Laura recently passed away. As I’m sure you can all understand, it will take me a bit to begin posting once again. If you would like notification of when I start posting my mother’s recipes once more, please let me know. Thank you for your prayers.


Most people relish the idea of homemade lasagna, but find it fairly daunting to attempt. It really is quite easy if you take it in steps. We use Laura’s Bolognese sauce, just as for Lady and the Tramp spagehtti:


If you make the sauce a day or two – or even several days – ahead of time, the flavors meld, the tomato cooks down and becomes richer and the actual assembly of the lasagna is simplified.


½ lb swiss cheese, thinly sliced

¾  lb lasagna noodles (before cooking)

1 lb. low salt cottage cheese

½ c. grated Parmesan cheese

3+ cups of Lady and the Tramp Bolognese sauce

Lightly butter a 9×13 pan. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (Always check with an oven thermometer: our conventional oven runs a bit hot, our tabletop convection oven a bit cool. Adjust your temperature accordingly.)

Cook your lasagna noodles according to package directions, using a large soup pot. The nice thing about lasagna is that no one sees the noodles – they’re all covered up by cheese and sauce deliciousness, so they needn’t be perfect. Break them in half as needed to fit your pot; drain well. These should be cooked al dente (Italian for “to the tooth,” just shy of done), and should be drained immediately so that they don’t stick together. If you desire, lay the lasagna out flat on paper towel – just be sure no paper towel ends up in your dish! Some pieces will fall apart and tear, but that’s ok. Just piece together the odd bits when building your lasagna.

The Bolognese sauce should be cooled, not hot. We actually cooked this last batch of sauce a few days ahead of time; one evening I reheated the entire batch for 15-20 minutes at a simmer (so as to kill any bacteria), and we had spaghetti for dinner. A couple of days later I made the lasagna. I reserved some sauce from the constructing of the lasagna for reheating.

Smear a bit of sauce on the bottom of the greased pan. Lay down 1/3 of the noodles, covered with 1/3 of the sauce (the sauce should be about ¾-1” thick on the noodles). Follow the sauce with ½ of the cottage cheese, 1/3 of the grated Parmesan and ½ of the Swiss cheese. End the first layer with the second 1/3 of noodles. We do use cottage cheese instead of mascarpone. Although many recipes call for mascarpone, cottage cheese has a lovely creaminess we prefer, and the flavor is clean and milky.

Repeat the layers: 1/3 of the sauce, and ½ each of the cottage, Parmesan and Swiss cheeses. Layer on the last of the noodles – you can save the “pretty” noodles for the top! – and the last of the sauce. Sprinkle liberally with the remaining Parmesan, and, if desired, 1 T. of oregano and ½ t. of ground fennel. (We lightly toast our fennel seeds, then grind the seeds in a coffee grinder reserved for herbs.) Bake at 350 degrees for 45 min. Let your lasagna stand for at least 15 minutes before serving.

When storing leftover lasagna, layer parchment paper over the pan first, then follow with foil, because the tomato sauce will eat through tinfoil. Remove both the foils and parchment paper when reheating. Use your reserved sauce to freshen and moisten the lasagna when reheating at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes.




No doubt there are many other recipes for spiced beans, nuts and chickpeas. Some are simply spiced, savory or sweet, some are oiled and some are also glazed and hard.  H is very fond of these spiced chickpeas which are also known as garbanzo beans – and of course, they’re very simple to make.  These can be used as hors d’oeuvres or as part of a buffet.

My Spicy Baked Chickpeas:

2 cans (4 cups) of chickpeas

1-1/2 Tablespoons oil

1-1/2 Tablespoons butter

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon dry marjoram

1/4 teaspoon dry thyme

Line an appropriately sized bake sheet with parchment.  Put all the chickpeas into a bowl and sprinkle the rest of the ingredients on top. Then mix to coat all the chickpeas well.  Place the coated chickpeas in one layer onto the bake sheet.

Bake at 400 degrees (375 degrees is okay – adjust as needed) – for about 25 to 30 minutes. Shake the tray two times – first after 10 minutes and again after 20 minutes.

Remove the baked chickpeas from the oven and transfer then to serving dishes.

Copyright: At The American Table – 2011-2012

A popular cheese dip or spread made at home or in restaurants, is called Formaggio, and is made with spinach and artichokes, and is especially good.  The cheese can be fontina, asiago, or even grated Parmesan cheese, Swiss, or a mixture of any or all of the cheeses.  You can wrap quartered artichoke hearts in bacon as in Rumaki, and the hearts are wonderful in Shrimp or Chicken Mornay which are then wrapped in crepes –  or with artichoke bottoms as an appetizer with lobster which is creamed with Bechamel and baked.  They’re also very good when marinated as in herbed, mild vinaigrette – and they even come already canned in such a dressing.

Artichokes have a mild taste that must be enhanced by other ingredients – they grow wild as well as are grown widely in Italy and Greece.  Here in America artichokes are grown in warm climates such as farms in California, so they were even available in Omaha over fifty years ago.  Now they can be bought cleaned and cut apart as needed – such as these artichoke hearts.

No doubt it was hard to find a proper cooking container for whole fresh artichokes at that time, but they can now be simply cooked in a stockpot with a pasta insert or a steamer insert, both of which have holes as in a colander.  Whole cooked artichokes are commonly eaten by dipping the bottom of a leaf into melted butter, lemon butter, or hollandaise sauce.  The piece de resistance is the whole tender center on a previously peeled piece of stem which has had the fuzzy “choke” scraped out from the center.

A common Italian dish calls for a whole cooked artichoke with a bread crumb stuffing between the leaves and/ or in the center, but even a well-known Italian restaurant in the area did not at all do a good bread crumb stuffing.

The Artichoke Hearts Casserole I developed is a simple and delicious version of the larger stuffed artichokes – and is made with the following very easy recipe.


8 ounces (1 cup) of olive oil – plus 8 ounces (1 cup) of Italian dressing

3 boxes of frozen quartered artichoke hearts, thawed

1 to 1-1/2 cups dry fine plain bread crumbs for breading

Butter and oil for frying breaded artichoke hearts

1/3 teaspoon dried oregano

3 ounces (6 Tablespoons) grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 cup melted butter, cooled

Buttered or greased 7-1/2 x 11 bake dish.  Combine the Italian Dressing with the olive oil.  Less oil can be used if the bottled Italian dressing is not strongly flavored – as desired.  First defrost and drain the frozen artichoke hearts.  Then marinate them in the Italian dressing for 2 hours in a zipped plastic bag in a bowl to catch any leaking – or a well covered plastic container. Turn the container over about three times.  Drain well and refrigerate, covered.

Three hours before serving, remove from refrigerator.  Dip and lightly cover each artichoke heart with dry fine plain bread crumbs – shaking excess crumbs off.  The bread crumbs can be homemade or packaged.  Then brown the breaded artichoke hearts in a large fry pan with 1T butter and 1T Oil as needed.  Cook on Medium (or Med Hi – but do not burn) – do not crowd.  Repeat as necessary.

As they are done browning, lay artichoke hearts snugly into the buttered bake dish.  Melt the butter in a pan.  Add the oregano and grated Parmesan cheese. When the bake dish is filled, sprinkle the top with the bread crumb mixture, and drizzle melted butter over.

Bake covered at 400 degrees for ten minutes.  Remove cover and raise temperature to 450 degrees and bake just till golden browned on top.

Serve at room temperature.

We have used the ingredients as shown.


Tags: cooking, recipe, food, frozen artichoke hearts, Parmesan cheese, dry fine bread crumbs, oregano, Kraft Dressing, olive oil, butter, rumaki, béchamel, mornay, crepes, formaggio, asiago, fontina, Swiss cheese, Greece, Italy, Omaha, California

In the book A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens – the central character is “Scrooge” whose favorite description of Christmas is “Bah, humbug!”

But then Scrooge himself had a harrowing Christmas Eve night with the three “ghosts of Christmas”.  When he was traveling with the “ghost of Christmas Present”, he saw his clerk Bob Cratchit and family, having a small roast goose for their Christmas dinner because geese were local and at that time, much less expensive than imported turkeys.

The next day, Scrooge did buy the expensive turkey left in the butcher’s window and sent it to his nephew’s house. Then Scrooge, for the first time in many a year, surprised his nephew’s whole family when he became a happy participant in their Christmas celebration.

On February 7th of this year, 2012 – the 200 th anniversary of Charles Dicken’s birth will be widely celebrated – he died on June 9 th in 1870.  Charles Dickens was a very good student, but his father was careless and spent some time in “debtor’s prison” which then existed in Victorian England.  When his father was in prison, Charles Dickens went to work for a shoeblack factory and – luckily – he eventually went to work for his uncle who was a publisher.  He wrote his first story while there, and then went on to do many more.  Some of his books began life in serial form, which were also published in the U.S.

There were nine children living in the little yellow house on Robie Street (and it was very little indeed) as well as the Materfamilias and Paterfamilias (mater and pater/ Ma and Pa) who were very hardworking people.  And with what was considered a large family even then, Holidays were very special and considered very important – and they were prepared by both parents.

On Christmas day, there was always Roast Goose.

Grandpa “grew up” on a farm in Europe before he joined the army – he did say he was a year older, and since he was tall and sturdy at age 14, he was believed – because they needed soldiers.  And since well before age 12 you were expected to pull your own weight in work, he had a solid farm background and applied what was usable to his life before and after he came to America.

One time Grandpa who could do anything even if he had to find information first, fattened up a pair of live white geese in the back enclosed hallway outside the kitchen door.  Everyone had to sidle by the geese as they hissed and nipped.  Geese were great watchdogs and were actually used as sentinels in the WWl.  And how grandma could actually roast two geese in that small oven – no doubt one at a time, in that rather small oval spatterware roasting pan!  She was truly amazing in the kitchen what with very limited kitchenware, one small oven, nine children – and of course, the food was also limited by today’s standards – although seasonal is now back in according to the food channels.

In a connected incident, B, the younger brother was paid a quarter by an older brother for the goose meat he swore he would not be eating, because “…they’re my friends”.  However, by the time the older brother looked over, the “friends” had become food – which his younger brother was eating.

A wonderful side product of roast goose is the marvelous mild, pale yellow fat which had once been used for baking – and it certainly can be used for roasting and for frying.  Goose fat, like duck fat, is now so in for frying French fries.  It’s also marvelous as a spread on pumpernickel or rye bread which we like to fry.  Now that bread is called “artisanal” because it’s so good- although it was plain old common bread back then.

Another product of raising geese or ducks was the wonderful down and feather covers which were used till they were totally worn out.  Grandma often scolded the children for pulling out a piece of down or a feather when the tip pierced the cover – instead of pushing it back in as instructed.  At that time, the down-filled covers could be bought at a close-by store on Chicago Avenue.  And today, you can get them from mail-order catalogs – as well as the covers for them which are called ‘duvets’, as well as other bedtime products. No doubt such products can also be found on the web/ computer such as “Cuddledown”.

Not only traditionally, but because H must have a goose for dinner, we have long roasted one for Christmas.  Geese are available, are quite expensive – and can be found, frozen or previously frozen at the supermarket.  And yes, you can certainly order a fresh goose at the butcher’s, though still not inexpensive, Christmas, after all, does only come but once a year.


This is a Tried and True Recipe of long-standing.  We like buckwheat or barley pilaf or oyster dressing with goose, and make the dressing on the side. We have also had meat dressing.

You can get a goose from 7 to 13 pounds and it will take 2 1/2 to 4 hours to roast.  This will serve 4 to 8 adults – most of the meat, which is all dark meat, is on the breast with a small amount on the legs.  It will be easier to clean the pan if you first line it with foil and extend the ends for its further ease in removal.  Use a rack (a v-rack is nice) and put the cleaned goose on it, breast side up.  Be sure to empty it of all packets in neck and abdomen cavities.

The pan should be large enough so that no part of the goose hangs over to leak grease onto the bottom of the oven.  If necessary, you can use the extended foil ends and crinkle them upward to drain back into the pan.  The wings can be folded under or can be cut off at the elbows or tips.

Put 1-2 cups of water into the bottom of the pan to prevent burning the grease which will drain down.  If the fat in the bottom of the pan begins sputtering at any time while roasting the goose, carefully add more water to the roasting pan.  Do not pierce the breast of the goose until one hour before it is done roasting – even though the fat is liquefied.  Use a very large spoon in the cavity, and a large fork to aid you in holding up the goose to drain it.

If the skin is not crispy enough, first drain off the beautiful fat and save it by carefully removing the goose with rack and setting it on foil or into another pan.  Ladle or pour the goose fat into a heat-proof container.  Then turn the temperature up to 425 degrees for 10 or 15 minutes to brown and crisp up the skin.

Always let the roasted goose rest for at least 15-25 minutes with a tent of foil over it.  This will allow the juices which have boiled to the surface, to disperse back into the fowl before cutting it.

Strain the fat through a sieve and refrigerate to solidify – it will be pale yellow and grainy.  You can use it as you choose and it will keep for months in a well covered container. Yum!

You can also cook the giblets (neck/ heart/ stomach/ liver) to make gravy.  If the liver comes with the goose but you do not want the liver “flavor” in your gravy, it can be cooked separately for those who do want it.



This is one of the Seafood recipes that we used at the Christmas Eve Vigil which Hannah again wanted to hold at our house.  For a Christmas Eve at B.K.’s home, we also made the more commercial crab cakes which contain a lot of other ingredients.  Hannah’s cousin B.G. likes the Real Crab Cakes, as we do – you can actually taste the crab meat because there are few ingredients.  This takes two packets of Blue Swimming Crab which is the kind of crab used in real Crab Cakes – they are not made with the large red Alaskan crabs.  And it’s so nice that blue swimming crab now comes in the very fresh packets since the canned item is now harder to find.

Wonderful too, that Hannah had Winter Break and was able to take some photos of the food we used so that the recipes can be used for blogs.  Here’s the recipe for the Muffin Tin Crab Cakes we made.  Yes, as often is done, these can also be formed into patties and pan fried.  This will make 12 crab cakes.


2 packets – 4 1/4 ounces each Blue Swimming Crab Lump Meat

1/4 cup – fine bread crumbs

1 1/2 teaspoons – thinly sliced green onions

2 large eggs, beaten

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon lemon pepper seasoning

2 Tablespoons drained, finely diced roast red peppers

7 teaspoons melted butter

12 foil muffin cup liners

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Check the inexpensive store-bought thermometer which has been placed into the oven, against the temperature set on the range.

Place foil muffin cup liners into the muffin tin, if using.  Put 1/2 teaspoon melted butter in the bottom of each foil muffin cup liner – or in the bottom of each muffin cup.  Preheat the muffin tin about 5 minutes – use oven mitts that cover your forearm.

Mix together all but the Crab meat.  Gently stir in the crab and spoon equal amounts of the mixture into the buttered muffin tin liners or muffin cups.  Each muffin cup should be about 1/2 full.

Bake in the middle of the oven – at 350 degrees for about 18 minutes.  About 3 minutes before they should be done, check one crab cake.  The crab cakes should be sizzling and browned on top as well as on the sides.  They should be puffed up and the bottom should not be burned.  If necessary, turn the range’s oven temp up to 400 degrees to brown the crab cakes.

Remove the muffin pan from the oven and place it on a rack – cool the crab cakes in the pan for 5 minutes.  Then remove them from the muffin tin and serve while warm or room temp – with lemon butter sauce as in the recipe that follows.

Delicious Lemon Butter Sauce:

1/4 pound butter (one stick or 8 Tablespoons)

1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon

Melt the butter on medium low – heat it to a sizzle and add the lemon juice.  Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the dried tarragon.  Let sauce sit for two minutes before using.  This sauce can be drizzled over crab cakes – as desired.

These crab cakes are also very good when served with cheddar garlic biscuits and a fresh tomato cucumber salad, or with tomato soup.

The foil baking cups by Reynolds, are wonderful because they are so easily removed from their contents without leaving anything on the liner.  We buy several at a time to have them on hand.  It’s rare to run out of Lawry’s Lemon Pepper Seasoning since Hannah uses it often. And in addition to the Progresso Bread Crumbs, we do use other Progresso products.

Have a Holly Jolly Christmas, Deck the Halls with Boughs of Holly, and ‘Tis the Season to be Jolly.  And along with the Holiday Season from before Christmas followed by New Year’s Day – comes much entertaining.  This is one of the recipes I’ve used for many years.  Small cream puffs keep well in the freezer – of course, they should be well wrapped.  It’s sometimes hard to find the Campbell’s Cream of Shrimp Soup for the filling, and while it can be made from scratch, it is more time-consuming.  This year H who is on winter break, ordered a package of cans which were still available on Amazon.com.

The Cream of Shrimp Soup, combined with canned and deveined shrimp, makes a delicious filling.  Of course, the filling can be made the night before to fill the thawed cream puffs for serving the next day.  This is my Tried & True recipe for this hors d’oeuvre – these are very nice for a cocktail or dinner party at any time of the year.  I’ve also used the cream puffs with a salmon salad or a bleu cheese filling.

Once upon a time, Grandma would have the Christmas Eve Vigil/ Wigilia at their house after everyone got there after “work”.  Christmas Eve was not considered a holiday and we did not get the day off, but were lucky enough to get out of work a half hour earlier.  The meatless dinner was held about 6 p.m. – it was already dark of course – and the “first star” had long since appeared.  Afterwards, family members would go to a wonderful Midnight Mass at the local church.  When we moved back to this area, I would make well over 60 pierogi and all of the other food, at our house, and take it about an hour away to have Wigilia at Grandpa’s house – this was our gift to him.

We were hosting Wigilia at our house, so H and her cousin B.G. made the small cream puffs – after a couple of batches of trial and error.  They then made the shrimp filling and put it into a covered container to refrigerate until needed.  The next day, I cut open the cream puffs and filled them for serving at our Christmas Vigil.

We held the vigil earlier than usual since people came from various areas except for one cousin who lives only 10 minutes away.  Of course, she was the last one to arrive – and brought  the fish chips she had to have for Wigilia.  Unfortunately, the fish chips were cold right from her refrigerator and had to be warmed up in the micro – after she had wine with her cousins in the kitchen.  Everybody enjoyed the food – there was at least one dish that was a favorite for each person.

Mini Cream Puffs made with Pate a Choux

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter    1 cup boiling water    1 cup flour    5 extra-large eggs

Preheat oven to 425 degrees – check the thermometer kept in your oven and adjust the oven temperature accordingly.  Heat water and butter to a boil over medium-high heat – reduce to low heat and simmer one minute.  Add flour and stir vigorously till it forms a ball.

With an electric beater, add the eggs one by one and beat each one in till smooth.  Yes, a food processor can be used – just put the ball of dough into the bowl and pulse in the eggs one by one.  Add more flour only if needed, by the spoonful.  Drop by a rounded teaspoonful – or use a pastry bag – to form “kisses” onto a greased bake sheet, or onto a bake sheet that is covered with parchment or silicone.  Use a damp finger to gently tap down any existing point on top.

Bake in a preheated oven – on the top shelf – at 425 degrees for 10 minutes.  Do not burn the bottoms.  Check the needed oven temperature to be set, against the temperature on the thermometer kept in the oven.  Reduce the temperature to 325 degrees and continue to bake for 5 minutes more.  These puff up very nicely.

Remove cream puffs from the oven and pierce each one with the tip of a sharp knife.  Put back into the oven and again bake for 5 minutes more till a nice golden brown.

Cool well.  Can refrigerate or freeze cream puffs, well wrapped, till needed.  Let them sit out about 1 hour, to thaw before filling.  Also make the desired filling and refrigerate.  Yum!

Shrimp Pate for Cream Puff Hors D’ouevres:

2/3 of a 15/16 ounce can R.T. – Campbell Cream of Shrimp Soup

2 cans 6/7 oz each – drained, deveined Shrimp – medium or small whole

1 package 8 ounces – Cream Cheese R.T. – whipped is okay

1/2 teaspoon dried Tarragon and 1/8 teaspoon coarse grind black pepper

Combine soup, cream cheese, tarragon and pepper and mix well.  If the shrimp are large, cut them into 1/2” to 1/3” pieces.  Add the shrimp gently – do not mash the shrimp.

Since most of the “work” was done ahead, now comes the easy part.  Cut the tips off the thawed small cream puffs and fill them with the shrimp paste no more than 1 hour before using.  Serve at room temperature.

There is some work involved in making the pate a choux cream puffs – but they can be made and can be frozen well ahead of use.  A savory filling, too, is very easy to mix up.  These make a very nice “fancy” hors d’ouevre.

And here’s more information about pate a choux/ cream puffs.  When made with a grated Swiss cheese mixed into the dough, these are usually made larger and often in a ring, and are called gougeres.

With a sweet filling, small cream puffs are also used for one of the latest U.S. wedding “fads” – a tower of croqembouche.  This is usually draped with a net of caramel strings.

RJW especially liked the larger cream puffs with a whipped cream filling and chocolate ganache icing on top.  Larger cream puffs also come filled with custard.  And pate a choux dough, too,  is used to make French doughnuts when put through a pastry bag with a star tip.