My Television Debut

Well, it’s official.  I’m a TV star.

Ok, maybe not, but I will be on TV soon!

My friend and neighbor Rita Heikenfeld was asked a few years back to do a public access cooking show out of the Union Township firehouse.  She has a different guest cook each month and this month she invited me.  The firehouse is inside a water tower – very unique but made me a little uneasy if I thought about all that water over my head!


Rita and I

Anyway, Justin from the Union Township marketing team films the show, edits it, and then it airs on their public access for a while before being distributed to lots of local channels.  When I get a copy, I’ll post it so you can see it too if you don’t live in the area.


Justin films the show

We made all kinds of wonderful dishes for December.  Rita started off with a Vegetable Beef Soup that’s easy to make during the busyness of the holidays.  From there, I showed my grandma Bettie’s Pumpkin Bread.  Next Rita did Dark Chocolate Bark, and we finished up with some homemade dog biscuits.  The recipes all follow here.

I have to say this experience gave me a new found appreciation for all the work that goes into filming a cooking show!  Before the show I had to make both my items so I’d have a finished product to show since there wasn’t enough time to actually let them bake while on air.  I also had to prep all the ingredients and lug it all down to the firehouse.  Once there, we would do a segment, stop the camera, clean up, rearrange, prep the next part, film again… repeat…  It was fun but man, I never really thought about all that goes into it!

Thank you to Rita for having me on.  I hope you all will enjoy these recipes for the season and be on the lookout for my TV debut!

Spicy (or not) Thirty Minute Beef Vegetable Soup


  • l-1/2 pounds lean ground beef – I used sirloin
  • 1 heaping cup chopped yellow or white onion, not sweet onion
  • 1-2 teaspoons garlic, minced
  • 1 jar chunky garden style pasta sauce
  • 1 quart low sodium beef broth
  • Water to taste (start with a couple cups of water and go from there)
  • 10 oz. can tomatoes and chilies or 14.5 oz. diced tomatoes if you don’t want it spicy
  • 1 pound or so frozen soup or mixed vegetables, thawed if you have time
  • Few handfuls any fresh greens (opt)
  • Cheddar for garnish


Sauté meat, onion and garlic together in pot until meat is cooked. Now add everything else but the greens. Bring to a boil and let simmer about 20 minutes or until vegetables are cooked. Toss in greens and cook until just wilted, about a minute more.

A potato masher works wonders to break up the ground beef as it cooks.


Grandma Bettie’s Pumpkin Bread


  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 cup black walnuts


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a stand mixer, combine the first six ingredients.
  3. Add the rest, one at a time.
  4. Toss the nuts and raisins in flour to keep them from falling to the bottom of the pan.  Add to the batter.
  5. Grease 3 loaf pans (or metal coffee tins) and pour in the batter.
  6. Bake for one hour.
  7. When cool, remove from pans and wrap in foil.  Store in the refrigerator.


For more info:


Salted Dark Chocolate Bark with Cherries, Apricots and Almonds

Yes, you can make clusters if you want. Just use a tablespoon or small scoop to make clusters on sprayed foil.


  • 20 oz. dark chocolate bars or chips- I used Hershey’s dark chocolate
  • 8-9 oz. dried cherries, cut up a bit (1-3/4 cups)
  • 1-1/2 to 1-3/4 cups slivered almonds, toasted
  • 8 dried apricots, diced or snipped
  • Coarse Himalayan pink or coarse sea or kosher salt, just a teeny bit


  1. Roast almonds in 350-degree oven until starting to turn golden, stirring a couple times. Be careful as they can burn easily so check after about 8 minutes.
  2. Melt chocolate in nonstick pan over very low heat. Remove from heat when some lumps remain – this assures the chocolate won’t burn or seize. Then stir until smooth.
  3. Stir in everything but salt. Pour onto sprayed, foil lined cookie sheets and spread quickly into somewhat thin layers.
  4. Sprinkle very, very lightly with salt (just a few granules) and refrigerate until hard.
  5. Break bark into pieces.
  6. Store in refrigerator.


Don’t like salt? Leave it off and bark will still be scrumptious.

Other dried fruits can be substituted.
Oh nuts: Toasted pecans or hazelnuts, chopped coarsely, are good, too.


Blueberry Cinnamon Baked Dog Treat Recipe


  • 1/8 cup flax seed, ground
  • 1/3 cup oatmeal, ground
  • 1/2 cup blueberries
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil, melted
  • 1 cups whole-wheat flour
  • Cooking spray


  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray two cookie sheets with cooking spray.
  2. Put your flax seed in a food processor or coffee grinder and process it until it resembles flour. Or buy ground flax seed.
  3. Add the oatmeal to the food processor and grind it up into flour as well.
  4. Add your blueberries in the food processor and process for a moment to chop them up.
  5. Add the rest of your ingredients and process to mix thoroughly.
  6. Turn your dough out onto a floured surface.  Spread flour on the top of your dough. Use a rolling pin to roll it to about ¼ inch thick.  Cut out dog treats with a small cookie cutter and put them on prepared cookie sheets.
  7. Bake for 16 to 20 minutes then remove and let them cool on the counter.
  8. Once cooled, refrigerate and store in an airtight container or Ziploc bag. They will stay good for several weeks.

NOTE: If your dogs are allergic to eggs, try using applesauce instead of an egg. Start with two tablespoons and add more as you mix until you get a workable texture.

For more info:


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