Backyard Dinner Party and Chocolate Fudge Cake

We were long-past due in getting some special friends together, but we finally coordinated our schedules to enjoy a warm summer’s evening with each other in our backyard in Medford, Oregon.

It’s been the mildest, most wonderful summer, although our garden is very late in producing and our tomatoes are very small! But I’ll take small for the many beautiful entertaining moments that we’ve had in our yard this summer.

The memories will resonate in our minds, and our kids’ minds, for a long time, possibly forever.

Have you ever thought about how hospitality can be eternal?

It’s a very deep thought, but I believe it has eternal value. The things that we talk about around the table, how we encourage one another, how we listen, all have huge meaning …

Some of the friends that were present I’ve known for 30 years, and our lovely neighbors joined us. So it was a very good thing to welcome them to our table in the outdoors and to enjoy a night of good food and talk.

On this warm summer evening when our retired friends came for dinner, Jeannie started us off with a mixture of fresh, tantalizing hors d’oeuvres.

And you may remember my neighbor Ellie’s Prawns and Avocado with Mango Salad. Yup, I was worried for a few minutes if we even needed the rest of the dinner, after enjoying this incredible salad. You really need to bookmark this recipe for a great summertime salad.

We enjoyed steak and potatoes, and I cooked our beets from the garden, slicing them over green beans with feta cheese and toasted walnuts. Oh, boy!

And then dessert came. Our friends Roger and Faye know just how much we love chocolate. All of us!

Their cake was so rich and wonderful, I asked Faye if I could share her recipe with you today. I remember commenting on the delicious frosting. And I just realized Faye’s little secret for the frosting is actually very simple.

It’s okay to have cooking secrets because sometimes they are the tastiest.

(the sticker on the back of Faye’s cake pan)

I’ll be making this cake in the future. You bet I will! :)

When’s the last time you delegated and invited friends older than you over for dinner?



Recipe: Faye’s Chocolate Fudge Cake {ReluctantEntertainer.Com}

Summary: Faye’s frosting tip? “I now use Pillsbury Chocolate Fudge Frosting.” We never would have known. A mouth-watering combo.


  • 3 squares unsweetened chocolate
  • 2 1/4 cups sifted cake flour
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 1/4 cups brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup boiling water


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Melt chocolate. Cool.
  2. Sift flour, baking soda, and salt. Beat butter until soft.
  3. Add brown sugar and eggs and beat until fluffy. Beat in vanilla and add cooled chocolate.
  4. Stir in dry ingredients (I now use unbleached flour) alternately with sour cream, beating well. Stir in boiling water.
  5. Pour into greased and floured 9×13 cake pan or two 9 in. layer pans. Bake for approximately 35 min. (9×13) or 25 min. (9 in. pans) or until it tests done.
  6. Cool in pans on wire rack 10 min.

Preparation time: 10 minute(s)

Cooking time: 25-35 minutes

Number of servings (yield): 8


16 comments on “Backyard Dinner Party and Chocolate Fudge Cake”

  1. Pingback: Finding Your Garden Zone, Spring Raised Beds Planting, and Ryobi Tiller | Reluctant Entertainer I Sandy Coughlin - Lifestyle, Entertaining, Food, Recipes, Hospitality and Gardening

  2. Pingback: Gluten-Free Apple Goody Dessert Recipe - Reluctant Entertainer I Sandy Coughlin - Lifestyle, Entertaining, Food, Recipes, Hospitality and Gardening

  3. Pingback: Secret Ingredient to Warmer Connections - Reluctant Entertainer I Sandy Coughlin - Lifestyle, Entertaining, Food, Recipes, Hospitality and Gardening

  4. Sandy, my ‘i’ keeps sticking on my keyboard. The above comment was from Elaine, not Elane. :)

  5. What a lovely post, Sandy. The piece of tape with Faye’s name on the bottom of the plate reminds me of a beautiful pink ruffled cake plate that I was lucky enough to find at a thrift store last summer. On the bottom is a piece of tape with the owner’s name on it. The tape is discolored and probably would be difficult to take off because it is obvious that it has been on there many years, but I never want to take it off. I am sure the woman who owned this plate took it to many potlucks over the years and I just treasure that about the plate. I just want to honor her tradition and continue it.

  6. Love your pictures! This cake looks amazing!

  7. We love our older friends. They have served as precious mentors to my husband and I (and our children too!). Looks like y’all had a wonderful evening enjoying each other’s company. I’m a little jealous of your mild summer. Ours has been nothing short of oppressive with temps in the 100’s and not very much rain, but I am so very thankful for all my blessings. That chocolate cake looks divine. I will be giving it a try soon. Thanks for inspiring me to be a gracious hostess, Sandy.

  8. Most of our church family are older than we are, and we enjoy spending time w/all of them so much! I hope to have them over again very soon!

  9. Sounds like a wonderful night- and that cake….holy cow…looks yummy!
    Thanks for sharing

  10. Thanks for the reminder to make spending time with our older friends a priority! We have some we need to invite over…my last time was probably in July when I had two dear ladies over for brunch…both older than my mother! They are gems for sure…

  11. Yum! What a wonderful get together. We are FINALLY enjoying cooler temps so we hope to get outdoors more.

  12. YUMMY!!!!! Often when we have bonfires we invite friends of all ages. Recently we had about 25 people up for games and a small bonfire and the ages ranged from 5th grade all the way up to my inlaws. It was a fun night of everyone gathering together to mingle and just be together!

  13. Looks delightful! I didn’t know you were in Medford. I’m moving back there in 2 weeks, after spending a year in Texas. Can’t wait to return to the Rogue Valley!

  14. how lovely! and yes, the ‘secrets’ are so important! we had my parents in town this weekend and invited friends who had attended our wedding to share a sunday afternoon of tea and treats – what’s eternal? that we are fellowshipping in god’s grace, the way the september sun dappled the garden floor, the laughter that was shared among friends old and new, the extension of ourselves outward to others.

  15. I always get a little envious of your outdoor gatherings as we would all be eaten alive by mosquitoes if we did that right now. LOL!
    That chocolate cake recipe looks good!!!
    Tell your friend, thank you for sharing it with us.

  16. That entire spread (and especially the cake) looks absolutely fantastic!

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