In the past 3 years, we’ve moved 3 times. I met and fell in love with my husband in California. We talked about moving closer to family on our first date. A little over a year later, we did. We moved outside Kansas City. We were an 8-hour drive from both sides of the family, save for some precious folks still back on the West coast. Since we left our hearts behind in California, we thought it would be okay because we jump at any chance to hop on a plane and head back there.
It’s hard to move lots, friends.
Our stint in Kansas City didn’t last long (but was full of so much good barbecue). Just as we were getting settled in, we moved to St Louis.
My husband is one of those people that is so warm, genuine and kind; he makes friends so easily. People sidle up to him quick and share their hearts. He’s just so open and trust-worthy. And you get a sense of it in the first few seconds of talking to him.
I, on the other hand, can take a bit of warming up to (read: wine). Luckily, everywhere we’ve lived, we’ve become quick friends with our neighbors. Not only is being neighborly a good tradition to have, but I can’t tell you how nice it is to have best friends next door. I don’t have to schedule a lunch date, I just go over. I don’t have to call first to ask if anyone wants to open a bottle of wine on the porch, people just show up. It’s such a warm feeling. We all need more drop-by friends. Friends that you don’t have to clean the house for. Those are neighbor friends. The best kind of friends.
We start out getting to know our neighbors by inviting them over for drinks and dessert on Friday nights. After a long work week, everyone looks forward to a cocktail and a little sugar. My husband handles the drinks, and I, of course, make the dessert. However, I need a little more than dessert for two, don’t I? I mean, sometimes a small batch of cupcakes that makes 4 is perfect, but I always like to send people home with extra for the kiddos. This tradition has served us well everywhere we’ve lived. We’ve made life-long friends with our neighbors in every state we’ve lived in.
That is how I started scaling down the Pioneer Woman’s chocolate sheet cake. I certainly didn’t need a giant chocolate cake, but I needed one that served more than two. I halved her recipe and baked it on a quarter-sheet pan, made a few alterations, and it’s perfect! Everyone loves chocolate, and I get about 6 generous servings out of the pan. That’s enough for the 4 of us, plus if anyone wants seconds or an extra slice to take home for kids.
Our neighborly visits often go late, and I’m too tired to do dishes when everyone leaves, so I use paper plates. I think it provides a more casual feeling anyway. Last Friday, I used these pretty floral Dixie paper plates. Clean-up was a breeze, and they’re perfect for sending home leftovers, too.
So, make it easy on yourself, grab the paper plates and invite your neighbors over! Make moments that matter together!
20 minPrep Time
20 minCook Time
40 minTotal Time
- For the cake:
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter
- 2 heaping tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/2 cup boiling water
- 1/4 cup buttermilk
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- For the frosting:?7 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 heaping tablespoons cocoa powder
- 3 tablespoons buttermilk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 heaping cups powdered sugar
- Preheat the oven to 350.
- Lightly spray a quarter-sheet pan with cooking spray. A quarter-sheet pan measures 12x10-inches.
- First, make the cake. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt.
- In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, melt the butter.
- Once melted, stir in the cocoa powder and boiling water.
- In a measuring cup, stir together the buttermilk, egg, baking soda and vanilla.
- Add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture, following by the boiling water mixture.
- Stir together all cake ingredients very ell, and then pour into the prepared pan.
- Bake cake for 15-18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
- While the cake bakes, make the frosting. In the same saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat.
- Stir in the cocoa powder, buttermilk and vanilla until well-combined.
- Remove the pan from heat and whisk in the powdered sugar.
- Immediately when the cake comes out of the oven, pour the frosting over. Use an off-set spatula to spread the frosting to the edges of the pan.
- Let the cake cool for at least 30 minutes before serving.