Perfect Pumpkin Pudding

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This is an adaptation of a recipe which uses brown sugar and half and half that I found here: Pumpkin Pudding

Here is my take on this recipe. You won’t miss the sugar and fat!

Perfect Pumpkin Pudding

“My pie without the crust!”

1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin puree
1/2 Amber Agave
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 large eggs, slightly beaten
1 3/4 cups Vanilla Almond Milk


Brush D’Avolio EVOO into a 1 1/2-quart casserole. It also works well in a pie plate. Heat oven to 350°. If you double the recipe, bake longer and check with a knife.In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients and whisk or beat on low speed until blended. Pour into the prepared casserole and bake for 55 to 65 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. If desired, serve with sweetened whipped cream and cinnamon sugar for sprinkling.Serve with whipped cream.

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Sweet Potato Mushroom Roast

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You won’t miss the marshmallows in this one!

Sweet Potato Mushroom Roast

3 Sweet Potatoes  (about 2-2.25 pounds)

4-6 Ounces Mushrooms, coarsely chopped (I used “Gourmet Blend” baby bella, shitake and oyster)

1/2 medium Onion, chopped

D’Avolio Cilantro and Roasted Onion EVOO

1/2 Amber Agave


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Brush olive oil into a 3 quart oven safe roasting pan. If the oven is hotter reduce the cooking time by about 10 minutes or until the potatoes are soft.

Put a large pot of water on to boil. Peel potatoes and cut into 1’1 1/2″ chunks. Boil for about 5 minutes. Drain.

In heavy skillet heat 1 tablespoon of EVOO and saute onion for about 5-7 minutes until caramelized. Add mushrooms and toss with onions. Cook for about a minute and remove from heat. Add drained potatoes and toss. Add agave and toss.

Evenly place them into the prepared pan and roast for about 30 minutes until they are soft.

Viva Saint Guiseppe!

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When my grandparents talked about the old country they were talking about Italy. My mother’s family is from Bari and Calabria and my father’s family is from Sicily. So, I describe my Italian heritage as heal, toe and football if you look at the map.

My Sicilian grandmother used to do a St. Joseph’s Table every year and I have many fond memories of not only the food but the stories of holidays past. You can read more about our tradition at here.

The following recipe is actually my favorite, using a dressing of vinegar and sugar for a sweet and savory pea salad. Anyone who knows me knows I rarely use canned anything. In this case, it is the perfect and easy way to make this St. Joseph favorite.


Great Gramma’s Bitter Sweet Peas

(I cut this in half and it still is hard to fit into my large cast iron skillet)

6 Large Cans Peas (drained)
1 Large Bunch Celery (diced)
1 Pound Italian Green Olives (pitted and chopped)
1 Large Can Artichokes (cut up)
1 Tablespoon Salt

Dice and cook celery until slightly softened. Drain and cool. Saute onions, add celery, and olives. Take off stove (recipe says to take off the fire but I decided to change that) and add peas and artichokes. Mix lightly with fingers.

¾ Cup White Vinegar
½ Cup Sugar
Warm the vinegar gently in a sauce pan to melt sugar. Remove from heat and add to pea mixture. Toss lightly and refrigerate.

I just made half the recipe and it barely fit into my large cast iron skillet.



All My Old Stuff…

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20130303-185140.jpgA few weeks ago I baked a cake. I looked at these pans and I thought, “how did I get old enough to have pans older than my mothers?” Then I really started to think, when I started baking I was about 12 years old. By then my mother had been married for 21 years and, of course, 21 year old anything to a 12 year old is really old.

YIKES! My pans are 32 years old. How did this happen?

Remember juice glasses?

20130303-184420.jpgThey were proper serving size glasses for a 6-8 ounce serving of orange juice. We used them every morning for our perfectly measured portion of juice. Everything is ginormous now, isn’t it?

What we used to use as dinner plates when we were kids are now called lunch plates. Cereal bowls when we were kids are now called snack size. But I have news for you, friends. The proper serving size has not changed. We just eat 3-4 servings at a time now because, hey, they call them cereal bowls.

I was at my mom’s recently when she was mixing waffles for the kids and had these bowls out on the cupboard.

20130303-184152.jpgI even recognized the sound they made when she was stacking them. Just the sound of the bowls brought me back. They were old when I was a kid but they are actually still beautiful today.

Here are my bowls. They were so modern, with their handle and pour rims when I got married back in the day. But looking at them now, heck, they are just old, like I thought my mom’s stuff was years ago.

20130303-185254.jpgPerspective is an amazing thing.

Wedding season is upon us and bridal showers are frequent. I love to sit up front and watch the bride open all her new things. I really laughed a few weeks when one of my mature woman friends did her own brand of bridal shower stand-up.

“Oh look, matching dish towels. I still have matching dish towels…yeah, they all have faded grey stains on them!”

“Isn’t that great? She is starting with a full set of flatware. She should put GPS on her teaspoons. What happens to all of my teaspoons?”

“Oh my God! Someone gave her red towels. I just cannot think about that one.”

If youth is wasted on the young, I say bridal showers are wasted on the engaged. It’s too bad that by the time all of our teaspoons disappear we cannot grab one of those scanning guns at Bed Bath and Beyond, invite everyone’s mothers and throw ourselves a shower.

Have a yummy day!

Sunday Dinner Musings


Sunday dinner means a lot to me. It’s not just my memories of dinners when I was a kid but its the memories I know I am making for my family today that motivate me to make a pot of sauce on a Sunday. Last year I posted “Musings While Making Sauce”

My son was home for the weekend and along with a Sabres game with his dad we gathered family and friends for a dish of macaroni.

Sunday dinner is the extra effort meal. Sunday dinner does not need to be sauce and macaroni but in the middle of the winter it was a natural choice. I think that any dish that takes a few more minutes and you would not have the time nor the effort left in the tank after a long work day to prepare is a worthy Sunday dinner meal.

My mother often used to make a rib roast or roasted chickens on the oven rotisserie.

Sunday dinner smells good. I love how the house smells during these cooking sessions and sometimes for days after. If you make something with bacon it’s a gift that keeps on giving for days to come.

Sunday dinner is not complete without dessert. I talk a lot about how my mom used to bake every Saturday and how I remember watching her bake pies. I have some sort of a pastry deficit but still give it a try when peaches are in season.


I baked a red velvet Bundt cake from a box cake on Sunday. To make it Sunday special I creamed on brick of cream cheese and about 1 cup of confectioners sugar. I added about a 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract and slowly added half and half (I didn’t measure but I think it would have been about 2-3 tablespoons) until the frosting was creamy. I put it on the cake by heaping a spoonful on the top and gently guiding it down the sides. It looked pretty and tasted amazing…

…just like Sunday dinner should…

Let’s talk some more about Sunday dinner. Please feel free click the email link below and give me your story. What do you cook? Who is at the table?

When the meal is special and you’re surrounded family and friends, any day is Sunday. I know folks who work in different service industries who have Monday evening Sunday dinner.

Yesterday I invited my family and as is usual custom in our home there were a few friends I had never met before they came to my home.

That is why I would like to write a book titled “If It’s Sunday Dinner, We Must Be Family.”

Have a yummy day!

Comfort In A Bowl – Jude’s Shredded Chicken Stew



I love food in a bowl. Macaroni…corn flakes…ice cream…

Each one of those things makes me happy, gives me that warm fuzzy feeling that makes a great bite of something worth the time, expense or both.

When I travel and know I may never return to the area of the world I am I always ask “if I never return, what is the one bite I should remember “insert city name here” by?

In St. Louis the answer was chicken and biscuits. Gosh. That seemed pretty pedestrian but since I asked I took the advice. That bite came so long ago but I still remember the buttery biscuits over a chunky and creamy chicken stew. I was traveling alone for business and remember that evening not just for the meal but because after dinner I went to the lobby bar, busy with folks participating in the Variety Club Telethon. Lou Rawls was the celebrity host and chat with me about the mission of the organization. It was just a few short years after our son died and he was very kind. It was exactly 23 years ago this month because my best memory of that trip, however, was coming home and finding I was expecting our son.

Chicken and biscuits…food in a bowl…warm fuzzy…this is how my mind works.

My friend recently asked me if I had a good recipe for chicken and dumplings. Honestly I had no idea what the difference between chicken and biscuits and chicken and dumplings was. The Internet is a beautiful thing. I did a little research and learned dumplings and biscuits are made from the same biscuit mixture, which varies regionally, but cooked differently.

The chicken is cooked in a liquid (usually water which miraculously turns to chicken broth when simmered with a chicken and other good stuff) and then removed. The biscuit mixture (I saw some recipes where the only biscuit mixture preparation was “pop open the tube”) is dropped in the broth where it turns into moist, dense drops of goodness called dumplings. The broth is then thickened and the chicken and vegetables are added back in and simmered a bit more to cook the chicken and dumplings through.

Chicken and biscuits are a savory chicken stew finished in the oven with biscuits baked on top. If you put the mixture into a bowl, cover it with a pastry dough and bake you’ve just made chicken pot pie.
At our house we like the stew straight in the bowl. I have played around with some ingredients and offer you my twist on this savory chicken recipe which when eaten from a bowl is meant to bring back a memory of home.

Jude’s Shredded Chicken Stew

Servings: 10
Prep time: 1:00
Total time: 11:00
Categories: Chicken & Other Poultry, Soup & Stew


• 4-5 lb Chicken Thighs, bone in, skin removed
• 2 Potatoes
• 3 Parsnips
• 4 Carrots
• 3 Stalks Celery
• 10 oz Pearl Onions**frozen are fine but see below for an easy tutorial on using fresh pearl onions
• 6-7 oz Shitake Mushrooms
• 1 12oz-16 oz bag Frozen Peas

• 2 Tbsp Butter
• ½ c flour


Peel and cube all vegetables. Clean mushrooms, remove stems, cut in half then chop. Add to slow cooker.

Boil pearl onions for three minutes, rinse in cold water and drain. With one hand remove stem while squeezing onion out with the other. Add to slow cooker.

Season vegetables with about 1 tablespoon coarse salt and fresh ground pepper. Mix with hands.

Remove skin from chicken and place on top of vegetables. Season generously with Old Bay seasoning. Cook on low for 9-10 hours.

Remove chicken from slow cooker into a bowl, saving any drippings.

Using a turkey baster, remove as much liquid as possible, at least two cups.

Add frozen peas.

Cool chicken to the touch and remove from bones. With two large forks, shred chicken and add back to slow cooker.

In medium saucepan, over medium heat melt 2 tablespoons butter. Whisk in ½ cup flour and heat through. Add 2 cups liquid from slow cooker. Whisk gravy until thick. Fold in gently to chicken mixture.

Cover and heat on medium for 15 minutes.

Serve in bowls with bread and butter.

**how to peel pearl onions

Add to boiling water and cook about 3-4 minutes.



Cut stem.


Squeeze into bowl.


Nothing Tastes Better Than The Food We Remember

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A few weeks ago I posted this picture on my Jude The Foodie Facebook page.

My status:


“Working from home…actually licked the dip off the plastic cover…is that wrong?”

Now, at the time I had 122 wonderful foodie friends following me. If 50% of them viewed this picture I would have been over the moon. Facebook does all of these cool analytics and they will tell you how many people saw each post. They give two numbers. The first group is described as organic (those folks who subscribe to my page). As of now, 74 or my followers have seen this post. That means that 60% of my foodie friends saw this post. Cool!

Here’s the cool kicker: 357 more people were viral viewers. This means they saw the post from a friend or a friend of a friend. Even cooler! In addition, 23 people “liked” it and there were 34 comments.

And this is all because I mentioned that I licked the dip off the plastic cover. Maybe I should not call it the cover but the removable film that protects the product from contamination. I would never lick the actual cover that you put on to store it in the refrigerator, not unless I knew I was going to eat the whole thing, like a yogurt.

We love food. Food brings us back to memories of youth, to a simpler time, even if it was anything but simple.

People talked about that delicious Bison French Onion Dip like it could help them channel their youth. And for those few moments when they were engaged in the conversation they may have actually gone back in time. I had friends from around the country wax poetic about how they would buy it in Western New York when visiting and bring it back home to enjoy.

This past November when my son came home for his first Thanksgiving since moving to New York he posted a list on my personal Facebook wall. What was number one on his list?

Bison Dip

Number two was Molson Canadian (in bottles) and number three was DiCamillo’s bread.

There were as many comments about the “dip delivery system” as there were with the dip.

It was interesting having my dipping moxy challenged.

I had some multi-grain pita chips and decided that Crosby Stills and Nash were right when they crooned that you should “Love The One You’re With.” But Bison Dip purists would agree that Wavy Lays are the best chip to use because the need for “chip extraction” is reduced.

I laugh as I write about “dip delivery system” and “chip extraction” because these were part of a real conversation I had with my son and nephew who have thought way too much about this whole business.

Yes, we love food. We love to eat it, prepare it and talk about it. I asked my friends to talk about their favorite food memory and where they grew up. I delighted in their answers.


Jucy-lucy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My cousin Sharyl, who has lived in Minnesota for many years, spoke about a burger called the Juicy Lucy.

Her description: yum!

I did some research and learned it is a cheese burger with the cheese on the inside. You have to wait a few moments before biting it because many people are burned by the melty cheesy goodness that squirts out.

There are two bars in Minneapolis that spell it differently. The 5-8 Club calls it the Juicy Lucy and while Matt’s Bar calls it a Jucy Lucy. The competition reminds me of Philadelphia and their cheesesteak where Pat’s and Geno’s duke it out every year.

We love food.

Karyn mentioned a pizzeria/bakery in Niagara Falls (it is now in Lewiston NY – a top 10 Small Town in the USA). I remember Trucello’s because it was not far from my grandmother’s house. Karyn says “it covered all five senses. A true food experience.” I just remember the oil dripping up my arm as I ate it. And, that was not a bad thing.

Mary, who grew up in Annapolis Maryland remembers Chesapeake Bay Blue Crabs. There is nothing like eating seafood that was likely swimming the day before.

“My grandmothers cornbread made in little cob shaped cast iron molds. She served it with butter and honey! Yumm!” was posted by my friend Sandra who hails from Nashville, TN. My sister and I pass our grandmother’s molds back and forth because you cannot beat a well seasoned pan.

Terese remembers Rocco’s Pizzeria in Waterford Michigan. “My Mom and Dad took us every Friday on a pay week! Mr. Rocco was behind a glass window flipping the dough for your pizza!” I asked her what made it so special and she said “the sausage they used for a topping, and the wonderful show he put on for his customers! It was definitely a treat to go out for dinner!”

I’ll bet she hasn’t thought about Rocco for years but simply by the detailed description she went back to a simpler time, when dad got his paycheck and the family was together.

We love food.

Close your eyes and remember the one food that brings you back in time. What is it? Care to share?

Have a yummy week.

Last week: Setting The Table for 2013

Ground Beef Skillet: It’s Chili / Mac & Cheese!

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This post originally appeared May 3, 2012. Since then it has gotten more hits than any other cooking post I have put up.

The beauty of this recipe/non-recipe is that when you make it you realize you can change it any way you like. Cook with me and you will learn how to rely less on the written recipe and more on your taste and the taste of the folks who share your food.


Please let me know if you make this and how it came out. Feel free to post pictures on my Facebook page.

May 3, 2012

Unnamed but good. Silly name, but that’s what it’s called in our house. The original recipe was on a box of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. By the way, its macaroni and cheese not pasta and cheese, right? So why do we call it pasta? I dunno!


I cannot find the original recipe cut from the box but if I recall, you brown ground beef, add onion and canned tomatoes. Meanwhile you cook the macaroni. Add the cheese packet and cooked macaroni, canned corn and voila, dinner! My husband “named” it and the “unnamed” stuck.

Well, I haven’t purchased macaroni and cheese boxes since my son was in 9th grade and decided to dedicate himself to swimming and fitness. It paid off for him but denied me some good quick junk food. Ah…the perils of parenthood!

I avoid as much food with ingredients not in their natural state as possible (dried cheese powder?) so I decided to make my own version of this ground beef skillet.

Sauté a chopped onion with a little olive oil in a large skillet and add a few cloves of garlic (I use more than a few but that’s just me) coarsely chopped and stir.

Add 1-2 pounds of ground anything. I like beef but you can use any ground meat. If you do not want to use meat, sauté mixed mushrooms and add more beans. Yum!

While this is browning, put a large pot of water on to boil. Cook 8 ounces of any kind of macaroni being sure to add the longest cooking first. I like to use leftover macaroni and really like the look of the different sizes in the pot.

Once the meat is cooked through add a jar of salsa (we like medium heat), a can of corn, a can of beans (any kind you like) and a small can of tomato paste. Cook through until it has a smooth almost creamy texture. If it is too thick ladle a scoop of the water from the macaroni to get the consistency you like.

Add a bag of cheese to the mixture. I like the cheddar three cheese blend with cream cheese.

Drain macaroni and stir into the meat mixture. Enjoy!

Have a yummy week!

** Ingredient List

1 – Onion, chopped

2-3 Garlic Cloves, minced

1-2 Lbs Ground Anything (Beef, Turkey, Lamb etc) or a mixed variety of mushrooms.

8 oz (1/2 Lb) macaroni

1 – Jar Salsa, small

1 – Canned Corn

1 – Can beans

1 – Tomato Paste, small

2 – Cups Shredded Cheese Blend (preferably with Cream Cheese)

Setting the Table for 2013


One of my first chores as a child was to set the table. My mom would put place mats or a table cloth on the round table in our kitchen. She would stack the dishes and glasses on the table because I could still not reach to safely remove them. I would get the utensils and napkins and complete the task.

Without realizing it my mother was teaching me etiquette and responsibility. I learned the proper place for the fork and knife (even when I was too young to use one) and which side the napkin is placed. Weeknights did not require complicated dishes or utensils so I needed special help at holiday time. I will always remember cleaning the silver (watching her do it, really…) before holidays. I have loved a pretty table since I was a child.

2013 table

There was a famous and expensive restaurant in Buffalo called The Cloister on Delaware Avenue. It was a very special treat to dine there with my parents. One of the things that impressed me was that every table had different chairs giving it an intimate feeling. I loved the way they
I love a table set with beautiful dishes, especially when the dishes don’t match. As long as the color scheme is compatible and the flatware is complimentary a mismatched table is very elegant. folded the napkins and how they treated children just like any other honored guest.

photo (3)

I love dishes. I mean, I really love dishes. I once flew home from Rome with pottery carefully wrapped and on my lap for the 8 hour flight.

Can you blame me? I cradled that bubble-wrapped baby to the right like it was my job. I absolutely love it!

I know many families sat in the same spot for every meal. Our family of five was set in perfect nine o’clock, high noon, and three o’clock with me and my sister at five and seven. My high noon brother had his back to the window and was stuck in his spot since our nine and three parents surrounded him. So, whenever he wanted anything he would simply say “while you’re up can you get me…” and being up and out of our chair was of no concern to him.

Well, I’ve waxed poetic long enough. It’s time to chat about what I hope my foodie year will bring.

Foods I will learn more about:

Tea, Honey, Beets, Key Lime, Chia

Foods I will use or prepare for the first time:

Almond Paste, Duck, Hollandaise Sauce

Special dishes for special events:

Beef on Weck Sliders for the Super Bowl and Gramma’s St. Joseph Pasta Con Sarde

We are going to talk about:

Manners, protein and portion, and how foods are not good or bad, okay or forbidden

I will share my travels south this year:

Southern California, South Florida and the South of France after a visit to Paris

We are going to shake and stir and sip this year:

Cocktails using Pisco (a grape brandy from Chile or Peru), we are going to infuse vodka and other clear alcohol to make our own signature cocktails, and focus on French wine

I’m a home cook, “classically” trained by my mother and my own experience. It is very likely you are, too. Whether it was your mom or someone else in your life, you learned not only how to cook but how to share love with those you care about.

2012 was a big year for me and my writing journey. You have been with me for a very fun ride. Because we are in this together I would love for you to share with me what interests you and throw out some ideas of what you would like to learn with me.


Let’s do this together.

Let’s have a yummy year!

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Twitter: @JudeTheFoodie