What to Serve

What to Serve

Grampy's Cake

Shared with me years ago by a dear friend, whose Grandfather was famous for making this simple cake, Grampy's cake is a favorite at our house. Jon requests it every year for his birthday, and the cake's nutmeg and sherry flavors lend themselves beautifully to Fall menus. DO NOT even consider serving this cake without the accompanying warm caramel sauce, but be prepared for plate lickers, the combination is outrageously delicious. 


  • ¾ cup of sherry
  • 1 package vanilla cake mix
  • 1 package vanilla instant pudding
  • 4 large eggs
  • ¾ cup of oil  
  • 1½ teaspoon nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350°F or 325°F if using dark pan. Spray a bundt pan with cooking spray. Set aside.

Combine all ingredients in bowl and beat until smooth. Pour cake into pan and bake for 35 minutes. Check and if necessary bake a few minutes more until cake springs back when touched on top. Cool according to directions on box.

Caramel Sauce

  • 1/2 cup of butter
  • 1/2 cup of heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon sherry
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • pinch of salt

Place butter, heavy cream, and sugars in pan over medium low heat. Stir until butter and sugars melt, and all ingredients are combined. Add a tablespoon of sherry (or more or less to taste). Bring to boil, stirring. Once the sauce reached the desired thickness--usually a minute or 2--remove from heat and add vanilla. Taste, if desired add a pinch of salt. Serve warm sauce on the side of the cake

To make this dairy free, I substitute melt for butter and a barista style almond milk for the heavy cream.

Everyone's Favorite Caesar Salad (cow dairy free)

One of our favorite things to do is host big groups of our kids' friends--there's nothing more joyful than a house bursting with the energy, laughter, and vibrancy of hungry teenagers!  Our high school has a beloved tradition of Friday night team dinners, and this salad is the girls rowing team's favorite. No matter how much salad we make, the bowl is always quickly emptied. Homemade croutons are a MUST. 

Serves 6-8


  • ½ cup pecorino Romano cheese, grated
  • ½ cup Hellmans mayonnaise (not the organic version)
  • ½ - 1 garlic clove, diced, crushed, or grated
  • 1 anchovy, diced
  • 1 tsp worcestershire sauce
  • ground pepper
  • dash of Tabasco sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp. water (add more or less depending on your preferred consistency)

Add all ingredients to a 2-cup pyrex or similar vessel and combine with immersion blender.


  • Loaf of Italian bread or similar
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Cube a loaf of Italian bread, toss with a generous pour of olive oil. Spread bread on a baking pan, sprinkle lightly with kosher salt and pepper. Bake at 375 degrees until golden, 8-10 minutes. Make extra--they are quickly gobbled up while cooling on the stove.


  • Romaine lettuce, chopped
  • Homemade Croutons 

Toss washed and chopped Romaine with dressing. Generously add croutons! Serve with extra cheese, if desired.

Heirloom Tomato Soup

This recipe is a summer celebration in a bowl. In New England, Heirloom Tomato Soup is heavenly mid-summer, when our gardens are finally bursting with plump, rosy tomatoes, but to be honest, we cook it up year round, substituting heirloom varieties for whatever looks best. The soup is dairy-free, though you'd never guess, and it pairs beautifully with oozy grilled cheese or verdant garden greens. Served atop one of our punchy gingham placemats or our Eliot ticking, you'll please and impress any crowd. xox

 *adapted from Marin Mama

Serves 8-10

  • 2 medium yellow onions, diced
  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided – you will use 1/2 cup twice
  • 1 large bunch fresh basil
  • 5-10 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 5-10 sprigs of fresh oregano 
  • 4 garlic cloves, microplaned or crushed through a garlic press
  • 10 ripe heirloom tomatoes or other variety, cored and cut into large chunks
  • 1/2 tablespoon salt (and more to taste)
  • fresh ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar 

Chop onions. Wash and dry herbs. Tie herbs in bunches, wrapping cooking twine around stems tightly, several times so the herbs are secure. Add a 1/2 cup of olive oil to a large pot over medium heat. Add diced onion and herb bunches. Cook until onion is soft and translucent.

While onion and herbs are cooking, wash, core, and quarter the tomatoes. Before onion browns, add the microplaned garlic, 1/2 tablespoon kosher salt and stir. Add the cored and quartered tomatoes. 

Bring the tomatoes to a gentle simmer and cook uncovered until they start to break down, about 15-20 minutes. Remove herb bunches, add 1/2 cup olive oil, and 2 teaspoons of balsamic vinegar.

Puree soup in small batches in a blender or use an immersion blender in the pot. Season with additional salt and pepper, and add another splash of balsamic vinegar if desired.

Serve with grilled cheese, garden greens, and atop our Proper Table Eliot or Mack placemats for the dreamiest summer supper.

The BEST Vegan Chocolate Cake 

I realize that this is the second chocolate cake recipe I've posted, but Andersen made it over the weekend and it is so delicious that it would be criminal not to share. It's been a favorite in our house for, well, 2 days, but I'm telling you, it's going to go the distance. You'll love it too. Serve the cake atop an Eliot placemat and really WOW 'em! The recipe is adapted from Nora Cooks. 


  • Cooking spray for misting the pan
  • Parchment paper to line bottom of pan (not necessary but hugely helpful to me)
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk, if you only have sweetened, just reduce the sugar by 1/4 cup                                                                
  • 1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar 
  • 2 cups all purpose flour 
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar 
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder 
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder 
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened apple sauce 
  • 1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray 8” cake pans with cooking spray and line bottom with parchment paper circles cut to fit your pans. Set aside.

Combine the 1 cup of almond milk and vinegar, stir slightly and leave to curdle.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, add flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir to combine. Add oil, applesauce, vanilla, and the almond milk/vinegar mixture. Mix on medium speed until well combined. 

Lower the speed and carefully pour in the boiling water. Mix cake batter again until water is fully incorporated. The batter will seem very runny at this point; that is how it should be. Don't worry!

Divide the batter evenly between your cake pans. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. After 10 minutes of cooling in the pans, carefully remove the cakes from the pans and let them cool completely before frosting.


As I've mentioned before, we are frosting people--and this was enough for a 2- layer cake.

  • 1 cup and 1 Tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder 
  • 1 15 oz. tub of I Can't Believe It's Not Butter (or similar)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4-5 cups confectioner’s sugar (start with 4 cups)
  • 1/4-1/2 cup unsweetened almond or oat milk

Add cocoa powder and room temperature vegan butter to bowl of an electric mixer and beat to combine. Add remaining ingredients (start with 4 cups of confectioner’s sugar and 1/4 cup of non-dairy milk and only add more after you taste it and see the consistency) and mix on low to combine. Add more confectioner's sugar if the frosting is too thin or more non-dairy milk if the frosting is too thick. Increase speed and beat until frosting is fluffy.

Frost cake when cool and top with sprinkles, if desired!



Applesauce (Instant Pot)

This is a favorite at our house. I couldn't tell you how many it serves, because it is usually gobbled up warm by dripping spoonfuls straight from the pot before I can squirrel any away. This recipe really does not need any added sugar, and that is confirmed by the 12-year old and under set.

  • 10 apples, usually Honey Crisp or similar, peeled, cored and roughly chopped 
  • 1/4 cup of water
  • juice of 1/2 of a lemon
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Add peeled, cored, and chopped apples to Instant Pot and cook at high for 8 minutes. Let pressure naturally release for about 20 minutes, then you can release the rest manually. I use an immersion blender because we like our applesauce fairly smooth, but a potato masher would work for a chunky texture. Finally, I quickly serve myself a bowl before word gets out that there's warm applesauce in the kitchen. Enjoy.


Cookie Wars

In a house full of hungry and busy teenagers, we go through a lot of chocolate chip cookies. We presently have two dueling recipes on constant repeat. Try them both and let us know your vote for victor in the Lewis cookie wars!

Mom's Healthy Chocolate Chip Cookies

These cookies are vegan and gluten-free and, most importantly, delicious! If you're already over this recipe, scroll down to the next recipe, which is my son, Anders', creation and not remotely healthy (although they too are dairy-free).

  • 1 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 1 1/2 cup oat flour
  • 1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp hemp hearts
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil, melted and cooled slightly
  • 3/4 cup dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F.

Melt coconut oil and set aside to cool slightly.

In large mixing bowl, add both flours, unsweetened coconut flakes, baking powder, hemp hearts, and sea salt. Mix to combine. 

Add maple syrup (preferably room temperature so it doesn't solidify the the coconut oil), coconut oil, and vanilla. Mix again. Add chocolate chips and stir to combine. 

Line baking sheet with parchment paper and gently form dough into balls, about ping pong ball size. If dough seems wet, refrigerate tray for 30 minutes before baking for approximately 10-12 minutes until just slightly golden (we prefer all chocolate chip cookies slightly undercooked). 

Choose your favorite placemat and serve cookies atop!


Andersen's Decadent Chocolate Chunk Doughboys 

These cookies are Anders' specialty, the recipe meticulously tested and lovingly  tweaked to this final beloved version. They are chunky, chocolately, soft on the inside and slightly crispy on the outside. If I don't head them off with my healthy cookies, at his sisters' requests, Anders' whips these up several times week.  

Makes 12-14

  • 3/4 cup shortening
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 3 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips or chunks or a combo of the two

Preheat oven to 350F.

Beat together shortening and both sugars until fluffy. Add vanilla, egg, and egg yolk. Beat again.

In separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Add dry ingredients to wet and beat. Add chocolate chips/chunks and stir.

Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Form cookie dough into ping pong-sized balls and refrigerate for 30 minutes or overnight.

Bake cookies at 350F for 10-12 minutes until slightly brown but still soft inside.

Choose your favorite placemat and serve cookies atop!

Cumin Beef Kebabs

Cumin beef kebabs are my husband, Jon’s, specialty. He started making them when we, and most of our friends, had babies and young kids, because he could prep in advance and quickly grill at meal time. Years later, they are still our summer go-to for big groups. The kebabs are delicious with warmed naan, tzatziki from our local Greek market, hummus (Ithaca is our favorite brand), Greek salad and/or simple grilled vegetables.


Serves 6

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp finely chopped oregano
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • ¼ tsp cayenne
  • 2 lbs steak tips cut into 1 ½” pieces


12 12” skewers/if wooden soaked in water for 30 minutes.

Stir together oil, oregano, garlic, spices and 1 tsp. salt in a bowl, then toss with beef. Marinate, refrigerated, at least 2 hours, but up to 8 hours.

While grill is pre-heating, thread about 4 pieces of beef on each skewer, leaving small spaces between pieces.

Grill, turning, until cooked as desired.

We serve these with warmed naan, tzatziki from our local Greek market, hummus (Ithaca is our favorite brand) and Greek salad and/or simple grilled vegetables.


Favorite Greek Salad Dressing (adapted from the New York Times) 


Serves 6

  • 4 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 small garlic clove, grated
  • ½  tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • ½ cup olive oil


Combine all ingredients, whisk in olive oil last. Dress salad before serving. We use romaine lettuce, large cubes of feta cheese, cherry tomatoes, red pepper, pepperoncini, red onion and kalamata olives in our salad. Enjoy!



Chocolate Birthday Cake

This cake has been a very favorite in our house (and many others) for more than 20 years. We never want to run out of frosting, so we 1.5x the recipe most times.


  • Cooking spray for misting the pan
  • Parchment paper to line bottom of pan (not necessary but hugely helpful to me)
  • 1 oz. unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped                                                                  
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 package devil’s food cake mix
  • 1 package instant pudding
  • 4 large eggs
  • ¾ cup buttermilk (I usually just make my own with ¾ cup milk and about a Tbsp. of lemon juice or white vinegar)
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 350°F or 325°F if using dark pan. Spray 8” cake pans with cooking spray and line bottom with parchment paper circle cut to fit your pan. Set aside.

Place the chopped chocolate and ½ cup water in a small saucepan over LOW heat. Cook, stirring until the chocolate is melted (3-4 minutes) and set aside.

Place cake mix, pudding mix, eggs, buttermilk, oil, and vanilla in large mixing bowl. Mix to combine. Fold in the melted, slightly cooled chocolate and blend with mixer on low for another minute, then increase speed and mix for another 2 minutes, while scraping sides of the bowl. Pour into pans and bake according to time on box, usually the low end of the time range. Cake should spring back when touched on top, and sides should start to pull away from pan. Cool according to directions on box.



This makes enough for some people, but we like to 1.5x this recipe!

  • 1 8oz. package of cream cheese at room temperature
  • 1 stick of butter at room temperature
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3 cups sifted confectioner’s sugar (have an extra cup on hand if you prefer more)

Place butter and cream cheese in bowl of electric mixer and beat to combine. Add remaining ingredients (start with 3 cups of confectioner’s sugar and only add more after you taste it!) and mix on low to combine. Increase speed and beat for 2 minutes or more until frosting is fluffy.

Frost cake when cool and top with sprinkles!



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