Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

Not sure why I haven’t made this before, but we could literally eat ALL of this frosting, sans the cupcake part.
We celebrated a VERY dear friend’s birthday yesterday, and here is the safe dessert we made.

Chocolate on Chocolate Cupcakes

  • 3 sticks unsalted butter
  • 5 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 cup safe powdered unsweetened cocoa (Vermont nut-free or Hershey’s)
  • Splash milk (optional)
  • Splash vanilla extract 


  • Make a devils food Betty crocker cake mix as directed, we did cup cakes
  • Bake and cool completely
  • In electric mixer bowl, cream together the room temperature butter and one cup of sugar at a time until creamy smooth. 
  • Add remaining ingredients. Mix slow at first, then medium.
  • Stop mixing and check the beaters. If the frosting doest slide off the beaters, and it tastes delish, it’s good to go!

Orecchiette and Broccoli Rabe

Did you know that orecchiette ( O-REE-KEY-ETT-AY) means little ears in Italian? This famous pasta is still hand made in Italy today, and it is a favorite of ours becuase the little shells hold sauce very well.

I know. The word broccoli is usually an automatic turn-off. But, hear me out. Broccoli rabe is a little longer, and easier to eat for some picky eaters. The taste is much better, too! This meal is 30 minutes from start to finish, and everyone seems to enjoy it! 

Orecchiette and Broccoli Rabe

  • 1 pound box orecchiette pasta
  • 1 pound sweet Italian turkey sausage
  • 1 pound broccoli rabe
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup evoo
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp garlic
  • 1 tsp onion 
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp Italian herb season
  • 1/4-1/2 liquid (vegetable stock, chicken stock, white wine)
  • 1/2 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese


  1. Boil a large kettle of salted water and prepare the pasta as directed.
  2. Get out a large pan with high sides and a large non-stick stick skillet.
  3. Open turkey sausage, remove casings and squeeze the turkey into the non-stick pan. Sautee to crumble on medium heat about 10 min, or until brown and crumbly.
  4. In the large pan with high sides, swirl 1/4 cup of evoo, the powdered garlic, onion, red pepper flakes until fragrant, 5 min. ( You can use real stuff, but I was in a hurry, so Penzeys spices it is!!!!).
  5. Add the broccoli rabe ( rinsed and cut into thirds) to the oil, stir fry on high heat for 3 minutes, or until desired tenderness.
  6. Drain pasta.
  7. Add butter to the broccoli, and if it looks dry, add 1/4 – 1/2 cup liquid ( vegetable stock, chicken stock, white wine). Add the meat crumbles and as much pasta as you would like. 
  8. Cook for 4 minutes to bring everything together. Reduce the liquid by 1/2, especially if cooking with wine!
  9. Top with 1/2 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese.
  10. Enjoy!
  11. Yield: 6

Pickled Red Onion + Ginger

Canning has been a big part of our family for many generations. It used to be done for necessity, and now it’s more of a hobby and path to healthy, more natural eating. We can mostly at the end of summer; salsa, pickles, tomatoes, tomato juice, spicy vegetables, and whatever else needs canning from our garden.
For fun, we made this recipe, and it turned out amazing. The kids eat it like candy, and I’ve used it all week on top of my salads.

Pickled Red Onion + Ginger

  • 1 wide mouth pint size Mason jar + lid
  • 1 cup water
  • 3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1+1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced (can use a mandolin)
  • Shaves of freshly peeled ginger (use a potato peeler)


  1. In a small sauce pan, heat the water and oil. 
  2. Once it starts to bubble, add salt and sugar.
  3. Congrats, this is a simple brine.
  4. Meanwhile, pack your onion and ginger into the Mason jar.
  5. Pour the brine into the jar over the onion.
  6. Seal the jar tight.
  7. Refrigerate 2 hours, enjoy!
  8. Keep refrigerated up to a week!

Goes well with

  • Chicken burriotos
  • Black bean burriotos
  • Any salad
  • On top of pork chops or tenderloin
  • As a side
  • With a Mediterranean Snack Plate (previous blog entry)
  • Hummus and pita
  • Triscuit and Swiss cheese

Enjoy your Sunday!

Uncategorized, Weeknight Dinners

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Corn season has started a little early this year. It’s been a great growing season for many vegetables since it has been warm, humid, and fairly wet this summer.

My husband drives past a corn stand on his way home from Fort Atkinson each week and decided to pick up a dozen ears of fresh corn on the cob. What a treat. The kids LOVE corn!! Here is one way to use up some of the extra corn we have on hand.

Trisha’s Chicken Tortilla Soup

  • 3 tbsp butter (unsalted)
  • 1-2 Clove’s garlic
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 3 (14oz ) cans of chicken stock
  • 4 cups of 1/2 + 1/2
  • 10.75oz cream of chicken soup
  • 1 cup of salsa
  • 4 boneless chicken breasts
  • 1 (15oz) black beans
  • 1 (15oz) kidney beans
  • 1 (15oz) corn –i’m using two ears of corn on the cob. Place a bowl upside down on a plate. Place the ear of corn standing up right on top of the bowl and use a sharp knife to cut away the corn. Corn should just fall onto the plate.
  • 2 tbsp cumin
  • 1 (1.27oz) Fajita season mix
  • 1 bag of chips
  • 8oz shredded jack cheese
  • 1 (1/2) cup of sour cream for topping


  1. In a large Dutch oven, melt butter over medium heat. Add garlic and onion. Sautee 5 minutes. Add flour. Add the stock. Add half and half, cream of chicken soup, salsa, beans, corn, cumin, Fajita mix. Simmer 15 minutes.
  2. Add the chicken (raw or precooked)
  3. Simmer 25 minutes.
  4. Serve topped with chips, sour cream and cheese.
  5. Yield: 8

I saw TrishaYearwood on the FoodNetwork last year and she made this recipe. I usually make a tomato-based chicken Tortilla Soup since it’s healthier, but this one sounded good this week. Hope you enjoy it, too!

If you’re in a hurry, use a rotisserie chicken. This would also make a great crock pot dip for game day! 

Snacking, Uncategorized

A New Way to PB+J 

With school starting at the end of August, we are already making preparations for the upcoming year. There are a few ways to make a school safe lunch if your school has a “no-nuts” policy.

When you see “no-nuts” it includes:

  1. Pine nuts
  2. Peanuts
  3. Pistachios
  4. Walnuts
  5. Cashews
  6. Hazelnuts
  7. Macadamia
  8. Almonds
  9. Brazil
  10. All other nuts I may have missed
  11. And anything manufactured in a facility with nuts, most commonly in: oats, chocolate, dried fruits, all desserts made in a professional bakery, processed food from restaurants, breads, some cereals, granola bars, crackers, cookies, chia seeds, flax seeds, baking ingredients.

If you’re looking to ensure safety, check the ingredient label on the package. It will have a message saying “may contain” or “made in a facility with”.

If you’re still unsure, don’t use it, or call the manufacturer (I do this often). In our epi-pen episode this past May, the box of fudge popsicles did not have have a warning on the box; however, when I spoke to the manufacturer, they did in fact produce the popsicle in a facility with nuts (cross contamination occurred).

Here is what we have for SB+J sandwiches. There is an array of soybutter and sunbutter. At Hy-Vee it’s located in the Health Market aisle. At Metcalfes, it’s in the bread aisle. At Target it’s located in the condiment aisle. At Copps it’s in the PB+J aisle.

The best pricing is Target and Copps. Hy-Vee comes in third, and Metcalfes is so expensive, I never buy it from  this store. Be sure to download your coupon online to save a bit more. Just Google the name of the Sunbutter you’ll be purchasing.

Be sure to check your bread. Some contain nuts. Sunflower seeds and other oats, quinoa, rice, are safe. As long as it is not made in a facility with nuts, it’s fine.

Most Jams and Jellies are fine. We love Bonne Mamman.

Enjoy your day! We are off to McKee Farms Park!