Grandma Tillman’s Christmas Cake (Vanilla Wafer Cake)

102_6169Over the past little while, I’ve been thinking a lot about my memories of the South.  While, I only lived there a very short while, my dad is a full-fledged, good ol’ Southern Boy who was born and raised in Florida until the time he left for the army!  When I was very young, my family moved from New Mexico (where my mom was from) to Florida for a very short little while.  I have been trying to remember some of the things that stuck out in my mind the most about the South….

My Aunt Arie had this awesome home in the woods, that was to die for!  Old country charm at it’s finest.  She made the BEST chicken and rice EVER…. I could have eaten the entire bowl of that stuff whenever it was made.

My Aunt Geraldine had this home in Jacksonville, that if, looking back now, I would have had the time and money and resources, If I could do it, I would go back and redecorate that thing!  It was an absolutely beautiful home in it’s day.  Think “Meet Me in St. Louis”  beautiful home!  Unfortunately it was in such a scary neighborhood, that it was terribly frightening to stay there.  The windows had to have bars on them and each door had two or three locks on them.

My Aunt Juanita (I hope I’m spelling correctly) had this home in Tampa…. in the back yard, was this giant ORANGE tree… One year after a visit there, I came home with a giant box of freshly picked oranges, which I was able to keep all to myself!  They were amazingly delicious!  I also remember this giant iguana that ran through her back yard one day while we were there!

My Uncle Chester had as many kids as we did if not more!  We would always go swimming with them… All I can remember is how hot the concrete around the pool was on my poor tender feet and nasty old flip-flops that hurt my feet.  I would take them off because I couldn’t wear them, only to be burned on the concrete!!

Uncle Lloyd had this GIANT Rottweiler dog named Rosco that could count…. He would bark a certain amount of barks for each finger that was held up.  I thought that dog was going to eat me for breakfast–no foolin’!  “I was skeered of him as I wuz a bear!”

Uncle Ivan lived in Baton Rouge, “Looziana!”  His wife was the best cook I could think of.  She even made a plate of grits seem like a gourmet meal!  It was there that I had Crawdads for the first time.  It was also there that I acquired an insane addiction to Cajun seasoning!  I always enjoyed staying at their place.  It was always our stop over on our way to Florida!

Uncle Irvin lived in a little wooded place there in Florida.  One day while visiting there, a lightening bolt hit in the back yard…. I’ve never been that close to lightening before and I don’t ever wish to do it again!

My own memories of living in Florida include living through a hurricane.  Fortunately we were enough inland that all I remember is a rainstorm and trees being blown over, and my siblings scaring the livin’ tar out of me one day…. I was playing up in a wooded area near our home when I guess they decided to inform me that “Skunk Ape” (aka BigFoot) was chasin’ me.  I can’t remember stopping for anything all the way back to my bedroom!  I was so scared!

We visited Silver Springs  — They had glass bottom boats where you could see at least 80 feet down!  This is the place where most of the Tarzan movies were filmed.

My siblings also talked about how fun it was to go floating down the Ichetucknee Springs in Florida  — they often laughed about doing dumb things and goofing off in the water while seeing big ol’ snakes swimming around in there!  I also remember swimming in the Suwanee River.

I remember the miniature horse farms all over there — seriously, the horses weren’t much bigger than dogs!  There were also miles and miles of beautiful horse ranches with white picket fences and green fields…. Beautiful Southern Magnolia trees that, when in blossom, smelled like Lemonade to me!

Smearing peanut butter on top of pancakes, of which I still do EVERY SINGLE TIME!!!

The moss growing off the giant oak trees.

My dad reading “Uncle Remus” stories to me about Brer Rabbit and Brer Bear and the Tar baby with such the perfect Southern drawl — “I say’d HHHHOOOOWWWDDDDYYY!”

We listened to Jerry Clower ALL the time — he is one of my favorite comedians!  He passed away many years ago.

I wish you could see the memories I am seeing in my head right now!  Those were good times.

My favorite fast-food store was Popeye’s Chicken.  I sure wish one was close by to where I live, but no such luck!  Their chicken was amazing; but I remember the side dish of red beans and rice that was really tasty to me as well!

We would stop off at Louis’ Hamburgers (where my dad used to work when he was a teenager).  If I remember correctly, that little shop was located in Gainsville.  They were some really great hamburgers!

We lived in a little town called Newberry.  It was supposed to be the watermelon capital of the world! Maybe that’s why I love watermelons so much!

The fog in the mornings…. the smell in the air!  So beautiful!  I can still smell that same smell at times when we have foggy mornings in the summer!

Snakes, gaters, and the cockroaches….. Those were just a few memories I am fine forgetting about!

I wish I could remember more, but the one thing that I will NEVER, EVER forget is my Grandma Tillman’s Christmas Cake!  I don’t have her exact recipe.  I wish I could go back in time and get it from her, but it’s not possible!  So I have searched the internet over and over until I found the recipe that I think resembled her’s the most.  She was diabetic and would use honey in place of the sugar.  Since honey is such a pricey commodity at our place, I will be using sugar today instead.  It was made for every Christmas party at our house!  It was a Southern gathering staple!  I hope it will be one that you will enjoy as well!  With each bite, I intend to remember the good times!

Well, I guess I have strolled down memory lane long enough.  It’s time for a recipe!

1 C melted butter

6 eggs

1/2 C milk

2 C sugar

1 12 oz packg of crushed Vanilla Wafers — I used my food processor

1 8 oz packg of shredded Coconut Flakes

1 C pecans — The more the better!

MIx everything together and put it in a GREASED AND FLOURED pan — a vegetable spray will not be enough — it will stick.  Please use the grease and flour method–generously.  Pop it in the preheated oven of 350 degrees and let it cook for an hour!  I have used a bundt pan but I prefer to use a rectangular pan.  You might have to adjust your cooking time if cooked in a regular pan.

Serve with either cool whip, ice cream, or a caramel sauce.  I hope you enjoy it!


Hamburger Birthday Cake!

Next week is my little one’s birthday.  He is turning SIX!  My goodness how the time sure does fly!  A few years ago, he informed me that he wanted a hamburger cake for his birthday.  I stood there with my mouth dropped…. what could he possibly mean?  Did he want cake or did he want hamburgers?  After a little bit of looking around we came up with the best of both worlds!

Ta Da!!  Hamburger Birthday Cake!


This was the funnest thing I have EVER done for a cake!

The bun was simply a cake mix cooked in a round glass serving dish.  The patty and the bottom bun was cooked in a small round baking pan.  The patty was covered with chocolate icing; however, if I were to do this again, it would be made out of a brownie mix.

My husband and kids had the funnest time trying to come up with ideas for the “condiments!”

We used red, white and yellow icing for the ketchup, mayonnaise, and mustard.  For the onions and tomatoes, we used white and red large gumdrops.  We just took a rolling pin to them and flattened them.  The lettuce was greed colored coconut.  We took white icing and made the sesame seeds for the top of the bun.

For the fries, we took a pound cake from the store, cut it up, sprinkled cinnamon and sugar on it and baked it in the oven for a short little while.

The look on my son’s face was the best thing ever!  Hamburger Birthday Cake!

If you want to try it out, send me your pictures!  I would love to see how it works for ya!

Rhubarb Dump Cake!


I got another YUMMY one comin’ your way today!  The original recipe was found here on Pinterest a while back.  Please give her the proper credit.  I gave it a whirl today.  My 12 yr old RAVED on and on.  She LOVED it!!  It must therefore be added to the “keeper” pile!

We love Rhubarb, Rhubarb cake, and our most favorite, Rhubarb Jelly — My mother used to always make it while I was growing up.  I had a small crop of it in the garden yesterday, and it was just the right amount to try this recipe out with.  I was much too impatient to wait for a huge crop for jelly.  I NEEDED to try this one out!  Mine is ever so slightly different than the original.  So make sure you give credit to the original gal who did this!  It is absolutely so simple!

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a glass baking dish.  Wash and cut up about 2 cups of Rhubarb.  I cut mine up small (which is the way my kiddos like it).  Spread it over the bottom of the dish.  Pour a cup of sugar over that.  Pour a 3 oz Strawberry Jell-o packet over the sugar.  Zest an orange and sprinkle it over the jello.  Sprinkle a dry yellow cake mix over that.  Pour one cup of sprite or water over the mix.  Melt a half a cube of butter and drizzle it over the entire mixture.  DO NOT STIR.  Bake the old girl for about 45 minutes or until the rhubarb is done.

This cake would be amazing after it has had some time to cool and set up (with the jello in it) …. but it didn’t last that long.  I had kids eatin’ it and burnin’ their tongues at the same time, but it did not stop them.   I served it with a little orange Sherbert and it was amazing.  I took a quick, little Sunday nap and thought I could go back for a little more… I guess not!  It’s GONE!  Now we just need to wait for more Rhubarb to grow!  I can’t wait to try this one out in a dutch oven.  Camping season is upon us.  This one would be great and super easy.  Let me know if you enjoyed it!

Deliciously Moist Blueberry Streusel Topped Cake


Dang!  I wish I knew how to take pictures better than I do!!!  This picture doesn’t do this cake justice!  Well… I experimented… VERY SCARY…. I know!  HOWEVER, this time wasn’t too shabby!  I had a hankerin’ for some muffins, but I didn’t want the mess, nor did I want to take the time to do each individual muffin.  I came across this muffin recipe at and I happened to read one of the reviewers comments about accidentally turning it into a cake.  So…. I decided to give it a go!  This recipe will be slightly adapted from the original.

I LOVE blueberry muffins.  However, the only thing I had on hand was one can of blueberry pie filling.  So, I drained the pie filling in a colander.  I saved all the wonderful glazing that came off from it and kept it in another bowl…. I had plans for it later!  I rinsed the remaining glaze off from the blueberries with some water while still in the colander.  When I had my dough prepared, I gently folded in the blueberries.  Fresh or frozen blueberries can be used …BUT NOT REQUIRED!   When the cake was all done and we were serving it up, I drizzled the remaining glaze over the top of the cake!  It was WONDERFUL!  My husband and kids LOVED it!  For this recipe alone, I may go and gather up all the canned blueberry pie filling cans I can get my hands on and keep it in my food storage!  I might even try a cherry pie filling next time!

Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour a 9 x 13 glass baking dish.

First… Cream together the following ingredients:

1/2 C butter

1 C sugar

Then add 1 tsp vanilla and two eggs.  Mix some more!

Add the following dry ingredients:

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

2 C flour

Add 1 cup of milk.  At this point you should have a smooth cake consistency.  Fold in your prepared blueberries.

Mix, with a fork, the following Streusel topping and then sprinkle it over your uncooked cake:

4 Tb flour

4 Tb brown sugar

1/2 tsp cinnamon

2 TB butter

A handful of rolled oats.

Chopped nuts… optional!

Place that bad boy into a hot oven and cook for about 35 minutes, or until a knife comes out clean.  When serving it up, drizzle your blueberry glaze over the top of it and enjoy!  You had better give some of it away, because if you are on a diet, like I am…. this could ruin EVERYTHING!!  This would be AWESOME for a brunch idea, or a Christmas morning type of recipe, OR, to just eat it whenever!!!  Let me know if you like it!

Monkey Bread!


OK..  I am writing this one down before I forget it!  I usually don’t experiment too much.  I never have good results.  I usually stick to other people’s proven recipes; then, if it doesn’t work, I can blame it on the recipe…. ahem!

However, I don’t know what came over me last night… Oh!  I remember!  I hadn’t eaten anything since breakfast and I was STARVED!  Enter in “experiment!”  And, luckily for you, it turned out FANTABULOUS!

The night before I had made a double batch of bread sticks.  I thought that I would cook half up and then put the rest in the refrigerator for Saturday.  Well, we were cleaning all day and I forgot I had it in the refrigerator.  At 6 p.m. everyone was begging me for food…. not good!  We usually eat much earlier on a Saturday.  Eating that late interferes with getting everyone ready for church and all the heavy house cleaning that goes on.  I really wasn’t in the mood for bread sticks, either.  So, I took the dough out and divided it into small dough balls.  I sprayed a muffin tin with cooking spray.  I took each ball, placed about a tsp of chocolate chips in it, rolled it into a ball, then dipped it into some hot cocoa mix that I had on hand.  I put three cocoa covered balls into each muffin whole.  I took about a half a cube of butter and melted it, then I just kept adding brown sugar to the butter until I got a thick, gooey consistency, then I poured that over the bread.  I baked them at 350 for about 18 minutes or so, and they were GREAT!


Had I had the ingredients and the patience to finish these little bad boys, I would have gone a little bit further!  The flavors would have been fantastic!  When you roll the dough into little balls, place a few chocolate chips into each ball, then roll it up and dip it in the dry hot cocoa mix (similar to chicken pillows–only chocolate pillows!)  I would have sprinkled a few nuts on them as well had I had any.  Then when they are all done baking and still nice and warm, I would have DRIZZLED cream cheese frosting on them!   But, we’ll save that for another time.  My diet thanks me for not doing all that!

After they finished baking and we had enjoyed a couple of them, I let them finish cooling completely before I placed them in a plastic sack and put them in the refrigerator.  I warmed one up this morning and it was perfect for a Sunday morning quick breakfast!

Breadstick Dough Recipe:

3 cups of flour (more if needed)

1/2 tsp salt

2 T sugar

In a seperate bowl add and mix the following:

1 1/2 C warm water

1 T yeast

1 T sugar

When your yeast mixture is all bubbly, add it to the flour mixture and mix well until no flour is left on the side of the mixing bowl.  Allow it to rise for about a half an hour.

This batch will make only one dozen, so, if there is only one or two of you, then you’re good; however, if your family is the size of mine, you might want to double or even triple it.

UPDATE:  I added the chocolate chips and icing and it was F-A-NOM-I-N A L!!!!

Delicious, Moist Carrot Cake!


One of the great things about a September birthday is that there is plenty of fresh garden veggies around, including carrots!  My favorite birthday cake is a Carrot Cake!  However, since it is not September, and I had a huge craving for carrot cake, I had to break down and go buy a big bag of carrots to get my carrot cake fix!  It was totally worth it!  I LOVE this recipe.  I use the cake recipe from my mother-in-law, THEN, I use the glaze and icing recipe that I got from the Food Nanny.  Talk about pure delight!

I made some last night, then went to choir practice.  The entire time while I was playing the piano, I couldn’t wait to get home so that I could have one more piece!  When I got home, I walked into the kitchen and do you know what I saw????  An empty dish!  I could not believe what I saw!  Oh well, I guess my family was helping me to not blow my diet….. dad burn it!  Now, all I want to do is make another one for family night!  Too bad I’m short on carrots!  Oh well, that would have just meant a whole lot more exercising today and it is cleaning day, so that would not have been an option!

For the cake:

Mix the following:

2 C sugar

1/2 C oil

4 eggs

Then mix in the following:

2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

2 tsp cinnamon

3 C shredded carrots (about 5 or 6 good sized carrots)

2 C flour (You might want to add a little bit more — my two cups didn’t seem to be quite enough — maybe about a 1/2 C more or so)

1 C nuts (optional — but completely worth it!)

Grease and flour a 9×13 baking dish.  Pour the prepared  batter into the dish and bake at 350 degrees for about 35 – 40 minutes.  It’s done when a knife inserted into the cake comes out clean.

While the cake is cooking, mix the following together and bring to a small boil:

1/2 C sugar

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/4 C butter milk or milk

1/4 C (1/2 a stick) of butter

1/2 T corn syrup

1 tsp vanilla

When the cake is done baking, gently “stab” you cake in several places with a knife or a toothpick.  Drizzle the entire pan of glaze over your cake.  Let it get down into all those little holes you just made.  Let it set for a short little while to cool, then spread your cream cheese icing over the top.  Garnish with more nuts, if desired.

1/4 C (1/2 a stick) butter

4 oz cream cheese

1 tsp vanilla

1 C powdered Sugar

1 tsp orange juice

1 tsp orange zest — If you don’t have orange zest or orange juice, you could simply omit it and just use a little bit of milk instead, if your icing is too thick — but the orange flavoring is out of this world!

Mmmmm! Doughnuts!


I am so sorry my little band of followers get two posts in one day; however, I am trying to take advantage of a few spare moments to try to upload a lot of my recipes onto here!

This week was parent teacher conference week.  We had two scheduled for Tuesday and three for Wednesday; however, because of the dumping of snow that we got, they postponed the Tuesday conferences… you guessed it!  FIVE conferences in one day (3 hours!)  What a hurried, chaotic evening that was!

However, after the good things I heard from the teachers about my kids, I decided that they deserved some doughnuts…. not just any doughnuts, some homemade, made with love doughnuts, thanks for being my kids, kind of doughnuts!  This is what we came up with!

This one is not mine!  I found it on Allrecipes, but, after giving them a couple of tries,  I think I have finally found out what works for me!  Quite simple!  Quite delicious!  And yes, my kids even asked me who “bought” the doughnuts and brought them home!  Now, that is a keeper!

In a small bowl, add

1/2 C warm water (you want it warm, but not hot to the touch)

3 T regular yeast (not instant)

3 T sugar

Give them a good mix and let that mixture sit covered with a towel for about 10 minutes or so.

In your mixer, add the following ingredients:

Yeast mixture

3 C warm milk

1 C white sugar

2 tsp salt

4 eggs

2/3 C shortening

4 C of flour — to begin with.  Mix everything and then gradually start adding more flour.  Aprox a total of 10 – 12 Cups of flour.  You want the sides of the bowl to scrape clean when you are mixing it.  Cover the dough and let it rise for an hour or so, or until it is doubled in size.  Give it a good punch and then let it rise some more.

Spread your cooking counter with a thin layer or crisco or shortening — NOT FLOUR!  If your side of the bowl scraped clean while mixing it, you do not want to add more flour to the dough.

Roll the dough out until kind of thin!  Then use anything you have to cut out  your doughnuts.  I found this fancy little cutter on Amazon a while back, and I LOVE it!  Cut out your doughnuts and let them rise until doubled in size again!  Cover them with a dish cloth while they are rising.


Preheat your skillet with oil.  It needs to be good and hot.  Gently place your doughnuts in the hot oil.  It will only take about one minute or so to cook on each side.  Take them out and place them on a wire rack on top of a cookie sheet.


While the doughnuts are still warm, but yet easily enough to handle, dip them into the icing:

1/2 C butter

2 C powdered sugar

2 tsps vanilla

4 TB hot water, as needed

Mix everything but the water in your mixer.  Gradually add your water until you get the nice runny consistency that you desire.  I put half of my icing an a bowl and then took the other half and added about 1/4 C of cocoa powder and gave it a good mix.

Just dip the doughnuts in the icing and then dip it in sprinkles if you feel up to it!

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NOTE:  These make about 50 doughnuts!  I take half the dough and refrigerate it for another day.  I take the holes and place them on a cookie sheet.  I then flash-freeze those, or freeze them until they are frozen hard then place them all in a plastic bag.  When you want fresh doughnut holes, take what you need out of the freezer, let it rise and cook them!  Toss them in powdered sugar!