We are identical twin sisters Teresa & Barbara, who grew up on Long Island, New York and now happily reside in North Carolina. We were born 6 minutes apart…Barbara arrived first, which would only be relevant if our parents were King & Queen; which they were not, but she never misses an opportunity to remind me! 😂
Italian food is our heritage and cooking has become our passion. Now that we are both retired we rediscovered our passion for cooking. Here you will find our favorite family recipes that have been handed down for three generations along with some new favorites that we hope you will enjoy as much as we do.
About Teresa: After retiring as the controller of a construction management firm, my husband Jack & I moved from the Village of Northport, NY to coastal North Carolina. Our children & grandchildren still reside on Long Island and we go back as often as we can to see them. When not cooking, I still pursue my love of creating fine jewelry in gold, silver, and gemstones along with golfing with friends and playing Mah Jongg.
About Barbara:After just retiring as the Credit & A/R manager for a food supplement company, I accompanied Teresa on the day she moved at the suggestion of my husband Gary. We could write a book on the hilarious adventure during the long ride down, but that’s another story! I fell in love with the community and called Gary to tell him “we” bought a new house in NC! He thought I was joking but 11 months later we moved into our new home. He’s a keeper after 48 years… Our children reside on Long Island and southern California. I also enjoy creating jewelry when I have the time; however, I’m just not as passionate anymore about jewelry making as Teresa is.
For us, Thanksgiving is a special time when we reflect on past traditions, family, friends and how our lives may have changed throughout the year. We are thankful for our health, wonderful husbands, all of our children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, friends & followers.
Our family Thanksgiving menu hasn’t changed much from years past served by our Mother and Grandmother. Penne Alla Vodka replaced our traditional lasagna or baked ziti to start things off followed by the roasted turkey with sausage stuffing. My family loves the stuffing with chopped apples but Teresa’s family prefers it without…what do they know?🤣
Being of Italian heritage, Thanksgiving wasn’t just about the turkey; the meal also had to have a pasta dish! I always made baked ziti on Thanksgiving and one year Gary picked up the ricotta & mozzarella for me the day before. I didn’t look at the brands because he knew which to buy so when I took out the ingredients to start making the ziti I was shocked as both main ingredients were the right brands but were fat-free instead of whole milk! There was nothing I could do so I went about making the baked ziti with the fat-free ingredients. When we all sat down for dinner, my nephew Joseph said, “Aunt Barb, this isn’t your baked ziti!” The rest of the family agreed with him. To this day everyone remembers how disappointed they were when the texture they loved was noticeably different. They’re a tough crowd! It was a disaster except for Gary…he ate it with no complaints.
Our family holidays were filled with aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, friends, and FOOD! We hope you will try some of our favorites to add to your holiday menu and create wonderful memories with your families & friends.
Let me start off by saying we love pumpkin! Pumpkin coffee, pumpkin creamer, pumpkin pie, etc. You get the idea. We always have a pumpkin dessert on Thanksgiving and this pumpkin cheesecake is tied with Teresa's Pumpkin Roll for all-time favorite. After having his first piece a good friend of mine said 'OMG! I'm in pumpkin heaven'. If you love pumpkin & cheesecake you're in for a real treat. 😋 😋
9-inch springform pan
1¾ cups graham cracker crumbs
3 Tablespoons light brown sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 stick melted salted butter
Filling: All ingredients should be at room temperature, including the eggs, to properly act as an emulsifier.
3 (8-oz) packages cream cheese, cubed and at room temperature
1 (15-oz) can pureed pumpkin (do not use pumpkin pie mix)
1/3 cup sour cream
3 eggs plus 1 yolk
1½ cups sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cloves
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tsp vanilla extract or paste
Pre-heat oven to 350ºF.
Grease bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan with butter.
Wrap the springform pan in 2 layers of heavy-duty foil to prevent any water from seeping through to the cheesecake. Set aside.
Crust: In a medium bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and cinnamon.
Add the melted butter. Press down flat into a 9-inch springform pan. Set aside.
Filling: Beat the cream cheese until smooth.
Add the pumpkin, sour cream, eggs, egg yolk, and spices.
Add the flour and vanilla. Beat together until just combined. Don’t overbeat as it can cause the top to crack in baking.
Pour into graham cracker crust. Spread out evenly.
Before baking run the point of a sharp knife between the cheesecake mixture and the side of the pan about 1/2 to 1-inch down. This will help prevent cracks.
Place the springform pan into a larger pan that contains enough water to go up the sides of the springform about 1-inch.
Bake in the oven for 1 hour. Remove from the oven and run the point of a sharp knife completely down the sides and around edges. Let sit for 15 minutes.
Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.
Notes: For a gluten-free version, substitute all-purpose flour with Bob’s Red Mill 1 to 1 Gluten-Free Flour and use gluten-free graham cracker crumbs.
You can make this 1 or 2 days before and keep refrigerated until ready to serve.
This is the perfect dessert with a cup of coffee after a tasty Thanksgiving dinner. It also makes a great dessert for a Halloween party, just add some black ribbon bats on black wire. No need to wait for a holiday. You can enjoy this delicious dessert all year round.
When it comes to side dishes everyone in our family loves creamy mashed potatoes. They are a true comfort food that enhances chicken cutlets, flank steak, meatloaf & so much more. On occasion, we make Roasted Garlic Mashed potatoes that are also delicious if you want to step it up a notch. Either way, these mashed potatoes are so creamy and buttery our mouths are watering just writing about them! Enjoy them plain, garnished with some fresh chopped chives or gravy. 😋 😋
2lbs Yukon gold potatoes, peeled then cut in half and cut in quarters
1 Tablespoon Kosher salt for water
3/4 – 1 cup heavy cream
1 stick salted butter
salt & pepper to taste
Place potatoes in a large saucepan filled with water to generously cover the potatoes. Add 1 Tablespoon kosher salt.
Bring to a full boil then reduce heat to a simmer and cook potatoes until fork-tender, about 15 minutes.
Remove saucepan from heat & drain well. Place potatoes back into saucepan & return to low heat. Stir potatoes constantly for about 1-2 minutes to dehydrate the potatoes.
Remove potatoes from the heat. Add the butter. Using a handheld masher, mash the butter into the potatoes. Add enough cream & continue mashing until the desired texture is achieved.
Teresa has been making this pumpkin roll every Thanksgiving for as long as I can remember. She adapted it to be gluten-free so Jack could enjoy it on Thanksgiving but honestly, you can't tell the difference! We just love everything pumpkin... 🎃 🎃 including the pumpkin mugs I made in a ceramics class back in 1974. That year I brought them to my parent's house on Thanksgiving Day and was insulted when my Dad said he couldn't drink out of them because his nose 👃🏻 was in the way. Once a year I take them out for Thanksgiving dinner and my Dad is still not allowed to drink from them!
powdered sugar to spread on a clean dish towel
¾ cups gluten-free flour (King Arthur’s Gluten-Free Measure for Measure Flour or Bob’s Red Mill 1 to 1 Gluten-Free Flour)
1/2 tsp baking powder (gluten-free)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
Tiny pinch of a smidgen of ground nutmeg (see photo for actual amount)
1/4 tsp salt
3 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla paste or extract
2/3 cup canned pumpkin (do not use pumpkin pie mix)
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans, optional
1 (8-oz) package cream cheese, softened
1 cup sifted powdered sugar
6 Tablespoons butter softened
1 tsp vanilla extract or paste
Pre-heat oven to 375ºF.
Grease a 15 x 10 x 1-inch baking pan; line with parchment paper.
Grease and flour paper; set aside. Arrange clean thin, cotton kitchen towel on counter; sprinkle with powdered sugar making sure the towel is well covered in powdered sugar.
In a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and salt.
In a large bowl, combine eggs and sugar; beat until thickened. Add pumpkin; beat until well mixed. Stir in flour mixture.
Spread batter evenly int prepared pan. Sprinkle with chopped walnuts if using.
Bake 13-15 minutes or until center springs back when lightly touched. Immediately loosen cake from edges of pan; quickly invert onto prepared towel. Remove pan; carefully peel off paper.
Roll up cake in towel while hot, starting with the 10-inch side. Cool completely on wire rack.
Beat the cream cheese, 1 cup powdered sugar, butter and vanilla in a small bowl until smooth.
To us, Thanksgiving dinner wouldn't be complete without candied yams. There are as many different ways to prepare them as there are feathers on a turkey! We always loved our Mom's version; however, we slightly tweaked it through the years to accommodate our family's taste buds. These are sweet, buttery, and melt in your mouth delicious. In our family, it wouldn't be Thanksgiving without them!😋 😋
4-5 medium sweet potatoes or yams, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch thick slices
1/2 cup white granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup salted butter (8 Tablespoons)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp maple syrup
2 tsp vanilla paste or extract
1 tsp grated orange zest
1/2 tsp kosher salt
Pre-heat oven to 375ºF.
In a small saucepan melt the butter. Once melted add the white sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and maple syrup. Stir & heat until sugar is dissolved.
Remove from heat and add the vanilla & orange zest. Mix well.
In a 9 x 13 baking dish add the yams & sprinkle with kosher salt.
Pour the syrup over the yams.
Cover with foil then bake in 375ºF oven for 30 minutes.
Remove pan from the oven. Spoon the syrup from the pan over the potatoes.
Return pan to the oven UNCOVERED and bake an additional 30 minutes.
Notes: Our Mom always used canned cut yams but believe us when we say it’s worth the extra time to peel and slice fresh sweet potatoes or yams. We can’t always get yams so we use medium-sized sweet potatoes.
This quick and easy sheet pan meal is a delicious Mediterranean dish that doesn't disappoint. Not only is it delicious with shrimp but you can substitute the shrimp with cooked rotisserie chicken too! I had all the ingredients on hand so no extra shopping was needed. I just had to defrost the shrimp in the morning and prep was unbelievably fast. If you're not watching carbs then serve this over pasta or rice. I served mine over red leaf lettuce while my husband had it over rice. We both loved it.😋 😋
1 lb large raw shrimp, peeled, deveined with tails on or off (your preference)
1/3 cup thinly sliced shallots
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp sea salt
a pinch of red pepper flakes (or more if you like the heat)
1 cup cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup Kalamata olives, halved
2 Tablespoons lemon juice, divided
3 Tablespoons EVOO, divided 2 + 1
1/4 cup roughly chopped parsley
1/3 – 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
lemon wedges, optional
Preheat the oven to 425ºF.
Using a rimmed baking sheet, toss the shallots, garlic, salt, red pepper flakes, tomatoes, olives, 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice, & 2 tablespoons of the EVOO.
Roast for 5 minutes, or until the shallots & garlic are starting to brown.
Add the shrimp and cook 5 minutes more, or until shrimp are done. *
Stir in the feta, parsley and the remaining tablespoon of lemon juice and EVOO.
Toss gently and serve hot over a bed of lettuce for a delicious low carb meal.
Notes: * If substituting with cooked, rotisserie chicken, cook just to heat the chicken in step 4.
This is a light dish which will serve 2-3. Double the recipe for more servings.
Recipe adapted from Zenbelly.
Bake at 425 degrees for 5 minutes
Add the shrimp
For low carb serve hot over a bed of lettuce
If not watching carbs serve hot over rice or pasta
One of our favorite all-time meals to eat is Shrimp Scampi over linguine pasta, topped with Pecorino Romano grated cheese, some crusty Italian bread to soak up the lemony butter sauce and we’re in heaven! Since Barbara is back on Keto, we wanted to come up with the same delicious flavor without the carbs. Zucchini is an amazing vegetable that takes the place of pasta and delivers all the delicious flavor of our original shrimp scampi recipe. We decided to make a one-pan dish so we used the electric skillet. It’s large and can accommodate all the shrimp in a single layer plus all the spiralized zucchini. If your watching carbs, please give it a try. We promise you will not miss the pasta! 😋 😋
2 lbs large raw shrimp
2 sticks salted butter
10 medium zucchini and/or summer squash, spiralized
1/2 stick salted butter for zucchini
1-2 tsp salt
8 Dorot frozen garlic cubes (we use for consistency)
1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves, chopped
2 tsp grated lemon peel
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
lemon slices for garnish (optional)
Pecorino Romano, grated
Remove shells from shrimp, leaving the shell on the tail section if desired.
Devein then wash under running cold water, and drain on paper towels; pat dry.
In the electric skillet on the warmest setting, melt 2 sticks of salted butter.
When butter is melted, add the salt, garlic, and 2 Tablespoon parsley; mix well.
Arrange the shrimp in a single layer in the skillet.
Raise skillet temperature to 300ºF. As soon as shrimp start to turn pink (1 or 2 minutes) quickly turn the shrimp over and ower to warm setting again.
Sprinkle with lemon peel, lemon juice, and remaining parsley. Raise temperature to 300ºF.
Cook about 1-2 minutes longer or just until shrimp are tender. Do Not overcook shrimp or they will be tough. (If using smaller shrimp, cut down on the cooking time)
Remove shrimp with half the scampi sauce and set aside in a bowl.
Add the 1/2 stick of butter to the skillet then add the spiralized zucchini to the scampi sauce and stir well to coat with sauce. Cover and cook until zucchini are soft but not overcooked.
Arrange the desired amount of zucchini noodles (zoodles) in a pasta dish then top with shrimp. Add some of the reserved scampi sauce on top. Grate some Pecorino Romano cheese and garnish with a thin slice of lemon (optional).
Notes: If you don’t have an electric skillet please use our oven method Shrimp Scampi recipe then cook the zucchini separate using 1/2 stick butter in a large skillet with half the scampi sauce reserve from shrimp cooked in the oven.
This summer has been exceptionally hot and humid day after day. A wonderful way to cool off besides air conditioning is enjoying an icy cold glass of homemade lemonade. My grandsons, “The Sunshine Boys”, love the lemonade my daughter makes. It is so refreshing and made with only 3 simple ingredients… lemons, water, and sugar! So, while the heat of the summer will be with us for several more weeks/months, mix up a pitcher full of delicious, icy cold lemonade and feel refreshed!
1¼ cups sugar (1/4 cup Swerve confectioners sweetener may be substituted)
4½ cups water
lemon slices for garnish
In a small saucepan combine 1½ cups of water and sugar and bring to a boil. Stir until all sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool. ( cover and put in the refrigerator to speed up the cooling process)
Strain the squeezed lemon juice through a fine-mesh sieve into a 2-quart pitcher.
Add the remaining 3 cups of water and 3/4 of the simple syrup that has been cooling. Stir well and taste. Adjust to taste with either more water or more simple syrup.
Refrigerate until ready to serve.
When ready to serve, add ice to a tall glass and fill with lemonade. Garnish each glass with a lemon slice and a sprig of mint leaves. Enjoy!
Notes: Adults Only-Vodka can be added for a refreshing cocktail 😋
For a keto-friendly version, we used Swerve confectioners sweetener in place of sugar.
This summer we have an abundance of basil from both our hay bale gardens and have been making pesto like crazy. Not only is pesto delicious on pasta but it's just as delicious on fish, vegetables, chicken or just about anything! Last year our friend Jane grew tomatoes and basil in hay bales...we grew ours in traditional dirt. The difference was amazing...the hay bale crop far exceeded the traditional dirt crop and made us and Gary believers. Gary bought the bales at the local hardware store then quickly got to preparing them with fertilizer and water. After two weeks of daily watering, we planted our basil and tomatoes along with some other herbs and couldn't be happier with the results. If you never tried this method before, it's definitely worth the minimal effort.😋😋
Pesto Sauce Ingredients
3 Tablespoons Pignoli Nuts (Italian pine nuts)
1 tsp Kosher salt
3 cloves garlic, peeled
2 cups fresh sweet Italian basil leaves, packed tightly (approximately 2 very large bunches)
8 Tablespoons EVOO, preferably Ligurian as it makes a big difference in taste
1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, freshly grated
Pesto Sauce Directions
In a food processor add pignoli nuts, salt, and garlic cloves. Pulse into a smooth paste.
Add the basil in small amounts then pulse after each addition, until all the basil has been added and the mixture is creamy & smooth. Slowly (slow is key here) add the EVOO until emulsified.
Add cheese and pulse to incorporate.
If too dry add additional EVOO slowly, 1 Tablespoon at a time.
The other night we were so engrossed with updating this blog that we completely forgot about dinner! We realized it at 5:00 pm! After searching in the refrigerator we found country sausage, zucchini, and some leftover tomato sauce so we whipped up a really quick & tasty dinner. On nights when you are pressed for time, this recipe is not only quick & easy but also delicious, healthy & satisfying. There's a bonus too... it's low carb, keto-friendly, and gluten-free. You won't miss the pasta at all. Our family loves it with ricotta cheese on top...it's delicious! Give it a try and let us hear from you. 😋😋
2 cloves garlic (we use Dorot frozen cubes for consistency)
1 lb bulk Neese’s Sausage, hot or regular
2 Tablespoons butter
1 cup pre-made tomato sauce (more or less depending on your preference)
salt & pepper to taste
ricotta (for topping)
Pecorino Romano cheese, grated
Wash unpeeled zucchini then dry well. Cut the end stem from one end of the zucchini then using the spiralizer thick ribbon blade, spiralize all the zucchini. Set aside.
In a large hot skillet place the bulk sausage and brown completely on all sides, crumbling the sausage as it cooks.
Add the garlic and continue cooking another minute. Stir well then add the butter combining well.
Add the zucchini spirals and mix with the sausage.
Cook until zucchini is soft or al dente then add a cup of pre-made tomato sauce and mix well. Heat until sauce is hot. Remove from heat.
Serve in a pasta dish and sprinkle with grated Pecorino Ramano cheese then top with a dollop of creamy ricotta cheese and enjoy.
Add Zucchini noodles after browning sausage meat
Add tomato sauce
Notes: Additional tomato sauce may be added depending on your preference. For those of you who must have pasta, just cook up a little gluten-free pasta (or regular pasta if gluten is not a health issue) and add the cooked pasta at the end to combine with the zoodles.