Tag Archives: birthday cake

Hummingbird Cake for Alice’s 87th Birthday

Today is my Sous-chef Dish-washing mom’s 87th birthday! I am thrilled  to dedicate this blog post to her. She was born in 1931 during the Great Depression and her mother and father lived in Omaha, Nebraska. Her father died when she was young and she and her sister, Mary, were taken to an orphanage shortly afterwards. She spent many years in the Nebraska Children’s Home orphanage being adopted when she was 9. Even though her 87 years have dealt her many ups and downs you would never know it by her daily attitude of smiles, love, and gratitude.

She raised three sons and one wonderful daughter! (Hey, I am writing this so it is my perspective!😜 ) However, there are many, many others who call her “mom.” It doesn’t matter where we go she becomes the resident mom! All of my friends know her name is Alice but everyone chooses mom.  The name fits perfectly and looks awesome on her!

Even though she has been a Christian throughout her life, in 2011 she began studying the Bible in-depth through Community Bible Study.   At 80-years-old she let the Word of God totally transform her.  In 2014 she was diagnosed with breast cancer and she persevered through 2 surgeries and radiation treatment with a strength and attitude that she credits coming from her faith in God.  Not once did she question her situation with a “why me?”  As a matter of fact, she was usually comforting and giving encouragement to others going through the same thing.

My brother Michael and his wife Kay drove from Lee’s Summit Missouri on Sunday to surprise her.   We had made an elaborate plan that included taking her to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee for her birthday week.  You know what they say about the best-laid plans of mice and men!  Last week an almost 87-year-old tooth abscessed and the process of getting that fixed has derailed travel this week.

But that didn’t stop us from celebrating her birthday Sunday evening before Michael and Kay left for East Tennessee without us!  My brother John and his wife Jeanne participated from afar as we gifted mom with some green stuff to go shopping!  It looks like Michael got the giggles watching mom blow out the candles!

As I am writing this blog post she received this lovely floral arrangement from dear friends, Catherine and Russ.  I couldn’t resist a quick photo!

Now … on to the cake! When the latest Southern Living magazine arrived I immediately knew I wanted a Hummingbird Cake for mom’s birthday.

First of all, she is enthralled with hummingbirds and much of our spring is spent waiting for them to arrive.  In the summer we watch them daily and in the fall we sadly say goodbye.

Mom has even had her great-grandkids on hummingbird watch!  All winter my hummingbird-watching mom wonders if they will be back in the spring!

Last fall my Chief Dessert Tester and I decided to cut out most sugar in our diets by cutting out desserts.  (I know!  Me? No sugar?)  So, I knew if I started baking a cake she would know something was up.  That is when I asked my neighbor and blogging partner, Abby Hughes to make the Southern Living Hummingbird Cake.  Abby is an accomplished chef, baker, and extremely good friend.  Quickly she said “sure!”

Abby made the cake and secretly brought it over the night before Michael and Kay arrived.  Whew!  Mom didn’t suspect a thing!

Since the Hummingbird Cake recipe originally ran in 1978, it has become the most requested recipe in Southern Living history.  Besides the usual suspects of flour, sugar, and eggs, this cake includes oil instead of butter, giving it an almost quick-bread like texture.  Undrained, crushed pineapple adds flavor and keeps the batter moist.  Chopped bananas are a surprise ingredient.  But the real southern flavor comes from the toasted, chopped pecans! Yum!  A cream cheese frosting is the perfect covering.  Abby added her own flair with edible glitter!  Beautiful and tasty!

The updated recipe is found here and includes a quick video that shows how easy it is to make this from-scratch cake!

1976 Paulsen Family Photo! Left to Right, Steve, Cathy, Dale, Mike, Alice, and John

With each passing year, we thank God for the life of our mother and father.  This year is no different when we remember our father and our brother Steve who have gone to Heaven before us.

This was our 2014 family reunion photo from Fort Robinson Nebraska.  We look forward to another reunion this summer.  We love you, mom!

Happy Birthday mom and many more!

Love and blessings,


Happy Birthday Mom With Butter Pecan Cake with Caramel Frosting

Butter Pecan Cake with Caramel Frosting
Butter Pecan Cake with Caramel Frosting

What a blessing to celebrate my sous chef dishwashing mom’s 85th birthday!  Today, February 8 is her birthday, although we have celebrated for several days!

mom cat cakes

Last week she spent time in Missouri with my brother and sister-in-law and their family.  They brought her home on Friday and I surprised her with 15 Bundt cakes that needed frosted for her party yesterday afternoon!

Mom and Kay
Mom and Kay

Mom and my sister-in-law Kay were both good sports as I started bringing  cakes out of the freezer.  I started baking last week and each day baked a few cakes.  Fifteen in all.  Yikes!

Sous Chef Dishwashing Mom!
Sous Chef Dishwashing Mom!

Carrot cake with cream cheese frosting, lemon supreme on lemon, fresh strawberry with homemade frosting, chocolate with fudge frosting, red velvet, and white on white.  But the hit of the cake parade is my new favorite cake, Butter Pecan with Caramel Frosting!

Mom and Gaye
Mom and Gaye

My neighbor Kathy got in the act by keeping some of the cakes in her freezer.  She dropped them off on her way to watch her granddaughter play basketball.  About that time, my other neighbor Gaye and her mother-in-law stopped by and quickly began frosting the last of the cakes, which were the three Butter Pecan cakes with Caramel Frosting!


The Butter Pecan recipe was given to me after I ate a piece at a women’s luncheon last spring.  The recipe went into my “to-do” pile and surfaced recently.  I made one cake a couple of weeks ago for my Chief Cake Lover and my sous chef dishwashing mom.  They were both taken by surprised and thrilled with the texture and taste.  I was immediately reminded why I asked for the recipe in the first place.  This one is a keeper!  When you make it I guarantee you rave reviews!

We had a lovely party celebrating “1931 Was A Very Good Year!”

“For by me your days will be multiplied, and years will be added to your life.”      Proverbs 9:11

Happy Birthday Mom!  I love you.


Butter Pecan Cake with Caramel Frosting!
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
My new very favorite cake and frosting! You will love it too!
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 12-16 servings
  • 1 Box Butter Pecan cake mix (I prefer Duncan Hines)
  • 1 can Coconut Pecan icing
  • 3 Eggs
  • ¾ cup oil
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 stick butter (1/2 cup)
  • ¼ cup Evaporated milk
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups confectioners sugar
  1. Prepare cake pan with spray oil. (Use a Bundt pan or a 9" x 13" baking pan) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. For the cake, mix all ingredients in a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer until well mixed. Pour into prepared pan. Bake for 45 minutes or until tester inserted into the middle comes out clean.
  3. After the cake has baked and is cool, prepare frosting.
  4. Melt butter, add brown sugar and milk. Cook 2 minutes over medium heat. Add in vanilla.
  5. Pour over confectioner's sugar and beat until smooth. Frost cake immediately before frosting cools and sets. If the frosting is a little too thick, thin with milk.


Italian Cream Birthday Bake

59 cream cake
Middle Tennessee has been hit with full-on WINTER all in one week.  This week.  Ice. Snow. Rain. Sleet. Thunder. More Ice.  All this week.  The glorious result for me is that we have been home all week.  This may not sound great to you but for me, it is a blessing to have appointments cancelled.  The news man says “stay home.”  The weather woman says “it’s getting worse out there – stay home.”

Alice Cat Birthday Cake
I absolutely love being home!  So when ice and snow kept us indoors for my birthday my sous-chef-dish-washing mom and I hit the kitchen together!  I was telling her that I really, really like Italian Cream Cake but I’ve never made one.  I added, “I am sure our homemade cake will be better than any I’ve ever eaten in a restaurant.”   (That’s a lot of confidence … or arrogance!)

Alice Cat Very Busy
We divided up the recipe, marked out our space on the counter and got to it!  Italian Cream cake is very easy to make with buttermilk and soda combining to make the creaminess of the batter.

alice cat kitchen
Egg whites are folded in to give the cake a luscious, light texture.  Traditionally flaked coconut is added to the batter.  I adore coconut and so I add a little coconut flavoring as well as vanilla.

We baked the cake in 8″ square pans because I wanted to use my square cake plate.  (I do realize a round cake can go on a square plate, but that scrambles up my brain.)

While the cake was baking we chopped and toasted pecans, made a butter cream cheese frosting and patiently waited to finish up our 3-layer masterpiece!

Italian Cream Cake
This recipe came from Southern Living Magazine, November 1996.  I wonder what took me so long to make it?

Italian Cream cake single
The coconut makes the cake look a little “ragged” but I assure you it is moist and luscious.

Italian Cr cake single back
My sous-chef dish-washing mom said “it is perfect” and then added “but next time if you want to add a little more frosting I wouldn’t mind.” 

I agree about the frosting, so I added to the frosting recipe so you won’t run short.  I could have used more frosting between each layer.

All-in-all a perfect end to a lovely birthday, spent partly in the kitchen with my mom!  Aren’t I blessed?  Yes!  I know!

Happy Baking and Stay Warm!
~ Catherine


Italian Cream Birthday Bake
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Luscious and delicious this traditional 3-layer cake makes a perfect birthday cake or dessert for any occasion!
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: Serves 12
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • ½ cup shortening*
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 5 large eggs, separated
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 Teaspoon coconut extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup flaked coconut
Nutty Cream Cheese Frosting
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • ¾ cup butter, softened
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon coconut extract
  • 24 ounces powdered sugar (3 cups)
  • Milk, if needed
  • *Garnishes: toasted pecan halves, chopped pecans
  1. Beat butter and shortening at medium speed with an electric mixer until fluffy; gradually add sugar, beating well. Add egg yolks, 1 at a time, beating until blended after each addition. Add vanilla and coconut extract, beating until blended.
  2. Combine flour and soda; add to butter mixture alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat at low speed until blended after each addition. Stir in coconut.
  3. Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form, and fold into batter. Pour batter into 3 greased and floured 9-inch cake pans.
  4. Bake at 350° for 25 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes; remove from pans, and cool completely on wire racks.
  5. Bake chopped pecans in a shallow baking pan at 350°, stirring occasionally, 5 to 10 minutes or until toasted. Cool.
  6. Beat cream cheese, butter, and vanilla and coconut extract at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Add powdered sugar, beating at low speed until blended. Beat frosting at high speed until smooth, add milk, 1 tablespoon at a time, if necessary, to make your favorite consistency; stir in pecans.
  7. Spread Nutty Cream Cheese Frosting between layers and on top and sides of cake. Garnish, if desired.
* I use solid coconut oil for the shortening. Coconut oil is ideal for baking.

Black and White Irish Cream Cupcakes and Bailey’s Cream Frosting

August.  My husband, my Chief Culinary Consultant, my talented gardener, my friend and the love of my life. It’s his birthday. In our house that has always meant one thing — CHOCOLATE and lots of it! Black and white – dark chocolate cake and white chocolate tossed with some Bailey’s Irish Cream.  The chocolate is for him — the Bailey’s for me 🙂

Last year a good friend sent my husband a beautiful birthday card with the following sentiment.  This came a Day Spring card and I saved it thinking one day I would share it.  Today is the day.

God is writing a book about you.
The pages tell of your life
and the lives you were created to touch.
No one else will take exactly
the same path as you, meet the same people,
or have a chance to show
the love of God in the same way.
YOU are unique and so is your story …
and it’s one of the Author’s favorite reads.

I love this sentiment and in my mind’s eye I see the book with the story that is being written about each one of us.  It is one of my favorite reads. I hope it touches you as well.
I adore making cupcakes. Cupcakes satisfy the need for cake but also gives me delicious frosting in every bite!   I also like making 24 cupcakes, using what I need and putting the rest in the freezer for a little surprise ending to dinner, at a later date!  This recipe is just such a recipe.  To make my “black and white” cupcakes I started with these luscious white chocolate chips.
For ease and speed I use a Duncan Hines Classic Dark Chocolate Cake mix.  I followed the ingredient instructions on the box but then added 1/2 cup Bailey’s Irish Cream liqueur.  The extra 1/2 cup liquid did not change the over-all texture of the cake except to enhance the flavor.
As you can see the cupcakes baked up really nicely shaped.  I filled the cups about 3/4 full making 24 cupcakes.
The frosting is a combination of butter, Bailey’s Irish Cream, vanilla and powdered sugar.  It whips up smooth and creamy yet full-bodied.  The frosting can be piped on with a decorators tip, or topped like I did using my Decorator but without a tip or just slathered on as you will.
Sprinkles or colored sugar kick the decorating up a notch!  All-in-all this is such an easy recipe to make and yet the cake will take made-from-scratch.

Click here to PRINT the recipe from my Tasty Kitchen Recipe Box!

How to Store Cupcakes

After the cupcakes have cooled, I keep then in large Tupperware-style containers.  Food safety experts recommend that cupcakes with whipped cream, buttercream, cream cheese, or ganache frostings should be refrigerated.  Refrigerated cupcakes should always be brought to room temperature before eating.

Freezing Cupcakes

When freezing baked cupcakes,you want to prevent the common problems of freezer burn, dryness, and gummy tops. Because the texture and consistency of frosting and icing can change drastically in the freezer, only plain (unfrosted) cupcakes should be frozen.  Once thawed, they can be topped or decorated as desired. Freezing a cupcake that is already frosted can be done, but the frosting can degrade and become runny when thawed.

I have found the best way to store cupcakes is to wrap them individually in plastic wrap and then place them in an air-tight storage container, like Tupperware.  This double wrap helps keep freezer burn at bay.

Once the cupcakes are removed from the freezer the wrapping needs to come off and they need to be thawed on the counter at room temperature for about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.  If the wrapping is allowed to stay on while thawing this allows condensation to form between the wrapper and the tops, which turns gooey.

Those that are unwrapped before thawing are as good as new. I have had success of storing cupcakes for up to a month in the freezer with little to no difference in the taste.

I adapted this recipe from www.RecipeGirl.com.


If you are reading through the Bible in one year with me, you will find this week’s reading plan listed to the right of this post.

“You are my refuge and my shield; I have put my hope in your word.” Psalm 119:114 NIV

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