The Shared Chocolate Birthday Cake by Amy Cantu

I'm just going to start with this apology, rather than end with it, (so you know what you're getting into and can just skip to the recipe link at the bottom of the page if you want): I'm sorry, but my eldest son turned five, and I melted into this puddle of sad, emotional mush. On the morning of his birthday, he crawled into bed with me, and I cuddled his no-longer-tiny body as tightly as I could. "Mom, I can't breathe!" "Oh, sorry." "I still can't breathe!" I sighed deeply and loosened my death grip. I ran my fingers through his thick straight hair, (what mine used to feel like before losing half my hair after each pregnancy—a testimony to the many changes and ahem, sacrifices it takes to be a mom.) I intertwined my fingers with his; thank goodness, his hands were still tiny in my adult-sized ones. He's still small, still a child. I inhaled and took in his little boy scent that no bath could ever completely erase—earthy like the dirt he spends all day digging, a little salty from all the endless running around, and sweet, the way that only a child can smell to his mom. Silently, I thought about the first time I held his tiny, fragile body in my arms. I remembered the twisted face he made the first time he tried mashed avocados, how proud I felt the first time he completed a puzzle on his own (boy-genius!), his determination to line up and sort all of his cars by size and color, and most recently, his favorite piece of trivia: Did you know that the longest flight is from Columbia to Singapore?! "Happy birthday, Sweet Pea!" I whispered to keep my voice from cracking. He turned to me with a wide grin and exclaimed, "Today we make cake! Any cake I want! Chocolate with chocolate frosting AND SPRINKLES!" He was standing on the bed now, waving his arms above his head, and shouting. "I want to pick all the things to put on top of it, OK?! And cupcakes too!" My wistful reflection came to an abrupt halt, and I cocked my head to the side, "You want to bake a cake AND cupcakes today?" "Yep! It's my birthday!" I couldn't deny him anything in that moment, and so we did.

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Chocolate Birthday Cake with Chocolate Frosting (Perfect for a layer cake, cupcakes, or a bit of both!)

The Shared BBQ Sides by Cynthia Raub

It's not summer until I've had my first bites of potato salad and cold pasta salad. Just like it's not Halloween, until I've had my yearly ration of a single Candy Corn (to remind myself that it's still not yummy). And just like it's not actually Thanksgiving, until I've had a slice of pumpkin pie and apple pie. The other week, I co-hosted a barbecue baby shower, and I made a tangy potato salad as a side. Amy helped me a ton by making a bright and fresh pasta for the mama-to-be and her 80 guests. I also served a classic cole slaw and featured a dessert table with an assortment of cookies! I used to be stumped with what to contribute to barbecues and summertime get togethers, but now I think I've got the formula down for a great party: something creamy (classic cole slaw), something with an abundance of fresh herbs (Amy's Pesto Pasta Salad) and something tangy and/or acidic (Mustardy Potato Salad). With fresh seasonal fruit, grilled meats, and a leafy salad, you've got the perfect menu for a delicious and thoughtful spread!

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Mustardy Potato Salad

Pesto Pasta Salad with Roasted Tomatoes

In the Kitchen Now - Hot Cross Buns by Amy Cantu

Easter is tomorrow, and I had Hot Cross Buns on my mind - soft, pillowy, lightly sweet rolls, studded with little nubs of dried fruit. Doesn't that sound heavenly? This recipe is a little bit traditional and a little bit different - traditional in that I stuck to the flour-water paste to make the crosses on the tops, but a little bit different in that I added vanilla and cardamom and sticky honey tops to these spiced buns. Happy Easter!

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Hot Cross Buns

The Shared Pie by Cynthia Raub

Cooking is an arduous endeavor: planning, shopping, organizing, preparing, cooking, eating, and finally, cleaning up the mess left in the wake. This is especially true and frustrating when you are cooking for finicky young children. Despite the difficulties, cooking and enjoying home-cooked meals with your family can be incredibly fulfilling. By using your hands, tools and senses, you nourish your family with wholesome meals, creating important food memories and habits. It can get discouraging, and it can be difficult to find the time and energy to create a meal. With all the corporate services available to us today to help ease meal planning and cooking, we sometimes forget that we also have each other as a resource.

At The Shared Plate, we want to be generous and brave enough to share a meal with a friend - to ease their burden of cooking a meal, to develop new skills or hone the ones we already have in the kitchen, to show them that you care with a thoughtful gesture. Amy and I have created The Shared Plate to help ourselves, help each other, and help others. We want to explore all of the ways food can be shared in our communities, between family and friends. We aim to provide approachable, wholesome, family friendly recipes. And we hope to encourage people to cook for one another with an open and vulnerable heart - and in turn, receive similar acts of love graciously.

The idea for the blog came as Thanksgiving approached, and I was simultaneously dreaming and dreading all of the shopping, preparing and cooking that a Thanksgiving feast entails. I asked Amy if she would be interested in swapping pies for the holiday, so we’d be able to serve two pies while only doing the work of baking one type of pie each. (Without a second thought, she replied, “YES!”) We set a mom-date to bake together, and it was one of the most enjoyable and relaxing days I’ve had. Which, might have been because three of our four kids were not there while we cooked, but that’s besides the point! Cooking together allowed us to enjoy the moment and spend quality time with each other, while creating something special for our families to share.

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Apple Pie

Extra Smooth Pumpkin Pie