce who is dead and out of the game. 

Here are a few of the things that we feasted on at the party:  Rue's Berry Blend, The Capitol's Finest Lacy Orange Juice, Thresh's Wild Rice, Greasy Sae's Wild Dog Scraps, Rim's Basil Wrapped Goat Cheese, Mallark Bakery Apple Goat Cheese Tarts, Mallark Bakery Bread, Peeta's Cheese Buns, Cato's Asparagus Spears. 

Then there was cake.  White cake with lemon filling and buttercream frosting!!!

The rocks on the cake are candy that is made to look like rocks.
Happy Birthday to you.  The singing is wonderful at the Leffring house except for me.  I sound like a cross between a dog howling and a donkey braying.

Blowing out the candle.  His wish will come true!

 I want the piece with the birds, I want the piece with the birds, no I want the piece with the birds, can I have the piece with the birds.  Four little boys, one very large cake and the boys all want the same piece of cake.
Can the top right hand side of the cake with the "birds" be cut into 4 pieces so all the little boys get the piece they want??  Or is denial part of the Hunger Games?