chocolate pecan cinnamon rolls with mascarpone orange glaze

Chocolate Pecan Cinnamon Rolls with Mascarpone Orange Glaze

We normally have my family over for a big Easter Sunday celebration, complete with an egg hunt, but not this year.  Since I’m getting too old to be crawling around the bushes hiding eggs, and my nephews are way too old to be hunting around for them, our family plans never materialized. My husband and I ended up having a quiet holiday weekend alone, with plenty of chores, and our taxes, to keep us occupied.

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orange ricotta pancakes with kumquat and candied ginger compote

Orange Ricotta Pancakes with Kumquat and Candied Ginger Compote

Growing up, part of our weekend routine included my mom’s pancakes.  My brothers and I loved the way she made them, stacked up high with a pat of butter on top and clear syrup dripping down to the plate. We would watch her cook them, eagerly awaiting the bubbles to form on top, signaling that it was time to flip. We would tease my brother, and laugh about how the dimple on one side of his cheek resembled a bubble on the pancake. Then, we would eat our breakfast, all together as a family, before we were all off in different directions – my parents shuttling my brothers to their Little League games and me to my organ lesson or to the library.
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orecchiette with mushrooms, chard, and ricotta pan sauce

I’ve been in a pasta rut lately, but thanks to the latest issue of Better Homes and Gardens, I rediscovered the technique of making a pan sauce to give my tired old pasta a new twist and a boost in flavor.  This pan sauce is full of bold color and taste , made with bacon, mushroom, chard, and ricotta. Orecchiette, the oval-shaped pasta from the southern Italian region of Puglia, is a good choice for this dish because its slight bowl shape is perfect for catching the cheesy sauce which has a slight hint of spice from crushed red pepper flakes and nutmeg.  The orecchiette’s edges are thicker than it’s center for some added texture. Continue reading

eggs poached in chunky tomato sauce

eggs poached in chunky tomato sauce

There are many variations of this wonderfully filling and comforting dish. In its simplest form, eggs are poached in a flavorful tomato sauce. In Southern Italy, it is called Uova al Purgatorio, or Eggs in Purgatory (due to the appearance of the eggs cooking in a hot, bubbling sauce resembling flames in hell purgatory), and it is often made with parmesan cheese and basil served over bread, pasta, or polenta. In the Middle East, it is known as Shakshuka, and it is made with a spicier tomato sauce, crumbled feta cheese, peppers, and cumin and served with warm pita bread. The Turkish dish, Menemen, is similar, as the eggs are cooked with tomatoes, onions, and peppers in a single pan, but the eggs are almost always scrambled, instead of poached.

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baked sausage and spinach shells

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you’ll notice that I like to cook dishes that are simple, easy to prepare, and readily adaptable to someone else’s tastes or needs.  Well, this recipe is all of that, and best of all, it’s absolutely delicious!  These baked sausage and spinach shells were exactly the type of food I wanted to serve my family and friends on Christmas Eve – finger foods that were filling and hearty. I was right because they were a big hit at my buffet table!  The shells held the filling together so my guests were able to pick them up with their fingers and eat them without making a mess.  I received compliments all night long.  Continue reading