I simply love fall. I really love pumpkin! But pumpkin cake is simply the BEST!



This cake recipe I found on my dear friend’s Sandy Coughlin website

Her recipes are always just amazing. I doubled the recipe and baked them in three 9 inch pans. I tripled the frosting….of course I did!

I glazed the cake with pure maple syrup. With a few yummy pecans.  I generally don’t put nuts in the cake as my girls cannot eat nuts. But that does not stop me from putting them on top!

I love a great cake but I love a great connection and conversation at the table more. That is my heartfelt message. Hospitality is not about impressing people but it is giving them a message about their value.

So where do you start with hospitality? You start with your family. Your husband your children and those you love dearest. Start with loving them with your life. It is the true message of hospitality. Then love the stranger the foreigner the prisoner. They are everywhere around you. They actually are you.

Happy Fall friends!



PREP TIME: 15 min prep + 30 min cooling

COOK TIME: 30 minutes

TOTAL TIME: 1 hour 15 minutes

You can mix all of the nuts in the cake or leave 1/4 cup out for garnishing.


  • 1 cup pecans, toasted and chopped
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, melted
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 can 15 oz. pumpkin (I buy Trader Joe’s organic)
  • 1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. maple syrup
  • 1 tsp. maple extract


  1. Heat the oven to 350. Coat an 8×8 baking pan with cooking spray.
  2. Place nuts on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes, or in the microwave (on paper towel) for about 2 minutes, turning occasionally. Cook the nuts; chop and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, mix the sugars, butter, eggs and vanilla. Add in the flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix well.
  4. Mix in the pumpkin, stirring well until combined. Add the chopped nuts.
  5. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool for about 30 minutes and frost.
  6. For the frosting, with a mixer, beat the cream cheese until smooth, adding in the powdered sugar, maple syrup, and extract. Beat until completely smooth.
  7. Frost the cake and top with extra nuts if you prefer; serve.

This delicious recipe brought to you by RELUCTANT ENTERTAINER

My new cookbook Start Simply Cooking is now available for only $15.00. Over 70 of my best recipes from my cooking classes.

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Simply Cooking Cookbook-page-001

My best cookbook ever The Christmas Kitchen! 

The Christmas Kitchen on the table at the Pinery_n

Even in today’s busy times, the kitchen is the heart of the home. Author Tammy Maltby believes the true meaning of Christmas is realized when families gather to share activities that make Christmas “the most wonderful time of the year.” More than any other holiday, Christmas is when family and friends gather for a cup of hot chocolate, fresh-baked cookies, and lots of laughter.

Look inside this holiday treasure for: Easy-to-do holiday recipes – Hints for new traditions – Personal gift ideas – Kid-friendly activities – Simple decorating tips. The Christmas Kitchen is more than a recipe book, it’s a book designed to help you enjoy the  holiday season, not be burdened by it. Take a few minutes each day to  browse these pages for the help you’ve been looking for.

Merry Christmas and may your kitchen be filled, first, with the sweet aroma of love, and then with the spices of the season.

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One of my favorite things in life is making a meal for those I love and watching them dive in!  Preparing food is so much more than just a routine daily chore.

It is mental physically and yes even spiritual. I love the table and all it represents. It is the great equalizer. We all come to the table to be fed in so many ways. There is beautiful magic that happens as we sit together.

We  begin to see each other. Really SEE one another.

We share, connect and in those moments we feel a bit of what we were created for.

Connection and community. Belonging. 

Hospitality is such an amazing gift. It is a message we give others about their value. It is not about impressing someone but rather bringing comfort and care.

What a relief. 

So in that spirit last night I made the most delicious easy Lemon Cream Cake (yes it starts with a box cake mix!) with raspberry and strawberry filling.

One of the things I love about this cake is you can make it days ahead (even weeks) and freeze the cake portion

Simple tip:  Did you know freezing cakes before you serve them actually makes them more moist? 

With summer at our door this is going to be one of my go to recipes. Lemon. Berries. Divine.

“Home interprets heaven; Home is heaven for beginners.” Charles Henry Parkhurst


Lemon Cream Cake with Raspberry and Strawberry Filling

1 lemon cake mix 

1 small chocolate instant pudding mix

1 small vanilla instant pudding mix
5 eggs (4 for regular altitude)
1  cup milk
1/2 cup water
½ cup vegetable oil
1 cup chopped nuts (if desired) 
shredded lemon peel from two lemons
½ cup flour (if high altitude)
Pint of fresh berries (strawberry or raspberries)
One small jar of berry jam (I like to use blackberry)

Mix first 10 ingredients for one minute on med speed.
Pour into 2 round cake pans (8 or 9 inch) greased well and floured if necessary.
Bake 325 for aprox 40 minutes.
Remove cakes on cooling rack, and bring to room temperature. Cool. You can make this cakes ahead of time and they freeze great. I always keep some made in my freezer.

Cream Cheese Frosting
P1100915 CC Frosting
4 ounces unsalted butter, softened
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
2-3 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon orange extract
Zest from one lemon
Beat frosting until firm. 
Put fern greens or fresh mint around the cake plate. Add one of the cakes on top.
Add jam and then a layer of berries over jam in the center of the cake.
Add next layer of cake and frost all the cake with the remaining frosting.
Feel free to add a bit of the jam to the frosting and make swirls.
Top with  strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and lemon slices.  Put directly refrigerator and let chill.

I make this cake in the morning for an evening dinner.


Start Simply Cooking: Eighty of our best loved recipes to get you started!


Now available for only $15.00

A perfect gift for the Foodie in your life!


Dear friends we are so glad you have joined the Start Simply Movement!   Cathy and I feel strongly the table is a great place to connect with people on a deep level. In everything we do we often talk more about the “why” than we do the “how”. Why we cook, why we feel faith is important, why friendships are essential in our lives, and why we should embrace a healthy life style. Both Cathy and I were blessed to grow up with the power of connection through food. We have many memories of wonderful shared meals and beautiful connections. Our parents gave us a legacy of doing life and food well! We have lived it over and over again with our children and now our many precious grand children. We are simply inviting you to come do life with us . . . and share your table . . . simply.

For years I have believed and taught on the reality that people hunger to live a more connected life with their families, and their friends . . . for life to be simple again. The yearning to share ourselves with others is part of our nature as life giving women, something easily lost in the busyness of our culture. We’re so busy caring for our jobs and our families that we just can’t summon the time or energy to think about much else. Especially hospitality and cooking!

What many of us need is to simply be set free. I believe for some it will take a miracle —the miracle of a changed perspective. And that’s what we offer to those who are hungry to lead more beautiful lives and to share those lives with others . . . but also to those who feel inadequate, unprepared, or just too busy to do so. Together we invite you to rethink what it means to begin living simply in everything you do; faith, food, family, friendships and healthy living.

START SIMPLY, but SIMPLY START!!!!! This is our most important message. We are not just about information, but transformation. Keep it simple, keep it real! Remember friends hospitality is giving someone a message about their value it is not about impressing people but rather giving them comfort and care. What a relief!

Grab yourself a cup of coffee or tea and read though these amazing recipes. I think you will find as we have the best way to start is to simply start. To just begin. And enjoy those you love alone the way with a piece of Maltby Cake in hand!







It’s a warm word. An inviting word. A beautiful word.

More important, hospitality is a word that speaks to the heart of the our faith and calling.

8The bible shares that we are to “practice hospitality” (Romans 12:13)—to our brothers and sisters in Christ, to our friends and families, but especially to strangers and those in need (Leviticus 19:33, Hebrews 13:1-2). Showing love for others is not only an act of love and faith it is a loving response to the Lord’s example and to our very creation—the fact that God has made us for relationships and community! We are made and called to use the tools of our entire lives—including our homes, our hearts, and all our spiritual gifts (1 Peter 4:9-10)—to welcome and serve others and to offer them the hospitable gifts of comfort and care.

Kathleen and me
I  believe that women especially hunger to live this way.

The yearning to share ourselves and our homes with others is part of our God-given nature and the call of the Holy Spirit on our lives.

It is beautiful other centered living.


But several factors tend to hold women back in today’s culture.


Many of us have never learned the skills of managing a household and welcoming others into it. We compare ourselves to others and worry that our homes and their cooking skills aren’t up to snuff. We’re so busy caring for our jobs and their families that we just can’t summon the time or energy to “entertain.” And the never-ending avalanche of cookbooks, how-to magazines, and “beautiful living” television shows often discourages while it inspires—whetting our desire to do better, but also convincing us that what we have to offer will never be good enough.

What many of us need is a miracle—the miracle of a changed perspective. And that’s what I offer to women who are hungry to lead more beautiful lives and to share those lives with others . . . but who may feel inadequate, unprepared, or just too busy to do so. FREEDOM from perfection and the joy of reaching out.


I am inviting you to rethink what it means to be hospitable:

• It’s not “entertaining” . . . but providing a comfortable setting for people to enjoy and learn from one another.
• Not showing off . . . but sharing life, embracing hospitality as a message you give other people about their value.
• Not kitchen theatrics . . . but kitchen-based ministry, using food as a catalyst for community.
• Not dinner parties and open houses . . . but mealtime communion and openhearted living.
• Not house beautiful . . . but rejoicing in the beauty of shared meals and fellowship in a welcoming setting.
• Not doing something unusual for “company,” but creating an everyday lifestyle that provides welcome to family, friends, strangers . . . and yourself.
• And it’s not just for those with gorgeous homes, professional cooking skills, support staff on call, or special spiritual gifts. It’s the way God intended all of us to live . . . and what God calls, He enables!


I have always had a heart for this kind of miraculous hospitality. I have taught it in my popular workshops for the past fifteen years. And I have been living it for decades . . . as a college student just out on my own . . . as a young wife inviting another family to share a tiny apartment . . . as the stay-at-home mom with four small children hosting dinner parties for the movers and shakers . . . and as a single mom with four teens and a full-time career as an author and speaker. Lifegiving Hospitality is a warm, encouraging and practical message that the loving, serving reality of the hospitable life really is for them.
The best news of all is that we don’t have to wait for the change of perspective to begin changing our lives. The skills of hospitality are learned by doing—literally “practicing” it. And my desire is to provides the tools to do just that—including easy basics, time-saving tricks, and a small arsenal of foolproof, irresistible recipes But my primary teaching thrust is not “here’s how,” but “you can do it . . . beautifully, and have fun doing it!”


My heart is to give encouragement for any woman interested in a hospitable lifestyle is to “start simply, but simply start,” then move step by step toward a life that is more beautiful, full, and welcoming.

Won’t you join me friend?


For More on Lifegiving Hopitality ck out my books: Lifegiving and The God Who Sees You:



Book: SOON to be released Best of Start Simply Recipes!!

Sign up for this blog to get notifications of when it will be released! Easy beautiful recipe you will love and be successful at.

Or email Cathy Gries at to PREORDER NOW! 

Cookbook release




Our July cooking class is going to be AWESOME! 

Cooking class May

Several months ago my dear friend Cathy Gries suggested we host cooking classes. She loves baking and I love cooking so we thought it was a great match! Though I have spoken to thousands of women on hospitality and co-hosted a national TV show featuring lots of great food I had never done personal cooking classes. Boy was I missing out!

Well the classes have been amazingly fun, delicious and lively! I have met some really wonderful women who are passionate about great food and also practicing the wonderful gift of hospitality. They are committed to finding new ways of loving others with their lives without wearing themselves out. Sound like a plan don’t ya think?

If you are in the Denver /Colorado Springs area I would like to invite you to our class this July 24th at 6:30. We will be hosting this class in Cathy’s home. If you live away you can still join us on Facebook  Start Simply but Simply Start when we post recipes, upcoming classes and lots of helpful tips on making hospitality work for you and those you love.

Here is a sample Menu of our upcoming class! Tell me your mouth isn’t watering!??


Watermelon, Blue Cheese & Prosciutto Wrap Drizzled with Honey (A great recipe that my friend Sandy shared on her blog www.
Avocado-Bacon Toasts with Lime
Fresh Peach and Tomato Mozerella Platter with Basil Vinaigrette 
Strawberry Mango Salsa and Chips
Buffalo Chicken Appetizer Cups


The Maltby Cake with fresh whipped creme chocolate dipped strawberries raspberries and blackberries.
Simple Lemon Cream Cake
Berries with Merigine (low carb and glutton free)
Summer Plum Peach and Blueberry Crostata
A 3 minute dessert (and yes you can time us!)

Please register under the ABOUT section of our page! Cooking Classes Bring a friend daughter or a sister. It is a wonderful night out!

Email Cathy if you have any questions.

“Hospitality is a message you give others about their value. It’s not about impressing people but rather giving them comfort and care.”


Photography by the amazing Beverly Bender


Women today are more stressed out, burned out, and defeated than ever before. The more they seek to better themselves, the farther they fall toward despair. The key according to Tammy Maltby is to become less self-centered and more other-centered. Tammy encourages the reader to be the one who gives life to others! In Lifegiving, she provides sound biblical teaching on what it means to be a lifegiver and how this flows out of a rich inner relationship with God. Lifegiving Discovering the Secrets to a Beautiful Life

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I always love when babies are born into our community!

Congratulations Hannah and Andrew Maas on your new little son!
Years ago I made this salad for Hannah and I think she ate the whole recipe! (Tiny little thing that she is!) She said it was her favorite all time salad.

It is fantastic.

So what would this new mama want? I knew right away what I would bring
Quinoa Salad with Cashews Grapes and Fresh Basil.
Pair this salad with some fresh crunchy bread and you will have one of the best summer meals
          Simple Tip: Have you heard of Meal Train?
 It is a wonderful way to organize meals for those you love when a need arises. I have used it several times and now I am hooked.

Quinoa Salad with Cashews Grapes and Fresh Basil

Cook 2 cups using package instructions. (I cook my quinoa with chicken broth instead of water to give it even more flavor)


1/2 cup cashews halved

1 cup green grapes halved

1 can mandarin oranges drained

1 med red onion chopped

1/2 chopped sweet yellow pepper

1/2 cup chopped celery

1 cup cooked Chicken(I use rotisserie chicken)

4 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil

1 1/2 tsp lemon grass

Toss together.

Top with Newman’s Own or a Raspberry vinaigrette dressing. Arrange on fresh spinach leaves. Garnish with avocado slices.

Note: My dear friend Phyllis Stanley introduced me to her Chicken Quinoa Salad. Phyllis has great information on cooking with grains and pressure cookers on her site


If you ever encounter a life-giving woman, you’ll remember her. She exudes encouragement and power and inspires you to become the person you were meant to be.
Restorative life-giving actions are being lived out daily in the lives of ordinary women.
Tammy Maltbyoffers Lifegiving, a wonderfully enriching volume filled with teaching on how to become a woman who brings life, hope, and inspiration to others.


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