Birthday Surprise

First off, Happy Birthday Ben!

My sister, Katie, planned up a lovely dinner for us that included all of the favorites. It is her boyfriend, Ben’s birthday…and Ben is a former Mellow Mushroom Pizzologist (amazing pizza maker). They made an amazing vegetable pizza and a white pizza. Mmmm!

To make things go a bit quicker, we bought the multi-grain pizza dough from Publix.

First, Ben punched out the dough.Then, he tossed it.

And then there was pizza.

Vegetable Pizza

  • Marinara sauce
  • Green bell peppers
  • Olives
  • Turkey pepperoni
  • Red onion
  • Part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano

White Pizza

  • Special white sauce
  • Ricotta cheese
  • Feta cheese
  • Artichoke hearts
  • Baby portabella mushrooms
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano

Katie was kind enough to share her recipe for her white sauce:

White Sauce


  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup salted butter
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon garlic (minced)
  • 1 tablespoon Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 2 tablespoons flour


  1. Heat all in a pan until they are beautifully blended.
  2. Brush all over pizza dough.
  3. Bake pizza
  4. Brush all over the crusts of each type of pizza…and sprinkle with more Parmigiano-Reggiano.

She also had me make Ben’s favorite: Red Velvet Cake.

Red Velvet Cake

adapted from Zoom Yummy

Ingredients (Cake)

  • 5 cups unbleached cake flour
  • 4 tablespoons special dark cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups light buttermilk
  • A LOT of red food coloring
  • 2 sticks of unsalted butter (1 cup) (room temperature)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs (room temperature)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons white vinegar

Ingredients (Icing)

  • 1 1/2 cups whipping cream
  • 16 ounces 1/3 fat cream cheese (room temperature)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup powdered sugar


  1. Combine the flour, salt and cocoa powder together in a bowl.
  2. In another bowl, mix the buttermilk and food coloring.
  3. In your stand electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until they are light and fluffy (about 2 minutes)
  4. Add eggs to the sugar mixture one at a time.
  5. Add the vanilla extract and mix again.
  6. Then, on low speed, alternate adding the flour mixture and buttermilk mixture to the sugar mixture: starting and ending with the flour mixture.
  7. Next, in a small bowl, combine the baking soda and vinegar, allowing it to fizz and quickly fold it into the batter.
  8. Preheat oven to 350°.
  9. Pour 2 cups into a 9 inch round cake pan, greased and lined with parchment paper on the bottom. (I baked two at a time….4 cake layers…8 cups total batter)
  10. Bake for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  11. While they are baking, prepare the icing.
  12. In a large bowl, beat the whipping cream until it has stiff peaks.
  13. In a another bowl, beat the cream cheese, vanilla extract and powdered sugar.
  14. Fold the cream cheese mixture into the whipping cream.
  15. Chill the icing for about an hour until it is hard enough to easily spread.
  16. Once the cake is cooked, take it out of the oven, let it sit for about 5 minutes in the pan, then turn over onto a cooling rack. Let them cool completely before icing.
  17. Spread each layer with the icing, then dirty ice the sides and top (dirty icing: icing the cake with a thin layer of icing…it doesn’t have to be pretty and it can be filled with crumbs too)
  18. Chill the cake for about an hour. (Don’t forget to put the icing back in the fridge too.)
  19. Ice the cake and decorate with your favorite sprinkles.

At the end of the night…our stomachs were stuffed and we were happy to be in such great company.

Thank you Katie and Ben!


  1. MMmm looks yummy! I have made Katie Lee’s red velvet cake from her cookbook that actually came from Miss Paula Deen! It was really good. I should compare these recipes. I assume yours is a wee bit lighter???? Is this the only red velvet recipe you have tried and like the best?

    1. Haha…yes. It is a wee bit lighter, and yes, this is the only red velvet I’ve ever attempted. I need to give it another go, for sure!

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