Secret Recipe Page ❤️

Ann Fulton

By Ann Fulton

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If you've found this page, congratulations! You've found an ever-growing treasure trove of reader favorite recipes that is a little bit like a well-used community cookbook!

Welcome to an ever-growing treasure trove of reader favorite recipes that I hope will become an online version of a well-used, time-honored community cookbook. 

 

I recently discovered that a local cafe I’ve long enjoyed has a “secret menu.” How did I not know about this? (Clearly it was a well-kept secret!) And what have I been missing?

Generally speaking, I’m not a fan of secrets. But in this case, I approve!

There’s something fun about a discovery that has been flying under the radar.

This page evolved from an email recipe exchange intended to provide a bright spot amidst the many long, often lonely days of COVID quarantine. At first, I shared all the recipes. The concept of a recipe exchange, however, was the goal. I’m not the only one with delicious recipes, of course. Plus, an exchange offers more engagement and an opportunity to hear the voices and stories of someone besides me. (Regular readers who have found their way here are likely saying, “Phew!” 😂)

Several recipes are waiting in the wings with the hopes that this page will be updated weekly, or at least regularly. Precise timing will ultimately depend on how many people participate. I will add each new recipe to the top of the page, so you can scroll down to see earlier entries. All recipes will be provided in a convenient, printable format.

Submissions of family favorite recipes, whether time-honored or new favorites, are most definitely welcome-and encouraged. If you know the original source, feel free to mention. Photos are a bonus. So is a brief backstory. I love to give credit, but if you’d prefer to remain anonymous, that works, too! 

Please feel welcome to contact me directly and/or comment below if you have a recipe to share or would like to provide feedback or ask questions. Fellow readers always appreciate feedback if you cook one or more of the recipes-and I do, too!

A note of clarification: when you comment on a recipe post for the first time, I have to click on it from my end for the comment to appear (it’s a spam control feature of the site). You will be asked for your email but that will not be visible, nor do I share emails with anyone. If you would like to receive email links to my new recipes, you may do that through the sign up box on this site, or ask me to do it for you. 

Now on to the reader recipes. I hope you enjoy! 

 

 

 

12. Jean’s Maple Vinaigrette

A versatile dressing that has long been a favorite!

When Jean Bednarski described her favorite vinaigrette recipe, it struck me as the little black dress of salad dressings. It goes with everything!

Jean’s sister, Lynn Farnell, first shared the following recipe in her church cookbook, which was published in 2002. Jean describes St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, located in Newton Lower Falls, MA, as one of those small, beautiful, really old, charming, white New England churches.

The drips and smudges covering Jean’s copy of the cookbook are a telltale sign of how regularly she reaches for it. Among other favorites, Jean says she always has a jar of the maple vinaigrette in her refrigerator.

With the dressing on hand, it’s easy to create a quick lunch on the run or a side salad that will add a fresh note to virtually any dinner.

The dressing complements a variety of greens and is delicious with a spinach and strawberry salad! (You could use my Favorite Strawberry Salad as a base!)

Jean's Maple Vinaigrette
Yield: ½ cup+
This simple recipe is like the little black dress of salad dressings. It goes with everything!
Ingredients
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon coarse pepper
  • 1 tablespoon (15ml) balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon (15ml) real lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon (5g) Dijon mustard (or a bit more)
  • 1½ tablespoons (30g) real maple syrup
  • ⅓ cup (74ml) good olive oil
Instructions

Mix the salt, pepper, balsamic vinegar, and lemon juice until salt dissolves. Add the mustard and maple syrup. Mix until smooth. Whisk in olive oil until emulsified. (May shake in a jar with a tight-fitting lid.)

The Fountain Avenue Kitchen https://fountainavenuekitchen.com/

 

11. Lena’s Quick Shrimp Scampi

This winner of a dinner can be prepared in as little as 25 minutes!

“Don’t be horrified. I take short cuts if they work!” This was the opening line of Lena Hohenadel’s email when she passed along her easy recipe for shrimp scampi.

Rest assured, I fully embrace a good shortcut! Anything to save precious time and energy in the kitchen is A-OK by me.

In that spirit, Lena mentioned that she has had perfectly good luck using pre-cooked shrimp in this recipe. When doing so, simply be sure to heat gently so the shrimp remains tender.

The recipe, which can be pulled together in less than half an hour, is a favorite in Lena’s empty nest household and a go-to on special occasions that fall on busy days.

She often serves the dish with roasted asparagus, a simple butter lettuce salad with mandarin oranges or orange slices, and a glass of Sauvignon Blanc. The night she snapped the accompanying photo, peas were on the menu.

Lena also mentioned that the recipe, which is a favorite among her family, is very accommodating. If she’s not sure she’ll have enough shrimp, she’ll simply buy a half dozen more. By doubling the sauce, Lena knows stretching is possible. When cooking the recipe for two, Lena usually has leftovers to enjoy another day—and she can add a shrimp or two to bolster those leftovers if needed.

When preparing for her extended family of 20, Lena likes to buy the pre-cleaned and cooked shrimp. “It’s more enjoyable for me,” she says, and that counts for a lot!

 

Lena’s Quick Shrimp Scampi
Yield: 4-5 servings
This winner of a dinner can be prepared in as little as 25 minutes! Lena likes to serve this quick and easy crowd-pleaser with a bright green salad or vegetable such as green peas or asparagus. Occasionally, she substitutes a fresh fruit salad as shown in her photo.
Ingredients
  • 1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined (Hint: you can stretch this to feed 6 people by adding a few more shrimp. I usually plan on 7 shrimp per person. Options included for raw and pre-cooked shrimp)
  •  4 tablespoons butter
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • ¼ cup white wine (Pour yourself a glass of wine! May sub chicken broth)
  • Scant ¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon Juice
  • Kosher salt & coarsely ground black pepper, to taste (I start with ½ teaspoon salt plus ¼ teaspoon black pepper)
  • ⅛-¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes, plus more to taste
  • For serving: hot cooked rice or linguini; 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley; ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese, if serving with linguini
Instructions
  1. Heat the butter in a large skillet over medium heat.
  2. Add the garlic to skillet and sauté until fragrant and softened, and then add lemon juice and wine; simmer.
  3. Stir in salt, pepper, and pepper flakes. Taste. If you find that you’d prefer more garlic, add just a bit of minced or garlic powder, to taste.
  4. Add shrimp if uncooked and sauté about 3 minutes or until just pink.
  5. If using pre-cooked shrimp, add it now and heat very gently so the shrimp can absorb some of the juices but does not toughen.
  6. Serve shrimp over rice or linguini and sprinkle with parsley and, if serving with linguini, Parmesan cheese.
  7. Buen Provecho!

 

 

 

The Fountain Avenue Kitchen https://fountainavenuekitchen.com/

 

10. Texas Hot Chocolate Cake

There's no better sign of a great recipe than one that has stood the test of time, and this chocolatey masterpiece has been gobbled up at countless special occasions for over four generations!

A little something sweet always seems to hit the spot after dinner. To that end, Karen Heinle very thoughtfully followed up her tried-and-true shrimp and grits (see one recipe down) with dessert!

Texas hot chocolate cake has been the “absolute favorite dessert” in Karen’s family for four generations. Her mother-in-law passed the recipe along via The Three Rivers cookbook when Karen’s family lived in Pittsburgh, and it immediately became Karen’s go-to dessert.

It is every birthday cake and special guest dessert. The cake isn’t fancy, Karen says, but it is sublime.

Karen’s family will tell you that it’s best served warm but also great the next day.

recipe added 4-17-21

Texas Hot Chocolate Cake
Yield: one 9x13-inch cake
There's no better sign of a great recipe than one that has stood the test of time, and this chocolatey masterpiece has been gobbled up at countless special occasions for over four generations!
For the cake:
  • 3 heaping tablespoons cocoa powder
  • ¼ pound butter
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups Wondra instant flour
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
For the frosting:
  • 1 stick butter
  • 3 heaping tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 6 tablespoons milk
  • 1 (1-pound) box confectioner’s sugar
Instructions:

To prepare the cake: In a saucepan, combine the cocoa, butter, oil, and water. Bring to a boil. Let cool. Combine the sugar and flour in a large bowl. When cooled, pour the cocoa mixture over the flour and sugar; beat until smooth. Combine the buttermilk, eggs, soda, cinnamon, and vanilla; then beat into above mixture. Grease and flour a 9×13-inch pan and pour the mixture in. Bake at 400℉ at 35-40 minutes.

To prepare the frosting: Start 10 minutes before baking is done. Combine the frosting ingredients, except the confectioner’s sugar, in a saucepan and heat until the butter melts. Add the confectioner’s sugar. Stir well, then beat until thick. Spoon over the hot cake.

The cake is especially delicious when served warm but also great the next day.

The Fountain Avenue Kitchen https://fountainavenuekitchen.com/

 

9. Shrimp and Grits

The true star of this recipe is the smooth, creamy, cheese-infused grits. Adding the shrimp on top makes them a complete meal!

The following recipe comes courtesy of Karen Heinle and she extended a big “Hey y’all and greetings from South Carolina!”

Karen’s family has been spending vacations in South Carolina for 45 years. Since her husband Fritz’s retirement, the two have also enjoyed wintering there.

As a guest contributor, Karen thought it was fitting to include a recipe that is a family favorite as well as very representative of Southern cuisine-shrimp and grits!

recipe added 4-10-21

Shrimp and Grits
Yield: 4 servings
Karen mentioned that the real star of this recipe is the smooth, creamy, cheese-infused grits. However, she included her shrimp recipe with a mention that you could easily substitute your own as long as the flavor is not too strong. The grits are absolutely yummy, Karen says, so you don’t want the shrimp recipe to overwhelm them.
For the shrimp:
  • 1½ pounds raw shrimp, peeled and deveined with tail removed
  • 8 slices bacon, chopped
  • 4 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons parsley
  • 1 cup thinly sliced scallions
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
For the grits:
  • 4 cups unsalted chicken stock
  • 2 teaspoons salt (adjust down if using salted broth or stock)
  • 1 cup stone ground white grits (preferably Carolina grits)
  • ¼ cup diced red bell pepper
  • ¼ cup diced green bell pepper
  • ½ cup diced red onion
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 8 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup white cheddar cheese, shredded
  • Salt and pepper as needed
Instructions:

To prepare the shrimp: Rinse the shrimp and pat dry. Fry the bacon in a large skillet until browned. Remove the bacon. Sauté the shrimp in the grease until they begin to turn pink. Add the lemon juice, bacon, parsley, scallions, and garlic. Sauté for 3 minutes.

To prepare the grits: Combine the stock and salt in a saucepan over medium high heat. When the stock comes to a boil, whisk in the grits until smooth. Reduce the heat and simmer for approximately 20 minutes, stirring often to prevent the grits from sticking to the bottom of the pan.  Add the peppers and onions and cook for another 5 minutes. Add the butter in slices. When blended add the cream and cheddar cheese. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

When ready to serve: Spoon the grits into individual bowls with shrimp on top and enjoy!

The Fountain Avenue Kitchen https://fountainavenuekitchen.com/

 

8. Fettuccine with Goat Cheese and Walnuts

Adapted from the 12 Best Foods cookbook, this hearty pasta dish features antioxidant-rich walnuts, which have been touted as anti-inflammatory and helpful in reducing "bad" cholesterol and improving gut health, among other benefits. And who knew that mixing goat cheese with pasta cooking water would create the perfect creamy sauce?

Who doesn’t love a good pasta dinner? When it comes together easily with a sauce that practically makes itself, all the better!

Susie Doyle is to thank for the following recipe, which she discovered in the 12 Best Foods cookbook, published by Rodale.

Walnuts are one of heathy foods featured in the book, and Susie likes to roast a big batch of them and store in the freezer. That way, they’re readily available to add crunch and nutritive value to salads, cooked vegetables, oatmeal, and the recipe below.

For those who tend to skip this step, roasting walnuts (or any other raw nut or seed), will enhance their taste, aroma, and crunchy texture. Studies have shown that roasted nuts may be easier to digest than raw nuts and that no loss of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats occurs during the roasting process.

Susie is also a fan of goat cheese, and she found that it makes an easy sauce for pasta when simply thinned with the pasta cooking water.

For readers who may require a gluten-free recipe, feel free to use your favorite alternative pasta. For those who may occasionally cook for someone with an allergy and need a recommendation, I’ve had much success with pastas by Barilla, DeLallo, Jovial, and Le Veneziane. If you would like to try a pasta with added protein, my family enjoys Banza, which is made with chickpeas but does not taste “beany” to anyone.

recipe added 3-28-21

Fettuccine with Goat Cheese and Walnuts
Yield: 4 servings (easy to make for 1, 2, 3 or more)
Adapted from the 12 Best Foods cookbook, this hearty pasta dish features antioxidant-rich walnuts, which have been touted as anti-inflammatory and helpful in reducing "bad" cholesterol and improving gut health, among other benefits. And who knew that mixing goat cheese with pasta cooking water would create the perfect creamy sauce?
Ingredients
  • ¼ cup chopped walnuts, toasted*
  • 2 ounces fresh goat cheese
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 16 ounces fettuccine pasta
  • 2 teaspoons chopped flat-leaf parsley, or more to taste
  • 2 tablespoons (10g) freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • Reserved pasta water
Instructions

Place the walnuts in a mixing bowl, add the goat cheese, and season the mixture to taste with salt and pepper.

Cook the pasta according the package directions. (Be prepared to save some of the cooking water. It’s easy to forget.) Drain, reserving at least ½ cup of the cooking water, and return the pasta to the pot or transfer it to a warmed serving bowl.

Thin the goat cheese mixture with the reserved cooking water, starting with ¼ cup and adding until it becomes the consistency of heavy cream. Pour the sauce over the pasta and sprinkle with the parsley and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Toss to combine and serve immediately.

Notes

*To toast the walnuts: Preheat the oven to 350℉. Spread the walnuts evenly on a baking sheet and roast for 10 minutes, stirring them 2 or 3 times. Set the nuts aside to cool.
Finely chop the nuts by hand or in a mini food processor. The nuts may be toasted in advance, cooled completely, and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer.

For a veggie-rich variation, add cauliflower and/or broccoli florets to the pasta during the last 4 minutes of cooking.

The Fountain Avenue Kitchen https://fountainavenuekitchen.com/

 

7. Creamy Pepperjack Tomato Soup (stovetop and slow cooker options)

Those familiar with Isaac's restaurants have likely heard of their signature soup, which has legions of devoted fans. The popular menu item is described as a "creamy tomato soup given a zippy twist with shredded pepperjack cheese, garnished with croutons." The following copycat version adds an extra kick with hot sauce, although you could omit it if preferred.

If you happen to be a fan of Isaac’s Restaurant’s pepperjack tomato soup, this recipe is for you! Kate Lowry kindly shared her homemade rendition of the longtime menu item, which is known for its loyal fanbase.

Kate adapted a recipe from a former coworker and mentioned that the soup is a favorite among family and friends, and that seconds (and thirds) are always had. There have even been whispers that the copycat recipe outshines the original. 

Although specific measurements are provided, Kate commented that the recipe is hard to mess up. Accordingly, she often eyeballs several of the ingredients.

Channeling spring, Kate served her most recent batch with BLTs and strawberry shortcake for dessert, and she commented that it was “delish as always!” 

recipe posted 3-7-21

Those familiar with Isaac's restaurants have likely heard of their signature soup, which has legions of devoted fans. The popular menu item is described as a "creamy tomato soup given a zippy twist with shredded pepperjack cheese, garnished with croutons." The following copycat version adds an extra kick with hot sauce, although you could omit it if preferred.

The flexible recipe may be prepared on the stovetop or in a slow cooker. When preparing on the stove, the soup may be held over low heat for an hour or so if not ready to eat. You could also turn the burner off and let the covered pot sit for up to two hours, reheating when ready. Simply stir in the shredded cheese when ready to serve.

Those familiar with Isaac's restaurants have likely heard of their signature soup, which has legions of devoted fans. The popular menu item is described as a "creamy tomato soup given a zippy twist with shredded pepperjack cheese, garnished with croutons." The following copycat version adds an extra kick with hot sauce, although you could omit it if preferred.

A whisk is helpful when it comes to fully incorporating the cheeses.

Those familiar with Isaac's restaurants have likely heard of their signature soup, which has legions of devoted fans. The popular menu item is described as a "creamy tomato soup given a zippy twist with shredded pepperjack cheese, garnished with croutons." The following copycat version adds an extra kick with hot sauce, although you could omit it if preferred.

Traditionally, the soup is topped with croutons, but grilled cheese sandwiches, and in this case, BLTs are always a hit!

 
Creamy Pepperjack Tomato Soup (stovetop and slow cooker options)
Yield: 8 servings
Those familiar with Isaac's restaurants have likely heard of their signature soup, which has legions of devoted fans. The popular menu item is described as a "creamy tomato soup given a zippy twist with shredded pepperjack cheese, garnished with croutons." The following copycat version adds an extra kick with hot sauce, although you could omit it if preferred.
Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil or butter
  • ½ medium yellow onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 (28-ounce) cans pureed tomatoes
  • Frank’s Hot Sauce (or Tabasco) and Worcestershire sauce, to taste
  • 1 (12-ounce) tub whipped cream cheese
  • 2-3 dollops sour cream (about ¼ cup)
  • 1 (8-ounce) bag shredded pepperjack (or colby-jack) cheese
  • Optional for serving: croutons (store-bought or homemade)
Instructions

In a large soup pot or Dutch oven (or in the insert of a slow cooker), heat the olive oil or butter over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until softened and lightly golden in spots, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for an additional minute or until fragrant.

Stir in the tomatoes along with a few dashes of Worcestershire and hot sauce. (You may add more later, to taste, if desired.) Bring to a boil, and then cover, reduce heat, and simmer gently for 10 minutes. (You may reduce heat to low, partially cover, and let cook a little longer if you like.)

Stir in the cream cheese and sour cream. Helpful hint: Use a whisk to more easily incorporate these cheeses into the hot soup. Then stir in the pepperjack cheese. Heat just until the cheese melts and is fully incorporated into the soup, stirring constantly. Do not bring to a boil at this point. Adjust seasonings to taste and serve hot with croutons, if desired.

Slow cooker method: If your slow cooker doesn’t have an insert that allows for sauteing, transfer the onions and garlic to your cooker after cooking them on the stovetop. Add the remaining ingredients, except the pepperjack cheese and sour cream, and cook on low for 2-3 hours. When ready to serve, whisk in the sour cream and pepperjack, stirring to melt and fully incorporate. Enjoy with or without optional croutons.

The Fountain Avenue Kitchen https://fountainavenuekitchen.com/

 

6. Homemade Bolognese Sauce

This tomato-based meat sauce is easy to prepare and makes for a memorable pasta dinner. It freezes well, too!

Mary Sue Wolf responded quickly to my recent request for a good bolognese sauce. As luck would have it, she had made a big batch the previous night.

Bolognese is a ragù (the Italian word for meat sauce), which originated in Bologna, Italy. The addition of milk differentiates this thick, tomato-based sauce from the typical American meat sauce, and though it is traditionally served over pappardelle or tagliatelle, spaghetti or another noodle of choice may be used. 

Mary Lou commented that red wine fans will appreciate the excuse to open a bottle for use in this sauce. That said, there’s also a worthy substitute.

My favorite part of this story centers around the photo. Mary Lou commented that she didn’t think to take a picture to accompany the recipe, but since she had referred to leftovers, I mentioned that perhaps she could snap a quick photo when she reheated them…to which she replied she had already frozen them.

But not five minutes later, she sent me the photo, above. How did she manage that, I wondered? Turns out, Mary Lou had kindly made enough sauce to share with a neighbor. So, she quickly texted her neighbor, who happened to be serving dinner at the time-and the neighbor took the picture!

How’s that for teamwork? 

Looking for a good garlic bread to serve alongside pasta? This recipe for Parmesan Garlic Bread is essentially a spread for the bread, which can be used on individual slices of crusty bread or a whole loaf. Any leftovers will keep for several weeks in the fridge. 

Homemade Bolognese Sauce
Yield: 6 servings
This tomato-based meat sauce is easy to prepare and makes for a memorable pasta dinner. It freezes well, too!
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 1 carrot, finely diced
  • 1 rib celery, finely diced
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • ½ pound ground pork
  • 1¼ cups red wine or beef broth
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 28 ounces whole tomatoes with juice
  • ¼ cup tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • For serving: pappardelle, tagliatelle or another long pasta of choice; Parmesan cheese
Instructions
  1. Cook the onion in the oil over medium heat until it starts to soften, about 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic, carrot, and celery. Cook until softened, an additional 5 minutes.
  2. Add the beef and pork and brown it, crumbling as you go. Drain any excess fat. Add the wine and simmer until evaporated, about 7-9 minutes. Add the milk and simmer until evaporated, about 6-7 minutes.
  3. Stir in the tomato paste, Italian seasoning, tomatoes with juice, and bay leaf. Break up the tomatoes with a spoon. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes or until thickened. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions. Drain, reserving 1½ cups of the pasta water.
  5. Toss the pasta with sauce, adding pasta water to thin if needed. Serve hot with Parmesan cheese.
Storage & Reheating

•Refrigerator – store the sauce in an airtight container or cover with plastic wrap for up to 4 days.
•Freezer – store in an airtight container, leaving about an inch for expansion, or in a zippered freezer bag for 2 – 3 months.

•To Reheat – Defrost in the refrigerator. Reheat on the stovetop or in the microwave, stirring every 15 to 20 seconds, until heated through

Adapted From: Spend with Pennies
The Fountain Avenue Kitchen https://fountainavenuekitchen.com/

 

5. Spinach & Swiss Cheese Quiche

A prepared piecrust meets frozen spinach and a handful of refrigerator staples in this speedy quiche that's brimming with flavor. For an easy dinner that satisfies all year round, pair the quiche with a tossed salad or cup of soup. Makes a lovely brunch, too.

When Nancy Bradley forwarded the following quiche recipe to me a month or so ago, she was just starting her annual winter stay in sunny Florida and had already made the dish twice. She commented that the easy meal is truly a favorite and one of only a handful of hand-written recipes she brings to Florida every year.

The third time Nancy whipped up the quiche, she kindly took a photo. She apologized for not capturing the whole quiche, mentioning that she and her husband Jeff had devoured part of it before the thought occurred to her. I consider that a sign of a great recipe, of course, and actually think you can see a little more of what’s inside the quiche when it’s cut. A win-win!

Nancy relies on this quick-to-assemble quiche all year round, and usually pairs it with a tossed salad or soup.

recipe posted 2-27-21
4-17-21 update from Ann: I made this recipe and it was a hit with my family, who will tell you that quiche isn’t usually a top dinner pick! I used a 12-ounce bag of spinach and added a scant teaspoon of Dijon mustard. ¾ teaspoon kosher salt (the granules are larger than table salt), and a ¼ cup of cottage cheese, primarily because it needed to be used. The texture is not as eggy as a typical quiche and so very satisfying. I tested a prepared, frozen, gluten-free pie crust made by Wholly Gluten Free, which nobody suspected was gluten-free. As per package directions, I baked the crust for 10 minutes at 400℉ before filling and baking according to Nancy’s recipe. As another experiment and because everyone enjoys a crisp crust, which is sometimes lost with leftovers, I reheated the leftovers at 350℉ on a parchment paper-lined baking pan with the crust side up. The top side was no worse for the wear, despite the unconventional reheating technique, when flipped and plated. You wouldn’t have to reheat this way, but it’s an idea-and the crust was delicious!  

Spinach & Swiss Cheese Quiche
Yield: 6 servings
A prepared piecrust meets frozen spinach and a handful of refrigerator staples in this speedy quiche that's brimming with flavor. For an easy meal that satisfies all year round, Nancy pairs the quiche with a tossed salad or cup of soup. Would make a lovely brunch, too.
Ingredients
  • 1 refrigerated pie crust (from a 15-ounce package)
  • 5 eggs
  • ¾ cup milk
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 4 to 6 ounces Swiss cheese, shredded
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 375℉. Fit the pie crust into a 9″ pie plate and crimp edges.
  2. In medium-size bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, salt and pepper.
  3. Spread spinach over the bottom of the prepared pie crust. Pour the egg mixture evenly over the spinach, and then sprinkle with the cheese.
  4. Bake the quiche at 375℉ for 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to 325℉ and continue to bake 20 more minutes, or until puffed and the crust is browned.
  5. Remove from the oven and let stand 5 minutes before slicing and serving.
The Fountain Avenue Kitchen https://fountainavenuekitchen.com/

 

4. Irish Oatmeal Cookies

 Buttery with the perfect amount of crunch, these hearty cookies have stood the test of time and can be enjoyed in the morning with a cup of tea or as dessert with a glass of milk.

In head-to-head competition, chocolate chip cookies often win the popular vote, but there’s something inherently special about a warmly spiced, slightly chewy oatmeal cookie. Meghan Meyers kindly shared her family’s recipe for Irish Oatmeal Cookies, which her mother would make every year around St. Patrick’s Day.

Meghan noted that her maiden name is O’Shaughnessy and her parents got married on St. Patrick’s Day, so this was a festive time of year for her family. And what better way to celebrate than with these tried-and-true these cookies, which Meghan describes as buttery with the perfect amount of crunch. The addition of walnuts and raisins lend a certain heartiness Meghan says, and she loves them as much in the morning with a cup of tea as she does for dessert with a glass of milk.  

Meghan commented that her family always made the cookies with quick oats as the recipe stipulates, but not instant oats, which may not provide the same texture. For a slightly heartier texture, rolled (or old-fashioned) oats would likely work well if that’s what you have on hand. Meghan said her mom’s recipe contained a note that a small amount of steel cut oats could be substituted for the quick oats (no more than one-quarter of the total quantity), but that she has never done that herself.

Meghan is currently on the Lancaster Junior League’s Run4Luck committee, helping to plan what will again be a virtual race this year. The upside of the virtual race it that anyone can participate from anywhere—and you don’t have to “race.” In fact, there’s a 2-mile walk option as well as a kids fun run along with team walk and run options. For added flexibility, participants may log their miles anytime between Saturday, March 13 and Wednesday, March 17, 2021.

For more details or to register, click on THIS LINK. Please feel free to also share the information with friends, neighbors, children, grandchildren, and co-workers. A little fresh air will do us all well, and the more people who participate, the more money the organization will raise to support projects in our community. Donations may also be made through the link, and as an added bonus, anyone who registers by February 27th will receive a long sleeve performance t-shirt and race bag. I have my race t-shirt from the first year the event was run (in 1996), and it’s still a favorite!

recipe posted 2-20-21

Irish Oatmeal Cookies
Buttery with the perfect amount of crunch, these hearty cookies have stood the test of time and can be enjoyed in the morning with a cup of tea or as dessert with a glass of milk.
Ingredients
  • 1¼ cups (284g) softened butter
  • ½ cup (100g) firmly packed brown sugar
  • ½ cup (96g) granulated sugar
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1½ cups (190g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
  • 3 cup McCann’s® Quick Cooking Rolled Irish Oats (not instant oats; may use another brand that you may have on hand)
  • ¾ cup (115g/4oz) raisins
  • ½ cup (60g/2oz) chopped walnuts*
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugars. Add the egg and vanilla extract.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Add to butter mixture. Mix well.
  4. Stir in the quick oats, raisins, and walnuts.
  5. Drop rounded teaspoons of batter on an ungreased cookie sheet.
  6. Bake for 12-15 minutes at 350°F. Cool for 1 minute before removing to a wire cooling rack.

*While Meg and her family always use walnuts in these cookies and enjoy the heartiness they provide, you may omit them (or even use pecans) if preferred.

Notes
The Fountain Avenue Kitchen https://fountainavenuekitchen.com/

 

3. Seafood Chowder

Studded with a satisfying combination of shellfish and potatoes, this hearty chowder comes together easily with a little help from the pantry and freezer.

The fabulously talented Cathy Ketterman is to thank for the following chowder recipe. A committed volunteer, Cathy also happens to be a gifted quilter. (I’ve had the privilege of seeing her work and it’s beautiful!)

The recipe was originally shared with Cathy by a friend and talented cook, and the hearty soup has become a favorite with Cathy and her husband.

Studded with potatoes and a quartet of shellfish, a warming bowlful is easy to pull together. Cathy likes to use canned tiny shrimp (which she drains), canned crabmeat, and frozen bay scallops. She appreciates that she can keep these items in her pantry for last-minute cooking, which she self-depricatingly mentions is how she “meal plans.” (I consider it smart planning!)

As always, if you try any of the recipes, please come back and comment at the bottom of this page. I made the Rice Krispie Cheese Wafers, one recipe down, sharing some with friends, and they were an all-around hit. I’ve also received several messages from friends who have prepared the chicken and rice chowder another recipe down. That feedback has been equally glowing!  ✨

Seafood Chowder
Yield: 4-6 servings
Studded with a satisfying combination of shellfish and potatoes, this hearty chowder comes together easily with a little help from the pantry and freezer.
Ingredients
  • 1½ cups nonfat milk, divided use
  • 1 (8-ounce) container fat free cream cheese, room temperature
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 (10.5-ounce) cans low sodium condensed cream of mushroom (or celery) soup
  • 1 cup chopped green onions
  • 1½ cup potatoes, diced (a waxy potato will work better than a russet here)
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • ½ teaspoon each black pepper and cayenne pepper (or to taste)
  • ½ pound small shrimp, peeled and deveined, thawed if frozen
  • ½ pound bay scallops (may use frozen and thawed)
  • ½ pound crabmeat
  • 1 (6.5-ounce) can clams, drained and chopped
  • 1 bottle clam juice, to thin (optional)
Instructions

Place ½ cup milk, cream cheese, and garlic in pot over low heat. Cook and stir until blended.

Mix in soup, green onions, potatoes, parsley, and remaining milk.

Season to taste with black pepper and cayenne.

Simmer for 20-25 minutes or until potatoes are tender. DO NOT BOIL.

Mix in seafood. Cook until seafood is opaque. Thin with clam juice, as desired, and enjoy!

A few more things...

May start by rendering 3 strips of bacon (chopped) and add ¾ cup chopped celery.

May add small kernel white corn-canned, frozen, or fresh.

Regular milk, cream cheese, and soup may be used, if preferred.

Store any leftovers in a sealed container in the refrigerator, where they will keep for 2-3 days. Gently reheat prior to serving.

The Fountain Avenue Kitchen https://fountainavenuekitchen.com/

 

2. Rice Krispie Cheese Wafers

Cheesy, buttery, delightfully crisp wafers are easy to make a freeze well. A perfect pre-dinner nibble with a glass of wine, the tasty little bites are also a fun project for little helpers in the kitchen! 

Rice Krispie Cheese Wafers
Yield: 40-50 wafers (recipe is easy to cut in half)
Cheesy, buttery, delightfully crisp wafers are easy to make a freeze well. A perfect pre-dinner nibble with a glass of wine, the tasty little bites are also a fun project for little helpers in the kitchen!
Ingredients
  • ½ pound (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 8 ounces (2 cups) shredded sharp cheese
  • 4 drops (or more) Tabasco sauce
  • 2 cups (256g) all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups Rice Krispies
Instructions

Preheat the oven to 325℉.

In a large bowl mix the butter and cheese until well blended.

Add the tabasco, flour, and Rice Krispies.

Mix with your hands until all ingredients are blended.

Rolls into balls (approximately 1 inch in diameter), pressing down to flatten somewhat, and place on an un-greased cookie sheet. (Tips: You could also use a fork that has been dipped in water to flatten the balls directly on the cookie sheet. When using hands to roll, wetting them or lightly coating with oil will help prevent sticking.)

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden. Check a few minutes early as all ovens vary. Once cool, store the crisps in an airtight container at room temperature.

Notes

The cheese crisps freeze well and are wonderful to serve to large and small gatherings. Reheat at 325℉ for 10 minutes.

Note from Ann: I made these recently with great results and added a level ½ teaspoon each cayenne pepper (omitting the Tabasco) and kosher salt. Could start with ¼ cayenne for flavor without perceptible heat. Update: I tried with a cup for cup gluten-free substitute, and while the wafers seemed crumbly when I removed them from the oven, they were less so once fully cooled and the final result was good. If preparing a GF batch again, I might increase the cheese slightly to provide a hint more binding.  

The Fountain Avenue Kitchen https://fountainavenuekitchen.com/

These crispy, cheesy wafers come from the recipe box of Louise Ulrich, who has long enjoyed the tasty bites as a light appetizer, which can be served warm or at room temperature. The recipe would be easy to cut in half, but the wafers freeze well and, as Louise says, are great to take out of the freezer when in a pinch!

Louise mentioned that she recently made a batch with her 3-year-old granddaughter. As they were mixing the ingredients (Rice Krispies are her granddaughter’s favorite), she asked if there was egg in it. Louise said no, “and within a nanosecond she scooped a handful and put it in her mouth!” 

As another fun aside, when my husband and I were little, we both attended Camp Van Dor, the fabulous day camp ran for decades by Louise’s parents. Louise and her sister were counselors, and my husband and I have wonderful memories of learning how to swim, shoot archery, and play new games. I can still sing the camp song!

Years later, my husband’s sister babysat Louise’s daughter, Kate. And then when my husband and I had our boys, Kate was our babysitter. Over the past year, this story came full circle when my younger son started babysitting for Kate’s daughter-Louise’s granddaughter who just made this recipe with her! 

Cheesy, buttery, delightfully crisp wafers are easy to make a freeze well. A perfect pre-dinner nibble with a glass of wine, the tasty little bites are also a fun project for little helpers in the kitchen!

 

1. Creamy Chicken & Wild Rice Chowder

If your recipe box lacks a soul-warming chowder that's filling yet light and loaded with nourishing ingredients, your search is over! The following recipe double easily, freezes well, and offers an ideal meal to share with a sick friend or new parent.

This recipe was thoughtfully contributed by Anne Besterman, who said she first enjoyed the satisfying soup at a friend’s house about 10 years ago…and knew immediately that she needed the recipe!  

It quickly became her family’s very favorite soup, and she always has some in the freezer to take to sick friends, new neighbors, and anyone who may appreciate the unexpected gift of dinner.

Anne mentioned that people always request the recipe, so you know it’s a keeper! She thinks the original recipe may have originated in the pages of Cooking Light magazine, although she’s not sure.

Over the years, the recipe has also proven to be adaptable, and Anne has noted some of the tweaks she occasionally makes. She also included a photo of her latest batch!

Creamy Chicken & Wild Rice Chowder
Yield: 8-10 servings
If your recipe box lacks a soul-warming chowder that's filling yet light and loaded with nourishing ingredients, your search is over! The following recipe doubles easily, freezes well, and offers an ideal meal to share with a sick friend or new parent.
Ingredients
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 cup shredded or diced carrots
  • 2-3 ribs celery, chopped
  • ¼ cup butter
  • ½ cup flour
  • 8 cups chicken broth
  • 1 (6-ounce) package Uncle Ben’s wild rice, cooked according to package directions
  • 2 cups cooked, cubed chicken
  • ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper
  • 1 cup fat-free evaporated milk
  • ¼ cup snipped chives (can use freeze-dried)
Instructions

In a large pan, sauté onion, carrots and celery in butter until tender.

Stir in flour until blended. Gradually add broth.

Stir in chicken, rice, salt and pepper.

Bring to boil over medium heat; cook and stir 2 minutes or until thickened.

Cook 3-5 minutes longer.  Stir in the milk and the chives.

Serve – BON APPETIT!

Notes

This is the basic recipe, although adjustments are easily made:
Double the recipe
Add extra carrots and celery
Use Costco rotisserie chicken (1 whole chicken for double recipe)
For even more richness, use regular (not fat-free) evaporated milk or even half and half or cream
Add corn – frozen, canned, or fresh

Adapted From: The kitchen of Anne Besterman
The Fountain Avenue Kitchen https://fountainavenuekitchen.com/

 

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Comments

  1. AvatarLena Hohenadel

    Thank you! I’m always on the lookout for new soup recipes. There’s nothing like a homemade soup with fresh bread!

    Reply
  2. AvatarMarie LeFever

    Absolutely loved the chicken and wild rice chowder! So happy that Anne Besterman shared it with us.

    I too am always looking for hearty soup recipes during the winter months!

    Reply
    1. AnnAnn Post author

      I’m so happy you enjoyed and appreciate your comment, Marie. It’s a gift when people share their time-honored recipes, and you can’t beat a good soup this time of year!

      Reply
  3. AvatarJudy Briner

    I happened to have all the ingredients for the Spinach & Swiss Cheese Quiche on hand Friday night for dinner. The frozen spinach in my freezer was a 16 oz. package. Once thawed and squeezed, I used it all. Plus I added three good sized, thinly sliced mushrooms in with the spinach. I always have fresh mushrooms in the refrigerator and they added extra nutrition as well. This made for a deeper dish quiche in the 9″ pie plate. It was a delicious dinner with a small side salad.

    Reply
    1. AnnAnn Post author

      Thank you for these details, Judy. It’s always helpful to read how people adjust and customize the recipes. Coincidently, this is on my list for the coming week!

      Reply
  4. JudyJudy Post author

    The Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Chowder is a real keeper! It was a great main course dinner with crusty bread. I added fresh mushrooms to the simmering soup for extra nutrition. Soups are such fun to make…you can hardly go wrong and we enjoy soup all year, not just in winter!

    The Homemade Bolognese Sauce is an excellent meat sauce and a welcome change from the one I have made for many years. I was intrigued by the red wine and milk combination it uses…but it works! I opened a bottle of red wine for the sauce, then enjoyed the rest with dinner!!

    Reply
    1. AnnAnn Post author

      Judy, Your detailed comments are terrific. Thank you for taking the time to post them. I’m delighted that you’ve been so busy in your kitchen and that the results have been so stellar!

      Reply
    1. AnnAnn Post author

      Hi Margot, I have lots of gluten/grain-free recipes on the site and can direct you to any that may be of interest. The recipes on this page are all ones that have been shared by others, as opposed to my recipes, and I welcome more or any type of recipe here. Again, feel free to search the site or ask for direction!

      Reply