Make-Ahead Sweet Potato “Cottage Pie” with Ground Beef (and Why It Isn’t Shepherd’s Pie)

make-ahead sweet potato cottage pie foodlets

WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN shepherd’s pie and cottage pie? Lamb. This is what I just learned from Food 52. Shepherd’s pie is traditionally made with lamb, which makes sense when you think of a shepherd’s job. Cottage pie, however, is made with ground beef. That’s what we used here when we made our own even simpler version…. 

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healthier broccoli & cheddar soup

broccoli and cheddar soup, foodlets

ADD THIS ONE TO THE “AT LEAST I LIKED IT” CATEGORY. But we’ll try again because I actually loved this soup, so there’s gotta be hope for the rascals. Besides, they can’t get enough broccoli when it’s roasted with olive oil, so the hardest part–getting them familiar with the sometimes tricky flavor of broccoli–is already… 

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Fresh peaches and cream muffins

peaches and cream muffins close up

I HAVE A MUFFIN PHILOSOPHY. (And when I say things like this, it amazes me that I found someone to marry me, let alone read this blog. So to you Paul and to you wonderful readers, thank you and bless you–and don’t hesitate to laugh at the ramblings of this crazy tired lady in the… 

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Banana oat muffins


WE WERE GOING ON VACATION just as the first opportunity to volunteer at our church came my way. We go to Rome Baptist Church here in Italy not because we’re necessarily Baptists (though my husband grew up in the Baptist church) but because the sermon is in English. And they’re nice folks. Anyway, it seems… 

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Chicken Mirabella: chicken with olives & prunes

Chicken mirabella

I HAVE NEVER ACTUALLY MADE THIS RECIPE CORRECTLY, UNTIL NOW. Not that the recipe is complicated; I’ve simply had a hard time following directions. Sleep deprivation? (And what will I blame in the future when I actually do get to sleep again? I am going to sleep again, right?)  


Easy apple & carrot mini muffins

Apple and carrot mini muffins

MANY MORNINGS BEGIN with one question: Mommy do we have muffins? Sometimes we do, sometimes we don’t, and there are plenty of alternatives but our girls love to start the day with a baked good. And when I can slide a few good-for-them ingredients in there too, I’m all for it.  


Fresh strawberry muffins

Fresh strawberry muffins

“YAY, THESE ARE GIANT MUFFINS!” That’s the refrain from the breakfast table in Rome these days. This weekend Phoebe and I remade a recipe from the Oprah magazine, for baked strawberry-buttermilk doughnuts. Our version is also baked, also full of strawberries but served in the shape of flowers.  


Spice muffins with cream cheese frosting…and a secret ingredient

Spice muffins with cream cheese frosting

THESE MUFFINS STARTED OUT AS Pumpkin Bars from Paula Deen. In their second life they became a healthier version of pumpkin mini-muffins. Now they’re carrot muffins. And they’re delicious. Canned pumpkin is virtually non-existent in Rome and I’m not sure which Italian variety of zucca would work well enough to go through the cooking and… 

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Chocolate scones with peanut butter

Chocolate scones

TOAST. TOAST WITH JAM. TOAST with peanut butter.  This is how most mornings begin at our house, with a request for the same thing. Every day. Toast. In the past it’s been oatmeal which I admit is a gooier task to prepare and certainly to clean up. But really, how much can a piece of… 

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Barefoot Contessa Makeover: Corn muffins with jam filling

Corn  muffins

ANOTHER WEEK, ANOTHER PLAYGROUP, ANOTHER BAKED GOOD. This time we tried something even more healthy…but it didn’t start that way. Barefoot’s corn muffins promise to be moist and delicious, which is easy to believe when you consider the half pound of butter called for in the original recipe. That won’t work for us so we… 

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Barefoot Contessa Makeover: Cranberry wheat germ muffins

dried cranberries,

THEY’RE SO MUCH BETTER THAN THEY SOUND, REALLY. And Phoebe loves them. Every morning this week I’d ask, “do you want a muffin?” She’d nod as emphatically as someone can without being hauled off to an institution, start saying “mmm, mmm, mmm” and jamming her finger into her empty plate so hard I thought it… 

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Apple cream cheese mini-muffins

apple cream cheese mini-muffins,

FINALLY, A BAKED GOOD that Phoebe likes! And not a moment too soon. We started a play group this week and I’d been told ahead of time to bring a “healthy snack”. I wasn’t sure how the group would go but I knew this for sure: the last thing we needed was a lousy snack… 

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