caesar salad with chickpeas, pork mushroom casserole & beet red velvet cake

summer is over and harvest begins… recently a friend asked me ‘what makes you happy?’

my answer ‘money… and the things money can buy… but other than that I love cooking and running’

so here we go!!!  the time of year I get to throw away my vegetarian/healthy meals and bake cakes, put mayonnaise in salad and serve a slab of meat with every dish…

our local grocery store knows when harvest hits because I generally come in and clean them out of cream cheese…

for this red velvet cake recipe – you add grated beets to buttermilk to get the colour…

I’m not exactly sure what diet plan this board of butter, cream cheese and eggs would fit under but I would sign up for it…

I think it might be called the ‘no more swimsuits’ diet…

I asked these cake pans of mine – ‘what were you up to all summer?  haven’t seen you since spring’

they said ‘not a whole lot Catherine’… then they turned the question to me and I replied ‘trying to not laugh at my middle son doing yard work’…

some of us were meant to be hard workers – like the farmer… it’s in him… and then some of us started out softer, creamier… like me… and needed to learn the pleasure of hard work… that is my son Ethan… doesn’t quite see the value in it yet…

his yard job that had me laughing till I cried was pulling weeds from around a row of trees…  I was outside and could hear him screaming at the weeds… and then crying and yelling and I started giggling under my breath…

he wandered back over to the house and had a huge goose egg and blood trickling down his forehead… here he had become so enraged with the weed pulling he had chucked a rock in the air to ‘let off some steam’…  then he looks up and the rock hit him in the forehead…

worst part is, he didn’t get any of this red velvet cake because I didn’t have enough…

planning ahead when baking is preferable… if you don’t give yourself enough time for your cake to cool properly, your icing job will look like this…

still edible and delicious… just harder to handle and dish up…

beet red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting



  • 2/3 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup grated raw beet
  • 1 1/2 tbsp white vinegar


  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups cream cheese, room temperature
  • 4 cups icing sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract


  • preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • grease two 8” square pans (or circle) and place parchment paper in bottom
  • place beets in the buttermilk and allow to sit while mixing other ingredients
  • in electric mixer bowl, beat butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla
  • in separate bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt
  • add to the butter mixture
  • add beet/buttermilk mixture to the bowl and add the white vinegar
  • fold in and pour evenly into the two cake pans
  • bake for about 35 minutes
  • allow to cool in pans on rack for 10 minutes
  • remove and allow to completely cool on racks
  • for the frosting, beat butter and cream cheese until well combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl
  • add icing sugar one cup at a time
  • add vanilla and beat until well combined
  • ice cake when it is completely cooled and serve
  • (you will only need half of this icing – it stores well in the fridge and can be used for other cupcakes or cakes)

my kids love love caesar salad… but are not huge fans of the croutons… I always find their plates with croutons left on them…

also, the health benefits of a caesar salad are not exactly high… so I thought, what if, instead of croutons you put chickpeas on it???

(I think the farmer needs to grow chickpeas for the amount I go through them… he brought me home a 5 gallon pail of red lentils when he saw how much I was spending on them at the grocery store… now he needs to plant some chickpeas!)

so I experimented with it and it was a hit… for the kids at least… not sure about the farmers…

chickpea croutons


  • 1 (14 oz/398 mL) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper


  • preheat oven to 400 degrees
  • line a large baking sheet with parchment paper
  • place chickpeas on paper towel and pat dry
  • in a bowl or on the baking sheet, drizzle olive oil and sprinkle garlic powder, salt and pepper
  • roast for 15 minutes, shake them and roast another 15 minutes
  • remove and let cool for 10 minutes
  • they will be soft coming out of the oven but will firm up

when your kids say to you ‘this is the best supper we’ve had all summer’… you’d think I put a lot of effort into it… not the case and rather disappointing that Campbell’s Mushroom Soup paired with brown rice, mushrooms and cut up pork chops is the best thing they have tasted in ages…

I had previously chopped and cooked up these pork chops and froze them so they wouldn’t go bad (when I was waiting for harvest to start)…  so I just defrosted the pork, cooked the brown rice, chopped up some mushrooms and mixed everything up with the mushroom soup…

I like to call this a lazy man’s risotto…

wait till I give my kids Tomato Soup… they’ll think they died and went to heaven…

happy harvest cooking!

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