Metro-East Living

Fruitcake is in your future, plus 2 spicy stovetop, slow cooker meals

A sample of Rosalie’s Fruitcakes, made by her daughter Martha Brockus and sold now through the holiday season.
A sample of Rosalie’s Fruitcakes, made by her daughter Martha Brockus and sold now through the holiday season.

It’s October and while you may not be thinking of holiday food gifts quite this soon, Martha Brockus, of Edwardsville, certainly is.

I’m sure by now her kitchen in rural Edwardsville is filled with the ingredients for fruitcake. That’s Martha’s specialty, a talent — and a recipe — she inherited from her mother, Rosalie Kovarik, who for decades sold fruitcake around the globe.

After her mother passed away, Martha started in 2014 making Rosalie’s Fruitcakes. She made 400 to 500 pounds that first year. In 2015, she hit 775 pounds. She’s now taking orders for the Christmas season and prices remain the same since she began. Call her at 618-531-0040 or email Here’s what she has to offer:

Dozen miniatures: $12 (or $1 each, in whatever number of cakes you need packaged)

Maxi-mini: $2 each; an in-between mini and cakelette size that’s new this year.

Cakelette: A 5-ounce cube, $3. It’s the perfect size for a gift basket enhancement.

Loaves: 1 1/2-pound, $14; 2-pound, $18.50; 3-pound, $28.

Round cakes: 4-pound, $35; 5-pound, $45.

Martha works from home, so she will mail cakes, with customers paying postage (but no handling fees). She also will make some deliveries, if she gathers enough orders to make more than one stop on an outing.

You also can pick up fruitcakes at:

Deb's Barber and Salon in Bethalto (431 S. Prairie St., 618-377-8638), Monday through Saturday, but please call first.

Martha’s home in Edwardsville, but she has a busy schedule, so please call first to make sure she can be there.

In case you want to make Rosalie’s fruitcake yourself, check out the recipe here.

Enough of the sweet talk

Let’s make something a little bit spicy for dinner. Try Chipotle Shredded Beef for the slow cooker or get out the soup pot or Dutch oven and make Spicy Italian Sausage and Vegetable Soup.

Contact me at, 618-239-2664 and follow me on Twitter @BoyleSuzanne. Write to 120 S. Illinois St., P.O. Box 427, Belleville, IL 62222-0427.

Spicy Italian Sausage and Vegetable Soup

1 pound spicy bulk Italian sausage

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 large yellow onion, chopped (about 2 cups)

2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped (about 1 cup)

2 celery stalks, chopped (about 1 cup)

1 cup cut (1-inch) green beans

1 medium zucchini, chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves

1 can (14.5 ounces) fire roasted diced tomatoes, undrained

6 cups (48 ounces) chicken stock

1 can (15 ounces) cannellini white kidney beans, drained, rinsed

1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves

1 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese

Heat 5-quart Dutch oven over medium-high heat; add sausage. Cook 5 to 6 minutes, stirring to break up pieces, until no longer pink. Drain, and reserve.

Add oil to Dutch oven; heat over medium heat. Add onion, carrots, celery and green beans. Cook 4 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are just crisp-tender.

Stir in zucchini, garlic and thyme; cook about 1 minute or until garlic is fragrant.

Stir in tomatoes, stock, cannellini beans and sausage; heat to simmering. Cover; reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer 18 to 20 minutes or until vegetables are tender but not soft.

Stir in basil; serve with Parmesan cheese.

Makes 8 servings, each with 349 calories, 24 grams fat, 55 mg cholesterol, 953 mg sodium, 14 grams carbohydrates, 2.5 grams fiber, 6 grams sugar, 19 grams protein. Exchanges: 1 other carbohydrate; 1 vegetable; 1 very lean meat; 2 high-fat meat; 1/2 fat. Carbohydrate choice: 1.

Chipotle Shredded Beef

This beef is delicious all rolled up in a tortilla, served with corn salsa and eaten as a burrito. Or, make a “naked” burrito bowl and start with rice, beef and toppings to eat with a fork.

1 teaspoon canola oil

1 small onion, chopped

1 can (28 ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained

1/4 cup cider vinegar

1/4 cup chopped chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, plus 2 teaspoons sauce

6 garlic cloves, minced

2 tablespoons brown sugar

2 bay leaves

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 boneless beef chuck roast (2 1/2 pounds)

5 cups cooked brown rice

Shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese and reduced-fat sour cream, optional

In a large skillet coated with cooking spray, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion; cook and stir 2-3 minutes or until tender. Stir in tomatoes, vinegar, peppers with sauce, garlic, brown sugar, bay leaves and spices. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, 4-6 minutes, or until thickened.

Place roast in a 5-quart slow cooker; add tomato mixture. Cook, covered, on low 8-10 hours, or until meat is tender.

Discard bay leaves. Remove roast; cool slightly. Skim fat from cooking juices. Shred beef with two forks. Return beef and cooking juices to slow cooker; heat through. Serve with rice. If desired, top with cheese and sour cream.

Freeze option: Freeze cooled meat mixture and juices in freezer containers. To use, partially thaw in refrigerator overnight. Heat through in a saucepan, stirring occasionally and adding a little water if necessary.

Yield: 10 servings, each 2/3 cup beef mixture with 1/2 cup cooked rice (calculated without optional ingredients) has 345 calories, 13 grams fat, 74 mg cholesterol, 194 mg sodium, 31 grams carbohydrates, 6 grams sugars, 3 grams fiber, 26 grams protein. Diabetic exchanges: 3 lean meat, 2 starch.

Healthy Cooking April/May 2010