It’s Fall…Time For Tea Party Cakes

One of our family favorite loaf cakes Mom made in the 60’s and 70’s was called the Tea Party Loaf.  It is a Bisquick recipe.  While I suppose it wouldn’t be difficult to figure out how to prepare this without using Bisquick…I never do.  Each fall, I purchase a new box of this Betty Crocker product…I now make the loaf cake in regular and petite cupcake sized portions; this because  we always struggled getting the cake out of a loaf pan without it crumbling apart.  Of course that didn’t stop up from consuming the deliciousness of the cake by pinching together crumbs and butterscotch and chocolate chip morsels, popping the doughy mess into our mouths; however,  it’s more appealing served as an individual cake.  So we adapted the presentation.  Now they look cute 🙂

What I love about this recipe is that the cake is not too sweet, and it comes out moist.  The texture is so satisfying in that there is this tasty cake which serves as the backdrop for the sweet butterscotch & chocolate, and the crunch of nuts which go into the recipe.  The cake is perfect paired with any cup of tea or a glass of milk.   It is as appropriate at breakfast time as at tea time.  We made this for our niece’s bridal shower brunch menu (in pretty cupcake papers).  Recently I made petite sized ones for my morning jazzercise / exercise class.  It is a wonderful morning cake. In fact, I never serve this for dessert…it is a morning cake…or afternoon tea cake.  Also…no need for a mixer…just need a bowl and a stirring spoon. This is a fun cake to make with children.


Petite tea party cakes cooling on the rack...just dusted with powdered confectioner's sugar

Petite tea party cakes cooling on the rack…just dusted with powdered confectioner’s sugar

I like any excuse to add butterscotch chips to a recipe.  Recently, I switched from using toasted walnuts to pecans as my sister is a bit allergic to walnuts.  Either nut works beautifully in the cake.  The consistency of the batter is much like a pancake batter…no need for a mixer either…just throw it all into a bowl and use a spoon to mix.  Voila…easy cake.

Hot out of the oven ...the butterscotch chips ooze...every bite is a delight :-)

Hot out of the oven …the butterscotch chips ooze…every bite is a delight 🙂

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My nephew is coming to visit soon…he loves these, so will be making a big batch soon.



Prepare these in greased cupcake papers, either regular sized or minis.  They are deliciously appropriate anytime.  This recipe is high on the request list of children and young adults.

Makes one large loaf, 24 regular cupcakes, or 48 mini cupcakes.

PREP TIME: 15 minutes TOTAL TIME:  1 hour 30 minutes for full cake

Preheat oven to 350˚F.

No mixer needed, just a wooden spoon for mixing and a bowl.


3 cups Bisquick biscuit mix

1 cup uncooked quick rolled oats

1 cup sugar

1 egg, slightly beaten

1 ½ cups milk

¼ cup vegetable oil

⅔ to ¾ cup semisweet chocolate chips, quantity depends on how chunky and sweet you prefer

⅔ to ¾ cup butterscotch chips

⅔ to ¾ cup chopped walnuts


Combine dry ingredients, Bisquick, oats, and sugar in a bowl; stir a bit.

Combine egg, milk, and oil. Add to the dry mixture and beat until smooth with wooden spoon.

Stir in chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, and walnuts.

Prepare a 9” x 5” x 3” loaf pan with a greased, wax paper lining.

Pour mixture into prepared loaf pan.

Bake at 350˚F for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean.

Cool for 10 minutes.


If preparing cupcake-sized, spray muffin papers with cooking spray, such as Pam.

Bake at 350˚F for 20 minutes for regular sized cupcakes, or 12 minutes for mini size.



Why Tea Is So Magical …

When prepping notes for a tea tasting class, I jotted what I thought was kind of a witty laundry list about why everyone should consider making their “go to” beverage tea; (after pure, fresh water, of course).  This is what I came up with:

TEA IS:  calorie free, gluten free, vegetarian – even vegan, no carb.,  full of healthy things like anti-oxidants, good for your teeth, available in enormous varieties of flavors thus never boring, refreshing, increases metabolism, calming, like a hug – warm and comforting, interesting in a nerdy sort of way.

Taking tea can be social or not depending on your mood, steeping time is excellent thinking/musing time, even the rare ones are “cheap” compared to other beverages; and, as I experienced this past week….a damp tea bag can be used to reduce the swelling from a bee sting 🙂   (ouch!)

Recently, when flipping through Pinterest tea photos, I came across these two charts…I just loved them and thought I’d share them with you today.    Can you think of any other reasons to drink tea?

Tea Chart from Twinings

Tea Chart from Twinings

This one I think came from  (hope I credited it correctly)

This one I think came from (hope I credited it correctly)

Love the line…”Tea is like a liquid hug.” It also reminds me of my mom…and of wonderful times with my sister, daughter, family and friends…




Shrimply Delicious…No Kid’s Meals At This Dinner Table

The emotions an individual expresses over a plate of food has always fascinated me.  In fact, if I am with someone who is ambivalent about what they are about to consume, I find myself a bit disappointed…even if I’ve had nothing to do with preparing the dish.   Why do I care about what  another feels about their food?  It really doesn’t directly affect me!  I don’t know, it’s just who I am… a professed foodaholic 🙂 who secretly hopes that everyone I’m with is as entranced with their daily meals as me.

The other night, we were invited to our dear friend’s (and outstanding chef’s) home for dinner along with our daughter, son-in-law and two young grandsons (8 and 5 years old).  This evening had been talked about for over 6 years, and since our family was together on our annual beach vacation literally a few minutes from our friend’s home, a dinner date was finally established.  Chef J and his lovely wife, E. discussed the food likes and dislikes of our family with me, and in particular of our grandsons.  They are the epitome of graciousness as hosts.  I reassured them that our boys enjoy all food, sharing that they are truly adventurous eaters.  But in the back of my mind, I said a little prayer, willing that they would relish Chef J.’s food as much as I do.  For me, dinners at their home have been some of the most thrilling and satisfying epicurean occasions of  my life.

As we arrived, we were greeted with lots of joyousness, hugs and excitement at finally getting together.  The kids were instantly enthralled with everything in J. and E.’s home and yard and engaged in delightful conversations.  It’s always a bit of a relief when there is instant chemistry with those you care about and have brought together ….in my heart, I really wanted them to connect and like each other.  Well that occurred immediately.  First hurdle down and successful.  Yay!

We were going to eat outside on their lovely patio.  The starters were brought out and as usual, were perfectly portioned small bites..just enough to whet our appetites.  The presentation is simple, elegant and enticing.  Happily for me, there is almost always a special plate with J.’s tapenade, which he KNOWS is my favorite. (I could just get a spoon and eat mouthfuls of this umami laden emulsion).  There are also two plates of fresh shrimp with dipping sauces, smoked salmon wrapped around hearts of palm with a dollop of herbed soft cheese, and a hard salami which our youngest almost jumped up an down with joy when he saw (he likes meat 🙂

Chef J. "perfect bites" starters...savory, umami laden morsels...

Chef J. “perfect bites” starters…savory, umami laden morsels…

IMG_7551 IMG_7554 IMG_7555 IMG_7556 IMG_7565I saw my daughter get a little anxious as the two plates of shrimp come out.  Her youngest doesn’t like shrimp.  He won’t eat shrimp. He is quite vocal about his lack of desire to EVER have shrimp.  There have been a few small skirmishes with him over shrimp.  His mom pushes it (I think to myself) and puts one on his plate. So, what does he do?  Devours it and nonchalantly goes back for several more.  As he devours crustacean after crustacean, we stand back observing, silently and secretly, proud of this revelatory moment.  Another hurdle met.

Next, as the entrees are served, we start with a fresh, sweet and meaty Dungeness crab salad…kid’s plates are the same as adults.  I wait, watch, and am again, a beaming proud grandma as our 8 year old gulps down his crab and attempts to get his brother’s plate who is slow to eat as he is full of salami and shrimp.  Chef J. and E. are happy…as we are.  Funny how the honest reactions of little ones can affect us so.

Dungeness crab salad...sweet, meaty with texture from thinly sliced radish and parsley

Dungeness crab salad…sweet, meaty with texture from thinly sliced radish and parsley

In the end, it was a glorious time…food and friendship…thank you J. and E.

Oh, and of course, we ended with a lovely, light cup of jasmine tea (Dammann Freres)…the perfect ending to a stunning meal.

Eating Your Curds and Creams …

August was a month full of outdoor entertaining for us, as well as, the beginning of our family’s “birthday season.” This meant we needed desserts, something we regularly skip in our house except on these entertaining occasions, (and I say “hurray for these occasions! 🙂 ”

My lemon cream tart, made with zesty lemon curd...using a cool rectangular tart pan I discovered at Surfas cooking supply store

My lemon cream tart, made with zesty lemon curd…using a cool rectangular tart pan I discovered at Surfas cooking supply store

For the lemon lovers…my lemon curd is truly citrusy, more tart than sweet, luscious, and, on this day, creamy too…as I folded in a bit of whipped heavy cream to “lighten” the curd for my rectangular tart.  My husband and niece (S.) just LOVE lemon…so this was prepared specifically with them in mind.  I posted my recipe here.

I just love this rectangular tart pan...obviously I am not the "master baker" as I almost over-baked one end due to my uneven rolling out  of the dough...I folded in a bit of whipped heavy cream into my lemon curd for a lighter tasting filling (no, I didn't say lighter on the calories :-) ...

I just love this rectangular tart pan…obviously I am not the “master baker” as I almost over-baked one end due to my uneven rolling out of the dough…I folded in a bit of whipped heavy cream into my lemon curd for a lighter tasting filling (no, I didn’t say lighter on the calories 🙂 …

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The small bite, fresh berry lovers got to enjoy popping these darling little blueberry tarts…one biters, if you so chose…

This tart has my mom’s fabulous vanilla pastry cream recipe in it…this cream is luscious, luxurious, velvety, vanilla forward, and just awesome.   I am in awe every time I make this cream, as it surprises me how it comes together so quickly and so smoothly…several tablespoons never make it to the cooling stage as I taste test it many times to ensure quality control (have I told you that I am a custard texture nut? :-))  I posted the recipe for this truly easy, yet professional quality pastry cream here.

All set to go in the fridge...petite blueberry tarts with Mom's vanilla pastry cream in a pastry shell

All set to go in the fridge…petite blueberry tarts with Mom’s vanilla pastry cream in a pastry shell

Assembly time for my fresh blueberry petite tarts...I made the pastry shells and mom's vanilla pastry cream the night before - fill them when ready to serve...or up to 3 hours prior to serving...the shell holds up well to this cream (doesn't get soggy).

Assembly time for my fresh blueberry petite tarts…I made the pastry shells and mom’s vanilla pastry cream the night before – fill them when ready to serve…or up to 3 hours prior to serving…the shell holds up well to this cream (doesn’t get soggy).

IMG_7309 IMG_7310Whenever I serve a fruit dessert, I normally also serve a chocolate something too…sometimes it’s passing a tray of decadent, dark chocolate squares with hazelnuts or almonds… on this occasion, I was excited to order our favorite local pastry chef, Kevin Montoya’s, dark chocolate with salty caramel tarts – from his Carley Cakes site.  He even delivers locally.  What a treat…and what a surprise to our guests.  It was a bit of a warm evening, and as I brought the tarts to room temperature, guests bit in and their faces lit up as the salted caramel just oozed and surprised them with flavor.

Carley Cakes Salted Caramel Chocolate Tarts...the salted caramel is a surprise in the it warms up it oozes luxuriously...I usually  cut these in fourths when serving multiple petite bite desserts

Carley Cakes Salted Caramel Chocolate Tarts resting in their box in the refrigerator waiting to come out and warm up about an hour before dessert time…the salted caramel is a surprise in the center…as it warms up it oozes luxuriously…I usually cut these in fourths when serving multiple petite bite desserts

A few sweets now and again can be exciting, refreshing, and a wonderful way to show your guests you care…the vibrant colors, flavors, shapes and textures look like works of art…albeit, mine usually look like “rustic” art or freeform …

All go well with a great cup of tea too…