Pumpkin Soup with a Very Fine Pasta

The New Complete Book of Pasta by Maria Luisa Scott & Jack Denton Scott

Autumn is soup season.  I could eat if for breakfast, lunch and dinner at this time of year.  So when a friend told me I had to try this recipe, I was eager to oblige.  

However, when she told me the ingredients, and that it came from an Italian cookbook, I was skeptical.  Chicken, pureed pumpkin, cream, spinach, pasta……it didn’t sound very Italian to me, nor had I ever heard of an Italian soup like this.  But this is my friend who never disappoints when she tells me a recipe is good……not in over 35 years.  I asked for the recipe, and a picture of the cookbook that it came from, as I was curious. 

I was surprised to see that the recipe is called “Zuppa di Zucca e Pasta Fine Fine alla Modena.”   Wow!  It certainly seemed authentic.    Also, it was from The New Complete Book of Pasta.     While I still questioned the “Italian-ness” of this recipe, I remembered this cookbook from her kitchen back in the late 1980s.  While our sons would play ball for hours in her backyard, she and I would sit in her kitchen with a cup of tea talking, laughing, and dancing to Phil Collins, Pet Shop Boys, Duran Duran and of course Bruce Springsteen.  Conversation usually made its way around to food.  What we were making for dinner usually came up before the afternoon ended.  Coming from an English background, I was intrigued by her recipes for Shepherd’s Pie, English Trifle, Bubble and Squeek and many more.  

She had many cookbooks, but this particular one always caught my attention.  I didn’t own many Italian cookbooks at this point in my life.  My Italian recipes were mostly handed down from family.  I was amazed at the hundreds of ways to make pasta.  I remember leafing through this book, my mouth watering.  I also had a bit of mistrust.  Could my non-Italian friend really know Italian food?  Were these recipes authentic?  Over the years, this book (and my friend) have proved me dead wrong.  Every recipe she ever gave to me from here was a winner, even if it was something unusual to me.  She also is one of the best Italian cooks I know.  I like to think that it was my influence, but I’m sure this cookbook has something to do with it.  

So I took a chance and gave it a try.  She’s right again!  This recipe is indeed wonderful.  

If you have leftover turkey this Thanksgiving, I suggest you use it here instead of the chicken.  

Buon Appetito! 

RECIPE: serves 6

5 Tablespoons butter

1 medium-size onion, coarsely chopped

1 garlic clove, chopped ( I used 2 and minced)

1 celery stalk, scraped ( I did not) and coarsely chopped

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper

1 bay leaf

4 cups chicken broth

2 cups cubed ( 1/2 inch) fresh pumpkin ( I used canned pureed)

1/2 cup milk and 1/2 cup heavy cream or substitute 1 cup half and half ( I’m sure you can use coconut milk and cream, but will definitely alter the taste…..but not in a bad way)

2 cups cubed chicken (she used rotisserie chicken….I boiled some boneless thighs)

1/2 tsp (or to taste) ground nutmeg…grate your own if possible

1 cup broken-up very fine pasta, such as capellini or Angel hair

1/2 cup finely chopped fresh spinach ( we both doubled this)

In a large pot, over medium heat, melt 3 tablespoons of butter. Add the onion, garlic and celery and cook 2 minutes. Do not brown. Add the salt, pepper, bay leaf, broth, pumpkin and cook, partially covered, about 25 minutes, or until the pumpkin can be mashed ( if using fresh pumpkin). Discard the bay leaf. Puree the soup with an immersion blender. (If putting this in a regular blender, cool first).

Stir in the milk and cream, chicken and nutmeg. cook for 2 minutes. Add the pasta and cook for 1 minute or until the pasta is just al dente. Taste for seasoning. Stir in the spinach and remaining butter and serve.

Leek and Potato Soup

Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking

After posting a recipe from Stanley Tucci’s cookbook, my mind naturally went to Julia Child, where he played her husband in the 2009 film, “Julie and Julia.”  I love this movie for the cast, humor and plot.  Afterall, Julie is a blogger, who takes on the task of cooking Julia Child’s 524 recipes from “Mastering The Art of French Cooking” in 365 days.  

The movie, of course motivated me to buy the double volume set of this critically acclaimed cookbook.  I remember how enthusiastic I was to try some of these French classic dishes.  I had no intention of trying them all, as did Julie Powell, but I was eager to try to elevate my cooking skills.  I couldn’t stop staring at the beauty of the cookbook set.  It was placed in a prominent  place of honor on my bookshelf.  And there it sat for years.  I would occasionally open it; leaf through the hundreds of very complicated recipes; start to hyperventilate; and then close the book quickly and replace it on the shelf.  I’ve done this for 11 years!  Until now! 

But let me be honest.  I’ve been staring at this book for over 2 weeks and still had a very hard time deciding on a recipe.  Most of them still intimidate me.  It’s really not your average cookbook.  It is more of a textbook, teaching you about techniques, equipment, cuts of meat, and so much more.  It could have been called, ”Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About French Cooking, But Were Afraid to Ask.”     However, if you look long and hard enough, there are some simple recipes to be found.  Not every recipe is complex.  

So I decided on what Julia considers to be the most basic soup, Potage Parmentier (scary, right?), or also known as Leek and Potato Soup.  I chose this because not only is it simple, but she has so many variations of this soup, that once you master this basic recipe, you’ll have several other soup recipes to rely on and impress.

Now let me continue with my honesty and admit to you that several years ago I purchased the cookbook, “Julia’s Kitchen Wisdom.”  This was the title of her PBS special by the same name.  I would say this cookbook is a mini-version  (cheat version, actually) of her masterpiece mentioned above.  She makes sure you realize that this contains a less complex version of several of her recipes.  It still offers a great deal of culinary education, but some simpler techniques are used.  However, I proudly stuck to the original recipe in Volume 1 of Mastering the Art of French Cooking.  I didn’t even take a peek.  Honestly!

The soup was delicious, and I can see that by adding other vegetables, such as carrots or squash, you would have a very different tasting soup.  The addition of watercress as a garnish added a lovely, light crunch.  In its simplicity it is very elegant tasting.  Perhaps that’s because it came from this very elegant cookbook set.  

RECIPE: serves 6 to 8 people

1 lb peeled potatoes (3 to 4 cups), sliced or diced

1 lb thinly sliced leeks, including tender green ( 3 cups)

2 quarts water

1 TBSP salt

4 to 6 TB shipping cream or 2 to 3 TBSP softened butter

2 to 3 TBSP minced chives or parsley

I added watercress

  1. Simmer the vegetables, water and salt together, partially covered, for 40 to 50 minutes, until vegetables are tender.
  2. Mash the vegetables in the soup with a fork or pass the soup through a food mill.
  3. Correct seasoning. Set aside until serving, then reheat to simmer.
  4. Off heat and just before serving, stir in the cream or butter by spoonfuls.
  5. Pour into a tureen or soup cups and decorate with herbs or watercress.

** Julia says that if you chill this soup, you have Vichyssoise. Very fancy!

** Silvia says to use an immersion blender to puree the soup, and so does Julia in the small “cheat book.” Next time I will do this for sure!!

Pasta with Mushrooms from “The Tucci Table”

Try as I might to refrain, I’m often tempted to purchase a new cookbook (or two) if I find myself intrigued by an author, or concept, or just about anything that will push me into the “I’ve got to have it” mode.  This time it was Stanley Tucci’s travel/culinary series on CNN, entitled “Searching for Italy,”  that persuaded me that I had to have a cookbook by Stanley Tucci!

 This show came at a much needed time last winter, when I was bored staying home  due to the pandemic and spent most of my time dreaming of the day when we’d be able to travel again to our much beloved Italy.  For one hour a week, Stanley Tucci transported us to Italy in all its beauty.   We could just about taste and smell the foods right through the TV.  The episode on the Amalfi Coast  actually brought tears to our eyes.   We’d eaten in most of the restaurants he visited during our many trips to this area of Italy.  And of course, the foods from this region are what I grew up eating.  Talk about lifting your spirits!  We’d record each episode and play it several times during the week, whenever we needed a pick me up.   Stanley Tucci saved me!!

I’m hoping he comes back for a second season, but in the meantime, I thought I’d enjoy perusing his cookbooks and finding some delicious new recipes.  I felt that I owed him something, after he brought me so much joy.   “The Tucci Cookbook” and “The Tucci Table”  are not new cookbooks.  They’ve been around for almost a decade.  I didn’t realize that he was such a cook.  I just thought he was an awesome actor.  There are wonderful recipes in both books.  I plan to make his famous “timpano,” from his movie “Big Night.”  This has so many steps and ingredients that it will have to wait until winter, as I’ll need at least two days to complete that feat! 

My recipe of choice for this post ……and it was a good one,  came from “The Tucci Table.”  It’s Pasta with Mushrooms, and it’s absolutely delicious.  It so earthy and full of flavor and texture.  This sauce would also be delicious on top of polenta. 

If you’re a Stanley Tucci fan, I think you’d enjoy his cookbooks, as cookbooks always give you some interesting insight into the author, their families, their lives.  If you’re a mushroom fan, this recipe is for you! 

Just as an aside, Stanley Tucci has a new book out entitled, “Taste: My Life Through Food.” I’ve read a few excerpts from this book, and I’m especially moved by learning that he had a malignant tumor at the base of his tongue several years ago and had severe radiation treatment that left him with ulcers in his mouth and no taste.  He says in this book that his greatest fear was losing his taste…..not death!  This started me thinking about how important taste is to me and perhaps I should think about it with more gratitude.  

And by the way, I have pre-ordered this book.  A memoir with recipes is my kind of heaven!!!  

Recipe: serves 4 to 6

1/2 cup dried porcini mushrooms soaked in 1 cup warm water

4 TBSP olive oil

2 TBSp Butter

1 large onion fine chopped

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 shallot, finely chopped

2 1/2 to 3 pounds brown mushrooms such a Baby Bella or Cremini…or any mixture

1 bouquets garni ( 1 sprig each of rosemary, sage and thyme)

3/4 cup dry white wine

1 cup chicken or veal stock

Freshly ground back pepper

1 1/2 cups grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

1 pound dried pappardelle

1 TBSP chopped Italian parsley

  1. First soak the dried porcini in 1 cup of warm water for about 30 minutes. Then lift from the soaking water and squeeze out as much of the water as you can, saving all the liquid. Pour the soaking-liquid through a coffee filter into a bowl to remove any sediment. Finely chopped the porcini and set aside.
  2. In a large saute pan, he 3 TBSP of the olive oil and 1 TBSP of butter over low heat. Add the onion, garlic and shallots and cook until softened but not brown. Raise the heat to medium. Add another TBSP of olive oil, all of the brown mushrooms, the chopped dried porcini and the bouquet garni. Cover and saute until the mushrooms have softened a bit, about 5 minutes. Add the white wine and let it cook for about 1 minute. Add the reserved porcini liquid, the chicken stock and a good pinch of black pepper. Lower the heat to medium-low and cook until the mushrooms are nice and soft, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove the bouquet garni and gently stir in the remaining TBSP of butter. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Bring 6 quarts of well-salted water to a boil. Cook the pappardelle until al dent.
  4. Drain the pasta and toss it in the pan with the mushrooms. (You may have to divide the sauce and the pasta into two batches to do this). I didn’t. Turn off the heat, add one cup of the Parmigiano, and toss it through the pasta. to serve, transfer the pasta to a platter and top with the remaining Parmigiano and the parsley.

My First Cookbook…….(Hamburger Stroganoff)

In my last post we looked at my mother’s first cookbook, from 1959, and now we’ll jump forward to 1973 and look at some of the recipes that were popular then.  While I don’t plan on addressing my cookbooks chronologically in this journey back through my kitchen memories, the next cookbook I’ll share is my first cookbook  .…..if you don’t count the booklet that came with my “Easy Bake Kitchen” in the 1950s .   It is also from Betty Crocker, and entitled “ Betty Crocker’s Dinner For Two Cookbook.”   

This cookbook was first published in 1964, and by the early 70’s, it was close to being irrelevant.   We women of the 70s were not setting a candlelit dinner for our husbands, unless perhaps for a special occasion.  Not only are some of the recipes outdated, but also it’s approach to wives in the kitchen wouldn’t stand up now for most.  For me “Dinner for Two” meant quick weeknight meals, thrown together after work, and often watched in front of TV.   Even Betty’s section entitled “Hurry-Up Dinners”  still makes me laugh, right down to the homemade dessert.  When I received this cookbook at my bridal shower in 1973, I do remember feeling hopeful that I’d cook like this for my husband every night, but once reality set in, I realized this was a cookbook that I’d use for entertaining only.  

And use it I did!  Looking at the pictures now, fond memories come back.  I can remember what dish I made for which friends or family members.   Some recipes were a hit, and others not so much.  However, there was one that was a success every time.  Hamburger Stroganoff.  Yes, it was always met with rave reviews.  Actually, this recipe was very popular back then.   As you can see from the picture in the cookbook, it was often served in a sterling silver chafing dish on a buffet table.  I’m going to admit that once upon a time I too, owned ( and used) sterling silver chafing dishes.  This was a popular shower and/or wedding gift at this time.  The silver presentation certainly raised the bar for a glorified “Hamburger Helper” meal.  

(Just as an aside….Hamburger Helper, the boxed success from General Mills, didn’t come around until 1971). 

I hadn’t made this dish in at least 30 years, but I remember loving it.  The taste of it is still fresh in my mind.  I couldn’t wait to see how I would feel about something like this now.  I am happy to say, that it did not disappoint.  Surprise!  I loved it, and my “taste testers” finished every last morsel.  It definitely needs the buttered, sesame noodles, but the sterling silver chafing dish is not necessary.  The aroma brought me back to my first tiny kitchen in Philadelphia, and the many friends I loved and entertained there.  This cookbook and Hamburger Stroganoff made me very happy.  

Hamburger Stroganoff 4 servings

1/2 cup minced onion 1 lb. fresh mushrooms, sliced

1 clove garlic, minced 1 can (10 &1/2 ounce) cream of chicken soup ( I used cream of mushroom).

1/4 cup butter 1 cup sour cream

1 lb. ground beef chopped parsley

2 TBSP flour

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

  1. Saute onion and garlic in butter over medium heat.
  2. Stir in the meat and brown.
  3. Stir in the flour, salt, pepper and mushrooms.
  4. Cook 5 minutes and then stir in the soup
  5. Simmer uncovered 10 minutes.
  6. Stir in Sour Cream and heat through.
  7. Garnish with parsley

My Cookbook Memories

I’ve taken a break from blogging, but I have missed it.  I got caught up in the lethargy of the pandemic, and like many others I’ve spoken to about this, I just wasn’t interested in the things that usually I loved to do.  “Languishing” is the word I’ve heard many use to describe how they’ve been feeling throughout this life-changing situation.  It’s been hard to muster up enthusiasm, when the world is suffering. 

That’s all I’m going to say about that, as it’s best to concentrate on moving forward and enjoying life as best we can, without the “doom and gloom” scenario.  There’s plenty to be grateful for, and that’s what I I need in my life right now.  

Tops on my “gratitude list” is always family and friends.  This is my joy.  Hand and hand with this “joy” is the “joy of cooking,” at least for me.  There’s nothing I love more than to cook or bake for those I love.  I missed this during the days of lockdown.  My focus was on searching for food, ordering food, storing food…..there was no pleasure in it for me.  But lately I have felt the resurgence of the need to wallow through my many cookbooks and enjoy the happiness that a delicious meal can bring to those I love.  Once again, I’m eager to share these recipes with you.  There is a new charge of excitement in my soul.  I’m back!!!

Where do I start?  What should I make?  What should I share?  

As I sit in my kitchen and look at the hundreds of cookbooks I’ve collected (and loved) over the many decades of my life, I’m filled with pleasure and passion.  I’ve read each one like a novel, tearing through the pages to see what the next page holds.  The pages of many are stained and falling apart after many years of excessive use.  Even if I’ve made the dish 100 times, I always need to at least glance at the recipe one more time to assure myself that I haven’t left out any ingredient.

These cookbooks are like family and friendships to me.  They’ve been such a part of my life.  I turn to them over and over for help, information and comfort.   Like those I love, they are always there for me, ready to help….ready to bring happiness and satisfaction into my life.  Now it’s time for me to reciprocate and give them the attention they deserve.  

So I’ve set up a little challenge for myself.  I want to give each cookbook a showcase.  Every single cookbook, old or new, holds a memory for me.  When did I get it?  Who gave it to me?  Did I meet the author?  Did I buy it in some far away land?  At a famous restaurant?  Every book has a story.  Putting these stories together will certainly tell the story of my life, especially my life in the kitchen. 

 I hope you will enjoy this journey with me.  At the very least, you’ll come away with some fabulous recipes. 

Mom’s Betty Crocker Cookbook 1959

Probably  the first cookbook I ever laid eyes on was my mother’s “Betty Crocker’s Picture Cookbook.”  My mom wrote  her name in the book  along with “Christmas 1959.”  That would make me 8 years old.  Perhaps it was a gift.  Or perhaps she bought it for herself.  I imagine it was her first cookbook.  Most of her recipes were handed down from her mother, mother-in-law and sisters.  Most were committed to memory, but many were written on scraps of paper, as you have seen in previous posts.   Those are my most treasured, as I love looking at her handwriting and at the name of the person who gave her the recipe.  She always had their name in clear view, just in case she needed to make an emergency call with a question regarding the recipe.  

I can remember her using this cookbook, but only for the sweets….pies, cakes, puddings, etc.  Everything else is not something she would have served her family.  The stained pages indicate which recipes she did try.  She was a pie lover, and I can see the wear and tear on those pages.  Blueberry pie, apple, apple crumb, banana cream, lemon meringue…..and a large stretch for her was her much loved rhubarb pie.  (Italians didn’t know from rhubarb in the 1950s!).  

Leafing through this book has been a gift to my senses.  I can actually smell the pies baking in the oven and then placed to cool on our red Formica-topped kitchen table.  The aroma throughout the house made my stomach growl in anticipation.   Would this be an after school snack or would I have to wait for dinner for this scrumptious dessert?

Now that I’ve reconnected with this cookbook, I’ve decided to bake some pies.   I started with peach, as I have an abundance of peaches at this time of year.  It’s just delicious, and that is the recipe I’ll share……but I can assure you there will be more pies to come.  I may even try my hand at rhubarb pie!  If mom could do it, so can I!

Pesto Sauce all Trapanese

“How much pesto can you eat?”  is a question I always ask myself around this time of year.  By the time it’s nearing the end of August, I’ve had pasta with pesto sauce one too many times.  It’s time to freeze it, so I can enjoy it again during the winter months to perk my spirits.    Then I look at my garden, and see so much basil begging to be picked, that I start to feel a little guilty.  Recently, I was pinching away at the basil plants, and a recipe came to mind that wasn’t green.  I remembered seeing one of the TV chef personalities make a red pesto, using tomatoes and almonds.  I excitedly turned to my extensive cookbook collection in search of this pesto sauce that I’d never heard of before.  It had a strange name that was on the tip of my tongue, but who can remember much of anything these days!  Then, as if often does, it came to me! 

“Pesto alla Trapanese!” I found at least 5 recipes before I decided to stop looking and combine what I had found into my own recipe.  This is what I often do with pesto sauce just to keep it interesting and somewhat different each time.

I will share with you how I made this sauce, but feel free to change things. As I often say, you can’t go wrong with these ingredients.


1 pound of spaghetti ( or any pasta hope you desire)

2 pints ripe tomatoes ( cherry or vine or Roma)

3 cups basil

1/2 to 2/3 cup olive oil

2 cloves garlic

1/3 cups almonds

1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese, plus more for serving.

salt to taste

  1. Preheat oven to 500 degrees.
  2. Toss the tomatoes with a little olive oil and salt.
  3. Bake in oven for 10 to 15 minutes, depending on what type of tomatoes you use. Let cool
  4. Meanwhile grind almonds and garlic in food processor.
  5. Add basil and grated cheese and pulse to a coarse paste.
  6. Add the cooled tomatoes and pulse until combined.
  7. While food processor is running, slowly add the olive oil.
  8. Cook pasta in salted boiling water until al dente, saving a cup of the pasta water.
  9. Toss pasta with the pesto sauce and grated cheese in a large serving bowl, using a little of the pasta water if it seems too dry.

Dandelion Frittata (Omelet)

dandelion omelet plated**

It seems that I make one major mistake every food delivery.  I either misjudge the quantity and get enough shredded cheddar cheese to top a couple of hundred tacos or I have enough limes to keep me in margaritas for the entire summer.  Unfortunately, this means I have to use it up before it goes bad in as many creative ways as possible.  My past post on sweet potatoes being a case in point.

A recent order from Baldors.com contained local, peak season dandelions.  Nothing could have made me happier.  If you go into the archives you will find 2 recipes for dandelions that I have loved since I was a child.   During the summer months, dandelions were often cooking in my mother’s kitchen, and this became a summertime ritual for me as well.  I was excited for them to arrive  it doesn’t take much these days), and was shocked to see a crate of dandelions delivered to my back door.  I was happy, but also overwhelmed.   It truly was enough for the next few months, but I knew they’d go bad relatively quickly.

And so it began……the endless washing and trimming and chopping and cooking and draining and bagging and delivering to anyone who would take them.  Then the creative juices had to flow a bit as how many sautéed dandelions could we eat?  I made dandelion pesto and pasta e fagioli with dandelions.  Vegetable soup loaded with dandelion greens was just delicious, as was the dandelion omelet I made for breakfast.  The possibilities were endless, but I was running out of steam.   Very few were wasted, however.  I now have a freezer full of dandelion pesto (use 2/3 dandelion leaves and 1/3 basil…even can add mint…check archives for pesto recipe).   This will sustain my love for dandelions all during the winter months.

But I think I most enjoyed it simply boiled, sautéed with garlic and oil and some freshly grated parmesan cheese.  Especially because I then make an omelet with the leftovers the next day.  There is not a better way to start the day!

I hope you’ll give these nutrient packed bitter greens a chance.  As I mentioned, please check the archives as well.

RECIPE:  serves 2 to 3

5 or 6  eggs

2 cups of  dandelions, sautéed in garlic and oil ( you can find the full recipe in the archives)

1/4 cup grated parmigiana reggiano cheese

2 TBSP olive oil for the pan

salt and pepper to taste

  1.  Beat the eggs with a whisk or fork.  Add salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Add the grated cheese to the beaten eggs.
  3. Warm the sautéed dandelions in a sauce pan.
  4. Add the egg mixture and cook over medium low heat until the side start to pull away and the bottom hardens.
  5. I then put the pan under the broiler until firm on top, but you can also flip it over and cook until slightly firm all the way through.dandelion crate 1dandelion cratedandelions pre-cutdandelions dryingdandelion omelet ready to godandelion pan cookeddandelion omelet plated**



Mocha Madness Ice Cream


I love reading the “At Home” section of the Sunday New York Times each week.  Their recommendations for ways to navigate life during this time of COVID are great.  There are lots of good ideas for keeping yourself and your family happy and busy this summer.

My favorite pastime of late is making homemade ice cream.  I started this culinary hobby last summer when a friend of mine sent me the recipe for “Mocha Madness Ice Cream.”  I didn’t have an ice cream maker at the time, but took one look at the ingredients and immediately went online and purchased a machine.  There are so many machines to choose from at all different price points.  Not knowing the difference, I just picked the one that would look the nicest on my counter.  I knew that if I didn’t leave the machine out on the counter, it would quickly enter the “kitchen apparatus graveyard” ( the boiler room), and rarely be used.

That being said, last summer I only made home-made ice cream a couple of times.  I always made this mocha Oreo flavor and it was loved by all.  I started to think that perhaps I should “retire” the machine and gain back the counter space.  This summer, however, I seem to be making it every week.  Okay, maybe twice a week.  It’s so easy….so delicious…..and such a delightful treat to pick you up out of the dull drums.    It puts a smile on everyone’s face.  I keep telling myself that “we need this special treat.”   And indeed we do!!

So let me recommend the art of ice cream making.  There are so many fun flavors and you can use your creativity to come up with some of your own.  I must admit that this is the only flavor I have tried because it’s just that good.  If I’m going to make ice cream, this is what I want.  Maybe by August I’ll need a change……but then again, maybe not…..

**  Feel free to leave out the Oreos (why would you??!!) or mix in your own favorite add-ins.


1 cup cold milk

3/4 cups sugar

2 Tablespoons expresso powder

2 Tablespoons cocoa powder

2 cups (1 pint) cold heavy cream or whipping cream

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

8 ( well maybe 10) Oreo cookies, broken into small pieces


  1.  Whisk or mix together the milk, sugar, expresso powder (can get this on Amazon), and cocoa until the sugar has dissolved.
  2. Stir in the heavy cream and vanilla.
  3. Freeze in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s directions.
  4. Stir cookie bits into soft ice cream and serve immediately or freeze and defrost until slightly soft before serving.

ice cream ingredientsice cream mixture 1ice cream ziplock 1ice cream ziplock 2IMG_1285

Sweet Potatoes……two more ways!

During the height of COVID-19, it seemed as though everyone I knew had an abundance of sweet potatoes.  Whether it was a bulk order from Costco or Baldor, the sweet potatoes abounded.  I’m still trying to use up all the sweet potatoes I have.  Part of the problem was that the potatoes were the size of footballs.  One half of a potato could feed a family of four!  As a matter of fact, I still have two huge sweet potatoes from an April order still waiting to be cooked.

“Do you need sweet potatoes?” was a constant question.

“No thanks.  I have so many myself,” was the predictable answer.

After we baked them; boiled and mashed them; made sweet potato fries; candied them; and even made a sweet potato pie or two, we were still asking each other what the heck to do with these monstrous potatoes.  Not letting any food go to waste was of utmost importance.  We were so grateful to have what we had, for fear that food might (and sometimes did) become hard to get.

In my last stitch effort to use up these delightfully sweet additions to any meal, I was so happy to get a delicious new recipe from my daughter and one from a dear friend.  We had so many laughs over these potatoes that seemed to be reproducing during the night.  Truly another fond memory from such a tragic time in our lives.  Thanks Beth and Judith for memories!

Beth’s Baked Parmesan Sweet Potato Rounds:

3 medium sweet potatoes (or one of those huge ones I’ve mentioned)

4 TBSP melted butter

4 cloves of garlic , crushed or minced

3 TBSP chopped parsley

4 TBSP grated parmesan cheese

salt and pepper to taste

olive oil spray

  1.  Peel potatoes and cut into 1 1/2 inch rounds
  2. Place potatoes in a large pot of salted water and bring to a boil.  Cook until tender, but still firm, about 10 to 15 minutes.  Gently remove and drain.
  3. Lightly oil (or spray) a baking sheet pan and place potatoes on it.   Using a fork, lightly flatten each piece being careful not to mash.
  4. Mix the butter, garlic and parsley and pour over each potato slice.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste, and lightly spray with olive oil spray.
  5. Broil in oven until they are somewhat crispy, about 10 minutes.
  6. Remove from oven and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.  Return to oven until cheese is melted.


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B sweet potato plated ***Judith’s Rosemary Roasted Sweet Potatoes:

3 medium sweet potatoes ( or one of those huge ones)

4 TBSP olive oil

several sprigs of fresh rosemary (you can chop some )

salt and pepper to taste

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Peel potatoes and cut into 2 inch cubes (or any size you like….larger or smaller)
  3. Combine potatoes with the oil, rosemary, salt and pepper in a bowl and stir to coat and combine.
  4. Place on a lightly oiled (or sprayed with olive oil spray)baking sheet pan.
  5. Bake for approximately 20 minutes (depending on size of cubes) or until tender on the inside and slightly crunchy on the outside.

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B sweet potato plated ***


Apple-Blueberry Pie

blueberry pie plated

I’m excited to be back after several months of “lockdown.”   I’m not exactly sure why I wasn’t able to bring myself to blog during this period.  I wasn’t able to focus on much of anything other than the tragic and very frightening matter at hand.  Food was no longer enjoyable to me.  Just like you, I was spending all my time procuring food in as safe a manner as possible.  This wasn’t easy, and still isn’t for some of us.

Looking back now, I treasure the trips to friends’ houses, sharing food.  We either bought too much of something or couldn’t find something that we “desperately” needed.  A food drop-off at a friend’s might mean you brought them some sweet potatoes and onions, and you returned home with a packet of yeast, some flour and a roll of toilet paper.  I love how we shared.  And of course, I love how we shared recipes.  “What am I going to do with all these cucumbers?” I’d ask, and before I knew it, someone sent me a recipe for cucumber soup or cucumber salad.   “What are you making for dinner tonight?” we’d question, waiting to hear some exotic recipe that you now had to make.    And the baking!!!  Well we couldn’t let those apples go bad…..or the bananas….or all those chocolate chips we bought!!  And now that we had flour and yeast, we had to bake some bread!

Food brought us together.  Where to get it?  How to cook it?  I loved the SOS phone calls from friends who never cook, now desperate to learn.  Listening to their worries about how they would feed their families 7 nights a week was heartwarming.  Food heals, and food would heal their families.   Of this they were determined.  We would keep our loved ones safe through lovingly making meals night after night.  (Okay, some nights not so lovingly).

All this is so very endearing to me now.  It conjured up memories of my childhood, and the neighborly way my mom and her friends had the time to talk about food in this manner.  The childhood aroma of something always baking in the oven came back to me now, as I used up those apples and bananas, and we needed the comfort of some home baked bread.

I know we certainly aren’t out of the woods just yet, and life will be different for a while, but I’m now finding some comfort within these memories.  I’m hoping we hold on to the bonds we’ve formed and tightened from this experience for a long time.  There is something beautiful to be found amidst all this.  I hope I’ll continue to drive 25 minutes to pick up some blueberries and a recipe from my daughter and stay for a chat…….because we have the time……..

Here is a recipe she shared with me when we were both overcome with too many blueberries and our apples were starting to go bad.


1   Pillsbury frozen pie crust, defrosted as direct….or certainly your own homemade crust.


4 cups sliced peeled apples (approx. 4 medium apples)

2 cups fresh blueberried

3/4 cup all purpose flour

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1 TBSP lemon juice


1 cup all purpose flour

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg

1/3 cup butter, softened

  1.  Place sheet of foil on rack below middle oven rack to catch drips (essential!).  Heat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Place pie crust in 9 inch glass pie pan.
  3. In a large bowl, mix filling ingredients and set aside.
  4. In a medium bowl, mix fruit topping ingredients with fork until crumbly.
  5. Spoon fruit into crust-lined pan,  Spoon topping evenly over fruit.  It may appear to be piled high, but it falls as it bakes.
  6. Place pie on middle oven rack over the foil.
  7. After 20 minutes, cover the entire pie loosely with aluminum foil to prevent excessive  browning.  Bake another 40 to 50 minutes.  Apples should be tender and filling bubbling a bit around the edges.
  8. Cool 2 hours.  It’s delicious warm or cold!

blueberry pie ingredients

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