Archive for March, 2008

When I was a kid, back in the dark ages, my mom found a recipe for a nummy dessert that our family really liked.  When I had a family of my own, I often fixed this for dessert, especially when we had company. I couldn’t remember what the name was, so my girl friend named it “Strawberry Doo-doo”. I admit it’s not a very appetizing name perhaps, but it stuck, for whatever reason. If you come up with a better, classier name, feel free to rename it with my blessing.

It’s light, very refreshing, and slightly adaptable in that it can easily become “Raspberry Doo-doo” if you prefer. Best of all, it’s one of the dishes you can prepare ahead. In fact, it must be prepared at least 4 hours ahead, so that it can become gelled. Yes, as in “Jello”. It’s one of those 1950 era dishes that makes use of that “miracle in a box” Jello. Don’t thumb your nose at it. It’s a real time saver.

 I prepared a “classy” version of this dish, using fresh berries, home-made yogurt cheese, whipping this, and folding in that, and, you know what? It was no better and much more time consuming that plain old you-could-make-it-blindfolded “Strawberry Doo-doo”. I will present both recipes and you can fix them both if you want to test my conclusion. 


Serves 6 to 8

1 (3-oz.) box strawberry (or raspberry) Jello

1 cup boiling water

1 (10-oz.)package frozen strawberries (or raspberries), with syrup, (I used Birdseye Deluxe frozen strawberries with syrup)

2 c. vanilla ice cream, softened a little 

1. Mix the cup of boiling water with the Jello powder. Stir until the Jello is dissolved.

2. Add the frozen berries, and the juice, cutting the large berries, if any, into smaller pieces.

3. Stir in the ice cream, continuing to stir until the ice cream becomes incorporated in the Jello mixture.

4. Put into a pretty serving dish or individual parfait glasses or bowls.

5. Refrigerate at least 4 hours to set. Can be prepared the day ahead, but not more than that or it will separate. 

The second recipe is from Ellie Krieger and I spotted it on her TV show on the Food Network. It is available on the Food Network’s Website.


Serves 4

1 1/2 cups vanilla nonfat yogurt

1 (10-ounce) packge frozen raspberries

1/3 c. confectioners’ sugar

1/4 c.well-chilled heavy cream

4 ladyfinger cookies 

1. Place the yogurt in a strainer lined with a paper towel [or coffee filter] and let it drain over a bowl to thicken in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours, and up to 1 day. Discard the liquid and set the thickened yogurt aside.

2. Puree half the raspberries in a food processor until smooth. Strain into a large bowl, pressing the liquid out with a rubber spatula. Discard the seeds. Whisk in the confectioners’ sugar. Stir in the remaining raspberries.

3. In a chilled small bowl whip the cream until stiff peaks are formed. Gently fold in the yogurt. Fold in the raspberry mixture. 

4. Spoon into cocktail glasses and chill, covered, for at least 1 hour. Serve with the ladyfinger cookies.  


It was good enough, but not worth the extra time, dirty dishes and expense. If you already have vanilla yogurt on hand, as well as heavy cream, it might be worth it. It was fun to make the yogurt cheese which is rather like cream cheese in texture. My recommendation, if you decide to try the second recipe, is to double it. To me, it wasn’t worth the effort for 4 small servings. Doubling it would give you enough for 6 decent size servings. Go ahead – try them both. I bet you will find the
Doo-doo recipe the one you will return to time and time again.

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Alas, No Egg Salad

The Easter Bunny ran out of hard-boiled eggs by the time he got to our house last Sunday. He only brought a little bit of candy, a few books, and some Lego toys in the four Easter baskets he left behind. That was fine with me; I didn’t want to find broken egg shells all over or, even worse, smelly old forgotten eggs under furniture. Our egg hunt was in the backyard with plastic eggs the treasure to be found.

We had a great meal to celebrate the day. Twelve of us enjoyed a family meal together. My sister flew in from New York City, and my daughter and her family drove from Tennessee. We had devilled eggs, ham, asparagus, green beans and carrots, au gratin potatoes with goat cheese, fruit salad with celery seed dressing, hot rolls and cupcakes for dessert. The food was all delicious and I hope everyone had as good a time as I did.

We had some ham left, enough potatoes and vegetables for two servings, and plenty of fruit salad to spare. We had a Honey-Baked ham, spiral cut, and I served the ham at room temperature, choosing not to reheat it and risk it drying out too much. I have done it both ways in the past and prefer it served right out of the package without reheating.

The day after Easter I took the remaining ham off the bone and packaged it up. I covered the bone with water in my Dutch oven and simmered it for a few hours to make a good ham stock. I refrigerated it and this morning removed most of the congealed fat that had collected on top. With the ham stock as a base, I made split pea soup which is one of my favorite soups. Give me a big bowl of split pea soup, some cheddar and good bread and I’m a happy soul. I had all I needed on hand, so it was quick and easy to make. Here is the basic recipe I used:


1 T. olive oil, and 1 T. butter 

1 lb. package split peas, picked over and rinsed

6-8 c. broth (I used ham broth but chicken is fine)

1 large onion, chopped

2 carrots, peeled and chopped

2 celery ribs, chopped

1 garlic clove, minced

3 T. parsley, chopped

1 t. fresh thyme, stripped from stems

1 bat leaf

2 potatoes, peeled and chopped

1 c. ham, chopped in small bite-sized pieced

salt and pepper to taste

Tabaso sauce, to taste (optional)

1. In a large soup pot or Dutch oven, heat the oil and butter. Add the carrots, celery, onion and cook until the onion is translucent and soft, 5-8 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook, stirring another minute.

2. Add the broth, the peas, parsley, and thyme and bay leaf and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about an hour.

3. Add the ham pieces and the potato and continue simmering until it is tender and the peas are super tender and starting to dissolve. 

4. Taste the soup and add black pepper and salt to taste. Add Tabasco sauce by drops to taste.

5. Cool the soup in shallow bowls quickly and store in the refrigerator until ready to eat.

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Well, I guess if you have one noodle it’s lasagna; if you have two or more, it’s lasagne. And you’re one happy camper. Same with “spaghetto” or “spaghetti”. No one ever prepares “spaghetto”.

Anyway, that’s what I made for dinner last night, with an “a”. I had some leftover meaty spaghetti, with an “i”, sauce and all the ingredients necessary for that delightful Italian specialty lasagna. So, I was good to go.

Thank God for whoever let the world know about using dry, uncooked lasagna sheets. I suppose it should have dawned on me at some point that it isn’t necessary to bring a huge pot of salted water to boil, drop in the pasta, time it carefully so the pasta doesn’t overcook (and then fall apart as one is trying to manhandle it into submission and into the baking dish), cool the individual sheets without burning one’s fingers, etc., etc., etc. Anyway, God bless the unboiled lasagna innovators every one,whoever they are.

My local “Foodtown” grocery store makes a mean hot Italian bulk sausage. I picked up about one third of a pound of that, a few slices of Genoa hard salami, and used about 10 thin slices of pepperoni I had in the frig. As the sausage was browning on the stove, I minced the pepperoni and salami and added them to the skillet after I removed the rendered fat from the sausage. With the ground beef that was already in the leftover spaghetti sauce on hand, I knew I had enough of a meaty base for the lasagna.

The package of Barilla “no-boil” lasagna has a recipe on the back.  That’s the basic recipe I follow, adding a few things here and there as I see fit. I use lowfat ricotta, about moreParmesan than they call for, adding another 1/4 cup on the top over the last layer of mozzarella.

I usually add cooked spinach to the cheese and egg mixture, sometimes chopping a couple handfuls of fresh spinach and microwaving or sauteing it and squeezing as much moisture as I can out of it before adding it to the mozzarella.  Other times, if I have planned ahead, I use leftover creamed spinach or spinach souffle (about 1 cup) instead of fresh.

To make more of a vegetable lasagna, I add some grated or minced carrots, zucchini, or even a handful of frozen peas, sprinkling them between the pasta layers in no particular order. It’s kind of a random thing. I like to look at it as an art!

If you can’t find the Barilla recipe, here it is. It’s hard to read on the box anyway. I revamped it to make it easier to read. (I have it taped on the inside of one of my kitchen cupboard doors, right above the counter where I make lasagna and occasionally lasagne.

Morgana’s Revised Barilla Lasagna Recipe


16 no-boil Barilla lasagna sheets

52 oz. spaghetti sauce

1/2 lb. ground beef

1/4 lb. Italian sausage

1/4 c. diced hard salami, diced

8-10 thin pepperoni slices, diced

2 eggs

4 c. shredded mozzarella

15 oz. ricotta

1/2 – 3/4 c. parmesan, shredded

Optional vegetables: (any or all)

cooked spinach (squeezed to remove excess moisture) or creamed spinach

handful of frozen peas

1 carrot, peeled and shredded or minced

1/2 med. zucchini, or 1 small, shredded or minced

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Brown ground beef and Italian sausage in a medium skillet. Drain fat. Mix in the salami and pepperoni. Set aside to cool a bit.

2. Mix the eggs, ricotta, 2 cups  mozzarella, and 1/2 cup parmesan. (Add the spinach and any other vegetables.)

3. Spray the bottom and sides of a 9 x 13 x 2 inch baking dish with cooking spray if desired. (If your baking dish is shallower, only make 3 layers instead of 4. I use a Pyrex 9 X 13 pan that is nearly 2 inches deep and it works well.) Spread 1 cup of the sauce on the bottom of the pan.

4. Assemble layers: (BIG HINT: spread each dry lasagna sheet with the cheese/egg/vegetable mixture before laying in the pan. It’s much easier!)

     Layer 1:  4 pasta sheets (spread with 1/3 of the egg mixture)

                       half of the meat mixture

                       1 c. mozzarella

                       1 c. sauce

     Layer 2:   4 pasta sheets (spread with 1/3 of the egg mixture)

                        1 1/2 c. sauce

     Layer 3:    4 pasta sheets (spread with rest of the egg stuff)

                         rest of the meat

                         1 c. sauce

     Layer 4:     4 pasta sheets

                          the remaining sauce

                          last cup of mozzarella

                          1/4 c. parmesan

5. Cover with foil and bake 50 – 60 minutes, 375 degrees F. Uncover and continue baking for 5 minutes more. Remove from oven and let stand for 10 – 15 minutes before serving.


I like to use the no-stick aluminum foil made by Reynolds when baking lasagna. The cheese topping comes right up to the top of my baking dish and might stick to regular foil. With the no-stick foil, I have no trouble at all. It is also heavy enough to reuse to cover the leftovers, if  there are any leftovers.

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People must love asparagus, or else they hate it and are desperately trying to find ways to cook asparagus that they will be able to stomach. I don’t know, but there must be some reason that so many people check my previous two posts on asparagus, “A is for Asparagus” and “A is for Asparagus – II”.  (It may be a self-fulfilling prophecy because it appears as the “Top Post” below and people may “click” on it just to see what’s so mahvelous. Anyway,  for asparagus lovers or haters anywhere, I submit this new recipe for those mahvelous green spears that cause so much curiosity.

I found this recipe last week and prepared it a few nights ago. It has a lot going for it – easy, inexpensive, and delicious. Other than the asparagus, the only ingredients that one might not have on hand would be ham, and heavy cream.  Did I say that it was rather high in fat? No? Oh well, you won’t notice a little more than fat and calories than usual, will you? You can omit the cream and use whole or reduced fat milk in its place if you need to. This is another winning recipe from our friends at Epicurious, reporting on a recipe from the January, 2008, issue of Gourmet.

I can’t begin to guess how many delicious dishes I have prepared from Epicurious. It is a treasure for foodies and I hope you all have it bookmarked on your computers. If so, you may have already noticed this recipe. Well, I’m here to tell you to go grocery shopping and pick up whatever you need to fix this recipe soon. There will be a quiz later.


Serves 3 or 4

1 pound asparagus, trimmed

1 T. unsalted butter, soft

4 (1/2-inch-thick) slices good-quality bread, crusts discarded

1 c. heavy cream

1/4 c. finely chopped cooked sliced Virginia country ham

1/2 t. finely chopped garlic

1. Steam asparagus in a steamer rach over boiling water, covered, until crisp-tender, about 4 minutes.

2. Transfer to a plate and keep warm, loosely covered with foil.

3. Put broiler man with unlined rack in broiler and preheat 5 minutes.

4. Generously butter bread slices on 1 side, then halve diagonally.

5. Arrange bread, buttered sides up, on rack of hot broiler pan and broil 4 to 5 inches from heat until golden-brown in some spots and undersides are toasted, 2 to 3 minutes (watch carefully).

6. Briskly simmer cream, ham, garlic, and 1/8 t. pepper in a 12-inch heavy skillet, stirring occasionally, until sauce has thickened and is reduced to about 3/4 cup, about 3 minutes. (If necessary, keep warm, covered — the sauce, silly, not you. Although, if you’re cold, by all means, keep yourself warm, too.)

7. Arrange asparagus on toast (on plates), stir sauce and spoon over asparagus. —-

All that is simple enough. Here’s how I adapted the recipe. Somehow you knew I would change a little bit here and there to make it “my own”, didn’t you. Well, I knew we would want more meat with the meal, so I used a little more than 1/4 c. ham, probably between 1/3 and 1/2 cup; I didn’t measure it. I used my “No Knead” bread and sprinkled the finished product with a tiny bit of Parmesan. I used regular ol’ ham from the grocery; I didn’t search for Virginia country ham. For all I know, it was Kentucky, Ohio, or Missouri ham. It served us well.  Thank you, piggy, wherever you lived.

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