Archive for Family

My Parents’ 40th Anniversary Dinner Menu:

Princess Lasagna

Strawberry and Feta Salad with Candied Walnuts and Berry Vinaigrette

Baked Macaroni and Cheese

Grilled Italian Chicken

Pita Garlic Bread

4 kinds of Tortes (Chocolate, Almond, Cheesecake, and Raspberry)


Princess lasagna is a marrying of two really great recipes into a fantastic journey of your taste buds.  When I was a young girl, with the bloom still on my cheeks, my parents would often take us to Youghiogheny (pronounced yah-kuh-GAIN-ee ) Country Club (YCC) for dinner or brunch.  When it was on the menu, we always ordered Princess Soup, a rich, velvety experience that was the perfect way to start your meal.  It’s quite simple to make and if you don’t want to incorporate into the lasagna it is quite good all on its own.


Princess Lasagna


1 (8 oz) package lasagna noodles (I use Barilla no boil noodles, so there’s no prep for them)

Princess Soup (recipe follows)

2 Tbsp butter

1 Tbsp olive oil

6 cloves garlic, sliced

16 oz mushrooms, rinsed and sliced

5 cups ricotta cheese

1 large bunch of fresh baby spinach, torn into large chunks

4 cups shredded mozzarella

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese


Preheat the oven to 350° F.  If you use regular lasagna noodles, bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook lasagna noodles for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente. Drain, and rinse with cold water.


In a stock pot prepare soup as directed below.


Heat olive oil and butter in a skillet over medium heat, cook and stir the garlic for 1 minute, then add mushrooms, cook until mushrooms cook down, about 5 minutes.


Lightly coat the bottom of a deep dish pan with enough soup mixture to coat.  Layer with 1/3 of the lasagna noodles, 2 cups ricotta, 1/2 of the spinach, and 2 cups mozzarella, and repeat the layers. Place the remaining noodles on top, and spread remaining soup.


Bake 1 hour in the preheated oven or until brown and bubbly. Top with  the remaining cup of mozzarella and cup of Parmesan cheese, and continue baking until cheese is melted and lightly browned.


Youghiogheny’s Princess Soup


2 carrots, finely diced

2 small onions

5 Tbsp butter

4 Tbsp flour

1 qt chicken stock

1/8 tsp mace

1 tsp salt

1/8 tsp pepper

2 cups heavy whipping cream, scalded

½ cup grated parmesan cheese

1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley


Sauté the vegetables in butter, about 5 minutes until carrots are soft and onions are translucent, stir in flour, one tablespoon at a time, stirring continuously. Slowly add chicken stock, add seasonings, and simmer for 15 minutes. Strain cream and add. Stir in cheese and parsley. Using an immersion blender, puree the soup. Heat through but do not boil.


Strawberry and Feta Salad with Candied Walnuts and Berry Vinaigrette


3 Tbsp seedless raspberry jam

2/3 cup canola oil

1/3 cup raspberry white wine vinegar

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

12 cups Mesclun (pronunciation: MESS-klunn) (salad mix of assorted small, young leaves like spring mix)

1 small red onion, sliced thin

1 cup reduced-fat feta cheese, crumbled

2 cups fresh strawberries, sliced

3/4 cup easy candied walnuts (recipe follows)


Place jam in microwavable bowl and microwave for 10-15 seconds until jam is melted. Add the jam, oil, vinegar, salt and pepper to a container with a tight fitting lid, and shake well. Refrigerate any unused dressing.


In a large salad bowl, combine mesclun, red onion, and strawberries.  Toss with two tablespoons of dressing to marry the salad.  When ready to serve, top with feta and walnuts. Serve with extra dressing on the side.


Easy Candied Walnuts


You can store these in a container with a tight lid for a couple of weeks, but if your house is anything like mine, they disappear very quickly.


2 Tbsp butter

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 Tbsp brown sugar

1 Tbsp water

2 cups walnuts


Microwave butter in a 2 quart glass bowl until melted. Add remaining ingredients and stir nuts until coated. Microwave the bowl, uncovered 4-5 minutes, stirring every minute, cool in a single layer on wax paper.


Grilled Italian Chicken


So easy, but so yummy! The microwaving cuts down on grilling time, so the meat is cook, but still tender and juicy.


5 lbs chicken breasts, boneless and skinless

2 bottles of your favorite Italian dressing


Marinate chicken breasts for as little as 30 minutes or for a long as 3 days in Italian dressing, depending on how much time you have. Preheat grill. Place chicken in a 9×13 glass casserole dish and microwave for 3 minutes on high or until the edges of the chicken turn white.  Grill the chicken for 5 minutes on each side, or until chicken is cooked through.


The Macaroni and Cheese, Grilled Garlic Pita Bread and Tortes were not made by me, so I don’t have the recipes, but they were very good!


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Leftover Week

With Easter came colorful eggs, foil wrapped chocolate, and tons of leftovers.  We brought home containers filled with ham, deviled eggs, potato casserole, coleslaw, shrimp pasta salad, oven-roasted parsnips and turnips, oven-roasted Brussels sprouts and cauliflower, lemonade pie, apple pie, pumpkin pie with oatmeal topping, Oreo cheesecake, and a big ham bone.  Some recipes I still have to get from my mother, like the shrimp salad and the lemonade pie, yummy!  Others, I cook on a regular basis.  And, I really should ask my aunt for her potato casserole recipe, since my husband promptly consumed what we brought home.

This week’s menu is leftovers.  
Sunday: Easter dinner at my parents’ house
Monday: ham, deviled eggs, pasta salad, coleslaw, and potato casserole
Tuesday: ham, parsnips/turnips, sprouts/cauliflower, and pasta salad
Wednesday: spinach salad with ham, eggs, scallions, Trader Joe’s wasabi almonds, anchovies, black olives, goat cheese, McCormick salad topper, cucumber, oil, and pomegranate vinegar.
Thursday: split peas soup (I made ham stock with the bone today following this recipe from 80 Breakfasts.
Friday: I really don’t know yet. I have more hard boiled eggs, so maybe I’ll just whip up a bacon and egg salad sandwich.
Saturday: Veal Parmigiana with fresh mozzarella (We’ll be out of leftovers by then, I think hope!)


And, the kids had sugar eggs for desert, tonight. Too cute not to share: (My husband gets to peel them off the ceiling later.)



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Happy Easter and TCHO Chocolate!

Happy Easter!


I was one of the lucky people who got in on the free giveaway of TCHO chocolate from Blake Makes.  I saved it for my husband’s Easter basket because he gave up sweets for Lent and I knew that he would enjoy it.  I also snagged a taste for myself.

TCHO is rich and strong with a subtle, smooth flavor and texture. It melts in your mouth, very palatable with a slight bitter aftertaste that is the sign of very good chocolate. It was not waxy, grainy, or gritty.

As my husband bit into this delectable treat his eyes closed and he whimpered a little. He would travel to the ends of the earth for this chocolate.

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Decorating Easter Eggs

Since no matter whose year it is to have the kids for Easter, I always have them Easter morning, so Mr. E. Bunny still visits. This means that we dye eggs. The kids have been looking forward to Easter this year, and have been asking me when we were going to start the eggs. So, I boiled a dozen last night. One of the shells cracked in the process, so it was eaten at lunch, by me, today. But the others were flawless, so they will be art!

We are trying something new this year that I saw at Family Fun. I’ll post pictures when we are done.

Dripped-On Eggs

Craft Materials:
Hard-boiled eggs
Rubber cement
Egg dye

Time needed: Under 1 Hour

1. To start, rest the egg in an empty egg-carton lid or on a section of paper-towel tube set upright. Or, wear rubber gloves and hold the egg. Then, using the applicator brush, dribble gobs of rubber cement over the egg.

2. When the cement has dried thoroughly, dip the egg into a bowl of dye. When the desired shade is achieved, remove the egg and let it dry.

3. Peel off the glue and add additional colors, if desired.

Colors we used:
Pretty Purple – 5 Red + 15 Blue
Orange Sunset – 17 Yellow + 3 Red
Teal – 5 Blue + 15 Green
Red – 20 Red
Mellow Yellow – 17 Yellow + 3 Green
Mint Green – 14 Green + 6 Yellow

Crafter’s comments
I experimented with this before trying with older preschoolers. The rubber cement has vapors TOO STRONG to use with a craft project for children. I used Elmer’s “Galactic Glue”. (It’s advertised as a ‘no run, gravity proof’ glue.) Because it can be squeezed from the bottle, it is easy to work with & can be peeled off after drying also.
– ellen G

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Baking Cookies with the Kids . . .

Tonight we made Nestle’ Oatmeal Scotchies. 


W and E each took turns helping me add ingredients to the  batter and then spooned some dough onto a cookie sheet.  They were incredibly patient until I put them on the cooling rack and then there was no distracting them from wanting cookies!





  • 1 1/4 cups unsifted flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2  eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups Old-Fashioned Quaker oats
  • 1(11ounce) package Nestle Toll House butterscotch-flavored morsels (about 2 cups)


    1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
    2. Combine flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon in a small bowl; set aside.
    3. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, eggs, and vanilla extract in a large bowl.
    4. Gradually beat in flour mixture.
    5. Stir in oats and morsels.
    6. Drop by rounded Tablespoonfuls onto an ungreased baking sheet.
    7. Bake 7 to 8 minutes for chewy cookies, 9 to 10 minutes for crisp cookies.
    8. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes, remove to wire racks to cool completely.
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