Texas Sheet Cake, in honor of Valentine’s Day

Texas Sheet Cake Photo by Isabella on Unsplash

Who doesn’t love chocolate?

Well, me.

Don’t get me wrong. I love some forms of chocolate, like Snickers bars and Turtles candy. But straight chocolate isn’t something I usually crave.

But Texas Sheet Cake is different. Have you tried it? It’s amazing! It’s moist and rich, and usually, a small piece will fill me up. Growing up, every time we visited my Aunt Bonnie, she made it. To this day, it’s her go-to sweet treat for visitors, which makes this recipe all the more special to me.

In honor of the month that sings the glory of chocolate and love, I thought I’d share the recipe with you. It’s not a quick and easy process, but it’s worth the time spent. And I guarantee, if you take this to a gathering, people will bow at your feet. Okay, maybe not quite. But they won’t stop talking about it, that’s for sure. And they’ll ask you for the recipe. Just send them here!

Texas Sheet Cake

You’ll need a saucepan; mixing bowl; a long cake pan (I use a glass casserole), greased and floured; measuring utensils; mixer

Preheat oven at 400 degrees


1 stick butter

½ cup Crisco

4 T cocoa

1 cup water

2 cups sugar

2 cups flour*

½ cup buttermilk*

2 eggs

1 t soda

1 t vanilla

1 t cinnamon


1 stick butter

4 T cocoa

1 t vanilla

6 or 7 T milk

1 box powdered sugar

Optional: coconut or pecans to sprinkle over the top

Directions for cake:

 Put butter, Crisco, cocoa, and water in saucepan. Boil until dissolved. Cool slightly. Sift flour, sugar, and soda together in mixing bowl. Pour the cocoa mixture over the sugar/flour/soda mixture. Add eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla. Mix well. Pour in greased and floured cake pan. Bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes or until done (test by inserting toothpick in the middle; if it comes out clean, cake is done).

Directions for icing:

In saucepan, boil butter, cocoa, and milk for 1 minute. Remove from heat and beat in powdered sugar. Add vanilla and optional ingredients. Spread on cooled cake.

Flour* If you desire this cake to be gluten-free, use 1-to-1 flour.

Buttermilk* If you don’t have buttermilk (I never do!), substitute ½ cup of milk +1/2 T vinegar or lemon juice, and stir.


What a difference a word makes

Have you chosen a word for 2023?

Some people consider the one word concept as a challenge, a hyper-focused path toward an overall goal.

For me, choosing one word for the year is more spiritually minded than simply chasing a desired outcome. I usually don’t have a lot of control over my one word because I feel it’s God doing the choosing. I’ve always thought He chooses one word for me because that will be the direction He leads me. Usually, when I realize what the word is, I’m a little puzzled. But by the end of the year, God has shown me why that particular word has significance in my life.

My word, and the verse I choose to go along with that word, is personal. It has a lot to do with where I’ve been and where God wants me to go.

Several years ago, after hearing multiple people refer to their word for the year, I chose one for myself and liked the way I saw God using it in my life. I’ve kept up the practice. There are some years where my word motivated me to be purposeful., One year, I forgot about it. Why? Because I think I kind of lost sight of myself. My days didn’t feel as intentional as I would have liked. I felt myself more in reaction mode than anything else, and that’s a lousy place to be. But once in that cycle, it’s hard to stop.

Until something causes you to put on the brakes. That happened to me just this week.

I realized that my word for 2022 had an enormous impact on my actions. But the thing is, I couldn’t even remember what the word was until I looked back at my calendar to find it. There, written alongside the verse I’d selected for the year, was the word, TELL.

“Go back to your home, and tell all that God has done for you.”

Luke 8:39

I sat back for a moment and thought about the word TELL, especially within the context of my verse. That’s when it hit me. Though I’d forgotten my word, God still used it to show me His intentions. How? I launched my author’s newsletter, where I tell my readers about my life and my writing journey. A newsletter is a sure way to tell all that God has done for you.

Just because I’d lost my way didn’t mean God wouldn’t bring my word to reality.

So how do we choose just one word with a corresponding verse?

  1. Examine the past year. Look at your calendar, journals, and photos. Is there something you think God wants you to work on?
  2. Pray. Ask the Lord to reveal what He wants for you this year, and what word will best show that. Usually, by the time I get around to asking God to show it, the word has been on my radar for a while. But because God is often subtle, it takes a little while for it to set in.
  3. Write. Record your word in a place easy to access, like the front of your yearly calendar. List some synonyms that will broaden the meaning.
  4. Choose a verse. Not just any verse, but the right verse. It might be an under the radar kind of verse, but it makes sense in the context of the Bible passage as relating to your word and you can’t get it off your mind, it just might be the verse God wants you to apply to your life this year.
  5. Display your word and verse. Put them in a prominent place, easily seen. Index cards, graphics to put on the wall, or even your computer or phone’s wallpaper.

This activity allows us to practice listening to God. He will let you know when you arrive at the word He wants for you, along with the specific verse.

Pray that you will follow where He leads through this one word and one verse. And to make sure it stays on your mind, post your word and verse where you see it often. Meditate on it often and allow God to use it in your life in surprising and awesome ways.

My words and verses over the last six years:

2018: Tenacious, Hebrews 10:23

2019: Trust, Proverbs 3:5,6

2020: Believe, 2 Corinthians 4:13

2021: Run, Hebrews 12:1

2022: Tell, Luke 8:39

2023: Thankful, Colossians 4:2

What do you think about choosing your own word and verse? Have you done it before?

Christmas Recipes!

Christmas at the Wells’ house means good food. Here are my three favorites! Try them and let me know what you think. Happy Christmas Cooking!

Green Chili Cheese Casserole
(Gingerbread and all the Trimmings Cookbook, Waxahachie, TX)

5 eggs, slightly beaten
¼ cup flour (GF: 1-to-1 Flour)
¼ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
10-oz cottage cheese
½ pound cheddar cheese, grated
1 stick butter, softened
1 small can chopped green chilies

Mix all ingredients. Pour into 8-inch square pan or small rectangular casserole dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes. Cut in squares to serve. Serves 6.

A Wells family favorite!

Strawberry Bread
(Gingerbread and all the Trimmings Cookbook, Waxahachie, TX)
(Make this gluten-free by using 1-to-1 flour)

3 cups sifted flour
1 teaspoon soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cinnamon
2 cups sugar
4 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 ¼ cups vegetable oil
2 cups strawberries, sliced (I use frozen)
1 ¼ cups chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift dry ingredients together in a big mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, mix eggs, vanilla, oil, strawberries, and nuts. Add to the dry ingredients, stirring just enough to moisten. Pour into 2 greased, standard-size loaf pans. Bake for 1 hour, and test with a toothpick or knife to make sure it’s done (toothpick/knife should come out clean). Let the loaves cool 5 minutes before removing from pans. When cool enough, slice generously and top with butter for a wonderful treat. Makes 2 loaves.

Bacon-wrapped Chicken Breasts
The secret to a stress-free Christmas Eve dinner!
(Victorian Sampler Cookbook, Eureka Springs, AR)

1 can dried beef (this comes in a tiny glass container, usually located in the canned meat section)
1 package bacon, regular sliced (not thick sliced)
6 chicken breasts (usually mine are frozen, but I’m sure fresh is fine)
2 Cream of Mushroom soup (I’m sensitive to MSG, so I use Pacific brand)
1 16 oz sour cream
2 cups rice, prepare according to directions on package

Place chipped beef in bottom of large casserole dish. Wrap each chicken breast with one or two slices of bacon. Place on top of beef. Mix soup and sour cream, then pour on top of chicken and beef. Cover and bake at 275 degrees for 2 ½ to 3 hours, or until fork tender. Serve over rice.
Because the oven is at a low temperature, I put it in before Christmas Eve service, and it’s done when we get home. Super easy!


I am always ready for Thanksgiving. It’s a great excuse to halt everything and gather with loved ones. This year I’m thanking the Lord for my family, my friends, and for His daily provision.

But I won’t lie, Thanksgiving cooking is a little stressful. I mean, come on. The sheer number of fancy side dishes boggles the mind and totally messes with the diet. But when else will we have an excuse to cook/consume such rich, fancy foods?

At my house, everybody brings a dish (or three) to add to the table. As the hostess this year, I’m not sure what I will prepare, besides the turkey and cornbread dressing (a staple in any Southerner’s celebration). We mostly have the same menu every year:

  • Turkey
  • Dressing
  • Macaroni and Cheese
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Green Bean Casserole
  • Broccoli Rice Casserole
  • Sweet Potato Casserole
  • Squash Casserole (see any themes here?)
  • Rolls
  • Relishes, such as pickles, olives, pickled okra (Southern), and hot mix if you are a proper Wells
  • Cranberry sauce (jellied, from a can; it’s not Thanksgiving if the cranberry sauce isn’t served in uniform slices)
  • Salad of some sort; a guilt offering
  • Pies: pumpkin, gluten-free apple, and any other delightful flavor
  • Etc.

Surely I have left out some scrumptious delicacy. But this is enough to form a picture in your mind of rich food overflowing counters and tabletops.

While I am so thankful for the bounty of food, I’m triple thankful for the simple act of gathering. Because who doesn’t remember that not so long ago, in-person celebrations wreaked havoc, physically, mentally, or emotionally? I’m so thankful for hugs, for clasped hands around the table, and for having my people in close proximity.

What are you thankful for this year?

Happy Thanksgiving!

Fall and Fair, a Great Pair

Here in North Texas, Fall is eagerly anticipated yet shy to make its entry. We Texans long to shed our perennial sandals and shorts and huddle around bonfires and bask in the warmth of cozy sweaters and new boots.

This kind of scene is a reality many places, but not around here until November. We Texans must be patient when it comes to seasonal changes.

But no matter what the temperature, the State Fair of Texas opens its gates for three glorious weeks every October. For me, that signals Fall is really here.

When I was a kid, my family made the trip to Dallas just to see Big Tex and have a Fletcher’s Corny Dog while we walked around the exhibits. But the ultimate was the rings. I loved rings. The cheaper, the better for a girl with a limited allowance. My best state fair ring was a smiley face inscribed with my name. Who could resist a treasure like that?

If you know me, you know that of course, I saved the ring. I’m just excited it still fits. What a fashion statement.

That treasure notwithstanding, my best memories of the State Fair of Texas are when I entered my cross-stitch projects. The first one I entered won a blue ribbon. What a thrill!

My great-grandmother’s blue ribbon entries from 1929, and my blue ribbon from 1989

The above photo holds a special place in my heart. The items you see above are a christening gown, a knit sweater set with cap and botties, and a handmade bib, made with love for my father in 1929. She entered the gown in the 1929 county fair and won a blue ribbon. See the dark blue ribbon laying on the bib? That’s her ribbon. Imagine her delight!

In 1989, I took her ribbon, along with the sweet little gown, bib, and sweater set, and entered them in the State Fair of Texas for their nostalgic baby exhibit. Sixty years later, my entry of her baby items garnered a blue ribbon. Full circle moment!

My love of family heirlooms, blue ribbons, needlework, and fairs inspired the novel I’m writing. My heroine wants to enter her beautiful crazy quilt in the county fair and win blue ribbon recognition for her artistry. What is a crazy quilt? Click here to find out!

What about you? Do you have great memories of attending your local fair? Will you go this year? Have you ever entered a fair? I’ve love to hear your story! Leave your answer in the comments.