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Clothespin Cookies

Also known as Mini Ladylocks, Clothespin Cookies are rich little pastry-style cookies that will make you work for the reward of enjoying them. It took about 24 hours, but it is worth the wait. This recipe yielded about 72 cookies!

I am told that this cookie is a favorite at the infamous cookie tables in northeast Ohio. Here’s the recipe, if you want to give them a try, I found this “authentic” recipe by Tracy McBurney at ‘Just a Pinch Recipe Club’, #justapinchrecipes.

4 c sifted all-purpose flour
1 lb oleo (margarine) / My Version: use 1 lb of butter – the cookies will have a lighter flakey pastry-like texture (Look at the photos below to see the difference.)
3 Tbsp sugar
4 egg yolks
1/2 pt sour cream

Marshmallow Cream Version

2 stick oleo softened (I went with real butter for this ingredient)
1 c Crisco
2 c sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1 1/3 c warmed milk (I actually used just 1 cup)
1 jar(s) marshmallow creme, 8 oz.

Buttercream Version (My Version)
1-1/2 sticks butter – room temperature
3/4 cup shortening
2-1/4 tsp Vanilla extract
1-1/2 pounds (6 Cups) confectioner’s sugar (powdered sugar, 10x)
4-6 tablespoons very cold milk

Powdered Sugar for dusting.

Day 1

1. For the dough: Cut oleo into flour and sugar mixture. Add egg yolks and sour cream.

2. Mix well. ( I used an electric mixer.)

Add egg yolks and sour cream.

3. Shape into a long roll. Wrap in waxed paper and store in refrigerator overnight. (Don’t skip this part. It’s important!)

Day 2

4. Take a small portion of the dough at a time and roll out on a floured board, about 1/8 inch in thickness.

5. Cut into strips of an inch wide and about 4 inches long. (I cut the strips a bit longer.)

6. Wrap around a wooden clothespin. (Some people use wooden dowels, but I got a few packages of clothespins at the craft store. I have read accounts where cooks are still using the same clothespins their grandmas used. This makes the recipe extra fun!)

This is the all Margerine version of cookies.



Clothespins made using Butter.


Flaky Butter Texture

7. Bake on greased cookie sheet at 400 degrees for approx. 8 – 10 minutes or until lightly browned and not doughy. Keep your eye on the time, each oven is different. (It took about 14 minutes in my 400 degrees oven. You definitely do want to watch that first batch carefully, as you only want to see a very light browning.)

Then let these babies cool completely.

8. For the filling: In a large mixer, add oleo (or butter), Crisco, sugar, and vanilla.

Cream for 10 minutes.

(Do not skip this part! Set the timer…TEN minutes. It will save you the trouble of having to toss your first batch of frosting because it is a soupy mess…just sayin’ 😉)

…and…we’re still creaming…10 minutes…3-2-1

To that mixture add warm milk and marshmallow creme and whip until sugar dissolves. (You can also add food coloring for a festive flair.)

Chill the filling in the refrigerator at least 2 hours, it makes for easier filling. (Again…don’t skip this step. Perfection takes time…and patience!)

9. With a pastry bag fitted with the appropriate attachment, fill the cookie shell with the filling, (dust with powdered sugar), and store in the refrigerator until ready to serve. (I used a cookie/frosting press and it worked great!)

10. For Buttercream Filling: Cream butter, shortening, vanilla and milk until smooth. Slowing add powdered sugar. Follow step 9. (We actually prefer the buttercream over the marshmallow fluff. And…it’s a LOT less work!)

And voila! Picture perfect and oh so yummy!

On a final note…save those clothespins! I soaked them lightly in soapy water, rinsed and dried them in a 200 degree oven for about an hour. This recipe is definitely a keeper. One that should be passed down to your children and grands, along with the precious inheritance of clothespins!

Hearty Creamed Lentil Stew

There’s a cool snap in the air. Time for yummy soups and stews, casseroles and crock pot creations. I had a handful of ingredients begging to be simmered before their expiration date. I do some of my best new recipes after foraging through the back of the cabinets and ‘frig. Not all of my culinary experiments turn out. This one, however, is a keeper!

I wanted lentils. Had a pound of those. I also had a baking potato, celery, carrots, two sweet onions, broccoli, and a bag of baby spinach. So I gathered my harvest on the counter. Here’s how it all went down…

The Ingredients in Order

1 lb dry lentils

2 sweet onions

3 stalks of celery

1 TBS chopped garlic

1 TBS sea salt

2 TBS chopped jalapeños

olive oil

1 large baking potato

3 carrots

1 cup broccoli

1 pound fresh baby spinach

1 can Cream of Mushroom soup


Sour Cream and parsley to garnish

While the lentils are soaking (about an hour) slice and dice 2 sweet onions and 3 stalks of celery, add 1 TBS of chopped garlic, 1 TBS sea salt and 2 TBS of diced jalapeño peppers, and simmer in olive oil until tender.

Then add the root veggies…a large baking potato, and 3 carrots, peeled and diced. Toss until tender.

Finally, add a cup of chopped broccoli. Simmer a bit longer ’til the broccoli turns bright green.

To this aromatic ambrosia add the lentils (drained) and enough water to cover everything with an inch or so to spare. Pop on a cover and slow simmer until the lentils have absorbed most of the liquid.

Not done yet. Gently toss a pound of fresh baby spinach leaves into the steaming stew.

Add a can of cream of mushroom soup and a dash of pepper.

Serve with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of parsley.

This protein/vitamin/antioxidant rich blend of yummy love in a bowl is a mild and comforting lentil soup alternative, even with jalapeños hidden in the mix. They actually give it a warm afterglow rather than a kick. Enjoy!

Kat’s Portobello Reuben’s  

I love Reuben’s. It has always been my go-to blue plate lunch special order. Since I stopped eating meat, this is one of the dishes I missed…that is, until I heard about portobello reubens.

So I decided to look for a recipe online. The thing is, most of the recipes I found were lacking in my opinion, in the corned beef flavor department. So I got this crazy idea. What if I used the pickling spice that is used to make corned beef and made a marinade out of it?

I like experimenting in the kitchen. And believe me I would not be sharing this recipe with you if it was a dud. The fact is it came out fantastic!

It takes a bit of prep, but so worth the effort!

Here’s what you’ll need for part one (do this a few hours before mealtime).


4-5 large portobello mushrooms

1/2 cup olive oil

1 TBS minced garlic

2 TBS pickling spice (McCormick brand)

1/2 tsp pepper

1 tsp salt

Remove the stems from the mushrooms, rinse and pat dry. In a small bowl whisk the remaining ingredients together and drizzle over the mushroom caps, bottom side up, in a shallow container.

Cover with aluminum foil and refrigerate for two to three hours. (Update: Added after I cooked the leftover mushrooms a few days later…if you can marinate for at least 24 hours, you won’t regret it.) 

When it’s time to put your sandwiches together assemble the following ingredients:

Thousand Island Dressing


Rye Bread (I like a rye/pumpernickel swirl)

Swiss Cheese

Butter for Grilling

Preheat the oven to 450 Degrees F. Remove the marinated mushrooms from the fridge and recycle the foil by placing it on a cookie sheet. Place mushrooms on the foil bottoms up and bake for about 20 minutes.

  1. Move to a plate layered with paper towels and blot the mushrooms (remove the large pickling seeds as well) before transferring them to a cutting board to slice. (Part 2 leftover update: to give your slices a nicer texture, pan seer the slices before putting your sandwiches together. A little “crisping” around the edges make a big difference!)

Butter the outer side of the rye bread and place butter side down in a frying pan (think grilled cheese sandwich style). Now it’s time to assemble your Reuben. Layer two slices if Swiss cheese, portabella mushroom slices (make sure to pat dry if needed), add Sauerkraut and a layer of thousand island dressing. Top with the second slice of rye bread, butter side up.

Cover the pan and grill until the cheese starts to melt and the bottom is brown. Carefully flip to toast the other side.

Slice and serve. Yum!

Easy Potato Soup – The Ultimate Comfort Food

Every year, when the weather chills I get a litany of calls from grocery store aisles. The conversations go something like this:

“Hi mom, I’m at the store. Tell me what I need to make potato soup.”

And I smile and happily recount the list of simple ingredients as memories swirl in my head from days gone by when my four daughters were little and my pocketbook was lean. There is nothing like this simple staple to warm hearts and fill hungry bellies. It’s the ultimate comfort food. 

This year, as my brood gathers for the holidays, soups and chewy ciabatta bread is on the menu. One of my son-in-laws will be replicating the Olive Garden’s Zuppa Toscana (it’s his specialty!) and me? You guessed it! Potato soup!

Now you will find all sorts of fancy and elaborate recipes online and in cook books. Some require broths and other ingredients like chicken or ham, broccoli, carrots or cheese. My recipe is all about paying homage to an amazing nightshade edible tuber, the esteemed pomme de terre, the magnificent potato!

So just as I would tell my daughters from memory each winter, I’m sharing my recipe with you. 

Ingredients for a Crowd

5 lbs of Red Potatoes, peeled and quartered

1-2 sweet onions, chopped

2 12-oz cans of evaporated milk

1 cup of butter (2 sticks or 1/2 pound)

1 TBS salt (plus more to taste)

2 tsp fresh ground pepper

Optional: cornstarch to thicken

Place onions, potatoes and salt in a large stockpot. Add enough water to completely cover the potatoes. Boil, uncovered until the potatoes are soft.

Remove from the heat. Don’t drain the water. Using a potato masher break up the potatoes, leaving several small lumps. (If your pot is too deep you can transfer the potatoes into a bowl to mash.)

Blend in the evaporated milk and butter. If your soup is too soupy, you can use a tablespoon or so of cornstarch to thicken. Have a taste and season to your liking, adding the pepper and additional salt.

And if you must, you can always add the extras I mentioned above. My kids like to add shredded cheese and bacon bits. Me? I like it simple. Warm, smooth, filling. The perfect dish on a cold sleety day! Yummy in my tummy! Stay warm everyone! 

Vegetarian “UnStuffed” Cabbage Pot

I love stuffed cabbage at this time of year! But it can be a bit fussy to make. A few years ago I discovered a recipe for “unstuffed” cabbages! It’s a match made in the cabbage patch!

Now that I’m pescatarian (a vegetarian who eats mostly vegetables and fish) I decided to try this new favorite using vegetable based meat crumbles (my favorite brand is “Beyond Meat” because it maintains a nice texture and doesn’t get mushy).

So, here’s all you need:


Olive Oil
2 chopped onions
2 tsp chopped garlic
Pepper and salt
1 large head of cabbage, chopped
2 15 oz cans of chopped tomatoes
1 15 oz can of tomato sauce
(Today I used some leftover tomato garlic pasta sauce. This is the fun of home cooking. It’s okay to substitute like ingredients. You can’t mess his recipe up!)
2 cups water
1 11 oz package of vegetarian “meat” crumbles
(If you like your cabbage dish extra “meatie” use 2 11 oz packages.)

And here’s how you throw it together:

In a Dutch oven sauté the onions and garlic in a tablespoon or so of olive oil. I salt and pepper the onions while they are softening. 

Turn the heat to medium and add the remaining ingredients, giving it all a good stir to coat the cabbage with sauce. Your pot will be pretty full, so it’ll be a little hard to toss it all together, but don’t worry. As the cabbage softens you will be able to stir the dish more easily. Cover and let simmer, stirring occasionally to make sure all your cabbage has a chance to “stew”.

And that is all there is to it! No separate batches of stuffing mixture, pre-cooking the cabbage to make it soft enough to make rolls, no separate baking. But it’s just as satisfying as the original in a single pot!

If you are like me and you like a little zing, throw in a dash of sriracha sauce. You will also want to taste test and add additional salt and pepper to your liking.

Serve with a dollop of sour cream and perhaps a slice or two of warm beer bread (my recipe is HERE) slathered with butter. It’s the perfect meal for a blustery autumn day! Enjoy!

And dinner is served!

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