guest recipe: josie’s easter  pizza

So my sweet ricotta pies are not the only variety – there are also savory ricotta pies. I remember my great aunts making one around Easter, but I never knew how they made it.

Lucky for me I have an amazing guest recipe today to share. This recipe comes to me from my friend, writer Lisa DePaulo!  I am very excited to share this with you and this was her mother’s recipe. (and if you want to check out a little of what Lisa  has been working on at her new home at Bloomberg News, click HERE and HERE.)

Without further ado:

Hi, honey. So this is my Mom’s Easter Pizza recipe, aka Pizza Rustica, aka ricotta pie. Funny aside: She had the recipe scribbled down on a yellowed piece of paper that was passed on from her mother and probably her grandmother from Naples. Then one day, it was in the Sunday New York Times—the exact same recipe! It is amazing. And the sweet crust with the savory fillings is divine. Also, super easy to make. Particularly the crust. xoxo 

Josie’s Easter Pizza

The following is for a 10-inch square or 9 x 13 (or whatever!) ceramic or glass baking dish. 

2 cups flour 
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1 stick margarine (yes, margarine)
2 eggs

Mix flour, sugar and baking powder together in large bowl. Work in the margarine with your fingers. Make a well in the center. Drop in the eggs. Knead from sides to center. Let dough stand under a bowl for at least 10 minutes while making your filling. 

2+ pounds ricotta (if I have a 3 lb container, I add a little more than 2 lbs)
4 eggs
1/4 pound prosciutto, chopped
1/2 to 3/4 pound sweet Italian sausage, baked (about 20 mins), skinned and chopped 
1/2 pound mozzarella, diced
1/2 cup grated parmesan or locatelli
A heaping 1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley, chopped

Beat ricotta and eggs (I just use a whisk). Add the rest of the ingredients and mix it all together. 

Divide the dough into quarters. You’ll want 3/4 of it for the bottom and sides crust and the other 1/4 to cover the pie. Roll out the bigger portion, using a bit more flour to roll it out. Dough should be the consistency of Play-doh, and the sides can be pieced together with your fingers. (Really, you can’t mess it up. I always piece most of it together.) 

Do not grease the baking pan.

Put your bottom and sides crust down in the pan. Then add the filling. Then the top crust, rolled out. 
Prick top of pie with fork. 

Bake at 400-degrees for 15 minutes. Then lower the temperature to 325 for another 45-55 minutes. You will know it is done when a knife comes out wet but clean and top is beautifully browned. 

Do NOT overcook (it will set more as it cools). 

When it is totally cool, cover with foil or saran and put in the fridge. It tastes better after a day or so. Serve it cold or room temperature, sliced in little rectangular wedges. Or whatever. Yes, cold or room temperature. Do NOT heat it up. Mangia!

some more spring cleaning

 I spent a little time in the garden today. I did a little more spring cleaning.

I cleaned up some of the remains of last year’s garden, and deadheaded lightly the hydrangeas that bloomed. Now I have a box of what resembles floral tumbleweeds. (See photo above.)

I also planted a red currant and some horseradish root. Yes it’s a little early, but I needed to play.

Now to get on with the rest of my day.

benjamin jacobs house in exton gets new lease on life

I have said (and written previously) that ever since I came to Chester County I have loved this house alone in its own meadow and field on Ship Road in Exton. So I put a photo I took up on the Chester County Ramblings Facebook page and a friend of mine told me it was a house on the National Register of Historic Places, the Benjamin Jacobs House .

Anyway, the Benjamin Jacobs House has been part of the Church Farms School land parcels.  It was even mentioned in the Downingtown Area Historical Society Newsletter of April 3, 2014 . That house and the family from which it gets its name are steeped in Chester County history.

So today I got a new Twitter follower request and much to my delight it is the new owner of the Benjamin Jacobs house!  And the house is being restored!!!

The owner, Sarah Toms,  is chronicling the restoration in a blog. Personally, old house nut that I am, I am very excited about this!  This is, after all something amazing in today’s age: someone actually wants to restore a truly amazing house like this! I can’t wait to read along with everyone else as the work progresses!

Here is her inaugural post:

Benjamin Jacobs House: Why Exton?

I’ve lived in Pennsylvania’s Chester and Montgomery counties since the mid 1990’s, and to be honest, the Exton area never spoke to me. For one, there’s no quaint town center like so many boroughs in this area to draw you in and make you want to explore the shops and neighborhoods. The busy routes 100 and 30, which transect Exton, are uninspired corridors of stop and go traffic lined with same-same chain stores and restaurants. It really could be Anywhere, USA. So when my husband Ben and I started looking for a home close to a train station and near our children’s charter school, we reluctantly decided to take a second look at this area.

The Benjamin Jacobs House was the first home for sale that we looked at online and based on the pictures and description, it seemed to be exactly what we were looking for. Large enough for our big family and situated in a peaceful park setting, Ben and I were excited to see it in person. We also liked that this home has a really interesting past that is connected to the founding of our country (Benjamin Jacobs’ father, John Jacobs, was Speaker of the House when the Constitution was signed, and Benjamin not only helped to fund the Revolutionary War but was also a signer of Continental Currency – stay tuned for more history!).

Our first viewing was in March, 2014 and I have to say my first impression as I pulled in and parked in the home’s parking lot (yes, it has a 15 car parking lot) was Addams Family, here I come! Half of the front porch had fallen down and was lying next to the house, all the exterior paint was flaking off, and there are no shrubs or gardens, so the huge white structure felt stark and at odds with its setting. The house sits a little way back from Ship Road, but given the unwritten rule that everyone must exceed the speed limit by at least 20 mph, I didn’t feel too keen about living on this busy road. When I looked to Ben to gauge his first impressions, I was amazed to see my beloved beaming from ear to ear. My English husband had finally found his country estate, and where I saw years of renovations ahead of us, he saw vast potential in this dilapidated gem. Our realtor Terry, who with his wife Lois, has helped us to sell and buy previous homes, let out a chuckle – he seemed to already know that this place would be right up the alley of his quirky clients.

good morning coffee cake

I also call this cheater’s coffee cake because it is made with Bisquick a pre-made baking mix. So it is also semi-homemade but without Sandra Lee’s coordinating kitchen scape, table scape, and so on. You can also use a generic baking mix that is like Bisquick.

The base for this recipe used to be on the Bisquick box. I don’t see it there anymore. But over the years I have tweaked it and this is my favorite version. It mixes up quickly and is a delicious treat on weekends!

    2 cups Bisquick (or comparable generic baking mix that is like it)
    2/3 cup milk (NOT skim – 1% or 2% or even buttermilk)
    1/2 cup frozen or fresh blueberries
    1 egg
    1/3 cup sugar
    1/2 teaspoon  cardamom 
    1/2 teaspoon cinnamon 
      2/3 cup Bisquick
      2/3 cup brown sugar
      1 teaspoon cinnamon 
      4 tablespoons butter
    Preheat oven to 400°

    Grease with either butter or Crisco  a large deep dish  pie plate.
    Mix batter ingredients – everything except the blueberries. Fold them in when everything else is mixed thoroughly.  (NOTE: You can also use dried cranberries or white seedless raisins instead of the blueberries. If you use dried fruit like that you’re going to bake on the lower end of the time estimation, or about 20 minutes.)

    In  a separate bowl mix topping ingredients together with either two forks or a pastry blender until crumbly crumbs are formed.

    Take a large deep dish pie plate and grease it.

    Pour batter into pie plate. Evenly distribute crumbly topping on top and cut crisscross well across top a few  times with a knife. 

    Bake in 400° oven for approximately 25 – 30 minutes

    Allow to cool for a little bit (at least 20 to 25 minutes) before serving but tastes best serve warm.

    little old italian lady in training 


    I became a bit of an Italian cliché today, or a little old Italian lady in training, take your pick.

    I made sauce, I made gnocchi, and I made a ricotta pie.

    I will give you the recipe below I used a roll out store-bought crust this time –Pillsbury  brand.

    Deep dish pie plate required.

    Preheat oven to 350°

    Follow instructions on premade piecrust – I like using my own pie plates so I get the Pillsberry brand piecrust when I don’t feel like making my own crust. 

    So I laid my piecrust in my pan, fluted the edges of the crust and tossed in the freezer while I mixed up the ricotta mixture.

    Beat 5 eggs and  1 tablespoon vanilla together. (my mother bought me back this amazing Mexican vanilla on her last trip there and that is what I use today – the flavor is better I think than regular vanilla.)

    Mix in with electric mixer 1/4  cup of flour, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, the grated rind of one fresh lemon and one fresh orange. (I had some blood oranges and so that is the grated orange rind that I used today.)

    Mix in with electric mixer 1 cup of white sugar and beat together well.

    Beat in 3 1/2 cups of whole milk ricotta cheese. When mixture is well mixed, you next stir in 1/3 cup candied minced orange peel and 1/3 cup candied minced lemon peel.

    Get out your pie shell in your deep dish pie plate and carefully pour the creamy ricotta cheese mixture into the piecrust.

     Bake at 350° until firm and light brown on top approximately 1 hour and 20 minutes.

    You can either serve this at room temperature or chilled.


    had to do it….had to plant something 


    I couldn’t wait any longer. It was like the temptation  of the Siren’s song.

    The garden was calling my name. Even in the not quite spring feeling rain.

    So I gave in and planted pansies. Well I also planted onions and another peony (just a root hasn’t budded yet).

    It felt good. Actually, it felt terrific.

    Hopefully now it won’t snow or anything more…

    my little soapbox



    Writing is something I just enjoy. This blog is the latest step in my writing journey. When you write a blog you get the good with the bad in as far as the Internet goes.  It really depends on what your topic is.

    Today I got this comment from one of my regular, somewhat-but-not-really-anonymous cranks.  They said (in part):


    It’s tough being you, isn’t it? Always something to complain about.  Well you have your soapbox. I’m sure it is good therapy for you and your readers….It’s not as though you are providing meaningful social commentary….



    But not really because this is my blog, which makes it my little slice of soapbox, doesn’t it?   (The answer is of course “yes” )

    It got me thinking about how people were reacting to Angelina Jolie Pitt’s editorial in the New York Times today.

    In part, she said:

    LOS ANGELES — TWO years ago I wrote about my choice to have a preventive double mastectomy. A simple blood test had revealed that I carried a mutation in the BRCA1 gene. It gave me an estimated 87 percent risk of breast cancer and a 50 percent risk of ovarian cancer. I lost my mother, grandmother and aunt to cancer.

    I wanted other women at risk to know about the options. I promised to follow up with any information that could be useful, including about my next preventive surgery, the removal of my ovaries and fallopian tubes.

    I had been planning this for some time. It is a less complex surgery than the mastectomy, but its effects are more severe. It puts a woman into forced menopause.

    Women, especially breast cancer survivors like myself are applauding her. But then there are the cranks.  So maybe it’s a woman who writes kind of a thing?  Is it like that tired old adage that when a man tells it like it is, it’s fine, but when a woman asserts herself, she’s a bitch?

    I usually would put something about the topic of breast cancer on my breast cancer blog but Mrs. Jolie Pitt’s op-ed isn’t just about that topic. When she writes, she writes from her personal experience or what she knows. I get it. I respect it. But a lot of people don’t.

    As the Atlantic said later on this afternoon in a terrific editorial:

    Jolie’s advocacy is especially powerful, though, because the issues she’s discussing—and the issues she is, more importantly, encouraging a discussion about—are intimately connected to cultural assumptions about youth and desirability. Jolie is oversharing, in a way, but it’s a productive form of oversharing—far removed from the vapidities of the Kardashian Selfie or the self-indulgences of Celebrity Instagram. Jolie, in talking about her surgery, is also emphasizing the inextricable connection between inner health and outer beauty. “I feel feminine,” Jolie writes in today’s essay. That declaration is preceded, tellingly, by this one: “I will look for natural ways to strengthen my immune system.”

    So there and she is using her writing skills for good. But she still gets a lot of criticism.

    Mind you, I am not on par with or comparing myself to some glamorous actress-activist, I am just me writing about whatever strikes my fancy.  Sometimes it’s a recipe, a photograph, politics, locally newsworthy, my garden, or a topic that just interests me.

    But if someone disagrees with what I write? Most of the time, it is just another perspective and I am actually cool with that, but other times it is like my pal from today with the recurring IP address from Wayne who feels they have a life obligation to shred what I write about on occasion and me along with it for bonus points. I delete the comments as that is all the air space most of them deserve but every once in a while I  wonder about why it is I am supposed to be seen and not heard? Why do they read what I write if it is so offensive to them?

    I read lots of other people’s blogs and articles. If I don’t like what some of them are writing, I don’t feel particularly compelled to shred their efforts, I just move onto something else. They have their opinions, I have mine. It’s their little slice of soapbox and I think the world is big enough for all of us.

    Thanks for stopping by this evening!

    apparently complaining about the postal service is un-american ?? their customer service doesn’t think so…


    Yesterday I finally had enough of mail going missing, arriving opened or damaged, and so on.  So I blogged about it.

    I have received many, many comments and not just the ones I have published on my blog.  Here’s one  I received off blog:

    I mailed a couple of things a couple of months ago. It never got there and was never returned. The guy I spoke to said they have had problems since they go through Wilmington. My question is why did they have to change things?  🙁

    I totally understand how the commentor above feels. I am actually sitting on hold for the United States Postal Service in Washington DC, not that I feel it will do any good.

    My mail , even local mail, also gets routed now through Wilmington, Delaware. I find it ridiculous that is a Pennsylvania resident, my mail goes out of state before comes back in state. 

    Other commenters mentioned similar issues of mail not arriving, arriving damaged, arriving reeking of cigarette smoke.

    But then there are the commenters who feel they have to defend the United States Postal Service at all costs. I am exaggerating , I don’t understand how hard they have to work , and how they now have to pay for some of their benefits and so on.

    Here’s  one of my favorites, because it had absolutely nothing to do with what I was discussing in my previous post:

    Perhaps you need to learn something about the USPS … it has to sustain itself since it does not receive US tax dollars. However, it has Congress critters who are determined to kill it since USPS has to ask Congressional permission for virtually any action to become more efficient or to streamline. On top of it, USPS is the ONLY entity that has to prepay retirement liabilities for retirees decades in advance … for future employees who are not even born yet. That was a bon-bon that Congress enacted during the Reagan years on the march to privatizing the USPS. Of course, private companies are not going to maintain service to Podunk USA. After all, for those places,UPS hands off the packages to USPS since USPS, by law, must deliver to Podunk.

    Funny, I don’t remember writing about their retirement benefits or “liabilities”. And I’m sorry it has to sustain itself as a business and it is supposed to be a business? And as a customer isn’t my part in sustaining this “business” dependent upon the service received and delivery of my own mail? And yeah, Podunk. Sorry, I kind of live in Podunk so I hope that’s not too dreadfully inconvenient to deliver mail to us?

    Then there is the man who keeps writing in that I am exaggerating and basically he knows this because his mail is perfect. HUH?

    I am not exaggerating. My mother sent me a card, nothing fancy just a greeting card… Over a week ago. She lives in Center City Philadelphia.  Still hasn’t arrived.  Someone else has sent me something from Holmdel, New Jersey twice in two and a half weeks. Neither times has it arrived. Things mailed to me from Berwyn and Wynnewood have also not arrived. 

    A package marked fragile containing a gift for someone arrived yesterday looking like it had been kicked around like a soccer ball. And that was sent some degree of “Priority” mail.

    I have a great postmaster at my local post office, and the gentlemen who handle our residential route know where everyone lives and do a great job. But they are only as good as the mail that the actually reaches my local post office. Obviously there is some sort of problem with where my mail goes before it reaches my post office.

    So it has been a while since I started this post.  I called the hotline number for the Office of the Inspector General for the United States Postal Service this morning. Hotline phone calls are answered M-F 11:00am – 3:00pm EST 1-888-USPS-OIG (1-888-877-7644).

    The customer service woman I reached took close to an hour with me on the phone going over delivery issues and opened, destroyed, and missing mail. I have opened a case and she also gave me the number to consumer affairs in our area which I’m going to share with you my readers. That number is 215-863-6060.

    This woman I spoke with tracked the path of some of my mail that she was able to track using basically the tracking numbers that a couple packages arrived with.  And she agreed there was an issue with my nail because I wasn’t just telling her about one type of mail going missing routinely, it’s a little of everything , bills included.  

    I told her honestly that I was a blogger and I had written about this on my blog. And that I was doing a follow up post. I told her about the comments I had received, and she was very polite and didn’t discount anything I was saying. She also told me if mail is arriving and it reeks of cigarette smoke that means my mail is sitting somewhere for longer periods of time then it should be. She said people smoke, but for me or anyone to get mail where the odor is pervasive and strong and lingering it means that your mail was sitting somewhere. For quite  a while. And I have read this complaint in groups I belong to.

    Maybe this hour out of my day will amount to nothing, but I hope it will amount to mail reaching me better and reaching my friends and neighbors having issues with their mail delivery as well.  

    I think it is absolutely ridiculous that they used to sort or mail through Southeastern PA, and now it sorts  through Wilmington Delaware. This woman also suggested that we contact our Congress people. So Ryan Costello tag you’re it.

    I end with USPS trivia: the new postmaster general is a woman and she hails from Pottsville PA