my best pumpkin pie {video}

Last week my house was heavy with the scent of warm pumpkin pie. I know, I know. Who makes pumpkin pie a week before Thanksgiving? Me, that’s who. When my pie craving hit, I scoured the cupboards, convinced I had evaporated milk, but alas, there was none. I was going out to the store to get eggs and butter, and could’ve picked some up, but decided a pumpkin pie recipe sans the canned stuff might be more useful to all of you (spoiler alert: it was the best pumpkin pie, ever). We’ve all been there, at some point, a craving that seemingly can’t be fulfilled because of one missing ingredient, right? One day I might try making my own evaporated milk…(I can see Mikey doing an eye roll from above). For now, I decided to give it a try with heavy cream. I scaled back the amount of liquid, since my research told me it would be way too much cream if I just subbed in an equal amount for the missing evaporated milk. Continue reading »

gruyère cheese & rosemary buttermilk biscuits

It’s the Monday before Thanksgiving, and so the countdown begins. I’m excited for the recipe I’ll be sharing tomorrow for a new kind of pumpkin pie (and a press-in pie crust!). Today I’m sharing a recipe for the best buttermilk biscuits, with a twist. A friend posted a question to Facebook today, asking if bread or rolls were a must. It’s interesting how divided the responses were. Some people were adamantly against it, feeling that it just distracts from all the other better food on the table. Others felt stuffing was suffice enough to serve as the bread component. I’m Italian-American. We’ve been known to eat spaghetti sandwiches (no joke). Carbs are our friends, not foes. So, yeah, I’m totally all about the bread basket, specifically buttermilk biscuits.

Gruyere Cheese & Rosemary Buttermilk Biscuits |

I made an actual list for Thanksgiving, but then I cleaned the house today, so the list is…well, somewhere, of which I don’t know anymore. My main objective for today is to get the bread for the stuffing, which I think is really considered dressing the way I make it (I bake it separate from the turkey). I’ll cut the loaves into cubes, and set them in a single layer to dry out a bit in preparation for making the stuffing (or is dressing?) on Wednesday. I’ll also get my final grocery list in order, so I can do my shop tomorrow (the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, in case you’re ready this late to the game plan). Here’s a peek at our menu. You’d think we’re hosting an army, but it’s just going to be five of us. I feel like we should probably cut back on some things, but we have our own favorite foods and traditions. I’m sure some of this year’s menu is about marrying our past with our present. Continue reading »

collecting dots vs. connecting dots {honey spice cake}

The day is beginning to wake. The sky a chameleon, slowly morphing from deep navy to soft blue. I love watching this transformation. Years ago, I used to go out running at this early hour. The world went from still and quiet, to the squeaking wheels of trucks making their deliveries for the day. Commuters shuffling about, still wiping the sleep from their eyes, some clutching a canister of coffee for a life raft.

That old life feels so far from reality as I sit on my sofa in Maryland right now. We’ve been in the thick of adjusting to new schools, again. Virginia attends a tiny Montessori school, and hit the ground running. She’s always been my shadow, and while she’d much rather stay home with mama all day, she seems very content in her school environment. Continue reading »

mashed potato pie

Compensation was provided by Safeway, Vons, Randalls and Tom Thumb stores via Mode Media.

Growing up in an Italian-American family, Thanksgiving traditions were always a mash up of old and new—baked ziti served before the turkey is normal in every household, right? Eventually the baked ziti was weaned from our holiday table. In its place came a rich, cheese laden mashed potato pie that was a meal in itself. It was a hefty helping of buttery, whipped potatoes, seasoned with milk, mozzarella cheese, locatelli cheese, and prosciutto, all baked in a huge rectangular tray.

As I grew older, and began hosting my own Thanksgiving, many of those food traditions changed. Mikey began making a homemade stuffing, and I swapped in fresh cranberry sauce for the canned one that graced so many of our meals. One year I really went renegade and made an incredible spoonbread pudding in lieu of the potatoes. I don’t suggest ever doing something that radical unless you’re ready for a revolt. Most of my family tried it, and some even liked it (Mikey and I loved it, thank you very much) but my uncle was a stubborn one who refused to take a taste. He insisted he didn’t like it, even though he’d never tried spoonbread in his life. My family is not very open to change when it comes to their food. As I think back to that Thanksgiving ten years ago, I realize I was the one in the wrong. I should’ve approached the menu much the way I do cooking for my daughters. Change works best when it’s paired with something familiar.

Mashed Potato Pie | In Jennie's Kitchen

When Mode Media, my ad network, asked me to partner with them for a Thanksgiving post, I knew just what classic recipe I would put a unique twist on. The beloved mashed potato pie was on the chopping block. How could I reinvent it to satisfy both my needs for something new and their tastes?

For starters, I kept the mashed potato base simple with just a couple of pats of butter. I decided it was best to allocate the calories to the cheese and eggs I’d be adding to make this soufflé-like pie. I also swapped out the mozzarella my family usually used, and added a combination of grated Gruyere cheese and fresh ricotta. The pie puffs up slightly towards the end of cooking, and takes on a lovely golden hue. A little rest before serving ensures neat slices to serve alongside the turkey and other fixin’s.

Mashed Potato Pie |

Visit your nearest Safeway, Vons, Randalls, or Tom Thumb store this holiday season to make your holiday shopping easy and affordable. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Safeway, Vons, Randalls and Tom Thumb stores.

Mashed Potato Pie

Serves 8

3 large russet potatoes, peeled and diced

2 tablespoons (28 grams) butter

3/4 cup (140 grams) ricotta cheese

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

4 ounces (56 grams) Gruyere cheese, grated

Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1. Add the potatoes to a 4-quart pot. Fill with enough water to cover the potatoes. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer. Cook until the potatoes are very tender when pierced with a fork.

2. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375F. Grease the sides and bottom of a 9-inch pie plate.

3. Drain the potatoes, and return them back to the pot. Add the butter. Cover with a lid for 2 minutes, allowing the butter to melt. Using a hand held mixer on medium-low speed, beat the potatoes just until they’re smooth (be careful not to overbeat, or they’ll become gummy).

4. Stir in the ricotta cheese, eggs, and half of the Gruyere cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Spread the mashed potato mixture into the prepared pie plate. Evenly sprinkle the remaining Gruyere cheese on top.

5. Bake 45 to 50 minutes, until the top is slightly puffed and golden brown. Remove from the oven, and let rest 15 to 20 minutes before serving.

{Make Ahead} The pie may be made through step 4 the night before. Cover with foil or plastic, and store in the fridge. Remove one hour before ready to bake, to let it come to room temperature.

the sound of music

Right about now, you’re probably sick of hearing Christmas songs, especially if you work in retail, or any public place that has been blaring them since before Thanksgiving. I’m immune to this illness, having loved listening to, and singing Christmas carols, since I was a kid. I remember lining my stuffed animals up in my bed at night when I was about four years old, and then leading them in a yuletide chorus—in the summer. True story. Continue reading »

candied pecans {easy homemade gift-giving}

We had our first big snowfall in the country this weekend. Well, not in the country, as in the United States of America. I mean the country, as in the area where our house is upstate. I figure you all probably knew what I was talking about, but the writer in me felt compelled to make it very clear. I have readers around the globe (it boggles my mind, really), and I didn’t want anyone to confuse my country with the country.

See how easy it is to get caught up on the little details? Something as simple as me coming here to share an easy recipe for a quick last-minute homemade gift has me pondering the clarity of my own words. Perhaps the simple things are the tasks that truly push us to look closer at the finer details of life. I’ve been contemplating this a lot lately. Continue reading »

gingerbread cake {a one bowl recipe}

I know, I go silent for almost a month, and then share three recipes in four days. This is the upside to my cold. All of the little projects I’ve been meaning to do, the bills I’ve planning to pay, life is what I think we call it—I suddenly find there’s time to get things done when I’m relegated to the sofa, trying to get better. Actually, the sofa has just become my temporary workspace. Too tired to walk up and down the stairs, and not willing to put my cooking habits on hold, my laptop has found a permanent place in the living room, just about 20 paces from the kitchen counter. Continue reading »

broccoli rabe & fresh ricotta frittata {Homemade with Love}

To the rest of the world, this simply looks like a bunch of celery. Albeit an incredibly gorgeous, delicate bundle, with a flavor only celery from the farmers’ market could possibly capture. That bunch in particular probably came from Maxwell’s Farmstand at the Grand Army Plaza farmers’ market.

I feel the lump welling up in my throat as I write this, and yet I can’t pull my fingers away from the keyboard. I feel crazy even going “there”, but that celery is the last bunch of celery I bought while Michael was alive. It’s celery for heaven’s sake, and it’s capable of reducing me to tears. At moments like this I want to bury my face into a pillow and collapse into a pool of tears. I bought that celery the day before Mikey died. I came across it while looking through my photo archives for a recipe of the Broccoli Rabe & Fresh Ricotta Frittata from Homemade with Love, and suddenly found myself frozen as I inched closer to the photos I took in the days leading up to his death.

It’s not just a bunch of celery, just like these aren’t just a box of matches.

It’s a bunch of celery on the windowsill of our old apartment…in the kids’ old room, which was actually our bedroom before we even had kids.

That celery represents something I can never have again. That celery represents a routine I so loved, and have struggled to get back into the last 20 months. See, before Mikey died, I woke up every Saturday morning at 7:00am, got dressed quietly and snuck out of the house to go to the farmers’ market at Grand Army Plaza. I would beat the crowds, and get the best of whatever was in season before most people had rubbed the sleep from their eyes. Continue reading »

holidazed {homemade eggnog}

I blinked, and somewhere in the process November became December. Days seem to blend into one another lately, and the last week has especially left me pondering my life now compared to just one year ago. There are a million words swirling in my head, yet they float not quite capable of connecting themselves to one another to form a proper thought. The words being emotions and feelings really, much of which leave me even more confused when I try to piece them together.

So, my approach these last few weeks has been to really take my own advice. I’ve been consumed with just trying to be present and fully aware of every moment. We spend so much of our lives being connected to something, instead of someone. And so my silence here, there and everywhere these last few weeks has been because I’ve been absorbed with experiencing life rather than simply documenting it.

Continue reading »

a birthday, and on being thankful {coconut custard pie}

I looked in the mirror a few days ago and thought “holy shit” you’re going to turn 39 any day now. Then I glanced back, this time with a smile, and reminded myself I have survived 39 years on this planet. Sometimes the canvas of our lives seems like a Jackson Pollock painting. A spattering of events that require careful introspection so as to not miss the meaning in all those moments.

Yes, my 39 years thus far have had their share of doubt, uncertainty, and sadness. But, they have also been filled with more love than some people experience in a lifetime (and I’m counting on being here for at least 39 more, fingers crossed). The tough times etch their way into our souls like a branding iron fresh from the flames. At moments, I have felt tired and weary, quite sure I was ready to throw in the towel. The last 16 months have been particularly exhausting. It has felt like dog years in terms of my growing process, but I am still standing. I wake each morning with resolve, ready to do it all over again…ready to keep this promise to myself. Continue reading »