It’s been a while…

I’ve been meaning to post a couple of these for a long time, and there are more coming. For now, please enjoy this classic banana bread recipe, our favorite flank steak marinade, and of course, cheesy, garlicky spinach calzones.

I’m putting together a meal-planning post for everyone who, like me, is going bonkers trying to feed all of the people out of the kitchen during this pandemic. Stay tuned and happy eating.

Spinach Calzones
Banana Bread
Grilled, marinated flank steak

Kathy Kelly’s Famous Fresh Salsa

I just found the email that contains this recipe in a heap of folded up, tucked away notes and recipes that are waiting to make it into this blog. It’s dated June 28, 2007.  I’m impressed that it survived four or five moves and the test of time!  Back in the day, I converted the email onto this pink notecard, now stained with salsa juice of seasons past, and stowed it away for safe keeping… while memorizing the ingredients with the making of  each batch.  This recipe is named for its author: the famously fun and amazing Kathy Kelly. 

The first time I experienced this salsa was well before 2007.  It was the last Friday in July, 2001?  2002?  I had just run my umpteenth Blessing of the Fleet 10 mile road race down in Narragansett, and my boyfriend and I opted for a hot shower, chips/salsa and beers with Kathy and her husband, Jay, instead of the madness of the post-race beer tent.  On that night, my life was changed forever.  The salsa at Kathy’s house was HOMEMADE.  It was FRESH.  And it was an awakening of flavor.  Kathy, being the awesome lady that she is, shared her recipe with me.  I’ve been making Kathy Kelly’s Famous Salsa since 2007 and have adapted it to my particular taste over time – I’ve  added a few more green peppers, cut the onion in half, added limes, replaced the habanero peppers with jalapeños and added tomatoes.  But the essence is all there, and it is all Kathy’s.  Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, Kathy Kelly, for sharing this outrageously delicious recipe – it has come to define the taste of summer for me and for my family, and we wouldn’t be the same without it.

Almond Cake with Lavender Icing

I didn’t invent this recipe, but I’ve been using it for years and can’t remember where it came from.  Let me tell you, this cake is gorgeous.

It’s fragrant and heavy like a poundcake, but light enough that I can eat a whole piece,

frosted, without recoiling at the sugar overload.  This cake can easily stand alone without frosting, so it’s the perfect cake for any kind of pan that makes cute little molded cakes with details that you don’t want to frost over.  I’ve make this recipe in a pan that makes little Easter egg shapes, and I have one of those pans that will make little pumpkin-shaped cakes.  You know what I mean.  I just sprinkle powdered sugar atop those cakes and call it a (delicious) day.

This year, for Mother’s Day, I made this cake for my mom in a traditional tube pan (just like a bundt pan but the bottom comes apart from the sides) and dressed it up with lavender icing, a little dried lavender and Marcona almonds (roasted with rosemary) from Trader Joe’s, sprinkled on top. 

It was a HUGE hit.  So, I figured I would codify this recipe here, for all of us, in case I can never find the original source again!  Eat cake for breakfast my friends, and have a good week.

Hog Island Blueberry Corn Muffins

The trick that makes these muffins OUTSTANDING is the fresh sweet corn, left over from last night’s dinner, that is cut off the cob and goes directly into this simple, classic corn muffin recipe.  You can find it at this link: old school “Jiffy” Corn Muffin Mix  or just here it is:

2/3 cup flour

1/2 cup cornmeal

1/3 cup sugar

1 Tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

Just mix these dry ingredients with 1 egg, 2 Tablespoons of vegetable oil, and 1/3 cup of milk and bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes.

Please keep in mind that I quadrupled this recipe this morning in order to make about 15 giant sized muffins.  And then I promptly ate two of them.  This recipe, as is, makes about six very small muffins, which, in our house, is about two servings.

The thing that knocks these off the charts is the six ears of sweet corn, cut off the cob, and two pints of blueberries that I added.  This brilliantly simple, nutritious, hearty, and economical technique is one I picked up from our friends on Hog Island… Hog is a carry-in, carry-out island: nothing goes to waste and efficiency is the name of the game.  Electricity is propane-generated and showers are outdoors.  Basically, it’s paradise.  And it took an overnight on Hog and our friends to teach me to cut leftover corn off the cob and into the next morning’s blueberry pancakes!  You guys!  Once you try this, you will experience the pure brilliance.  Corn is sweet!  It’s not just for dinner!  And the texture is fun!  It pops and crunches and lends a sturdy hand to the quite-mushy-when-cooked blueberries.  So, having made pancakes yesterday, I was in the mood for muffins this morning… and when I saw that bag of corn in the fridge, this recipe came to life.  Make sure to sprinkle plenty of coarse sanding sugar (or any kind of sugar will do) atop these muffins before you pop them into the oven for an extra crunchy sweet top, and seriously, go ahead and try to eat just one.

April Showers…

I think it’s rained every day this month.  The sky has been a hopeful bright grey, all the time, but that’s how it stays…  When the sun breaks for a moment, it doesn’t threaten to warm up.  But that’s okay, right?  Buds are blooming, the place is greening up, and we are right on schedule for tons and tons of May flowers! 

I feel like the picture of what’s going on inside the kitchen isn’t complete unless I am also sharing what’s going on right outside the kitchen window (where this gorgeous hyacinth patch is outdoing itself, going from bud to bloom in the past two weeks)… 

And, of course, tis the season for wildlife to reproduce, both inside and outside of our house… Yes, we have squirrels in the attic, and this precious little baby somehow fell out of his nest and came to live in a cardboard box with one of my dishtowels for a few hours last week.  I loved him.  But I was not allowed to keep him.

The Wildlife Rehab experts in Rhode Island are terrific, and we were able to bring him to a local veterinary clinic right away, to be raised and released properly, back into the wild.  But isn’t he the CUTEST thing you’ve ever seen?  I know.

And in the not-so-cute department, this big old dinosaur has been spotted in the pond and the yard again… we think she was making the journey out of pond and across the street to lay her eggs last week… so baby snappers are coming soon.  And that’s cute.

The pond is filled with black painted turtles, too, and they are actually really cute… and they will be trekking across the lawn to lay eggs, soon, too… And baby turtles crossing the street means that it’s time to erect our Turtle Crossing signs; a very upsetting number of babies and mama turtles get run over every year, so we do our best to call the attention of passing cars to their plight.

This year, we have these AMAZING signs created by our amazing artist friend, Nancy, to display!! My wonderfully crafty husband has been coating them with polyurethane to protect them from weather, and we will be posting them soon. The turtles on the bottom look exactly like the real painted turtles that are the subject of the signs.  A million thanks from some adorable baby turtles and from all of us at Turtle Pond, Nancy – these signs are truly beautiful and a lifesaver!

Soon, the Canada geese will hatch their goslings, and we will be deep into Spring with Summer right around the corner.  So, there’s a lot going on.  Our Axel is officially a sophomore (!!) and Eva is finishing her junior year (!!).  Everybody is taking classes this summer, so that will add a new dimension into the usual routine.  We will have two high school graduations in early summer and the usual pack of birthdays, holidays, cookouts and gatherings (Mothers’ Day, Memorial Day, Fathers’ Day, 4th of July, etc.)… so we are going to need some creative menu planning up in here!  We are finally seeing spring and early summer veggies coming into season, our farm share will start up soon, and that will be real cause for celebration!  In the meantime, I’m going to lay two CORN recipes on you to get you jump started into the next season of big, easy flavors that go with any grilled dinner: Cilantro-Lime Corn Salad and Corn Spoonbread.  Hang in there:  April showers bring May flowers and a whole lot of good eats!

Salad and Strategy to Bring Spring


I’m offering a flavor-packed raw veggie salad and permission to fill your home with fresh flowers.  As one of my friends said, if Mardi Gras were a salad, it would be this!  You can see why.  It’s a gosh darn party on your plate!  It takes some patience to do all the required chopping, but if you make a big batch on Sunday, all that chopping will be a distant memory, come lunchtime, Wednesday… and by the time your salad is gone, we will be that much closer to Spring.  That’s all I can think of… good luck, enjoy, and god speed, Spring!



Christmas Menu 2018

Are you feeling kind of meh this year, or is it just me?  Maybe if I get some really pretty Christmas flowers, I’ll snap into it.  We are mere days away from the start of the festivities, and I am feeling rather un-spirited.  What is up with that?  Maybe it’s because I haven’t posted in a while, so let’s see if this works…  Again, this year, I’m sharing my Christmas Menu staples in the hopes that you will be inspired to incorporate one of these tremendously easy and flavorful dishes into your holiday tradition.  I truly love to eat each of these dishes, and I deeply appreciate that they are all make-ahead dishes that allow me to lay around in my pajamas all day on Christmas, once the roast is in the oven.  I even chop the salad and make the dressing in advance, so that when it’s time to eat on Christmas Day, I’m just pulling things out of the fridge and warming on the stove, and I never even have to put on shoes.  Take a look at this post from last year, and the same can be true for you!

Merry Christmas!

And if you DON’T feel like clicking on the link above, I’ll give you the recipes without all the gab, right here.

Vidalia Onion Soup with Fresh Parsley Pesto


Herb Crusted Roast Beef…   

  And of course, Gingerbread, King of Cakes

Wishing you all the merriest holiday season and a delicious new year!

First Snow Gingerbread!

‘Tis one week before Thanksgiving, and the snow is falling on Turtle Pond (and all of Rhode Island)…  And all of the creatures in our house are stirring and waiting for this tantalizing Gingerbread to come out of the oven!  There is nothing more magical than this Gingerbread recipe, and I want you to make it so badly that I’m reposting it here for the third time.  This is what holiday magic smells and tastes like – my gift to you.  Try it.  You’ll see why I call it the King of Cakes.  

And don’t forget your cinnamon frosting.  

Ermagahd, it’s out.  Good night!

(Kale) Pesto is the Best-o

How you feel about kale at this moment is irrelevant.

Once you eat your first bite of kale pesto with hazelnuts, that is when your relationship with kale (and maybe your relationship with yourself) is defined.

Unlike its smooth, soft, silky cousin, basil pesto, kale pesto is chewy.  Kale pesto isn’t just a spread or a sauce; it’s a meal-maker.  The rugged mouthfeel and knockout flavor combo of the kale and hazelnut will blow you away.  Kale is in peak season right now – it’s inexpensive and it’s SO GOOD FOR YOU.  And since the flavor and texture of this pesto is going to make your little heart sing, there is absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t make it tonight/tomorrow/wicked soon.  Here’s how:

In a large food processor, blend:

Leaves from two bunches of kale, rinsed, dried and torn from stems;

About 3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese;

About 1/2 cup hazelnuts;

2 – 3 cloves garlic;

Juice from 1/2 lemon (about 1 Tablespoon);

Big pinch salt and pepper;

Drizzle about 3/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil into the mixture while pulsing.

Kale Pesto is great on: toasted English muffins with a fried egg in the morning, spread atop any sandwich or bagel, dollopped into any broth-based soup (e.g., chicken soup, vegetable soup), and of course, on any pasta, my favorite being the roasted butternut squash ravioli above.  My advice?  Make a couple of batches:  you’re going to want to eat this with a spoon.

Pumpkin Pie

We are hosting Thanksgiving again this year, and I keep asking my family, “What’s the one thing without which it just wouldn’t be Thanksgiving?” Funny thing is, they all say things other than PUMPKIN PIE. That’s what it is for me!  I posted this pretty pie glamour shot for the sake of trying to be a better blogger…and here’s how I made the leaves, so that you can pretty up your pumpkin pies, too.

But the truth is that in my mind’s eye, this is what a real pumpkin pie looks like:

Made in a jelly roll pan (or half sheet pan) with a huge filling to crust ratio (I like the “middle” pieces), this is the pumpkin pie of my childhood, and of Thanksgivings, past, present and future. Nine inch round pies just won’t do for 30-50 people… you’d have to make too many.  So this is the way my mom always makes it. And this is how I gobble it, literally for breakfast, lunch and dinner. This year, we (alright I) just haven’t been able (or willing) to wait for November to break out the sheet pan pumpkin pies. My mom’s been making them, at my request, for weeks.

You haven’t lived until you’ve had two slices of homemade sheet pan pumpkin pie for breakfast with your coffee, on a cool, damp October morning. It makes mornings awesome. It makes life awesome. Try it; you’ll see.

Oh and here’s the recipe!  

Like many secret family recipes that have been around since the 1950’s, this one comes directly from the can! Pay attention to brand here: you want Libby’s pumpkin, and you want to be sure that the can you’re buying is 100% pure pumpkin.  Believe it or not, some brands will sell you “squash” instead of “pumpkin” if you’re not careful.

Libby’s 29 ounce can (and the recipe on the back of it) makes two nine inch pies or one half sheet pan pie (but they don’t tell you that part), so if you’re just making one nine inch round pie, halve it. But why would you, when the universe wants you to make and eat sheet pan pie now that you know how!?

For my mother’s recipe (or should I say, the recipe on the Crisco can) for scratch crust, click here.


It’s  easy as pie. See what I did there. Enjoy!