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Happy Mother’s Day to all. To the moms who are with us, and to those who have passed on and are smiling down on us from heaven. We love you and are thinking of you on your special day.

Every mother is “queen for the day” so, Mom, relax in your favorite chair, read the Sunday paper and do not lift a finger to do any work. Dads and kids: surprise the lady in your life with easy-to-prepare meals that I know she will love. Start out with a tasty breakfast in bed, followed by a day of delicious meals with the family. Enjoy.


(Have this ready for Mom when she wakes up in the morning.)

1/2 pound sweet or hot Italian sausage, casings removed

2 teaspoons olive oil

2 cups red pepper strips

2 medium onions, thinly sliced

1 teaspoon salt, divided

5 cups milk

4 large eggs

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1 loaf Italian bread (1-pound) sliced 1/2-inch thick, quartered

1 cup (4-ounces) Fontina cheese, shredded

Heat large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat 1 minute. Brown sausage, breaking up pieces with slotted spoon. Transfer to paper towels. Discard drippings. Heat oil in same skillet over medium heat. Add peppers, onions and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cook until mixture is lightly browned, 15 minutes. Beat milk, eggs, remaining 3/4 teaspoon salt and pepper in bowl. Place enough bread pieces to cover bottom of a 13-by-9-by-2-inch baking dish. Spread half the peppers and onions over bread; sprinkle on half of cheese and sausage. Pour half milk mixture over bread. Repeat with remaining bread, peppers, onions, cheese, sausage and milk mixture. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. Next morning, remove from refrigerator 1 hour before baking. Heat oven to 350º. Uncover plastic wrap and replace with aluminum foil. Bake for 30 minutes; uncover and bake an additional 25 to 30 minutes until lightly browned and set in center. Yield: 8 servings.


2 teaspoons olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 (14-ounce) can plum tomatoes, drained

1-1/2 teaspoons crushed dried rosemary leaves

2 (14-1/2-ounce) cans beef broth, defatted

2 (19-ounce) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed

6-ounces whole-wheat elbow macaroni

Black pepper, to taste

1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Heat oil in large pot over low heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring until golden, about 1 minute. Add tomatoes and rosemary; simmer for 5 minutes, mashing tomatoes with a fork or potato masher. Pour in beef broth and 2 cups water; bring to a simmer over medium heat. In a small bowl, mash 1 cup of chickpeas with a fork or potato masher. Stir the mashed chickpeas into the tomato-beef broth mixture along with macaroni and pepper. Simmer, uncovered, until macaroni is tender, about 12 to 14 minutes. Stir in remaining whole chickpeas and heat through. Serve soup with a sprinkling of grated cheese. Yield: 6 servings.


3 pounds halibut

6 ounces crab meat

Dash garlic powder


Salt and black pepper, to taste

1 vegetable bouillon cube

6 ounces tomato juice

3 cups peas

2 cups mushrooms

Preheat oven to 400º. Place a layer of halibut on heavy aluminum foil and season with garlic powder, parsley, salt and pepper. Next, add crab meat. Cover with another layer of halibut and seasonings. Crush the bouillon cube and dissolve completely in tomato juice. Pour over fish. Add vegetables. Wrap. Bake for 1 hour or until the fish flakes easily with a fork. Yield: about 6 servings.


3 cups low-sodium beef broth, divided

1-ounce dried porcini mushrooms

1 (3-pound) chuck roast

1 tablespoon chopped pancetta (Italian bacon) or ham

1 onion, finely chopped

1 carrot, finely chopped

1 celery stalk, finely chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 teaspoon salt

Coarsely ground black pepper

1 bay leaf

1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage

1/4 cup chopped parsley

3 tablespoons tomato paste

3 cups dry red wine

1 (15-ounce) can whole tomatoes, drained and crushed

Heat 1 cup beef broth; add mushrooms and soak until softened. Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add meat and cook until brown on all sides. Transfer meat to a plate. Add pancetta, onion, carrot and celery. Cook, stirring, until golden. Next, add garlic and cook 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper. Add bay leaf, sage, parsley, tomato paste and wine. Simmer until reduced by half, about 20 minutes. Add meat, tomatoes, porcini mushrooms, mushroom liquid and 2 cups beef broth. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook 2-1/2 to 3 hours or until meat is tender. Turn meat over halfway through cooking time. Transfer meat to a cutting board. Let meat stand 10 minutes before slicing. Serve with vegetables and juice. Yield: 8 servings.


1-1/2 pounds russet (baking) potatoes

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

2 tablespoons butter, room temperature

1/3 cup milk, half-and-half, or light cream, warmed

1/3 cup dairy sour cream

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh basil

Peel potatoes, leaving about half the skin on each potato. Cut potatoes into large chunks; place in large saucepan. Add cold water to cover, along with half of the salt. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and cook, covered, for 15 to 20 minutes, until potatoes are tender. Drain.

Add butter, pepper, and remaining salt to potatoes in saucepan. Using a potato masher, mash potatoes slightly, leaving some lumps. Gently mash in milk, about half at a time; then mash in the sour cream. Switch to a wooden spoon, so as not to overmash the potatoes. Add basil; stir until potatoes are evenly mixed. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper; serve immediately. Yield: 6 servings.


(The kids will love to bake these easy cookies for Mom. With supervision, of course.)

1 cup flour

2 teaspoons sugar

1 stick butter

2 tablespoons ice water

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1 tablespoon honey

3/4 cup finely chopped pecans

Combine flour and sugar. Cut in butter until particles are size of small peas. Sprinkle with water and vanilla. Quickly work with hands to make a smooth dough. Chill 30 minutes. Stir together honey with 1/4 cup nuts; set aside. With lightly floured hands, shape dough in 16 tablespoon-size balls. Press small indentation in center with thumb; fill with about 1/2 teaspoon honey-nut mixture. Pinch dough around filling and roll in remaining 1/2 cup nuts to coat cookie. Put on greased cookie sheet and bake in preheated 350º oven for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on rack. These cookies can be stored airtight in cool place for 10 days; can be frozen up to 8 weeks. Yield: 16 cookies.

Web bonus recipes


2-ounces plain yogurt

2 tablespoons wine vinegar

2 tablespoons mustard

½ teaspoon salt

1 (1-pound) can French Style Wax Beans, drained

1 (1-pound) can French Style Green Beans, drained

1 small Bermuda onion, chopped

2 tablespoons green pepper, chopped

In a medium-sized bowl, mix yogurt, wine vinegar, mustard and salt. Combine remaining ingredients and add to yogurt mixture. Make sure to mix well. Allow to stand at least one hour before serving. Yield: 10 to 12 servings.


3 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1-1/2 cups apple butter

3/4 cup brown sugar

3/4 cup sugar

2/3 cup butter, melted

1/2 cup sour cream

2 eggs

Preheat oven to 350º. Prepare muffin cups with paper liners. Sift flour, baking soda and salt in bowl; set aside. In large mixing bowl beat apple butter, brown sugar, sugar, melted butter, sour cream and eggs on low speed until well blended and smooth. Add dry ingredients just until moist. Pour batter into prepared cups 2/3 full and bake 25 minutes, or until done. Transfer to wire rack and cool.

For caramel frosting:

40 caramel candies

6 tablespoons heavy cream

Heat caramels and heavy cream in heavy saucepan over low heat until melted, stir frequently. Cool just a little, but still warm and sticky, spread over top of cupcake. If frosting hardens, reheat . Yield: 24 cupcakes.

Any comments, questions or favorite recipes? I would love to hear from you. Feel free to send your email to, and please write “Helen’s Kitchen Request, ATTN: Lori” in the subject line to make sure that I receive your email. Thank you.