Pumpkin Paradise

These days, way before you smell the crisp fall air, see leaves turning, or start wearing long sleeves, you are smacked in the face with the arrival of the pumpkin. This popular gourd signals autumn before anything else whether it be in lattes, baked goods, or home decor. But who’s complaining?! 

The thing that immediately comes to my mind though, is always, pumpkin pie. (And pumpkin soup, but that’s another post for another day.) 

Baking and family history are two of my most favorite things so I’m elated today to combine the two with this delicious pumpkin pie recipe, made in my husband’s late great aunt Louise’s pumpkin pie dish. It’s so seasonal and so simple you’ll love it. The men in my life wouldn’t even let it cool before they dove in; the (homemade, anything else is just a sin) whipped cream was melting all over the top. I prefer it a little more room temp but either way, it’s pretty delicious. Here’s the recipe.

Beauty & The Butcher’s Pumpkin Pie


  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 can organic pumpkin (make sure you get plain pumpkin not pumpkin pie mix that has all kinds of seasonings already in it)
  • 1 can evaporated milk
  • 1 unbaked pie crust (I like to use Pilsbury pie dough and form in it in the pan myself but you could use a pre-baked pie shell, ooh graham cracker might even be good!)
  • Whipped cream (I’d say OPTIONAL but it’s really not, what’s pumpkin pie without FRESH whipped cream?! If you’ve never made your own it’s very simple, just mix about 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream with 1/3 cup powdered sugar and with a whisk attachment beat the daylights out of it until it’s firm and full of little peaks. But don’t over mix, that’s how you get butter!)


  • Beat eggs in large bowl. Stir in pumpkin, sugar, and spices. Gradually stir in evaporated milk.
  • Pour into pie shell.
  • Bake in preheated 425° F oven for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350°F; then bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until knife inserted near center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack for 2 hours (or two minutes in my house) Serve immediately or refrigerate. Top with whipped cream before devouring…er, serving. 

I’m going to be honest, yours might not taste quite as good as mine unless you also have an heirloom pumpkin pie dish and a crate & barrel plate that says “easy as pie” to serve it on. But you can certainly try! 


Crazy for the Caprese! 

For many of you, summer is almost over. Hopefully though you still have a few remnants remaining, namely, tomatoes and fresh basil. Let’s put them to good use!

To me there is no salad more refreshing than a traditional Caprese. Italians call it “Insalata Caprese”, meaning “Salad of Capri” and it’s a simple salad, made of sliced fresh mozzarella, seasonal tomatoes and basil, seasoned with salt, and olive oil. It was made to resemble the colors of the Italian flag: red, white, and green. In Italy, it is usually served as an antipasto (starter), not a contorno (side dish) like most salads. 

You can serve it in domino layers on a platter or make a little tower like I’ve don’t in the picture. For extra flavor, I like to drizzle it with balsamic vinegar or better yet, a balsamic glaze {made from reducing the vinegar over heat until it thickens and becomes slightly sweeter}. Mangia!

Tangy Tomato Tart

I love alliteration, have you noticed? But I couldn’t resist adding “tangy” to this blog post title because what better word could describe the creamy tangy goodness that is goat cheese?!  

 Who knew that something so simple could taste so good? Goat cheese, with its pristine white color and distinct flavor is one of the most amazing foods in the world — a humble basic for some, a gourmet delight for others.

Notice what wholefoods.com has to say about this dairy delight…

Who knew that something so simple could taste so good? Goat cheese, with its pristine white color and distinct flavor is one of the most amazing foods in the world — a humble basic for some, a gourmet delight for others.

Our selection of goat cheeses ranges from creamy, mild spreads to pungent, crumbly discs to reinterpretations of favorite cow’s milk cheeses. It’s an essential part of any cheese plate, a course in itself or the secret behind the subtle tang in favorite recipes. Have a taste and enjoy the modest yet noble virtues of goat cheese.

Why we Love Goat Cheese

Variety! Goat cheeses can range in taste from strong and pungent, to delicate and mild. They come in many shapes: cone, disc, wheel, “button,” the log-like bûche (say: boosh) and the puck-like crottin (say: cro-TAN). They delight with textures from creamy to crumbly to semi-firm. They are sold fresh, aged or marinated in olive oil or red wine. They may get coated in herbs (lavender is fantastic), black pepper, edible flowers and yes, even chocolate.

An Ancient Tradition Lives On

Goats were some of the first domesticated animals, thus the art of making goat cheese has a very long history. It began in the Eastern Mediterranean thousands of years ago, spreading through both mountains and deserts into Spain and France where it was heavily adopted.

Today goat cheese remains a staple of the Mediterranean diet, while North America furthers the tradition by producing an abundance of fabulous goat cheeses of its own. Many come from cherished, small, local producers with unique regional flavors. Others are from renowned cheese makers who have won international awards for their creations.

Nutrition and Goat Cheese

Compared to cow’s milk products such as cream cheese, goat cheese is lower in fat, calories and cholesterol. It also provides more calcium than cream cheese. Even though goat cheese has fewer calories, it has a full, rich and creamy flavor. Goat cheeses at Whole Foods Market® are all natural with no artificial additives or preservatives.

Now let’s get to the matter at hand, that gorgeous tart at the top of the page you’re drooling over! Have an abundance of end of summer tomatoes but no idea what to do with them? Try this delicious and easy tomato goat cheese tart. Make it as an appetizer or a main dish with salad. Or hey, even breakfast, why not?! All you need is 4 ingredients! Here’s what you’ll need:

Beauty & The Butcher’s Tomato & Goat Cheese Tart

1 small log goat cheese room temp

1 store bought pie crust

2 oz. Cream Cheese room temp

6 plum tomatoes or 3 large of whatever variety you like

Preheat oven to 350. Line tart pan with pie crust and trim edges if necessary. If you don’t have a tart pan (a round shallow pan with fluted edges and a removable bottom) then I highly suggest getting one, they’re very affordable and can be found in most stores. A pie plate will do in a pinch though. Mix the cream cheese and goat cheese in a bowl with a little kosher salt (I used a goat cheese with herbs already infused into it but if you can’t find it then use plain and add whatever herbs you like such as thyme, rosemary, and basil.) Spread cheese (it must be room temperature or spreading it will be very difficult and you will risk tearing the crust) mixture on top of crust in a thin even layer. Slice tomatoes in thin rounds, squeeze out extra juices, and layer them, covering the cheese until you can’t see it anymore. Sprinkle with kosher salt and more herbs if you’d like. Bake for about 40 minutes or until crust is golden brown. Let cool for about an hour to firm up any remaining tomato juice. Reheat briefly before serving or serve at room temp. Enjoy!


nothing vegan about it…

Eating healthy is good. Eating a plant based diet of fruits, vegetables, and legumes is even better. And then, there’s chicken pot pie. There’s nothing vegan about it, but it sure is delicious. And that’s ok. With me at least, but, whatever floats your boat. All things in moderation right?

For me, food is love. I’ve found, as I grow older and expand my culinary prowess, I have an inexplicable urge to feed people. It brings me joy and comfort to see someone else enjoy something that I worked hard to create, to hear an irrepressible “mmm” escape from their lips, and to know that they feel loved by me because I have fed them. At least that’s the experience I hope for. Especially when it’s something warm and deliciously comforting. Sometimes people are just hungry, and that’s ok too. I guess…

This humble pot pie full of simple ingredients and lots of calories is the epitome of comfort food, in my opinion. And sometimes when somebody you love is hurting, there’s nothing to can do but feed them, because food is love.

Beauty & The Butcher’s Chicken Pot Pie 



  • 2-3 chicken cutlets dice
  • 1 bag frozen mixed vegetables
  • 2 red potatoes diced
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • Dash of minced garlic
  • 1 box store bought pie crust
  • Salt, pepper, & pinch of sage

Preheat oven to 375. Season chicken with s&p. Sauté garlic & chicken in olive oil until no longer pink. Add vegetables and sauté for a minute or two. Add cream of chicken and sage then let simmer for ten minutes. Prepare pie plate by lining with one roll of crust. Spoon mixture into dish and cover with remaining roll of dough making sure it’s securely attached to the bottom crust and sealed. Pinch pastry along the sides to firmly seal and crimp with a fork if you’re fancy. Pour a few tablespoons of milk into a cup and brush top of pie and all along crust with milk, this will give you a lovely honey colored crust! Bake until golden brown & enjoy!!!

Kung Pao Goodness 

  This salmon dish is spicy and sweet in all the right ways, super healthy, and according to the butcher, “the best seafood dish he’s ever had”. It’s also easy to make and, gasp, I even measured out my ingredients for you this time! If you’re allergic to peanuts, leave them out. If you’re allergic to salmon, use chicken or beef. If you’re allergic to beef then well, we can’t be friends. Here’s what you’ll need… 
 2 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes

extra-virgin olive oil

2 teaspoons cinnamon

2 heads of broccoli

1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce

1/4 cup rice vinegar

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon minced garlic

1/2 teaspoon minced ginger

1/2 teaspoon chili flakes

1/2 teaspoon hot sauce

1 lb. skinless salmon fillet, cubed

2 tablespoons unsalted peanuts roughly chopped
Now let’s get cooking!

Preheat oven to 375°. On a baking sheet, toss sweet potato chunks with 1/2 tbsp oil. Add cinnamon, season with salt and pepper, and toss again. Spread sweet potato chunks in a single layer and bake until soft, 15 to 20 minutes. In a bowl, toss broccoli with 1/2 tbsp oil; season with salt and pepper and toss again. Push sweet potato to one side of sheet and arrange broccoli on other side in a single layer; bake until tender, 10 to 15 minutes more. In a bowl, whisk together soy sauce, vinegar, brown sugar, garlic, ginger, chili flakes and got sauce; set aside. In a pan over high heat, heat 1 tbsp oil; cook salmon, until browned on all sides, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer salmon to a plate and set aside; add soy sauce mixture to pan and simmer until thickened, about 3 minutes. Reduce heat and return salmon to pan along with vegetables; turn gently to coat. Top with peanuts and serve. YUM! It seriously was so delicious, I will definitely be making this again soon. For two people you could definitely cut this in half, I always make extras so we have leftovers for the butcher’s lunch and this made two nice portions of leftovers. To make it even better, I recommend enjoying it on the patio with a glass of wine and the love of your life, that makes any dish fantastic. 


One pot wonder…

I’ve been in a funk all week. My anxiety has been extremely high and I just haven’t wanted to get out of bed or see anyone. But yesterday afternoon was so gorgeous I decided to lay on the couch on our patio, get some fresh air, and read. The air was warm with a nice breeze gently blowing, birds were chirping, the Spanish moss on the neighbors huge oak tree was swaying in the wind, and the calming sounds of Brazilian singer Joao Gilberto on his guitar (great pandora station, you should give it a try you’ll feel like you’re at a cafe in Rio or on a beach in Bali) were coming from my little Bluetooth speaker. So of course I fell asleep. I woke up to the butcher, who had just gotten home from work, gently stroking my forehead (my mom used to do this as child, he knows I love it) as he lay next to me on the couch. All of the aforementioned conditions combined with a nap must have been exactly what I needed, because I was in a much better mood. After chatting a little bit about his day, he promptly fell asleep as well. But now I was awake and hungry, and I knew he would be too when he woke up. I decided to go in and make dinner. I wanted it to be quick and was in the mood for pasta. 

We very rarely eat pasta so I wasn’t sure if I even had any but I found a box of spaghetti (yes ma, white flour, so shoot me) in the back of the cupboard. I had seen on Pinterest several “one pot” recipes where you throw a bunch of ingredients in with pasta, cook it all together, and you’ve got a meal. So I decided to give it a try. I had some grape tomatoes from the farmers market that needed to be used before they went bad as well as some spicy andouille sausage. The rest is history (see recipe below) and as I came out onto the patio with two steaming bowls of deliciousness, the butcher sat up from his nap and smiled, ready to eat. 


Beauty & The Bitcher’s                   
One Pot Pasta


  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 1 12 ounce package smoked andouille sausage, thinly sliced
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 cups halved grape tomatoes
  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves (just a really good handful, you can never have too much basil) 
  • 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • Kosher salt and black pepper, just a good pinch of each 
  • grated Parmesan


  • In a Dutch oven on medium high heat, combine spaghetti, sausage, onion, tomatoes, basil, garlic and 4 1/2 cups water; season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  • Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until pasta is cooked through and liquid has reduced, about 8-10 minutes. Stir in Parmesan.
  • This truly was a “one pot wonder”, SO easy, and really yummy to boot! Enjoy! 

Mind your p’s and…tuna?

I’ve said many times that food is love. This particular dish particularly proves that to be true for several reasons…

There’s nothing like a “family recipe”, something that has been made and passed down for generations. My sweet Grandma Lou made this for my dad when he was growing up and he loved it. (and since my Grandpa lovingly says that she could “burn water”, that’s really sayin’ something!) She gave the recipe to my mom when they got married who made it her own and fed it to us my entire life. I made it for the butcher, an italian who grew up eating his mother’s “pasta & peas”, and he loved it. Three generations, not too shabby for a simple 3 ingredient salad. Remember that yard work I mentioned in my anniversary post? Well it’s still going on and my father has so generously been helping his son in law. So yesterday I called them in for lunch and they were delighted to see what was on the menu. As he sat down to eat, my dad reminisced about his mother making it for him and said, “this is my definition of comfort food.” When somebody says that about your food, you know you’re doing something right. 

That being said, I actually really dislike it myself. Is loathe too strong a word? (And it’s not because I can’t stand the sight of anything creamy with mayo, that’s my mother in law.) Let me explain, as it has nothing to do with the taste (although truthfully I can do without peas) but rather what it represents. As I mentioned, my mom made it often when I was a kid, especially for the convention. Because it’s cheap, easy, and served cold, it was the perfect thing to serve as we trudged through the door after the long drive home from an exhausting day at Vet Stadium. I hated driving home from the convention. It took forever, crammed into the back of the station wagon, inevitably arguing with my older sister, plus we always had some interesting passengers with us along the way, and driving home meant we had to drive there in the morning obviously which meant getting up SUPER early. But most of all, driving home meant staying home, instead of at a super exciting (and super expensive-but what kid cares about that?!) Philadelphia hotel with a pool and tons of friends everywhere. 

That salad (which my mother had wisely prepared ahead so she wouldn’t have to cook after such a long day) meant one thing to me- we weren’t going out to eat. Yet another exciting feature of the convention, going out with all your friends! (Mind you we did do this on occasion but more so as we got older and when we weren’t outside all day in 100 degree heat causing fatigue, heat stroke, and all sorts of unpleasant odors) It wasn’t that the pasta tasted bad, it was just that I knew that giant Tupperware bowl with the blue lid (which she still uses to this day, if that’s not a testament to a good brand I don’t know what is!) was sitting there in the fridge waiting for us and it was the only thing standing between me and a kids meal at the Ground Round. (my favorite childhood restaurant, they played old cartoons on a big projector screen and gave you popcorn while you waited for your food, it was the best. I think it’s a Macaroni Grill now.) I understand perhaps this all sounds bratty and ungrateful but these were my honest feelings as a child and are by no means any reflection on how I currently feel about the convention or my mother and is in no way meant to imply that I was deprived as a child (even though I may have felt so at the time but what kid doesn’t?) To this day, even though it’s delicious, I won’t eat this salad, I just can’t. 

However, like I said before, the butcher loves it. So I make it for him. And now, every year when we go to the convention, the roles have reversed- I frugally plan the menu and make the food to give my mom a break. And I make the tuna pasta salad for my family, (with a little something different on the side for myself of course) because, well, food is love. 

Still want the recipe?

Pasta & Peas Salad                     Schochler Shells 

  • 1 lb mini shells (really any pasta will be fine, quiona shells work really nicely too but shhh don’t tell the plumber, he hates quiona pasta…even though he regularly eats it unknowingly) 
  • 1 bag frozen peas
  • Mayonnaise (I’m sorry but I can’t give you a measurent, the amount of mayo one uses is a really personal decision I feel) 
  • 2 cans of tuna (drained and preferably albacore) 
  • Salt & pepper (mom adds dill to her’s which I don’t care for but floats and boats and all that) 

Boil the pasta and let it cool. Break tuna up into small pieces. Put shells into a large bowl and fold in tuna and peas. Put in mayo (I like to start with a little and add more as I see fit but remember if you make this ahead the pasta will absorb a good amount and could become dry so you may want to have some on the side) then season generously with salt, pepper, and the aforementioned but not preferable, dill. That’s pretty much it folks, I hope this becomes a family recipe of yours as well!  

And just to avoid any backlash from this post…love you Mommy!