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Emily Stokes
I'm a lady who loves cheese, sour cream, & ice cream, but I recently became lactose intolerant. My key focus in recreating dairy recipes is taste, but I try to be as health conscious as possible. Some of my recipes are low lactose rather than dairy free. I'm also a writer, teacher, nanny, dog mom, housewife, native Yinzer, current Californian, and social organizer extraordinaire.

Soups & Crock Pot

Crock Pot Italian Wedding Soup with Turkey Meatballs

Crock Pot Italian Wedding Soup with Turkey Meatballs from

I have the best dog of all time.

After spending hours yesterday creating this amazing soup, I went to store it in the refrigerator and missed the shelf completely, letting go of the container so that it hit the floor and exploded everywhere.

An entire quart of chicken stock and turkey meatballs spilled in growing puddles all over the kitchen floor and all I could do was watch. My neighborhood was stunned into silence at the expletives issuing from my apartment. Even Eric and Mia, who witnessed the whole disaster, had no words.

My chicken loving Chihuahua stood there in shock, as the scent of warm chicken stock filled the air. Even minutes later, once all the shock was past, I was in tears, and Eric began consoling, Mia continued to stand there, just watching, being the best dog that there ever was.

It’s possible she could sense how sad her mommy was (though I doubt it). The more likely reason was the training we’ve just started helped her “stay” for the treat until she was given the command. Though, there was definitely some confusion and intuition there. I imagine what was going on in her little brain was something like: “Mom just went crazy over this chicken stuff, she’s really stressed out and I want to please her by being a good girl. I’m going to stay and then she’ll give me chicken.” She was so good that after I cleaned up the bulk of the mess, she got to clean up the rest.

Honestly this was one of my worst food fails ever. I could care less about spilt milk–I made each and every single one of those tiny turkey meatballs by hand. I drove to the store for the sole purpose of buying little star shaped noodles. And it was about 80 degrees in my kitchen.

It was such a stupid clumsy accident that I can really only blame it on the fact I had changed into my glasses very early this particular evening, as I was having irritation in one of my eyes. My glasses are a whole prescription higher than my contacts and I can’t see out of them nearly as well. I’ve been putting off buying new lenses for two years and I really need to get new ones. This was the last straw.

Poor mom. Poor meatball soup. It really was delicious! At least I was able to take a few pictures before it went on the floor. I even enjoyed a couple small bowls. I will definitely make it again, and I hope someone else will, too!

Crock Pot Italian Wedding Soup with Turkey Meatballs
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For the Meatballs
  1. 1/4 lb ground turkey
  2. 1 egg
  3. 1/3 cup breadcrumbs
  4. 1/3 cup parmesan cheese (or nondairy alternative)
  5. 1/8 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
  6. 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  7. 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
  8. 1/8 teaspoon Italian seasoning
For the Soup
  1. 2 cups unsalted chicken stock
  2. 1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped
  3. 1 carrot, finely chopped
  4. 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  5. 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  6. 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  7. 1 cup fresh baby spinach, packed
  8. 1/4 cup tiny uncooked noodles
  9. fresh parsley, coarsely chopped
  1. To make the meatballs, combine turkey, egg, breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, parsley, salt and pepper, and Italian seasoning in a small bowl. Mix with your hands until all ingredients are well blended.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and spray a medium size casserole dish with cooking oil. Using a tablespoon to scoop, shape mixture into bite size mini meatballs and place in casserole dish. They can be close together but not touching. Cook for 15 minutes.
  3. While meatballs are cooking, prepare your broth in the crock pot. Add chicken stock, onion, carrot, garlic powder, and salt and pepper. Save the greens and noodles for later.
  4. When the meatballs are done, add them to the chicken broth in the crock pot. Cook on high for two-three hours. During the last 10-15 minutes of cooking, add noodles and stir. Set a kitchen timer to help. When there are three minutes left, add the spinach and stir. Once the timer goes off, remove from heat. Serve topped with parmesan cheese and parsley. Don't spill.
don't miss dairy
Crock Pot Italian Wedding Soup with Turkey Meatballs from 

Crock Pot Italian Wedding Soup with Turkey Meatballs from 

Crock Pot Italian Wedding Soup with Turkey Meatballs from 

Crock Pot Italian Wedding Soup with Turkey Meatballs from 

Crock Pot Italian Wedding Soup with Turkey Meatballs from 

Crock Pot Italian Wedding Soup with Turkey Meatballs from 

Crock Pot Italian Wedding Soup with Turkey Meatballs from
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Simple Crock Pot Italian Wedding Soup with Kale

I just came back from a month long trip to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where I was born and raised. We have an amazing soup there called Italian Wedding Soup, which, I just found out, is not actually Italian.

At any Italian restaurant (or often any restaurant) in Pittsburgh, you can order a bowl of Italian Wedding Soup. My favorite kind is the light version served at the chain restaurant Olive Garden. Since I was not very cultured and didn’t travel much before moving out of Pittsburgh, when I went to the Olive Garden in California I tried ordering Wedding Soup. It’s not usually on the menu in Pittsburgh because it’s such a popular item and everyone knows it’s there–you just have to ask for it. But the California waiter had no idea what I was talking about.

I always thought Italian Wedding Soup was an Italian tradition. Though, apparently, Italian Wedding Soup is a Western Pennsylvania tradition started by immigrants to the area. According to my quick research, Italian Wedding Soup is a mistranslation of a soup called “marriage soup,” which is actually Spanish.

Here is a quick version to make in the crock pot using kale instead of the traditional spinach. Italian Wedding Soup is usually made with really tiny meatballs and pasta. Unless you make the meatballs yourself, you might not be able to find them small enough, but you can always cut slightly thawed frozen Italian meatballs into quarters before putting in the crock pot.


1 small package frozen italian meatballs (15-20)
5 oz can low sodium chicken, rinsed and drained
32 oz chicken broth
2 cups kale, stems removed and chopped (can also use spinach)
1 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
1/4 cup-1/2 cup pastina pasta
parmesan reggiano for serving


1. Add meatballs, chicken, broth, spices, and onion to slow cooker and stir to combine. Cook on high for 3 hours.

2. Add pasta and kale (or spinach) to the pot, and cook for an additional hour on high. Serve
topped with parmesan reggiano if desired.

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Irish Bangers and Whiskey

These Irish sausages are a fun and simple option as an appetizer for your St. Patrick’s Day Party. I recommend using some Irish Whiskey, but whatever you have on hand will work great. Throw the ingredients together and walk away while they cook in the sweet whiskey sauce. Broil to make them crispy, transport in the Crock Pot, then serve them with toothpicks.

While I waited for the sausages to cook, I picked out my outfit for our couple’s St. Patrick’s Day Party. Unfortunately, I don’t have any fun t-shirts that say things like “Luck O’ the Irish,” or my personal favorite, “Patrick was a Saint, I ain’t.” But my family used to go all out for St. Patrick’s Day. We have a direct Irish heritage on my Dad’s side. Even my little brother’s name is Patrick. And Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is the place to be on St. Paddy’s Day.

I’ve had some serious adventures on St. Patrick’s Day in Pittsburgh. I went to a women’s private college called Carlow University–it was founded by Irish nuns. They have a sister university in Carlow, Ireland. I was on the dance team, and one year the student activities director asked if we would learn an Irish step dance routine and perform in the city parade. Of course we said yes, since it sounded like a fun opportunity.

Learning Irish step dancing was really fun, but the parade was a total misadventure. First, we almost missed it, because trying to get a bus to the parade route was impossible. Public buses of college students passed us by because they were so full. We were just standing on the side of the road, a group of young college girls in our green Carlow hoodies, all done up for a performance. Eventually, a party bus decked out in St. Patrick’s Day decorations and flashing lights saw us waiting and picked us up. Whoever was running the bus took us to the parade route with no charge, blasting crazy music the whole way there. That was pretty awesome.

Then the parade started and we danced our routine for a few miles in icy cold, slushy Pittsburgh weather, right in front of the truck transporting Punxsutawney Phil, the Groundhog. I remember my tennis shoes and socks being completely soaked through. My black pants were wet all the way up to my knees. We were cold and miserable, and to top it all off, the drunk college guys threw green beads at us yelling “Dance! Dance!” I vowed to never do that again, but it was one of those experiences you just can’t make up, filled with memories I’ll never forget.

I was able to save my shoes, but I haven’t been to a parade since. I hope you have a positive St. Patrick’s Day experience filled with green drinks and lots of luck. Enjoy this Irish Banger recipe along with my recipe for Roasted Potato Wedges. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!


2 lb. Irish Bangers (16 links), separated
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 cup whiskey
1/2 packed brown sugar, plus more to sprinkle on top


1. Sear the sausages in a skillet with vegetable oil over medium heat until browned on all sides (about 10 minutes).

2. Let sit for five-ten minutes to cool down for cutting.

3. Cut sausages into 1/2 inch slices, perfect bite size pieces for appetizers. Add sausages to the Crock Pot and turn on low setting.

4. Mix together 1/2 cup whiskey with 1/2 cup packed brown sugar until blended but not dissolved. Pour mixture over sausage pieces in the Crock Pot and stir to coat. Slow cook for three to four hours.

5. You can serve them like this, or, to make them crispy, broil them. Turn off Crock Pot. With a slotted spoon, place sausages in a broiling pan, sprinkle with brown sugar, and broil for three minutes. Pour the excess liquid from the Crock Pot into a measuring cup. Add 1/8 cup of the whiskey liquid back into the Crock Pot and discard the rest.

6. Once sausages are browned, add them back to the Crock Pot with the small amount of liquid to stay warm. Transport them to the party and turn the Crock Pot on low to keep warm for guests. Serve with toothpicks.

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