Mini Chocolate Cupcakes with Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Centers – “Autumn/Halloween Version”



These ‘surprise in the center’ cupcakes are extra chocolaty and delicious – frosting is always optional.

I like to call these types of recipes A Little Help From My Friends because I used a purchased cake mix and canned decorating cake icing. I know most people don’t have a lot of extra time, so A Little Help From My Friends always helps.

I think you’re gonna find these cupcakes a bit addictive.  Once you pop one in your mouth, you just can’t stop!  Extra cocoa, brown sugar and a bit of vanilla are added to a dark chocolate cake mix, giving these mini cupcakes an extra BAM of chocolate flavor.  And the goodness of mini Reese’s peanut butter cups really puts these little treasures over the top in the taste department.

The trick to making these is placing a mini peanut butter cup in each lined cupcake section before adding the batter.  ++ In this particular instance, mini cupcake tins were used, but these special cupcakes can also be prepared using regular sized cupcake tins.

I prepared these Autumn/Halloween cupcakes last weekend when my twin brother and his family came for dinner. We cooked chicken breasts and thighs on a grate suspended over my fire pit. (I’d been wanting to grill chicken this way for a long, long time.)  The chicken turned out really tender and the smoky flavor reminded me of when my dad used to cook hamburgers over an open fire.  The flavor of those hamburgs has stayed with me entire life. Let me tell you, grilling with today’s charcoal briquettes, which now often contain bits of charcoal PLUS coal, starch, sawdust, and sodium nitrate, can’t even come close to the taste of grilling over a wood fire.

After the meal, these mini Autumn/Halloween cupcakes .. and  S’Mores .. were enjoyed by all. (None of the adults had any of the S’mores but they couldn’t stop eating these cupcakes…) After my guests departed, I wrapped up a few baking potatoes in several layers of aluminum foil and nestled them in the fire. The next morning those potatoes made the BEST home fries.  Oh yeah – the best things in life are free!

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++  Yield – 50 or so mini cupcakes

++  Heat oven to 350F

++  Bake mini cupcakes 12 minutes   (Bake average sized cupcakes according to package directions.)


++ I highly recommend using cupcake liners

  • 1 box Dark Chocolate  – prepared according to the package directions
  • 1  Tbs. cocoa powder
  • 1 Tbs.  brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

  Here’s what I used to decorate my Autumn/Halloween cupcakes

  • 2 cans green Decorating Cake Icing   ++ I used Betty Crocker brand
  • 1 (1 lb.) bag candy pumpkins  ++  You’ll have some leftover to nibble on!!


Line cupcake tins.  Unwrap mini Reese’s peanut butter cups and place one in each section.

Prepare cake mix according to the package directions. Add  1 Tbs. cocoa powder, 1 Tbs. brown sugar and 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract. Beat for another 30 seconds or so.  Using a tablespoon, fill each section 2/3s full of cake batter. Using a small spoon, spread batter so peanut butter cups are fully covered.

Bake for about 12 minutes. Cupcakes will be slightly rounded and, when tapped with a finger, should not dent in.  Remove cupcakes and cool on a rack. Repeat until all batter is used up.  It’ll take a little while to make so many cupcakes but it’s easy and fun   ; o )

When cupcakes are fully cooled, frost with canned decorating icing.  ++  Use the star tip which is included with the icing.  Lightly press a candy pumpkin on the top of each cupcake. Enjoy!

TIP — While one batch of cupcakes is baking, remove wrapping from additional peanut butter cups.  Children love to help with this… but be prepared to lose several candies in the process!   


Chocolate and Pistachio Swirl Cake

3 - Chocolate and - Pistachio and  Swirl Cake -

How the chocolate layer goes from the top to the bottom is a mystery to me!!

A dear friend of mine shared this recipe with me back in the 80s, when bundt cakes were the ‘in thing’.  Chocolate and Pistachio Swirl Cake  baked in a bundt pan does make a beautiful presentation, but I wanted something to bring to a Fourth of July picnic that could be eaten ‘out of hand’, so I went for the good old 13′ x 9′ pan and cut the cake into squares.

Because Chocolate and Pistachio Swirl Cake is prepared with a boxed cake mix, it’s really quick to put together. Once the cake was cooled and cut into squares, a little dusting of confectionery (icing) sugar was all that was needed and off I went to the barbecue.

3 - Chocolate and - Pistachio and  Swirl Cake -

new type bundt cake pan

In case you’ve never heard of a bundt pan – here’s an example.

We had a wonderful time the Fourth of July at my cousin’s home on Lake George (Massachusetts), which a small lake and not the big, big Lake George in New York State.  And everyone very much liked what I brought for dessert!

Fourth of July - David's - 2016

Lake George, Massachusetts (USA)  Don’t you just LOVE having friends/family who live on the water AND who own a boat??!!

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Oven at 350F      

++  13″ x 9″ pan  (buttered & floured) – bake for 35 – 40 mins. 

++ bundt pan (buttered & floured) – bake for 55 – 60 mins.

++  Cake is cooked when it pulls away from the sides of the pan – and when a sharp knife (or toothpick) inserted in the middle comes out clean


  • 1 yellow cake mix
  • 1 package instant pistachio pudding
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 3/4 cup chocolate syrup  ++  I use Hershey’s.  Be sure not to buy thick fudge topping.  You want the chocolate syrup used to make chocolate milk.


In a large bowl beat yellow cake mix, 1 package instant pistachio pudding, 1/2 cup orange juice, 1/2 cup water, 1/3 cup oil and 4 eggs for two minutes on medium speed.  Pour half the batter into buttered and floured pan.

++  To ‘flour a pan’, put some flour into the buttered pan.  Shake the pan around so that the butter is totally covered with a light coating of flour.  Turn the pan upside and hit the bottom of the pan so the extra flour falls out. 

Mix remaining batter with 3/4 cup chocolate syrup.  Pour batter on top of the pistachio layer.

Bake for 37 – 40 minutes (or so) if using a 13″ x 9″ pan.  (Oven temperatures vary.)

Bake 55 – 60 minutes (or so) if using a bundt pan.  (Oven temperatures vary.)

Allow cake to cool – in the pan – on a cake rack for 20 – 30 minutes.  ++  Allowing  the cake to cool thoroughly makes it easier to cut because this cake is very moist.

++  Here’s a trick to get that ‘dusting’ of confectionery sugar (icing) sugar on prettily – use a small strainer.  

small strainer

Photo courtesy of WebstaurantStore

3 - Chocolate and - Pistachio and  Swirl Cake -

Double Chocolate Black-Bottom Strawberry Pie – If You Love Chocolate Covered Strawberries, You’ll Love This Pie!

Love Chocolate Covered Strawberries - Then You're Goona Love This Pie!
Love Chocolate-Dipped Strawberries - Then You'll Love This Pie!

Finished Pie – with a bit of drizzled semisweet chocolate which, I decided, isn’t worth the bother!!   ; o )


Double Chocolate Black-Bottom Strawberry Pie is best eaten the day it’s made!

You get a double dose of chocolate in this scrumptious strawberry pie! Your first dose of chocolate begins with a purchased chocolate cookie crust, over which is poured a rich layer of melted chocolate and cream.    

While the chocolate and cream layer is cooling in the fridge you prepare the strawberry glaze.  Once the glaze has cooled a bit you gently mix in the sliced strawberries, pour the pie filling over the chocolate and cream layer and refrigerate for several hours.  It’s doesn’t get much easier – or delicious – than that my friends!

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1 quart of strawberries = 1 1/2 lbs.    1 pint of strawberries = 3/4 lb. 


  • 1 purchased chocolate cookie pie crust
  • 2 lbs. strawberries     ++  You’ll need 1/4 cup mashed strawberries for the glaze – – and 4 cups sliced strawberries for the filling.
  • 1/2 cup heavy (whipping) cream
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

UPDATE:  The ingredients for the glaze – listed below – are half of what I’d posted yesterday because a purchased cookie crust only holds 4 cups of sliced strawberries and a full cup of sugar made the filling overly sweet for my taste.    ; o )

  • 1/4 cup mashed strawberries
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup water   ++ Mixture will be REALLY thick but it will get a bit watered down by the berry juice.  
  • 2 tsps. lemon juice – optional
  • 1 – 2 drops red food coloring – optional


Chocolate & Cream Layer

In a microwave – or small saucepan on top of the stove – heat cream until steaming.  Add chocolate chips.  Let stand for 2 minutes, then whisk until chocolate is melted and mixture is thick.  Spread evenly over bottom of the pie crust.  Refrigerate while you prepare the strawberry glaze.

Strawberry Glaze   

Place in a small saucepan 1/4 cup mashed strawberries, 1/2 cup sugar, 1 1/2 tsp. cornstarch and 1/4 cup water. (Optional 2 tsp. lemon juice and 1 – 2 drops red food coloring.) Boil, stirring occasionally, for about 3 minutes until glaze is very thick and deep red.  Place glaze in a bowl and allow to cool while you slice the strawberries.

Once the strawberry glaze has cooled, gently mix in the sliced strawberries (about 4 cups) and pour into the pie crust.  Chill for several hours. Dollop on lots of whipped cream and enjoy!

Love Chocolate-Dipped Strawberries - Then You'll Love this Strawberry Pie

Start with a chocolate cookie crust.

Love Chocolate-Dipped Strawberries - Then You'll Love This Strawberry Pie (2)

Chocolate & Cream Mixture is spread over the chocolate cookie crust.

Love Chocolate-Dipped Strawberries - Then You'll Love This Strawberry Pie (3)

You’ll need 1/2 cup mashed strawberries for the glaze.

Love Chocolate-Dipped Strawberries - Then You'll Love This Strawberry Pie (4)

Strawberry Glaze – waiting for it to boil.

Love Chocolate-Dipped Strawberries - Then You'll Love This Strawberry Pie!

Strawberry Glaze – cooled and ready to mix with the sliced strawberries.

Love Chocolate-Dipped Strawberries - Then You'll Love This Pie!

Finished Pie – with a bit of drizzled semisweet chocolate, which I wouldn’t bother doing again! ; o )

Love Chocolate Covered Strawberries - Then You're Goona Love This Pie!

Quick and Delicious Popover Pizza – a.k.a. Upsidedown Pizza

3 - COPY - Popover Pizza a.k.a. Upside-Down Pizza -

Back in 1999, when I was such a neophyte with computers that I didn’t even know how to use spell check, I made a cookbook containing many of my twin sons’ favorite recipes. The cookbook, aptly named The Roy Family’s Favorite Recipes, was a big hit with my guys and they  still use it, and a subsequent Christmas cookbook, fairly often.

Popover Pizza was always a big favorite of my sons’ – and their friends.  If you happen to have leftover meatballs and sauce, prepare the Popover Pizza with that. Don’t happen to have leftovers?  All you’ll need is a pound of ground beef, a jar of prepared spaghetti sauce and an onion. Plus a few spices like oregano – whatever you’d like.

The meat and sauce are spread on the bottom of 9′ x  13′ pan, lots of shredded mozzarella cheese is sprinkled on top, then the popover batter is poured over the mozzarella, followed by a sprinkling of shredded Parmesan.  Pop the Popover Pizza into the oven for 30 – 45 minutes, or until the the popover ‘crust’ is puffed and  lightly browned. Et voila, dinner is served.

PS  – As I type this I’m staying with two of my grandchildren while my son M. and his wife are vacationing in Spain. Yesterday I broke out my son’s copy of The Roy Family’s Favorite Recipes and made Popover Pizza.  Judging from the stains and drips on the page, it seems Popover Pizza is  big hit with the new generation of Roys as well.  Enjoy!!

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Oven at 400F         Buttered 9′ x 13′ pan            Bake for 35 – 45 minutes


  • 2 – 3 cups leftover meatballs and sauce     ++  chop meatballs into chunks
  •      Don’t have leftover meatballs and sauce?
  •                1 lb. ground beef
  •                1 small onion, chopped
  •                1 jar purchased spaghetti sauce
  •                1 /2 tsp. dried oregano, basil or Italian herbs
  • 2 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup milk     ++ Full fat or 2% is best
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 grated Parmesan cheese


Butter a 9′ x 13′ pan

– If you have leftover sauce and meatballs, spread 2 – 3 cups of sauce and chopped up meatballs on bottom pan.

– No Leftovers?  —  Fry 1 lb. ground beef and one onion, chopped, in a large skillet. Remove any fat from pan and discard.  Add one jar spaghetti sauce, some herbs, such as 1 /2 tsp. dried oregano, basil or Italian herbs –  any herbs and spices you wish.   Simmer sauce, uncovered, for 10 minutes to 15 minutes – stirring occasionally.  Spread beef and sauce mixture on bottom of pan.

Sprinkle two cups shredded Mozzarella cheese over meat and sauce.

  Popover Topping

In a medium bowl beat -on high – 1 cup milk, 2 large eggs and 1 Tbs. olive oil until foamy, about a minute.  Add 1 cup all-purpose flour and 1/2 tsp salt   Beat on high until mixture is thoroughly blended. Slowly pour batter over mozzarella cheese.  Sprinkle with 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan.

Bake at 400F for between 35- 45 minutes.  The meat and sauce with be bubbling and the popover topping should be lightly browned and puffy.  If you check and the popover topping isn’t puffy and lightly browned, just bake it a bit longer.  ++  The amount of time needed will depend upon your oven – and your pan. If using a glass pan, you will probably need the full 45 minutes simply because glass doesn’t conduct heat in the same way as metal.  (I’m making a note to myself to tell my son that!)   

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Coconut Joy Cheesecake Bars with Chocolate Wafer Crust

Coconut Joy Cheesecake Bars with Chocolate Cookie Crust -

Believe it or not, I’ve never made a cheesecake… ever!  My sister-in-law Doris makes a killer cheesecake, so I get my ‘cheesecake thrills’ whenever we’re all together.  But when I saw this recipe, I knew just had to make it.  I’m so glad I did because these cheesecake bars taste like a candy bar in cheesecake form.

My Very First Cheesecake Ever is in the oven right now.  It’s gonna be interesting to see if it comes out a bit lopsided.  The kitchen floors here in My Yellow Farmhouse are old and slant down a bit, especially right in the corner where the stove resides.  My Man of All Work (my brother-in-law Mike) did his best to level out the floor, but since I moved here I’ve never baked a cake that was absolutely level.  ++  The cheesecake actually came out level – hurrah!

I recommend baking these cheesecake bars the night before, or early in the morning of the day you plan to serve it because once the cheesecake is cooled completely, it’s refrigerated for 4 hours.  Then a simple creamy chocolatey topping is prepared using chocolate chips and Cool Whip, then toasted almonds and coconut are sprinkled on top.  Yummy!


Chocolate Wafer Crust

  • 1 ¼ cups finely crushed chocolate wafer cookies   ++   About 25 – I used Nabisco ‘Famous Chocolate Wafers. 
  • 2 Tbs. granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup melted butter

Cheesecake Filling

  • 4 packages (8 oz.) cream cheese – SOFTENED
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ tsp. vanilla  AND  ½ tsp. almond flavoring
  • ½ cup coconut milk   ++ Due to my broken ankle I accidentally ordered an Almond Milk/Coconut Milk blend to be delivered via Pea Pod …. luckily, it worked great!!
  • 4 eggs

Creamy Chocolatey Topping with Toasted Almonds and Coconut

  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips  ++  I used mini-chocolate chips.  
  • 1 (8 0z.) container of FROZEN whipped topping, such as Cool Whip
  • 2 drops almond extract
  • 1 cup flaked sweetened coconut
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds  – OR – 1/2 cup almond pieces  ++ I had whole almonds, so I put some in a food bag & ‘smacked them down’ a bit.  ; o )

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       Line a 10″ x 9″ pan with aluminum foil          Bake at 325F  for 45 minutes

Once cheesecake is fully cooked, turn off oven – leaving door open –  and let cheesecake sit in oven for 20 minutes.


In a small bowl, thoroughly mix 1 ¼ cups finely crushed chocolate waferS, 2 Tbs. granulated sugar and ¼ cup melted butter.  Using your fingers, press chocolate wafer mixture into bottom of a 13 x 9” pan, which you’ve covered with aluminum foil – edges hanging over.  ++ This will help will when removing the cheesecake bars.

In a medium bowl, using mixer, thoroughly blend 4 packages (8 oz.) SOFTENED cream cheese, 1 cup sugar, ½ tsp. vanilla  AND  ½ tsp. almond flavoring.  Slowly add in 1/2 cup coconut milk.  ++ Or.. Almond Milk/Coconut Milk Blend.  Add 4 eggs – one at a time, mixing on low until well blended.  Pour over chocolate wafer crust.

Bake at 325F for 45 minutes – or until center is almost set.  Turn off oven.  Open door and leave cheesecake in oven for 20 minutes.  ++ If you’re like me and you’ve never made a cheesecake before, you’ll be pleased to see that, after 20 minutes sitting in the still-warm oven, the center will be fully set!!  Remove cheesecake from oven, place on a cooling rack and cooled completely.   Refrigerate 4 hours – or overnight.

The Finishing Touches — microwave 2 oz. chocolate chips and 1 cup FROZEN whipped topping (such as Cool Whip) in a medium bowl – on high – for 1 minute.  Stir and heat on high for another minute.  ++ The whipped topping will melt down… don’t worry. That’s the way it should be!  Add in 2 drops almond extract. Whisk hot mixture until chocolate chips are completely melted, then mix a bit more until you get a nice dark chocolate color.  Pour over cheesecake and spread evenly. Sprinkle on  1 cup flaked coconut and 1/2 cup almond bits – or sliced almonds. Cut into squares and refrigerate until its time to serve.   Enjoy!


Coconut Joy Cheesecake Bars with Chocolate Cookie Crust -

Coconut Joy Cheesecake Bars with Chocolate Cookie Crust

A New Spin on an Old Favorite – Mushroom Ravioli Lasagna with a Light Basil & Bell Pepper Tomato Sauce

Mushroom Ravioli Lasagna - My Yellow Farmhouse

Mushroom Ravioli Lasagna  - My Yellow Farmhouse

My son Dan recently dropped by and I told him I’d made a new dish called Mushroom Ravioli Lasagna.  He wanted to try it for himself… and the first words out of his mouth were, “Why did you make so much”?  Hey, I prefer to make A LOT.  It’s just as easy to make a lot as it is too make a little.  And everyone loves leftovers, especially if you have children who seem to eat 18 hours a day.  I guess I’m still thinking like the woman who used to feed twin sons…. plus all their friends.  And now I just feed the neighbors!   ; 0 )

Mushroom Ravioli Lasagna with a Light Basil & Bell Pepper Tomato Sauce is easier, at least to me, than preparing a regular lasagna with lasagna noodles.  And the mushroom ravioli gives this Italian staple a whole new spin.  The tomato sauce has a fresh, light taste and is a cinch to prepare. I used several types of bell pepper, a bit of red onion, two cans of VERY good quality crushed tomatoes, one can of tomato sauce, some roughly chopped basil – plus salt and pepper.  Then I let the sauce simmer for about an hour, which thickened it up perfectly and allowed the flavors to meld.

While the sauce was simmering I mixed the ricotta, parmesan, eggs and fresh Italian parsley, and cooked the mushroom ravioli al dente.  All that was left to do was make the layers, which I thought was a lot of fun.  (Maybe I need to get out more, huh?)

3 - Mushroom Ravioli Lasagna - My Yellow Frmhouse 006

A few of my sister-in-laws (I have six) visited Saturday night, when I prepared this lasagna. The wine was flowing and we had a lot of fun.  Due to my broken ankle, one of them had to drain the ravioli and place the lasagna in the oven… And take it out, of course.

I hope you like this Mushroom Ravioli Lasagna with a Light Basil & Bell Pepper Tomato Sauce as much as we did.  Enjoy!

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Oven at 425 degrees F  for 45 minutes           13″ x 10″ deep casserole dish

Do NOT Cover Lasagna with Foil !    

Allow lasagna to stand for 10 minutes after removing it from the oven.



  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • ½ cup each; chopped red pepper, chopped green pepper, chopped orange pepper ++ Or any combination – to equal  1 1/2 cups.
  • ¾ cup chopped red onion
  • 2 cans (28 oz.) crushed tomatoes ++  I used Sclafani brand for the first time & was very impressed with the quality.
  • 1 (8 oz.) can tomato sauce  ++  I used Hunts – Basil, Garlic & Oregano
  • 2 Tbs. roughly chopped fresh basil
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ground fresh pepper – to taste


  • 4 cups (32 ounces) ricotta cheese
  • 1 (16 oz.) package shredded Mozzarella  ++ DIVIDED  Mix 2 1/2 cups into the ricotta mixture – the rest will be sprinkled top. 
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan (or Romano) cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 Tbs. chopped fresh flat leaf parsley (a.k.a. Italian parsley)
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 – 3/4 tsp. black pepper


  • 3 packages (9 0z.) fresh mushroom-stuffed ravioli, cooked according to package directions    ++ I used Buitoni Riserva Pasta Agnolotti Wild Mushroom, located in the refrigerator aisle of your grocery store.
  • 1 tsp. salt and 1 Tbs. olive oil in water
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil… to mix with cooked ravioli.  Helps it not to stick. (I forgot to do this…)


Add 1 Tbs. olive oil to a large stock pot or Dutch Oven.  Add ½ cup each; chopped red pepper, chopped green pepper, chopped orange pepper ++ Any combination – to equal  11/2 cups and ¾ cup chopped red onion.  Cook, stirring occasionally, over medium heat until peppers and onion begin to soften. (They’ll cook more in the oven.)

Add 2 cans (28 oz.) crushed tomatoes, 1 (8 oz.) can tomato sauce, 2 Tbs. roughly chopped fresh basil, 1 tsp tsp. salt and ground fresh pepper, to taste.  Simmer sauce, stirring occasionally, for one hour. Do NOT cover pan.  Sauce will reduce by about 1/3.

I highly  recommend using a splatter guard!

splatter guard

While sauce is simmering, prepare ricotta/mozzarella mixture.  In a medium bowl mix 4 cups (32 ounces) ricotta cheese, 2 1/2 cups shredded Mozzarella, 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, 2 eggs, 1 Tbs. chopped fresh flat leaf parsley (a.k.a. Italian parsley), 1 tsp. salt and 1/2 – 3/4 tsp. black pepper.  Set aside.


Cook al dente, according to package directions.  Drain well and mix with 2 Tbs. olive oil so the ravioli won’t stick together.  Set aside.

Putting It All Together    ++  See photos below !

In a large casserole – or 13″ x 10″ pan – spread about 1  cups tomato sauce.  Layer about 14 mushroom ravioli on top, depending upon the size of the ravioli.  Spread HALF the ricotta/mozzarella mixture on top of ravioli.  Cover with more tomato sauce. Add your second layer of ravioli, other half of ricotta/mozzarella mixture and your final layer of ravioli.  Spread remaining tomato sauce on top.

At this time you can sprinkle on the remaining shredded mozzarella BUT I suggest you wait until the lasagna has been cooking for about 25 minutes, then sprinkle on the shredded mozzarella because this helps the mozzarella to not overcook and turn brown.  Enjoy!

Mushroom Ravioli Lasagna - My Yellow Farmhouse

Dear Fellow Food Blogger – Never Quit!!

Smiley Face - with Questions

UPDATE – I heard from my friend at Cottage Grove House (formally Tiny White Cottage) and she’s going to return to blogging this summer.  As I mentioned, life just got in her way, but she’ll be back.  HURRAH !!!

Like any writer, the working life of a food blogger can be a lonely calling.  Especially for someone like me, who no longer has a family to feed. Of course, my friends and neighbors are always thrilled to accept a dessert, a casserole or some baked goods which I am unable to consume myself.  BUT – it’s always possible to host a party so your friends and family can enjoy the fruits of your labor!  And that, as will not surprise you, is my first choice!!

But, as I sometimes say, “Life gets in the way” and, as I just discovered, some of my very favorite food bloggers… people I’d come to think of as friends… no longer have the time, or inclination, to blog.

How I miss them.. How I miss being a part of their lives.  And how I miss their observations about life… and news of their lives.  We’d come to know each other. Some as they prepared for their own weddings – others as they prepared for their children’s weddings. Each and every blog was/is unique.  And, like any good friend, I want to know that they’re happy – that they’re alright.  Sure, I miss the recipes, which is, in theory, a recipe blog’s main purpose.  But more than that…. so much more than that… I miss the friendship and the sharing.

So – fellow food blogger… don’t ever think no one cares.  Never think that you and your blog will not be missed. Because that’s not true.  You may feel as if you’re throwing your most recent post out into the Big Void… that no one cares.  But you have no idea… even if you only reach a handful of people … what your blog and you sharing your life… both the good and the bad… means to others.

I just love these Matryoshka dolls (Nesting Dolls) from Russia!  They’re a bit like your grandmother saying, “Never quit”!!  

Russian Nesting Dolls

Of Spring, Outdoor Parties & a Broken Ankle

My Yellow - Tulips in Spring -2016

I just don’t do well two seasons of the year… autumn and winter – and that takes a pretty big chunk out of the year, doesn’t it?  But recently I’d been feeling energetic and full of that old spring time joy.  The garden beds were all cleaned out just waiting for the weather to warm up, all the outdoor furniture had been moved outside and washed, and the fire pit was all set for late night soirees.

Then I broke my ankle…as many of you already know.  The party went on nevertheless and was a big success.  Everyone loved the Shredded Chicken Sandwiches and the Chicken Tortellini Soup with Italian Sweet Sausage and Baby Spinach. (I’ll post both recipes soon.) My granddaughter was really happy with her birthday cake, which I posted last Saturday. And after dark the fire pit roared with searing heat thanks to a few of my pyromaniac male friends.

Tired of Thin Layer Cakes – Here’s a Trick to Fix That! Yellow Layer Cake with Mini Chocolate Chips and English Toffee Bits

Tired of Thin Layer Cakes - Here's a Trick to Fix That!  Yellow Layer Cake with Mini Chocolate Chips and English Toffee - My Yellow

I didn’t really feel encumbered until the next day when I realized how much I can NOT do on crutches, such as going outside to finish cleaning up.  In fact, I’m not able to do half of what I could manage 20 years ago when I broke my other ankle.   ; o (

Example, I put about 12 solar lights in my front garden just to see which ones worked… They’re all still out there… some shining with light after dark and the others… just kind of sitting there…

To the rescue – my trusty little rented scooter. And mine has a basket!!

scooter for broken legs

I love new conveniences like my little scooter – and being able to order groceries online and have them delivered – hurrah!  Tomorrow between 10:00 and 12:00 the Pea Pod truck will be pulling into the driveway here at my old yellow farmhouse and lots of wonderful food items will issue forth. I’m sooo happy!!  Me and my little scooter are gonna get busy preparing and posting two recipes this coming week – Coconut Joy Cheesecake Cake Bars – and – Mushroom Ravioli Lasagna with Creamy Tomato Sauce.  At least that’s the plan.  As we know, life sometimes gets in the way!

My Yellow - Tulips in Spring -2016


Tired of Thin Layer Cakes – Here’s a Trick to Fix That! Yellow Layer Cake with Mini Chocolate Chips and English Toffee Bits

Tired of Thin Layer Cakes - Here's a Trick to Fix That!  Yellow Layer Cake with Mini Chocolate Chips and English Toffee - My Yellow

I don’t know about other parts of the world, but the cake mixes in the States have been getting smaller and smaller – which is so wrong.  I’d rather pay a bit more and have a nice, fat layer cake..  We have no control over what the stupid cake mix companies do, but luckily there’s a few things you can add to be sure your layer cakes come out bigger.  (You may decide it’s just easier to make a cake from scratch – and that works too!)

BREAKING DEVELOPMENT  – –  I broke my ankle last night… Not a bad break, luckily, but still inconvenient.  And – get this – I’m having a party today because one of my twin sons and his family will be visiting from the Philadelphia area.

I’ve been cooking, and cleaning, for the last few days. Yesterday my other son and I put out all the outdoor furniture… and dragged out all the cushions and lanterns etc.  I was so pleased when I finished washing the final table and chairs… But cruel fate intervened… As I stepped down from our deck (to dump out the bucket of water) my foot caught on a huge, thick stepping stone… Over I went, like Jill of Jack & Jill fame, bucket, gloves and sponges flying all over.

And I heard my ankle break.  I crawled to where I thought I’d left my phone…. then remembered I’d brought it to the porch… so I crawled some more.  In any event, my brother-in-law and a neighbor got in me the car… but not until I directed them to find my comb, get my make-up kit and bring me clean clothes.  Being men… they started getting impatient – but I was married for almost 40 years… so I’m used to it!

Luckily, the cake (which is for my granddaughter’s birthday) was baked before I fell – so I got up early this morning so I could frost it and post the recipe.   ; o )

UPDATE — My Granddaughter was very happy with her birthday cake.  And the party was a great success as well !!

small red heart

Directions for a ‘Bigger and Better’ Layer Cake with Mini Chocolate Chips and English Toffee Bits  

Oven at 350F        Bake for 30 – 35 minutes      Two greased 9” round cake pans

Dry Ingredients for ‘Add-In’ Batter

  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar or granulated sugar   ++  I used brown
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 pinches salt

In a medium bowl mix together flour, sugar baking powder and salt with a fork

Liquid Ingredients for ‘Add-In’ Batter

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1 egg

Add liquid ingredients to dry ingredients. Beat with mixer for about 30 seconds until well blended.  Set bowl aside.

  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup English Toffee Bits  ++  I used ‘Heath’ Brand 
  • 1 Tbs. all purpose flour

Mix 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips, 1/2 cup English Toffee Bits and 1 Tbs. flour in a small bowl.  Set aside.

  • 1 yellow cake mix, prepared according to package directions    ++  I used Duncan Hines Butter Yellow – ‘Classic’

Once cake mix is prepared, pour in ‘Add-On’ batter.  Beat with mixer for about 30 seconds until well blended.  Gently mix in mini chocolate chips, English Toffee Pieces and flour mixture.

Divide batter equally between two greased 9” round cake pans.  Bake at 350F for 30 – 35 minutes – or until toothpick or sharp knife inserted in center comes out clean.   ++  Because of the ‘Add-In’ batter, your layers may take 3 – 5 minutes more time than usual.  

Cool cakes on wire rack for 15 minutes. Remove cake from pans and cool completely before frosting.

Due to my broken ankle – and the fact that I have no crutches because the ER ran out of ‘short people crutches’, I frosted my cake with purchased frosting BUT soon I’ll post my recipe for a really delicious homemade chocolate frosting ‘to die for’.   Enjoy!!

P.S.  My son who lives locally is arriving in a few minutes with some crutches – HURRAH!! And I am not cancelling the party …however, I won’t be the one bringing out trays of food.. not for several weeks.

1 - Morgan's Birthday Cake - My Yellow Farmhouse

Add-In Batter – Ready to Go

2 - Morgan's Birthday Cake - My Yellow Farmhouse

Add-In Batter & Cake Mix Batter Mixed – Chocolate Chips and English Toffee Added

3 = Morgan's Birthday Cake - My Yellow Farmhouse

Divide Batter Equally Between 2 Greased 9″ Pans

Morgan's birthday cake - My Yellow Farmhouse

I Like to Level the Layers Using a Sharp Knife

Tired of Thin Layer Cakes - Here's a Trick to Fix That!  Yellow Layer Cake with Mini Chocolate Chips and English Toffee - My Yellow 


Parmesan and Basil Spiral Dinner Rolls – Short on Time? Buy Prepared Dough!

Parmesan and Basil Dinner Rolls - (8)

Parmesan and Basil Dinner Rolls - (6)

Parmesan and Basil Dinner Rolls would be a delicious addition to any meal but, at least for me, these babies are the perfect accompaniment for spaghetti and meatballs or lasagna … actually, pretty much anything Italian.

I used my bread machine, which makes a 2 lb. loaf, to prepare the dough for these rolls. Since I only needed half the dough to make 12 rolls, I used the rest to bake a loaf of bread. Of course, you could use the dough to prepare 24 Parmesan and Basil Rolls instead of 12!

Yesterday I lost a life-long friend to pancreatic cancer.  Angela adored bread, in any form.  My dear friend, I dedicate today’s post to you. And I like to imagine you and your mom busy preparing the best lasagna heaven has ever seen.

small red heart

++  You can purchase 1 lb. of bread dough, prepare the dough the ‘old fashioned way’ or use a bread machine, set on the ‘dough’ setting – it’s up to you.

This bread machine recipe makes a 2 lb. loaf.  One lb. makes 12 rolls plus one bread.  Or, if you chose, you could make 24 ‘Parmesan and Basil Rolls’.  For 24 rolls, you’ll need two 8 1/2″ – 9″ round cake pans.


  • 1 ¼ cup lukewarm milk
  • ¼ cup lukewarm water
  • 2 Tbs. butter or olive oil
  • 4 cups bread flour
  • 1 Tbs. AND 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 ¼ tsp. bread machine (quick rise) yeast

Add ingredients and set bread machine for ‘dough’.  Should take about 2 hours.


  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 Tbs. softened butter
  • 2 Tbs. mayonnaise
  • ¼ tsp. dried Italian seasonings – or oregano
  • ¾ tsp. minced fresh basil leaves
  • 2 – 3 fresh garlic cloves, crushed     OPTIONAL


  • 1 heaping Tbs. grated Parmesan


Oven at 375F      8 1/2″ to 9″ round cake pan     Bake rolls for approximately 25 minutes

Mix 1/4 cup grated Parmesan, 2 Tbs. softened butter, 2 Tbs. mayonnaise and herbs in a small bowl.  Set aside.

On a lightly floured surface, roll 1 lb. (16 oz.) bread dough into a 12” by 14” rectangle.

+  If using frozen bread dough, allow it to thaw and warm up a bit so dough will be easier to roll.

 ++  Dough may have the tendency to spring back – just let it rest for a minute and then ‘give it another go’.  Also, don’t be afraid to take a bit of dough from one place and stick it onto another place in order to get the rectangular shape.  

Spread Parmesan/butter/mayonnaise/spice mixture evenly on the 12″ x 14″ rectangle.  ++ I like to drop small amounts all over – I think it makes it easier to spread the filling.

Starting at the 12” end, roll up dough and cut into 12 equal sections.

Place sections in an 8½” to 9” round cake pan.  (Pan does NOT have to be greased.)  Cover pan with a dish (tea) towel and allow dough to rise until almost double – between 40 minutes to over an hour.

++  I recommend placing the dough in the oven to rise, and I place a 10” x 13” pan filled with hot water on the lowest shelf because the hot water helps the dough rise evenly – and usually faster.  

Once rolls are risen, remove from oven and set oven temperature to 375F.Bake rolls for 20 minutes – remove from oven and sprinkle on 1 heaping Tbs. grated Parmesan.  Bake 4 – 5 minutes more.

Allow rolls to cool for a minute or two, then remove from pan with a spatula.  Enjoy! 

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