21 September, 2016  |   1 Comment

Repost! Wine Wednesday: Wine Cake Recipe

Wine Cake is our town’s go-to fundraiser cake. If you know exactly which women’s auxillary group has it for sale, you could even find it at the Harvest Festival and pet parade.

Thanks to a sticky glaze, Wine Cake is squishy and sweet and super-delicious. We serve it with barely sweetened whipped cream and all the berries.

Wine Cake Recipe

Cake ingredients

1 box yellow cake mix
1 three and a half ounce box instant vanilla pudding
1 cup white wine (I like Sutter Home’s Sauvignon Blanc for cooking)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs

Glaze Ingredients
1 stick butter, cut into chunks
1/4 cup water
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup white wine

Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease and flour a 10″ Bundt pan or grease and flour one and a half cupcake pans.

Combine the yellow cake mix, box of instant vanilla pudding, white wine, vegetable oil and all four eggs in a large bowl and beat with a well-muscled arm or (my preference) an electric mixer.

Pour the batter into your choice of pan.

If you’re going the Bundt route, put the filled cake pan in the oven for 45-50 minutes. Cupcakes should only take about 20 minutes.

About 10 minutes before the cake is done, make the glaze by stirring the butter with the water, sugar and white wine over medium heat until dissolved. Increase the heat and bring to a bubbly boil. Be careful, for it is sugar and can hurt you badly if it spilled on your skin. Remove the danger pot from heat. Set aside.

Remove the cake or cupcakes from the oven and let the pan cool for 10 minutes.

If using the Bundt pan, poke holes in the bottom (top) of the cake. Pour 1/2 of the glaze into and around the holes. Let the cake absorb the glaze. If you’re working with cupcakes, remove all from the pan and set on a tray upside down. Poke holes in the bottom of the cakes and pour the glaze into your holes.

Invert the cake onto a serving dish and drizzle the rest of the glaze on top. You may need to do this in several batches. Serve and await the cheers and happy hollers.

14 August, 2015  |   Comment

It’s Chili Cook-off Time

A whirlywind week with a chili cookoff to host.
It’s pretty straightforward now.
Just the beans, ma’am.

We do it yearly, nine years to be exact.
Can you believe we’ve been hanging out so long?

Let’s hear it for this year’s all-lady cast of winners!

2015 Chili and Corbread Cook-off Winners!

They each won themselves a sweet hand-painted (thankyouverymuch) safari hat.


If you brought something to enter the competition, you’ll have to sign in. We’ll give you a small cup for voting. You’ll set that up next to your chili. We put out jars of Sharpies on the table so entrants could label their chili right on the table.


Drawing a big circle around your chili can help you clear a little space for your creation. If you brought sides, you can put the sides and the voting cup within your chili circle.

Just here to taste?

Grab a bowl, a spoon and two beans to vote for your favorites.
Get to tasting!


Make your way through the chilis bowl by bowl. This year, we had about 18.


I taste by putting different chilis in one bowl. One year we tried individual tasting cups, but the ladles didn’t work so well with the small opening. By the end of that year’s competition, everyone had chili-hands. The bowl below has 4 different chilis in it.


Then taste, taste, taste.





When you’ve decided on your favorite, leave a bean in the cup and get back to your bocce team! You still have a game to play!
(Sadly, we lost the match to the Paisans.)


When most of the chilis are empty, it’s time to count the beans!


Our awards ceremony is totally solemn and terrible.


Just kidding. It takes 5 minutes and everyone gets back to their game as quick as can be.

Chili up!

6 June, 2012  |   3 Comments

AB Chao’s Pimento Dip

AB Chao's Pimento Dip

You know AB Chao, of course you do.
She’s our bite-sized Southern style maven.
She makes rooms sing and beauty happen wherever she goes.
Plus, she’s funny as heck.

AB helped me out with our last bocce game theme, “Southern food.”
See, I was stuck. Malcolm had called fried chicken, EMartin had called macaroni and cheese and KBalls’ fried green tomato club sandwich, well, who can top that?
I had no other Southern foods in my wheel house!

Malcolm's Perfect Chicken

Erin Martin's Mac & Cheese

Kevin's Fried Green Tomato Club Sandwich

Anna Beth sent her Pimento Dip recipe.
I doubled it, for the next day’s porch party.
And it was a huge hit.
Both times.

And, on the day after bocce, my picky husband was spotted, scooping this dip into an omelette.
It’s that good.

AB Chao’s Pimento Dip Recipe

2 cups shredded cheddar
2 tablespoons mayonnaise (or until the dip gets to the right dip consistency [dipsistency?])
1 jar pimentos, drained
1 jalapeno, seeded and rib removed, chopped fine
1/2 teaspoon salt

Stir all of the ingredients in a bowl until they’re well-combined. You will need to continue to stir, after you think you’re done, until all the ingredients are fully incorporated.

Scoop smoothly into a flat serving bowl.
Your guests will flip out.

Thanks AB!
Fool proof and fancy free, the way I like it.

AB Chao's Pimento Dip

28 March, 2012  |   11 Comments

Artichoke dip recipe, the best

This is a photo of my favorite best artichoke dip.

In spring, I get a little goofy with happiness as three of my favorite foods come into season. Stocking up on asparagus, strawberries and fresh artichokes fills my heart with glee. (It’s the little things, isn’t it?)

Since my favorites haven’t quite yet hit the stores this season, I satisfy myself by making this cheesy, creamy perfection.

See, you need an artichoke dip recipe.
You need this for potlucks and book clubs and to impress your new beau.
You need this with corn chips or thinly-sliced, slightly crusty French bread.

But Helen Jane! I thought you were posting recipes from your meal planning this week.

Well, this recipe works because all the items can be found in your pantry. Canned, condimental (that’s a word), on hand, this is the kind of dip you can go to when there’s an event you haven’t planned for. Pop up dip!

No spinach or water chestnuts to mess up the creamy texture, this dip is all squishy smoothy comfort.

My artichoke dip makes people get all grabby.

Helen Jane’s Trusty, Tasty Artichoke Dip Recipe

2 cans artichoke hearts, quartered
2 cups mayonnaise
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
2 small cloves garlic, minced
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 cup of grated Parmesan cheese to mix through
1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese to sprinkle on the top

Preheat the oven to 350°.

Drain and rinse the artichoke heart cans.
(What are we, animals?)

In a large bowl, fold together the artichokes, mayonnaise, garlic, Worcestershire, pepper and the Parmesan cheese.

Scrape the mix into a baking dish. I usually split the recipe between two smaller baking dishes. This way, guests can scoop with minimal germing and maximum crusty cheesy topping.

Top the dip with the other 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese.

Bake dip for 30 minutes, or until golden and bubbly.

After removing from the oven, sprinkle with parsley, serve with tortilla chips or French bread.

Now don’t get grabby, get giddy. You have the perfect artichoke dip recipe.

This artichoke dip recipe makes my bocce team happy. That's enough right there, isn't it?

20 November, 2011  |   1 Comment

Cheesewhizzes Soft and Oozy

Anderson's Conn Valley

Saturday night we were lucky enough to host our regular Cheesewhizzes party at the gorgeous caves at Anderson’s Conn Valley Vineyards. This month’s cheese theme was soft and oozy and the cheeses did not fail to impress.

What I mean to say is that they’re impressive.
(You know what I mean.)

The softer and oozier the cheese, the more likely it’s stinky.
And we stunk up those caves, I’ll tell you what.

Epoisses, Andante Pianoforte, Goat’s Milk Brie, there is a whole lot of soft and oozy cheese coming into its own this time of year.
(Go get some.)

Special thanks to Joseph of GoVino, who generously provided glasses easy group wine tasting. I’m excited to use GoVinos for our upcoming holiday cocktail party — easy peasy non-breakable glassware.
(Plus, GoVinos make great snack catchers for the toddler set.)

My checklist o’Cheesewhizzes:
Spectacular wine? Check.
Styley glassware? Check.
Amazing cheese? Check.
Good people? Check.

See you at the next one.