Springtime Home Cooking

As fun and as easy as it can be to go out, cooking at home is often more fun and frankly, not that much more difficult.  The comfort of sitting at home with food and friends is always good for the soul.

The other day, a few friends came over for a low-key and last minute dinner.  During the winter, I spent a week in FL visiting my “snowbird” grandmother.  In addition to quality grandma/granddaughter time, we happed upon a really tasty food demonstration at the local Publix.  A gentleman was serving up Salmon Puttanesca with Spinach and Buttered Gnocci and it was one of those recipes that stuck with me—both along the lines of “hey, that was tasty!” and the “I could do that!”  Finally, it felt enough like spring in NY to put those fresh flavors together.  I followed the recipe basically exactly as written, shopping at the local Fairway for fresh, tasty ingredients.  I splurged and bought fresh Greek olives, which added a special zing to the sauce.  Overall, this meal was a hit and the only thing I’ll do differently next time is make MORE of it; it’s ALWAYS a good sign when every last drop is eaten up!

Of course, even a small, low maintence dinner party must include dessert, and I made what I call my “Bootleg Chocolate Éclair” to accompany our meal.  It’s one of those desserts that takes minimal effort, but tastes much fancier.  Don’t tell, but I could eat it straight from the pan… My secret?  Simple ingredients for everything but the chocolate topping, which is about the only non “bootleg” part of the dish.  Here’s what you need to give it a try:

  • 9×9 pan
  • Graham crackers (enough for 3 layers)
  • Box of vanilla pudding (mix according to directions)
  • 1 container Cool Whip
  • ¾ C whipping Cream
  • 1 C chocolate chips
  • 5 T light corn syrup


  1. Mix pudding according to instructions.  Fold in Cool Whip.
  2. Layer graham crackers in bottom of dish, completely covering bottom.  Top with ½ pudding mixture.  Repeat.  Add layer of graham crackers to top and place in fridge.
  3. Mix whipping cream chocolate chips and light corn syrup.  Microwave in short increments or melt over stovetop until smooth.  Cool to room temperature and spread over graham crackers.
  4. Place dessert back in microwave for at least 4 hours, allowing graham crackers to soften.  Enjoy!

Assorted fruit, the dessert and a rousing game of Apples to Apples made the night complete.  Let us know if you give either of these recipes a try OR if you have any “bootleg” recipe tips of your own!


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