My grown son is now in his own condo and some of these recipes were written t when he was younger as you will see by my references, as a gift to him for this very moment. Some are written now as I reflect back in time.
Whether you read them for the story or the recipe, know that they were written as a tribute to the many people who have influenced my kitchen, my cooking and my notion of family.
Being my son means that you are fully aware that my birthday is celebrated pretty much for the entire month of March. Not that I ever need an excuse for reveling, but birthdays have always given me the added reason to party and I love to party. I gather that after 25 years of being my son, you know this about me.
But since I turned 50, my birthday has been a little wacky.
I purposely launched my book, Life Cycling on my birthday last year to soften the blow that, until then, was starting to make me think that not so great things happen on my birthday. I didn’t want to travel down that rabbit hole, but you can see how I could have headed that way.
50 was my first breast cancer diagnosis.
52 was my second breast cancer diagnosis.
55 was when the shutdown happened.
Literally. My birthday weekend. March 13th,-March 15th. Celebrating out and dancing on Friday night and the following day, closing my business, canceling all plans for any festing.
“Only 2 weeks,” I said to my freaked out team. And 3 years later...
Remarkably STILL STANDING.
I don’t know how, other than my sheer will and might and a complete trust in the divine right order of things along with a small team that stuck with me in a way I can never repay.
And some seriously bad ass most loyal clients.
HERE WE ARE.
HERE I AM.
So the recipe to bring it all together is the birthday cake I love the most. Pistachio Cake. It brings me on a time travel back to the days of my early marriage and my lovely in laws, especially my mother in law, Sandy. Her birthday is the day before mine and though she certainly didn't invent this recipe, because she gave it to me, it just feels like she did.
Her baking and joy of making food for others really connected us. The spirit of great food was how I grew up, how Dave grew up and how we both raised Michael. Food as the connector, the peacemaker, the celebrations in good times and the remembrances of the not so happy ones, food has always been a deep expression of love and care.
Some people don’t have the same joie de vivre when it comes to sugary love, that I do; I love baking and giving sweet treats to people I love.
Pistachio Cake, topped with a pile of crushed salted pistachios, light green, ready for Spring, St, Patrick’s Day, July 4th, moist, happy, refreshing and easy. Pistachio Cake is one of those staple cakes I really enjoy making. And Eating.
A cause for celebration now that my book is turning 1 and my reinvented business is turning 3 years old—after 21 years in business. I can’t think of a better way to say Happy Birthday, to me, my friends and family, to my business that includes my team and clients and to life in general than by sharing this particular recipe.
It is no accident that I send this out the same weekend of the shut down that landed exactly three years ago on the exact weekend of my birthday, March 15th. When everything changed, but in a twisted sort of way, for the better ultimately.
Happy Birthday to everyone who had stood right alongside of us or any business for that matter. Holy shit, I can’t believe I still get to wake up every day and do what I love. I would say that this is the best birthday gift ever.
I Love You. Love Mom
*Because I make some product recommendations in my blogs, I may get a small commission as an affiliate and or an Amazon affiliate. Anything I recommend I personally use. I want to make it easier to shop for items you may not have, need to replace-- or if you are a lover of all things kitchen like me, just want to add to your collection. I do know that it drives some of my friends bonkers that I make recommendations to the giants, but I try to recommend local whenever possible. As they say in self help groups, "take what you need and leave the rest."
The recipe to bring it all together is the birthday cake I love the most. Pistachio Cake. It brings me on a time travel back to the days of my early marriage and my lovely in laws, especially your Grandmother, Sandy.
Her baking and joy of making food for others really connected us. The spirit of great food was how I grew up, how Dad grew up and how we both raised you.
Prep Time: About 10 minutes Cooking Time: About 50 minutes Finishing Time:
After it cools, about 10 minutes
WHAT YOU WILL NEED
FOR THE CAKE
1 Package Yellow Cake Mix
1/2 c. vegetable oil
1 package Pistachio Instant Pudding
1 c. club soda
FOR THE FROSTING
2- 8 oz containers Cool Whip thawed
1 package Pistachio Instant Pudding
Mix well so the pudding really combines together. Sometimes I add a little milk or cream to this so it doesn’t thicken too much. I keep this on the counter while I wait for the cake to bake.
TOPPING FOR GARNISH
1/2 c. or more Salted Pistachios crushed (I used a mortar and pestle for this)
Set aside. The photo looks a little heavy handed with pistachios, but remember, I omit them from the batter.
WHAT TO COOK WITH
- 2 round cake pans
- An Electric Mixer
- Pretty round serving cake plate
HOW TO CREATE THE MAGIC
FOR THE CAKE
Preheat oven to 350
- Spray 2 round cake pans with cooking spray.
- Using an electic mixer, beat all ingredients for 4 minutes.
- Divide batter in half, splitting it between 2 greased cake pans.
- Put into preheated oven for 45 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
- Cool before flipping (I always take a knife and gently go around the outside rim of the cake right when it comes out of oven, then cool completely).
- Once cooled, flip out 1 pan on to the plate you will serve the cake on and frost, sandwich the second one on top and finish frosting.
- Sprinkle with crushed pistachios as much or as little as you want.
FOR THE FROSTING
- 2- 8 oz containers Cool Whip thawed
- 1 package Pistachio Instant Pudding
- Mix well so the pudding really combines together. Sometimes I add a little milk or cream to this so it doesn’t thicken too much. I keep this on the counter while I wait for the cake to bake.
TOPPING FOR GARNISH
- 1/2 c. or more Salted Pistachios crushed (I used a mortar and pestle for this) Sprinkle all over the cake, as much or as little you want.
My mother in law always had a Tupperware travel cake pan. It was mustard colored and like so many items of yesteryear, perfect for bringing this cake to all parties. When I spotted this round cake carrier in pistachio green, I had to have it.
This Kitchen Aid Mixer in turquoise never gets old and it will likely show up in any blog requiring one. I don't have this color as I have said many times, since I have a happy pink one, but....
When I was looking for some fun cake pans just in case you need replacements, I found these easy release cake pans which I remember having a few cake pans ago. They are clever and work if you let the cake cool like you are supposed to:)
TIPS + SHORTCUTS
- My mother in law's recipe has walnuts in the mix. I have omitted them. If you want to add nuts, then I would add pistachio, but I prefer them on top of the cake rather than in the mix.
- Her original recipe also calls for only one container of COOL WHIP. I found that the pudding Cool whip ratio makes the frosting a little gritty so I use 2- 8 oz. containers.
- I always refrigerate this cake, it tastes so good cold. Especially with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream.
- My mother in law always put toothpicks in the top of the cake and lightly covered the top with plastic wrap so the top would stay frosted well in its travels.
Sign up for my first cooking class to learn how to a make a few pudding in the mix cakes, Pistachio Cake, Chocolate Cake and a Lemon Cake too. Just in time for Mother's Day and some other fun surprises, (maybe a Proseco tasting if I can get my friend Maria from Newport Wine Cellar over to Bristol.)
Sign up here for a fun night out. Can't make it? Zoom in too. We'll send you a box of almost everything you will need. This is a picture of me having fun in the kitchen. You will too.
(zoom class will be up on the site soon, when I can figure out that part of the backend, if you are interested, just email me)
Here is my Mother In Law's original recipe for Pistachio Cake that she wrote out for me in beautiful penmanship. This recipe says Angel food or Bundt pan, but I always remember her making it as a layer cake.