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Monday, September 25, 2023


 With family in town, I was looking for a recipe that could feed five people, that was super easy to put together, went with this beautiful fall weather that we're having and was on the "comfort food" end of the spectrum.  

I began looking for pasta recipes of course.....The recipe I put together for baked ziti years ago has always been a favorite, but I wondered if there was something just as easy on the alfredo side.  I found exactly what I was looking for and it was so yummy I just had to share!

One of the best surprises about this recipe is you don't even have to pre-cook the pasta, so the assembly is super simple.  I'll be honest, I was a little skeptical, but it was great. 
fresh from the oven


1 16 oz. package uncooked rotini pasta      
1 22 oz. jar Alfredo sauce (about 2 ½ cups)
2 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 cup white wine
½ cup diced onion
2 tsp. minced fresh garlic
1 (4 oz.) jar diced roasted red peppers (pimentos), drained (about ½ cup)
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese or Italian cheese blend
2 lbs. raw peeled and deveined shrimp (41=50 count)
Optional garnishes:  grated parmesan,  fresh chopped parsley, basil, or other hers


Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees.  In a large 13x9 baking dish, stir together uncooked pasta, Alfredo sauce, chicken broth, wine, onion, garlic and red peppers.  Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 45 minutes. 

Remove dish from the oven and give it a stir.  At this point, check to ensure the pasta is al dente.  If it's still too hard, cover the dish and return to the oven until pasta is al dente.   (I needed an extra 5 minutes)

Once the pasta is just right, and the sauce is thickened, stir in the uncooked shrimp.  Sprinkle mozzarella over the top.  Bake uncovered for 5-10 minutes.

The dish is finished when the cheese is melted and the shrimp is pink.  Keep a close eye on the don't want to overcook the shrimp and have it turn rubbery.  Garnish to your liking.  

Total cooking time will vary depending on the type of pan you use and your individual oven.  Ceramic and glass pans take longer than metal.  

Note:  I couldn't find raw peeled and deveined shrimp in this size.  I opted for 1 lb. cooked shrimp and 1 lb. of uncooked scallops....the cook time worked fine to cook the scallops and it didn't overcook the shrimp.  You might also notice mushrooms in mine.....I opted to sauté some fresh mushrooms and added them at the same time I added the seafood. 


recipe c/o:

Friday, September 15, 2023


 With some out-of-time family coming to town I always plan out meals, snacks, goodies.  So when I was thinking of goodies, homemade cookies came to mind.  I decided to bake a variety I haven't made in quite some time.....and that's gingersnap cookies.  I have to say, they tasted especially good having not had them for so long.  

With the feel of fall in the air, gingersnaps were so perfect.  Crisp on the outside and chewy on the inside.  


3/4 cup vegetable oil                                                                       
1 cup granulated sugar
½ tsp salt
2 tsp. baking soda
1 large egg
1/3 cup molasses
2 1/3 cups all purpose flour
1-2 tsp. ginger
½ tsp. cloves
1 tsp. cinnamon

¼ cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon


1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Lightly spray (or line with parchment two baking sheets)
2.  Beat together the oil, sugar, salt and soda
3.  Beat in the egg, then the molasses
4.  Add the flour and spices, beating to make a smooth and fairly stiff dough
5.  Make the coating by combining the sugar and cinnamon and place in a shallow dish
6.  Form 1" balls and roll into the cinnamon/sugar mixture
7.  Transfer to the prepared cookie sheets, leaving at least 1 ½" between them
8.  Bake the cookies for 8-11 minutes for cookies that are crisp around the edges; and "bendy" in the center  (mine were perfect at 9 minutes)
9.  Remove the cookies from the oven and cool right on the pan, or wire rack.  Cool completely, then store tightly wrapped at room temperature.


recipe c/o:

Friday, June 23, 2023


 I landed on this recipe after looking for a simple dessert that also wouldn't be too heavy after an Italian meal.   There's a bit of prep work involved, but it can all be done ahead of time and assembled quickly when you're ready.  

And it was just as I hoped....easy and perfect after a filling meal.  Because it took me a couple attempts to get the tortillas browned just right, I also had some leftovers for the next day!


5 flour tortillas (I used the 8" size)      

3 Tbsp. melted butter
10 tsp. granulated sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
4 large strawberries, sliced
1 banana, sliced
1/2 cup blackberries
1/2 cup raspberries
2-3 tsp. chocolate sauce
1 c. whipped cream (optional)


Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.  Mix together the sugar and cinnamon.  Melt the butter and use a pastry brush to coat an unbaked tortilla thoroughly.  Sprinkle the cinnamon and sugar mixture over the tortilla and repeat for the remainder.  

Use a pizza wheel to slice the tortillas into triangles.  First in half, then in thirds.  Place the triangles onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Bake for 6-8 minutes until puffed and golden.

Slice the fruit while the chips bake.  Arrange the tortilla chips onto a platter.  Top with sliced fruit.  Drizzle warm hot chocolate sauce over the fruit and top with whipped cream.  Serve immediately.

Note:  You can prep up to 2 days ahead of time, by baking the chips and putting them in an airtight container. 


Monday, May 1, 2023


Since this recipe was said to have the same flavors as that fabulous spinach artichoke dip we all love, I thought I'd give it a try! did have a lovely flavor.  The recipe calls for it to be served over rice, although I think I might perfer angel hair pasta next time.  


2 chicken breasts or 4 thighs
flour, salt and pepper
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. minced garlic
1 Tbsp. fresh thyme
1 ¼ cups low-sodium chicken broth
4 oz. cream cheese, softened**
10 oz. baby spinach (7 cup)
3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 oz. Parmigiano Reggiano, finely grated (1/2 cup packed)
1 pkg. (9 oz.) frozen artichoke hearts, thawed, quartered  if whole (I used the canned variety w/o the juices) 


Season chicken with salt & pepper; dredge in flour, shaking off any excess. Add butter and 1 Tbsp. olive oil to a heated skillet.  When butter melts, add chicken in a single layer and cook, flipping once, until golden brown in places, but not cooked through, about 3 minutes.  Transfer to a plate.

Add remaining 1 Tbsp. oil, garlic, and thyme to skillet; cook until fragrant, 10 seconds.  Stir in broth and cream cheese; cook until mixture boils and cheese melts.  Add spinach and cook, stirring, until wilted; 2-3 minutes.  Stir in artichokes; cook 1 minute more.  

Return chicken and accumulated juices to skillet.  Simmer, shaking pan occasionally, until sauce is reduced and thickened and chicken is just cooked through.  About 3 minutes.  Remove from heat; stir in lemon juice and parmesan.  Serve over rice. 

NOTES:  ** This is the first time I've used cream cheese in a sauce, and I ended up with little shards of cream cheese floating in the sauce.  It did not melt per the instructions.  I've since done some research and it seems there is a technique to this, so it was probably me.  If I make this again, I've decided to avoid this I'm going to use sour cream instead, I know how well it works in a sauce and it actually has much fewer calories than cream cheese as well. 

Wednesday, April 26, 2023


 I had the pleasure of working on another project that involved taking my Bride's Mother's wedding gown and re-styling it so that she could wear it.  Originally she planned on wearing it on her big day, but after finding a gown at a bridal shop that just spoke to her, she decided she would like me to re-style Mom's gown for her rehearsal dinner.         


This is Mom's circa 1980's wedding gown.  Having gotten married in this same era myself, I knew when she told me the year her folks were married that I'd be getting a very large gown....large sleeves, large (and long) train and a large full skirt.  

Marissa was open to ideas from me on how we could re-style the gown.  The good news was the gown was in great shape!  Very little yellowing (a bit on some of the sequins and pearls) and no stains.  Based upon the classic heavy beading of that era, I felt we definitely needed to utilize the bodice.  I knew that I could remove the neckline and sleeves and make it into a strapless bodice.  As for the skirt, we landed on a hi-low circle shape skirt.  Once I knew the design, I was off to the races. 

The majority of my workload was in the disassemby of the gown.     I chose to start with the bodice. I removed the sleeves and the netting for the front and back bodice.  

  I had it easy from a fit perspective since Marissa and her Mom were virtually the same size.  Other than adding some additional structure to the bodice due to the fact that it was strapless, the circumference was perfect!       I chose to change the shape of the waistline by eliminating the deep point at the center front.                                                                   The largest amount of workload came when I had to remove the ruffles and appliques from the back train....that literally took hours.  Once that was finished, I created the pattern for the shape of my skirt and then laid that on top of the existing gown to cut the new skirt.   As you can see, the skirt has the same layers as her Mom's....satin underlayer, chiffon overlay.   There was a gorgeous lace on the train that truly was lost in all the ruffles.  I showed Marissa that I wanted to use that at the hemline once I removed the ruffling and laid it flat you couldn't even recognize it.                                              

I have to say there was work in the bodice.  Obviously, I had to re-set the zipper.  I also added boning, cups and silicone tape since Marissa was going to need that structure for it to effectively stay put.  I also sewed on the beautiful satin buttons down the length of the zipper.  

The final steps were to handsewn on some of the lovely appliques which were scattered over her Mom's skirt.  Just a touch.  I'm hoping to get some pictures from the rehearsal dinner night, which was last weekend, but in the meantime, since this project was a 2022 project, I was excited to share.  

Thursday, February 23, 2023


    This recipe goes back a long time.....My Mom introduced these one year at Christmas.   I don't know exactly when, but she specifically noted that "my husband loves these".....and he does!  

I chose to make them for his birthday.  They're a bar cookie and the recipe uses a 9x9 pan.  So, if you're like me and you really don't want a lot of cookies in the house, this one might be the one to reach for from time-to-time.  

It's a great combination of coconut, caramel sauce and chocolate.

TIP:  I make a parchment sling and place that in my makes it so much easier to remove them from the pan. 



1/3 cup butter or margarine
1 cup flour (high altitude flour for us folks in the mountains)
¼ cup packed brown sugar
2 cups flaked coconut
½ cup caramel sundae sauce
2 Tbsp. milk
2 Tbsp. flour
2 Tbsp. butter or margarine, melted
¼ cup powdered sugar

¼ cup chocolate chips
1 Tbsp. butter or margarine
1 Tbsp. milk
¼ cup powdered sugar


Cut butter into flour and sugar until particles are fine (with mixer, use low speed.  I find if I take it just to the point that the dough pulls together, it not only presses into the pan more easily, but they also come out of the pan beautifully.)   Press dough into bottom of ungreased 9x9, 10x8, or 11x7 pan. 

Combine remaining ingredients; using an offset spatula, spread the mixture carefully over crust.  Bake at 360 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes, or until golden brown.  Cool.    While the cookies cool, make the frosting by melting together the ingredients in the microwave or on the stovetop. 

Use a knife to loosen the edges of the cookie from the sides of the pan.  Then lift the sling from the pan.  I use the "fork" method to drizzle the chocolate over the top.    Slice into 3x1 inch bars. 


recipe c/o:  Hungarian Flour cookbook (133 bar cookie recipes from the high country)

Wednesday, February 8, 2023


 I was searching for a pasta recipe that was a little different than the typical red sauce variety and decided to try this one out.  Not only was the sauce delicious, but I loved the rigatoni....those thick ribbed noodles allowed the sauce to stick to them so nicely.  I made this for a recent dinner and everyone loved it.  I added a salad before dinner and freshly baked bread with dinner and it was delicious!

I will tell you that I doubled the sauce recipe, since I love an extra saucy pasta.   It even allowed us to enjoy a second dinner (we just had to make a little bit more pasta) later in the week. 

Serves 6-8 people


16 oz. rigatoni pasta (save 1 cup water)
3 Tbsp. olive oil
½ cup onion, chopped
1 lb. ground Italian sausage
3-4 cloves garlic, minced (we opt for less)
½ tsp. crushed fennel seeds
¼ tsp. red pepper flakes 
1 (6 oz.) can tomato paste
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup heavy cream
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
salt and pepper to taste
fresh chopped parsley


1.  Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add onion and cook until soft, about 5 minutes.  Add the sausage.  Cook, breaking into small pieces, until no longer pink.  Drain grease.  
2.  Add garlic, fennel seed, red pepper and tomato paste and cook a few minutes more.  Stir in the broth and simmer until liquid is reduced by half.  
3,  Cook rigatoni according to package directions.  Drain, reserving 1 cup of the pasta water
4.  Add the cream to the sauce and bring to a simmer.  Gradually add pasta water (I chose not to add any water since I liked the consistency just the way it was) until sauce reaches desired consistency.  Stir in ¼ cup parmesan cheese.
5.  Combine the sauce with the drained pasta.  Garnish with fresh parsley and more parmesan cheese.  

I served this family style in a large bowl, allowing each person to dish up their own bowl.   

recipe c/o: