Monthly Archives: March 2015

Grandma Harper’s Wedding Soup

My Grandma makes wedding soup every year on Christmas. Honestly, it is not Christmas without this dish being served. She keeps it warm on the stovetop all day long for when family enters at all hours of the day.  When you walk in the door the aroma hits you and warms your heart. I have a photo copy of this recipe in my grandma’s penmanship, granted we did make some modifications. My grandma uses canned chicken and canned stock and garlic powder, etc. She also uses frozen spinach which works well instead of escarole. However my husband’s parents, when they make their wedding soup, they use escarole, so I guess we took a little bit of both worlds to make our own.




Stock Ingredients:

1 (4.5 #) Whole Chicken (My grandma uses canned chicken)

4 TB of Chicken Base

16 Cups of Water (1 Gallon)

2 Medium Carrots (will discard)

2 Celery Sticks (cut into 3 pieces) (will discard)

1/4 onion medium (quartered) (will discard)


Soup Ingredients:

Meat leftover from the chicken (shredded and bones removed)

Liquid from stock (all vegetables removed and discarded)

1 # Extra Small Meatballs (now you can make these by hand and Grandma does but we bought them at an Italian speciality store: however I will place grandma’s recipe below)

2 Tsp Pasta Sprinkle (Italian Seasoning)

3 -5 Garlic Cloves (We used 3 of our very strong homegrown)  (diced)

3 Medium Carrots (diced)

1 Head of Escarole (chopped) (or 4 packs of frozen spinch)

1/2 Medium Onion (diced)

Crutons to taste

Parmesan reggiano freshly grated to Taste

10 ounce Acini Di Pep Pasta

Salt and Fresh cracked Pepper to taste

Yields: 12 servings


1. Place all stock ingredients into a 12 quart stock pan (discard the giblets) with lid place on medium heat. Let go on medium heat for 90 minutes.


2. Turn heat to simmer. Discard vegetables. Debone, shred and cut meat to bite size pieces. Place meat and new vegetables, escarole, meatballs, Italian seasoning, garlic, into chicken stock. Allow to cook on simmer for 1 hour to 1 hour and a half.


3. Cook acini di pepe separately according to package and allow your guests to add to their soup as they wish.

4. Add croutons & parmesan reggiano on side as well to add separately.




Grandma’s Meatball recipe:

1 # ground beef (93/7)

1/4 cup breadcrumbs

4-6 TB Parmesan Cheese freshly grated

2 Egg

2 Tsp garlic powder

2 Tsp Pasta Sprinkle (or Italian seasoning)


Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix to incorporate but do not over mix. Form into thumbtack size.

Peanut butter Pretzel Brownies with Caramel Drizzle


I’ve been dreaming up these for a while.  What’s not to love about the combo of peanut butter, chocolate, caramel, and something salty like pretzels. I found a few recipes that had similar ideas but used a brownie box mix (no thank you). These will have you salivating while they bake. The house will smell amazing! 

This recipe yields 16 brownies

Caramel Drizzle Ingredients : (there will be 1 cup remaining for another baking adventure) the good news is the sauce refrigerated well.

1 cups of brown sugar

 2.5  TB unsalted butter 

1/4 cup and 1 tb of heavy cream 

1 tsp of pure vanilla 

Peanut Butter Swirl Ingredients:

1/2 cup Crunchy Peanut butter

1/4 cup powdered sugar

1 TB butter (unsalted and softened)

1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Brownie Batter Ingredients:

3 large eggs

3/4 cup Whole Wheat Pastry flour

1 cup  crushed pretzels (10-12 pretzel rods)

1 cup raw sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

6 oz of semi sweet (46% cacao) guittard chocolate chips (about one cup or half the bag)

1/4 tsp kosher salt

1/4 tsp baking powder

1/2 cup of canola oil 

4 TB unsalted butter


Line an 9 by 9 inch baking pan with foil and spray with cooking spray to coat well and prevent sticking. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.


  1. Food process 10 to 12 pretzel rods. Pulse the pretzels until you reach desired consistency. You will want some large chunks but mostly small pieces. Set aside in small vessel.

2. In as standing mixer place all the peanut butter swirl ingredients together. Using paddle attachment beat on medium high speed until light and fluffy. Set aside.


3. Microwave the chocolate and butter together in a microwaveable safe bowl. Microwave in 30 second intervals stir after each interval.  Continue until there are no sign of unmelted chunks and this consistency is smooth and glossy.

4. Add canola oil to melted chocolate and stir. Using the food processor (honestly why dirty another bowl). ***Make sure to swap out the metal blade for the plastic blade. **Pour melted chocolate chocolate mixture, vanilla, eggs, sugar, salt, baking soda, & flour into to food processor.  


5. Pulse to mix ingredients together. Do not just turn on the food processor use the pulse mechanism.  

6.Scrap down sides occasionally using rubber spatula. Pulse until all ingredients are incorporated and no dry residue remains.


7. Fold in pretzel crumbs. Or just pulse 3 to  4 times.  


8. Pour batter into prepared 9 by 9 dish. Using a rubber spatula to remove all residue from processor.


9. Spread batter out evenly in pan. And add peanut butter in globs evenly in about 5 -6 different areas (as pictured below).

10. Using a knif swirl peanut butter, try not to over mix or your design will not turn out as planned.


11. Bake for 22-24 minutes and rotate pan half way and bake for another 22-24 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Total bake time 44-48 minutes. 


In the meantime prepare the caramel sauce.Place the sugar in an even layer over the bottom of a heavy 2 quart nonstick saucepan. Heat the sugar over medium-high heat, whisking it as it begins to melt. Just keep whisking and as it continues to cook, the sugar will melt back down. Keep cooking until temperature reaches 350 degrees. Once temperature reached add butter, once the butter is melted gently pour in the heavy cream and whisk until combined. Remove from heat and add in the vanilla, stir to incorporate. Allow sauce cool for 10 minutes off heat and this will provide time for the sauce to thicken.  

Let brownies cool on wire rack prior to drizzling the caramel. Place caramel in Wilton squeeze bottle and drizzle until your heart is content.  


Fyi these will bring everyone to the kitchen. My husband hovered over me until he could have one (until I snapped enough photos). 


Flourless Dark Chocolate Cake



My husband and I took a cookie class back in December. One of our favorite desserts we made was the flourless cake. What is so amazing about this cake is that it only has 3 ingredients. My mother-in-law has omitted gluten from her diet and today is her birthday. We were able to spend the morning together to honor her special day! We thought this would be the perfect cake to  celebate with. There is no reason you cannot have cake on your birthday even if you are avoiding gluten for whatever reason it maybe.


6 eggs

3 egg yolks

2 bag of dark extra chocolate chips guittard (63%)

2 ounce 100% unsweetened guiattard baking chocolate

2 sticks (1 cup) of unsalted butter

Pre directions place parchment paper in bottom of an 8″ springform pan cut in a circle to fit pan. Spray pan with cooking spray. Cover the the outside of the pan with foil and make sure it is well covered so no water leaks into the cake while it is in the water bath. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.


1. Place butter and chocolate in double boiler. And melt chocolate until no chunks remain.Make sure to stir often.

2. While chocolate is melting, in a stand mixer place the eggs in the attached bowl and whisk on high speed for about 5 minutes or until the double in size. 

3. By this time the chocolate should be melted, place the melted chocolate in a medium to large size bowl. Start to fold in eggs a 3rd at a time. Be delicate with folding in the eggs. Once the eggs are incorporated pour the batter into a pre-greased 8 ” springform pan. 


4.  Spread batter evenly prior to placing the cake in oven.  Place the springform pan in a half sheet pan with 1 inch sides. Pour hot water in the half sheet pan to prepare water bath.

5. Bake for 25 to 27 minutes until a thin crust  layer forms on top of cake. 

6. Allow to cool complety on wire rack.  Once cooled cover and Keep refrigerated.  




Chocolate Cookies with Mint M&M’s


What better way to celebrate the month of March and welcome spring with some green! These can be a very versitile cookies. Prior to baking you can top them off with just about anything your heart desires. I ran out of mint M&M’s (since my husband found my stash) so I had to use some butterscotch chips at one point.


This recipe yields 54 cookies using a size 60 scoop.

Pre directions: preheat oven to 350 degrees and paperline two half sheet pans with parchment paper.



2 cups of Ap flour

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

3/4 cup Dutch processed cocoa

2 large eggs

1 cup raw sugar

1 cup white sugar

1 stick unsalted butter (softened to room temp)

3/4 cup vegetable shorten

2 tsp pure high quality vanilla extract

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp kosher salt

162 Mint M&M’s

Cooking spray


1. Cream butter, shorten, and both sugars in stand mixer on medium to medium high speed.

2. Add vanilla and eggs one at a time. Beat after each addition. Set aside.

3. In a seperate bowl whisk together both flours, cocoa, salt, and soda.


4. Gently add flour mixture to creamed batter and mix on low to incorporate.


5. Once everything is well mixed and without dry residue remove paddle attachment and scoop cookies onto the pan by using #60 scoop. Sccop evenly 12 cookies to a 1/2 sheet pan.

6. Spray bottom of drinking glass with cooking spray to flatten the cookie slightly. 



7. Place 3 M&M’s to a cookie and press slightly to prevent the candy from falling out of place



8. Bake for 9 minutes on 350 degrees. Allow cookie to cool for 1 minute on tray and then remove to wire rack to cool the remainder of the way.


Enjoy !



Pulled Pork Shepard’s Pie

My husband’s favorite meat to smoke in his grill dome is a pork shoulder. This is a take on a summertime favorite picnic potluck spread. Since it’s the middle of March I thought I’d bring summertime to us. Although spring will be here before you know it…

Yields 8 servings


  • Pie dough (or use your favorite recipe or store bought)

My favorite dough recipe

1/3 plus 1 TB shortening

1 cup Ap flour 

1/2 tsp kosher salt

2 to 3 TB ice cold water

  • 1 (16 oz can of your favorite baked beans (we used bushes homestyle))
  • 1 cup of corn (frozen or fresh) make sure to thaw if frozen and drain excess liquid
  • 3 cups of leftover garlic mashed potatoes 
  • 2 cups of fully cooker pork tenderloin (shredded)
  • 1 TB BBQ Sauce


1. If you are making the dough from scratch with recipe as above. Place flour and salt in medium bowl. Whisk ingredents together to incorporate. 

2. Add shorten and mix with hands until particles resemble pea size granules.

3. Now add water a TB at a time and form a dough ball and place in plastic wrap and store in refrigerator for 30 minutes.

4. After 30 minutes have elapsed take dough out.

5.Roll out  to fit standard pie dish.

6. Mix pulled pork with one TB of bqq sauce.

7. Place pork on bottom of the pie dough. Spread evenly to cover the base of the dish.

8. Now top pork with baked beans and spread evenly.

9. Now layer with corn.

10. Trim the dough on the crust to fit pan.

11. Place mashed potatoes in piping bag with large star attachment and pipe away a beautiful design. 

12. Place in oven for 1 hour on 350 degrees. You might have to cover crust mid way to prevent burning.



Banana Foster Banana Bread French Toast Casseole for 2

I made 4 mini loaves of banana bread yesterday. I have always wanted to make a French toast casserole using banana bread. It is a way to use the bread with a twist not to mention being resourceful. This dish also reminds me of when my husband and I went to NOLA. The bed and breakfast we stayed at made us banana foster French toast our last day and that memory has left a ever lasting impression on my taste buds.

This recipe yields 2 to 4 servings


1/2 fresh medium banana 

3/4 th a mini loaf of banana bread (cut into inch cubes)

1/2 tsp vanilla

3/4 cup skim milk

1 large egg 

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon 

1/4 ground nutmeg

1/4 cup toasted pecans (chopped)


1/2 banana (sliced)

1 TB banana rum

1/8 brown sugar

1 TB unsalted butter


  1. Place bread pieces in a oven safe cooking sprayed 5 by 7 dish. Set a side. 

    banana bread cubes

  2. In a measuring vessel poor milk, vanilla, egg, and whisk in spices.
  3. Pour milk over bread cubes.

4. Cover and let soak up the juices overnight. If time permits. 

5. Remove from refrigerator and let come to room temperature.

6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

7. Cut half the banana in small diced pieces and mix into the soaked bread pieces.

8. Sprinkle with toasted pecans.

9. Bake for 35 minutes to 40 minutes or until casserole is set.

10. In the meantime with about 5-10 minutes left on the casserole start the topping.

11. Heat small sauce pan on medium heat and melt butter. Add 1/8 cup of brown sugar and whisk until granules dissolve. Add banana rum and continue to whisk.

12. Add other half of banana and heat just enough to soften.

13. Remove from heat and spread overtop the Casseole before serving.


Garlic Turnip Fries in the Actifry

garlic turnip. fries

Generally I eat turnips raw but recently tried them in the oven. Now I am hooked, so if I like them baked in the oven, I know I will love them in my actifry.


  • 2 medium turnips cut into strips like fries (no need to peal)
  • 1/4 tsp sandwich sprinkle (a mixture of salt, garlic,tell lichen pepper, basil,oregano, rosemary, thyme and marjoram)
  • 1/2 tsp pasta sprinkle (a blend of oregano, basil,thyme and garlic
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
  • 4 whole garlic cloves 


  1. Cut turnips into even strips.
  2. Place in cooking sprayed actifry vessel and lightly spray strips with cooking spray and sprinkle with seasonings.
  3. Set timer for 30 minutes. 

Peanut Butter Banana Bread

bananas rarely go bad at this house! I eat one daily and if they start to get too ripe, I freeze them for banana “ice cream”. My husband made the comment those bananas look like banana bread bananas so I took that literally and started baking. 


  • 4 medium bananas (pealed and mashed)
  • 1 1/2 cup of whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 cup Ap flour
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract 
  • 2 TB ground flax seed 
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/4 cup crunchy peanut butter
  • 2/3 cup raw sugar or brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup unsalted roasted peanuts chopped (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray with cooking spray 4 mini bread loaf pans. Set aside.
  2. Mash bananas in a large bowl until almost puréed consistency. 
  3. Add oil, peanut butter, sugar, and vanilla. 
  4. Add one egg at a time.
  5. Mix after each addition until incorporated. I used the fork I used to mash the bananas.
  6. In a separate bowl whisk flours, salt, baking powder, flaxseed until mixed throughout. 
  7. Add dry ingredients to wet.
  8. Mix to fully incorporate. Make sure no dry residue remains. 
  9. If you are going to add the additional peanuts now is the time. Fold them gently into the batter. 
  10. Place in prepared bread tins and spread batter evenly. Each vessel of the pampered chef stone mini bread loaf pan allows for scan 2 cups of batter.
  11. Shake pan to settle the bread in the pan. 
  12. Place in preheated oven for 40 minutes or until tooth comes out clean.

Mint Brownies with Chocolate Ganache


Today is National Registered Dietitian Day. In honor of the celebratory day. I made the team mint brownies to go with a cute idea I found on pinterest regarding appreciation and coining “mint” through the poem. I tweaked a poem for teachers to relate to registered dietitians and it goes like this:

Thanks for your dedication and commit-“mint” to our team.

Thanks for your encourage-“mint” to always do our best.

Thanks for your involve-“mint” in making our patient’s lives better.

Thanks for your invest-“mint” of time and energy 
to make Trinity such a great place to be.

Thanks for making each day an enjoy-“mint” to come to work.

Thanks for helping to create a nice environ-“mint” 
for our co-workers and students to learn and grow.

Everything you have done this year has really “mint” a lot to me!!! Happy RD Day!


The original recipe can be found on Bob’s Red Mill Blog and only yields a 8 by 8 inch amount.

This recipe Yields: 1 13 by 9-inch pan (32 brownies)


Prep work: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9 by 13 with foil and spray with cooking spray. Set aside


For the Brownie Layer

3 sticks (24 tablespoons) Unsalted Butter
6 oz  squares Dark Chocolate ( I prefer Trader Joe’s 72 %)
6 large Eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure Mexcian Vanilla Extract
3 cups Raw Sugar or Granulated Sugar
1 cup Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
1/2 cup All-Purpose Flour

For the mint layer:

6 tablespoons Unsalted Butter, softened
3 cups Powdered Sugar
3 tablespoons Skim Milk
1 1/2 teaspoon pure Peppermint Extract ( I used Watkins)
4 drops Green Food Coloring

For the chocolate ganache topping:

3 ounces Dark Chocolate
3 tablespoons Unsalted Butter


1. Using a double boiler method, melt the butter and chocolate for the brownie layer. Once all the chocolate and butter has been melted remove from heat and allow to cool slightly and add each egg separately to the melted chocolate batter. Whisk after each addition. Place the chocolate mixture in a large bowl and add sugar  and vanilla to the chocolate batter whisk to incorporate. After all the sugar has been blended throughout add both flours and whisk to separate throughout. Place the batter into the prepared foil oven safe baking dish and place in oven for 40 to 45 minutes at 350 degrees.




Or until toothpick comes out clean. Allow the brownies to cool completely on rack.

2. Once the brownies have cooled start the second layer, the mint layer. Place butter in a stand mixer bowl, place on medium to high speed and cream butter, decrease speed and gradually add the powdered sugar, milk, food coloring, and mint extract. Mix until everything is smooth and creamy and the color of the filling is to your liking.




Place filling on top of cooled brownies using a spatula to spread evenly. Place brownies in refrigerator to so that the filling layer can harder before placing the ganache.



3. Once the mint filling layer has hardened, prepare a second double boiler for the ganache. Place the dark chocolate and butter in the double boiler and allow the chocolate and butter to melt completely. Once everything has melted place the ganache on top of the mint layer. Spread evenly with a metal spatula. Cover the brownies with a plastic lid or plastic wrap and allow to cool completely before cutting into bite size pieces.



Helpful hint:  I let the brownies cool overnight in the refrigerator. I cut them in the morning and placed in recycled jam jars. Three brownies fit perfectly in each jam jar. I placed a decorative muffin paper-cup on the top (I used tape to help the cup stay on the lid to make for easy tying later). I did place wax paper between each brownie as I was stacking to help them prevent from sticking together.


I tied them off with using a colorful string and placed my “mint” poem to each jar. I also included a lanyard and a coupon for our gift shop at the hosptial. Just something small to show my team how much I appreciate them. The good news about this recipe is I made 7 jars with 3 brownies in each jar which means I only used 21 brownies which left plenty leftover to share with others!





Apple Coffeecake

An apple a day keeps the doctor away! But  unfortunately I don’t count the ones in baked goods. I did try and cut some of the extra sugar that the original recipe called for. 

This recipe makes 4 servings 


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cooking spray an 8 by 8 oven safe  glass dish. Set aside. 


1/2 cup Ap flour

1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1/2 cup plus 1 1/2 TB raw sugar 

3/8 tsp baking soda 

1/4 tsp kosher sat

1 tsp ground Vietniemesse cinnamon

1/4 tsp allspice

1/8 tsp ground nutmeg

1/8 cup canola oil

1/4 cup puréed pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling) or unsweetened applesauce 

1 large egg

1 extra extra large apple (I used jonnygold but use what you have) about two cups (diced & cored but not peeled) the peel is where the nutrition is and fiber! 

1/4 cup canned pecans chopped 

Cooking spray

8 by 8 baking dish 


  1. Place flours, candied pecans, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, allspice, 1/2 tsp cinnomon, 1/2 cup raw sugar in large bowl. Mix to fully incorporate all the dry ingredients.

2. In a separate small bowl mix oil, pumpkin, and eggs to incorporate.

3. Add wet ingredients  into dry, along with apples. Mix until no dry ingredients remain. The batter will be chunky.

4.  Place in cooking sprayed pan and spread batter evenly. And sprinkle with remain 1 1/2 TB of raw sugar and 1/2 tsp cinnamon.

5. Bake for 35 minutes at 350 degrees! Or until tooth pick comes out clean.

Most of all enjoy!