Grammie Hooton’s Chocolate Pudding Cake Recipe


An easy way to feed a crowd

My Grandma Hooton was an amazing cook.  She was famous for her homemade cinnamon rolls, chicken noodle soup and cabbage rolls- among other things such as fudge and divinity.  Grammie, as we called her, would work in the  hay fields all day with the hay crew and then, while the rest of us were taking a break because we were so tired, she would be in  the kitchen cooking up a delicious chicken fried steak dinner with all the trimmings.


Sometimes Grammie would round off the meal with a yummy chocolate cake and it wasn’t until recently that I realized how perfect it was for large family gatherings.  The  cake is made in a large jelly roll pan and it serves 24 but it’s easy and fast to fix so you can  make two pans fairly simply.


Grammie’s Chocolate Pudding Cake

1 (5-oz) box cook and serve chocolate pudding mix (not instant)
3 cups milk (for the pudding)
1 box DRY chocolate cake mix
2 cups chocolate chips (semisweet or milk)
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Make pudding to package directions then combine it with 1 package DRY chocolate cake mix. (DO NOT add the eggs and oil etc) Spread in a prepared 9 x 13 inch pan. Sprinkle chocolate chips and chopped nuts on top. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 15  minutes (or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.) Cool completely before cutting.

I feel fortunate to have several of my Grandmother’s recipes and some day I’d like to make a “heritage” cookbook but for now I’ll just  share this delicious recipe at my next family reunion.

Hobo or Tin Foil Dinners With Variations

tin foil dinner blog

One of our favorite family reunion and campfire meals is Hobo dinners or Tinfoil dinners.

We love tin foil dinners so much we sometimes make them in our oven  at home.  Our favorite recipe for tin foil dinners is as follows:

Traditional Tin Foil Dinner Recipe

Place the following items on a piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil. Spray with nonstick cooking spray to prevent sticking.


1 hamburger patty per dinner- 1 pound ground beef will make 4 patties
1/2 cup thinly sliced carrots
1 potato, peeled and sliced thinly or diced 4 potatoes, peeled and cubed
Onion slices 
2 Tablespoons cream of chicken condensed soup

Place patty in the center of each piece of foil. Put vegetables on top of meat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add cream of chicken soup in two dollops on top of dinner and fold foil up tightly around the entire meal.

Cook on a grill on medium-high heat or in a campfire for 25-30 minutes, or until vegetables and meat are cooked through.  You can also cook dinners in the oven (350 degrees for an hour) by placing meals on a cookie sheet before baking. 

Be careful when opening the foil- it is very hot! 

Tin Foil Dinner Secrets to Success

Identify your foil dinner by writing your name or an identifying mark with permanent marker or by folding the foil in an unusual  way.

You may substitute the soup with a few sprinkles of Worcestershire sauce.

When cooking on a fire (when its easy to burn dinners) make an extra meal.  If a meal gets too crispy you’ll have an extra meal and no one goes hungry.

Add a tablespoon or two of water before sealing dinner up to steam your meal.

Turn packets half way through cooking process, using oven mitts or leather gloves.

Tin Foil Dinner Variations

On a family and friends camping trip one of our friends made their tin foil dinner with chicken and rice.  I thought that was a little odd but it got me thinking about variations to our basic recipe.

Tin Foil Dinner Seasoning Variations

Try one or more of the following in your dinner: garlic salt, season salt, lemon pepper, Italian seasoning, BBQ sauce, Ranch salad dressing (delicious on chicken) chili powder, or steak sauce.

Breakfast Tin Foil Dinner

Prepare one thin sausage patty made from lean country sausage, place on foil; add 3/4 to 1 cup frozen hash browns creating a nest in center of your potatoes; add one egg to the nest; wrap. Sprinkle with grated cheese just before serving.

Glazed Ham Tin Foil Dinner

Place one carrot thinly sliced on foil, salt and pepper to taste; place a slice of ham on top carrots, about 1/2-inch thick; place a ring of pineapple on ham; drizzle with 1 tablespoon honey, wrap.

Ranch Chicken Tin Foil Dinner

Combine 1 packet dry Ranch dressing mixed with 3/4 cup corn flake crumbs and 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese. Dip one boneless, skinless chicken breast in melted butter, Ranch dressing mix and place on foil.  Add potatoes and carrots.

This will make 4 to 6 chicken breasts.

Best Salad Ever!

best salad ever

My sister-in-law, Pam, brings the most delicious salads to our family reunions and parties but this salad, with pecans and pomegranate seeds, is my very favorite.  If you’re looking for a yummy salad to share at your next family gathering consider taking “The Best Salad Ever”!



1 bunch of lettuce greens
Pomegranate seeds or Craisins
1 Granny Smith apple or pear, thinly sliced
1 c. Feta cheese
1 c. chopped sugared pecans
Combine mixed greens in a large salad bowl with pomegranate seeds, feta, pears and  pecan halves.

 Vinaigrette Dressing:

2 T. sugar
1 ⁄3 c. orange juice
1 T. Good Seasons Italian dressing (dry packet)
2 T. red wine vinegar
½ c. olive oil or Canola oil
In a medium bowl, whisk vinegar with sugar, orange juice, dry salad dressing and vinegar. Whisk in olive oil or Canola oil gradually.  Store in refrigerator until ready to serve then pour over greens and enjoy.

S’MEEPS- a S’more Lovers Guide to Roasted Peeps


What  a surprise I received Saturday when I dropped by my Mother-in-laws house.  She had invited a few of her great-grand children over  for an Easter celebration and they were having a grand old time roasting PEEPS marshmallow candies over an open fire. 


There’s actually something unsettling about that for me- I mean WHO would roast those sweet little marshmallow chicks and bunnies over a FIRE?  And why would Grandma, of all people, encourage such a dastardly thing? The thought of sweet, innocent children putting a skewer through a marshmallow chick or bunny and roasting it over an open flame makes me cringe.

So what’s all this craziness about?  Roasted PEEPS!  According to Grandma- everyone is doing it.  PEEPS are marshmallows with sugar on top! When you roast them, the sugar caramelizes to make a hard crunchy shell. easter 466

As Easter draws to a close and family reunion season quickly approaches and all the pastel candy starts crowding the supermarket and drugstore shelves, consider buying some extra Peeps now for a Peep Roast at your reunion.

easter 472

One thought- Peep S’mores?  Does that make them S’meeps? We decided to give “S’meeps” a try and quite honestly, they were delicious.  I used a silicone Peep mold from Wilton to make chocolate the same shape as my bunny Peeps and regular graham crackers. Cook over a fire and assemble as you do for S’mores.

Although I’ve got to admit, all this Peeps silliness makes me wonder- what will they think of next?  Oh, and don’t forget, purchase extra  Peeps to have  on hand for your summer camping trip.

Cookies to Feed a Crowd


My husband has a favorite cookie recipe that he remembers from his youth.  These cookies are great for family reunions because they make about 120 large cookies and they keep really well- oh, and they have chocolate chips in them.

phone feb 2015 021

It’s been awhile since we made them and my husband got the urge to mix up a batch last week.  Unfortunately we couldn’t find the recipe.  I searched online thinking- no big deal you can find any recipe on the web- wrong.  This recipe is not there!  (Well, now it is.)  Eventually we found the recipe and my husband made this huge batch of delicious cookies.

I’m including the recipe in this blog just in case you want to whip a batch of cookies for your family reunion or gathering.  I’m not sure how many generations of Stewarts have made this cookies but there are some oddities with  the recipe that I will  try and clarify.  Actually, there are no instructions for mixing these cookies- I just use the traditional- cream sugar and shortening and eggs etc. method.  Here’s how we do it:

kw_ilovecookies_6 copy (2)

Sour Cream Cookies


1 pound brown sugar (1/2 of a 2 pound bag)
1 1/2 cups shortening
2 cups sour cream
4 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
1 heaping tsp. soda
1 heaping tsp. baking powder  
6 cups flour
1 cup chopped nuts
1 large bag coconut
1 jumbo (2 regular bags) sized package chocolate chips

HEAT oven to 350°F.

BEAT shortening and sugar in large bowl with electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add sour cream, eggs and vanilla; beat until well blended. Add flour, baking powder, baking soda; mix well. Stir in chocolate chips, coconut and nuts.

DROP tablespoonfuls of dough into 1 cup granulated sugar and 1 tsp. cinnamon and roll until lightly coated.  Put dough, 2 inches apart, onto greased baking sheets.

BAKE 12 to 15 min.- do not over bake.

kw_ilovecookies_2 copy

Quick and Easy Dutch Oven Cookies

I usually mix up a batch of cookie dough to bake in our Dutch oven when we go camping, but on a whim I threw in a package of cookie mix for our last camping trip and it was a hit!

Case of Betty Crocker Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix (12 total)

Using the mix the cookies were quick and easy to stir together and I didn’t have to worry about keeping the dough cold.


If using a 12″ Dutch oven, you can bake about 8 cookies at one time. Bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes or until light brown. Use 6 coals on bottom, 22 on top.


The mixes don’t make a huge batch and as good as fresh baked cookies taste when you’re camping you might want to toss in an extra package of mix.