Grandma Tilly’s Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

May 15th, 2015


Dog people / cat people; cilantro / no cilantro; bikini / tankini / no-kini – there are a lot important preferences in this world but I discovered a new one recently: those who think pineapple upside-down cake is antiquated, disgusting, extinct even / those who find it to be the most fantastic thing either side of the Mississippi.

Our magical god-mother, Kristen, arrived to Hannah’s Easter party this year with a pineapple upside-down cake in-hand and changed my life forever. I spent much of the party saddled up to the dessert table eating the cake straight off the platter (my apologies… or rather #sorrynotsorry, that’s still a thing, right?). I had been converted and knew right then-and-there I had to make it for my husband’s upcoming birthday. When I told Kristen this she explained that her grandma Tilly had made Kristen’s father that very same cake every year for his birthday. Well, dear reader, I smell a new tradition in my house and it smells like rightside-up cake. And on the 8th day, God said, “please save me a piece of that cake.”

Since this is Kristen’s recipe I decided to pay homage to her by actually organizing my ingredients before I began; usually I am a wild gal with a bag of flour in a wet sink trying desperately to find baking powder while balancing bowls on top of bowls and trying to listen to my girl Lynne Rossetto Kasper talk about lard bread and latin-chinese-polish fusion desserts on my Splendid Table podcast… Kristen’s way is obviously better.


  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 tall can of pineapple rings, or one fresh pineapple
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees – melt butter with brown sugar in cast iron skillet in the oven.

2. Separate yolks from whites and add a dash of salt to the whites.

3. Cream white sugar and egg yolks.

4. Sift or whisk flour and baking powder. Add the yolk and sugar mixture alternately with the egg whites, and 1/4 cup of pineapple slush (liquid and pineapple left over in the can mushed up).

5. Lay pineapples on top of brown sugar and butter mixture. Add berries if you wish to the center of the pineapples.

6. Dollop/spread batter into the pan and bake for roughly 30 minutes. DON’T OVER BAKE!!!

We were without a proper camera on the cake’s big day – many apologies. She was prettier than this in real life, but always remember that it’s whats on the inside that really counts: sugar and flour and butter and all that crazy stuff.

And thank you to Kristen’s grandma Tilly – who here looks like a Pineapple Cake Angel.


Kitchen Essentials

September 17th, 2013

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Summertime is basically 10 weeks of madness. My girls are at home wreaking havoc, it’s 4 million degrees outside and we are constantly traveling. So my time in the kitchen is limited at best. Once Fall sets in, I long to be back in the kitchen cooking and baking to make up for all that lost time. In that spirit, I thought I’d round up a number of my kitchen essentials; some I can’t live without, a few that I am still dreaming about and all of which will make your own kitchen efficient, well appointed and all and all, a happy place to be this fall.

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That Time of Year : Homemade Chili and Football

September 12th, 2013

My favorite time of year is when football season begins. There is nothing I love more than brisk Sundays on the sofa watching football. And this has absolutely nothing to do with the actual sport itself (I will never forget the look on my father’s face when I asked if the Braves were a good football team), but rather that it heralds “chili season”. And I live for chili season. If I were honest about how much chili I consume in the fall and winter (and even in the sweltering heat of summer) it would be one humiliating admission. Truly, I would be a viable candidate if there were such a thing as a chili-dependency intervention. Growing up, my mother put chili over spaghetti which is a-mazing (ala Cincinnati institution Sky Line-style) but I am a bit of a puritan and prefer to skip the spaghetti altogether. And seeing how I eat alarming amounts of the stuff, I have, out of necessity, come up with a simple and über healthy recipe that is oh so delicious. And the little ones LOVE it. Like mother, like daughter.

What you need:

1 onion
3 cloves of garlic
2 c. shredded zucchini & carrots
1 28 ounce can or box of chopped tomatoes
1 10 ounce can tomatoes and green chills (rotel or the like)
1 lb ground turkey
15 ounces drained dark red kidney beans
15 ounces drained red beans
2 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp cumin
1 tsp paprika
salt & pepper
cayenne pepper to taste

what to do with it :

In a stock pot, sauté onions and garlic in good olive oil until translucent
Add in zucchini and carrots (shredded in the Cuisinart)
Add a bit of chicken stock or juice from tomatoes if needed to cook down vegetables
Cover and let cook on medium heat unit the vegetables have cooked down and are very soft
Add in tomatoes. Cook a bit longer
With an emulsion blender blend until vegetables are pureed but still maintain some texture

In a separate skillet cook the turkey until done and browned
Add to pot along with beans and spices. Let simmer for an hour or longer.

Serve topped off with grated cheddar, sour cream and green onion or chopped Italian parsley.

I add beer to mine in lieu of the tomato juice/ chicken stock- Shiner bock being my favorite.
When I am not feeding this to my kids I add tons of cayenne.