Pistachio chocolate cake — pretty, green and delectable

My latest obsession is printing out recipes, friends. I can’t say that I always make the recipes, but I have created a mighty fine collection of those items I’ve placed on my “to be baked” list. At the moment, Mexican Chocolate Cupcakes are next up on my list . . . mostly because I’ve gotten more into spicy foods lately. Oh, how the palate does change!

But a long-running item on my “TBB” list is the pistachio cake from The Pioneer Woman, that purveyor of all things delicious and heart-warming. We all know she’s my hero — and I once made Spencer stand in line for four hours with me to meet her — and her recipes, when I actually give them a whirl, are always so tasty.

And this pistachio cake is no exception. After running over to the grocery store with Eric, my sister’s boyfriend, to track down some non-sugar-free pistachio Jell-o (the sugar-free varieties don’t have enough in each package for the recipe), I set to work after dinner.

Only there was little work to be had.

The recipe is, miraculously, very simple — and I think that’s why I printed it out in the first place! Grab your white cake mix (any brand), a box of pistachio Jell-o, some eggs, oil, orange juice (unusual), chocolate syrup — and bam! You’re done. Bake that baby. Congratulate yourself on a job well done.

Just don’t put it in the oven at 8:15 p.m., like I did. You’ll soon find your family members circling the oven like vultures, cursing you for making them wait until at least 9:30 for dessert. But it wasn’t my fault. Plus, “American Idol” was on — and my tears of happiness for those kids and their parents might or might not have made up the “secret ingredient” in my cake.

But now I’m just channeling The Particular Sadness Of Lemon Cake. Which I haven’t read. But really want to.

And now you need to go make this.

I baked this recipe completely as-is, though I cheated and did cover it in chocolate frosting! And I couldn’t find our bundt pan, so I used a long bread loaf pan. Worked just fine. The cake itself is moist and very good, but it needed a touch of sweetness. I frosted just the top of the cake so, when cut, each piece has a thin band of chocolate goodness across the top. Perfection! (Oh, and I added two drops of green food coloring to make this extra green. I wanted major greening going on.)

Pistachio & Chocolate Cake

Recipe from The Pioneer Woman Cooks


  • 1 box White Cake Mix
  • 1 package (4 Ounce) Pistachio Instant Pudding Mix
  • ½ cups Orange Juice
  • ½ cups Water
  • ½ cups Vegetable Oil
  • 4 whole Eggs
  • ¾ cups Chocolate Syrup (such As Hershey’s)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour bundt pan.

Mix all ingredients but chocolate syrup and beat for two minutes on medium-high. Pour 3/4 of the batter into the bundt pan.

Add chocolate syrup to the remaining batter and mix well. Pour chocolate-laced batter on top of the pistachio batter.

Bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees.

Note: You can use a knife to swirl chocolate batter into the pistachio batter for more of a marbled design.

My love of capers knows no bounds — so we made Chicken Scallopine

So I’m kind of going through a thing with capers.

It all started on my birthday weekend in July, when Spencer and I went up to Annapolis and had dinner at The Cheesecake Factory. If you’ve never been to a Cheesecake Factory, friends, let me caution you: don’t. It’s so good, fatty, filling and delicious, it will ruin you for every other restaurant. And, um, the cheesecake? Cheesecake, people. In a billion different varieties. But if you’re going for dessert, you should skip the whole meal thing altogether. By the time you’re done plowing through your massive entree, any space in your belly for cool, scrumptious cheesecake will have been invaded by meatloaf.

On this particular evening, riding high off a solitary strawberry margarita in honor of the 25th anniversary of my birth, I ordered a chicken piccata dish. On a whim. Because it featured a lemon and caper sauce and, well, that sounded good.

So I ordered it. Spencer and I chatted and made moony, lovey faces at each other. I drank more of my margarita.

And then my chicken piccata came.

And I ate it.

And it was the most delicious thing I’ve ever had in my life.

Was it the perfectly-cooked chicken dripping in the lemon herb reducation? Or maybe the mushrooms — wow, I love mushrooms. Perhaps it was the tender pasta drenched in all that delicious sauce, or . . .

Yes, yes, it was the capers. Totally the capers.

Since I’ve been getting more interested in cooking lately, as we all know, and have had some successes, I decided earlier this week I would whip this one up with Spencer, my favorite sous chef. (Yeah, right — I’m totally his sous chef. Especially since I spend more time taking pictures of dinner than making it.)

After discovering this recipe for Chicken Scallopine over at The Pioneer Woman, one of my favorite blogs, we went to work. And everything went swimmingly! Aside from a mishap wherein I dropped the jar of capers (eek), our stove wouldn’t get hot enough to reduce the white wine (another eek) and our linguine became sticky from sitting too long while the chicken fried (our fault for boiling it too quickly), it was delicious — and relatively simple.

I’d recommend it — especially if you’re all into capers, like I am. Though the recipe calls for a “heaping teaspoon” of the delicious little pickled buds, I could have happily added the entire jar to our pan.

And next time? I’ll be doing just that.

Chicken Scallopine

Recipe from The Pioneer Woman Cooks

1 pound Linguine
6 whole Boneless, Skinless, Trimmed Chicken Breasts
Salt And Pepper, to taste
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
4 Tablespoons Butter
12 ounces, weight White Mushrooms, Sliced Thin
1 cup Dry White Wine
Chicken Broth (optional)
1 whole Lemon
½ cups Heavy Cream (can Use Half-and-Half)
1 teaspoon (heaping) Capers
Chopped Fresh Italian Parsley
Parmesan Cheese, For Topping

Preparation Instructions:

Cook pasta according to package directions.

Flatten chicken breasts to uniform thickness. Salt and pepper both sides, then dredge in flour. Heat butter and olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Fry chicken breasts until golden brown. Remove to a plate and set aside.

Throw mushrooms into the pan and stir. Immediately pour in wine and chicken broth (optional), and then squeeze juice of 1/2 to 1 lemon. Stir to deglaze the pan, and then cook vigorously for 1 minute, until sauce reduces.

Pour in cream and stir, then add capers and parsley and stir. Turn off heat. Stir and add salt and pepper to taste. Don’t under salt!

Place pasta and chicken on a platter and top with every last drop of sauce. Generously sprinkle Parmesan Cheese over the top.

That night I met The Pioneer Woman

An hour and a half drive + one hour vacation time from work + 4.5 hours waiting in line = one very, very excited Meg — when she got to meet none other than Ree Drummond, the Internet (and world’s) very own Pioneer Woman!

Yes, friends, I typed 4.5 hours . . . because from approximately 6:15 p.m. to 10:30 p.m., I waited in line with Spencer, World’s Most Patient Boyfriend, in order to get my copy of The Pioneer Woman Cooks signed by none other than PW herself.

I knew there’d be a massive crowd at the Borders in Fairfax, Va., just as there have been massive crowds along every stop of PW’s book tour. But did I anticipate hundreds of women and nary a man squished into the bookstore, all of us lined up like cattle (on a ranch!) to meet Ree? And did I think it would take all night to do so?

Nope. But that’s perfectly okay — because we managed to find a parking space just a few blocks away, I got my book signed and was entertained for hours by Lacey and Jennifer, our Line BFFs. We might not have known each other before we got our little tickets for places in line to meet PW, but we definitely knew a bit more about one another’s hopes and dreams after roughly four hours!

Ree was just as smiley, pleasant and sweet as you’d expect — even after meeting and snapping photos with approximately ten billion people last night. By the time we approached her table, she had a collection of little gifts folks had brought and was probably sick to death of having to flash that blindingly (truly, blindingly) white smile at all of us.

As she signed my book and I dumbly tried to think of something scintillating to share, Spencer snapped a few photos of the two of us. Looking up (and probably surprised) to actually see a guy standing there, Ree asked, “And who is this?”

I explained that Spencer, World’s Most Patient Boyfriend, had agreed to accompany me — and that in exchange for making him stand in line with me all night, I’d agreed to make him everything in her cookbook.

“Sounds like a fair trade for a night of waiting!” she said.

I agreed. And I just might start with those famous cinnamon rolls . . . if I can manage not to burn my hands off in the kitchen.

Hard to say.