The Softest Buns On Earth

66This is a fabulous brioche dough recipe – great as buns for cheeseburgers or made small for sliders (hamburger,turkey, sloppy Joes, cold cuts, shredded pork and my favorite smoked brisket!) also I hit it with a stick of butter right when they come out of the oven (just like my Mom used to do back in the day) and sprinkle it with my favorite “fancy garlic salt” from The Spice House. I also serve this up with my Italian fare.

So, why this picture with this recipe? I have no idea- it just makes me laugh every time!


  • 1/3 cup water (105⁰-115⁰)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • ¾ cup butter, room temperature
  • 3 1/3 cups flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks (reserve whites)
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • Egg Wash:
  • 1 egg white
  • 2 Tablespoons water

1) Combine all your ingredients in your bread machine except egg wash . Run it on the dough cycle.
2) After dough cycle is complete, place dough on a lightly floured surface. Knead a few times and separate into 10-12 equal pieces (depending on what size you want your buns) Roll each into a ball and place on a parchment paper covered cookie sheet. Put in a warm place until the rolls double in size- approximately 1 hour.
3) Preheat oven to 350⁰. Whisk together the egg wash and brush across the top of each roll. Bake on the middle shelf until lightly golden 15-20 minutes. I often sprinkle the buns with garlic salt <3

Easter feast ideas


Easter greetings! I’m sure all of you are as anxious as I am for spring to hurry up and get here!  Easter is always a sure sign of great things to come. Whether you’re hosting an Easter get together or need to bring something to someones house here are a few ideas from my recipes that always satisfy.

My Hare today gone tomorrow snack mix is great individually packaged in Easter baskets or in a big bowl for everyone to snack on. This recipe is used ALL year long- I take advantage of all the seasonal M&M’s.


My “go to” sides for big get togethers are my Elegant Holiday Potatoes  and also my Strawberry Spinach Salad (my most requested recipe- EVER!)


Try this salad with shrimp for a great meal with a crusty baguette and white wine-  mmmm so good!

And my last suggestion is Mama Carp’s Butter Crunch Fluff


Whether you serve it in a beautiful bowl or the individual mini servings this dessert is light and just caps it all off!

Wishing you all a blessed Easter and happy spring from my family to yours!

Charleston, South Carolina – such sweet southern charm!

This week I had the opportunity to travel to Charleston, South Carolina. What a quaint and beautiful place to visit with all its nuance, history, and flavor. Having only four days I needed to take in as much as I possibly could and let me tell you, four days was truly not near enough time!

DSC_6114With a spring snowstorm just 2 days prior in Minnesota dropping 11 1/2 inches of snow on us -Craig and I were more than happy to leave on a short business trip. From the minute we were picked up at the airport we were greeted with such sweet people who couldn’t wait to tell us about the rich history in Charleston. Every trip something hilarious comes about and this trip was no exception. Lesson learned, make sure at least one of you knows the name of the hotel you checked into before dinner and drinks on a rainy night! Also, do not let your kids find out because this is one of those things that they for sure will never let you forget.

The first morning I was able to attend a cooking class at the “Charleston cooks maverick kitchen store” I was a happy girl!!! Smoked pork chops with Chutney, hoppin’ John & chess pie! Southern cooking taught by a very wonderful chef Donna and her sweet assistant Haley.

Afterwards we were off to the historic Charleston City Market. An incredible tourist destination where your surrounded by artisans, trolleys and horse drawn carriages- it made for a wonderful day of shopping.

The next day I was off on a historic city tour. Our guide was a one of a kind southern belle with a drawl so thick I could have listened to her forever! She actually made learning Charleston’s history so much fun! I wish that would have been the case back when I was in school….
Our first stop was at the Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon- standing on the steps that George Washing stood was pretty cool. The most amazing part to me was the ceilings in the dungeon. They told me that it was constructed by stacking sand bags, laying the brick on top then using the mortar to set- absolutely incredible. I can’t imagine what all took place in the dungeon- pirates, gun powder, tea, jail cells… oh my!


WE even found a photo of the original Mills House Wyndham Grand Hotel we were staying in. Gen. Robert E. Lee was a guest at the hotel in 1861 and watched the great fire of that year from the balcony until the proximity of the fire forced him to leave the hotel. The staff of the hotel saved it by hanging wet blankets out the windows, so that the building was blackened but not destroyed. Gen. Pierre G.T. Beauregard, the confederate commander, used the hotel as his headquarters until Mills invited him to use his own residence in Meeting Street. A later guest was Theodore Roosevelt. ln 1968 the old hotel was torn down and the present building was erected, in the same ltalianate style as the original. ln the reconstruction, the old ironwork was retained and the terra cotta was copied in fiberglass. The building is two stories higher.


Our next stop was at the Edmondston- Alston House. Unfortunately no cameras were allowed… this was a house in mourning. One of the sons had died 150 years ago -Lieutenant John Julius Pringle Alston. The guides more a black bow, the front of the house had fabric draped across and every mirror was covered in sheer black fabric- superstition dictated that the next person to see his reflection would die. On the first floor right next to the grand staircase was a holding area for the extra leaves for the formal dining room table. All entertaining was done on the second floor because of dust and smells from the then dirt road and animals that every home had (horses, chickens and cows) the table was carried up for parties and the extra leaves would extend the table to seat 24. I was able to take pictures up on the second level from the “piazza” it faced the famous Charleston harbor where at one time up to 300 ships would be waiting to come in for trade along with pirates like Blue Beard. Hard to believe that this house was originally built by a 17 year old immigrant – it took him 5 years.


Magnolia, wisteria, roses and other highly perfumed flowers were planted close to the houses to mask the oder as well. It was incredible to smell!
This area along the house was of interest to me- first it was beautiful, but where it led was interesting. A law was passed that all kitchens were to be in a separate building behind the house because of fire. Also, the carriage house was next to it where the animals stayed and the slaves slept above. This one was converted into a B&B.


Next we were off to Patriots Point to have lunch on the USS Yorktown (CV-10). It was so awesome to walk on a navel ship and see what it was like for my brother Ron many years ago.

Destoyer USS Laffey (DD-724) was next to the USS Yorktown.

After my tour Craig and I took a walk around Charleston. I wanted to capture some pictures of the unbelievable architecture.

And a couple things I learned today-
That is fancy door is on the front of the majority of the houses, its referred to as the “fake door “ it goes to the porch- only.


And that most of the buildings have bolts in them in an effort to hold them together and strengthen them after an earthquake and a hurricane.


And my favorite story of all! This massive house was owned by a prominent man back in the day-

DSC_6156 DSC_6157

and on the morning of his daughters wedding day he left a note on her pillow that her wedding gift was just down the street….


Yes, this was her wedding gift- and for her honeymoon, a year in Europe to purchase all of the furniture for it. Wow.

For dinner that evening, our final night, we were to go to the Boone Hall Plantation. Our tour guide earlier told us we were in for a treat and to look at the mortar used in the slave shacks (shells) I wasn’t sure what the evening was all about – I was excited and hopeful to photograph something amazing.
When the bus pulled up I was looking first and foremost for the slave shacks- and there they were along with a beautiful house. We immediately toured the house and thats when we were told it was where “The Notebook” was filmed! The grounds were incredible-

And then I hit the mother load! All week I was looking for a quilt shop with no luck…. and there it was in all its glory- I was on a cotton plantation! This is where my quilts all begin!!!!!



Craig and I walked through the slave shacks. Both of us had such heavy hearts. You couldn’t help but feel deeply, these were such beautiful people.

These steps affected me the most, to think of how it felt walking out for the 12 hour day.


Dinner was served, I love this shot!


Appetizers consisted of shucking your own oysters and picking crab meat along with some amazing dips and fried green tomatoes. This was really cool out on the patio behind the barn.

The sun was setting – is this where Noah and Allie went in the canoe?!



Dinner was served in the barn – shrimp and grits, pulled pork sandwiches, green beans with sugared pecans( my fav!) dry rubbed grilled chicken,corn bread and sweet tea. Dessert didn’t get photographed because I was distracted by key lime pie, chocolate mousse and miniature apricot pies. Trust me, good stuff!

We had such a wonderful time in Charleston! Such great people we met along the way, experiences that have made me a better person and memories caught forever to cherish <3


Mama Carp’s Lemon Drop Truffles


  • 12 ounces premier white chocolate chips
  • 2 ounces heavy cream
  • 1 ounce limoncello
  • 2 teaspoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • zest from 1/2 lemon
  • white chocolate for enrobing
  • sparkling sugar
  • crushed lemon drop candies

In a double boiler warm up cream, add chocolate stirring well.  Turn off heat and add in limoncello, lemon juice & zest. Stir together and cover with plastic wrap- refrigerate 2-3 hours. When firm enough to work with – use a small cookie scoop and form balls, roll with your hands to form a nice shape. Place on parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Return to the refrigerator to firm up. Melt the remaining chocolate in double boiler- using a fork enrobe each truffle and return to cookie sheet. If the chocolate seems to thick then add a little bit of shortening to loosen it up. Top with a sprinkling of sparkling sugar and crushed lemon drop garnish. Return to refrigerator to chill once more before packing them into gift boxes.


Mama Carps “Lemon Drop” Martini

DSC_0195Makes two AMAZING martini’s….

  • 1 Tablespoon regular or super fine sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon sparkling white sugar – opt. but gorgeous!
  • 1 good sized lemon
  • 1 1/2 Jiggers lemonade
  • 1 1/2 Jiggers simple syrup*
  • 1 1/2 Jiggers Limoncello
  • 3 Jiggers Absolut CitronVodka
  • Ice

Cut lemon in half then with each half cut a pretty slice for garnish- set aside.

Combine your sugars on a plate; using a remaining lemon half, coat your two rims of your martini glasses quickly coating the wet rim in the sugar evenly- set aside.

Using a citrus reamer, juice the remaining lemon halves into your martini shaker.

Add your lemonade, simple syrup, Limoncello & Citron vodka. Add ice, cover and shake really well.

Pour the amazing contents into your glasses and float your lemon slice on top.

* Combine 1 cup sugar with 1 cup water on stove until sugar has dissolved- store in fridge for 2 weeks


It’s a “Fish Bowl” kinda day….

I had to laugh to myself the other day, I was talking to my Daughter Chels and she mentioned that she was having a “fish bowl” kind of day. I thought it was pretty neat that something that I had discovered nearly 20 years ago found its way to my kids lives!


So there I was in the middle of my living room circa 1993. I was married with three kids 5, 4 & 2. I just remember it being midmorning in the middle of the week in early summer. I just stood there and looked straight ahead with a lot on my mind. I turned to do one of the things on my list that was plaguing me, I turned again with a different problem, then turned again when I realized I had just turned a circle. I couldn’t think, I was beyond stressed with who knows what. I just knew that obviously I wasn’t having a great day. I needed to fix this – quick. I needed to take care of me. I walked straight ahead to the entertainment center where an innocent goldfish in a not so clean bowl sat. The poor little goldfish was a lovely gift to my son for his 2nd birthday from his God- Mama Kris. Apparently that was the straw that broke this camels back. Without concern I grabbed that dirty fish bowl and walked with gusto (I might add) straight down the stairs, out the door, across the yard and dumped him in the pond. I then proceeded to the garbage can and chucked the bowl inside. Hearing it hit the bottom of the can gave me an incredible feeling of empowerment. For a second I did feel a bit horrible that my niece would hate me…. BUT this was something I had to do. I still couldn’t get over how much better I felt. I decided to continued with the next two things that were causing me problems. I headed them straight on and when those problems were accomplished I knew I was onto something big! I had not only conquered my top three problems and could breathe, but better than anything I had labeled something that had not been labeled in my busy young life. I had conquered something that seemed impossible and ever since I completely rely on this. When the kids discovered their little goldfish friend and his living quarters had gone MIA I was so busy feeling good from my morning that I hadn’t quite thought of how I was going to explain mommy’s self-discovery. I always was straight up with my little tribe of smiles- I told them the truth. Mr. Goldfish was now living in the pond in our yard and he was going to grow HUGE and swim free. Ty pondered the idea, Allie just looked at me, and Chels said what will happen to him in the winter… She may have gotten a dollar for that. Always a smart one.
My “Fish bowl” day is being shared to you now in hopes that when life finds you turning circles and not breathing well that you’ll boldly handle your top three things on your long list with ease. I swear the energy you will feel is AMAZING – I promise!

Breaking Through- Turning 50

IMG_4446Yep, thats me-

I have a real problem with people who get all funny about having a birthday. I’m not talking a milestone birthday, just a normal one. I even wrote a post on it. My best friend lost her son Matthew to brain cancer shortly after turning 16 and ever since I believe you should be really really happy and fortunate to get that opportunity to celebrate your life.

Milestone birthdays…. well I’ve hit a few so far, I think they are just really good practice for when the bigger ones arrive. So with me being an advocate on birthdays it was a slight twingy experience this past December 1st. I liked being in the forties- they were good to me and it was comfortable. Turning 50? Holy cow, that sent a few things through my head- like I’m old, where did time go?, my life was half over?!… am I  going to start falling apart? Wow, where was my little Matthew on my shoulder?!! Not as positive as I usually was- I needed to start getting a few uplifting thoughts together.  Starting with that I am a very fortunate person with my health …and if I lived on a deserted island and didn’t know it was my birthday it wouldn’t matter, right?! Well, I’m not on a deserted island to have that luxury! Everywhere you look its a reminder of the date and yes, I am a truly blessed person with my family and friends. I knew I did not want a party- not my thing. So my husband surprised me with a week vacation in sunny Sanibel, Florida… I have never traveled before the holidays so I was not exactly thrilled…(so much to do!) On top of it all the timeline was especially ridiculous- my well sprung a leak in my downstairs living room two days before Thanksgiving (three days before we left). I had dinner for 15 to be prepped and instead I was frantically moving a 15 foot entertainment center with everything in it and a load of guys and heavy equipment in and around the house trying to put a new well line in. With no water, no heat and a ton of scrambling- there wasn’t a lot of time to cook, dwell or pack. I said in the middle of all the chaos that this would be the very best Thanksgiving despite everything going on at the house. And you know what- with Craig’s help in getting me water when I needed it and taking care of the fixing of the well- all the food was ready to go, on time! It was for sure the very best Thanksgiving with my family- my Jameson Cidertini’s were such a hit we actually ran out! Everyone helped in the monstrous clean-up and we packed that night as fast as we could for our morning flight. Talk about insane! That is my life, Craig and I work incredibly well under pressure- God sure blessed me with this man <3

Allie traveled with us which was so much fun- that girl! Bloody Mary’s at the airport to kick off my big week. Chelsie & Ryan flew out the next day and my Ty was left back in Minnesota to study for his finals at the U of M to graduate December 17th…

In true Carpenter style we had stocked the Sanibel fridge with great food – we make fresh guacamole, salsa & margaritas together EVERYDAY. That Satuday night was the last night of my forties… I went to bed with so many emotions. Yes, I was lucky to have a birthday unless maybe something happened to me while I was sleeping … it is a 50/50 thing you know?! I was anxious, apprehensive, and yet…. slightly excited. I always find a way to find a creative solution -maybe I could shake up the 50’s… maybe it wouldn’t be so bad after all. Pre-conceived notions were playing with my head and it was time to sleep. In denial I knew that I wasn’t 50 at midnight , my Mom had me at 6:06 in the morning… AND we weren’t on Minnesota time, so after figuring all that in I knew that if I woke up at 7:15 that yes, I was officially 50. I was exhausted just from over thinking all of this! What was wrong with me?! Craig was absolutely no help… he’s 3 1/2 years older than me and just laughed. I woke up to a beautiful sunrise, I looked at the clock- it was 7:30. I made it through the night, I was going to be just fine. I had my family with me, and I knew I would get to talk to my Tyler later that day and life is good! My first surprise was Chelsie & Ryan with a gift from my sister Jo <3 She is just so crazy special to me! She hand made me 50 of her incredible cookies with my Niece Cassie and met up with Chels & Ryan at the airport to give them to me! Oh my GOSH! They were spectacular!1453277_767293971511_1338359231_n

I felt the need to call my Mom- I new she was going to have a hard time excepting the fact her baby of 5 was 50… I assured her that “we” were great- that she looked awesome for having her last one turn 50! We were all good – I absolutely love her!

We spent the day in Captiva- a place I love to go to when we’re in Sanabel. Allie brought a bottle of rum – like I said, love that girl!  We drank rum and walked the beach. I have never felt so special or so loved- From Facebook to private messages and my absolute favorite – my phone call from my Son <3 We had dinner on the beach and watched the sunset go down on what turned out to be one of the very best days ever. Maybe, just maybe the 50’s won’t be so bad. If I’m given the opportunity to be on this beautiful earth surrounded by all the greatest family and friends- who know’s 50 might take on a new meaning. As for me, I’m old enough to know that the secret to growing old is to never let your soul age and young enough to take on all the adventures I possibly can. So to all of you- CHEERS! (especially my class of ’82!) I hope my insight helps all of you heading this way – just surround yourself with the love of friends & family and know that you are one very special person who gets an extra special opportunity to celebrate your life.

Allie- thank you for the surprise picture you took of me above – I absolutely love it <3

A Wedding Shower for my Daughter with Love

Thrilled is a complete understatement for how I felt last summer! Chelsie and Ryan were getting married September 14th, 2013. With all the wonderful parties that go along with celebrating their love- we had one more shower to go….

The Date, Guest list & Invitations

The date was set, August 23rd, 2013. With my husband being number 10 of 11 kids I knew that this was going to be a big party. The guest list was set at 85. I was excited to hand make the invitations- they turned out exactly how I wanted!

The Theme- Colors, Food & Games

I wanted the theme of the shower to be a reflection on Chelsie & Ryan. A year prior Chelsie tried so hard to convince her Dad that the wedding would be perfect in the back yard with a big tent, cheeseburgers and all their favorite people- he said no. Well, I thought- wouldn’t she be happy if I surprised her with the shower in the back yard with a tent and cheeseburgers and all of people that love them?!! It would be perfect! Everything would be in a light hearted version of their wedding colors. Fresh flowers, with a farmers market appeal. Allie wanted to decorate with big tissue balls- she made them for weeks! We brought out my vintage red couch and covered it in one of my quilts to match along with Allie’s make-up chair. I knew one thing for sure – Ryan needed to be at the shower. I wanted everyone to really get to know him even better! Also, I felt it was important for the Dads to be apart of this big day as well- we all were just so excited for these two that no one wanted to miss a single minute! I wanted 3 games, 2 active and one easy -especially with a group this large!

A big welcome to Ryan’s Dad Mike!DSC_3723-001

The Lemon Bar

I wanted a beautiful area that would accommodate everyone from little girls to us big girls (and the guys too!) It would be my “lemon bar” It started on the left with Ice water, lemonade, tea, (perfect mixed for non- alcoholic Arnie Palmers)  Tyler had made up naughty Arnie Palmers in mason jars on ice in a galvanized bucket down below and last but not least my“lemon drop” martini’s. I asked my dear friend Jan to assist me with making them since she is the one who got me started with them in the first place! We dotted the table with flowers, cupcakes & a special cake that replicated the invitations that Allie & I had so much fun making (and eating…)


Everything was set except the good ole Minnesota weather…the hottest day of the ENTIRE summer, yep a whopping balmy 97 degrees with quite the winds coming off the lake. That lemon bar would be a saving grace!

The Cookies

My sister Jo’s famous incredibly artistic cookies made it perfect!!!  Jo being Chelsie’s God- Mama she made them with extra love!

The Party!

The guests were arriving, the food was was being prepared & I put Ryan in charge of game #1 ….How heavy is your purse? Easy game- As Guests arrive you weigh their purse- you write down the guests name and how much their purse weighs- heaviest purse wins! This helped Ryan to put names with faces and everyone got a little one on one time with him right off the bat <3

My Mom and Ryan’s Step-Mom Robin were busy in the kitchen. Robin and I graduated together from High school- how crazy is that ?!!! Such a small world!!!! Allie was finishing up the cupcakes with her Auntie Jo…

It was such a lovely treat for Miss Marge to join us! Craig just loves wheeling his Mama around- she relaxed in the “sweet seat” section where there was no shortage of hugs and visiting!

Tyler was on the grill and I’m pretty sure I owe him for a pretty long time! I can’t imagine just how hot it was – but those cheeseburgers were by far the best ones he’s made! Thank you Ty!!!

It was time to eat… fresh chilled fruit, Auntie Colleen’s incredible potato salad & Uncle Kens Famous coleslaw, BBQ beans, chips & pickles-  a perfect cheeseburger affair. Thank you Colleen & Ken!

Chelsie & Ryan opened a ton of incredible gifts while everyone was eating- it was perfect !

A couple of hot babes…my M&M girls, Muriel and Marge


And the boys Club- Craig, Mike & Tyler


We played a “ was it Chelsie or was it Ryan” game – after everyone was done filling out the questionnaire they held up either lips for Chelsie or a ‘stache for Ry… Also the person with the lips on the bottom of their chair won the third prize- easy peasy!


A very special thank you also to my sister Jackie <3 for driving non-stop to get to the shower from another event… your gift was so sweet and really was the perfect ending to the day!


Craig and Auntie Carmel- WE LOVE YOU <3


A HUGE thank you to my niece Cassie for taking all of these wonderful pictures!! I appreciate it so very very much!!  Just think Cass, this summer we get to do this all again for YOU!!!

DSC_3826Bridesmaid Cassie, Chels & MOH Allie

Chels & Ryan were so overwhelmed by the love of all of our family & friendsthat could make it – a huge thank you !

I will be posting the recipe for my “Lemon Drop” martini’s in 2 days <3

Unadulterated Banana Bread

For my Husband Craig (who named this) who wanted pure banana bread with walnuts- nothing else.

(Of course then theres my version found at the end of this recipe)


*Recipe revised 3/15/14

Heat oven to 325 degrees

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup butter- unsalted, room temp
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon good vanilla
  • 3 ripe bananas (1 cup mashed)
  • 1/2 cup sour cream- I used light
  • 1 cup walnuts

In a small bowl- add all dry ingredients- whisk to combine, set aside

In another small bowl; smash bananas and measure yourself 1 cup. throw away the excess and return the 1 cup of banana to the bowl along with the sour cream & vanilla- stir to combine, set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer; cream butter- add sugar scraping down the sides as needed. Add the eggs , one at a time beating well after each egg. With mixer on low, add 1/3 of dry ingredients, 1/2 of the banana mixture, 1/3 of the dry, last of the banana then the rest of the dry- do not over mix! With a spoon stir in the walnuts. Spray your pans with Pam and place them on a cookie sheet for easier handling. Fill your pan (s) and bake 40-45 for small and 50 – 55 on large.

Makes 1 large loaf or 4 small

* Teri’s version is better…. I load up two of my small loaf pans with “his” version, then toss in a good 1/4 cup of mini chocolate chips in the batter for the other two- soooooo good! Also try sprinkling sparkling sugar over the batter before you bake!

Mistral- The talents of three artists in one finished masterpiece


I am beyond proud to share with you my finished Mistral quilt. It started with an artist by the name of Toni Whitney- her talents are so amazing! She took an original painting of hers and transformed it into another piece of art with batik fabrics. She offered this as a wall hanging kit that completely intrigued me. I took her kit and transformed it into an original quilt top. The quilt top traveled next to the very talented Norma Riehm in Hayward, Wisconsin. There the quilt top was intricately designed and machine quilted. When Norma finished she posted these pictures to me on Facebook. Not expecting to see my Mistral done it took my breath away- tears and all. I was so proud. It was something else seeing her artistic input towards the finished quilt. What Norma came up with completely thrilled me – her work is impeccable! I couldn’t wait to see it in person.

When the box came I set it on the table- it sat unopened for a good 10 minutes….DSC_5982Taking this one out was something else for me-  this quilt was done in all its majesty.


A very special thank you to you Toni and Norma- what talented women you both are!

Here is my link to the making of Mistral-