My grandmother, with whom I share the same middle name, used to sing a little song to me when I was little prior to tickling me with her fingers (which posed as a bee), "There once was a bee who lived in a tree; and all he could do was bzzzzz sting, sting, sting sting...." (then the tickling ensued).

This site is in memory of her and the warmth all grandmothers and mothers give in making good food and creating memories in the kitchen.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Cafe Zupa's Tomato Basil Copycat Recipe

  • 1 1/4 cup Pesto sauce from Costco
  • 5 1/2 cups diced/ stewed tomatoes - three 14.5 oz cans of diced tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 2/3 cup diced onion
  • 2 stalks celery, sliced
  • 3/4 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 tsp sugar (cuts down on acidity)
  • 1 1/3 cup half and half or 1 12-oz. can of evaporated milk
  • Orzo pasta


Set crockpot on high so that it can begin warming up while you assemble the soup. If you don't want to use a crockpot, feel free to use a saucepan instead. 

Wash and slice vegetables. 

In a frying pan (or just use the saucepan if you're not using a crockpot) melt butter over medium-high heat. 

Add in onion and celery. Cook until vegetables soften, about 5-8 minutes. 

Transfer to the crockpot and add in all remaining ingredients, except the cream. At this point the soup doesn't look very pretty. Don't worry- it will cook down and all the veggies will meld together. 

Crockpot: Cook on high 6-7 hours total

After soup has cooked for most of the time, I then use an immersion blender to get rid of the remaining chunks of vegetables. 

After it's smooth, return to pot and cook for the remaining time~ I generally blend it about an hour before serving. 

During this last step, cook orzo pasta.

Just before serving add the half and half or milk. 

Add cooked orzo ENJOY!

Chocolate Divine Cake

2 cups sugar
1 & 3/4 cups flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 & 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 & 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup boiling water


1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Coat three 8-inch cake pans with nonstick spray. Line the bottoms of the pans with parchment paper. Spray each pan again and coat with a thin layer of flour.

2. In a large bowl, combine the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla, and mix until everything is thoroughly incorporated. Stir in the boiling water; the batter will be very thin.

3. Divide the batter evenly among the prepared cake pans. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of each layer comes out clean. Cool the layers in the pans for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

4. Wrap each layer in plastic wrap and refrigerate for several hours or overnight. Make the cream cheese filling. When you're ready to assemble the cake, remove the layers from the refrigerator. If needed, level each layer with a serrated knife or cake leveler.

5. Place the bottom layer on a cake plate. Evenly spread about 3/4 cup of the cream cheese filling over the cake, leaving about 1/2 inch margin around the edges. Top with the second layer and repeat. Finally, top with the third layer. 

Cream Cheese Frosting

1 cup cream cheese
3/4 cup butter
1/2 tablespoon vanilla
6 cups powdered sugar

Beat the cream cheese and butter with an electric mixer at medium speed for about one minute. Add the vanilla and beat one minute more. Reduce the mixing speed to low, and add the powdered sugar about 1/2 cup at a time. Once the sugar is completely incorporated, beat at medium speed for about two minutes or until fluffy.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Spicy Chicken Tortilla Soup

1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
2 garlic cloves, minced (about 2 teaspoons)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 ounce can green chilies, chopped
15 ounce can Italian-style stewed tomatoes, 
     chopped, reserving the juice
4 cups Chicken Broth or canned reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 teaspoon lemon pepper
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce or to taste
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup water
1 pound skinless boneless chicken breast, cut into small cubes
1/3 cup  sour cream Salt and pepper to taste
Tortilla Strips 
Shredded Mozzarella cheese for garnish

In a large saucepan, cook the onion and the garlic in the oil over moderately low heat for 5 minutes or until the onion is softened. Add the chilies, tomatoes with their juice, broth, lemon pepper, Worcestershire, spices, and hot sauce and simmer the mixture for 20 minutes.

In a small bowl, combine the flour with the water and whisk it into the soup. Bring the soup back to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the chicken and simmer for 5 minutes or until it is just cooked through. Stir in the sour cream and salt and pepper to taste, and garnish each portion with the tortilla strips and shredded mozzarella cheese.