Mom’s Split Pea Soup

It’s s-n-o-w-ing. Again.  Winter seems to want to stick around forever this  year. This means my slow cooker is earning its keep.  We’ve made more slow cooker meals this year than ever before.

Today’s recipe is my Mom’s Split Pea Soup.  Here’s what I like about it: 1) It’s delicious. 2) You can have dinner prepped and into the crockpot in under ten minutes. 3) It feeds you for more than one meal.  Believe me, if we made this with an infant in the house, you can do this too!! I also find this recipe fun because you use an immersion blender at the end.  Why I find this entertaining I cannot explain.  It just is.

Here’s to hoping this is the last s-n-o-w (I dare not say the word for putting a curse on DC and inviting more of the white stuff) storm of the year.

Mom's split pea soup pugtato dinner recipes easy


Mom's split Pea soup pugtato easy dinner recipes

Mom’s Split Pea Soup


  • 4 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 smaller bag of shredded carrots
  • 1 box of nitrate free ham, cubed (We like Hormel Natural Choice Honey Ham)
  • 1 bag of split peas
  • 1 quart of low sodium Chicken Broth (We like Pacific Organics. It’s the lowest sodium of all the brands I could find. Also, its made from free range chickens.)
  • 1 c water
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Olive oil
  • Parmesan Cheese


  1. Chop celery and onion, put into crock pot
  2. Cube ham, put into crock pot
  3. Dump in bag of carrots and split peas
  4. Add broth, water, salt and pepper
  5. Cook soup on low for 6 hours.
  6. At 6 hours use immersion blender and blend until slightly chunky but blended
  7. Serve drizzled with Olive oil and parmesan  cheese

How hard could cooking 52 recipes in 52 weeks be?

Turns out pretty hard. Those of you who have been with PUGTATO from the beginning know that I set a goal to cook 52 recipes in 52 weeks as part of a creative challenge to myself.

Here I am, a year and half later, and finally, FINALLY, I am half way through this challenge.  It would be so easy right now to just give up and be done with it all. But that defeats the purpose! 52 recipes in 52 weeks was an unrealistic timeline, but the challenge of 52 recipes itself is not unrealistic! Every time I feel like throwing the towel in, I scroll through my blog and revisit recipes I never would have tried had it not been for this challenge.

52 recipes in 52 weeks PUGTATO

It’s a marathon, not a sprint.

I’ve tried great recipes and not so great recipes.  I’ve failed miserably at a few and laughed at the final results.  (Those, by the way, never make it to press, because who wants to make a garbage can eligible recipe?)

I am encouraged by the fact that when I log on to Pinterest, my “I made this” board is growing.  My guess is that of the millions of pins that are posted each day, very few of them actually ever get made.  I am proud of the fact that I am actually making these recipes and that I’m turning these little electronic tidbits into real meals, shared across a table with friends.

So hang on, readers!  We still have another 26 or so recipes to go!  Fire up those kitchens and let’s get cooking!

Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Trifle

I like to post PUGTATO teasers to Facebook to see what types of recipes people are most interested in.  Today’s recipe received a bump in the queue due to an overwhelming demand from my friends.  Thanks for all the feedback, lovely friends!

Reese's Trifle Dessert PUGTATO

There are never too many Reese’s in one’s life.

The Reese’s Trifle.  I had been staring at this recipe on Pinterest for probably two years, and had yet to pull the trigger. All that changed this weekend when I decided it was time to give it a try with a little PUGTATO spin!

After searching unsuccessfully at HomeGoods and TJ Maxx for a Trifle dish on Friday, I had an epiphany and I ordered one off Amazon at 5 PM, set for arrival the next day by Noon, leaving me to wonder why I even left the house in the first place? PUGTATO’s Note: Seriously, Amazon. I love you.

Reese's Trifle pugtato dessert recipes

I would definitely consider this recipe a success.  It gets five stars for ease to make and five stars for deliciousness.

Reese's Trifle dessert PUGTATO


  • 3 big bags Reese’s cups, cut in fourths
  • 1 package snack sized Reese’s cups, cut in half
  • 2 containers Cool Whip, thawed
  • 2, 5.1 oz boxes vanilla pudding
  • 6 cups 1% Milk
  • 2 cups Peanut Butter
  • 1 box of Ghirardelli Triple Chocolate Brownies
  • A bag of Reese’s Pieces- you determine the size. I won’t tell if you buy the big one so you can eat the extras later.


  1. Make brownies according to directions. PUGTATO’s NOTE: I made the brownies the night before which is a huge time saver. Also, do not cheap out and use a generic Betty Crocker or Dunkin Hines Brownie Mix.  If you are going to use boxed brownies for a guest pleasing dessert, you must use Ghirardelli Brownies! In PUGTATO’s opinion, of course.
  2. If making brownies the day of, you must allow them to cool before using in the recipe. Once cool break brownies into bite size chunks. PUGTATO’s NOTE: I also suggest cutting off the edges of the brownies if they got crunchy in the oven.
  3. Prepare pudding according to box instructions. PUGTATO’S NOTE: I suggest using instant pudding, making the boxes of pudding individually and leaving separate until further steps.  Something about doubling always goes poorly for me.
  4. Into each pudding bowl, add 1 cup of peanut butter (total of 2 cups of pb). Mix pb and pudding together using a beater until it is combined and creamy.
  5. Combine puddings together.
  6. Fold in Cool Whip.
  7. Start to build your trifle.
  8. Bottom layer: One third of the brownies
  9. Next Layer: One third of Reese’s Cups cut in fourths
  10. Trifecta layer: scoop in one third of pudding mixture.
  11. Repeat until your trifle is full ending with the pudding mixture on top.
  12. To finish, take halved Reese’s cups and line the outer edge of the trifle.  For extra flair, sprinkle Reese’s Pieces on top. PUGTATO’S NOTE: I forgot to take a picture after we sprinkled on the Reese’s Pieces and by the time I remembered, it was too late!  The trifle had been demolished!
  13. Refrigerate to set until serving

But you’re too young to have cancer…right?

Famous last words. Today I want to share with you the story of my college roommate’s sister.

Kearsley Lloyd has everything that any young woman would want.  By the age of twenty-six she had launched her own successful business, The Tipsy Skipper, and was doing what she loved: designing gorgeous fashion inspired by a sea loving, New England lifestyle.

Kearsley was also diagnosed with Melanoma. Twice.

Kearsley reminds us below, that you have to be your own champion when it comes to your health- even if that means making things uncomfortable, because that uncomfortableness may just be what saves your life.

Be persistent because your life may quite literally be at stake! If I had listened to two dermatologists, I would very likely have lost the chance to celebrate my thirtieth birthday. While insisting upon a biopsy made for some awkward moments and an irritated doctor, it was the difference between metastatic cancer and the urgent treatment I needed to save my life.

Kearsley’s story and her message are an important reminder to get your skin checked and that cancer does not discriminate.  It doesn’t care how old you are, what your gender is or what your race is.  It doesn’t care if you went to college and fulfilled your dreams afterwards.  It doesn’t care what you have planned for your future.

I encourage you to head on over to Kearsley’s blog so you can read her full story, in her own words, and share it with your family and friends.

Many thank you’s to Kearsley Lloyd for allowing me to share her story today.

Ginger Beef, Mushroom & Kale stir-fry by Gimme Some Oven

We at PUGTATO HQ are big kale fans. We pretty much will find any excuse to add it to a recipe and last week my husband and I each individually showed up at home with unnecessary amounts of this magic green because, “It looked so good in the store.” As such, we needed a few kale recipes this week. I got to Pinterest-ing for kale recipes and came across a Ginger Beef, Mushroom and Kale stir-fry from Gimme Some Oven, the same food blog where I found those amazing No Bake Energy Bites.

This dish is yummy and healthier than chinese take out. I especially like that you know exactly what is going into your food and you can control the sodium by using reduced sodium soy sauce. The only change I made to the recipe was using fresh ginger instead of ground.

Gimme Some Oven’s Ginger Beef, Mushroom & Kale Stir-fry

(original recipe found here.)

Ginger Beef, Mushroom & Kale Stir-Fry by Gimme Some Oven


  • 1/3 cup reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup reduced sodium vegetable broth (or chicken/beef broth, or water)
  • 3 Tbsp. rice wine vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp. corn starch
  • 2 tsp. fresh ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1 lb. thinly sliced flank steak or sirloin, Gimme Some Oven suggests cutting diagonally across the grain into thin strips. This made nice pieces to eat and cooked quickly.
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 8 ounces baby bellas, halved
  • 4 ounces shiitake mushrooms, halved
  • 3 cups chopped kale
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced


  1. Add all marinade ingredients to a bowl and whisk to combine.
  2. Pour marinade into a large bowl or ziplock bag
  3. Add in the steak to bag or bowl and gently toss to combine. Cover/seal and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes. PUGTATO’S NOTE: we were starved and did not wait the 15 minutes.  I think the steak lasted 5 minutes on the counter and would be AMAZING if we had left it for 15.  Budget your time wisely. 
  4. Once steak has marinated, heat 1 Tbsp. oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat.
  5. Remove steak from marinade with a slotted spoon, saving the marinade
  6. Add steak to saute pan with garlic. PUGTATO’S NOTE: Do not burn your garlic.  Burnt garlic has a bitter taste.  If you need to, turn your heat down slightly before adding the garlic. Sauté for about 2-3 minutes until browned, stirring occasionally. Remove steak and set aside.
  7. Add mushrooms, kale, and reserved marinade to sauté pan, and stir to combine. Cook for 3-4 minutes, until the kale is wilted, the sauce has thickened, and the mushrooms have cooked. Stir regularly so that sauce does not burn.
  8. Add steak back to pan and stir to combine.
  9. Serve immediately over your choice of grain and top with chopped green onions.

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Breast Care for Washington: Hitting a Milestone


I am truly pleased to share with you all today that Breast Carefor Washington has entered into a partnership with Community of Hope at their new facility in Southwest DC.

Existing as the sole provider of 3-D mammograms East of the Anacostia River, we plan to begin offering services in May 2014.

Below is our joint press release from this morning’s events!

Contact: Beth Beck, Executive Director, 202-253-0397

Breast Care for Washington, Community of Hope Partner to Offer Breast Care Services
Access to State-of-the-Art Breast Screening, Diagnostics an
d Patient Care in Ward 8

WASHINGTON, D.C. (March 17, 2014) – Breast Care for Washington (BCW) announced today that it is partnering with Community of Hope to provide the D.C. community with comprehensive breast care services. The full-service breast center, located on the main floor of the Conway Health and Resource Center, will include mammography screening, diagnostic imaging and patient navigation for women with breast cancer. While aimed at providing care to all D.C. women, the center will focus on women in Wards 7 and 8, where access to services is limited.

BCW will bring the first 3D mammography machine East of the River, providing low income women with the most advanced breast cancer screening technology which allows radiologists to detect cancers earlier when they are easiest to treat and reduce unnecessary callbacks and follow-up tests.

In addition to offering state-of-the-art mammography screening, BCW will offer ultrasound and minimally invasive biopsy capabilities and plans to open in May 2014. Community of Hope and BCW will work together to ensure patients are knowledgeable of the various services offered throughout the health center.

“We are so excited about the opportunity to partner with Breast Care for Washington. The services provided by BCW will be a wonderful complement to the primary medical, dental, and behavioral services provided at the Conway Center, creating a truly robust range of services, all in one building.,” said Kelly Sweeney McShane, President and CEO of Community of Hope. “BCW will ensure women in our community have access to the best breast care available.”

Through the Community of Hope and BCW partnership, both organizations aim to address the health disparities plaguing the Ward 8 community. Access to breast cancer screening and diagnostics is imperative, because, despite having lower incidence rates, black women have a 41 percent higher breast cancer death rate compared to white women due to a number of factors, including inequities in breast cancer screening, follow-up and treatment after diagnosis.

“Through our partnership with Community of Hope, we are one step closer to reducing breast cancer mortality in DC,” said Beth Beck, co-founder and executive director of Breast Care for Washington. “Through education and providing the most accurate breast screening and diagnostics, we aim to address the health needs of all women in the community, regardless of their ability to pay.”

Advances such as the 3D mammography screening offered at the center gives radiologists the ability to view inside the breast layer by layer, helping to see the fine details more clearly by minimizing overlapping tissue. While 3D mammograms are beneficial to all women, they are especially helpful in allowing doctors to screen for cancer in those with dense breast tissue. BCW will also employ a patient navigator who will ensure patients obtain the appropriate follow-up care and treatment for breast cancer when necessary.


About Breast Care for Washington, D.C.

Breast Care for Washington (BCW) is a newly incorporated non-profit community-centered breast cancer screening organization. Founded in 2012, BCW aims to enhance access to breast cancer care and treatment among medically underserved women in the greater Washington, D.C. area. Dr. Regina Hampton, a co-founder and current Board President is the only dedicated breast surgeon in Prince George’s County, MD. BCW’s founders and founding Board of Directors have extensive experience in medical care, building quality health networks, and patient advocacy. Joined by a common goal to make breast cancer screening readily available and accessible, they formed BCW with the mission to reduce breast cancer mortality in the Washington, D.C. area by promoting access to breast cancer screening, diagnostics, and treatment to all women regardless of their ability to pay.
For more information on Breast Care for Washington or to donate, visit or call (202) 465-7164.

About Community of Hope

Founded in 1980, Community of Hope works to improve the health and quality of life for low-income, homeless, and underserved families and individuals in the District of Columbia by providing healthcare, housing with supportive services, educational opportunities, and spiritual support. In 2013, 354 homeless families received housing with supportive services and 7,100 patients received medical, dental, behavioral health or birthing services. Community of Hope was recognized by the Washington Post for the 2012 Award for Excellence in Nonprofit Management.

Drowning in Pink: An Update

My recent piece, Drowning in Pink has been received with great interest and so I’d like to provide an update today on the situation.

First lets rewind to refresh our memories:

  1. 2/21/2014, METAvivor contacted Kohl’s regarding it’s very obvious adaptation of the METAvivor’s campaign, “Elephant in the Pink Room,” with request for the campaign to be stopped.
  2. 2/27/2014, conversation happened between Kohl’s and METAvivor.
  3. Kohl’s refuses to remove the copy-cat campaign and instead puts a little blurb about metastatic breast cancer on its website.
  4. Date unknown. METAvivor receives correspondence from Susan G. Komen President that they have no intention of stopping the campaign.
  5. 3/10/2014. After what is now, weeks of outrage among the breast cancer community, there is no resolution.  Social media and the blogosphere continue to demand for accountability from Kohl’s/SGK.

I support METAvivor

Today’s update:

March 10, 2014.  METAvivor has retained pro-bono legal counsel from the law firm of Carlton Fields Jorden Burt, P.A.  This means ZERO dollars of the money that METAvivor has raised will have to go towards defending their intellectual property, and 100% of all the funds METAvivor has raised will continue to go towards funding research and grants for metastatic breast cancer.

I support METAvivor and I hope you do too.  I am saddened that patients and the excellent folks at METAvivor have had to deal with the distraction of Kohl’s/SGK’s shenanigans. Moreover, I am saddened that their mission and devotion to this specific group of patients could ever be perceived as anything less than honorable. Not everyone shares the same perspective I do, in fact if you check out METAvivor’s Facebook page you will see a few callous and uneducated comments from the general public that are mind-blowing.  For more on this topic head over to Regrounding and read her latest post. This Kohl’s/Komen debacle is nothing but an energy suck and a drain on all the good work that METAvivor has done and continues to do.

I will ask you, again.  Share this story, tell your friends.  Tweet Komen and Kohl’s using #talkpink and tell them what you think.  Stay tuned, as I am sure there is more to come.

Kale, Mushroom, Feta and Mozzarella Breakfast Casserole by Kalyn’s Kitchen

Kale lovers, rejoice! I have tripped upon an easy, tummy pleasing breakfast casserole that could even stand in as dinner, in a pinch.

One of my most popular recipe postings is my adaptation for Overnight Nutella Baked French Toast, so when I came across this yummy recipe from Kalyn’s Kitchen that could be made the night before, I had to give it a try.  Kalyn’s Kitchen is a food blog that creates “seasonal low glycemic recipes for weight loss, blood sugar control and healthy eating.” This past weekend was a perfect opportunity to give this recipe a try because we hosted our first non-family house guests since the newest arrival at PUGTATO HQs.

I failed to notice the original recipe uses Spike seasoning which I had never heard of and we do not keep in the house, so I  invented my own.  You need a total of 1 tsp of seasoning so i just did a couple shakes of this, and a couple shakes of that until it totaled about 1 tsp.

kale mushroom breakfast bake

Kale, Mushroom, Feta, and Mozzarella Breakfast Casserole
adapted from Kalyn’s Kitchen

12 oz. Crimini mushrooms
4 tsp olive oil
Three big handfuls of roughly chopped kale
4-5 oz. crumbled Feta (Eye ball it. I’m of the school of thought that more cheese is better with breakfast.)
3/4 cup low-fat Mozzarella cheese (Ditto for the moz!)
fresh ground black pepper to taste
1 tsp. PUGTATO’s special seasoning (garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne pepper, sage, salt, pepper, cumin, celery salt, ground ginger, ground mustard)
10-12 eggs, beaten until yolks and whites are well-combined


  1. Preheat oven to 375F.  Spray non-stick spray onto baking pan.  I used a ceramic oval Le Creuset dish. If you are not a fan of cooking sprays, use butter.
  2. Wash, dry mushrooms and slice mushrooms.   Heat 2 tsp. olive oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat, add the mushrooms. Sauté until the mushrooms have released their juice and continue until it has evaporated, and mushrooms  turn slightly brown. Roughly 5-6 minutes.  Add mushrooms to baking dish.
  3. While the mushrooms cook, chop kale. Cut out the stalk of the kale and discard. (It is bitter.) Chop the leaves.  Wash kale if needed, and spin dry.  PUGTATO’s NOTE: You can also use pre-cut and washed kale from the grocery store- just beware you will have to pick through and rip out the stalks anyways but the chopping step is eliminated. This is what I used.
  4. Add 2 tsp. more olive oil to the same sauté pan, add the chopped kale and sauté until wilted. Keep the kale moving in the pan or the bottom will burn. Layer the wilted kale over the mushrooms in the baking dish.
  5. Sprinkle the crumbled Feta and grated Mozzarella over the vegetables and season with fresh ground black pepper and PUGTATO’s (or yours!) special seasoning.
  6. Whisk eggs until combined and pour over the dish.
  7. Use a fork to gently combine until all the ingredients are combined.
  8. Bake at 375F for 40-45 minutes, or until the casserole is set. You will know it is time when the top starts to lightly brown.  KALYN’S KITCHEN NOTE: If keeping it in the fridge to reheat during the week, shorten the cooking time by a few minutes.
pugtato kale mushroom feta breakfast
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