Pineapple Cherry Dump Cake -Guest Post from Jodi Ambrose

Can you believe Labor Day is just three days away? I can’t even believe school started already, much less Fall is right around the corner. Ugh, just about the only thing I like about fall is pumpkin. Never mind, forget that, let’s talk about Labor Day cookouts! A few days ago my friend Jodi shared her mom’s recipe for Macaroni Salad here, and she’s back today with another recipe. I have to admit I’ve never made a dump cake in my life, but this sounds good and REALLY easy! I would love it if you would check out Jodi on Jodi Ambrose Blog but I have to warn you, she’s kind of racy, and funny! She’s not a food writer, either, well minus the fact that she wrote a  cookbook ;). That two of my recipes are in, and I love the title of, Darn Good Eats: The Cookbook for Creative Chefs and Reluctant Cooks. Randomly, most days I’m both! I’ll leave you to Jodi now, enjoy!



Those of you who know me, know that while I have a million great recipes, most of them are too complicated for me to make—so I rely on the hubby to cook them.

Alas, this one even I can make. Anyone could make it. I mean that seriously. If you blindfolded yourself and tied one hand behind your back, and had 4 shots of vodka, you could still easily make this and not mess it up. Hence why it is the perfect recipe for me!

Again, this is one of mom’s recipes. She’s always been the most amazing cook so I’ve pilfered quite a few from her over the years.

I hope you love this as much as I do.

Mom’s Pineapple Cherry Dump Cake

(Though it should be called “Goodies swamped in butter” as that may be a more accurate title!)



Pineapple Cherry Dump Cake

Image credit Tammille Tips

The list of yum yums:

One 18- to 20-ounce can of cherry pie filling—the extra cherry kind if possible
1 – 1½ sticks of butter
One 20-ounce can of un-drained pineapple rings
1 box of yellow cake mix

Dumping it all together:
Preheat the oven to 350 °F.
Butter the bottom and sides of a 9×13 glass dish.
Place a single layer of pineapple rings on the bottom of the dish and pour the juice over the pineapple.
Pour the can of cherry pie filling on top of the pineapple and spread so the cherries are distributed evenly.
Pour the dry yellow cake mix over the pineapple and cherries and level it out. Don’t mash the cake mix, just gently level it out and make sure it’s evenly dispersed.
The take a stick or stick and a half of butter, slice it into 1/8-inch thick slices and put it over the entire cake top about an inch apart.
Bake at 350 °F for about an hour or until the top is crispy brown.

I can’t even begin to describe how tasty this cake is. And seriously, have you ever read an easier cake recipe? It’s even easier than boxed cake. I would serve this cake to a chef. A president. A Nobel Prize winner. There is no shame in serving this cake to anyone and everyone. It may have taken you 3 minutes to make it, but no one would ever guess that in a million years. It is absolutely fantastic.
I hope you love these two recipes. They’ve been staples in my home for many decades and are always crowd favorites. Plus, they are super easy and don’t take much time, which gives you just that much more of your weekend to enjoy spending with friends.
One final thing: A HUGE, heartfelt thanks to Bernadette for inviting me to write a guest post for her amazing blog! I love her recipes and her! She’s always such a bright spot for me and I’ve made quite a few of her delicious concoctions (well, the hubby has made most of them!) and have loved each and every one of them.
I’m delighted to be able to share two of my favorite family recipes with her wonderful readers.
Take care and enjoy the yum yums!
Jodi Ambrose

DISCLAIMER: This recipe is credited to Jodi Ambrose (and her mom, of course!). The photo is credited to Tammilee Tips due to Jodi’s camera not working. Rants From My Crazy Kitchen makes no claim to the photo. 

Slow Cooker Broccoli Au Gratin

I was invited to guest post on my friend Christina’s blog, It’s A Keeper, for her Slow Cooker Summer Series!


Slow Cookin Summer: Easy Recipes for a Slow Cooker on It's a Keeper


With all the produce I’ve been getting from my CSA, I decided I should try Broccoli Au Gratin, but I couldn’t find one single recipe for it made in the slow cooker anywhere. Not in cookbooks, Google search, Pinterest, nowhere, and to be completely honest, I had never even made it in the oven like normal. So, I invented it!!



I would love for you to head over and check out my post, and while you’re there, check out all the other great slow cooker recipes that were shared this summer! You can find my post by clicking here> Slow Cooker Broccoli Au Gratin and I’ll be back twice more this week for the final week of #BaconMonth, I can’t wait for you to see what I made tonight!

Mom’s Macaroni Salad -Guest Post From Jodi Ambrose

Well, my daughter started Kindergarten yesterday, and I have a little announcement to make. For now, I’ve decided not to go back to work outside of home full time, but instead I am going to be food blogging/recipe developing full time! This means lots of new recipes to share with all of you in the coming months! But first, I have to get myself into a schedule and there isn’t any school on Friday or Monday for Labor Day and next week I desperately need to audit myself. You see, I’ve been making some money from sponsored posts and the ads on this blog this year, but I have done a horrible job of keeping track of what I made from where and what I spent where! I am extremely grateful for my guest poster this week, Jodi Ambrose, she’s has brought two recipes to share with you this week! Jodi isn’t a food blogger, we “met” through our blogs, I think her’s is fabulous! Check out Jodi Ambrose Blog. Then she wrote a cookbook and asked me to contribute, which was great! Today she is sharing her mom’s macaroni salad recipe, and it sounds fabulous! Here’s Jodi.


With Labor Day less than a week away, I thought I’d share with you my two easiest-to-make foods that go great with whatever you might be throwing on the grill.
The first is the absolute, hands-down best macaroni salad I’ve ever eaten. It’s mom’s recipe and I’ve enjoyed it every summer since I was a little girl.
One of my favorite things about this salad is that it doesn’t have a bunch of weird junk in it. I think sometimes people get so obsessed with making food all fancy and complicated that they lose sight of what makes it taste so good—simplicity.
This salad has a clean, crisp, summer taste to it. It is one of my all-time favorite things to eat while sitting in the backyard and watching the chickens play as the sun goes down.

Mom’s Macaroni Salad


macaroni salad

 Image credit Gourmet Kosher Cooking  

Stuff you’ll need:
1 one-pound box of elbow macaroni
½ – 1 green pepper
4 good-sized tomatoes
1 large cucumber
½ – 1 medium-sized, sweet onion, depending on how onion-y you like stuff. Don’t use a yellow or red, they are way too potent—look on the label of the onion for the word “sweet”. If you can’t find a sweet onion, look for the flattest, squished looking onion you can find. As the produce wizard at the store shared with me, the flat onions are sweeter than the round ones, so go with that if you need to.
¾ – 1 cup of mayonnaise* (maybe more)
Salt and pepper, to taste
*I use Kraft Mayo with Olive Oil™ as I can’t tell the difference between it and regular mayo, but it has way fewer calories and less fat than the regular kind.

Putting it all together:
1. Cook the macaroni according to the directions on the box.
2. Once it’s cooked (don’t overcook it) dump it into a colander and thoroughly rinse it with cool water.
3. Empty the macaroni into a large bowl.
4. Cut the tomatoes into small, bite-sized pieces and add to the bowl.
5. Peel the cucumber and cut into small, bite-sized pieces and add to the bowl.
6. Cut the green pepper into large chunks (I do this because I don’t want to bite down on a piece of green pepper, so keeping the chunks large helps me avoid actually eating one, but it does add a nice flavor to the salad—you can cut it any way you want) and add to the bowl.
7. Dice the onion into very small pieces (you don’t want any big bites of onion either, but you do actually want onion in your mouth) and add to the bowl.
8. Add about 1/2 the mayonnaise and stir. Continue to add the mayo until it’s got enough for you. Some people like tons of it, some people don’t.
9. Add salt and pepper. Taste it. Add more salt and pepper as necessary.
10. Refrigerate for at least a couple of hours so everything has time to chill. If you can, refrigerate it overnight. It is at its absolute best on the second day.
11. Before serving, make sure to stir and taste-test it one more time to make sure it has enough salt. It will be bland if it doesn’t have enough salt.

You can also find Jodi here, you might want to order her cookbook!


DISCLAIMER: This recipe is credited to Jodi Ambrose (and her mom, of course!). The photo is credited to Gourmet Kosher Cooking due to Jodi’s camera not working. Rants From My Crazy Kitchen makes no claim to the photo. 

Kool-Aid Ice Cream -Guest Post from Cooking From A SAHM

Summer as a kid was always filled with ice cream treats, and my favorite thing in the world was the ice cream truck. As a grown-up I don’t eat it even half as much as I used to, my daughter gets it at her grandmother’s, and the ice cream truck I grew up with is long gone. So, I am so happy that my foodie friend brought an ice cream treat you can make that your kids are sure to enjoy!

Hello Everyone,
This is Alyssa from Cooking From A SAHM. I’m here guest posting for Bernadette as she is spending summer with her kiddo and husband. I’m a mom to two kiddos and I’m also a blogger. I hope you enjoy this nice, easy recipe that even kids will love.  Start early as this takes 6 hours!!!

 Kool-aid Ice Cream

 2 Cups Heavy Whipping Cream

1 can of Condensed Sweetened Milk

1 Packet of orange kool-aid

1 T Vanilla

In a mixer bowl pour in your heavy whipping cream. Turn it on high and mix for 4-5 minutes till it makes a stiff peak. In another bowl mix your milk, kool-aid and vanilla. Whisk. Once your heavy cream is ready then you need to fold in the milk orange mixture. Once its folded in and mixed up pour it into a freezable container. I bought mine from the dollar tree.

Swirled Cherry Almond Pops -Guest Post from My Imperfect Kitchen

I can’t believe we are at the end of July already! My summer so far has been filled with gardening, swimming with my daughter, having her best friend here and watching them play (and fight) together, and a small issue with our pool which eventually caused us to have to drain and refill it. Being outside most of the summer, these Swirled Cherry Almond Pops from today’s guest, Sara from My Imperfect Kitchen, make a perfect treat!

You might remember Sara since we have guest posted for each other before, and her Philly Cheese Steak Stuffed Bell Peppers was one of the most popular guest posts of last summer. I think you will enjoy these pops just as much! Here’s Sara!

Hello everyone!  My name is Sara and I blog over at “My Imperfect Kitchen.” My motto is “Life isn’t perfect, but it should always be delicious!”  I want to thank Bernadette for allowing me the opportunity to share with you this week. It’s been pretty hot where I live lately and when it’s sweltering outside, there is nothing I like better than reaching inside the freezer for a cold treat. Of course, I like standing in front of the open freezer door too, but I think that has something to do with my age, more than the heat  ;-)  Anyway….now that you know more about me than you wanted,  here are my Swirled Cherry Almond Pops!
These pops are simple, delicious, and healthy. You probably have everything you need in your house right now! A great thing about these popsicles (aside from opening the freezer to get them!) is that they are incredibly versatile. You can use almost any type of fruit and switch the almond extract for vanilla extract, or leave it out! The honey gives you a little bit of sweet to balance the tart of the plain yogurt. Since the ingredients are simple, you can feel great giving these to your kids!


I’ve made these pops with blueberries and almond extract, strawberries with vanilla extract, peaches with vanilla extract and mango with coconut extract!  They’re all delicious!  You’ll have to let me know which ones are your favorite!

Swirled Cherry Almond Pops

2 cups fresh cherries, pitted. (alternately, you could use a 16 oz bag of frozen cherries that have been defrosted)

1 cup plain yogurt

2 TBLS honey

1/4 tsp almond extract

1. Place pitted cherries in a food processor or blender. Process until smooth, about 1 minute.

2. In a small bowl, combine the yogurt, honey and almond extract. Stir with a spoon until fully incorporated.

3. Pour a portion of the cherry puree into the bottom of the popsicle molds. Then, pour some of the yogurt honey mix on top. Repeat the process until the molds are full and you have nice layers of cherries and the yogurt mix. Lightly swirl the cherry puree and the yogurt together with a plastic chopstick or the handle of a plastic spoon, or just leave them in layers. I like to swirl mine because they look prettier in the pictures. HA!

4. Place the popsicle sticks inside the molds. Transfer to the freezer for at least 4 – 6 hours.

NOTE: To remove from the popsicles from their molds, pour warm water briefly over the outside of the molds and gently pull on the popsicle stick so it will release.





Still hungry?  Follow my adventures:
On Twitter and Instagram: @MyImpKitch

Printable recipe:

Swirled Cherry Almond Pops
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Delicious ice pops perfect for hot summer days!
Recipe type: Dessert/Snack
Serves: makes 3 6 ounce pops
  • 2 cups fresh cherries, pitted. (alternately, you could use a 16 oz bag of frozen cherries that have been defrosted)
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 2 TBLS honey
  • ¼ tsp almond extract
  1. Place pitted cherries in a food processor or blender. Process until smooth, about 1 minute.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the yogurt, honey and almond extract. Stir with a spoon until fully incorporated.
  3. Pour a portion of the cherry puree into the bottom of the popsicle molds. Then, pour some of the yogurt honey mix on top. Repeat the process until the molds are full and you have nice layers of cherries and the yogurt mix. Lightly swirl the cherry puree and the yogurt together with a plastic chopstick or the handle of a plastic spoon, or just leave them in layers.
  4. Place the popsicle sticks inside the molds. Transfer to the freezer for at least 4 - 6 hours.
  5. NOTE: To remove from the popsicles from their molds, pour warm water briefly over the outside of the molds and gently pull on the popsicle stick so it will release.


Overnight Oatmeal: Reusing Peanut Butter Jars -Guest Post from This Is How We Nerd



I haven’t been blogging much this summer, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have some cool things going on behind the scene. I joined a CSA (community supported agriculture) run by Fertile Grounds last week, so I’m cooking with local, fresh produce! I was also accepted to be a beta tester for Chef Watson! Remember the computer Watson from Jeopardy!  a few years ago? That Watson! More on both in the coming weeks, because today I have a great overnight oatmeal recipe for you thanks to Samantha from This Is How We Nerd. I only know Samantha from a blogging group we both belong to, and she accepted my request for summer guest posters. Just one look at her site, and I found something fabulous, Shrimp and Bacon Stuffed Jalapeno Poppers!! Adding those to my “recipes to try” list right now! And today’s recipe sounds quick and easy, so without further ado, here’s Samantha:


Hi there “Rants From My Crazy Kitchen” readers!! My name is Samantha and I am over at “This Is How We Nerd” (previously Custom Taste). Where I not only blog about recipes and food, but also technology, frugality, gaming and everything in-between. I hope you’ll come visit me sometime. Today I am lending my kitchen to Bernadette for a fun, easy and frugal recipe! Hope you all enjoy!

Overnight Oatmeal: Reusing Peanut Butter Jars

We buy a lot of peanut butter in our home, like A LOT, and it can get pretty annoying when you get the majority of it last but have the pesky sides just slathered in peanut butter. Instead of spending time scraping the remains out, make Overnight Oatmeal! You can find tons of recipes out on the interwebs (pinterest being covered in them), the one I have today is very simple and can be easily altered before leaving it overnight for the next morning. Also, these can stay in your fridge for up to 5 days. So make them on one night and have them for the rest of the week!

So, first things first, round up your ingredients.




You will need;

Slightly empty peanut butter jars (of course)

Oats (rolled, steel cut, or both)

Milk (I use almond milk because I do not like the taste of animal milks)

Vanilla Extract

Oldish Banana

Raisins (optional)

Anything else you may desire.

Depending on how many jars you are wanting to make you may need more or less of the ingredients. For one standard sized peanut butter jar I used about ¾ cup of milk, ¼ of a banana, ½ cup oats, 1 tsp vanilla and sprinkle of raisins.

Start by mashing up your banana and mixing with the vanilla extract and milk.




Pour about half of this mixture into the bottom of the jar.

Sprinkle in half your raisins and then add all of the oats.

Pour remaining liquid mixture on top, screw on cap and place into fridge.

That is it!  Told you it was super easy peasy. No shaking or stirring required.

When grabbing your jar for breakfast, do give a little bit of a mix just so you aren’t eating everything separately. I also like to add cinnamon as well for extra oopmh.


Thanks so much for reading, I hope you all will enjoy my recipe and thanks to Bernadette for letting me guest post!

Bye everyone!


Blueberries N Cream Roll Cake – Guest post from It’s Yummi


Isn’t that a gorgeous cake? I’m so happy my friend Becca brought a blueberry dish to share with you today! I’ve had a blueberry bush in my garden for a few years now and have yet to see one blueberry. Maybe next year. Before I hand you off to Becca for the Blueberries N Cream Roll Cake, I want to publicly say Happy Birthday to my daughter, Amanda, who turned 5 on Sunday! We had a cookout for her birthday party, along with swimming and a small fireworks display at the end.

Here she is with her best friend, Jordyn, getting a chalk outline from my sister:



I know she had a great day, and she was thrilled that Jordyn got to sleep over. They always have a great time together, in between the typical 5 year old fighting. They will get over it someday, I think.

Today’s guest post, like I mentioned, comes from my friend Becca. Becca has always been there for me, I’ve been following her blog for a few years now, and I’m so glad we got to know each other! She posts more healthy recipes than I do, and if you need some low-carb recipes she’s your lady. That doesn’t mean she can’t make an awesome dessert, though. I’m sure you will agree!



​Hi, everyone! I’m so happy to be here with all of you today. I’m Chef Becca Heflin, from It’s Yummi. I graduated from culinary school 3 years ago, but instead of slaving over a hot commercial kitchen in a restaurant, I chose to pursue my passion for turning ordinary ingredients into extraordinary dishes on a my food blog! I love sharing my cooking knowledge and recipes with my readers. It’s a delightful job, and I feel blessed to have it! It was so nice of Bernadette to ask me to share a dessert recipe with you today, because it’s my son’s 22nd birthday. Happy 22nd birthday, TJ!

Unfortunately, he lives far away and we don’t see each other at all, so this blueberries n cream roll cake will have to suffice as his virtual celebration. Roll cakes look sort of intimidating, but truthfully, I find them to be much easier to make than traditional birthday cakes. See, I tend to drive myself a bit batty trying to slice a cake into perfect, even layers, because I have hand tremors. Now don’t get me wrong… I can bake up a cake and it’ll melt in your mouth because it’s so moist, but it’ll look like a 5 year-old made it! Want proof? Look at this delicious but disastrous chocolate layer cake (with the world’s BEST frosting) that I made last year. It’s awful looking! LOL

I think it’s much easier to make bundt cakes, like this pomegranate lime bundt cake, or rich and decadent cheesecakes like this whipped cream cheesecake, OR to put fluffy whipped cream on top of moist, tender sponge cake and roll that baby up into a beautiful, delicious dessert like this roll cake!

Roll cakes are really versatile, too. You can add flavored extracts like lemon or orange to your basic cake batter to give it a different flavor, and the filling options are endless. Roll your cake up with fresh fruits, preserves, chopped nuts, candies, chocolates, or just plain and simple whipped cream goodness. It’s completely up to your imagination and your taste buds.

No matter how you make your roll cake, I hope you enjoy it to the fullest!

How to make a blueberries n cream roll cake

Blueberries n Cream Roll Cake

Yield: 8-10 slices



  • 4 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup sifted cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Confectioners’ sugar


  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup blueberry preserves
  • Fresh blueberries (optional)
  • Additional whipped cream (optional)


  1. Heat oven to 375°.
  2. Grease a standard size jelly roll pan, then line with waxed paper and grease the paper. That will assure that none of your cake will stick to the waxed paper.
  3. In the bowl of a hand or stand mixer, beat eggs and vanilla on high speed for 5 minutes, or until lemon-colored. Turn speed to medium and gradually add sugar, beating until dissolved.
  4. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. Fold gently into egg mixture just until combined. Pour batter into prepared jelly roll pan and use a spatula to spread it evenly across the pan.
  5. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until light brown and edges start to pull away from sides of pan. Turn hot cake out, waxed paper side up, onto a lint free, clean kitchen towel that has been well dusted with confectioners’ sugar. Peel waxed paper away from cake, Starting on short side of cake, roll up cake tightly into the towel and allow to cool completely.


  1. Place metal mixing bowl and whisk attachment (or beaters for a hand mixer) into the freezer for 10 minutes.
  2. Place heavy cream into chilled bowl and whip on high speed until soft peaks have been formed. With mixer still running on high speed, lightly sprinkle sugar into cream and continue mixing on high for 2 minutes, or until light and fluffy.


  1. Unroll cake from towel and use a spatula to spread whipped cream evenly over the cake. Use an offset spatula or knife to apply jam in an even layer on top of whipped cream. Roll up the cake again and refrigerate for 2 hours before serving. Sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar and garnish with blueberries and additional whipped cream, if desired.

Recipe adapted from Taste of Home

Patriotic Chocolate Chip Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches -Guest Post From Frosting and A Smile

Chocolate Chip Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches


This week has been crazier than my usual level of crazy. I can’t even begin to tell you how grateful I am for my guest poster today, Laurie, and these Patriotic Chocolate Chip Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches. If you want to read about my crazy week, and why I’m now weeks behind on new recipes and reviews, you can read on. If you don’t, you can skip right to the recipe, I don’t blame you one bit!

If you’ve been following me for a while, you know I’m very close to my daughter’s Godmother, Chelsea. She’s the daughter of two of my friend’s, and the niece of another, and many moons ago I lived with her and took care of her and her sister while her mother was in college and working. Her first baby, a boy named Ayden, was born on Wednesday after two days of labor. Even though I wasn’t going to be in the room when the baby was born, I wanted to be at the hospital, so I got the first phone call that she was going to the hospital last Tuesday at 3:30 in the morning. I never made it there before she was sent home, but I was wide awake from the phone call until midnight that night. She continued to have contractions, so I knew it would be soon, but by late Tuesday night I thought maybe not until the next day. I clearly remember writing a status on my personal Facebook at midnight that said “Okay, I’m going to bed now, nobody have a baby for the next two hours!” I should have know better, the phone rang at 12:53 AM! Thirteen hours later, Ayden finally made his appearance!




In the days following, I recovered from not sleeping for two days, put a ton of laundry away, spent time with my daughter and my sister, did garden work, and then our central air broke so I haven’t been cooking.  I’m coming back this week, though, so I will have more for you soon! For now I’ll hand you over to Laurie for this delicious dessert.

Hello everyone! I’m so happy to be hanging out with you here at Rants From My Crazy Kitchen. I’m visiting from Frosting and a Smile. This is the first guest post I have ever written. I hope I can do Bernadette and her site justice. From the first month I started blogging, Bernadette welcomed me like an old friend. She is so kind and generous with her time that there was no way I could say no when she asked me to write here.
I brought the instructions for Chocolate Chip Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches with me. We can whip up a batch while we chat.
We start with a soft and chewy chocolate chip cookie. It’s slightly adapted from the All Recipes Big, Fat, Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookie. There’s nothing as tasty as this from-scratch version but If you only slept three hours last night because the kids kept you up (I’ve totally been there) or it’s just too darn hot to turn on the oven (been there too), you can use store-bought cookies.

To start, sift together your dry ingredients.

Beat melted butter with brown sugar and white sugar. I’ll let you in on a kitchen secret; Melted butter is the key to perfectly chewy chocolate chip cookies.
Add an egg, egg yolk, vanilla extract, and almond extract. The almond flavor doesn’t come across too strong. It just adds a little extra something special that makes people ask “what is that?” You can just tell them it’s your little secret.

Gradually beat in the flour mixture.

Stir in chocolate chips and sprinkles.

Scoop the dough into tablespoon-sized balls. Dunk the top of each ball into sprinkles.

Bake until golden brown.

Once your cookies cool, turn half of them over and top them with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. You can use any flavor ice cream (or even frozen yogurt) you would like.

Top each scoop of ice cream with another cookie, then roll the edges in sprinkles. Can you tell I have an absolute fascination with sprinkles? Confession; I’ve been known to order my ice cream sundaes with a double shot of sprinkles. Really, I don’t even need the ice cream. Just give me a big bowl of sprinkles swimming in whipped cream and I’m all set.

These red, white, and blue sprinkles are great for Fourth of July or Memorial Day. You can change it up with any colors you like. Try mixing it up to match a holiday or party theme.

Thank you for spending some time with me. I hope Bernadette will invite me for another visit. Until then, stop on over to visit me any time. Have a sweet day!
About the Author: Laurie helps you satisfy your sweet tooth on her blog Frosting And A Smile . She develops fun-to-share dessert recipes and breaks them down into simple steps so anyone can make them. Laurie is also a contributor and three-time Emmy-nominated journalist. She is married and has a three-year-old son. You can follow her on PinterestFacebook or Google +.

(Baking with Kids) Easy Chocolate Cake -Guest Post from Baking Outside The Box

IF my daughter’s Godmother’s baby comes today (due two days ago and just got sent home from the hospital because her contractions weren’t progressing), Christa from Baking Outside The Box has brought the perfect recipe to share today, a chocolate cake! My birthday cake every year growing up was chocolate, and in a few years I will be able to teach the kids how to make this cake! I couldn’t ask for more. Plus, it looks delicious!  I’ve included the printable version at the end, with the prep time including the cooling time before frosting.


Hi, this is Christa from Baking Outside the Box, a blog all about making scratch
baking easier for the home cook. Today I want to share with you a great
recipe I use for teaching my kids about baking.

This chocolate cake is the easiest cake I’ve ever made, so it is perfect for baking with kids, since they can do most of the steps themselves. It rivals a box mix for speed and simplicity, but it really tastes great.


1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

3 Tablespoons cocoa powder

1 cup Sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

6 Tablespoons vegetable oil

1 Tablespoon white vinegar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup cold water


Preheat Oven to 350 degrees.


Grease an 8″ square casserole dish (for a round cake you can use one 9″ cake pan).


Sift the dry ingredients together and stir with a fork until well-mixed. Make three wells in the dry ingredients. Pour the oil into the first well, the vinegar into the second, and the vanilla into the third. Pour the cold water over the top of it all, then stir with a fork until well-blended. Pour into greased pan and bake at 350 for about 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let it cool, then frost.



4 Tablespoons Butter

2 Tablespoons cocoa powder

1 1/2 Cups Powdered Sugar

dash of salt

2 Tablespoons milk


Cream together the butter, sugar, cocoa and salt until well-mixed. Add the liquid and beat until fluffy. You can do this by hand since it is such a small batch, you really don’t need to use a stand mixer for this.


Have some sprinkles handy for the kids to decorate it!

(Baking with Kids) Easy Chocolate Cake -Guest Post from Baking Outside The Box
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Easy homemade chocolate cake, great for baking with kids!
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 8
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 Tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 6 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 Tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup cold water
  • Frosting:
  • 4 Tablespoons Butter
  • 2 Tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1½ Cups Powdered Sugar
  • dash of salt
  • 2 Tablespoons milk
  1. Preheat Oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Grease an 8" square casserole dish (for a round cake you can use one 9" cake pan).
  3. Sift the dry ingredients together and stir with a fork until well-mixed. Make three wells in the dry ingredients. Pour the oil into the first well, the vinegar into the second, and the vanilla into the third. Pour the cold water over the top of it all, then stir with a fork until well-blended. Pour into greased pan and bake at 350 for about 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let it cool, then frost.
  4. For the frosting:
  5. Cream together the butter, sugar, cocoa and salt until well-mixed. Add the liquid and beat until fluffy.


Minestrone Soup- Guest Post from Read At Home Mama

Welcome to another Summer guest post! This time my friend Erin from Read-at-Home Mama has graciously offered to be my victim…err I mean wonderful contributor! She’s not a food blogger, although she is a great cook, she writes reviews of all kinds of books. We met in an online forum for brides back in 2006, and have been friends since, even though we have yet to meet in person! She has brought us minestrone soup, which even though it’s hot out here, is perfect because many of the veggies in the soup are readily available at farmer’s markets now. I can’t wait until our local farmer’s markets start! Unfortunately around here I have to wait until the end of June :( On a good note, we plant a fairly large garden every year, so I don’t even always make it to the farmers market. Nothing is better than fresh from the farm or your own garden! Are you ready for Erin? Here she is!



Hi, I’m Erin. I’m a stay-at-home mama to a toddler and a furbaby. Books, dancing, and sweets are my greatest weaknesses. I can talk as easily about Daniel Tiger as I can about Scandal. My heart resides in the library, my soul can be found in the kitchen, and my spirit is always stretching at the barre…but my happiness lives in my 2-year-old. Thank you for joining me on this wild ride!

Summer is finally upon us! I know you saw the title and thought, “Soup?! Really? But it’s too warm out for soup!” Yeah, I know, it’s getting warmer outside…but farm markets are opening everywhere right now and there is literally no better time to get the freshest vegetables possible! I make this soup year-round and, in the colder months, I have to pick up veggies as they’re available in my grocery store. But who knows where they came from, how long and far they traveled between the farm and the store, and how fresh they really are! Now that you can get just about every vegetable you want from the farm stand, you’re guaranteed that they’re at their freshest and besides, who doesn’t love filling a bowl with every color under the delicious rainbow, right?

I’m a big fan of soup, as is my two-year-old. Now, I could go simple and just crack open a can of Campbell’s chicken noodle soup…or I could go for the Progresso tomato basil soup and throw together a few grilled cheese sandwiches. But I really want to go as healthy and fresh as possible, and there’s really no better way to do that than to make a soup from scratch. Minestrone is one of the most veggie-loaded (and therefore nutritious) soups out there, so I’m going to share my recipe with you today!

Full disclosure, though: I’ve never been a fan of real tomatoes. I’m weird that way: I’ll eat them as soup, or as a sauce on pasta or pizza, or as ketchup on a burger or with fries with no problem. But I’ve always hated the texture of the actual tomato. Offer me some cherry tomatoes for my salad or slices of an heirloom tomato to garnish my sandwich and I’ll politely decline. There’s really no rhyme or reason behind it; I just don’t like it. So when I decided I wanted to make my own minestrone, I naturally decided to omit the red stuff. (My advance apologies to all the tomato fans out there…and feel free to add them if you like them!)

The minestrone I love to make, however, is still delicious with or without tomatoes! When Joshua was a baby, he used to vacuum this soup down like he couldn’t get enough of it; now, as a picky two-year-old, he’ll still eat it but only if I’m eating it, too. The Hubby refuses to eat it solely because there’s no meat in it. I suppose I could add chicken to it — maybe I’ll try that next time and see if it’s enough to convince him.

For now, though, we’re sticking to vegetables!

So here’s what you’ll need to make my tomato-free minestrone:


Read-at-Home Mama’s Minestrone Soup

• 3 tablespoons olive oil
• 1 small minced white onion
• 2 diced potatoes (if you only have small potatoes, use 3)
• 2 cups chopped zucchini
• 2 cups frozen cut Italian green beans
• 4 cloves minced or grated garlic (I prefer to grate it)
• 4-6 cups vegetable broth (depending on how “brothy” you like your soup; I usually go between 5-6 cups)
• 1 can (15 oz) red kidney beans, drained (light or dark, your choice)
• 1 can (15 oz) great northern or cannellini beans, drained
• 1/2 cup shredded carrot
• 2 tablespoons minced parsley
• 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
• 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
• 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
• 3 cups hot water
• 4 cups fresh baby spinach
• 1 1/2 cups small shell or other small shape pasta

Before you light your burner, cut up and organize all of your ingredients! It makes the cooking process much quicker and easier. Because the vegetables go into the pot in a particular order, I like to “chop and drop” groups of them into separate bowls. The onion, garlic, zucchini, and green beans all go into one bowl; I rinse the red and white beans separately and then combine them in another bowl; the carrots and potatoes get a bowl of their own; and I measure all of the spices into one more separate small bowl. So before I start cooking, my countertop usually looks something like this:



Okay! Now that your ingredients are all set out and organized, you’re ready to get started! First, you need to warm 3 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat.



Things are going to start smelling yummy in your kitchen very quickly from this point on! Now, I’ve learned from watching the Food Network that if you dip a wooden spoon or the wooden handle of another utensil into the oil, you can tell that the oil is sufficiently heated by looking for bubbles to form around the wood. Go ahead and try that! If you don’t have a wooden spoon, that’s okay; you can typically tell if your oil is warm simply by holding your hand over it.

Now that your oil is ready to go, add the onion, garlic, green beans, and zucchini into the pot and saute them for about 5 minutes, or until the onions become see-through. When they go in, they’ll look something like this:



And when they’re ready for their veggie friends to join them, they’ll look like this:



You’re doing great so far! Go ahead and lean over your pot, and take a sniff. I don’t know about you, but I could eat these veggies as they are now! We’ll all have to wait though — there’s more deliciousness on the way! Now you’re ready for the hot tub party, so to speak. Add your vegetable broth…



…and beans…



…carrots and potatoes…



…and hot water and spices to the pot.



Tell me this doesn’t look amazing already!!



Now you can relax for a little while! Give it a stir, bring it up to a boil and then reduce it to a simmer for 20 minutes, and let the magic happen.

By the way, two quick notes:
1. You may or may not do this, but I have been known to “check” my vegetables from time to time during the 20-minute wait. Yeah, I’m that person who leaves a folded paper towel and a fork next to the burner so I can fish out one of each kind of vegetable with my spoon, lay them on the towel to cool, and then eat them with the fork. Yup, that’s me. Am I ashamed? Not even a little bit. :)
2. You probably noticed that the pot in the photos above magically changed color! I promise I did all of this in one day and one cooking session. I was so excited about making the soup that I started cooking in the wrong pot — the pot in the first several pictures would have literally overflowed had I continued with the recipe. I switched over to the larger pot that I was supposed to be using; crisis averted!

Ding-ding! Twenty minutes is up!



Now what?

Toss in your spinach leaves and use your cooking spoon to “sink” them into the liquid and help them wilt, like this:




And then pour in your pasta as well. (By the way, today I used whole-wheat elbow noodles to bump up the health factor and honestly, as someone who normally eats regular “white” semolina pasta, I couldn’t tell the difference — and more importantly, neither could Joshua! Score!)



Now you get another break! Let everything simmer in the pot for another twenty minutes, stirring occasionally.

While you’re waiting, you could paint your nails, or pick up that magazine you’ve been meaning to read, or fold a load of laundry, or play with your kids for a few minutes (if you have any)…

What? Twenty minutes is up? Already?! Yay! Let’s go check out the finished product…



Yeah, I’m grabbing a big bowl for this one. You want some??

I like to sprinkle a little shredded mozzarella or parmesan, or a few garlic croutons on my soup, and keeping some crusty bread handy to mop up the broth is always a great idea. How do you top yours? Try it out and let me know what you think!!

You can find Erin here: