Lemony Pasta with Goat Cheese and Spinach

Lemony Pasta with Goat Cheese and Spinach. 


During this time of year as the number of activities and parties increase all tempting us with special foods to eat, I try to lighten up what I prepare for our everyday meals.  My rational is that if we eat light but healthy meals at home then it’s OK to have some treats when we go out.  I’m not sure how that all adds up, but it works for me.

The recipe I’m offering today is one that is very quick to make with just a few ingredients.  It could stand alone with only the addition of a salad to make it a complete meal.  Although the main ingredient is pasta it is kept light with a sauce  that incorporates  goat cheese for creaminess, and also includes spinach and lots of parsley.  The addition of lemon jest and juice provides the brightness that makes the flavors pop.



Only a few ingredients needed.



  •  3/4 pound spaghetti
  • 4 ounces fresh goat cheese
  • 10 ounces baby spinach
  • 2 cups fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon grated lemon zest
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup walnuts, chopped and toasted


1.  Bring a large pot of salted water to boiling.  Add pasta and cook according package directions for al dente.  Remove and save 2 cups of pasta cooking water.  Drain the pasta.

2.  In the pot, stir together 1 cup of pasta water and the goat cheese over medium heat to melt the cheese.  Add pasta, spinach and parsley, lemon zest and lemon juice.

Cook pasta, then mix everything together in the same pot.

Stir to coat with the sauce.  Add more pasta water as needed to  create a sauce that coats the pasta.  Season with salt and pepper.  Sprinkle with walnuts to serve.

Lemony Pasta with Spinach served with crispy breaded shrimp.


Cap’n Crunch Scones

Cap’n Crunch Scones

Cap’n Crunch is haunting me!…  I thought I was done with him years ago, but here he is back again; reinvented in a new form.  Oh, but what a form it is!   Scones, one of the (many) loves of my life, containing “The Cap’n”, plus cream, plus corn.  A rather odd combination, but somehow it works, and the resulting scones are just great.  You must try them and see for yourself.  They’re not just for breakfast, and definitely not just for kids.

In my previous experience with Cap’n Crunch cereal, when eaten for breakfast it seemed to soak up the milk and become very soggy, thus losing its appeal for me.   I prefer to snack on the cereal dry which provides lots of crunch—of course, that’s what the name says it should do, so what’s up with becoming so mushy when wet?   I know, I’m rambling, so back to the point;  in this recipe you want the cereal to become mushy so you puree it to get crumbs, then add cream for the crumbs to soak up.


YIELD:   Makes 8 large scones


  • 1 cup Cap’n Crunch Cereal, ground in the food processor
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream


  • 1 1/4 cup frozen corn, thawed
  • 1/2 cup Cap’n Crunch Cereal
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) cold, unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup cereal puree, from above
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon butter flavor (optional)


  • 1/4 cup cereal puree, from above
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • additional Cap’n Crunch cereal for garnish


1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, or grease a scone pan.

2.  For the cereal puree:  Grind 1 cup of cereal in the food processor; place in a bowl or measuring cup and add the heavy cream.  Stir; set aside to soak while you measure the rest of the ingredients.

Pureed cereal with cream added.

3.  For the scones:  Put the corn and 1/2 cup cereal in the food processor and puree until smooth.**  Place the mixture in a bowl and whisk in the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, and salt.  Cut in the butter until it’s in lumps the size of peas.

   ** My corn was still a little frozen, so I didn’t get a smooth puree.

Add the 3/4 cup cereal puree, egg, vanilla, and butter flavoring, if using.  Mix until the dough comes together, then pat into an 8-inch circle on the prepared pan, or portion the dough into the wells of the scone pan.  If baking on a sheet pan, cut the dough into 8 wedges, then back up each wedge so there’s 1/2″ of space between each one. ( Leave adequate room between them as they tend to spread a bit.)

4.  Combine the 1/4 cup cereal puree and 1/4 cup heavy cream and use to brush the tops of the scones and then decorate each one with additional pieces of cereal.

Brush tops with more puree and decorate with pieces of cereal.

5.  Bake for 20 – 25 minutes, until the tops are golden brown.  Remove from the oven and serve warm.

Warm from the oven. Ummmmh, so good!

SOURCE:   The Baking Sheet,  King Arthur,  Holiday 2012

Pork Chops with Roasted Apples and Onions

Pork Chops with Roasted Apples and Onions

I’m always looking for different ways to prepare pork chops.   We eat pork fairly often, not just chops, but other cuts as well.  It’s high in protein and low in carbohydrates; and depending on the cut can also be pretty low in fat.  So pork is on our menu on a regular basis, but I get bored with preparing foods the same way too often, thus the need for variety.  When this recipe turned up in the Cooking Light Magazine, Sept. 2012. I clipped it immediately because of the pairing of pork with apples ( a natural) and onions.  It seemed like just the right thing for a fall dinner.

The timing was right this past weekend, and as a break from turkey, I prepared the pork chops recipe.  Along with it I served baked sweet potatoes and sautéed brussels sprouts.  WOW!  This meal was a winner that I’m sure I’ll be making again.  Any green vegetable would go well with it, making a very colorful presentation on the plate.   Additionally a nice glass of Chardonnay didn’t hurt either.  😀



  •  2  1/2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cup frozen pearl onion, thawed
  • 2 cups apple wedges (The recipe specified Gala apples, but I used Empire.  Any firm apple that holds its shape will do.)
  • 1 Tablespoon butter, divided
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, or 1 teaspoon dried
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, divided
  • 4  center-cut pork loin chops, about 1/2 inch thick
  • 1/2 cup fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon flour
  • 1 teaspoon cider vinegar

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2.   Heat a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat.  Add 1 teaspoon oil to the pan; swirl to coat.  Pat onions dry with a paper towel.  Add onions to pan;  cook 2 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring once. Add apple to the pan; place in the oven.

Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes till apples and onions are tender.  Stir in 2 teaspoons butter, thyme, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

3.  Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Sprinkle pork with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.  Add remaining oil to pan; swirl to coat.  Add pork to pan;

Cook 3 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness.  Remove pork from pan; keep warm.

4.  Combine broth and flour in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk.  Add broth mixture to pan; bring to a boil, scraping pan to loosen browned bits.  Cook 1 minute to reduce to approximately 1/4 cup.  Stir in vinegar and remaining 1 teaspoon butter.  Serve sauce with pork and apple mixture.

Pork chops with sauce.

Roasted Apples and Onions

Pork Chops with Roasted Apples and onions, served with baked sweet potato and Brussels sprouts.

SOURCE:   Cooking Light, September, 2012

Turkey Frame Soup

Black Friday!    A day when millions of people hit the stores to start their Holiday shopping, and what am I doing?   Making soup.  It’s my ritual.  The evening before, after everyone has eaten their fill, I put  the leftover food, and what’s left of  Mr. Turkey into the fridge because I don’t want to do anything else that’s food related.

Friday morning after a leisurely start with my coffee,  I remove all the remaining large pieces of meat from the turkey frame, break the frame apart and put it all into a large soup kettle with a few vegetables to season it and start making the stock for the soup.

The beginning of a delicious turkey soup.

A long slow simmer turns all that goodness into a tasty broth, the basis for the soup.  I really miss the soup when we have TG dinner elsewhere and I don’t have a turkey frame to work with.  Once the stock is made, you can freeze or refrigerate it until you are ready to make the soup.  The recipe that follows is one I developed quite a few years ago, and I make it pretty much the same way every time, but you can improvise in your choice of vegetables and the type of pasta or noodles you add.  I am liberal with my use of seasonings, and this is a full, hearty and very satisfying soup.


YIELD:   about 10 servings


  • 1 meaty turkey frame.  Leave generous amounts of meat attached to the bones.  This is what goes into the soup.

    A meaty turkey frame, ready to make stock.

  • 3 quarts of water (12 cups)
  • 1 or 2 onions quartered, no need to peel
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1 large rib celery, cut into chunks
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • several sprigs parsley

1.  Break turkey frame apart or cut with kitchen shears; place in a large soup kettle with the water, onion, vegetables, salt and parsley.  Bring to a boil; reduce heat, cover and simmer for 1 1/2 – 2 hours.

2.  Remove the frame; when cool enough to handle, cut off meat and coarsely chop.  Discard bones.  Strain broth; discard solids.  Return broth to soup kettle to continue making the soup or package in freezer containers to freeze for later use.  I usually make the broth in the morning and after straining I refrigerate it to solidify the fat and then skim if off before continuing to make the soup.


  • 1  (14 1/2 ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 Tablespoon instant chicken bouillon granules
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 4 cups assorted fresh vegetables:  any combination  of sliced celery, chopped onion, sliced carrots, sliced mushrooms, green peas, or cut green beans)
  • 1 1/2 cups uncooked noodles ie, medium egg noodles, small shell pasta, or elbows.

Rich turkey stock, the basis for a good soup.

1.  Return the broth to the large soup kettle and heat over medium heat.  Stir in undrained tomatoes, bouillon granules, oregano, thyme, and pepper.  Stir in fresh vegetables.

2.  Bring to boiling;  reduce heat, cover and simmer for 45 minutes.  Stir in uncooked noodles and cut up turkey.  Simmer uncovered, 8 – 10 minutes till noodles are done.  Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper as needed.

Turkey Frame Soup, thick and hearty.

SOURCE:   A Carolyn Original

Baked Brie with Apricot Jam and pecans

Baked Brie with Apricot Jam and Pecans

The best made plans don’t always work out (as planned).  One example was my plan to serve Butternut Bisque in small cups as an appetizer prior to our Thanksgiving meal.  The guests arrived late, the dinner was ready too soon, etc, etc, etc.  So to stave off the hungers while I got the last minute details ready, I quickly put together this appetizer that I have had at other peoples’ homes but never made myself.  No problem, it’s so easy you don’t really need a recipe, and everyone seems to like it.

The only real requirement is a piece or wheel of brie cheese.  Everything else can be a mix and match with whatever you have on hand.

Here’s what you need and how to put it together:

  • A mini wheel of Brie–about 8 ounces.  I used only half a wheel to make a small amount.
  • 2-3 Tablespoons of jam.  Apricot is a good match with Brie, also Fig jam is good.
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped pecans or other nuts of choice.
  • 1 -2 Granny Smith apples, cored and thinly sliced into wedges.
  • small crackers,  whole grain or nut crisps work well.

1.  Place Brie into a small, greased oven proof dish.  Spoon jam on top.

Brie in a baking dish with jam spooned on top, ready to be baked.

Bake in a 350 degrees oven about 10-15 minutes, until cheese is oozy and jam is melting.  Remove from oven.  Sprinkle nuts over the top.

2.  Place the cheese dish on a larger plate or tray and arrange crackers and apple wedges around it.  To eat just dip the apples and/or crackers into the cheese mixture and enjoy.

Three B’s Salad: Beets, Brussels Sprouts, and Bacon

Roasted Beets, Brussels Sprouts and Bacon Salad

I subscribe to quite a few food magazines.  More than I should probably, because I’m always 2-3 months behind in my reading of them, but I love to look at them and get ideas, or try new recipes.  In the issues that have arrived this Fall I have noticed a great emphasis on the use of Brussels Sprouts for salads.  I don’t think I would ever have thought of making them into a salad, but once introduced to the idea I gave it a shot, and this is the one I tried.

The recipe’s biggest attraction for me was the use of roasted beets with the Brussels sprouts, and bacon as a garnish adding another level of flavor.  The dressing is lemon based instead of vinegar with olive oil and a little mustard.  I had golden beets on hand, so that is what I used in this salad.




  • 1/2 pound Brussels sprouts, ends and outer leaves removed

    Golden beets, roasted.

  • 3-4 beets, roasted    You can find my method for roasting beets here.
  • 4 slices bacon, cooked crisp and drained on paper towel
  • 1 bag salad greens of choice, or leaves of Romaine
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


1.  Bring a pot of salted water to boiling.  Drop in the Brussels sprouts, bring back to a boil, and cook for 2 minutes.  Drain immediately and immerse or rinse with cold water to stop the cooking action.  Drain throughly and pat dry with paper towels.

Brussels sprouts after blanching.

2.  Slice each of the sprouts into thin slices,  about 1/4 inch thick.

Slice the sprouts into 1/4 inch slices.

3.  On individual salad plates, make a layer of salad greens as a base for the remaining ingredients.  Cover with the sliced Brussels sprouts, then wedges of roast beets, and bacon crumbled over the top.

Layering on the vegetables and bacon.

4.  In a small bowl or cup whisk together the lemon juice, oil, mustard, salt and pepper.  Drizzle over each salad before serving.

A very nice mixture of flavors and textures.

My reaction to this innovative salad:  I was pleasantly surprised by how well these ingredients worked together.  I particularly liked the saltiness of the bacon with the vegetables, and the Dijon mustard in the dressing enhanced the Brussels Sprouts, giving me the thought that mustard would be good to add to a sauce for Brussels sprouts when they are served hot as well.  This salad is filling and nutritious.  I served it with a meatless pasta dish for a hearty meal.

SOURCE:   Eating Well

Giving Thanks

On this day when we stop to appreciate and give thanks for all that we have I want to send a message of Thanks to my readers and friends for their continued interest and loyalty in reading what I have to say about food and its preparation.  Without all of you out there I would just be throwing my words to the wind, but knowing you are there, reading and often times responding to my posts, keeps me fresh and interested in this pastime of mine.  My heartfelt thanks go out to you and may you and your loved ones Have A Happy Thanksgiving!

Sweet Potato Cookies

Sweet Potato Cutout Cookies

These cookies share one of the traditional flavors of Fall and Thanksgiving:  sweet potatoes.  I like to make them for any children who may be at my Thanksgiving Table, as not all of them like pie, preferring ice cream and cookies instead.  This year I have added two new cookie cutters to my collection; a turkey and a pumpkin, and I wanted to try them out, and since I am cooking sweet potatoes for a side dish, the small amount needed for this recipe allows me to make two things at once.  I like that!

These cookies are a kind of takeoff on the traditional Thanksgiving casserole of Baked Sweet Potatoes with Marshmallow Topping.  I have made some minor adaptations to make them less sweet, and don’t usually frost them with the Marshmallow Frosting, but if calories are not a concern by all means top the cookies with the frosting.  You may also brush the tops with a little egg white before baking,  sprinkle with sugar and add a pecan or other piece of nut to garnish them.

What I did for the cookies pictured here is make an Ornamental frosting with egg white, confectioners’ sugar, and a little vanilla.  Then lightly frost them, like a glaze, and sprinkle with decorative sugar.

They are not a sweet cookie so they can take a small amount of frosting.  Children will like them for the shapes, and the frosting, not realizing they are getting some good nutrition from the sweet potatoes.   I haven’t tried it yet, but I think you could make them with pumpkin instead of sweet potatoes, since both are so similar as to be interchangeable .


Type of cookie:  Rolled cutout.   Makes about 15 large cookies


  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon cinnamon  (Seems like a lot of spices, but this is no mistake.)
  • 1 Tablespoon ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup ( 1 stick) butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup cooked and mashed sweet potato
  • 1 egg white lightly beaten with a little water
  • 1/2 cup pecan halves, or other nut pieces
  • Marshmallow Frosting, (optional.)   Recipe follows.

1.  Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger and pepper in a medium bowl; set aside.

2.  Cream the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the egg and sweet potato and beat well.

3.  Add the flour mixture and blend well.  Form the dough into a flat disk, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

4.  Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.  Grease 2 cookie sheets or line with parchment paper.

5.  Roll the dough out on a floured work surface to 3/8 inch thick.  Cut with a 3-inch cookie cutter.  Place the shapes on the cookie sheets 2 inches apart.

6.  Brush the cookies with the egg white mixture, and press a nut piece into the center of each cookie.

7.  Bake for 15 – 18 minutes, until lightly browned.  Let cool on the pans for 5 minutes, then transfer to cooling racks to finish cooling.

Turkey Cutout Cookies

Pumpkin Cutout Cookies


  • 2 Tablespoons milk
  • 6 Tablespoons sugar
  • mini-marshmallows
  • 2 Tablespoons boiling water
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1.  In a saucepan over medium-low heat, heat the milk and sugar for 6 minutes without stirring.

2.  In a double boiler heat the marshmallows.  When they are very soft add boiling water, stirring until smooth.

3.  Remove from heat.  Add the vanilla.  With an electric mixer on medium speed beat in the hot sugar, keep beating until partly cool.  Use at once.

Pretty and Inviting. Garnished with a pistachio nut and decorative sugars.

SOURCE:   Crazy about Cookies by Krystina Castella

Cranberry-Pear Pie

Pear Still Life

Today I’d like to speak on behalf of the pear.  I don’t think that pears get the attention they deserve.  The apple, on the other hand, gets all kinds of attention.  It’s as American as well, apple pie!  Eaten out of hand, baked into cakes, pies, squares, covered with caramel on a stick—I could go on and on.  But how about the pear?  Raise your hand if you’ve ever made a pear pie.  Right!  I thought not. So today I want to introduce you to a wonderful treat–a cranberry pear pie with a streusel crumb topping.

Cranberry Pear Pie with Streusel Topping

This is the time of year when pears are plentiful and there are many different kinds of pears.  The ones we are most familiar with are probably the Bartlett, the Anjou, and the Bosc. Each has its own characteristics, but one thing they all have in common is a juicy sweetness when they are ripe.  Most pears are not strong flavored so they pair well with other fruits and seasonings that bring out their flavor, like cranberries, ginger, nutmeg, and orange.  This pie incorporates three out of those four.  It has fresh cranberries, cooked with orange zest and ginger, which is then mixed with the fresh pears, and piled into a flaky pie crust.  Then it’s topped with a streusel that combines oatmeal with brown sugar, orange juice, more ginger and cinnamon.  There’s not much more I can say in praise of this pie except try it and find out how good it is for yourself!


Source:   Cooking Light, 2009

Servings:  about 10


  • 1 cup water
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup cranberries ( can be fresh or dried)
  • 1 ( 1-inch ) piece peeled fresh ginger cut into thin slices.
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange rind
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 6 peeled pears, cored and sliced about 1/4″ thick  (Anjou or Bosc pears work best as they are firm)
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 refrigerated pie crust
  • cooking spray


  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tablespoons butter, melted
  • 2 Tablespoons orange juice
  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Position oven rack in the lower third of the oven.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

To Prepare pie:

1.  In a small saucepan, combine 1 cup water and 1/3 cup sugar.  Over medium-high heat, bring to a boil;  add cranberries, ginger slices, and orange rind.  Return to a boil and stir until sugar dissolves.  Reduce heat to low and simmer 15 minutes or until liquid is reduced to 2 tablespoons.  Remove from heat.  Discard ginger slices.  Cool.

Cook cranberries with sugar and ginger.

2.  Combine lemon juice and sliced pears in a large bowl; toss.  Combine 1/4 cup flour and 1/3 cup brown sugar.  Add to pears; toss to coat.  Stir in cranberry mixture.

3.  Fit refrigerated pie crust into a 9-inch pie pan which has been lightly sprayed with cooking spray.  Fold edges under; flute.  Spoon pear mixture into prepared crust.

Pile seasoned pear filling in the pie shell.

To prepare Streusel:

1.  Melt the butter in a medium bowl in the microwave.  Add the orange juice and stir to mix.  Measure flour and add along with oats, and remaining ingredients;  toss.

2.  Sprinkle oat mixture over pear filling.

Sprinkle oatmeal crumb topping on pie filling.

Cover pie loosely with foil, place on a baking sheet.  Bake covered in the lower third of oven at 400 degrees for 1 hour.  Uncover; bake another 15 minutes or until nicely browned.  Cool on a rack 1 hour before serving.

Additional notes:  raisins would be a good addition if cranberries are not available.  Also you could vary the fruit and use apples instead with equally good ( and tasty) results.

A reeeealy good pie!

Butternut Bisque

Butternut Bisque

As many of you are probably doing,  I’m making out my menu for Thanksgiving Dinner, checking the cupboard for what I have on hand and what I need to get.  My shopping list is close at hand.  There are certain dishes that are alway present on my Thanksgiving dinner table because it’s a favorite of someone in the family and they want to enjoy it once again.  Each year I try to make one dish a little different than I’ve made it previously just to give it a new spin, or I introduce something new.

This year as my guests arrive, I will be serving small cups of soup along with a cheese board and crackers.  The soup is one which I have made many times before, but never served as an appetizer, so we will have to see how that works out.  Because it is a favorite of my husband and me I’m sharing it here.  We usually have it with grilled cheese sandwiches, and it makes a very hearty meatless meal.  You might also want to serve it in small cups as a appetizer for your holiday meal as I will be doing.

The recipe has gone through several adaptations, but was originally given to me by a co-worker, who was a wonderful French cook.  She grew a big garden every year and just had a special way of using all those vegetables she grew.  Her soups were outstanding, and I’m fortunate that she shared some of her recipes with me.  They are some of my very favorites.




Ingredients for Butternut Bisque

  • 2 – 2 1/2 pounds butternut squash,  peeled and cubed
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 2 carrots, peeled and sliced into coins
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, sliced
  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 5 – 6 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
  • pinch each:  nutmeg, ginger, cayenne pepper
  • salt and pepper


1.  Melt butter in a large soup pan.  Add onions, carrots, and celery.  Saute for 2-3 minutes.

Saute onions, carrots, and celery.

2.  Add potatoes and squash to the pan; followed by the broth.

Potatoes and squash ready to be added.

Bring to a boil.  Decrease heat, cover and simmer till vegetables become very tender,  approximately 40 minutes.  Add the curry, nutmeg, ginger and cayenne.

3.  Puree the soup mixture using an immersion blender, or regular blender working in batches.  Return soup to the pan.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Keep warm till ready to serve.  Serve hot with a dollop of sour cream on top.

This is the perfect use for a fall vegetable.

SOURCE:   With thanks to Ann N., my friend, who was so generous in sharing her recipes and cooking talents with me.