Brunch · Dessert · Gasparilla Cookbook · Junior League of Tampa · recipe

Little Eva’s Sweet Cake Bread

unnamed-3The other night I made Little Eva’s Sweet Cake Bread from The Gasparilla Cookbook (page 240). It was easy to make and delicious to eat. I baked it for our first Marketplace committee meeting of the year. The cake was halfway eaten once I arrived home, which is good for me because I can’t eat an entire cake. However, it’s the perfect recipe for your next social gathering.

With sweet cinnamon and butter as ingredients you can’t go wrong, right?! Plus, since Fall and football season is almost back into swing, this is a great recipe for entertaining. If you like this recipe and want to see more, you can purchase your own copy of the cookbook from The Junior League of Tampa website.

Little Eva’s Sweet Cake Bread:

  • 4 cups of flour
  • 4 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 1 cup of butter
  • 3 cups of sugar
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla
  • Cinnamon, butter, sugar

Sift flour once, measure, then sift twice more with baking powder. Cream butter and sugar. Beat egg yolks, add to sugar mixture, then add milk and flour. Beat egg whites stiff, fold in. Add vanilla. Bake at 350 for 40 to 45 minutes. Before the cake is done, spread with cinnamon, butter and sugar.

I hope you enjoy this recipe. I thought it was pretty easy and yummy. What’s your favorite cookbook or recipe to make?

Dessert · Junior League of Tampa · The Life of the Party

Pina Colada Muffins

Living in Florida, we are blessed with so many wonderful summer-like days throughout the year. One of my favorite Junior League of Tampa recipes, the Pina Colada Muffins, taste like a bit of summer – and makes for a perfect party addition at any time of the year!

The recipe itself is very simple, and requires little actual time to prep and cook – I was able to make a batch in roughly 30 minutes from start to finish.


To start, follow the instructions from the yellow cake mix box. Once you have mixed the cake packet, eggs, and oil, you add the remaining ingredients – the crushed pecans, crushed pineapple, coconut, and the extracts/flavorings. Stir, but be sure not to over mix. Be sure to grease the mini muffin pans, and then fill them ¾ way full. The mini muffins should take between 10-12 minutes to cook – but test them with a toothpick to ensure that they are ready to be taken from the oven. If the toothpick comes out clean, the muffins are ready to cool outside of the oven!


These muffins are a true hit – my two little boys love them, as well as coworkers when I brought them to a Thanksgiving lunch. You will be sure to love them as well!

Pina Colada Muffins 

The Life of the Party, pg. 69



1 box (2-layer) yellow cake mix

1 tsp. coconut extract

1 tsp. rum flavoring

1 cup flaked coconut

1 cup chopped pecans

1 cup crushed pineapple

Mini muffin trays


Prepare the cake mix according to the package directions. Stir in the coconut extract, rum flavoring, coconut, nuts and pineapple, do not overmix. Fill greased mini muffin cups ¾ full. Bake at 350 degrees for 12 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Junior League of Tampa

Strawberry Bread

Strawberry Bread

This is an easy bread to make that is great for breakfast, but really can be enjoyed anytime! It’s a perfect thing to make in the winter when strawberries are in season, but I have made it throughout the year and it’s always been delicious.

Here’s what you’ll need:

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon salt

2 cups sugar

3 eggs

1 1/4 cups vegetable oil

1 pound fresh strawberries, sliced

1 1/4 cups pecans (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt and sugar in a bowl. Make a well in the center. Add the eggs and oil and mix until moistened. Stir in the strawberries and pecans. Pour into two greased 5×7-inch loaf pans or one 9×13-inch baking pan. Bake for 1 hour. Cool on a wire rack.

Yield: 20 servings

Junior League of Tampa

First Taste of Ox & Fields Restaurant 

Good morning and happy Friday! Recently, our lovely Marketplace Committee just celebrated an awesome year at a very soft opening at Ox and Fields Restaurant & Bar in Tampa. We all got a first taste and preview of their menu.

Let us tell you, that it was worth it. We can not wait to go back and get a taste of more menu items. What makes our meal at Ox & Fields even more awesome is…wait for it..the chef did some renditions of our recipes from our Junior League Cookbooks! How awesome is that!

I give all of the food an A+. The salad and dessert were my favorite. The salad was delicious, refreshing and the dressing was amazing. It even had a little kick to it. 

The dessert…was so decadent and I wish I could take it home to eat again. I’ve always had a sweet tooth and this definitely hit the spot. The cookies were crunchy, ice cream soft and the sauce was perfect.  

We were honored enough to be invited to be the first guests to taste some of their food but adding on our own recipes was a treat in itself. Ox & Fields is located off of Nebraska Ave in Tampa. If you are in the area, stop by and try it. They open May 3rd. 

Junior League of Tampa

Junior League of Tampa Spring Sale 

Good morning! What better way to start the day with some shopping news?! The Junior League of Tampa is having a pretty decent sale going on in April. 

Our sale will consist of our remaining holiday items along with all other merchandise. It will be 50% off for holiday and 30% off of everything else. We have so many perfect gifts for the holiday season, birthdays and so much more. 

It is a great way to support your local league and community by purchasing something for yourself or a friend. The date for the sale is April 4 which will take place at both of our general membership meetings. The times will be from 11am to 1:30pm and 6pm to 830pm. 

Come on by and shop our awesome deals! Have a lovely day 🙂 

Junior League of Tampa · Recipes · Savor the Seasons · soup

It’s not fall until you’ve tried Curried Pumpkin Bisque!

Fall is here! If you are looking for an impressive dish for a dinner party or an interesting starter for Thanksgiving dinner, try the Curried Pumpkin Bisque from The Junior League’s Savor the Seasons cookbook (page 50).  Start to finish, it only took 30 minutes, so it would work great during the week, too.  The combination of flavors was great and the rich, creamy taste would be wonderful on a cool fall night (although we enjoyed it on a warm fall night, it is Florida after all).

All of the ingredients are easily found, especially the pumpkin puree during this season.  I purchased lump crab rather than jumbo lump crab, as it saved about $4 per container.  The crab is a little pricy, but well worth it!  The directions were clear and accurate.  I noticed the soup thickened nicely from the cornstarch base.  Once assembled, it would probably hold well if left on low heat with occasional stirring.  I followed the recipe as written, but would probably use half and half or whole milk instead of heavy cream next time, just to make it a bit less rich.  We didn’t have cognac, so I used a bit of sherry instead and finished it with chives on top for a bit of oniony taste.  I imagine the cognac would be wonderful.

I wanted to keep things festive so I served it in a gourd, as was suggested in the cookbook.  It is really easy (I promise!) and looks quite fancy.  If you choose to serve the soup in a gourd, there are a ton of colorful and interesting choices available in stores right now- all types and colors of pumpkins, as well as squash of different colors and shapes, so get creative!  You basically just need something with enough space to hold a couple ladles of soup and the ability to flatten the bottom so it sits evenly.  I went with the standard acorn squash, which is generally available all year.  I thought the green skin was a nice contrast to the orange soup.

After scooping out the seeds, I thought the “bowl” should be a bit larger, so I used a pairing knife to carve out a larger and more symmetrical space.  The uncooked squash provides tons of carving possibilities.  If you are more creative and crafty, you could even carve out a shape (this was not in my skill set)!  And don’t forget some crusty bread for dipping!  We had a side salad with blueberries and almonds for some additional greens.  It was husband approved!

Curried Pumpkin Bisque

1 small onion, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbsp curry powder
2 tsp ground ginger or 2 Tbsp grated fresh ginger  (I used ground)
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp Tabasco sauce
1/2 c (1 stick) butter, melted
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1 (16 oz) can pumpkin puree
4 c chicken broth
2 c heavy cream
2 c fresh lump back fin crab meat, flaked
salt and pepper to taste
Cognac (optional)
fresh or dried parsley (I used fresh chives)

Cook the onion, garlic, curry powder, ginger, nutmeg and Tabasco sauce in the butter in a stockpot until the onion is tender, stirring frequently.  Stir in the cornstarch and cook until thickened.  Add the pumpkin and broth and bring the mixture to a boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Stir in the cream and crab meat.  Cook until thickened and bubbly, stirring constantly.  Season with salt and pepper.  Ladle into soup bowls.  Pour a splash of cognac over each serving and sprinkle with parsley.  Yields 8-10 servings.

“Out of your gourd”
For a gourmet presentation at your autumn dinner or Thanksgiving feast, serve Curried Pumpkin Crab Bisque in colorful gourds, such as acorn squash.  Slice a bit of the rounded base of the gourd to help it lay flat, and line the inside bottom with foil to ensure the soup doesn’t leak.  Garnish with small pieces of crab, a dash of cognac and fresh parsley.

butter, onions, spices


Appetizer · Cookbooks History · Junior League of Tampa · Sandwich · The Life of the Party · Uncategorized

Perfect your tailgate with Roast Beef on Rolls!

Let’s face it- we all have hectic schedules. Between the final days of summer, the hectic “back to school” rush and the madness of the impending holidays comes one of a Southern girls’ favorite times of year: Football season! And while attending our fair share of tailgates and football parties may seem like an easy feat, we are often asked to bring a dish to the celebration or even (gasp) host a party of our own. Luckily, the Tailgate Roast Beef on Rolls (aka sliders) from The Life of the Party on page 33 are a quick, easy and impressive treat that will allow you to spend less time in the kitchen and more time with your guests.
To be completely honest, 90% of what I cook revolves around how much I love cheese. So while this recipe traditionally calls for Swiss cheese, I opted for a more gourmet variety: Gruyère. I definitely think this swap helped dress up the sliders since I was cooking for friends. I was also very strapped for time when I was making this, and decided to use chives instead of green onions since that’s what I happened to have in my refrigerator at the time. Though there’s no real substitution for the unmistakably distinct flavor of green onions, chives or minced shallots can be used as a quick fix (and are just as tasty). I also had half an onion on hand that needed to be used, so I caramelized them (a painstaking process, but completely worth it), and used them as my final touch before tossing the assembled sliders in the oven. These sliders were such a hit, and I loved that even though I followed the recipe pretty straight on, there were so many options to improvise or put your own twist on the recipe. Pretzel rolls, pickled radishes, Londonport roast beef, or fresh arugula all would have made great additions or substitutions to this dish. You could even make these as larger sandwiches for dinner or lunch! Who doesn’t love options, right?
The best part about this recipe, other than the fact that it’s absolutely delicious, is that it takes all of 20 minutes to make- that’s it! If you’re really crunched for time, you can even prepare the sliders beforehand by assembling the sandwiches, wrapping them in foil and storing in the fridge until you’re ready to bake. While I love to cook, I just don’t always have the time to make something from scratch, but that’s why I love these sliders. This recipe is perfect for the “can’t-cook” cooks out there, and a wonderful dish for football entertaining.
Let us know how you make yours!


Recipe: p.33

8oz cream cheese, softened

1 envelope ranch salad dressing mix

1/2 cup chopped green onions

1 (24 count) package small dinner rolls

1 to 2 pounds deli-sliced cajun roast beef

12 slices swiss cheese (or cheese of your choice)

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted

Combine the cream cheese, ranch dressing mix and green onions in a small bowl and mix well. Remove rolls from the package. Slice the rolls horizontally; remove the top of the rolls in on piece. Spread the mixture on the cut side of both layers. Layer the roast beef and cheese you selected on the bottom layer. Cover with the top layer of rolls; brush with melted butter. Arrange on a baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes or until golden brown. Slice into 24 small rolls. Serve warm.

Roast Beef Rolls 3 Roast Beef Rolls 2

Every Day Feasts · Junior League of Tampa

Discovering the Popover!

Rather than featuring traditional Thanksgiving recipes this month, how about we mix it up?! In keeping with the sentiment of giving thanks, let’s try to appreciate new things. We all have our go-to recipes and while November conjures thoughts of apple pies, pumpkin, squash and hearty stuffing, I wanted to try something unfamiliar and unexpected.

It’s funny; I’ve flipped through our Everyday Feasts cookbook many times and never had even the slightest interest in trying our Popover recipe. That was until I had the best popover ever. Jordan Pond House, Bar Harbor Maine is where I had the pleasure of discovering this lovely treat.

Jordan Pond House

Hard to explain exactly what a popover is, but they look like giant muffins that flake apart somewhat like a croissant, are hollow in the middle, and crispy on the outside. They pair well with butter and jam, or equally as well with a savory, steamy soup.

Start with a few humble ingredients.


Bake until puffed high and golden brown – no opening the oven while baking!


Pair with coffee, butter, jam and enjoy!



Everyday Feasts

2 eggs

¾ cup milk

¼ cup water

1 tablespoon butter, melted

1 cup flour

½ teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Heat a 12-cup muffin pan or popover pan in the oven for 10 minutes. Combine the eggs, milk, water and butter in a medium bowl and whisk until blended. Combine the flour and salt in small bowl. Add to the egg mixture and whisk just until combined.

Remove the pan from the oven and brush the muffin cups with vegetable oil. Pour the batter into the prepared muffin cups, filling ¾ full. Bake for 30 minutes. Do not open the oven door. Popovers will be puffed and golden brown. Remove the oven and serve immediately.

For Garlic-Thyme Popovers, sauté 1 minced fresh garlic clove and 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme in 1 tablespoon butter. Substitute the mixture for the butter and prepare as directed above.

Recipe Notes:

I used a regular muffin tin, which when cooked the popovers were very close together (some touching). A popover pan (basically just a muffin tin with more spacing in between) may have been slightly better if you have one handy.

Capture the Coast · Junior League of Tampa · Lobster

Mouthwatering Grilled Lobster Tails

Earlier this month I joined my husband and his family on their annual trip to the Florida Keys for the opening of lobster season for the first time! I found out quickly that they are serious about their lobstering! They scout out the holes they’ve marked in their GPS from past years during the few days leading up to open season. Opening Day, August 6th, is an early day for the family and we stay out until we’ve reached our maximum of 6 lobsters per license.

Spotting and catching lobster requires a snorkel, mask, tickle stick, net, and measuring device. First, you have to “drag” behind the boat, which means you hold a tow line as the boat moves at a slow speed while wearing your mask and snorkel and surveying the ocean floor at about 10 feet or less for lobster holes. After spotting a lobster hole, you use your tickle stick to entice the lobster to come out of the hole. You must have your net ready as they use their tail to propel themselves backwards (and they can be fast!). Once you catch one, you must immediately measure it to make sure it’s 3 inches from between the eyes to the end of the carapace (just before the tail begins). Of course it takes some time to find the right ones as they must meet the minimum requirements to keep. Measuring the lobster was usually my job as the others were more experienced and were responsible to catch the lobster!


When I said my husband’s family was serious and experienced with their lobstering, I meant it. They bring a vacuum sealer and a freezer to freeze the lobsters almost immediately after cleaning! This worked out well for us as we were able to bring 14 tails home!


Once we returned home I was anxious to flip through my Junior League of Tampa cookbooks to find a lobster recipe to get cooking right away! I landed upon the Florida Lobster with Lemon Basil Butter recipe in Capture the Coast and knew it was going to be first on the list! It is extremely simple, but the cooking directions helped us ensure it was grilled just right. The butter sauce was surprisingly flavorful even with the very few ingredients required. We will definitely be having this one again!

Florida lobster tail

Florida Lobster with Lemon Basil Butter from Capture the Coast

½ cup (1 stick) butter

1 ½ teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest

4 (6 to 8 ounce) fresh Florida lobster tails, thawed

½ cup fresh basil leaves, chopped

Preheat the grill. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over very low heat. Add the lemon zest. Pour into small bowl (I split between 2 bowls to use one before cooked and the other after). Split each lobster tail into halves lengthwise using a sharp knife or kitchen shears. Note that you will need to cut off the hard bottom shell if these are not store bought. Brush the exposed lobster meat lightly with the lemon butter. Place lobster meat side down on a grill rack. Grill over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes or until lightly marked. Turn and grill for 5 to 7 minutes longer or until the lobster meat is white and firm, brushing with more of the lemon butter, if desired. Remove from the grill. Stir the basil into the remaining lemon butter. Brush each lobster tail with the lemon basil butter. Serve with the remaining lemon basil butter for dipping.

Only 12 more lobsters to continue testing recipes on!

You can find all of our lobster recipes in our Junior League of Tampa cookbooks at

Junior League of Tampa · The Life of the Party · Uncategorized

Rewards of Gifting a Cookbook

I think I made the best decision of the summer the moment I gave my coworker a Junior League of Tampa cookbook! Her and her mom love to cook so they’ve promised to make some recipes that I haven’t been able to get to and even let me taste the food! Their first adventure was White Bean Chicken Chili out of The Life of the Party.

White Bean Chicken Chili, pg. 83

1 lb Great Northern Beans                              2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 onion, chopped                                              2 carrots, chopped

2 ribs celery, chopped                                      3 garlic cloves, minced

2 (4-ounce) cans chopped green chiles         2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 1/2 teaspoons cayenne pepper                  1 teaspoon oregano

1/2 teaspoon salt                                             2 lbs. chicken breasts

1 (14-ounce) can reduced- sodium chicken broth

Sort and rinse beans. Soak the beans overnight according to package directions; drain. Place the beans in a stockpot and cover with 2 inches of water. Cook over low heat for 2 to 3 hours or until the beans are soft and the liquid is absorbed.

Heat the oil in a stockpot. Add the onion, carrots, celery, garlic. Saute for 5 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Add the chiles, cumin, cayenne pepper, oregano, and salt; mix well. Add the chicken, chicken broth and enough water to cover. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to low. Cook, let cool to the touch. Cut the chicken into bite-size pieces, discarding the skin and bones.

Return the chicken to the pot. Cook over low heat for about 20 minutes. Add the beans and any bean liquid to the chicken mixture. Add additional water if necessary to achieve the desired consistency. Ladle into warmed bowls to serve. Serve accompaniments such as chopped scallions, shredded Cheddar cheese, sour cream and crispy tortilla strips in separate bowls. You may substitute 7 cups of rinsed, drained, canned beans for the dried beans.

ImageThis chili is not heavy giving you the ability to serve it year round! It also makes for great leftovers since you can add the garnishes just before you eat a bowl yourself!

ImageIf you’re looking to gift a Junior League of Tampa cookbook to someone you know, you can order online anytime at

Thank you Jessica and Deanna for helping us explore The Life of the Party! We can’t wait to see more cooking from you throughout the year!