Category Archives: recipes

Bonus from tidying up food

img_7029So, I did save $150 that first week by not buying groceries, and then $75 the next week.  I have rediscovered coupons!

Also, I invented a recipe using some of the stuff I had in the house when I was saving $150 by not eating out or food shopping this week: Naan Pizza.


  •  One piece of Naan Bread for each person eating; this recipe makes individual pizzas
  • Tomato sauce of any kind (or green pesto or red pesto or whatever you find in your pantry or freezer)
  • Mozzarella (block, shredded, slices)-I ALWAYS have mozzarella in some form in my fridge or freezer. You could also use provolone or whatever cheese you have
  • Grated parmesan: sprinkle on top of sauce and under mozzarella. If you don’t have it, leave it out. We ALWAYS have it. Hey, we’re Italian. What can I say?

Apart from that, you can snip some basil from the garden over it if you have it, or use dried oregano and or dried basil. You can top it further with anything you have on hand that you like on a pizza (bacon, any nearing-the-end-of-its-life cold cuts or veggies).

Throw it in to the oven at 400-425 degrees for 8-12 minutes, depending on how burned (or not!) you like you pizza.

If you want to eat it like a Neapolitan, just fold it in half or into quarters and mangia!

Buon Appetito!



Italian birthday cake, 2015

IMG_4349My family of origin had some family traditions, but they were few.

One that has made it to the present is the Italian Rum Cake birthday cake tradition. My brother’s birthday and mine are about a month apart. We both love Italian Rum Cakes. My family? His family? Um, not so much.

Okay, they hate it.

As much as I love this cake, it is not fun to have a birthday cake on my birthday that no one but me will eat.

Also, it’s damn hard to find this cake in Maine. Actually, it’s IMPOSSIBLE to find this cake in Maine.

So here’s what my brother and I do now:

  1. We call La Cascia’s Bakery and order the Italian Rum Cake with Strawberries (included) and Peaches (cost extra-pay it! it’s worth it!). You get to choose between whipped cream and buttercream frosting (WHIPPED CREAM FROSTING ROCKS!). You must decide if you want nuts on the outside or not-I can never decide so I order nuts on half of it. 🙂
  2. One of us picks up the cake and drives to the other’s house (we take turns hosting-this year is my brother’s turn).
  3. We split the cake. Literally. We each eat half. In our defense, we order the smallest one (serves 8-10 people in real life) they make.

That’s it. Problem solved! We love the cake! Our relatives are not subjected to it! Plus it’s June (my birthday was in May) and I am still eating birthday cake!

I did find a recipe for it (without the strawberries and peaches) on the Mangia Bene Pasta website, but there are something like a thousand steps in this recipe, so it’s pretty certain that I will never make it. Ever. I’d be too tired to eat it after all that.

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Snow day! Top ten (fun) things to do

I have not had a snow day for quite a while  (the Christmas Blizzard doesn’t count because I was too worried about my husband and son driving home from work in it to enjoy it). I decided to plan ahead for the next one, so I was ready to dive into distraction at a moment’s notice.

Stuff to do:

  1. a.Crack out the crock pot. The big one. Make soup. Here’s a recipe for Minestrone using whatever you have in the pantry and fridge. Whatever is left over can be frozen to bring to work to eat for lunch during the week.  b.Pull out the frozen gravy, meatballs and sausage from the freezer; place in crock pot. Add whatever odds and ends of meat you have leftover. Supper is almost ready!
  2. No crock pot? Here’s a great recipe from Stephen Lanzalotta (author of The Diet Code, and baker extraordinaire at Micucci’s on India Street in Portland) that uses stuff (once again) that you have in the pantry right now. Really. I’ll wait while you go check. It’s for Tomato and Tuna Soup for one. Not alone (or just really hungry)? Just employ a little math to double or triple the recipe. Done.
  3. Got Netflix? Load up your instant queue so now that the flakes are flying, all you’ll have to do is hit the “play” button.
  4. Bake! You can mix up a bucket of bread dough (keeps in fridge for up to two weeks) so it’s ready when you are. Not much gets those endorphins going like the smell of fresh bread baking.
  5. Read! Got a stack of books by (or under) the bed? A stack of magazines you’ve had no time to read? A Kindle? Go for it.
  6. Write! Keep a file that you toss your little scraps of napkins, post its, notebook paper on which you’ve jotted down ideas that came to you while driving, watching TV, listening to a boring lecture at school so you will always have your own prompts and projects ready.
  7. Got kids? Play Wii! (or Uno, or checkers, or whatever!)
  8. Take a nap. You know you want to.
  9. Virtually  visit with friends and relatives via FB or email. In other words…DON”T DRIVE!
  10. Be grateful the fam is all safe and sound.


Homemade egg rolls

Rolling up the egg rolls


Our friends, the Douangsovaths, came over to our house to teach us how to make egg rolls. 

After they arrived, we took a quick shopping trip for necessary ingredients. Lettuce I had growing in  my garden, a tomato was on the counter that i picked up at the farmers market earlier that week…but bean threads? Not one of my pantry staples. 

Here’s the shopping list: 

  1. Green Cabbage (not Napa)
  2. The largest bag of carrots that I’ve ever seen
  3. Bean threads (in the asian food aisle)
  4. Egg Roll Wrappers (they brought these; I’m actually not sure where they came from)
  5. Whatever meat you want to use; we used ground chicken and ground pork (for convenience sake!). We also bought some small shrimp (and cut them up even smaller).
  6. Magic spice mix: mixed salt, pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder. I guessed for the proportions. You mix them all together until it “tastes right”. Ahem.
  7. Canola oil for frying. Get a big one.
  8. One beaten egg; this becomes the glue that keeps your egg roll closed.
  9. A LARGE jar of duck sauce.

For equipment, you need a food processor, a fry daddy (which they brought with them). Kitchen tongs. 

Then, you just mix all the ingredients together in roughly equal parts. Then you use about a tablespoon of the mixture and roll it up in the wrapper as tightly (and as thinly) as you can. 

Then fry for 6-7 minutes until golden brown, drain on a rack. We made about a hundred and fifty rolls. Here’s the thing: you will not remember how many you’ve eaten if you just start cutting them up and eating them as you are making them, as we did.  I’m warning you about the egg roll fugue state that will ensue if you do this! Decide how many you will eat, put them on a plate, and then stop! (okay, you have been warned). 

The lettuce was used (and full disclosure: they bought some not knowing we had it growing in the garden already!) to wrap up the egg roll after it was fried; that’s how one of our friends eats them (he also put  a pile of a shredded carrot recipe he had made on it too). I tried it this way and it was excellent. Sort of helps you forget you are eating deep fried food when you disguise it by placing vegetables all around it. 

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parting is such…(insert oxymoronic phrase)

my best work friend is moving on to greener pastures in the workforce…happy for her, sad for me.  of course,we plan to stay in touch and have even gone so far as to devise ways to accomplish this (we don’t live near each other), but it is still happy/sad. In The Happiness Project (, author Gretchen Rubin talks about this feeling (she calls it ‘happy/unhappy’ in her book), when the thing that makes you happy also makes you unhappy…one of her examples is eating more than one cupcake…i can relate to that.

how to officially say goodbye? usually at my company we offer up a cake of some sort (although more often than not, my departing friend is the cake baker/procurer) and a gift certificate to a local business.

her favorite cake is chocolate cake with chocolate frosting; guess i’d better get a-bakin’~ seems like as good a place to start as any.

how do you say goodbye to (favorite) work colleagues?

what are some favorite goodbye gifts that you have given (or received) under similar circumstances?

here is a link to some goodbye poems (may also be useful  in case any of you are cardmakers or scrapbookers ):

cookie break!

and speaking of cookies…recently my coworker was walking around with a plate of her latest offering: homemade cookies. way to boost morale in the workplace!  one of her favorite websites for recipes is  i tried some of the recipes from this website and had great success with them (the blueberry muffins were a big hit with the kids…but that’s another story; today we are talking about cookies).

these are MY favorite cookies at the moment; either homemade (they sell a cookbook with the recipe) or you can go to the Beach Pea Bakery in Kittery and purchase one (or two or three!) already  made: if you go, check out the fougasse…

do you prefer to bake your own cookies or to have them handed to you?