Light Pumpkin Cake w/ Cream Cheese Frosting


My good friend gave me a subscription to “Cooking Light” magazine this year, and I have enjoyed combing through all of the light recipes inside each edition.

In the November issue, I spotted this recipe from a woman in Eagle, Idaho (A  quick SHOUT OUT to my Idaho friends!)  for a Frosted Pumpkin Cake.

Autumn brings with it a craving for all things pumpkin and spice.  Throw in a light cream cheese frosting and I’m all over it.

Still, if I’m being honest, I worried about a low  fat cake.  At least it wasn’t non-fat, and the recipe looked like it had all the necessities needed to meet my yum factor.

So, it is my pleasure to share with you, the lower in fat,  Pumpkin Cake.

I rate this cake a 4 out of 4 stars.  I’m rating it as a “light” cake.  I can’t really say this is a 4 out of 4 star cake in the same way I would rate a Hummingbird Cake, because lets face it, it’s not a Hummingbird Cake.   Hummingbird Cake rates a 10 out of 4 out of 4 stars 🙂

Seriously, I think this is a fabulous cake.  It has the flavor of autumn, it’s dense and moist–all the more reasons to bake her up!


Frosted Pumpkin Cake

Adapted from November’s Cooking Light Magazine


  • 10.1 oz all purpose flour (2.25 cups)
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon ( I used more)
  • 1/8 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 15 oz can pumpkin puree (Pure–check ingredients)
  • Cooking spray


  • 2 tbsp butter, softened
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 8 oz package 1/3 less fat cream cheese
  • 2 cups sifted powdered sugar

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. To prepare cake, weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuirng cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon, other spices,and salt in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk.
  3. Combine brown sugar, 1/4 cup butter, and 1 tsp vanilla in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well combined. Add eggs, 1 at a time, to sugar mixture, beat well after each addition. Add pumpkin puree; mix well. Fold in flour mixture. Spread batter into a 13×9 inch baking ban coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350 degrees for 20- 25 minutes or until wooden pick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool completely in pan on a wire rack.
  4. To prepare frosting, combine 2 tbsp butter, 1/2 tsp vanilla, and cream cheese in a medium bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until combined. Gradually add the powdered sugar, beating until well combined. Spread frosting evenly over top of cake. 

Yields 24 servings; serving size: 1 piece

Calories  178, Fat 5.5, Protein  3 g, Carb  30 g, Fiber  .09, Chol 32 mg, Iron 1.2mg, Sodium 135 mg, Calc 62 mg


Chocolate Birthday Cake with Buttercream Frosting


Finding  for the perfect chocolate birthday cake has always been a challenge for me.  There are so many chocolate cake recipes that I can quickly feel overwhelmed.  For her 66th birthday, my mother requested a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting .

Flour-less chocolate cakes are all the rage, and although I’m quite fond of the dark fudge-like cake, it is simply too much for a birthday cake.   Then there are the “too dry” chocolate cakes, the “not chocolate enough” chocolate cakes, the “too crumbly”, etc.

I think Grand Central Bakery’s cookbook nailed the chocolate birthday cake!  I opted not to use the ganache frosting, and found an easy buttercream frosting  that wouldn’t take over the very chocolatey cake.


Let me start with a warning here:  This cake is HUGE! The layers are so thick it looked like a three layer cake.  I don’t know about you, but I think more chocolate is always a good thing!

You can easily split each layer into two layers to make a 4 layered filled cake.  I simply used the two layers and layered with buttercream.

Chocolate Birthday Cake

Adapted from “The Grand Central Baking Book”


4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, broken into chunks

4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, broken into chunks

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder ( i use Dagoba)

1 Tbsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup  (8 ounces or 2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 1/4 cups packed light brown sugar (1 pound)

6 eggs, at room temperature

1 Tbsp vanilla extract

2 cups (16 ounces) buttermilk, at room temperature

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease or flour two 9″ cake pans and line bottoms with parchment paper.

Melt semi sweetened and unsweetened chocolate chunks in a double boiler”lower pan filled with an inch of lightly simmering water.  Set aside melted chocolate and cool slightly.

Combine the dry ingredients.  Sift flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt into bowl.

Cream teh butter and sugar.  Using a standing mixer with paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar on med-high for 3-4 minutes, until light and fluffy, scrape bottom and sides of bowl with spatula to evenly incorporate the butter.

Add the eggs into a liquid measuring cup with the vanilla.  Mix on low speed, slowly pour in the eggs, let fall one at a time making sure each egg is incorporated before adding the next.

Add the melted chocolate all at once and mix on low speed until slightly combined.  It isn’t important to fully incorporate at this point.

Alternate additions of dry ingredients and buttermilk.  With mixer on low add one-third of the dry ingredients, then half the buttermilk, mixing just till combined after each addition.  repeat using half of the main dry ingredients, and the remaining buttermilk.  Add the remaining dry ingredients and stop the mixer before they’re fully incorporated.  Finish mixing by hand using a sturdy spatula.


Divide the batter evenly between the two prepared pans.  Run a paring knife through the batter in one smooth motion-onei nch from the edge of the pan.

Bake 30 minutes, then rotate the pans (carefully) and lower the temperature to 325 degrees and bake 25-30 minutes more.  Check with wooden skewer for doneness.  Skewer should have a few crumbs sticking to it but no gooey batter.

Let cakes cool for 15 minutes before turning them out of their pans.  Wait until completely cool before splitting or frosting.

EASY Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

Adapted from Viet World Kitchen

Makes enough for a 9-inch 2-layer cake or the equivalent

1 3/4 – 2  sticks  unsalted butter, softened
4 1/2- 5 cups powdered sugar
1 cup dark cocoa powder (use a good quality cocoa)
2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Approx.  7-8 Tablespoons heavy cream

Put the butter into a mixing bowl and sift 2/3 of the powdered sugar and 1/2 c cocoa powder into the  mixer bowl.  Mix at low speed till crumbly.  When crumbly, sift the remaining powdered sugar and cocoa into the bowl. Continue creaming the ingredients.

Once combined – it’s fine of the mixture is crumbly and dry looking – add the vanilla and cream. Increase the mixer speed to medium and then medium high to create a fluffy and darkly colored frosting. Pause to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Taste and add extra sugar if more sweetness is needed. The chocolate flavors will deepen as it sits. Add more cream to make a soft, spreadable frosting. Use immediately or transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 2 days. Return to room temperature before using.


Sorry for the wrinkly frosting–I didn’t get around to photographing a slice until the next morning when I removed the saran wrap and had a slice for breakfast 🙂

Pollo con Cipolle e Aceto (Chicken with Onions and Vinegar)


This is my new favorite chicken dish.  I’ve raved over the years about my favorite cookbook in the entire world, “Cooking with Grace” by Grace Pilato, and once again I’ve found a treasure hidden in this wonderful book.

I think the name of the dish turned me off, and I was a bit frightened by the amount of vinegar.  One day I was thinking about a chicken dish I had been served by my Italian grandmother, and suddenly it occurred to me that it had a bit of vinegar.  I decided to go for Grace’s recipe, and am I ever happy I did.  It was different and– dare I say—better than the chicken I had remembered–this is good old Italian fried chicken with a huge kick!

I’ve made it twice now, and I’ll be making it again very soon.  I have served it with potatoes and with rice, I like it both ways.

Click below for recipe and more…

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Canning More Goodies

I LOVE apples!


Homemade applesauce is just plain yummy!  I make mine with cinnamon and brown sugar.

It’s a very simple process.

Here is how I do it.  Keeping in mind sweetness is individual taste–I add about 1/2 cup brown sugar and then increase as needed.

Angelnina’s Homemade Chunky Applesauce

About 15 apples–I used a mixture of gala and golden delicious

approx. 1/2 c to 1 cup brown sugar–more if you prefer

1-2 tsp cinnamon-you can drop in a cinnamon stick or two if you’d like

fresh nutmeg grated

1/8 tsp ground cloves–more if you’d like

small piece of lemon peel (opt)

Peel and core your apples, then chop them into large chunks.

Throw the quartered apples  into a large pot–they’ll cook way down.   Add the apple cider or water.  Cook and stir on medium or medium low heat, until apples become very soft–then mash with potato masher.   I keep mine chunky, so I do not strain.   I do remove the lemon peel piece (if I use it) and make sure the cinnamon sticks are taken out after cooking.

After they are softened, I add the sugar, cinnamon, and other spices to taste.  Taste for sweetness.

Keep stirring until most of the liquid is cooked out.

In the meantime, have sterilized canning jars (I filled 4 pints) at the ready to can water bath style.

Fill jars, leaving 1/2″ head space.  Place new lids on and bands–Process in your water bath canner for 20 minutes. Any  jars that do not seal, can be kept in the fridge.

NOTE: If you’ve never canned before, I  recommend reading the Ball Canning Recipe Book.  Follow instructions closely for safety purposes.

Next I made grape jelly out of my green grapes!


In order to avoid arm wrestling the squirrels and raccoons, I decided to pick all of my grapes and put them to use.

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Pickled Peck of Jalapeno Peppers


Remember the chile peppers from my last blog?    Well, I gathered up 2 pounds–I threw in a few cayenne to make it an even 2 pounds–and decided to pickle them.

Jalapenos can be green or red, or somewhere in between.  The red ones have simply ripened longer.

I highly recommending wearing gloves when working with hot chiles.  I used to think gloves were for scaredy cats–that is until I burned my fingers when I got hold of the hottest chile pepper north of  the Mexican border.

True story–I had white blisters under my fingernails!   Who knew blisters under finger nails are so painful they can keep you up at night?


Pickling liquid


Water Bath Canner (You can find these at most thrift shops!)


Pickled Jalapenos!

This is such a simple process.  I’ll be adding pickled peppers to my canning list every year now!

These are  HOT HOT HOT !

Mark used a few in chili last night, and they are just right!  Flavorful and spicy little chiles.

I found a wonderful recipe for Pickled Jalapeno Peppers.


2 lbs jalapenos, washed, and stems removed (most of my peppers were red off the vine)

2 cups vinegar ( I used white)

2 cups water

1/2 cup olive oil

2 tsp Kosher salt

2 tsp pickling spices

I like to cut a slit down the side of each pepper.

Next, pack your prepared peppers into the jar-leaving about 1-2″ from top

Bring remaining ingredients to a boil over med high heat-stirring to dissolve salt.

Pour boiling sauce over peppers–leaving at least 1/2″ head space

Place lids on and screw on bands tightly

Process in boiling water bath for 20 minutes

Remove bands when cool (I don’t)

Make sure jars seal, those that do not should be refrigerated immediatey.

Store several weeks before use.  (You can use them at any time, but they are more “pickled” weeks later)

Recipe says it makes 3 pints,  but I ended up with 4 pints 🙂

NOTE: If you’ve never canned before, I  recommend reading the Ball Canning Recipe Book.  Follow instructions closely for safety purposes.

A Trip to the Country

My husband and I finally managed  to squeeze in a mini-adventure.   Fear and the recession made us think twice about spending money on vacations or mini-trips.  We decided to throw caution to the wind and give ourselves a much needed break.

We headed to Eastern Washington to spend a few nights outside of a little mountainside town– Leavenworth–Washington’s own little Bavarian village.

I love this town.  I especially love visiting in autumn, as Eastern Washington is the Apple Capital of America.

viewdeckABOVE: Our balcony view


ABOVE: We were surrounded by an apple and pear orchard

We found a little roadside stand off the beaten trails.  A farmer offers–on the honor system!–all sorts of fruits and vegetables for 50 cents a pound.  I don’t know about you, but 50 cents a pound is too difficult for me to pass up.  Mark and I filled our trunk with an assortment of apples, pears, and peppers.  We also visited a farmer’s market and bought fresh watermelon and cantaloupe.



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