Double Chocolate Snack Cake

 This cake recipe is one of the few recipes I tried  from a Betty Crocker cookbook and, all I can say, is the people behind Betty know their stuff. The recipe is pretty simple and if you follow the directions as written, you don't even need a mixing bowl! You just plop everything together in the baking dish and stir before popping it in the oven, no need to waste precious minutes on dish washing. I don't always do it that way, but if you're in a hurry its a great idea!
I really like this recipe because not only does it taste good, its not hard to make and pretty cheap since it doesn't require any butter or eggs. HAVE YOU NOTICED THE PRICE OF BUTTER LATELY?? The local store sells a pack of 4 sticks for $4.50. It makes me sad, I remember when it was $2.50 and I foolishly took it for granted... but I digress. I think this type of cake can be considered a "depression cake" because its missing butter, egg and milk. And that makes it vegan too... I'm pretty sure.
For this cake I made two layers of this snack cake and filled and covered it with a basic buttercream frosting and a dusting of cocoa, but all of that is totally not necessary. I made single layer and served it with a dusting of powdered sugar at our small group and it was good like that too. Like it's name says, it's a good cake to have for snacking.

Double Chocolate Snack Cake
from Betty Crocker's 40th Anniversary Cookbook

1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vinegar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Heat oven to 350. Mix flour, brown sugar, cocoa, baking soda and salt with a fork or whisk in an ungreased, 8x8 square pan. Stir in remaining ingredients except chocolate chips. Sprinkle chips over batter ( I mixed mine in).
Bake 35-40 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack. Sprinkle with powdered sugar if desired.

Buttercream Frosting
3 cups powdered sugar
2 sticks softened butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
about 2 tablespoons whipping cream

Gradually mix sugar in with the butter. Beat with a mixer until combined. Add liquids and beat for a few minutes until fluffy.


Tea Party

My sister asked me to make cookies for her tea party and gave me her teacup cookie cutters. I thought I would go with fall colors, brown and orange, but they really didn't turn out like I had expected. Wilton's copper coloring looked the same as orange from the container so I thought, what the heck, I'll give it a try. they ended up with a salmon-y color instead of orange, but I was ok with it. These pictures arent the best quality since I don't have a real camera, but i'm sure you get an idea of how they were.  

Large Teapots

Small Teapots

This one was my favorite

I like how they came out in the end and my sister was happy with them. :)


Red Pepper Bisque

I love this soup recipe! I don't think i'm much of a cook but this is a recipe that i've made several times since finding it last year. I consider it to be a "girly" soup, something that would be nice as a part of a tea party. It's very yummy and rich because of the heavy cream. Yes, heavy cream is our friend!...for this recipe at least. It's a really nice soup to have on a cold day (too bad we haven't had many of those here in so. cal this week).

Red Pepper Bisque
Adapted from Bon Appetit

4-5 large red bell peppers ( I have also used a mix of red and yellow and that works well too) 
3 1/2 cups chicken low-salt chicken broth (2 cans) 
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon sugar
3/4 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup finely grated Romano cheese
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
salt, pepper to taste
basil for garnish (optional)

Char your bell peppers over a gas flame using tongs to turn and make sure you get all the sides pretty black and charred. Cover them for about 15 minutes so they become soft so you can peel the skin off. I've heard of different ways to do this, I usually out them in a bowl and cover them with dish towels and a plastic bag... i think I may have seen my mother do this, but do whatever works for you! Peel and seed the peppers and cut them into small chunks. Combine your peppers and chicken broth in a large saucepan. Boil, then reduce heat and simmer until peppers are tender, about 5 minutes.
Turn off the heat and in batches, puree the soup in blender until smooth. Be patient and be very CAREFUL! You don't want to splatter scalding hot broth all over, so small batches work nicely. If you have a cheap blender like I do, you might want to cover the top with a dish towel and press down on the lid so it doesn't spray stuff when you start it. Return blended soup to your saucepan. Mix in paprika, sugar and red pepper flakes. Simmer 5 minutes to blend flavors. With a whisk, mix in the cream and Romano cheese, make sure cheese has melted before adding salt. Season to taste with salt and pepper, garnish with basil and if you like, serve with toasty bread.

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