Sometimes I just get tired of “normal” food. This soup recipe is not your regular run-of-the-mill soup. It has meatballs in it! I tend to think of meatballs with spaghetti or as a party food, not in soup!

I saw this recipe it the October issue of Southern Living. I didn’t follow the recipe exactly, but I think it turned out delicious!


First, make the meatballs.

Chicken Meatballs

1 pound ground chicken

1 large egg, lightly beaten

1/4 cup dry breadcrumbs

1 tsp. salt

2 tsp. lemon zest

1/2 tsp. rosemary

Combine these ingredients and shape into approximately 30 meatballs. Sauté meatballs in 1 Tbsp. olive oil until browned.  Remove meatballs and set aside. You’ll want to do this in a couple of batches. Just use a Dutch oven so you don’t have to wash a skillet.

Next, make the soup.

Lemony Soup

1 medium sweet onion, chopped

3 carrots, sliced thinly

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 (32 ounce) containers chicken broth

5-6 Tbsp. lemon juice

2 tsp lemon zest

1/2 tsp. rosemary

3/4 cup orzo pasta (I didn’t have any orzo. I substituted broken spaghetti for the orzo, and it was still yummy.)

1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves

Sauté onion, carrots, and garlic in 1 Tbsp. olive oil until tender.

Stir in broth, lemon juice, lemon zest and rosemary. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.

Add orzo (or spaghetti). Reduce to a simmer for 7-9 minutes, or until pasta is almost tender.

Stir in the meatballs. Simmer another 5-7 minutes or until meatballs are thoroughly cooked.

Salt and pepper to taste.

Top with cheese and parsley.

Meatball soup

This soup was so yummy and fresh tasting! I reminded me of this recipe a little.

Critics’ Corner

Chip: This may be the first time I’ve ever had a lemon-flavored soup, but it was fantastic. All of the ingredients worked together well for a unique flavor that was really good.

Megan: It was too lemony for my taste.

Katie: It was rather yummy, but it just had too much of something.

It’s always the pretty picture on the cover of the cookbook that draws me!

SL Christmas 2007small

Isn’t that an amazing looking cake?! Hello! Why would I even think about attempting to make that?!

Well, I did. I made it for my hubby’s birthday. He didn’t get a choice of cake this year, poor thing. He usually picks yellow cake with chocolate frosting or chocolate cake with no frosting, warm from the oven.

I have wanted to try this cake since, well, 2007 when I got the cookbook.

This is actually a pretty easy cake. It is not made from scratch. This is NOT, however, an inexpensive cake to make. Lots of ingredients. Some of them I left out completely.

Here is what you will need:

Unsweetened cocoa

1 (18.25 ounce) package devil’s food cake mix

1 (3.4 ounce) package chocolate instant pudding mix

3 large eggs

1 1/4 cups milk

1 cup canola oil

1 Tbsp. vanilla extract

1 1/2 tsp. chocolate extract (optional) I left it out.

1 tsp. almond extract I used all vanilla because I have people in my house who don’t like almond flavoring.

3 (1.55 ounce) Hershey bars

3 (16 ounce) tubs homestyle cream cheese frosting

3 (7.75 ounce) boxes frozen cheesecake bites, coarsely chopped ****WARNING****see note below!

1 (12 ounce) jar dulce de leche caramel sauce I used caramel ice cream topping because I already had it on hand.

Double chocolate rolled wafer cookies

Chocolate fudge rolled wafer cookies I only used one kind of cookie.

•Grease 2 (9 inch) round cake pans and dust with cocoa.

•Mix the cake mix and next 7 ingredients, that is through the extracts, with an electric mixer. Mix on low for a little while then turn up the speed-like the box says.

•Fold in the chopped chocolate bars and pour batter into the pans. You can use any kind of chocolate bar, I suppose.

chocolate bars

•Bake at 350˚ for 32 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes, remove from pans and cool completely on racks.

•Wrap and chill the cakes for 1-24 hours. This is to make the cutting into layers easier.

wrapped cakes

I think I could have stopped right there and been a happy camper. Chocolate cake with pudding and chunks of chocolate bars–yum!

•Use a serrated knife to cut the cakes in half horizontally. You should now have 4 cake layers.

cut cake in half

•Place one layer, cut side up, on your cake plate. Spread with 1/2 cup of the frosting.

cream cheese frosting

• Sprinkle with 1/4 of the cheesecake bites.

*****Here is the part I warned you about*****

I looked high and low for cheesecake bites! The recipe recommended Sara Lee. After practically killing myself trying to find these things, I finally went to the Sara Lee website to look for them. In desperation I sent them an email asking where I could find these cheesecake bites in central Arkansas. Usually it takes a while for companies to answer queries of this nature. My email must have sounded pitiful because they got right back to me. Perhaps the Sara Lee folks are just Johnny-on-the-spot about things like that. We’ll go with that. Anyway, turns out, they don’t make them any more! AAAaaaaa! What was I going to stuff my chocolate cake with?! (That was not Sara Lee’s fault. They were very nice and even sent me a coupon for a free cake.  Thank you, Sara Lee.)

I remembered those yummy cheesecake squares you can get at Sam’s.

cheesecake box

I decided to use the plain pieces for my cheesecake “stuffing”. I don’t remember how many I used. The package came with 21 plain cheesecake pieces. I know I didn’t use all of them because we enjoyed the rest later! Looks like I used about 4 pieces per layer. Oh, rats, I didn’t use the other flavors. My poor family had to eat the leftovers.

I chopped the cheesecake into quarters.

cut cheesecake

Ok, now I’m ready to proceed with the rest of the recipe.

•Repeat the process with remaining 3 layers, frosting, and cheesecake, omitting cheesecake on the last layer.

stuffed with cheesecake

•Frost sides and top with the rest of the frosting.

I am really bad about having crumbs in my frosting. I tried to do a thin crumb coat. I chilled it for a little while then put some more frosting on top of that. I still had crumbs in my final coat. One day I’ll work on that skill, or not.

crumb coat

•Drizzle caramel sauce over the cake. Let it drip down the sides and look all yummy! Chill until ready to serve. Decorate with the rolled cookies and leftover cheesecake. I decided the cheesecake bites I ended up with weren’t as fancy looking as the Sara Lee ones from the picture on the book, so I didn’t use them. Had this been leaving my house, I might have used them just to dress up the bottom of the cake.

pretty cake

My cookies on top kinda look like a campfire! Ha!

inside of cake

sliced cake

It was very rich, as you can imagine!

Critics’ Corner

Chip: Awesome! Not your average birthday cake.

Megan: I really liked it, but I thought it would be more “cheesecakey”.

Katie: A tantalizing mix of caramel, chocolate, and all that good stuff. I enjoyed every single bite!

Yes, another bean recipe. Hey, they taste good and are good for you!

I made these to take to a ladies’ luncheon. Everyone loved them. They would be great for all those tailgate parties coming up!

This recipe comes from this cookbook…

I love the chili-cheese crust.

Chili-Cheese Crust

1 1/4 cups flour

3/4 cup yellow cornmeal

1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack cheese with peppers

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper


1/2 cup cold butter, cut into pieces

1 large egg, lightly beaten

2 tablespoons ice water

•Combine first 8 ingredients (that is down to the dotted line-your welcome!) in a food processor; pulse until blended

•Add egg and ice water; process just until the mixture forms a ball.

•Divide dough in half; shape each half of dough into 16 (1 inch) balls. Press balls into lightly greased mini muffin pan.

•Bake tartlet shells at 450˚ for 8 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool in pans 10 minutes; remove shells to wire racks to cool completely.

•Spoon 1 tablespoon of Black Bean Salsa into each shell; garnish, if desired.

Serve at room temperature.

Makes 32 appetizers

Black Bean Salsa

1 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained

2 canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, minced

3 green onions, chopped

1/2 cup finely chopped sweet yellow pepper

1 plum tomato, finely chopped

1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro-I left this out because I can’t stand the stuff! Sorry.

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 teaspoon salt

•Mix it all up

•Chill at least 1 hour

You might want to have a little bowl of sour cream to go with these. You could even put a dollop on top of each one and fancy it up with some green onion or, if you must, cilantro.

There will be plenty of salsa, so be generous. I had some that wouldn’t fit in all the cups. The leftovers got eaten with tortilla chips. That was yummy too!


Ice Cream Bread that is!

I’ve been wanting to try this one out for a while. I tore the page out of a Southern Living then I couldn’t find it. After searching through my piles of recipes, it occurred to me that it might be in a cookbook. Sure enough! I found it on page 252  in the 2005 edition of the Southern Living Annual Recipes.

A recipe sure sounds easy when it only has TWO ingredients! I’ve tried some of those 2 ingredient recipes you might have seen floating around Pinterest. My family gave those attempts bad reviews, so I was skeptical.

I thought this one delivered! The Critics, however, had mixed reviews.

Ice Cream Bread

1 pint (2 cups) ice cream, softened

1 1/2 cups self-rising flour

  • Stir together ice cream and flour, stirring just until flour is moistened.
  • Spoon batter into a greased and floured loaf pan.
  • Bake at 350˚ for 40-45 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
  • Remove from pan and cool on a wire rack.

I think my self-rising flour was a little too old. It didn’t rise quite like I thought it should.

Nothing’ wrong with the way it sliced…

…or tasted!

A little butter on that warm bread sure was yummy! A moist, dense bread with just a touch of sweetness.

I think I would like to try something like Butter Pecan or Strawberry. I also would like to try a premium brand of ice cream. I had just plain old generic Walmart vanilla ice cream in a blue box. May have to splurge next time.

Critics’ Corner

Chip: Pretty good! I’d like to try it à la mode.

Megan: ¡Es muy bueno!

Katie: Um…it was just okay. I didn’t care for it much.

Right now I am supposed to be either loading the dishwasher, cheering on the Razorbacks, or baking cookies to take to a friend’s house later. But I’m not. I’m sharing this yummy recipe with you! (Go, Hogs!)

This recipe was in the October 2010 issue of Southern Living. (Yes, that is the actual page out of the magazine. You can see where I folded down the corner of the page and where I ripped it out of the magazine.) Check out the recipe here or click on the picture below. This was my first attempt at this recipe. It was ooooo, la, la!

Fresh Apple Cake

Here’s what you’ll need:

1 1/2 cups chopped pecans

1/2 cup butter, melted

2 cups sugar

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

2 1/2 pounds Granny Smith apples (about 4 large), peeled and cut into 1/4-inch thick wedges

•Preheat over to 350˚.

•Bake pecans in a single layer in a shallow pan 5-7 minutes or until toasted and fragrant, stirring halfway through.

•Stir together butter and next 3 ingredients in a large bowl until blended.

•Combine flour and next 3 ingredients; add to butter mixture, stirring until blended.

Next come the apples. Apples have been rather expensive lately-$1.69 a pound! I don’t remember exactly how much apples were when I bought them, but I am telling you I DID NOT pay $1.69 a pound!

They are happy looking though, aren’t they. I love my little basket with the ceramic handles. I think my friend Tammy Shumake gave that to me. (insert a warm, fuzzy smile here)

Back in my days as a Pampered Chef consultant, the Apple Peeler/Corer/Slicer was one of the stars of the catalog. Can you tell I’ve had mine a while? I’m missing one of the little feet off of the stand.

It really is a cool tool. It was always a crowd- pleaser at parties. It does just what the name says. It peels, cores, and slices all at the same time! However, this tool is not required for this recipe. Duh, like you really thought it was!

After you have done all your peeling and such, cut the apples into smaller pieces.

•Stir in the apples and 1 cup of the pecans. (Batter will be very thick, similar to a cookie dough.)

•Spread batter into a lightly greased 9 x 13 pan.

•Bake at 350˚ for 45 minutes or do that toothpick thing.

•Cool completely on a wire rack. If you don’t cool completely, your frosting will be all melty and you don’t want that!

Now, here comes the really cool part. There were three different frosting recipes to choose from for this recipe—

Browned-Butter, Dark Chocolate, or Cream Cheese! click the picture-the recipe link in the second paragraph will take you to all three frosting recipes, too!

I chose the Browned-Butter Frosting. Doesn’t it just sound yummy?!

I had never “browned” butter for anything—at least not intentionally.

Browned-Butter Frosting

1 cup butter

1 (16-oz.) package powdered sugar

1/4 cup milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

•Cook butter in a small heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly, 6 to 8 minutes or until butter begins to turn golden brown. Remove pan from heat immediately, and pour butter into a small bowl. Cover and chill 1 hour or until butter is cool and begins to solidify.

With my lack of butter-browning experience, I was not very confident about my butter. Was my golden brown the golden brown it was supposed to be?

Here is what my butter looked like after a stint in the fridge. What am I supposed to do with all that junk in the bottom of the bowl?!

I think maybe I needed to let my melted butter solidify a little longer, then scoop it out and leave the crumbs behind. Nobody said that in the recipe!

• Beat butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until fluffy; gradually add powdered sugar alternately with milk, beginning and ending with powdered sugar. Beat mixture at low speed until well blended after each addition. Stir in vanilla.

I’m really thinkin’ that I needed a little more milk in my frosting. It was VERY YUMMY, but it was kinda hard to spread. A few more pecans wouldn’t have hurt my feelings either.

By the time I finished writing this post, the dishes got loaded, the Hogs won, and the cookies got baked and taken to the friend’s house. I’m sure you feel better knowing that. haha

Critics’ Corner

Chip: It was good.

(This short response is a personal protest! I accused him of “taking over my blog” because he wrote a long comment for the Apple Slaw.  Therefore, he got all sassy and wrote this short comment. I even asked him at press time if he wanted to add anything.  A curt “NO!” was all I got.)

Megan: This dessert has captured the essence of fall. It was a superb masterpiece.

Katie: It felt like it was fall. All I needed was a cup of apple cider! I savored every bite.

I saw this recipe in the September 2011 Southern Living. Aren’t y’all proud of me? I was pretty quick on this one!

I’m not really sure WHY I made it. I don’t even like slaw that much. There was just something about the ingredients and the pretty picture that made me want to try it.

It just sounded so good. Click the picture to see the recipe, or you can click here.

I originally planned to make the Cranberry-Almond Coleslaw. I changed my mind and went with the original Apple Coleslaw.

Chop up your celery, onion and apple.

Put the slaw in a bowl. I love my square bowls. They are from Pampered Chef-go figure.

Mix the chopped stuff with the slaw.

Love my square bowl, but it was too small for the mixin’. So, I used my big salad bowl. Mixing by hand was easiest for me. Taking a picture of myself mixing by hand was a challenge, however.

Now, you will see in the recipe that you are supposed to mix up the dressing and pour it on the slaw. Well, the picture wasn’t too pretty. You’ll have to use your imagination.

What goes better with slaw than BBQ pork sammies?! All I did was throw a pork roast in the crock pot to cook. I put a little sauce in with it but not too much. I let everyone add their own sauce. The rolls were those frozen rolls that you let rise. Unfortunately, I baked them at the wrong temperature, so some of them were a little on the burned dark side.

Cute plates are usually helpful when new food items are presented. Remember, you eat with your eyes first!

I have to say, I was not wild about this recipe. Like I said, I don’t really like slaw that much. I do tend to prefer a mayonnaise based slaw to a vinegar or mustard based slaw. For a vinegar based slaw it was pretty good. I probably would have been happy with no dressing at all. Try it out for yourself. Let me know what you think. Be sure to see what the critics had to say.

Critics’ Corner:

Chip: I’m not normally a fan of mixing sweet things with savory things — sorry fans of “Cincinnati Chili,” but putting cinnamon in chili is just gross — but slaw is one of those things that can be a tad sweet. I never would have thought to add apples to coleslaw, but they really provided a neat flavor and texture that worked well here. I liked it.

Katie: Yack!

Megan: I’m with her 100%