Italian Wedding Soup

There is nothing better than a really yummy bowl of soup to perk me up on a rainy day.

If you’ve been anywhere near a television and have been watching the news about the horrible rain and flooding we’ve been having in Southern California, you’ll know that this weather definitely calls for a good soup!

I know soup won’t stop the rain or flood, but it may put you in a better mood to deal with it all……..just a thought!

Not only is this soup tasty, it’s also pretty healthful too.  The meatballs are made from ground turkey and the leafy greens are packed with vitamins too.

The orzo is just fun to eat and I can always use a little fun……….can’t you?!


Italian Wedding Soup


1 pound ground turkey

1 small onion, grated

1 teaspoon garlic, grated

1 teaspoon dried parsley

1 teaspoon dried basil

1 large egg

1 teaspoon salt

1 slice fresh bread, crust trimmed, bread torn into small pieces

1/2 cup grated Parmesan

freshly ground black pepper



12 cups low-sodium chicken broth

1 pound coarsely chopped kale

2 eggs

½ cup orzo pasta

Salt and freshly ground black pepper


To make the meatballs:  Mix together all the meatball ingredients.  Shape the mixture into 1-inch-diameter meatballs. Place on a baking sheet, drizzle some olive oil over the meatballs and bake at 350 degrees F for 15 minutes.

To make the soup: Bring the broth to a boil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the meatballs and cook the kale until tender, about 8 minutes. Whisk the eggs and cheese in a medium bowl to blend. Stir the soup in a circular motion. Gradually drizzle the egg mixture into the moving broth, stirring gently with a fork to form thin strands of egg, about 1 minute. Put in the orzo pasta and cook until pasta is done. Season the soup to taste with salt and pepper.



Pancake Art

So, this is what you get for dinner when the kids are home on winter vacation and there’s no food in the fridge.  We made breakfast for dinner and the kids just loved it.  This is definitely the ultimate in playing with your food!!

You can tell that I drew the star first, because it is the darkest in color.  I then drew the outline of the Christmas tree, then the ornaments.  I filled in the body of the tree last, it is the lightest in color.



Here is my son making his pancake creation.  You can find these squeeze bottles for a dollar at your local retail store.



This is my husband’s pancake rocket.



Smiley-faced boy!



My daughter wanted a monkey, but was too timid to try it herself.  I made this one for her.

A word of caution:  No matter how many times you tell your children to be careful not to touch the side of the hot skillet……………….one of them will, and then cry about it for the rest of the night!



From Joy of Cooking by Irma Rombauer


1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp salt

3 tbsp sugar

1 ¾ tsp baking powder

2 eggs

3 tbsp melted butter

1 cup milk


Sift all your dry ingredients and set aside.  Wisk together the eggs, butter and milk.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet and wisk until smooth.

Cook the pancakes in an electric skillet, set to the pancake setting.  Pour the batter into a plastic squeeze bottle and make designs of your choice.  Start by outlining the picture, then draw the details, lastly fill in all the spaces in between.  Flip your pancake when you see bubbles in the batter.

Yields fourteen 4-inch pancakes.

Bacon Mushroom Tartlets

You know how sometimes little appetizers are just a tease and you don’t really feel like you get enough of it to be satisfied?  This is definitely not the case here.

The flavor of this filling is super rich and decadent.  With the hearty mushroom flavor complemented by the bacon, you can’t go wrong………..unless you don’t like mushrooms…………or bacon.

Seriously, is there anyone out there who doesn’t like bacon?  I think not!

When I serve appetizers, I like to serve at least one that is a warm dish, especially in the winter.  Don’t get me wrong, I like a nice crudite platter too, but it gets a little old.

I guarantee this tartlet will not disappoint your guests.  They are a hearty appetizer that gets your stomach ready for the big meal to come!


Bacon Mushroom Tartlets

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 package (8 oz) fresh mushrooms, finely chopped

4 slices bacon, chopped fine, cooked until crisp

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon finely chopped onion

2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

½ cup heavy cream

¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

½ cup cream cheese

1 can (8 oz) Pillsbury crescent dinner rolls


Heat oven to 350°F. In skillet add oil over medium heat. Add mushrooms, onion and garlic; mix well. Cook about 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until vegetables are tender. Add in the flour and mix until it is cooked.  Add heavy cream and parmesan cheese; mix well. Cook 2 to 3 minutes, stirring frequently, until most of liquid has evaporated. Remove mixture to a bowl and allow it to cool.  Mix in the cream cheese, bacon and chives to cooled mushroom mixture.

Unroll crescent roll dough into 2 long rectangles; firmly press perforations to seal.  Cut each rectangle into 12 squares. Place 1 square in each of 24 ungreased miniature muffin cups. Firmly press in bottom and up sides of cups, leaving corners of dough extended over edges of cups. Spoon 1 heaping teaspoon mushroom mixture into each cup.

Bake 9 to 12 minutes or until golden brown. Cool 5 minutes. Remove tartlets from pan. Serve warm.





Brie En Croute with Cranberries and Walnuts


I am a lover of cheese and if you are too, then you will love this appetizer!  I could actually eat this as a meal all by itself, but I like to share, so I did.

Brie en croute is French for brie in a crust.  It is a descriptive name, but doesn’t do it justice when it comes to the taste.

I made this brie en croute for my Bunco group and it was great to have all the ladies huddled around this dish wondering what is was and why it tasted so good.


Many recipes call for puff pastry, but I had a couple rolls of crescent dough in the fridge, so that’s what I used.

I also used some leftover homemade cranberry sauce from Thanksgiving.  The tart sweetness played really well with the creamy warm cheese.  And of course we needed some texture, so the walnuts did their job too!


Here is the whole tasty bundle wrapped up in the crescent dough.  It doesn’t look very pretty here, but after it’s time in the oven it came out beautifully golden brown and crispy.


Brie en Croute with Cranberries and Walnuts

1 can (8 oz) Pillsbury refrigerated crescent dinner rolls

1 round (8 oz) Brie cheese

1/2 cup homemade cranberry sauce

1/3 cup dried cranberries, softened*

1/4 cup chopped walnuts

1 egg, beaten


Heat oven to 350°F.

If using crescent rolls: Unroll dough; separate crosswise into 2 sections. Pat dough and firmly press perforations to seal, forming 2 squares. If using dough sheet: Unroll dough; cut crosswise into 2 rectangles. Pat dough to form 2 squares.

Place 1 square on ungreased cookie sheet. Place cheese on center of dough. Spoon cranberry sauce, softened cranberries and walnuts on top of the cheese.

Place remaining square on top of cheese round. Press dough evenly around cheese; fold bottom edges over top edges. Gently stretch dough evenly around cheese; press to seal completely. Brush with beaten egg.

Bake 20 to 24 minutes or until golden brown. Cool 15 minutes. Serve warm with crackers.

*To soften cranberries, mix dried cranberries and 1/2 cup hot water in bowl. Let stand 1 minute. Drain and pat dry.

Chocolate Crinkles

These crinkle cookies are just so cute to look at.  They remind me of little snowballs………….with chocolate inside!

The cracks look like they are exploding with chocolatey goodness.  I have to admit, the flavor is more subtle than I expected.

The rich chocolate dough requires quite a bit of resting time to firm up.  It makes it much easier to scoop and roll into balls.

Be prepared to get a little messy.

The chocolate balls of dough soon start to coat your palms as you roll.  The real fun part is rolling them in the powdered sugar.

You definitely do not want to be wearing black when you are doing this step!  And you definitely don’t want to sneeze anywhere near the bowl either, unless you want a cloud of sugary sweetness descending on your kitchen countertop!

 All coated and ready for their turn in the oven.

 You can kind of see my fingerprints in the powdered sugar too.

This is a good cookie for those of you who don’t like things TOO sweet.

I know, sounds crazy.  Why would you be baking cookies, if you didn’t want something sweet?!

Believe it or not, when you’ve had all kinds of holiday candies and cookies, your taste buds might like a little break……just sayin’.

Chocolate Crinkles


1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

2 cups white sugar

½ cup vegetable oil

4 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

½ cup confectioners’ sugar 

In a medium bowl, mix together cocoa, white sugar, and vegetable oil. Beat in eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt; stir into the cocoa mixture. Cover dough, and chill for at least 4 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. Roll dough into one inch balls. I like to use a number 50 size scoop. Coat each ball well in confectioner’s sugar before placing onto prepared cookie sheets.

Bake in preheated oven for 10 to 12 minutes. Let stand on the cookie sheet for a minute before transferring to wire racks to cool.

Baking tip:  For those who are having trouble with the top cracking: Place your cookie sheet on the second to-the-top rack and only bake one cookie sheet at a time. The hot heat at the top of the oven enables the cookies to crack.

ALIVE by Chocolate

I know the traditional name of this dessert is DEATH by Chocolate.  I would like to rename it, ALIVE by Chocolate!

This dessert gives your mouth a jolt and rush of sugar that awakens you to the pleasures of chocolate. The smooth pudding and creamy whipped topping not only look good in the bowl, they are a wonderful complement to the chunky rich brownie pieces.

Last night I took this dessert to a church Christmas potluck and brought home a nearly empty bowl.  I guess that says something, right?  It really is quite easy to make and almost too beautiful to eat.  Well………….not that beautiful!


Alive by Chocolate

1 (19.8 ounce) package brownie mix

2 (3.9 ounce) packages instant chocolate pudding mix

1 (16 ounce) package frozen whipped topping, thawed

3 (1.4 ounce) bars chocolate covered English toffee, optional


Prepare brownies according to package directions. Let cool. Cut into small cubes.

Mix pudding according to package directions.

In a trifle bowl (or other deep glass bowl), layer in the following order: 1/3 of the pudding, 1/3 of the brownies, 1/3 of the whipped topping.

Repeat layers in the same order.



Clam Chowder


I haven’t met a chowder I didn’t like.  That includes this one.  I mean, what’s not to like………….bacon, potatoes, heavy cream!  Have I said enough?!

I must admit, this clam chowder is more brothy than your usual chowders.  I like it this way because the ingredients are already very rich in flavor.  I don’t want the texture to be too heavy.

I actually had to drink up some of the broth to get this shot of all the good stuff in this chowder.  That, and it gave me an excuse to eat more than I needed!

The next cold day we have, try this chowder and I’m sure it will warm you up quick!


Clam Chowder

4 slices bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 cups finely chopped onion

1 cup finely chopped celery

1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic

6 sprigs fresh thyme leaves

2 bay leaves

3 cups 1/2-inch cubed, peeled potatoes, about 1 1/4 pounds

2 cans (10 oz) clams with juice

3 cups clam juice

3 cups water

2 cups heavy cream

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


In a large heavy pot cook the bacon until crisp and the fat is rendered. Pour off all bacon fat except 2 tablespoons. Add the butter, onions and celery and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, thyme and bay leaves, and cook until the vegetables are thoroughly wilted (about 3 minutes) being careful not to brown. Add the potatoes, clam broth and water, and bring to a boil.

Lower the heat, cover, and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the broth thickens slightly and the potatoes are very tender. (If you like a thicker broth, mash some of the potatoes against the side of the pot with a wooden spoon.) Remove from the heat, stir in clams and heavy cream and season with pepper and salt, if necessary.

Set aside for 1 hour, covered, to allow the flavors to marry. Place the pot over low heat, and slowly reheat, being careful not to bring to the boil.  Be sure to remove the  bay leaves and sprigs of thyme before serving.