What to Do When Your Cake Falls — Make Trifle! (With Lemon Curd Recipe)

Last year, for my daughter’s fifteenth birthday party, she wanted a lemon layer cake — with four fluffy layers, a lemon curd filling, and a lemony seven minute frosting.

I baked her cake layers the evening before, and for the first time in my life, my cake fell. Now, I grew up with the high altitude cooking, and know how to adjust, so I don’t think that was the problem. I have a very old oven in the home that I rent, and the oven is full of hot spots and the temperature varies like crazy — if I set it at 350°, it might decide that means 250° one minute and 500° a few minutes later.  Sturdier cakes, like yellow cakes or snacking cakes, can survive my oven, but a white cake is just too delicate.

Nonetheless, the morning of her party, I tried again. And it fell again.

With only two hours until her party, to try a third time, I would have to run to the store for more ingredients. I had already made the lemon curd, so I decided that she’d have a birthday trifle instead of a birthday cake.

I cut the cakes up into chunks, and layered them in my trifle dish with the lemon curd and heated raspberry preserves. I whipped some cream to top the trifle with, and just stuck those candles in the top.

It really looked pretty — and it tasted absolutely wonderful.

It tasted so good, I ended up making this trifle again for a potluck I attended a couple of months later.

I won’t post a recipe for the white layer cake, since I haven’t made it successfully, but here’s a recipe for the lemon curd:

Lemon Curd

(For a cake filling or a trifle layer – or just on toast. Yum!)

1/2 cup unsalted butter
6 lemons
1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs + 6 large egg yolks

A few hours before you start to make the curd, cut the butter into 1/2-inch cubes and put it in the freezer.  When it’s frozen, juice the lemons. Put 1 tablespoon lemon juice into a bowl and sprinkle the gelatin over it. Set aside.

In a medium-sized saucepan over medium-high heat, cook the rest of the lemon juice, the sugar, and the salt for about a minute, until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is hot, but don’t boil it.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs and egg yolks together. Slowly whisk in the hot lemon mixture, and then return it to the saucepan and and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, for about 5 minutes, or until it’s thick enough to run a spatula across the bottom and leave a trail. Remove from heat.

Stir the gelatin and lemon juice mixture until the gelatin dissolves. Stir in the frozen butter until it’s melted and smooth. Strain the curd through a mesh strainer into another bowl. Cover it with cling wrap that’s pressed onto the surface and refrigerate until firm.

Makes 3 cups.

Low-Calorie Cinnamon Streusel Muffins Recipe

My entry today is later in the day because the muffins I made last night only rated a 7, 9, and 6, according to my kids. So today, I re-worked the recipe and got a 9.5, 10, and 9. Here’s the improved recipe:

2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 tbsp butter
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon  nutmeg
pinch of ancho chili powder (optional)

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 Tbs baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg
1 cup nonfat milk
1/2 cup water
1/4  cup unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup low-fat sour cream

Preheat the oven to 400°. Spray a 12-muffin tin with nonstick spray.

Mix together the butter, 2 tablespoons sugar, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and 2 tablespoons flour until the mixture resembles crumbs. Set aside.

Mix the remaining flours, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. In a large bowl, mix remaining sugar, egg, milk, applesauce, sour cream, and water. Stir the dry mixture into the wet mixture just until moistened.

Spoon  half of the batter into the twelve cups in a muffin pan. Top with half of the cinnamon mixture, and then the rest of the batter, and then finish with the rest of the cinnamon mixture.

Bake for 12-18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool.

Servings: 12

Nutrition Facts
Nutrition according to Living Cookbook (per serving): 135 calories, 20 calories from fat, 2.3g total fat, 22.5mg cholesterol, 236.4mg sodium, 107.7mg potassium, 25.7g carbohydrates, 2.3g fiber, 7.5g sugar, 4g protein

Menu Plan for March 28 – April 3 and Roasted Potatoes Recipe

Menu Plan


Sunday: Roast chicken with oven roasted potatoes (see below)
Monday: Spaghetti with Italian sausage
Tuesday: Tuscan soup with breadsticks (recipe to come)
Wednesday: Chicken and dumplings
Thursday: FFY
Friday: Kids at their dad’s; I’ll have some fish and asparagus
Saturday: Kids at their dad’s; I’ll have something from the freezer

Lunches: Quesadillas, sandwiches, beans and weinies, Madras lentils and rice, smoothies

Breakfasts: Cinnamon streusel crumb-top muffins, oatmeal and fruit, smoothies, cold cereal

Oven-roasted Rosemary Potatoes

By mixing this in a plastic bag instead of a bowl, you can get every surface of the potatoes covered with oil and seasonings without having to use very much oil. This is more frugal (olive oil is pricey), and lighter.

2 potatoes
1  teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 tablespoon dried rosemary (or 1 tablespoon fresh)
2 garlic clove, minced
1 1/2 tablespoon olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 400°.

2. Scrub potatoes and cut them into one inch chunks. (If your potatoes are a little green, you can go ahead and peel them, like I had to do with last night’s potatoes.)  Put them in a plastic bag and add the other ingredients. Mush it around until all of the ingredients are well dispersed, and all the potatoes are covered with the other ingredients.

3. Spread the potato chunks out in one layer on a cookie sheet. Put in oven and roast for 30 minutes or until a fork inserts easily and the edges are golden brown.

Servings: 4

Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per serving): 130 calories, 46 calories from fat, 5.2g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 476.9mg sodium, 457.7mg potassium, 19.3g carbohydrates, 2.4g fiber, <1g sugar, 2.3g protein.

Sweet Fruit Salsa with Cinnamon Chips Recipe

We had beef and bean burritos the other night, and for dessert, we had a fantastic fruit salsa with cinnamon chips. We really loved this, and it’s something we’ll have again and again.

5 large frozen strawberries
1/4 cup orange juice
2 kiwi, peeled and chopped
1 small mango – peeled and diced
1 peach, peeled and diced
1 banana, peeled and diced
3 whole wheat tortillas
butter flavor non-stick cooking spray
2 Tbs sugar
2 tsp cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 400°.

2. In a food processor or blender, process the strawberries with the orange juice to make a sauce.  Combine the kiwi, mango, banana, and peach. Stir in the strawberry mixture. Cover and refrigerate.

3. Coat one side of each tortilla with cooking spray, and then cut into 10 triangles with a pizza cutter or knife. Arrange on a cookie sheet with the sprayed side down. When all the tortilla triangles are on the sheet, spray them again with non-stick spray. Mix together the sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over the tortillas.   Bake  until golden brown, about 8 minutes. Cool and serve with the fruit salsa.

4. You can make the fruit salsa up to a day ahead, and the chips earlier in the day.

Servings: 6

Nutrition (per serving): 160 calories, 18 calories from fat, 2.3g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 247.4mg sodium, 299mg potassium, 34.9g carbohydrates, 7.6g fiber, 20.9g sugar, 5.2g protein.

It tastes like a really decadent dessert, but that salsa is all fruit! It’s a very healthy (lots of fruit, lots of fiber, low calories) treat. I used the Santa Fe whole wheat tortillas from Costco, and they were only 100 calories each.

Not only is this healthy, it’s also frugal — you can use up the last bits of all kinds of fruit (pears or apples would be really good in this, and so would cantaloupe).

I think this salsa would also make an amazing ice cream topping, or if made with bigger chunks of fruit, a great fruit salad. And it’s gorgeous enough to serve for company or to take to a potluck or party.

This is definitely one of my favorite new recipes!

Black Bean Burritos Recipe

Black bean burritos are a favorite standby here. The kids like them, and I love them because they are made with stuff I always have around – so if I forget to take something out of the freezer,  I’ve still got dinner.

They are also great for those times when I’m really trying to stretch the grocery budget.

Black Bean Burritos

Black Bean Burritos

8 flour tortillas

2 cans of black beans, drained and rinsed

1/2 cup water or broth

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup shredded cheese

Put all ingredients except tortillas and cheese in a sauce pan and heat until it just starts to boil. Turn down the heat to simmer and simmer the beans until most of the liquid is gone (5-10 minutes).

Heat two tortillas at a time in the microwave for 15 seconds, or heat them individually in a hot, ungreased frying pan, flipping once.

Put 1/4 cup beans down the center of a tortilla. Sprinkle a couple tablespoons of cheese on top of the beans. Fold the ends in and then fold the bottom up to cover the filling, and roll into a burrito. Repeat with remaining tortillas.

These are amazing with sour cream, and/or with shredded lettuce and tomato.

Linked to:

Frugal Fridays

Foodie Friday

Food on Fridays

Grocery Cart Challenge

Split Pea Soup Recipe

A couple weeks ago, spiral hams were on a ridiculous sale, so I bought one and we had a lovely, decadent dinner, with ham and mashed potatoes and rolls and applesauce. We also had enough ham left over for a second dinner, plus meat for lots of sandwiches, and a ham bone to freeze for soup. I made our favorite, split pea soup.

1 pound of split peas
2 quarts water
Ham bone
1 onion, diced
1 clove of garlic, smashed
2 stalks of celery, diced
2 carrots, diced
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. thyme

Rinse peas and pick through and remove any stones.

Put all ingredients in a large stock pot or dutch oven. Simmer for 2 hours, adding water if necessary.

Remove the ham bone and allow to cool enough to  handle. Pick the meat off and return the meat to the soup. Discard the bone.

Add salt and pepper to taste, but be sure to actually taste it – the ham can add a lot of salt.

And THAT made such a large pot of soup, that I still have some in the freezer for yet another meal or two.  And the moral of this story is: Never pass up a fantastic sale on ham.

Brown Sugar Shortbread Recipe

Here’s another recipe that I put in the food gifts for Christmas. I also brought some of this shortbread to our homeschool group’s Christmas party. It is so tasty and rich that everyone thought I’d put a lot of work into the shortbread, but… well, you’ll see.

1 cup unsalted butter, softened (only use real butter)
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed (I used dark brown sugar, but you could use either)
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour

Heat the oven to 300° and get out a baking sheet. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Gradually stir in the flour.  Let it mix until cohesive and smooth, and the pat out into an 11×8″ rectangle on your baking sheet (the dough should be just a little less than 1/2″ thick).

Use a fork to dock the dough all over. Use a pizza wheel to score the dough, first across in straight lines about an inch apart, and then at an angle 2″ apart to make skewed rectangles.

Bake at 300° for about 25 minutes, or until the edges just barely start to get golden brown. Remove from oven and immediately go over your score marks with the pizza wheel, this time cutting all the way through and gently nudging the pieces apart.

Let cool for five minutes, and then move to a cooling rack to cool completely.

These are ridiculously tasty for how easy they are. If you want to get really fancy, you could dip them half into melted chocolate.

This post is linked to Tasty Tuesday and Tempt My Tummy Tuesday. Check them out for oodles of tasty recipes!

Menu Plan for April 11-17 and Tuscan Soup Recipe


Sunday Tuscan Soup (Recipe below)

Monday Black Bean Burritos

Tuesday Breakfast for Dinner

Wednesday Chicken breasts with balsamic pan sauce

Thursday Leftovers

Friday Farfalle with Tuna and Capers in White Wine Sauce (from Simply Recipes)

Saturday Fish, brown rice, and brussel sprouts

Breakfasts: Oatmeal pancakes with blueberry sauce, oatmeal with fruit, cold cereal

Lunches: Quesadillas, leftovers, smoothies, sandwiches

I am madly in love with the Zuppa Toscana at Olive Garden. I think that it and the tiramisu are the only reasons to eat at Olive Garden.

This week is “make the most of what you’ve got” week for us (meaning it’s not strictly “eat from the pantry and freezer”, but the less I can buy to round out what I’ve got, the better). I have been meaning to try my hand at a soup inspired by, but not entirely copied from (that’s no fun!) the Olive Garden soup. I had Italian sausage in the freezer, and I had spinach — I had planned kale in this, but spinach was what I had. And that worked out just fine.

This is what I came up with, and MAN was it yummy.

1 lb bulk Italian sausage
2 Tbs shallots, diced
3 clove garlic, minced
1 cup dry white wine
3 15oz. cans chicken broth (fat free)
2 cup water
1 potato, diced
1 cup spinach, chopped
3 Tbs basil, chopped
1 cup fat-free evaporated milk

Fry sausage in a large sauce pan, breaking it up as it cooks. Drain on paper towels. In the same pan, cook shallot and garlic until translucent. Add wine and deglaze pan. Add broth and water and turn heat to medium. Add sausage back to pan and add potato. Cook until potato is done, then add the spinach. Finish with the evaporated milk and serve.

Servings: 12

Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per serving, according to Living Cookbook): 180 calories, 109 calories from fat, 12.1g total fat, 29.6mg cholesterol, 741.1mg sodium, 304.4mg potassium, 6.2g carbohydrates, <1g fiber, 2.8g sugar, 8g protein.

And now we have 2 more meals’ worth of this tasty soup in the freezer!

I also served homemade bread sticks. I used Lynn’s 40-minute Rolls recipe, but I cut it in half — I used a whole egg, and added a little extra flour to compensate for the extra liquid in the egg. I shaped them into snake-shapes by rolling balls of dough between my palms, like you would with play dough, and then baked them. After they were done, I sprayed them lightly with butter-flavor nonstick spray, and sprinkled them with a little bit of garlic salt. They were fantastic!

Everyone except my pickiest eater loved this soup (and that pickiest eater doesn’t like ANY soup). We will definitely be having this again!