Setting a Fall table...and Pumpkin Carrot Cake!

Last night was my turn to host Book Club at my house. A friend who lives up the street invited me to join this new Book club several months ago. As an added bonus, she invited us for dinner on her deck...hard to pass that up! Though most of the women were new to me, I'm always amazed by how quickly women can connect and open up, sharing stories of our lives, in a group that feels safe...and comfortable...with no need to impress.

At the first meeting, we decided to continue the dinner thing as well, so our gatherings are like a Supper and Book the combination! I've always loved to read and there is something so fun about talking about a book with others who have read the same one. 

Thinking about what to serve for supper, I wanted something fairly easy that didn't take much last minute prep. Since the fall season always makes me think of soup, I decided to make two different soups (one with meat, one without), corn bread, a salad, and dessert. After deliberating about several soup options, I chose Chili and Minestrone soup (recipes to come later), Northwest Autumn Salad from one of my favorite cookbooks, 

Trader Joe's corn bread mix (so good!), and Pumpkin Carrot Cake. You all know that I love carrot cake and posted my favorite recipe here. I had pinned this Pumpkin Carrot Cake version on Pinterest a while ago and was glad to have an opportunity to try it out. 

With the soups made, cornbread baked, and salad fixings assembled, I had a little time to set the table. One of the temptations of being a blogger is the desire to come up with new table settings, which often translates into buying new dishes or glasses or get the picture. Not wanting to get caught up in that trap, I decided to use only things that I already owned for our fall supper. Fortunately, I had come across an end of the fall season sale at Pottery Barn in Portland several years ago so I already owned pumpkin plates, fall cloth napkins, and glass ware. Using an old wooden bread bowl, I filled it with pumpkins and dried hydrangeas from the yard, along with dried oak leaves for a centerpiece. I'm so thankful for my mother's example of using things you can find in your own yard to decorate a table!

And...finally, the Pumpkin Carrot Cake! If you like a dense, hearty cake with vegetables like carrot and pumpkin to assuage your guilt over eating dessert, this is the cake for you!

Pumpkin Carrot Cake 

2 cups flour

2 cups sugar

2 tsp soda

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 cup oil

3 eggs

1 cup pure pumpkin

2 tsp vanilla

1 small can (8 oz) crushed pineapple

2 cups grated carrots

1 cup coconut

1 cup nuts, (I use walnuts)

Mix all the dry ingredients together, Mix the eggs, oil, pumpkin, and vanilla together. Add the dry ingredients gradually to the wet mixture, then add carrots, pineapple, coconut and nuts last. Grease and flour  2 - 8" round layer cake pans, and line with parchment paper. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or so. Cool.

Cream Cheese Icing

8 oz Cream cheese,room temp

3/4 stick of butter, room temp

3 to 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1 tsp vanilla

Mix well. Refrigerate for a few minutes. Ice cake. Keep the iced cake in refrigerator until just before serving.

Bon Appetit!

Hard to believe Halloween is coming at the end of this week! Where did October go? Off to see Chonda Pierce's new movie, Laughing in the Dark, tonight. Warmly, Gracia