Winter Minestrone

It is hard to believe Thanksgiving has come and gone. I am still counting my blessings this Sunday morning as I have so much to be thankful for. My family has been struggling through a difficult task, and I continue to be amazed at the kindness and thoughtfulness of others. Even people who do not know me very well have shed their love upon my family and me. I have been truly humbled these past few weeks, especially as a person who thinks she can do it all on her own. Well, I’ve learned I most certainly cannot.

This recipe is perfect to make for someone who may be struggling with something in their life. It is amazing what a home cooked meal from a friend or stranger can do for morale. You think for a moment that everything will work out. Food is powerful, especially when it is made with love and consideration. Enjoy and share this comforting recipe that will warm your soul indeed.


  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup butter
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 8-10 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 20 oz. Northern white kidney beans
  • 2 14 oz. diced tomatoes
  • 3 T. tomato paste
  • 2½ t. garlic powder
  • 2 t. fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 t. salt
  • ½ t. pepper
  • ½ t. dried basil
  • 3 cups fresh spinach, chopped
  • ½ cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 cup cooked small macaroni
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated


  1. Saute onion and garlic in butter and olive oil in a large pot until onions are translucent, 5-7 minutes.
  2. Next, add broth, 1 can of Northern white kidney beans, 1 can of diced tomatoes, and all liquid from the cans.
  3. Then, stir in garlic powder, tomato paste, parsley, salt, pepper, and dried basil.
  4. Cook on medium-low heat for 1½ hours.
  5. Remove ½ of the soup into a food processor and blend until smooth, or pulse an immersion blender for several minutes throughout the entire soup.
  6. Pour blended soup back into the pot if you used a food processor.
  7. Add remaining cans of Northern beans and diced tomatoes, fresh spinach, fresh basil (reserve some for garnish), cooked macaroni, heavy cream, and Parmesan cheese. Stir.
  8. Continue to cook on medium-low heat for ½ hour.
  9. Serve warm with crusty bread!

Vegan Dark Chocolate Cake

Life is hard. Sometimes you need chocolate. This cake is a wonderful comfort for any trial or tribulation, or so it has been for me.

Tomorrow is my mother’s 5oth Birthday. She is such a special woman. Strong. Determined. Loving. Giving. I could really go on and on. Lately, life has been hard on her. I think this cake is in her near future.

Happy Birthday to the woman who has shaped me into who I am today. I am forever grateful for your wisdom and love. Here’s to you and here’s to dark chocolate. I love you, mom.


  • Cake
  • 2½ Cups Flour
  • ⅔ Cup Dark Cocoa Powder
  • 2¼ t. Baking Soda
  • ¾ t. Kosher Salt
  • 1½ Cups Water
  • 2 t. Vanilla
  • 1½ Cups Maple Syrup
  • ⅔ Cups Applesauce, unsweetened
  • 2½ t. White Vinegar
  • 4-6 T. Strongly Brewed Coffee
  • Icing
  • 4-5 T. Dark Cocoa Powder
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 1 t. Coffee grounds
  • 1 Cup Sugar
  • 8 T. Vegan Butter, Melted
  • 2 t. Vanilla
  • ⅓ Cup Coconut milk


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Sift flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt until well combined.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix water, vanilla, maple syrup, applesauce, vinegar, coffee until well combined.
  4. Gently mix wet and dry ingredients until well mixed. Be careful not to over mix.
  5. Pour into two greased 9″ pans or one 9″x13″ pan.
  6. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until tested with toothpick or knife and either come out clean.
  7. Let cool before icing.
  8. For the icing, mix cocoa, salt, coffee grounds, sugar.
  9. Mix in melted butter, vanilla, and coconut milk until well combined.
  10. Spread over cooled cake.

Strawberry-Rhubarb Chia Jam

I’ve found a new favorite yogurt.  Have you tried Noosa’s Strawberry Rhubarb?  It is the best yogurt I have ever had.  Seriously.  And it made me wonder why other yogurts don’t come in a strawberry rhubarb flavor?!  So I decided to make my own.

I have wanted to make chia jam for a while.  It is so quick and easy, I see this becoming a staple around the house.  It would be great with any kind of fruit! Pair it up with some plain Greek yogurt and you have got a high fiber, high protein breakfast.  I opted for honey to sweeten, but could use agave or even maple syrup if you’d like.  Spread it on toast or eat it out the jar. It’s irresistible.


  • 2 stalks rhubarb, chopped
  • 1 lb strawberries, hulled and chopped
  • ½ C honey
  • ½ C chia seeds


  1. Place rhubarb, strawberries, and honey into a pot and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Let simmer about 10 minutes. Remove from heat.
  2. Using an immersion blender, blend ingredients together. Add in chia seeds and stir. Let cool slightly, then using a small ladle, scoop jam into jars.
  3. Keep in fridge for up to 2 weeks.

Lemon Poppy Seed Scones

When life hands you lemons…you make lots of food with lemons!  This weekend was filled with that citrusy, yellow fruit. Lemon pasta, lemon cookies, and this Sunday morning began with these lemon poppyseed scones.

Scones are such a perfect food. They can be breakfast. They can be dessert.  They can be sweet. They can be savory.  They are just perfect.

The lemon is really a hope for summer.  Hey, on a blustery, nine degree January morning, what do you expect?!  I am thankful to be on the inside looking out.  The snow is beautiful and the birds are many…and I’m staying warm and toasty inside.


  • 1½ C flour
  • ¼ C sugar
  • ½ Tbsp baking powder
  • 6 Tbsp butter, cold and cubed
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • ½ C Neufchâtel cheese
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • the zest of one lemon
  • 2 Tbsp poppyseeds


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Using a food processor, pulse flour, sugar, and baking powder until well combined. Add in cold, cubed butter and pulse until it resembles small peas.
  3. Add in lightly beaten egg, Neufchâtel cheese, vanilla, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Pulse just until wet and dry ingredients come together.
  4. Roll out dough onto floured surface. Make a round about ¾ inch thick. Cut into 6 triangles. Sprinkle with poppy seeds.
  5. Place on baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for 13-15 minutes.

Stuffed Spinach Mushrooms

Cooler weather means warmer food. Each day retains less and less heat, and turning on the oven has become more of a blessing than a curse. The air is crisp and even the scents that it carries have changed. Autumn is among us and we welcome it with open arms.

There are two kinds of people in this world: those who love mushrooms, and those who don’t. I am one of those people who love them. Hopefully you are too, but if not, there’s bound to be a mushroom-lover in your circle that you could share this post with!

Mushrooms are one of my favorite foods and I love that they can be added to almost any dish. This stuffed version makes a wonderful starter before the main course, or even a tasty small meal just themselves!


12 stuffing mushrooms
3/4 cup chopped sweet onion
1 clove minced garlic
5 cups fresh baby spinach
1/2 cup fresh grated Parmesan
1/2 tsp salt


  1. Clean mushrooms and remove stems from caps.
  2. Sauté onion and garlic in olive oil until tender. Add in spinach and cook down until wilted.
  3. Remove from heat and let cool for a minute.
  4. Mix in Parmesan cheese and salt.
  5. Gently fill the center of each mushroom with mixture.
  6. Bake at 400° for 25 minutes.

Butternut Squash Soup with Spinach and Mushrooms

1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and chopped
2 cups mushrooms, chopped
1 Vidalia onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 quart vegetable broth
olive oil
Several handfuls of fresh spinach

Salt and Pepper to taste
Peel squash and cut in half lengthwise. Remove seeds and chop into small cubes. The smaller you chop, the faster it will cook. Sauté onions and mushrooms in olive oil. Set aside. Sauté butternut squash and garlic until soft. Add vegetable broth and bring soup to a simmer. Remove from heat and use an immersion blender to cream the soup. Blend until completely smooth. Stir in the sautéed onions and mushrooms and also the spinach. Salt and pepper to taste.