Favorite Recipes for the Spring Holidays

Coconut Macaroons | In Jennie's Kitchen

April has this way of suddenly showing up, then just as abruptly making its departure. For the second year in a row, Passover and Easter fall right at the same time, which means I’m hoping to make a few of my beloved Easter treats to enjoy before the house is purged of flour and leavened products.

One of my most cherished recipes is Italian Easter bread. It holds fond memories of my childhood, but also of my life with Michael. Just a few months before he passed away, I snapped a photo of him and Virginia kneading the dough in our old Brooklyn kitchen. They were both so happy, so unaware of the changes soon to take place.

I have that photo on a pillow I had made for Virginia. I realize only now, almost eight years later, how odd that sounds. I even had a pillow made for Isabella, a moment in time frozen of her and Michael in the kitchen on Cape Cod. Only another widow can probably understand why someone would do something so bizarre.

Pizza di Ricotta Dolce {Italian Ricotta Cheese Pie} | In Jennie's Kitchen

Pizza di Ricotta Dolce {Italian Ricotta Cheese Pie} | In Jennie’s Kitchen

I was trying to fix and help ease a situation for which there was no remedy. The effect of Michael’s loss on his daughters’ lives has always been obvious. Watching them grapple with how to do it every day, live their life without their daddy, has been one of the most difficult things I’ve had to do. It’s especially hard for them as teens to see other kids roll their eyes at the mention of their own parents. They can never understand the hunger and ache in my childrens’ hearts.

As a mother, instinct compels me to want to right every wrong. Death defies my ability to do that no matter how hard I try. And so, I had those stupid pillows made a few months after he passed away. When I stand back and examine it more clearly, logically, I realize the pillows are downright creepy (and good gravy, I had them made for the girls when they were 4 and 9!).

Ricotta Mascarpone Cannoli | www.injennieskitchen.com (click here for recipe)

Now they’re shoved into the family room closet, a tell-tale heart of sorts. Locking them away racks me with guilt, as though I’m hiding him.  I shoved them in the closet after turning the lights on in the room, and being startled by the sight of Michael’s frozen smile on them. There’s a lot I still don’t know and understand about grief, but trust me when I say your dead husband’s photo on a pillow is never a good idea. I’ll even venture to say a living person’s photo on a pillow is also bad idea.

Anyway, I suppose this has nothing to do with spring holiday celebrations except that for us it’s another time of year where his loss is keenly felt. We will gather around the table for our seder the end of next week. I’ll do the bitter herbs my way (arugula), and use a roasted beet in place of the shank bone. I’ll make favorites from years past, remembering how much Michael loved the potato kugelettes (reminiscent of homemade tater tots), and stumble through every bit of the haggadah, which we never read before because he never wanted to do a traditional seder.

Passover Anisette Biscotti Recipe | In Jennie's Kitchen

Passover Anisette Biscotti Recipe | In Jennie’s Kitchen

I’m sure my Catholic mother wonders where she went wrong. All I can say to her is she did everything right. Whereas many of us are born into a heritage or culture, and accept it without question, I always felt like a round peg trying to fit in a square opening. I still ask so many questions, and am not completely convinced in who the higher being is responsible for my existence beyond the concrete answers science offers.

What I do know is I’ve been searching for a connection my whole life. I found it once, and it inspires me every day to stoke the embers of our family so they may shine bright, and inspire our daughters to tell our stories and carry our memories into their own futures.

Italian Easter Bread |In Jennie's Kitchen

Easter Favorites

Italian Easter Bread

Pizza di Ricotta Dolce

Broccoli Rabe & Fresh Ricotta Frittata

Lemon Crumb Cake

Broccoli Cheddar Cheese Pie

Passover Favorites

Coconut Macaroons

Passover Crêpes

Homemade Lemon Curd

Matza Coperta

2-Ingredient Chocolate Mousse (perfect for Easter, too)

Swiss Meringue

Getting Ready for May Day (my Finnish heritage)

Sima, a refreshing summer drink


  • Michelle

    As you said only another widow could understand it. I took my husband’s favorite shirts like a blue Tribe of Mic O Say button down shirt into a pillow for my grandson who was in scouts with his grandfather. He was President of a Museum in our city and I had those dress shirts made into pillow’s for my son, my daughter and one for me. They had the logo’s for the museum on them and mine sits in his chair he sat in every day for years.

    My husband was way older than your husband and our children were grown. It has been a year this past January but not a day goes by I don’t think of him. He was my soulmate for many years.

  • Jennie

    Michael is still my soulmate, even though there’s a physical barrier, as I’m sure your husband is to you. xo-Jennie