Upside Down Strawberry Lemon Cake

I wore a white tee shirt to Target today and within seconds of being in public, I dribbled coffee down my front.  I do this constantly.   I have this problem even with straws…Lord help me. 

From here on out I am only wearing shirts that match the color of my beverage.  

So today, I ran errands with coffee stains on my shirt.  I wanted to explain to everyone what had happened, that the shirt wasn’t dirty when I put it on, that I am just a clumsy 28 year old. 

Actually, it might be a bit of karma kicking me in the butt.  See, I am generally grossed when I see people who could have possibly used their shirts as place mats.  Grease stains, ketchup stains ( I pray its ketchup), pop, chocolate (again praying its chocolate), coffee – you get the idea.  Maybe they too are clumsy or have small children with sticky fingers or they hit a pot hole while they were drinking their morning coffee.  It is all possible and I need to cut them some slack, because today I needed that same slack. 

Coffee culprit…

Where does cake come into this?  It doesn’t.  Nope not at all other than I was at Target buying a cast iron skillet because my old one grew legs and ran away.  Why a cast iron skillet?  Because that is the only thing I bake upside down cakes in.  You can use normal cake pans, but I love how the cast iron skillet bakes evenly and creates a bit of a crispy edge.  So if it wasn’t for this cake then I wouldn’t have been in public today and the coffee on my shirt wouldn’t have mattered.  However, I wouldn’t have been reminded to cut people some slack…

Anywho…lessoned learned.  Lets back this rad (I miss that word) cake. 

You will need some butter.

Some sliced strawberries…

Layer the strawberries over the butter and brown sugar.

Spread the batter evenly and pop it in the oven.

It will look something like this once out of the oven and you will brush on the glaze like so. 

Inversion…this can be tricky.  Watch out for that handle – its screamin’ hot!

Give it an old flip-a-roo.  Don’t you like my mickey mouse pot holder?  They make me smile.


 Upside Down Strawberry Lemon Cake

Lemon Cake adapted from Ina Garten -Barefoot Contessa Parties! and inspired by Joy the Baker


  • 1 stick plus 5 Tablespoons Butter – at room temperature
  • 3/4 Cup Brown Sugar
  • 1 + 1/2 Cups Strawberries, sliced
  • 1/4 Cup Lemon Zest – about 4 to 6 lemons
  • 1 Cups Sugar
  • 2 Large Eggs
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 2 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
  • 1 + 1/2 Cups All-purpose Flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2 Cup Buttermilk


  • 1/3 Cup Sugar
  • 1/3 Cup Lemon Juice – about 2 to 3 lemons




  1. Preheat oven to 350°F
  2. In a 10 inch cast iron skillet (or cake pan), melt 5 Tablespoons of butter either on top of the stove or in the oven.  Be careful – the skillet handle will be hot!!!
  3. Scatter brown sugar over melted butter and stir to incorporate.  Spread mixture as evenly as possible over bottom of pan…it will be patchy. 
  4. Arrange strawberry slices over brown sugar and butter in a single layer.  Set aside.
  5. In a medium bowl, whisk together lemon zest, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Set aside.
  6. Cream together 1 stick of butter and 1 cup of sugar.
  7. Beat in eggs ,one at a time, to the butter and sugar combo – mix well.  Then mix in vanilla and 2 Tablespoons of lemon juice.
  8. Beat  in the flour mixture alternating with buttermilk.  Begin and end with flour mixture.  ( i.e.  add half the flour mixture and blend until just combined.  Add all the buttermilk – blend to combine.  Blend in remaining half of the flour.
  9. Spread evenly over strawberries.
  10. Place in preheated oven and bake for 35 to 40 minutes – or until toothpick comes out clean.
  11. While cake is baking – make glaze.   Combine 1/3 cup sugar and 1/3 cup lemon juice in a small sauce pan and place over low heat and cook until sugar dissolves.  Set aside.
  12. When is cake is done, remove from oven and let sit for 5 to 10 minutes.  Poke holes all over cake with a toothpick. 
  13. With a basting brush, brush the lemon glaze  over the cake. 
  14. Once this is complete, invert the cake onto a cake stand ( try to center it – I failed at this! ) If baking in a cast iron skillet – do not grab the pan handle , it is still screaming hot and no one looks good with a burn on their palm in the shape of a pan handle – trust me!
  15. Eat warm or let cool.   

Ocean Isle, NC

Hello again!  What a week.  What an amazing week.  I went on vacation to Ocean Isle, North Carolina with my family – 12 in total.  All of us in one house for 7 whole days…glorious!!   This is just a quick blog of our fun in the sun.  I will be back soon with more recipes later this week once I re-stock my fridge, turn on my oven,  and get back in the swing of things…

Until then, this is what I did this past week.

Ocean Isle Beach at sunrise on our first morning.  I LOVE THE BEACH. 

We put the umbrella out every morning…we got attached to our little section of the beach.

So attached, we constructed a castle.  The castle was still there when we left…just above the tide line.   I am responsible for the front door and window…I am not the artist of the family.

Future surfer…He loved everything about the beach even the mole crabs.

She was disappointed that we were only staying a week and not the whole summer.  I felt the same way!  She entertained us the whole week with things she learned from cartoons. 

We watched pelicans fish every morning…I know where the Airforce got their idea for fighter jets.


Yes, that’s me in a UV shirt I bought at The Children’s Place…

One of my favorite pictures…dreamy.  

We grilled out. Brats and hot dogs one night and …

Hamburgers and shrimp another night.  Talk about relaxing. 


We made a day trip down to Myrtle Beach to see what it was all about….it wasn’t for me, but we had a good time.  Allie wasted a quarter looking at the sky swearing it was the ocean…crazy kid. 

After 7 days at the beach, the Ohioans had to go home.  Dad and I took the Harleys.  We rode the entire way home…750 miles.  I may never walk the same. 

 Nipple Mountain…it has a real name, but Dad properly renamed it.

We had an absolute blast and are already planning next years trip.  From morning walks to collect sea shells to midnight walks to chase crabs, we enjoyed every minute of vacation.  I am truly grateful to have such an amazing family with whom I get to share vacations with. 

Oh and I am tan…seriously tan, not burnt, but tan.  WoOhOo!!!  I think the trick was the UV shirt :)

Bailey’s Irish Cream Chocolate Cupcakes

Start doing sit-ups now.  Log a few miles.  Pump some iron.  Run some stairs.  I did.  Why?  One word, cupcakes. 

Take notice of the platter, my lovely grandmother painted it!  Awesome, right?

Not just any cupcake.  These are chocolate cupcakes, filled and iced with a Bailey’s infused chocolate ganache and chocolate buttercream icing.  Maybe I should have ran a few more miles…sigh. 

Cupcakes.  They have reached an all time popularity lately.  Anyone else notice this?  A trendy baked good…Betty Crocker is smiling in her make believe grave (she didn’t really exist right?) 

I like cupcakes, but I tend to eat them too quickly and icing always ends up on my nose…anyone else?  So even though these are considered finger food, I prefer to eat mine with a fork – at least in public.  Its the whole icing on the nose thing. 

The cupcakes themselves…

Start with sifting together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

Whisk together cocoa powder, hot water, and instant espresso/coffee until it looks like this…don’t lick the whisk, it looks scrumptious but its not – trust me.  Wait until sugar has joined the party. 

You are going to melt some butter, well a lot of butter.  3 sticks to be exact.  Once the butter is melted you are going to mix it with some sugar.  And then there are a few more steps, which I didn’t take pictures of.  I am still trying to get the hang of taking shots of each step…I need an extra set of hands! I’ll get there, until then though, dust off your imagination. 

The final batter looks something like this.  Go ahead and lick the beater…its delicious!

Once out of the oven, they look something like this.  Let them cool before you do this…

Using a paring knife, cut out a cone shape, fill it with Bailey’s Irish Cream chocolate ganache…

Replace the cut out and then…

Ice the bad boy…make it look fancy!

These cupcakes are decadent.  Don’t wait to make these for a special occasion, bake them tomorrow.  Because you can, because they are good, and because sometimes you need to make an ordinary day extraordinary.  These cupcakes will do that. 


Makes 3 dozen

Chocolate Cupcake (adapted from Martha Stewart)

  • 1 Cup Cocoa powder, unsweetened
  • 3/4 Cup Hot water
  • 2 teaspoons instant coffee/espresso
  • 3 Cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 Sticks of butter, melted
  • 2 +1/2 Cups granulated white sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 4 teaspoons Vanilla extract
  • 1 Cup Sourcream

Bailey’s Irish Creme Chocolate Ganache (adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

  • 8 ounces Semi-sweet chocolate, chopped into small pieces
  • 2 Tablespoons butter, softened
  • 2 -4 teaspoons Bailey’s Irish Creme (this can be omitted)
  • 2/3 Cup Heavy Cream

Bailey’s Irish Creme Buttercream Icing (adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 2 to 3 Cups Confectioner’s Sugar
  • 3/4 Cup Cocoa Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla extract
  • 3 to 4 Tablespoons Bailey’s Irish Cream- enough to make the icing spreadable. 




  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.  Prepare muffin/cupcake pans with liners.
  2. In a small bowl, add the instant coffee and cocoa powder.  Whisk in the hot water and whisk until smooth.  Set aside
  3. In a larger bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  Set aside.
  4. In a stand mixer or with hand mixer, beat the melted butter with the sugar.  Beat until the butter has cooled – a few minutes. 
  5. To the sugar and butter mixture, add the eggs one at a time…incorporating each one before the next one is added. 
  6. Add the vanilla, mix to combine.
  7. Add the chocolate coffee mixture (which you made in step  2), mix to combine
  8. Add 1/2 of the flour mixture – mix until just incorporated.  Add 1/2 of the sourcream – mix until incorporated.  Add remaining flour mixture – mix until just incorporated.  Add remaining sourcream – mix until incorporated.
  9. Fill cupcake liners 2/3 to 3/4 the way full and bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. 
  10. Remove from oven and remove cupcakes from pan and let cool completely on wire rack.  While they are cooling make the filling and icing!

Ganache Filling

  1. Place chocolate in a medium bowl.
  2. In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, bring the heavy cream to a simmer (small bubbles will form around the edges)
  3. Pour warmed cream over chocolate and let sit for 5 minutes.  Then whisk until smooth.  If the chocolate does not completely melt (mine didn’t), then microwave – 10 second intervals on 50% power, stirring between each interval.  Simple!
  4. Once smooth, whisk in the butter and Bailey’s Irish Cream. 
  5. Cover and place in fridge for about 20 minutes, until it thickens a bit. 

Chocolate Icing

  1. Mix together confectioner’s sugar and cocoa powder
  2. Beat 1 stick of butter until light and fluffy.
  3. Slowly beat in the sugar and cocoa.
  4. Add vanilla, mix well.
  5. Blend in the Bailey’s.  Start with 3 tablespoons and if more is needed then add more.  If it gets too runny, then add more confectioner’s sugar.  Keep tasting it until you get what makes your taste buds happy – tough job, but someone has to do it!
  6. If you have extra ganache leftover after filling the cupcakes, whip it into the icing.  I did this and it turned out nicely – more chocolate never hurt anyone! 


  1. Using a paring knife, cut out a cone shape from the top of the cupcake (as seen in picture above).
  2. Fill with chocolate ganache, using a pastry bag and tip or plastic bag (just snip off the tip). 
  3. Replace the cupcake cut out.
  4. Ice – hiding the man made hole.
  5. Eat and enjoy. 

The Bailey’s flavor is not ‘strong’, but it definitely adds to the flavor of the cupcake.  You will have people ask what is in them – they can detect something different, but can’t put their finger on it.  We are big fans of Bailey’s Irish Creme in our household, so next time I will add more.  Cheers!



Pulled pork sandwiches with Creamy Coleslaw

Remember your Grandmother’s crock pot?  Or maybe the ones that belonged to the women at church?  Remember how you vowed that you would not have anything that ugly in your own kitchen?  I do.  They were all in that 70′s yellow/orange/green color in the most horrid designs, plus they didn’t have a removable inner core like our slow-cookers of today. Thank goodness things have changed, or I wouldn’t be able to enjoy the wonders of a slow-cooker. 

Pulled pork sandwiches are a top 5 sandwich in my books.  With barbacue sauce reaching ear to ear, I could think of nothing better to eat on a summer evening - with friends and family who don’t mind your caveman eating habits.  The pork in these sandwiches is cooked in a beer bath on your kitchen counter while you visit the Harley store spending yet more money.  Oh wait, is that just me? 

Or you can take a nap.  Duke gave up on me once he realized he wasn’t getting scrapes for a while.  Isn’t he just freakin’ cute?!?  I want to squeeze him!!!

The barbecue sauce can be whipped up quite quickly or made ahead and refrigerated as can the coleslaw.  The coleslaw is a great side dish, however I prefer it as a topping.  Napkins?  Bib?  Both please!!


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West Side Market, Cleveland OH

My next blog was going to be about barbacue pulled pork sandwiches and creamy coleslaw and all that good summer stuff, but today I spent an AMAZING day with friends and needed to share this with the world.  They actually just pulled out of my drive way and not even home yet, and I am writing about them.  Jackie and Mel are wonderful, hands down – tremendous people.  Great human beings as a beloved teacher/coach used to say.  And this is the story of our journey together today. 

Mel and Jackie…my partners in crime :)

Jackie met me at my humble abode and we met Mel and her sister at the West Side Market, which is a Cleveland treasure.  It is just that, a market.  It contains produce and tons of other booths that contain anything from bread and strudel to pork and chicken feet.  It is wonderful and mouth watering.  I wish I had a family of 10 to feed when I am there, so I could buy to my hearts content, but again, I must restrain myself…

Look at all the produce!!!!!!

We ate lunch and bought food for dinner, which we would later prepare back at my house. 

We met up, ate at Steve’s Gyro – which is awesome, go there it will not disappoint! - (will be on Food Network on June 20th at 10:30 pm on The Best Thing We Ever Ate) bought some fresh ravioli, basil, tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, a baguette ( I liked feeling Parisian for the moment), a few escargot – which Mel tried – props to her!, and some other odds and ends. 


The gyros….did I mention that they were HUGE?  Like big as my head huge! 

This doesn’t give it its due…think Chipotle burrito, but bigger…

It didn’t have a chance…

Back to shopping, grocering, marketing…what is it called???

We all went to college in Toledo, University of Toledo to be exact…shout out the the old U of T!  Toledo is known for their scales if you were wondering.

Look at those radishes and green onions!!  Who wouldn’t want to jump in the kitchen after seeing such things???

A view from the balcony, overlooking the entire interior market.  The booths have a ton to offer, but if you just look up, the architecture is lovely!  I don’t know anything about architecture, but I know what I like, and I love this building!   Tiled ceiling, amazing.  Truly a Cleveland gem. 

There is a lot of pig statues standing about…I like them.  They are cute!

Chicken feet…I just don’t know about these.  Not sure I ever will…

This is more my style….

Mouth is watering…

Once we had full stomachs and tote bags, we headed for my house.  Dinner was just around the corner!

We made a chopped caprese salad (a little nontraditional I know…) and piled this high on the baguette that was nice and toasted.  Caprese bruschetta, that is what I am calling it.  Recipe soon, promise!

Mel actually ate these!!!  Not sure if she enjoyed them, but I sure did.  The shells are pretty, don’t you think?

Because of this, I didn’t get a picture of the sun dried tomato or egg plant and garlic ravioli (from Ohio City Pasta).  Nor did I get a picture of the blondie brownie with strawberry ice cream.  Trust me they looked and tasted wonderful!

We finished the night off sitting here…

Chatting and reminiscing of good old times.  We do this every time we are together.   There is nothing like a good night with girl friends to make everything right in the world.

Thanks Mel, Jackie, and Kelly