Wishing You All a Very Merry Christmas from St. Augustine, Florida!!

Last Christmas – what a difference a year makes!!

Hello Everyone!!  I’m so sorry I haven’t posted for almost a year.  Why, you may ask? Because I had been so busy preparing to move from my beloved Yellow Farmhouse in Massachusetts to St. Augustine, Florida. (I arrived in St. Augustine in July… with, probably, 1/4 of the ‘stuff’ I used to have..)

There was a lifetime of wonderful family memories etc. stored in the attic, the cellar, the barn AND the loft in the barn. Most of it was ‘good stuff’ and I hate throwing good things away.  Luckily, there’s a well traveled road down the hill in back of the farmhouse. We put ‘stuff’ down there and off it would go, often in minutes.  I tell you, we made a lot of people very happy! One woman told me she was helping her daughter set up her new apartment with my ‘stuff’.

I’ll be flying out tomorrow so I can spend the holidays in Massachusetts, and I’m really looking forward to seeimg family and friends. There’s a lot I miss about New England – but there’s tons of things I love about living here in St. Augustine!  (More about that soon..)

In the meantime I haven’t packed a thing for my trip, which is so typical of me.  I spent today day cleaning up and reorganizing things after my very first dinner party in St. Augustine. I have a BIG problem with ‘time management’.  I tend to underestimate how just long it will take to do things, so, as usual, as my guests arrived last night my kitchen was a disaster area.  (It never matters as long as the food is good, the wine is flowing and the conversation is lively.)

Messy Kitchen ... as always..
Yup… what a mess….
lantern on porch - at night
Except for the kitchen… everything looked lovely!

Old Bureau Shines From in All It's Glory - Christmas 2017


I purchased this little tree when we lived in Malta.  I loved this little tree. I spent a few hours decorating it a few days ago until every little glass icicle and every treasured ornament was in the ‘best place’.  Then … I moved the tree, maybe, five inches… and the stand broke….     ; o (


New and Improved Christmas Tree!!

A nice seven footer, so ALL the ornaments fit!!  Believe me… I was ‘this close’ to saying, ‘Never-mind’… 

New Christmas Tree
Yes!  New tree and MUCH stronger stand!
There’s nothing like old friends – but it’s also fun to have new friends!!

One of my twin sons and his family – plus my twin brother and his wife – were here in St. Augustine for Thanksgiving. It was wonderful!!  If you ever get a chance, come to St. Augustine during the holidays. The Nights of Lights is beautiful to behold. A large part of the city is lit up with thousands and thousands of lights – it’s gorgeous.

The night before Thanksgiving I served my Ravioli Lasagna.  Get this – I made it the day before… so no mess. Why can’t I be like that more often!!

Wishing you all the merriest of holidays!!  (And now… I guess I’ll have to get started on packing that suitcase…)

Here’s the link to the recipe for Ravioli Lasagna

Mushroom Ravioli Lasagna - My Yellow Farmhouse

++ Top Photo of St. Augustine – stock image… 

Love chocolate covered cherries? Then you’ll love these cookies!


The new ‘thing’ on Pinterest seems to be baking cookies with a Hershey’s Kiss in the center, which is a fabulous idea.  So … I thought, “Why not wrap rich cookie dough around a maraschino cherry & cover the cookie with melted semi-sweet chocolate”?  Yup – Yummy!

Here’s how you get that maraschino cherry in the center. Take a tablespoon of dough, flatten it and wrap dough around the cherry.  It’s fun and easy – as is dipping the cooled cookies in the melted chocolate.

You can make the cookie dough ahead and refrigerate it.  Recently I divided the dough in half, brought half  to my son’s house and made cookies with my grandchildren.  A week later I baked the other half and mailed those cookies to my godmother and uncle. (At the last minute… typical me.  It cost me almost $60.00 to make sure the package would get to Florida by Christmas..)

My grandchildren had fun forming snowmen and candy canes etc.  –  but the dough is far too soft to use for cut-out cookies.

small red heart

Yield – about 4 dozen cookies 

Oven at 350F      Bake cookies for 15 – 16 minutes – until bottoms are lightly browned.  (The cookies themselves will be very, very lightly browned at the edges.)

Ingredients and Method

  • 1 1/2 cups butter  ++ Three sticks allowed to come to room temperature   ++ Here’s a ‘cheat’ – place the three sticks of butter on a small plate. Microwave in 10 second increments. DO NOT overdo it …. or you’ll end up with melted butter. Two times at ’10 seconds each’ should do it.     ; o )
  • 1 (8 oz.) package softened cream cheese
  • 2 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar   ++ Also know as ‘powdered sugar’ or ‘icing sugar
  • 1 egg at room temperature  ++ I  put the egg in some warm water for a minute
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • red maraschino cherries, drained on a paper towel
  • 1 (12 oz.) bag semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 2 Tbs. shortening


In a large mixing bowl, beat 1 1/2 cups softened butter, 8 oz. softened cream cheese, 2 1/2 cups confectioners sugar, 1 room-temperature egg, 2 tsp. vanilla extract and 1 tsp. almond extract until thoroughly blended, then continue beating for another minute.

Add 4 cups all-purpose flour, 1/2 tsp. baking powder and 1/4 tsp. salt.  Mix until thoroughly combined.

Dough will be sticky, so I suggest dividing dough into two parts, wrapping in plastic wrap & refrigerating for about 20 minutes.

++ If preparing dough ahead – divide dough into two parts, wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate. Remove dough and let it warm up a bit before you begin forming cookies.

Using a measuring tablespoon, scoop out a tablespoon of dough and flatten it in your hand a bit. Place a maraschino cherry (don’t forget to put the cherries on a paper towel to dry a bit) in the center and fold up the dough to cover the cherry.  Roll the dough in your hand to form a rough ball.  Place balls about two inches apart on a parchment-lined cookie sheet.


Bake cookies for 15 – 16 minutes in a 350F oven until cookies are a lightly browned on the bottom.  Cookies will be very, very lightly browned at the edges.  Remove cookies immediately and allow to cool on a rack.

++ Here’s what I learned… if you pick up a cookie to see if the bottom is browned and it falls apart… it’s not ready yet!   ; o )

Melting the Semi-Sweet Chocolate

Place 1 bag (12 ounces) of semi-sweet chips and  2 Tbs shortening in a microwavable bowl.  Melt chocolate at either half-power or the defrost setting.  Keep checking –  and stirring  – until chocolate is melted and well blended.  Dip each cookie ‘face down’ into the melted chocolate and give it a little shake. Set cookie on rack – repeat.  Enjoy!

++  Try not to overheat chocolate or it may harden up.  Here’s h.e.lp. if that ever happens to you – http://www.sheknows.com/food-and-recipes/articles/977613/in-a-pickle-how-to-salvage-overheated-chocolate

All the cookies but two made it into the Christmas package I sent to my aunt and uncle in Florida.  I  dare YOU to eat just one…!!


Pumpkin Slab Pie – Bakes in a 15″ x 10″ Pan (Sided Cookie Sheet)

Pumpkin pie is not just for Thanksgiving anymore – especially when you serve pumpkin pie in a whole new way … like this slab pie!  I couldn’t wait to finish my photos ’cause I couldn’t wait to try this. (I ate three pieces!)

A ‘no-roll’ homemade crust – which comes together in minutes – is pressed into a 15″ x 10″ sided cookie sheet. (Also known as a jelly roll pan.)  The crust is covered with aluminum foil and baked for 10 minutes.  The filling is quick to prepare – brown sugar, pumpkin spice, brown sugar, half and half and eggs are stirred and poured over the partially baked crust.  After baking for a half hour the pan pie is cut into 16 pieces and, if you’re like me, smothered with whipped cream

‘Nuff Said – I think you’re gonna love this!

small red heart

Love the taste of ginger?  Add a bit to the filling before baking.

++  Preheat oven to 400 F      Line pan with aluminum foil   

++  Note – crust bakes (covered with two layers of foil) for 10 minutes.  Filling is then poured in and pie bake for 30 minutes.

++  Filling is fully cooked when a knife, inserted in the middle, comes out clean.

++  Pie should be refrigerated within two hours.


   Pie Crust

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1/2 cup COLD butter – OR – 1/2 cup additional shortening
  • ice water  ++ Add ice cubes to 2/3 cup water.  ++ You probably will NOT use all the water.

   Pumpkin Filling

  • 1 ( 15 oz.) can pumpkin  ++  1 3/4 cups pumpkin
  • 3/4 cup PACKED brown sugar
  • 1 1/4 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten with fork until combined
  • 1 1/2 cups half and half
  • sweetened whipped cream – for topping


Line 10″ x 15″ pan with aluminum foil.

In a large bowl stir – using a fork – combine 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour and 1 tsp. salt. Using a pastry blender (or two forks), cut in 1/2 shortening and 1/2 COLD butter until mixture resembles oatmeal, and butter/shortening is fully mixed in.

Sprinkle part of the flour mixture with 1 Tbs. ice water and mix gently with a fork. Push moistened pastry to side of bowl. Repeat until mixture begins to come together.  Gather pastry into a ball, kneading gently until it holds together.

++ You will probably only need 5 – 6 tablespoons ice water. You do NOT want a sticky pastry.

Divide pastry into two balls.  Starting at one end, press half the pastry onto bottom and sides of half the pan.  ++ At first, I thought, “This is NOT going to be enough. But it was!   ; o ) Repeat using second ball of pastry.  ++ Do NOT prick pastry.  Cover pastry with TWO layers of aluminum foil.  Bake for 10 minutes. Remove foil.

In a large bowl combine 1 3/4 cups pumpkin, 3/4 cup PACKED brown sugar, 1 1/4 tsp. pumpkin pie spice and 1/2 tsp. salt.  Stir in 4 slightly beaten eggs until just combined. Gradually stir in  1 1/2 cups half and half. Pour filling over partially baked pastry.  Bake for 30 minutes, or until knife inserted in middle comes out clean.  Cool on wire a rack.  ++  Pie should be refrigerated within two hours.

Dollop on some whipped cream, sprinkle on a tiny bit of pumpkin pie spice and enjoy!

Recipe adapted from ‘Good Housekeeping’ magazine – Oct 2016.


Coconut Joy Cheesecake Bars with Chocolate Wafer Crust

Believe it or not, I’ve never made a cheesecake… ever!  My sister-in-law Doris makes a killer cheesecake, so I get my ‘cheesecake thrills’ whenever we’re all together.  But when I saw this recipe, I knew just had to make it.  I’m so glad I did because these cheesecake bars taste like a candy bar in cheesecake form.

My Very First Cheesecake Ever is in the oven right now.  It’s gonna be interesting to see if it comes out a bit lopsided.  The kitchen floors here in My Yellow Farmhouse are old and slant down a bit, especially right in the corner where the stove resides.  My Man of All Work (my brother-in-law Mike) did his best to level out the floor, but since I moved here I’ve never baked a cake that was absolutely level.  ++  The cheesecake actually came out level – hurrah!

I recommend baking these cheesecake bars the night before, or early in the morning of the day you plan to serve it because once the cheesecake is cooled completely, it’s refrigerated for 4 hours.  Then a simple creamy chocolatey topping is prepared using chocolate chips and Cool Whip, then toasted almonds and coconut are sprinkled on top.  Yummy!


Chocolate Wafer Crust

  • 1 ¼ cups finely crushed chocolate wafer cookies   ++   About 25 – I used Nabisco ‘Famous Chocolate Wafers. 
  • 2 Tbs. granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup melted butter

Cheesecake Filling

  • 4 packages (8 oz.) cream cheese – SOFTENED
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ tsp. vanilla  AND  ½ tsp. almond flavoring
  • ½ cup coconut milk   ++ Due to my broken ankle I accidentally ordered an Almond Milk/Coconut Milk blend to be delivered via Pea Pod …. luckily, it worked great!!
  • 4 eggs

Creamy Chocolatey Topping with Toasted Almonds and Coconut

  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips  ++  I used mini-chocolate chips.  
  • 1 (8 0z.) container of FROZEN whipped topping, such as Cool Whip
  • 2 drops almond extract
  • 1 cup flaked sweetened coconut
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds  – OR – 1/2 cup almond pieces  ++ I had whole almonds, so I put some in a food bag & ‘smacked them down’ a bit.  ; o )

small red heart

       Line a 10″ x 9″ pan with aluminum foil          Bake at 325F  for 45 minutes

Once cheesecake is fully cooked, turn off oven – leaving door open –  and let cheesecake sit in oven for 20 minutes.


In a small bowl, thoroughly mix 1 ¼ cups finely crushed chocolate waferS, 2 Tbs. granulated sugar and ¼ cup melted butter.  Using your fingers, press chocolate wafer mixture into bottom of a 13 x 9” pan, which you’ve covered with aluminum foil – edges hanging over.  ++ This will help will when removing the cheesecake bars.

In a medium bowl, using mixer, thoroughly blend 4 packages (8 oz.) SOFTENED cream cheese, 1 cup sugar, ½ tsp. vanilla  AND  ½ tsp. almond flavoring.  Slowly add in 1/2 cup coconut milk.  ++ Or.. Almond Milk/Coconut Milk Blend.  Add 4 eggs – one at a time, mixing on low until well blended.  Pour over chocolate wafer crust.

Bake at 325F for 45 minutes – or until center is almost set.  Turn off oven.  Open door and leave cheesecake in oven for 20 minutes.  ++ If you’re like me and you’ve never made a cheesecake before, you’ll be pleased to see that, after 20 minutes sitting in the still-warm oven, the center will be fully set!!  Remove cheesecake from oven, place on a cooling rack and cooled completely.   Refrigerate 4 hours – or overnight.

The Finishing Touches — microwave 2 oz. chocolate chips and 1 cup FROZEN whipped topping (such as Cool Whip) in a medium bowl – on high – for 1 minute.  Stir and heat on high for another minute.  ++ The whipped topping will melt down… don’t worry. That’s the way it should be!  Add in 2 drops almond extract. Whisk hot mixture until chocolate chips are completely melted, then mix a bit more until you get a nice dark chocolate color.  Pour over cheesecake and spread evenly. Sprinkle on  1 cup flaked coconut and 1/2 cup almond bits – or sliced almonds. Cut into squares and refrigerate until its time to serve.   Enjoy!


Coconut Joy Cheesecake Bars with Chocolate Cookie Crust - myyellowfarmhouse.com
Coconut Joy Cheesecake Bars with Chocolate Cookie Crust

Dear Fellow Food Blogger – Never Quit!!

UPDATE – I heard from my friend at Cottage Grove House (formally Tiny White Cottage) and she’s going to return to blogging this summer.  As I mentioned, life just got in her way, but she’ll be back.  HURRAH !!!  https://cottagegrovehouse.com/

Like any writer, the working life of a food blogger can be a lonely calling.  Especially for someone like me, who no longer has a family to feed. Of course, my friends and neighbors are always thrilled to accept a dessert, a casserole or some baked goods which I am unable to consume myself.  BUT – it’s always possible to host a party so your friends and family can enjoy the fruits of your labor!  And that, as will not surprise you, is my first choice!!

But, as I sometimes say, “Life gets in the way” and, as I just discovered, some of my very favorite food bloggers… people I’d come to think of as friends… no longer have the time, or inclination, to blog.

How I miss them.. How I miss being a part of their lives.  And how I miss their observations about life… and news of their lives.  We’d come to know each other. Some as they prepared for their own weddings – others as they prepared for their children’s weddings. Each and every blog was/is unique.  And, like any good friend, I want to know that they’re happy – that they’re alright.  Sure, I miss the recipes, which is, in theory, a recipe blog’s main purpose.  But more than that…. so much more than that… I miss the friendship and the sharing.

So – fellow food blogger… don’t ever think no one cares.  Never think that you and your blog will not be missed. Because that’s not true.  You may feel as if you’re throwing your most recent post out into the Big Void… that no one cares.  But you have no idea… even if you only reach a handful of people … what your blog and you sharing your life… both the good and the bad… means to others.

I just love these Matryoshka dolls (Nesting Dolls) from Russia!  They’re a bit like your grandmother saying, “Never quit”!!  

Russian Nesting Dolls

Tired of Thin Layer Cakes – Here’s a Trick to Fix That! Yellow Layer Cake with Mini Chocolate Chips and English Toffee Bits

I don’t know about other parts of the world, but the cake mixes in the States have been getting smaller and smaller – which is so wrong.  I’d rather pay a bit more and have a nice, fat layer cake..  We have no control over what the stupid cake mix companies do, but luckily there’s a few things you can add to be sure your layer cakes come out bigger.  (You may decide it’s just easier to make a cake from scratch – and that works too!)

BREAKING DEVELOPMENT  – –  I broke my ankle last night… Not a bad break, luckily, but still inconvenient.  And – get this – I’m having a party today because one of my twin sons and his family will be visiting from the Philadelphia area.

I’ve been cooking, and cleaning, for the last few days. Yesterday my other son and I put out all the outdoor furniture… and dragged out all the cushions and lanterns etc.  I was so pleased when I finished washing the final table and chairs… But cruel fate intervened… As I stepped down from our deck (to dump out the bucket of water) my foot caught on a huge, thick stepping stone… Over I went, like Jill of Jack & Jill fame, bucket, gloves and sponges flying all over.

And I heard my ankle break.  I crawled to where I thought I’d left my phone…. then remembered I’d brought it to the porch… so I crawled some more.  In any event, my brother-in-law and a neighbor got in me the car… but not until I directed them to find my comb, get my make-up kit and bring me clean clothes.  Being men… they started getting impatient – but I was married for almost 40 years… so I’m used to it!

Luckily, the cake (which is for my granddaughter’s birthday) was baked before I fell – so I got up early this morning so I could frost it and post the recipe.   ; o )

UPDATE — My Granddaughter was very happy with her birthday cake.  And the party was a great success as well !!

small red heart

Directions for a ‘Bigger and Better’ Layer Cake with Mini Chocolate Chips and English Toffee Bits  

Oven at 350F        Bake for 30 – 35 minutes      Two greased 9” round cake pans

Dry Ingredients for ‘Add-In’ Batter

  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar or granulated sugar   ++  I used brown
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 pinches salt

In a medium bowl mix together flour, sugar baking powder and salt with a fork

Liquid Ingredients for ‘Add-In’ Batter

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1 egg

Add liquid ingredients to dry ingredients. Beat with mixer for about 30 seconds until well blended.  Set bowl aside.

  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup English Toffee Bits  ++  I used ‘Heath’ Brand 
  • 1 Tbs. all purpose flour

Mix 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips, 1/2 cup English Toffee Bits and 1 Tbs. flour in a small bowl.  Set aside.

  • 1 yellow cake mix, prepared according to package directions    ++  I used Duncan Hines Butter Yellow – ‘Classic’

Once cake mix is prepared, pour in ‘Add-On’ batter.  Beat with mixer for about 30 seconds until well blended.  Gently mix in mini chocolate chips, English Toffee Pieces and flour mixture.

Divide batter equally between two greased 9” round cake pans.  Bake at 350F for 30 – 35 minutes – or until toothpick or sharp knife inserted in center comes out clean.   ++  Because of the ‘Add-In’ batter, your layers may take 3 – 5 minutes more time than usual.  

Cool cakes on wire rack for 15 minutes. Remove cake from pans and cool completely before frosting.

Due to my broken ankle – and the fact that I have no crutches because the ER ran out of ‘short people crutches’, I frosted my cake with purchased frosting BUT soon I’ll post my recipe for a really delicious homemade chocolate frosting ‘to die for’.   Enjoy!!

P.S.  My son who lives locally is arriving in a few minutes with some crutches – HURRAH!! And I am not cancelling the party …however, I won’t be the one bringing out trays of food.. not for several weeks.

1 - Morgan's Birthday Cake - My Yellow Farmhouse

Add-In Batter – Ready to Go

2 - Morgan's Birthday Cake - My Yellow Farmhouse
Add-In Batter & Cake Mix Batter Mixed – Chocolate Chips and English Toffee Added
3 = Morgan's Birthday Cake - My Yellow Farmhouse
Divide Batter Equally Between 2 Greased 9″ Pans
Morgan's birthday cake - My Yellow Farmhouse
I Like to Level the Layers Using a Sharp Knife

Tired of Thin Layer Cakes - Here's a Trick to Fix That!  Yellow Layer Cake with Mini Chocolate Chips and English Toffee - My Yellow 


Spaghetti Carbonara à la St. Julians Bay (Malta)

St Julians Bay - Malta   myyellowfarmhouse.com
The view from one of our favorite restaurants in St Julians Bay (Malta), where I, almost always, ordered Spaghetti Carbonara.

According to food lore, Spaghetti Carbonara is a relatively new addition to Italian cooking.. In fact, one of the theories is that Spaghetti Carbonara came about due to food shortages during World War II.  Another theory is that coal miners may have invented the dish.  (I’m not buying that theory.) Or… that the black specs of freshly ground black pepper – and you should add a good amount of pepper – resemble coal dust lying atop a bed of spaghetti mixed with eggs and cheese.  Actually, who cares where or why the recipe originated?  We love it because it’s easy to make and delicious!

Like spaghetti and meatballs, there’s an unlimited number of ways to prepare Spaghetti Carbonara.  While living in Malta I found a recipe very much like the ‘Popeye’s Spaghetti Carbonara’ served at our favorite restaurant, to which I added peas simply because that’s how it was served.  WHAT??… you’re probably thinking.  Yup – peas. And now I have to tell you how the making of the movie Popeye in the small island country of Malta led to a chef naming his version of Spaghetti Carbonara “Popeye’s.

If you’re not familiar with the character called Popeye, you may not know he always eats a can of spinach (yuck..) to give him strength.  It seems the chef preferred adding peas, as opposed to Popeye’s spinach, to the Spaghetti Carbonara dish named Popeye’s, and I think he made the right call.  Enjoy!!

Spaghetti Carbonara a la St. Julian's Bay, Malta
Popeye Village (Anchor Bay, Malta) for which ‘Popeye’s Spaghetti Carbonara’ was named.

small red heart

INGREDIENTS             Serves 4 – 5, depending upon your appetite         ; o )

  • ¾ cup cut-up bacon or pancetta  (about 4 ounces)     ++ Use kitchen shears!
  • ¾ package spaghetti  (12 ounces)   ++  I used ‘rigati’ – it has ridges to hold the sauce.
  •  2 tsp. salt
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped onion    ++  Optional
  • 2 whole eggs – and – 2 egg YOLKS       ++  Take eggs out early – OR – place eggs in a bowl with very warm water.
  • 2/3 cup grated good-quality Parmesan cheese      ++  Or Romano …….. Or a combination of both.
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • lots of freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup WARMED heavy (whipping) cream    ++  Optional – but I recommend using it!!
  • 1/3 cup frozen peas   ++  Optional

++  Reserve some of the pasta water.


Eggs should be room temperature, so either take them out earlier – or place them in small bowl with very hot water.

Following the directions on the box, cook 12 ounces (3/4 of a 16 oz. package) al dente, which means the pasta shouldn’t be too soft.  Add 2 tsp. salt to the cooking water.

While waiting for the water to boil and the pasta to cook,  cut up the bacon (or pancetta). If using bacon, cook in a skillet over medium-high heat until crisp. If using pancetta , it should be lightly brown but not crisp. Place cooked bacon or pancetta on a paper towel lined plate.  Drain skillet of bacon grease and wipe skillet with paper towel.

Add 1 Tbs. olive oil to skillet. Cook 1/3 cup chopped onion over medium heat until cooked through and just beginning to brown.  Put onions on the plate with the bacon.

Now it’s time to make the sauce.  In a medium bowl whisk together 2 whole eggs – and 2 egg YOLKS, 2/3 cup grated good-quality Parmesan cheese, ½ tsp. salt and lots of freshly ground black pepper.   ++ If you chose to include the 1/2 cup WARMED heavy (whipping) cream, whisk that in now.   Set bowl aside.

Microwave 1/3 cup peas with a small amount of water (about 3 Tbs.) and cook for 3 minutes.

When spaghetti is ready, drain it – reserving some of the pasta water.  Place drained spaghetti back in the pot. Replace pot on turned off burner.  Add onions, bacon and peas. Pour on the egg & cheese mixture and stir to combine.

Think the sauce is too thick?  Add a bit of the reserved pasta water.

After you’ve plated your spaghetti, remember to add a generous amount of freshly ground black pepper!  And there you go – dinner is served!

As you can see below, the sauce should be creamy and stick to the pasta.  Unlike Spaghetti Alfredo, the pasta will not be swimming in sauce.

Spaghetti Carbonara a la St Julians Bay (Malta) myyellowfarmhouse.com
Spaghetti Carbonara a la St Julians Bay (Malta)


Pub-Inspired Shepherds Potato Skins

USE - Shepherds Potato Skins (3)

Sometimes a new recipe can be inspired by the happy occasion of finding something special on a menu  – and then realizing you already have the main ingredients at home!

Yesterday, as I sipped a frosty cold beer at our local Irish pub (Murphy’s), I spied something called Shepherds Potato Skins – which I’d never heard of in my life.  That sounded pretty darn delicious… potato skins filled with shredded simmered beef, corn (or peas) smothered with melted Cheddar cheese. Yummy!!

Hey, I happen to have some ‘shredded simmered beef’ at home… namely, pot roast which had been simmered in a red wine sauce. And I also have potatoes and I can easily pick up some Cheddar cheese.  But let’s go that extra step… let’s dollop on some sour cream and add a bit o’ chopped green onion. Now we’re talking!    ; o )

Get two meals!!     First make ‘Good Old-Fashioned Yankee Pot Roast with Red Wine & Thyme Gravy’ and then use the leftovers for ‘Pub-Inspired Potato Skins’!!

USE - Good Old-Fashioned Yankee Pot Roast -myyellowfarmhouse.com (2)

Incidentally, I had already ordered regular potato skins – which were AWESOME – before spying the Shepherds Potato Skins on the menu… so I have no idea what they look like or taste like, but I’ll find out next time I go to Murphy’s.   (Don’t you just LOVE Irish pubs??!!)

++ UPDATE – I returned to Murphy’s Pub and tried their Shepherd’s Potato Skins, which weren’t potato skins at all but slices of fried potato with a bit of a mixture of meat, corn and peas sprinkled with cheese.  I like mine MUCH better!!

small red heart


  • 4 large baking potatoes, such as Russet
  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 2 – 2 1/2 cups leftover shredded meat – such as leftover pot roast or pulled pork
  •      ++  Could also use leftovers from Sloppy Joes etc. etc. 
  • ½ cups frozen peas – cooked
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn – cooked –  OR –  drained canned corn 
  • 2 tsp. tomato paste      ++ Freeze extras in small portions in a freezer bag
  • 1/2  salt
  • 1/4 pepper
  • 1/8 – 1/4 tsp. paprika
  • cooked potato scrapped from potato skins
  • ½ cup sour cream     ++ Plus more to dollop on top right before serving. 
  • 2 Tbs. SOFTENED butter
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 2 Tbs. chopped green onions – top part only       ++ a.k.a spring onions
  •    ++  Plus more to sprinkle on before serving
  • 2 cups shredded SHARP American cheese  ++ I recommend shredding it yourself. I recently learned that ‘stuff’ is added to the ‘already shredded cheese’ to prevent it from clumping.  So now I know why the pre-shredded cheese never tastes as good…
  • Toppings – sour cream & chopped green onions


Oven at 350 F

Scrub potatoes thoroughly under running water & dry.  Place potatoes in a medium bowl. Pour on 2 tsp. olive oil and sprinkle on 1/4 tsp. salt. Toss potatoes with olive oil and salt. Pierce potatoes in several places with a fork – which allows the steam to escape.  Place potatoes on the middle rack of oven.  Bake for an hour – or until a knife goes into potatoes easily.  ++  Place a large piece of foil on the bottom rack to catch any drips from the potatoes.

While waiting for the potatoes to bake, mix together the shredded meat, peas, corn, tomato paste, salt, pepper and paprika. Cover and set aside.

In a small bowl mix ½ cup sour cream, 2 Tbs. SOFTENED butter, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. pepper and 2 Tbs. chopped green onions – top part only.  Cover and set aside.

Once potatoes are cooked, remove from the oven and cut potatoes in half lengthwise.   Scoop out most of the potato, leaving about 1/4’” around the edges of the potato.

++ Leave oven on at 350F !!

Mash the cooked potato you’ve removed from the potato skins with a fork. Add sour cream mixture and blend until well mixed.

Warm up meat and veggies mixture a few minutes in a microwave until heated through. Divide equally among the 8 potato halves.

Divide the potato/sour cream mixture in the same way.  Sprinkle tops with 2 cups shredded cheese.  ++  Don’t worry about being too fancy when you add the potato mixture – it’s sticky!

Bake at 350F – again on the middle rack – f0r 20 – 25 minutes.   ++ They’ll probably be ready in 20 minutes because everything is already hot.  

Dollop on lots of sour cream and sprinkle on some chopped green onion. ++ I suggest enjoying a cold beer in a frosty mug so you can pretend you’re at your favorite pub!!

Good Old-Fashioned Yankee Pot Roast with Red Wine & Thyme Gravy

USE - Good Old-Fashioned Yankee  Pot Roast -myyellowfarmhouse.com (2)

I’ve had a real ‘hankerin’ for Yankee Pot Roast recently.  The delicious smells wafting from the pan as the chuck roast is seared reminds of Sunday mornings when I was a child. My mother would brown the roast and then simmer it for hours to serve for our Sunday dinner (or ‘din-na’ as my mother used to say with her Boston accent.)  And she always served her pot roast with creamy mashed potatoes, which I highly recommend!  (We always had mashed potatoes – and I mean always – even with Chicken Pot pie because my father was a Mashed Potato Freak!) 

I discovered this recipe in a cookbook called ‘The New Best Recipe’ from the editors of ‘Cooks Illustrated’. It really is a jewel of a cookbook.  Every single recipe was prepared over and over again until they arrived at what they believed was the absolute BEST.

This Yankee Pot Roast so tender you can cut it with a fork – no kidding!  The secret, according to ‘The New Best Recipe’, is in cooking the chuck roast in the oven at 300F,  and for a longer time than most pot roast recipes call for simply because the long, slow cooking breaks down the collagen which can make some cuts of beef, like chuck, tough. They also discovered cooking a pot roast in the oven maintains the same temperature far better than can be achieved on top of the stove.

‘The New Best Recipe’ makes a great read because they inform you what they did and how they did it… and what they didn’t like and why. I did make few changes, such as adding red wine to the cooking liquid, and thickening the gravy because, personally, I like my gravy to ‘stay where I put it’.

small red heart

Got leftover pot roast? I suggest Pub-Inspired Shepherds Potato Skins

USE - Shepherds Potato Skins - myyellowfarmhouse.com


  • 3 1/2 lbs. Chuck Roast OR Chuck-Eye Roast   ++  I purchased a 2 1/2 lb. roast 
  • salt and pepper – to sprinkle on all sides of the chuck roast
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 small carrot, roughly chopped
  • 1 small celery rib, roughly chopped
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 cup beef broth   ++  I didn’t have beef broth, so I used 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 1 – 1 1/3 cups water  ++  Liquid should come up to the middle of the roast.  If your roast is small, you may not need much water at all. 
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme    ++  Or 2 tsp. dried thyme – not ‘crushed’.  If you do use crushed thyme, use less.

For the Gravy

  • 1/4 cup dry red wine
  • 2 pinches dried thyme
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 2 Tbs. cornstarch
  • salt and pepper to taste

          Oven at 350F      

 Place rack in middle of oven…. (I had to lower my rack to accommodate my Dutch Oven).

For a smaller (2 1/2 lb.) roast – cook for about 3 hours

For a larger (3 1/2 lb) roast – cook for about 4 hours

Dutch Oven - Walmart


Generously sprinkle roast – on both sides – with salt and pepper.  (I like to press the S & P in.)

Heat 2 Tbs. olive oil in a large Dutch Oven over medium-high heat.++  Don’t have a Dutch oven – use an oven-proof skillet and cover skillet with foil.  Brown meat on all sides. The meat will produce some steam as it cooks.  Don’t confuse steam with smoke BUT if your pan does smoke, reduce the heat immediately.  And don’t worry if the bottom of your pan blackens.  Mine does but it’s not ‘burnt’.

Remove meat to a platter while you cook the vegetables.

Reduce heat to medium.  Add 1 medium onion, roughly chopped, 1 small carrot, roughly chopped and 1 small celery rib, roughly chopped.  (Don’t add the garlic and sugar just yet.) Continue cooking vegetables, stirring, until they begin to brown.

Add in 2 medium garlic cloves, minced & 2 tsp. sugar and cook, stirring, about 30 seconds. Add 1 cup chicken broth and 1 cup beef broth – or 2 cups of either chicken or beef broth, it won’t matter all that much in the end!

Now add 1/2 cup dry red wine, salt and pepper to taste and a sprig of thyme (or 2 tsp. dried thyme.)  Return the roast to the pan.  Add 1 – 1 1/3 cups water – just enough to bring liquid to the middle of the roast.  (There was no need for me to add any water.)

Bring contents to a simmer over medium heat.  Cover Dutch Oven and place in 300F oven.

Cook, turning roast every 30 – 40 minutes, until fully tender.  Remember, the longer the roast cooks, the more tender it becomes.  ++  Meat should be very tender.  A fork or knife should slip easily into the roast.

Remove roast from Dutch Oven and place it on a platter.  Cover with foil while you make your gravy.

Making the Gravy    

++  Get out all the ingredients for the gravy while the pot roast is cooking.

  • 1/4 cup dry red wine
  • 2 pinches dried thyme  ++  As I mentioned above, if you are using crushed thyme, use less
  • 1/4 cup COLD water
  • 2 Tbs. cornstarch
  • salt and pepper to taste

Pour pan juices through a strainer to remove cooked vegetables & sprig of thyme.  Allow juices to sit about five minutes so any fat rises to the top.  Using a large spoon, remove as much fat as you can.  Put pan juices in a medium-sized saucepan. Cook over medium heat until reduced to about 2 cups or so. (May take several minutes.) Add 1/4 cup dry red wine and 2 pinches dried thyme and continue to reduce until you’re back to about 2 cups.

In a small measuring cup mix 1/4 cup COLD water with 2 Tbs. cornstarch until smooth. Slowly add to hot pan juices. Start whisking (or stirring) right away. Bring liquid to a boil and boil for about a minute until thickened.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Slice roast into thick slices – or use a large fork and break meat into large chunks. Transfer meat to serving platter. Pour about half the gravy over roast and pass the remainder separately.  And don’t forget those creamy mashed potatoes.     Enjoy!!


USE - Good Old-Fashioned Yankee Pot Roast -myyellowfarmhouse.com (2)



Wishing You the Merriest of Holidays!!

I had planned to post various recipes for sugar cookies – and was going to call the series ‘The Sugar Cookie Experiment’, but as sometimes happens, life & The Holidays just got in the way.  

I didn’t return from my trip to Italy until late November and, before we could even begin thinking about Christmas, my son and I had to clean out the barn and put away all my outdoor furniture  …. a big and ‘not fun’ project.

Then began the lugging to and fro of lots and lots of Christmas stuff from the 2nd floor of the barn, such as lots of extra chairs and leaves for two tables, wrapping paper, bows and ribbons, plates and platters, tree decorations and lights etc. etc.  (Hay had been kept, many years ago, on the 2nd floor of the barn.  It’s so cute up there with all the gables and the quaint ‘tack room’ from the days when the barn housed horses that I’d love to fix it up sometime with a pool table etc.)

For the first time in years I have a real, live Christmas Tree. I am so in love with it!  This year I had an ‘assistant’ in the form of one of my sons, who helped me pick out a lovely tree and set it up. The decorating he left to me, which was fine ’cause I love decorating for Christmas.  

The lamp my friend Frank made me, based on A Christmas Story, still ‘blazes forth in all it’s glory’!

Christmas 2015 002

As you may remember, our moth-eaten but much beloved angel is placed at the top of the tree by one of my grandchildren.  

Our Traditional Christmas Angel - My Yellow Farmhouse.com

Every year our family celebrates what we call Our Roy Christmas in the middle of December.  This year it was Saturday, December 12th and entailed lots of gift buying, gift wrapping, decorating and cooking which had to be done almost two weeks before the 25th!  Somehow – we manage to pull it off each year – and it’s always so much fun.  

Christmas 2015 - 4 001

My yellow farmhouse looked so festive and just so downright happy that I decided to host another party this past weekend.  As I often do, I prepare several heavy appetizers and ask others to also bring something to share.  We always end up with copious amounts of delicious things to eat!

++  A few photos from my December 19th party!  ++  

The cage with my parakeets, Linda (who’s a boy..) and Skye can be seen in the background.  They loved all the noise!

christmas party -1 2015

Christmas pary 2015

Christmas party 2015 2a

 I promise to post a few of the recipes from this year’s parties before New Year’s Eve!!

Christmas 2015 - copy

Happy Thanksgiving from ‘My Yellow Farmhouse’!

Wishing all my American friends a happy Thanksgiving.  (My Canadian friends celebrated their Thanksgiving a month ago, which I think is a really good idea – its FREEZING here in Massachusetts today.)

While running errands yesterday afternoon I saw car after car lined up at various gas stations, preparing to head out to grandma’s or wherever they were going.  I’m staying here in Massachusetts today.  I usually drive – or take the train – down to the Philadelphia area where I spend a truly joyous Thanksgiving with my son and his family.

My son’s in-laws always host Thanksgiving and there’s such a crowd that T. always cooks two turkeys.  (Love you T.!!!)

This browned and beautiful turkey was quickly turned into nothing but a carcass. – from which I made my Saturday-After-Thanksgiving Turkey Noodle Soup.  

THE TURKEY - 'My Yellow Farmhouse.com"

Saturday-After-Thanksgiving Turkey Noodle Soup - My Yellow Farmhouse.com

'Saturday After Thanksgiving' Turkey Soup - My Yellow Farmhouse.com

For the last few years my son has been in charge of preparing the sweet potatoes following my daughter-in-law’s grandmother’s tried and true recipe.  And I, for the last several years, have been in charge of the gravy and the green beans. Oh, and the homemade cranberry sauce.  (I wonder what they’ll do without me this year?!) P.S. My son informed me that my ‘turkey gravy expertise’ WAS greatly missed !! 

I returned home Monday night from a nine-day trip to Italy – it was fabulous! When we lived in Malta we often went to Italy for either business or pleasure – but Italy’s a place you can visit over and over again and never, ever tire of the food, the sights and the Italian people with their generous hearts and ready smiles.

Today I’m heading over to one of my sister-in-law’s homes to celebrate Turkey Day.  I wanted to make sweet potatoes following my daughter-in-law’s grandmother’s recipe, but I didn’t have any dark Karo syrup.  So I ‘doctored’ the recipe with what I did have – namely regular Karo syrup, 1/2 cup apple sauce, brown sugar, butter, cinnamon and nutmeg.  Plus three cut up apples.  I love how it turned out and I’ll be posting the recipe after Turkey Day!!

This magnificent photo of Venice was taken by a wonderful young woman named Cecilia whom we met on our tour.

Venice - by Cecilia Ramirez

Me… in front of the French Embassy in Rome, following the disaster in Paris.  Our hearts were breaking…

French Embassy in Rome

++  Clipart courtesy of www.hdlatestimages.com  

‘The Summer of Cecile’ – Gardening, Traveling and Just Kicking Back !!

Wine, Cheese & Pâté.. mixed with a lovely evening and a good friend – heavenly!!

As you may know, I’m a BIG fan of the old Seinfeld comedy show.  In one of my favorite episodes George Costanza, played by Jason Alexander, announces he plans to spend the entire summer doing exactly as he likes.  He called it The Summer of George.  As it turned out, I had The Summer of Cecile, though there was no announcement and it was entirely unplanned!!

I Proclaim this the Summer of George

I didn’t posted anything here on My Yellow Farmhouse all summer….   My house was dusty and my gardens were weedy, but I did have one terrific summer!!   (Luckily a friend recently helped me with the weeding and mulching, so now my gardens are looking pretty great!!)

August 2015 - pink tea roses and dalhias - My Yellow Farmhouse.comAntique Chair and Flowers - August 2015 - My Yellow Farmhouse.com

 = = =

My Adorable Gardener -myyellowfarmhouse.comAugust 2015 - bird bath and bench - My Yellow Farmhouse.com

= = =

I sure wasn’t idle during my Summer of Cecile.  I spent time at our Pocono house & actually accomplished quite a bit there.  Here’s a few shots of my visit to The Delaware Water Gap, taken during one of my trips back home to Massachusetts from the Pocono Mountains.

Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area

Delaware Water Gap Na'tl Recreation Area - myyellowfarmhouse.com

Dingmans Falls – Delaware Water Gap National Recreational Area

Dingmans Falls - Del. Water Gap - myyellowfarmhouse.com

I frolicked in the waves at Wells, Maine, Situate, MA and New London, CT, and headed up to Quebec to visit with family and old neighbor’s in St. Antoine de Tilly.

Hazy, Lazy Day – Scituate, MA

Scituate, MA 2015 myyellowfarmhouse.com

And I visited the lovely Berkshire mountains here in Massachusetts twice. In the spring I went to see a musician friend of mine play at the delightful old Naumkeag estate in Stockbridge, and later in the season spent a truly lovely day with friends at The Mount, writer Edith Wharton’s beautiful estate in Lenox.

                     A rather cloudy twilight at Naumkeag estate – Stockbridge, MA

Shawl from India - Naumkea estate gView from Naumkeag - myyellowfarmhouse.com

My musical friend, David Reed    (http://www.tambouraproductions.com)

David Reed @ www.tambouraproductions.com

= = =

Another hazy day … Edith Wharton’s Estate – The Mount, Lenox, MA

Edith Wharton's Home


And here’s a bit of news!  My dear friend Chogo John (a.k.a. John Amici) recently published a cookbook containing delicious Italian recipes handed down from one generation to the next.  Along with terrific recipes, John has included family tales, which I always enjoy reading on his blog.  You can find John’s book, Recipes from the Bartolini Kitchens on Amazon.com – OR – follow this link to purchase John’s cookbook!!  ++  http://fromthebartolinikitchens.com/2015/09/23/im-back-and-the-kitchens-are-open/

As for me, I’m ‘going back into the kitchen’ now that summer is officially over, and I’ll be posting my version of Chocolate & Cream Cheese Stuffed Monkey Bread very soon !!!  Sending out big hugs to you all. I’ve missed you during my Summer of Cecile.

Arrowhead Lake – Pocono Mountains, PA  – – Springtime

Poconos - spring 2015 myyellowfarmhouse.com

++ Care to leave a comment?  Just scroll down a bit!!  ++