Tag Archives: recipes

Sharon’s Tortellini Salad

It’s a hot July weekend, and things are slow here at the house. My husband and son woke early yesterday and drove in opposite directions on the interstate, each with his own getaway plan. I’m without a vehicle, which is fine. My feet can take me where I need to go, and if something comes up, I can call in reinforcements and borrow a car.

I made tortellini salad this morning, just because I can. There’s no special occasion, holiday, or gathering. It’s the perfect time to make tortellini salad, because I made it for me! (But, of course, I plan to share.)

Posting a picture of the finished product on social media drew engagement and a request for the recipe. After conferring with my sister and receiving her blessing to share it, I returned to the personal blog with inspiration.

Below is the official recipe. Look it over, and then we will talk below.

I view this recipe, and many others, as a suggestion. Often I modify and adapt, which I did today. The recipe above is what is handwritten by my sister, Sharon, on a piece of paper and encased in a page protector in my well-loved recipe binder.

Here’s what I really did.

I followed the dressing mixture exactly. That is a non-negotiable.

I omitted the artichokes and added black olives. (I didn’t have artichokes and usually add black olives anyway for color even when I DO have artichokes.)

I used no nuts or sunflower seeds, again, simply because I didn’t have any. Each adds a different flavor/texture when used, but they aren’t necessary.

I used frozen tortellini that came in a big bag from Costco (now that I have a membership again). Each bag holds enough for 3 or 4 recipe’s-worth. I have also doubled the recipe for large gatherings.

I think any pasta would probably work with this, but tortellini is my top choice (with apologies to the child who was traumatized by tortellini and the ones who suffered secondary trauma as a result).

Thank for your enthusiastic support and for asking me to share! I hope you enjoy.

Avocado Toast

Avocado toast is comfortingly crisp, its creamy goodness and spicy bite nourishing body and soul. Something about preparing food that is simple, yet complex enough to need forethought, makes this a special treat.

Unlike bananas, avocados are not perpetually present on my counter, unless I realize they can be if I choose. These days avocados appear more often. I make the choice.

When I am mindful about how I feel in my body, I notice hunger and take time to make myself this intentional snack. When I am mindless, I head to the pantry and begin foraging. The end result often involves barbecue potato chips consumed in less-than-mindful quantities.

Toasted bread, mashed ripe avocado, and swirled sriracha sauce satisfies the need for my mouth to experience crunchy, comforting carbs with a dash of heat. It fuels my body with something of substance.

This weekend my daughter asked what I wanted for lunch. I answered, Avocado toast. She made it for me. It was even more delicious than usual, prepared with love.

I have a complex relationship with food, yet I eat. Each time I answer my body’s call to hunger with mindfulness is a step of growth. Each time I respond to poor food choices with kindness and curiosity, I discover more of what lies beneath the surface of my heart.

Avocado toast brings me back.

Here’s the how-to.

  • Toast a slice of bread and put it on a small plate.
  • Cut a ripe avocado in half and mash it right in the peel. Save the other half for later. (I usually include it in lunch somehow or share with another person.)
  • Scoop the mashed avocado out of the peel onto the toasted bread. Spread it around.
  • Drizzle with sriracha sauce. My sauce of choice is Cha! by Texas Pete®

    What about you, Dear Reader? What is a comforting, kind food that you prepare for yourself? Do share!

Herbed Dinner Rolls

This bread machine recipe is a staple in our home. It comes from Taste of Home’s Quick Cooking magazine September/October 2004. I have the original recipe page torn out and saved in a plastic sleeve. This is Dana Lowry’s prize-winning recipe.

Herbed Dinner Rolls
1 cup warm water
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1 egg
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon each dried basil, oregano, thyme, and dried rosemary, crushed (I put equal amounts of these spices in an empty spice container that I repurposed for herbed dinner roll seasoning. That way I just take out 2 teaspoons of the blend instead of tiny amounts from four different containers every time I make them.)
3 1/4 cups bread flour
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
Additional butter, melted
Course salt, optional

In bread machine pan place the water, softened butter, egg, sugar, salt, seasonings, flour, and yeast in order suggested by the manufacturer. I put them in that exact order.

Select dough cycle. Check dough after 5 minutes of mixing and add flour or water if necessary depending on consistency.

When cycle is completed, turn dough onto a lightly floured surface. Divide dough into 16 portions and shape each into a ball. Place 2″ apart on a greased cookie sheet. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 30 minutes.

Bake at 375 for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown. If desired brush with butter and sprinkle with coarse salt. (I rarely do this.) Remove from pan to wire racks to cool. It is noted that if your machine has a time delay feature, it is not recommended for this recipe.

**I pull off amounts of dough, shape it into balls, and place them on a baking stone as seen in the picture. Then I bake at 400 for 15 mins. This makes a beautiful presentation of pull-apart rolls. The individually shaped ones look better in a bread basket.**


We left New Jersey late Sunday afternoon with hugs and goodbyes and a bag of baked potatoes. While the women were at The River House celebrating the bride, the men were home grilling steaks with the groom.

Would your family eat these potatoes?

There was a tray of foil-wrapped potatoes that had been baked and then overlooked. My mind immediately went to a meal I could prepare with them. I am always grateful for a gift of food, especially at the end of a full weekend when I am returning home after a 5 hour drive to a fridge with sketchy contents.

A bag of New Jersey baked potatoes traveled home with us. I used them for supper last night in the form of Canoes, which is our version of twice-baked potatoes.

Here is the recipe:

Baked Potatoes

Sour Cream
Cooked bacon
Shredded Cheese
Green onions or garden chives

The proportions, and amounts are based on the number of potatoes being prepared. I don’t follow direct measurements I just put everything into the Kitchen-Aid and mix it together until it looks creamy and delicious. The ingredients can be adjusted based on taste preferences and fridge contents. It is a forgiving, flexible recipe.

Slice potatoes in half and scoop out the middles. Put the insides in a mixing bowl and the skins on a cookie sheet (like canoes).

Add a bit of softened butter and sour cream to the bowl and mix well.

Begin adding milk until desired consistency (like making mashed potatoes).

Chop the cooked bacon into bits (or just use bacon bits if you have them). Stir the bacon into the potato mixture.

Add the shredded cheese, saving some to sprinkle on top.

Season as desired (salt/pepper/chopped green onion or chives).

If you have people who don’t like onions, then scoop out some filling into the potato skin canoes before adding onions to the rest.

Sprinkle the tops with cheese. Sprinkle a bit of chopped onions or chives over the ones that contain onions to mark them from those that don’t.

Bake in a 375 degree oven for 10-15 minutes until everything is heated through and the cheese is melted. You may need to adjust the time or temperature for your oven.


This is a delicious summer recipe. I served it last night with sliced watermelon, a salad filled with goodness from our garden, a heart full of thankfulness for daily provision and happy memories of a special weekend.

Ice Cream Birthday Cake

Today is my and Little Mae’s birthday. I am sharing our cake creation with you here as we spend the day celebrating another year of life together with our family.

We agreed upon an ice cream cake. The recipe we use is one that I remember Aunt Caryl introducing to the family when I was a girl. It has ice cream sandwiches as the base layer in a 9×13 pan followed by a layer of softened ice cream. Finally Cool Whip is spread on top.

That’s it!

Our week began on Monday with Steve’s new job and Mae and I home together. We went to Sharp Shopper, the local grocery outlet, for some items. While we were there, I found the ingredients for our cake, only slightly varied.

That is the way it is with Sharp Shopper. You have to hold expectations loosely and be willing to improvise. Things are usually slightly varied.

Here are the ingredients purchased for our cake.

Instead of ice cream sandwiches which they didn’t have, I bought chocolate ice cream sandwich making wafers, which they did. I bought two cartons of Moose Tracks frozen yogurt and two cartons of Cool Whip light topping.

For you locals, the only reason I didn’t use the Pumpkin Pie ice cream is because it is a shared cake. 😉

In the bottom of a glass 9×13 baking dish I placed a layer of chocolate wafers.

A carton of softened frozen yogurt was spread over the chocolate wafers. If these were ice cream sandwiches they would have ice cream in them already, but this is the Sharp Shopper version.

A second layer of wafers went on the softened frozen yogurt.

Another carton of frozen yogurt was spread over it all.

The final layer was Cool Whip, two 8oz cartons. I sprinkled everything with rainbow sprinkles and wrote with chocolate icing.

The finished cake went in the freezer, uncovered, to set the writing before covering it with foil to save for today. We will enjoy it after our birthday dinner!

Sunday Cookie Making

If you are looking for something to do this rainy Sunday afternoon, consider mixing up a batch of cookies!

I just finished a recipe of Cocoa Oatmeal Treats found in the Hershey’s Homemade cookbook. This little gem filled with dessert recipes has been in my cupboard since the early 90’s and sustained many a declutter rampage. Now it is considered vintage.

I needed a dessert to send to youth group tonight. Rather than baking my go-to chocolate chip cookies, I mixed up these no-bake ones. They are my oldest son’s favorite type of cookie. I remembered this as I was making them.

During one of his birthday celebrations, my dear friend Heather helped me make them in the kitchen as his party was happening. She stood at the stove stirring and mixing and dropping onto pans to cool. I bagged them to send home as party favors. 

This time, my daughter, Coco, helped me with the cocoa cookies. Here is the recipe we used as found in the Hershey’s Homemade cookbook before she ran out the door on an errand with her father. He and I will drink coffee and enjoy a cookie when they return.

Cocoa Oatmeal Treats
2 c sugar
1/3 c Hershey’s cocoa
1/2 c milk
1/2 c (1 stick) butter
1/3 c creamy peanut butter
2 1/2 c quick-cooking rolled oats (or regular oats if that’s all you have)
1/2 c chopped unsalted peanuts

In medium saucepan stir together sugar and cocoa; stir in milk and butter. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil; boil 1 minute. Remove from heat; stir in peanut butter. Add oats and peanuts; stir to mix well. Quickly drop mixture by rounded teaspoonfuls onto wax paper or foil (or parchment lined pans). Cool completely. Store in a cool, dry place. About 4 dozen.

These are so good. Truly like butter because, well, butter! I enjoyed my quota before remembering I was supposed to have cookies and coffee with Steve when he returns. Oops!

(They contain peanuts and peanut butter, so be mindful to label for allergies.)

Easy Tears

We were in the kitchen, adult son and I.

I was fixing lunch, quesadillas. Easy.

We were talking about the day and about feelings and life. I told him about an upcoming trip that had me feeling nostalgic. He told me about an incident he had witnessed over the weekend that turned on my tears.


He began to apologize. There was no need. He had done nothing wrong. I was feeling my reality. The tears were inviting me into more of it.

Last week we were on vacation. We had a beach day. Every year we take the same lunch in the cooler.

  • Ritz crackers
  • Polska kielbasa cut into slices
  • Easy cheese in cheddar and American styles
  • sodas and water
  • some kind of fruit

When I am well-prepared there are also paper plates and napkins. This year was a not-well-prepared year. We had to live dangerously, risking dropping the can of cheese in the sand or the cracker in the sand, or the meat into the sand.

All to be coated in sand.

There is always a lot of sand. Some people like the added texture. It is a lunch not for the faint of heart. It is the beach.

This year I noticed a can of Cheese Wow! mixed in with the name brand cheeses. My husband had offered to do the grocery run when we arrived in town to start our vacation. For a good $3 less, it was quite comparable.

But you have to say Cheese Wow!

So in the kitchen today, as my tears began to squeeze out of my eyes, I couldn’t hold them back. No matter how hard I tried to keep them in, they came squirting out.

Easy Tears just like the Easy Cheese at the beach. Just as salty, too.

Tears Wow!

I have a lot of them inside, crashing like the ocean’s waves.

That is all.

Sweet Potatoes

It’s Thanksgiving Eve, and tonight I am thankful that the sweet potatoes are fixed and ready to be baked tomorrow. I am thankful for my parents and their willingness to host Thanksgiving dinner. It is lovely to just show up.

I first tasted this casserole twenty-eight years ago, Holiday Season 1987, with Steve’s family. His sister-in-law, Robin, prepared it. I asked for the recipe. I still have it on a faded pink piece of paper.

Siblings have requested the recipe in the past. This year an adult child texted to ask. After digging around, looking for, and finally finding it, I decided to post it here.

Robin’s Sweet Potatoes
4 or 5 sweet potatoes, baked, and middles scooped into a mixing bowl.*
1 cup sugar

1 stick butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 c milk
3 eggs
Mix well.
Pour into a greased baking dish.
Prepare topping.
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
1 cup brown sugar
1/3 stick butter, melted
Mix together, spread over potatoes, and bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

*To cook sweet potatoes, wash and then prick them all over with a fork. Place on a foil-lined cookie sheet or baking pan and bake at 375 for an hour or so. Remove from oven to counter or just turn off the oven and let them cool in there. When cool to touch, the insides scoop right out.*

This dish can be made ahead of time and baked later. I have played around with this recipe by adding more potatoes, cutting the sugar/butter to taste, etc. It’s still good, but definitely not diet, low-carb, low-fat, or low anything. It’s like candy.

Perfect for twice a year!

Fall Chowder

How have I never heard of Croctober? 

Facebook introduced me last night. Pretty cool, since today I was planning to post about Fall Chowder made in the crockpot. Now it can be for Croctober, too! Win~win!

Back in the day before the internet was in every home and wifi connected all of our devices to sites like Facebook and Pinterest, there were people. And books. You had to actually connect face to face (not facetime) with real people and look things up in literal books.

You couldn’t click a mouse and instantly find 50 pumpkin recipes for the season, or 50 crock-pot recipes for your freezer, or any of the other knock-off seasonal latte drink recipes that fill one’s feed while scrolling through Facebook. You had to have cookbooks or recipes from friends or something cut out of a newspaper or magazine to find that unique dish or drink. You had to work a little harder for your variety.

You needed connection.

A small season of connection came for me when I was fifteen, and my family began attending a new church. Looking back, it was such a short season, maybe seven months at most, but I was impacted for the rest of my life by my experience there.

The ladies of the church, who all seemed so virtuous and perfect to my untrained eye, assembled a cookbook that I acquired somehow, maybe from my then-boyfriend, who might have wished that I could be as stellar as they when I grew up. Maybe I came across it some other way. My memory doesn’t serve, and I am choosing not to go to that season in my memory right now.

Where I am choosing to go is to the fact that I received a treasure trove of recipes that I have followed throughout my married life and that has followed me. Each recipe has the name of the woman (or, rare, man) who contributed it. There are no links, websites, or blogs listed. I feel a connection to those whose recipes I prepare.

Some recipes have now been inspired by, since the original is lost or has fallen out of the book or been removed and not replaced (long ago when the book began to fall apart, I put the sheets in page protectors in a binder, which was both good and bad. Good – protect. Bad – remove and lose.)

So, if you are reading this (and I know some of you do) and recognize your (or a friend’s) recipe, send me a shout-out. I’d love to remember.

Here is my crock pot adaptation of Fall Chowder. It is not healthy, fat free, low calorie or anything. It is comfort food at it’s finest, unless you are nine. Then it is torture.

Crock Pot Fall Chowder

4 c red potatoes, cut into small cubes
4 c carrots, sliced
1 onion, chopped
4-6 c chicken broth or bouillon cubes and water, or equal liquid choice for the base
12-16oz bacon
Small bag of frozen corn
2 cans Campbell’s cheddar cheese soup
2 cans milk
4 c shredded cheddar cheese (or to taste)
Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Put the cut up carrots and potatoes into the Crock Pot (mine is the larger 6 qt size).
  2. Cook the bacon. Either cut it into pieces first and cook it up with the chopped onions, or cook up the strips and then drain and cook up the onions in some of the grease. Put the cooked bacon into the pot. Add the cooked onions. Stir everything together.
  3. Add the broth or cooking liquid of choice. I make big batches of broth when I cook chicken, so there are often frozen bags or containers of broth in my freezer. Since this is going to cook all day, I put the frozen chunk right into the pot. It works great. If you do this, move it to the bottom of the pot and sort of pile the vegetables around the frozen chunk.
  4. Start the pot on low if it will be cooking all day.
  5. An hour or two before you plan to eat (this works for me on a workday when I get home at 3:15, and we eat at 6), remove the lid and give the soup a stir. Everything should be cooked and soup-like. Add the 2 cans of cheese soup and 2 cans of milk. Stir. Add the frozen corn. Stir. Add the shredded cheese. Stir. Replace the lid and continue to cook on low until you eat.

In my ideal world, we eat this with jiffy cornbread muffins and honey-butter. There is a salad.

Reality is sometimes Pillsbury pop-biscuits or bread and butter.

Enjoy! Happy Crocktober!

Mardi Gras Crepes

It’s Fat Tuesday, Mardi Gras. (Paczki Day. I hear Grammy’s voice clearly.)

The year I made crepes to celebrate the occasion, it became a tradition. I don’t even remember when that was, and since I didn’t have a blog back in the day, there is no official documentation. Maybe I should have made PaczkisYes. I even know it is pronounced poonchkeys, and they are like fried jelly donuts.

Thanks to my Grammy.

Did I even have a life back then? Before the world-wide-web?

On Fat Tuesday we eat cherry and blueberry crepes (and, apparently, starting this year, the adults drink Pinot Noir…excellent pairing). I also add a side like bacon or sausage patties. This year was sausage, since we had bacon for breakfast, recently. (Like, yesterday. The snowday morning.)

It’s difficult to believe that I did things like this. Started traditions. Made memories.

But I did!

Now that I have a blog I thought it might be helpful to actually save and share the recipe that I used, since each year seems to be a surprise to me.

How do I make those crepes, again? I know there’s that lemony-cream cheese filling, but does anyone else like that or just me and Steve?

So here goes. It’s a little late for your Fat Tuesday celebration this year but makes an excellent treat any time. In our family, Steve and I and the oldest little like the cream cheese filling added in before the fruit filling, and the little girls just like plain filling.

Roo only liked the sausage. She tried crepes last year and says her tastes haven’t changed.

Everyone who ate crepes, squirted whipped cream on top, except for Mommy, who has had enough Fat Tuesday to last for the next 40 days. She’ll have another glass of Pinot. Orange juice also makes a great beverage choice for this meal.

Basic Crepes
1 c flour
2 eggs
1/2 c milk
1/2 c water
2 T butter, melted
1/2 t salt (If there is anything better than RealSalt mixed equally with Kirkland Sea Salt, I haven’t found it. I am a salt freak. Wait. There IS that Celtic Sea Salt. Whatever salt you like, add 1/2 tsp. or a few cranks with the grinder.)
Mix flour and eggs. Gradually add milk and water. Add melted butter and salt.
Pour a scant (1/4-1/3 c) amount of batter onto hot omelet or frying pan and swirl around to coat the bottom. Cook like a pancake. Remove cooked crepes to plate for filling and rolling.

Fill with fruit or pie filling of choice. We like cherry and blueberry.

Lemon-Cream Cheese filling (if desired to add before the fruit filling)
8oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 lemon, juiced
Powdered sugar until desired consistency (1 or 2 cups)
Mix cream cheese and lemon juice (used Kitchen Aid for this)
Add powdered sugar until desired “icing” or “filling” consistency
Spread on cooked crepe, add cherry or blueberry pie filling, and roll up.

Omit cream cheese filling for small children or those who don’t like it and just use your favorite pie filling or fruit. I also served the cream cheese filling concoction on the side for those who wanted to add some to theirs.

There you have a yummy celebration dish. It is not “free” of anything and it is “fully” everything. Once a year. We can do that. Happy Mardi Gras!