Black Friday brunch at Cielo, a cute little winery just a few minutes up the road from us. It’s one of my new favorite places!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


It’s soup week, folks.

I love soup. I have an borderline unhealthy obsession with soup. I live on a primarily soup diet throughout the fall and winter months.

And sometimes in summer. And spring.

Yesterday I had 5 different kinds of soup. In one day.

I tend to get into soup ruts, making the same 3 or so kinds week after week. And when I make soup I make A LOT of soup…so we are eating it lunch and dinner for a week straight. Which I don’t mind at all!

Once a year, usually in my vacation-from-work boredom around Thanksgiving, I declare a soup week, and make 1 new soup a night for 5 nights. They were all delicious, nutritious and easy so I thought I’d share the recipes in case you are also soup obsessed, or soup curious at least.

(Here’s another Soup Week)

Artistic soup photos courtesy of my hubby, of course.

Rustic Italian Tortellini Soup


3 italian turkey sausage links (4 oz. each, casings removed)

1 medium onion, chopped

6 garlic cloves, minced

2 cans (14.5 oz each) chicken broth

1 and 3/4 cups water

1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes (undrained)

1 package (9 oz) refrigerated cheese tortellini

1 package (6 oz) of fresh baby spinach, coarsely chopped

2 and 1/4 teaspoons minced fresh basil

1/4 teaspoon pepper

dash crushed red pepper flakes

shredded parmesan

1.) Crumble sausage into a Dutch oven, add onion. Cook and stir over medium heat until meat is no longer pink. Add garlic, cook and stir 2 minutes longer. Add the broth, water and tomatoes. Bring to a boil.

2.) Stir in tortellini, return to a boil. Reduce heat, simmer uncovered for 5-8 minutes or until tortellini are tender, stirring occasionally. Add the spinach, basil, pepper and pepper flakes, cook 2-3 minutes longer or until spinach is wilted. Serve with cheese if desired.

Curried Chicken Corn Chowder


2 medium onions, chopped

2 celery ribs, chopped

1 tablespoon butter

3 cans (14.5 oz each) chicken broth

5 cups frozen corn

2 teaspoons curry powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

dash cayenne pepper

1/2 cup all purpose flour

1/2 cup milk

3 cups cubed chicken breast

1/3 cup fresh minced cilantro

1.) In a dutch oven, saute onions and celery in butter until tender. Stir in the broth, corn, curry, salt, pepper and cayenne. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and summer for 15 minutes.

2.) In a small bowl, whisk flour and milk until smooth. Whisk into the pan. Bring to a boil, cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Add chicken and cilantro, heat through.

Butternut Squash Soup

I made this one on Thanksgiving and it was the perfect starter for our meal!

2 tablespoons butter
1 onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 medium carrot, chopped
2 medium potatoes, cubed
1 medium butternut squash – peeled, seeded, and cubed
1 (32 fluid ounce) container Veggie stock
Salt and Pepper

1. Melt the butter in a large pot, and cook the onion, celery, carrot, potatoes, and squash 5 minutes, or until lightly browned. Pour in enough of the veggie stock to cover vegetables. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover pot, and simmer 40 minutes, or until all vegetables are tender.
2. Transfer the soup to a blender, and blend until smooth. Or mash with a potato masher for a chunkier soup. Return to pot, and mix in any remaining stock to attain desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper to taste

Tasty Tortilla (Turkey!) Soup

I made this soup for Friendsgiving, which was the weekend after Thanksgiving. This recipe calls for chicken, but I used leftover turkey and homemade turkey stock (thanks mom!) and it was divine.


1 large onion, chopped

2 green onions, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons butter

4 garlic cloves, minced

2 tablespoons of all purpose flour

4.5 cups chicken broth

2 cans (14.5 oz each) diced tomatoes, undrained

1 can tomato sauce

1 can chopped green chilies

1 tablespoon minced fresh oregano

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon pepper

3 cups cubed chicken breast (or turkey)

2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro

1 and 1/3 crushed baked tortilla chip scoops

7 tablespoons shredded cheddar cheese

(sour cream if you are into that)

1.) In a dutch oven, saute onion and green onions in butter until tender. Add garlic, saute 2 minutes longer.

2.) Stir in flour until blended, gradually add broth .Stir in the tomatoes, tomato sauce, chills, oregano, cumin and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Add chicken and cilantro. Heat.

3.) For each serving, place 2 tablespoons chips in to a soup bowl. Top with 1 and 1/2 cups soup. Garnish each serving with 1 tablespoon each of cheese and chips.

Roasted Tomato with Pesto Swirl


3 lbs. tomatoes, cored and halved

4 tbs. olive oil

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. black pepper

1 medium onion, peeled and chopped

3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

3 cans (14 oz) vegetable or chicken broth

1/2 cup heavy cream


Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Arrange tomatoes cut sit up in jelly-roll pan (or casserole dish), drizzle with 2 tbs olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast 45 min. In bowl or food processor, pulse tomatoes 5 times. In sauce pot, cook onions and garlic in remaining oil 5 min. Add tomatoes and broth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and let simmer 20 min, adding heavy cream after 15 min. Garnish with pesto, if desired. (YES THIS, LOTS OF PESTO!)

the accidental gardener.

Sol and I can sustain life for ourselves, our 3 cats and our daughter…but we have a history of being ruthless plant murderers. Our thumbs are whatever color the opposite of green is. On the color wheel that would be red…we have red thumbs. We have tried to garden and grow things inside and outside over and over again with a 0% success rate.

Until now.

We grew a giant flourishing tomato bush on accident.

We have had this compost bin in our side yard since 2008 when our resident hippie, Bianca, was staying with us and installed it. We go through phases on and off about being good about using it.

Around the time Lola was born (when we had a month of solid rain) the lid was left off.

Fast forward a few months and we discover this giant flourishing tomato plant exploding from the compost bin.

Actually, TWO different tomato plants.

That we accidentally grew.

On accident.

My favorite salad

Whenever we need to think of a side dish to bring to a potluck style event, we go down the list of possibilities and depending on time constraints or inspiration often end up at salad. Sol and I like to sing our favorite throwback Simpsons song to each other before moving on to the next meal suggestion: “You don’t make friends with SAL-AD! You don’t make friends with SAL-AD!” But we have recently decided that this is a salad you DO make friends with. It sounds kind of weird, but it is DELICIOUS. Trust me.

Brittany’s favorite salad:

Spring Mix




Sliced Mushrooms

Gorgonzola Cheese

Candied Pecans

Brianna’s honey mustard dressing

(You can thank me later!)

Pizza Balls

Yes, another ball recipe. We like to make things in ball-form around here apparently.

We were introduced to pizza balls when we visited Amanda and Jon last month. Amanda made them for us and we were in love. We have since made them for Mark and Lindsey, and we had a pizza-ball buffet style on New Years.


Bag of dough from Trader Joes

Block of mozzarella cheese (not shredded)

preferred dipping sauces (marinara, Alfredo, pesto)

preferred pizza ball fillings (meats and veggies of your choice)

Olive oil

Parmesan cheese

-First roll out the dough and cut into squares (about 2×2 inches)

Then you put a chunk of mozzarella cheese and whatever other toppings you want in the center of each square. Pepperoni, Ham, Salami, Spinach, Mushrooms are all delicious, but you can insert any topping of your preference.

Then you pinch all the corners together into a ball (kind of like a wanton) and put the pinched side face down on a greased cookie sheet.

After you have a full pan, brush the tops of the balls with olive oil and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. You can use the sprinkle kind, but we prefer shredded.

Bake at 450 for about 20-25 minutes and TA-DA! Your delicious pizza balls are ready for consumption.

Serve with a variety of sauces for dipping, Marinara, vodka, arribiata, alfredo, pesto or even ranch.

Sol’s balls

(Not as dirty as it sounds!)

Sol’s cohort had a Christmas potluck and he was assigned to bring a dessert. While subbing at Buckeye he ran into Ann North, a sweet retired teacher who still visits there often to prune the roses and deliver treats, and she gave him the recipe for one of the treats she is most famous for: orange coconut balls. He came home with a recipe and an inspiration for a delicious and easy dessert.

Side note: This isn’t the first time he has traded recipes with elementary school teachers and I think it’s pretty much the cutest thing ever.

The orange coconut balls are easy, require no baking and are DELICIOUS! (Not healthy, at all, SO worth the splurge!) I enjoyed them courtesy of Ann many many times in my years at Buckeye. They can also be made with lemonade or limeade concentrate for a delicious twist. When Sol said he was making them I got really excited and spent the whole day pestering him about when he was going to make his balls and when I was going to get to taste his balls…(a la Pete Shweddy SNL routine), all while giggling like a 12-year-old, yes, I know, I hang out with middle schoolers too much.

Orange Coconut Balls

1 stick butter

1 box of powdered sugar

1 box vanilla wafer cookies

6 oz of frozen orange juice concentrate (or lemon or lime)

1 bag flake coconut


Soften butter, un-thaw orange juice

Grind cookies into crumbs. Add powdered sugar, mix together

Mix together with butter and orange juice mixture

Form into small balls and roll in coconut

Refrigerate and enjoy!