Food & Recipes

by Julie Branstetter, Th.B. Welcome to everyone's favorite page, of which the purpose is to share the joy of food and cooking. Please know that the purpose of this page is not to help you live a healthy life. That page is labelled 'Health & Fitness". I have to say this because you will find sweets and desserts and BREAD everything considered evil by the health food industry and I totally understand, but this girl loves food too much to leave anything out. Not to mention I have learned that you don't have to cut foods out of your diet to be healthy you just need to moderate yourself. More on that on the health page. Some recipes are super healthy and some are indulgent, but the blog over all celebrates the joy of cooking and creating enjoyable food. Many times indulgent recipes can use substitutes to make them lighter so keep that in mind while you browse. The greater the variety the better. Guest posts and recipes are always welcome too!

Rocky Road Brownies

January 20, 2015

Rocky Road Brownies

Before the last 5 minutes of baking your favorite brownie recipe, top it with a mixture of:
  • 1 cup of pecans,
  • 1-1/4 cup of mini marshmallows
  • 1 cup of semisweet chocolate chips.
SO yummy! Oh and cut it with a wet knife so the marshmallows won't pull on the knife so bad. I ended up scooping ours out with a big spoon, much easier.  Enjoy!


Roasted Garlic & Asparagus Chicken Pasta

January 3, 2015

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"Everybody's Favorite" Butter Rolls

September 4, 2014

I am going to share my personal butter roll recipe that EVERYONE loves.  I'm not just pretending here, this bread is loved by everyone who has ever eaten it. If you like the yeast rolls or butter rolls from places like Texas Steakhouse or Golden Corral, then you will really love these.  I use my bread machine to make the dough but you could mix it, knead it, wait, punch it down and let it rise before you form it to be cooked if you like.

I let my machine do all the work on th...

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Homemade Pimento Cheese

September 4, 2014

This is one of the very best recipes online, shared and pinned like crazy!

This is one delicious recipe; full flavored, not bland like some of the store bought pimento cheeses.  Pack a few of these in zip bags the next time you pack a cooler and go to the beach or a game.  You will be glad you did.  You can also use this for grilled cheese sandwiches or on toasted bread sandwiches.
You Will Need:
  • 2 Cups of Sharp Cheddar
  • 8 oz. of softened Cream Cheese
  • 1/2 Cup of Mayo...

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Deep Fried Oreos

September 4, 2014

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Homemade Whipped Cream

September 4, 2014

Homemade whipped cream is so easy it almost doesn't warrant a blog post, except that almost no one I know realizes it can be homemade much easier and tastes so much better.


  • 2 Cups of heavy cream
  • 1/2 Cup of sugar


  • Use a mixer to mix the heavy cream and sugar in a large bowl.  Start on a low speed and once the sugar has dissolved slowly wrok up in speed.  Mix for awhile until it reaches the thickness you desire.  Once the cream peaks well you are done. :)...

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Homemade Caramel (dulce de leche)

September 4, 2014

Did you know you can make caramel with one ingredient in your slow cooker?  Just submerge an unopened can of sweetened condensed milk in water in your slow cooker and cook on high for 5 hours.  You could also opt to cook it on low for 8-10 hours if you will be out for the day.  Make sure you put the can(s) in a dish and put the dish in the slow cooker and make sure the cans are completely under water.  In 5 hours you'll have a can of delicious dulce de leche, caramel!

If you prefer n...

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Homemade Cinnamon Buns

September 4, 2014

Homemade Cinnamon Buns

These are so easy to make and they only take a little time and will last for several days if kept wrapped up securely.

Basically you are rolling out a the butter rolls bread flour dough, coating it with butter and cinnamon and sugar, rolling it up into a long tube shape (pinch seam and ends closed) and slicing it into 12 buns about 1.5 inches thick.  You lay the slices in a well buttered 13x9 dish and bake at 375 for about 20 minutes.

Bread Dough:

  • 7 oz of mil...

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Strawberry Sorbet

September 4, 2014

This was my first attempt at making homemade strawberry sorbet in the ice cream machine.  It was such a success I think I am going to also try peach sorbet.  This sorbet is smooth and creamy and absolutely delicious!!  I am amazed how few ingredients there are in this and how delicious it turned out.  Anyone can make it, so here's the recipe!


2/3 cup of Sugar

2/3 cup of Water

2 lbs. of Strawberries

3 tablespoons of Citrus Juice  (lemon or orange)


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Homemade Hot Chocolate (not cocoa)

September 3, 2014

What's the difference between hot chocolate and hot cocoa?  The base of hot chocolate is melted chocolate and the base of hot cocoa is...  you guessed it, cocoa powder.  This is a favorite recipe of many of my friends.  Ah!  Memories of hanging out around the fire pit in our back yard at night, sipping on this drink and talking about good things all come flooding back to me with every sip.  It's definitely delicious so give it a try!  This recipe makes 2 cups.  If you...

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Homemade Baby Food

September 3, 2014

*This picture shows homemade peas, sweet potatoes and apples and bananas. *


Make Your Own Baby Food!

I have three children and I have nursed all three.  My first two children however transitioned to store bought baby foods in the jar, primarily because we were given A VERY LARGE AMOUNT of jar baby food so it was a great resource at the time.  This time around I decided to try to make some of the baby food myself.  I thought that if it were easy enough and less costly it would be...

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Homemade Granola With Fruit

September 3, 2014

Homemade Granola Recipe With Fruit

4 Cups of Old Fashioned Oats (Not the quick oats)
1 to 1.5 Cups of chopped almonds (I sometimes use 1/2 pecans and 1/2almonds)
1/2 Cup Packed Light Brown Sugar
1/2 Teaspoon of salt
1 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
1/4 Cup Vegetable Oil (can substitute melted coconut oil)
1/4 Cup Honey
2 Tablespoons Maple Syrup
2 Teaspoons Vanilla 
1.5 Cups of Dried Fruit (I like dried cherries, blueberries and cranberries or you can use Raisins)

Preheat Oven to 300 degrees
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Scratch Pulp Muffins

September 3, 2014

If you look closely enough you can see the steam rising up out of that fresh scratch pulp muffin above.  This recipe will be particularly interesting to people who use juicers.  If you have not ever used a juicer it is definitely something to consider.  Drinking freshly juiced fruits and veggies is one of the most healthy things you can do for yourself and your family because the antioxidants in fresh juice help destroy the free radicals in our bodies that usuall...

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How to Cut Pasta By Hand!

July 23, 2012
This video is not in English, but you can watch it and figure out what she is doing! I will post an easy recipe soon for making your own pasta. It is very simple, so simple you could make a pasta dish from scratch all at once for cheap every night if you so wanted. Check it out!!

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July 20, 2012

Maybe summer-time doesn't strike you as the time for a chicken pot pie, but if you are like me you may be secretly wishing to bring on the fall by now.  I mean why not?  Everything fabulous happens in the fall!!!  So, get ready for some "Oh My Chicken Pot Pie"!  That's right, it's good.   Now go make yourself some!  You will need 2 pie crusts; one for the bottom and one for the top of the pie.  You can use my pie crust recipe from scratch, or you use a store bought box...
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SOUTHERN FRIED OKRA (in healthy coconut oil)

July 16, 2012
If you have ever grown your own okra then you know that you will be either eating it every night or preparing some for the freezer.  For those of you who would like to fry up a batch in the healthiest way possible, here is my recipe for you.

1.  Pick the okra and wash them.  Try to pick them when they are about 4 inches long so they will still be tender.  Don't let them get too big or they will be tough and stringy.

2.  Slice off the top and tip of each okra.  Try to only cut off the stem cap.


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June 30, 2012
Jerk seasoning on fish and shrimp, grilled and served with coconut milk rice and mango salsa is delicious!!  Making coconut rice is easy!!  Just use coconut milk in place of the water.  I used instant rice and simply substituted the water for coconut milk.  That's it!  I found the coconut milk in the cooler section where the other milk products are sold at the grocery store.

Here's how to make the mango salsa!

1 cup of diced Mango
1 cup of diced Pineapple
1/2 cup of diced Cucumber
1 ...

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June 28, 2012
One of the things I keep in my cabinet at all times is shortening.  I use it to coat pans and to make pie crusts.  You could also deep fry in it, but I prefer coconut oil or regular vegetable oil for deep frying.  Coconut oil is the best deep frying oil since it does not turn over to trans fat at high temps as other oils do.  So if you like fried food use Coconut oil.  We fry once in awhile but with moderation.  So here is a very easy pie crust from scratch that you can make the next time you...

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June 3, 2012
Make the most of your watermelon this summer!
1.  Use a melon-baler to scoop out the fruit and keep in containers in the fridge for quick snacking.
2.  Use a potato peeler to peel the rind.  Throw the peel in the compost. 
3.  Slice up the rind and make watermelon rind pickles!  Place the sliced rind in a container with 1:1 ratio of water and vinegar.  Add salt and pepper and cover in the fridge to pickle. 

After a few hours you can begin to snack on your pickles.  Waste not, want not. 


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June 3, 2012
Want to add a little extra yum to your roasted marshmallows by the fire pit?

Try pulling the marshmallow slightly open and stuff a bit of chocolate inside the middle. What makes melted marshmallow better? A little melted chocolate! It's easier than a s'more and yummier than just a marshmallow. <3

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May 18, 2012
I found a delicious looking recipe in the local newspaper called 'Pineapple Angel Lush'.  When I tried it, it was good, but not irresistible.  My problem with the original recipe was the angel food cake.  It is too spongy and too dry for the other ingredients and doesn't seem to 'belong' in the recipe.  Of course I made a couple changes and now it is irresistible!  This is a great spring and summer dessert for any reason but especially nice for picnics and BBQ gatherings. 


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May 18, 2012
Here is another one of those recipes for inviting groups of people over to your house for no other reason than to feed it to them.  It is loved by many and easy for all.  The toppings is what really puts it over the top.  This recipe will feed 5 people.  If you are inviting people over, obviously you will want to double or triple the recipe.  It helps to have made up plenty of chili seasoning so you can just add 1/2 cup of seasoning to the pot per recipe. 


1/2 diced onion
1 (14....
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May 18, 2012
Homemade Country Butter

   Here is a project you might like to try!  Of course anyone can go down to the grocery store and buy butter or margarine spread right?  But have you ever tried to make butter yourself?  It's very easy really and lot of fun.  This could also be a great kitchen project for those of you with children.  In North Carolina it is still illegal to sell non-homogenized milk so you will find it difficult at the least to buy any milk straight from a cow.  If you are fortunate e...

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May 18, 2012
Great & Easy Steak Marinade

Here is a great marinade I made to soak our steaks in over night.  We have enjoyed it and it definitely helps to tenderize the steaks.  You will need a dish to soak the steaks in the marinade overnight.  I use a 3 inch deep medium sized rectangular glass dish and I usually submerge two 8 - 10 oz. steaks in it.  This is enough for us to cut off what the children will actually eat and still have a decent sized steak for the two of us, my husband and myself. We don't u...

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May 8, 2012
Here is our favorite recipe for macaroni and cheese.  Many of our friends love this and will even find reasons to come over if they know it is being made.  It is enough for dinner for four and lunch for four the next day.  It is great reheated too.  Make some and eat for a couple of days but be for warned!  This is very cheesy so if you have any resistance to cheese, enjoy at your own risk!!

1 Box of Noodles (*I like large macaroni noodles found at Food Lion, or you could use a zit...

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May 2, 2012
These peanut butter cookies tastes great!! They look and taste just like cookies made with flour, but they are gluten and dairy free.  It only takes three ingredients and a few minutes to pull this together!!

Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 9-10 minutes
Makes 36 regular sized cookies.


1 cup of Sugar
1 cup of Natural Peanut Butter
1 large egg


1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees F
2) Mix all three ingredients
3) Scoop out the dough and roll it into one inch balls
4) Place...
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April 16, 2012
Springtime brings out the morels and the spring onions.  So toss them in the pot and make a very flavorful spring soup.  Great for sipping from cups around a campfire in the evenings.  We love to add angel hair pasta to make it more filling or you could add some wild rice.  Either would be delicious and fit with this soup perfectly!  If you don't have morel mushrooms or just don't want to spend the money for them (they can be costly) you can substitute your favorite mushroom.  You can use reg...

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April 5, 2012
Here is a very easy way to make homemade cottage cheese right from your own kitchen.  Once you taste this you'll never want to buy it from the grocery store again.  Of course if you have access to fresh raw milk, that's the best, but even if you don't you can still make this recipe easy and fairly quick!

      What You Will Need:
  • 1 gallon Whole or Skim Milk
  • .75 cup fresh white vinegar
  • 1.5 teaspoons salt
  • .5 cup half and half or cream
  • Stainless steel pot
  • Food thermometer
  • Cheese cloth & strainer

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March 9, 2012
Two of the South's ultimate sides are now married into one. Delicious!! Enjoy!

     You Will Need:
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 cup stone ground grits
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and grated
  • .25 teaspoon coarse salt
  • White pepper
  • .25 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 pinch ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon butter

  1. Combine water and milk in a large heavy saucepan.
  2. Bring to a gentle boil over medium-high heat.
  3. Slowly add grits, whisking constantly.
  4. Add sweet potato.
  5. Season with salt and white pepper.
  6. Reduce heat...

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March 5, 2012
Guest Recipe By Jill Finch

Here is a beautiful recipe contributed by one of our "Natty friends" for homemade lavender icing. Oh delicious!! Springtime is almost here. Enjoy!!

  • 3-4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
  • 1/3 cup whole milk
  • 8 oz. of cream cheese, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoon dried culinary lavender
  • Purple food coloring


Bring milk and lavender just to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium heat.
Remove from heat and allow to steep for 10 minutes.
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