cake of the mondays: strawberry lemonade cupcakes


yesterday was gloomy and today isn’t much better.  only little bits of blue sky peeking out from behind some seriously grey clouds.  and, the boys are cranky.  so, what could be better for a house with a Case of the Mondays (that continued into tuesday) than another Cake of the Mondays?

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christopher and i had gotten a giant box of strawberries from costco last week and some weren’t looking so great anymore and i needed to do something with them before i had to toss them out.  so, i cut up about two cups of strawberries, added a tablespoon of sugar and a tablespoon of lemon juice and smashed them up with my potato masher.  then i mixed up a quick batch of Bisquick® Velvet Crumb Cake.


this is my favorite easy cake recipe.  i use it as the base for my strawberry shortcake, raisin cupcakes and just about any other simple white cake i need.  it’s a little heavier than a normal cake but not quite like a pound cake.  i also never have made the coconut topping in the original recipe.  i always just make the cake part!  and just in case you are wondering, this is not a sponsored post.  i just really like this recipe and i use Bisquick® pretty often from pancakes to muffins.


i lined two cupcake tins with papers (i got 21 cupcakes out of this recipe, but you could fill the cups with more batter and get about 16 cupcakes) and preheated the oven to 350°.  i zested one lemon and juiced it.  i used 1/2 cup of lemon juice in place of the water/milk in the recipe because i wanted a nice, zippy lemon flavor.

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then i mixed all the ingredients together.  it is kind of lumpy and a little thick, so don’t worry.  then i took about 1 1/2 cups of the strawberry mash (reserve 1/2 cup for the frosting) and gently folded it into the batter.  this makes the batter way thinner than the recipe usually is, but that’s ok.  also, because of the lemon juice, your cakes won’t rise as much.  i didn’t care about this and sometimes, i like a denser (is that a word?) cake anyway.


i used our good ol’ ice cream scooper to measure out batter into each cupcake liner.  bake for 15 minutes on two shelves in the middle of the oven and then rotate the tins.  bake for another 15 minutes.  baking times can vary and because this recipe is a little runnier with the strawberries in it, you may need to bake a bit longer.  i needed to let mine bake for an extra 10 minutes.

once the cupcakes are done baking (when a toothpick comes out clean,) cool on a cooling rack, completely.  i had a hard time figuring out what to frost these with, but finally decided on a simple strawberry whipped cream frosting.  whip up 1 cup heavy cream, 4 tablespoons sifted powdered sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla.  when the cream is stiff and whipped, gently fold in the remainder of your strawberry mash and the lemon zest.  use an offset spatula or piping bag to frost the cupcakes.  store in the fridge until ready to eat.

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i love the big chunks of strawberry and lemon zest in the frosting!  the boys gave them two very enthusiastic thumbs up and they were a nice treat for an icky day.

such a great way to turn around a monday!



merry christmas…

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merry christmas and happy holidays from everyone over here at the house of mayhem and chaos.  i hope your day is filled with joy and love and everything on your plates and in your glasses is absolutely delicious.  may you find peace, calm, serenity and love during this crazy-making time of year.

much love,


from the top: super buddies | the best damn bloody mary | jamie oliver’s comfort food – best. gift. ever. | mid-afternoon snack

in the garden…

after a really lame garden experience last year (except for the zucchini!  god, there was so much zucchini!) we have a bumper crop of veg this summer.

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i love spending time in the garden with the boys.  they love eating all the veggies they are growing.  harry is especially proud of the sunflowers.  he planted some last year and the ones we have this year are volunteers.  i love seeing life sustain itself.

how does your garden grow?



ipa pickled asparagus…

i love pickles.  it’s a problem and i’m admitting that.  i could eat them every day; at every meal.  and for snacks.  christopher once tried to impose a “pickle quota” which i politely laughed at as i crunched away.  i’m pretty specific in my pickle liking: dill only.  i can’t seem to get myself into sweet pickles.  i’ve tried, but i just can do it.  i love the dilly, garlicky, peppery crunch of a nice pickle.

i’ve recently started making my own and i’m pickling all sorts of things.  portlandia fans, you know what i mean, right?

anyway, here is what i pickled for our fourth of july bbq tomorrow: ipa pickled asparagus.


yeah, you heard right india pale ale pickled asparagus. my motive was to have something yummy to munch on at the bbq but to also make something fun to garnish a bloody mary.  i love the idea of having a crunchy, beer-soaked asparagus spear in my bloody mary and  i plan on having marys in the morning, so hopefully there will be pickled asparagus left for the bbq!

oh, and if you want a kick-ass bloody mary recipe, the one i use is from cup of jo and it’s the “best bloody mary you’ll ever have.”  how can you not love that?!

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i adapted this recipe from the she likes beer blog.  here is my recipe.

2 bunches asparagus (aprx 2 lbs) trimmed to fit into quart mason jar

2 cups apple cider vinegar

24 oz beer – i used a “hop on or die”  doa ipa from day of the dead beer

8 cloves of garlic – smashed with the flat side of a knife

2 tbsp salt – i use kosher flaked salt

1/4 tsp fennel seeds

1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

1/2 tsp mustard seeds

6-8 whole peppercorns

4 sprigs fresh dill

combine vinegar, salt and beer in a sauce pan.  heat to just boiling.  be careful because the salt and beer will make the mixture boil over really quickly.  while the beer/vinegar is heating up, divide garlic, spices and fresh dill between two quart jars.  add asparagus to jars.  once the mixture has boiled, put it into something you can pour from , like a pyrex measuring cup, or just pour the mixture into each jar from the sauce pan, leaving about 1/4 inch at the top.  screw on lids and rings and let cool.  once cooled, turn the jars over and shake up to move the spices around.

that’s it.  super easy and delicious. perfection.


what will you be pickling this summer?



a cake of the mondays: lemon ricotta cake


yesterday was warm.  one of those days where we tried not to turn on the air conditioner, but we gave in and did it anyway.  it probably could have been avoided if i hadn’t decided to bake a cake of the mondays.  but when i ran across this recipe from the blog simply scratch, i could not resist.

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this recipe calls for meyer lemons, but i didn’t want to run to the store and i had a ton of regular lemons.  plus, i wanted a cake with more tartness than the meyers impart because christopher had made some vanilla ice cream the other day and i thought the zippiness of the lemons would go really well with the ice cream.  that was the only substitution i made.  this is a really straightforward recipe and was easy enough for one of the boys to help me make.  and of course, he needed a taste!

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give this recipe a shot.  i love the use of the ricotta in this cake.  it is soooo moist!  the glaze gives it a sweet kiss, without being frosting-y sweet; it is dense like a pound cake, but light and lemony, so it’s a perfect summer evening snack.  or summer breakfast…or lunch.  trust me, this cake won’t last very long because it’s so tasty!



a comfort food frittata…


after yesterday’s “debbie downer” post, i needed a pick-me-up and a little comfort food, so i got in the kitchen and started cooking.  i  love being in the kitchen and it is one of the ways i find a bit of solace if things are not going my way.

i needed a frittata.  or, as jack jack puts it, “a fluffy egg pie.”



it’s a “kitchen sink” dish.  last night, i put one together with some of the spring vegetables i had in the fridge.  you can put anything into this.  my best friend often does potatoes and bacon.  i’ve used prosciutto, bacon, spinach, tomatoes, eggplant…you name it.

last night i used corn, asparagus, garlic, bell pepper, tomatoes and mushrooms.

so, here is my comfort food frittata


any veg you have on hand (see above what i used last night.)

6-8 eggs

1/4 cup milk or half and half

cheese of your choice.  last night i used goat cheese

salt and pepper to taste

herbs of choice.  i use mostly thyme and parsley or basil


preheat oven to 400º and move one rack to the bottom of the oven and put another in the top 1/3 of the oven.

in a hot, oven-safe skillet (i use my cast iron skillet) with a good glug of olive oil or butter, sauté your vegetables until just tender.  while the veg is cooking, whisk together the eggs and milk.  i like to use the milk so it’s nice and fluffy.  pour the egg mix into the hot pan over the veg.  stir gently to mix the veg and egg and even everything out.  when it begins to set, you can place in some tomatoes if you like.  i arranged mine in a pattern on top, but you can just toss them on if you like.  it all tastes the same.

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once the frittata begins to set, place in the oven on the bottom rack and cook for 10 minutes.  then, move the frittata to the upper rack to finish baking. it should take another 5-10 minutes.  it will puff up, so check on it and insert a knife into the puff to deflate it.  it will shrink down when you remove it from the oven and it begins to cool.

once it begins to cool, you can toss on the cheese if you want some.  (i didn’t get a picture because i put it on our individual pieces after it was served.)

cut into wedges and serve with some sparkling wine.


what do you cook when you feel down?




my favorite chef…


do you have a favorite chef?  that one person who’s meals you gravitate towards and who you swear has never steered you wrong and who’s every recipe is delicious?

i do.

jamie oliver is mine.  i knew about the naked chef (swoon) way back when, but i never cooked any of his recipes until i was pregnant with the twins and living on the couch for the last month of my pregnancy.  i started watching jamie at home.  it was his show where he tromped about his garden and would cook dishes in his fab kitchen or right out in the veg patch!  it also made me want to move to essex, but that’s another post!

christopher bought me the jamie at home cookbook and that started my collection.


i love his philosophy of cooking.  use fresh, high-quality ingredients. keep it simple.  cook with your family.  eat good food.

the pictures in his cookbooks are glorious and the food can’t be beat.


some of my favorite dishes are the mothership tomato salad (pg 232 of the jamie at home cookbook), pizza fritta (i swear by his pizza dough and sauce recipes), oozy mushroom risotto (pg 64 of the meals in minutes cookbook), mustard chicken and his best roast leg of lamb. here is a pic of the lamb i did for our supper club.

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i plan out our meals a month at a time and the recipes are easy to plan for and source ingredients.  we grow a lot of our own food in the summer here, so getting fresh veggies is a matter of walking into the garden and bringing in a full basket.  my boys are loving cooking with us and show a real interest in our garden.


he is also revolutionizing school food programs and the way people approach food.  if you haven’t already, check out jamie oliver’s food revolution -blow your mind!   i follow his website – i love the recipe of the day – and his instragram.

ok, and just to clarify, this is not a sponsored post.  i just really love his cookbooks and the meals.

who’s your favorite chef?  do you have a go-to favorite meal?