Pasta with Spinach and Green Pea Sauce

by Renee on July 31, 2014

Pasta with Spinach and Green Pea Sauce | Magnolia Days

A schedule change opened up opportunities for different meals and recipes. My husband was put on an evening shift. That meant I would be alone for dinner. It’s okay because he has had various shifts over the years and I am very familiar with cooking for one. It also meant I could cook more pasta dishes because he would rather have potatoes or rice. A quick look in my to-cook folder presented the first one to tackle. The color alone caught my interest. Green certainly stands out in Pasta with Spinach and Green Pea Sauce.

Eating the pasta brought back memories. I could vividly remember refusing to eat English Peas when I was a kid. There was enormous sheer disappointment every time I saw a bowl of them on the table. My parents simply gave up trying to get me to eat them. The dislike carried on for years and I now know why. Those English Peas were the canned ones. I’d still pass on them today. Fresh or frozen green peas are completely different.

Pasta with Spinach and Green Pea Sauce | Magnolia Days

The sauce is the true highlight of this dish. It has a velvety texture. The components offer subtle enhancements without overpowering the true green pea flavor. It has tarragon in it which is one of my favorite herbs. Tarragon can be strong so add a little at a time. Lemon does its usual brightening up of vegetables. Garlic matches with spinach so well that it has to be in there. Feta and pine nuts give final touches of saltiness and crunch.

Pasta with Spinach and Green Pea Sauce | Magnolia Days

Do you cook differently for yourself than your family? I tend to make more salads, pasta, and seafood when it is just for me. One thing I haven’t made in a while is Scallops Hong Kong Style and I see it happening in my very near future. Plus there are more new recipes to try. Stay tuned…

Pasta with Spinach and Green Pea Sauce

20 minutes

Makes 4 servings

Pasta with Spinach and Green Pea Sauce

  • 1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen green peas
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable broth or water
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon*
  • Zest of 1 lemon (about 1 1/2 teaspoons)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 ounces small shell pasta such as orecchiette
  • 4 ounces baby spinach
  • 1 ounce feta cheese crumbles
  • 2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Place peas in a strainer and set in boiling water for 1 minute. Rinse peas with cold water. Add salt to the boiling water for cooking pasta.

Place 1 cup peas in a blender and reserve remaining peas. Add vegetable broth, tarragon*, lemon zest, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper to the blender. Blend until smooth.

Cook the pasta in boiling salted water according to package instructions.

Place spinach in a large bowl while the pasta is cooking. Drain pasta and place on top of spinach. Toss to let the warm pasta wilt the spinach slightly.

Add pea sauce and toss to coat spinach and pasta. Add reserved peas and gently toss to combine.

Sprinkle feta and pine nuts on top. Serve immediately.


*Fresh tarragon has a strong flavor. For a milder tarragon accent, add a little at a time to the blender and taste after each addition. Use only the amount for your taste preference.

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Recipe adapted from one in Cooking Light Magazine May 2014 edition.


Mom’s Cheesecake

by Renee on July 30, 2014

Mom's Cheesecake | Magnolia Days

Cheesecakes can be tricky. This is something I know all too well after the last few days. I admit I do not bake them often. The few I’ve baked in the last few years have turned our marvelously. So I can only say I’ve learned a few things working through the disasters. But first, let’s start from the beginning. It’s National Cheesecake Day and I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to share my Mom’s Cheesecake recipe.

A little history on mom’s cheesecake: My mom has made this cheesecake for as long as I can remember. It is the one I use as the benchmark for all cheesecakes. It has a thin pastry crust and the cake is dense with a hint of citrus. It is one of two cheesecakes my mom makes. She refers to this one as “The Clunky One”. Why? Because her other one is whipped and lighter in texture. This cheesecake always cracked. It is those cracks that led me to my first disaster.

I’ve heard to bake cheesecakes in a water bath to reduce or eliminate cracks. My mom never baked hers in a water bath. So here I go thinking I’m going to do this water bath thing and have it not crack. All was going well until I opened the oven door to find it sitting in a pool of bubbling water. There was a hole in the foil and water leaked through. The result was a total soggy bottom and a crust that would squish when I touched it.

The next cheesecake went in the oven without a water bath. I decided to bake it just like my mom did for so many years. I looked in the oven as it was baking and oh did it ever have some cracks. They were not little ones. They were Grand Canyon cracks. The top and crust were browning way too much. I hoped it would work out in the end. I took it out of the oven, left the house, and came home to find it sank like I’ve never seen before. You can imagine my frustration at this point.

Cheesecake Disasters | Magnolia Days

Off to the store I went to get supplies for a third cheesecake. I also got a new springform pan made of aluminum and without a dark finish. Then the big decision came, bake in a water bath or not. I decided to go with the water bath and use two layers of foil. The cheesecake finished perfectly without cracking or sinking. The crust didn’t brown as much as I would like however the texture of it and the cake came out exactly as it should. Whew!

Mom's Cheesecake | Magnolia Days

More about my mom’s cheesecake: The crust is what really makes this cake unique. It’s very thin and it is not easy to make. I repeat: not easy to make. I used one of my husband’s roller tools to get it rolled out to the edge of the pan bottom because the bottom has a lip on it and a regular rolling pin would not work right. You have to roll out the side in three strips between wax or parchment paper. You absolutely must measure the length of those strips. The dough must be rolled out to 9 inches (or perhaps 1/4-inch more). Chill the strips before trying to put them in the pan. Peel off one side of the paper, put it back, flip it over, and peel off the other side. Then lift the strip delicately and get it to the side of the pan as quickly as possible. I think it would be a miracle to get the strips to the pan without at least one of them breaking. It’s okay though. All you have to do is press the edges together.

Mom's Cheesecake | Magnolia Days

Was all that effort worth it? Sure it was! I can laugh at the disasters while I’m enjoying a slice. Mom’s cheesecake is my favorite one of all. I’ve shared a couple others; Chocolate Covered Cherry Cheesecake and Brownie Chocolate Chip Cheesecake. Scroll down to find a great big list of recipes by wonderful bloggers celebrating National Cheesecake Day. Special thanks to Roxana of Roxana’s Home Baking for putting together this tasty event. Oh, and what did I do with the two disaster cakes? Stay tuned to find out…

Mom’s Cheesecake

8 hours

Makes 12 to 16 servings

Mom’s Cheesecake

    For the crust:
  • 1 cup sifted bleached all-purpose flour (sift before measuring)
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • For the filling:
  • 24 ounces cream cheese (not whipped), at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs plus 1 egg yolk, at room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons heavy whipping cream (at room temperature)
  • Very hot water (for baking cheesecake in a water bath)
For the crust:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9-inch springform pan. Remove side of the pan.

Whisk together flour, sugar, and lemon zest in a medium bowl. Sprinkle vanilla over the mixture.

Make a well in the center and add egg yolk and butter. Use a fork to cut in the butter and yolk until it is combined and crumbly.

Form 1/2 of the dough into a ball. Place the dough ball on the pan bottom. Cover with wax or parchment paper. Roll dough out to the edge (it will be very thin).

Bake until golden, about 5 minutes. Cool completely. Assemble pan after the bottom crust has cooled completely.

Divide the remaining dough into 3 equal parts, pressing each one together into a log. Cut 6 strips of wax or parchment paper 3 inches wide.

Place each dough log between 2 strips of the paper. Roll out each dough log to 2 1/4 inches wide by 9 inches long (it will be very thin). The length is important so measure to be accurate. The width should be 2 inches at a minimum. Chill the strips for at least 10 minutes.

Transfer the dough strips to the sides of the pan. It is best to pull off the top paper, lay it back on top, flip it over, and pull off the other paper. If the strips break (which they probably will), press them back together once in the pan.

For the filling:

Increase oven temperature to 450 degrees F.

Blend together cream cheese, sugar, flour, sugar, lemon zest, orange zest, and vanilla in a large bowl until smooth, using a hand mixer at medium speed.

Add eggs and egg yolk one at a time, mixing well between each addition. Add cream and stir or blend to combine.

Spread batter evenly in prepared pan.

Wrap heavy duty aluminum foil around the sides and bottom of the pan (2 layers to be safe).

Place the foil-wrapped springform pan into a larger deep baking pan (at least 2 to 3 inches deep) that it fits into easily.

Place both pans in the oven. Pour hot water into the large pan so that is about halfway up, about 1 1/2 to 2 inches.

Bake for 10 minutes.

Reduce oven temperature to 250 degrees F and bake for 1 hour.

Lift foil wrapped pan out of the water bath and place on a rack.

Carefully lift the pan with water out of the oven and discard water.

Cool cheesecake completely to room temperature, about 2 hours.

Chill cheesecake thoroughly, at least 3 hours or overnight.

Remove foil and side of pan before serving.


Time stated includes cooling and chilling after baking. Hands-on and baking time is about 2 hours, 30 minutes.

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Do you enjoy cheesecake? Check out these recipes for everything from traditional to new twists, from beverages to ice cream, and more:

Baked Cheesecakes:

No Bake Cheesecakes:

Cheesecake Beverages:

Cheesecake Cookies, Brownies, and Bars:

Cheesecake Desserts and Treats:

Frozen Cheesecakes and Treats:


Peanut Butter Oatmeal Energy Bars | Magnolia Days

You know what time it is. You don’t even have to look at the clock. It is when you feel drained and need something to keep you going. For me that time is 3 o’clock in the afternoon. I wake up early and go at full speed until that time. An organic granola bar is what I usually have for a snack. However lately it seems lacking or I’m bored with the same old thing. I decided to make my own to incorporate the flavors I wanted. Peanut Butter Oatmeal Energy Bars is now what I grab when I need a little boost.

Deciding on the name of the bars was difficult. They have so much packed into them; oats, quinoa, raisins, peanuts, coconut, chocolate, peanut butter, and honey. Quinoa seems to be big on healthy trends these days yet it doesn’t have quite the appeal as oatmeal. Oatmeal raisin is a popular combination too. The flavor of peanut butter in these bars is greater than raisin though. So I settled on peanut butter oatmeal and called it a day.

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Energy Bars | Magnolia Days

How are the Peanut Butter Oatmeal Bars? They are soft with a bit of crunch from the toasted quinoa. The softness also makes them break apart easily. I had to push a few of them back together as I was cutting them. A short time in the fridge helped to firm them up. Peanut butter is the prevalent flavor with a blend of all the other ingredients in the background.

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Energy Bars | Magnolia Days

Exercise is important to stay healthy and strong. Two things I do are yard work and gardening. Using the equipment (edger, string trimmer, mower, blower, hedge trimmer) works out the muscles and is a load bearing activity. Pushing the mower, especially on my steep front yard, gets the heart rate up and is good for an aerobic activity. Planting, fertilizing, weeding, and watering plants gets me off the couch and moving around in the great outdoors.

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Energy Bars | Magnolia Days

How do you stay fit and healthy? Do you exercise? Do you make good food choices and nutritious meals for your family? Sunday Supper has partnered with American Family Insurance to share recipes that are a part of a healthy fit lifestyle. Scroll down to see a list with links to recipes and check out AmFam’s Health and Fitness Pinterest board for more inspiration. Special thanks to Denise of Run DMT for hosting this event.

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More on American Family Insurance: You can follow them on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, YouTube, Google+, LinkedIn, and their website.

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Energy Bars

1 hour, 30 minutes

Makes 16 bars

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Energy Bars

These healthy peanut butter oatmeal energy bars are loaded with quinoa, raisins, coconut, chocolate, peanuts, and honey for a delicious snack that fuels you too.

  • 1 cup uncooked old-fashioned oats
  • 3/4 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins, coarsley chopped
  • 1/2 cup salted dry-roasted peanuts, chopped
  • 1/4 cup coconut flakes
  • 2 tablespoons flaxseed meal
  • 3 tablespoons mini chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 6 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease an 8-inch square baking pan. Line the pan with parchment paper with a 1-inch overhang on 2 sides.

Spread oats and quinoa evenly on a baking sheet. Bake for 8 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool completely.

Place oats, quinoa, raisins, peanuts, coconut, flaxseed meal, and chocolate chips in a large bowl. Stir to combine.

Stir together peanut butter, honey, oil, and salt in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly to prevent scorching. Boil for 1 minute.

Pour peanut butter mixture over oat mixture and stir to coat.

Press mixture into prepared baking pan. Bake for 13 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool completely in the pan.

Use the parchment paper to lift it out of the pan and transfer to a cutting board.

Cut into 1- X 4-inch bars. If any bars break apart, press them back together. Chill bars to firm up.

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Recipe adapted from one in Cooking Light magazine April 2014 edition.

Are you looking for healthy recipes? Take a look at these by talented Sunday Supper contributors and visit each one for more tips on how you can have a fit lifestyle:

Get Up and Go Power Breakfasts

Salads and Healthy Snacks

Healthy Fit Lifestyle Dinners

Healthy Desserts

Sunday Supper MovementJoin the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board.

Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by the American Family Insurance. All opinions are my own.


Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Muffins

by Renee on July 24, 2014

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Muffins | Magnolia Days

Simple, comfort, home, quiet, calm, and chocolate – these are words I had most on my mind. The past months have been exciting, challenging, complex, and filled with highs and lows. There isn’t a single minute of it I would take back. I only wish there had been more minutes of the day to get in what was missed. Now that a major project is wrapped there was one craving I had to satisfy after being away from home. It represents most of those words on my mind. Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Muffins are a simple, comforting way to start a quiet and calm day at home. Chocolate is a bonus.

What was the major project? It was, or rather is, the Food and Wine Conference. Although it has wrapped for 2014, we are already in the very beginning planning stage for 2015. It’s held in Orlando which means I am away from home to attend. The food at the conference is a highlight of its own. I tried my best to get a bite of everything and yet I still missed some of the offerings. All that big eating there meant balancing with smaller meals after returning home. A muffin instead of a breakfast buffet was in order.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Muffins | Magnolia Days

There are healthy components in oatmeal chocolate chip muffins. First is the oats which have benefits of reducing cholesterol, helping control blood pressure, reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes, and more. Then there is chocolate with flavonoids and antioxidants. But who needs an excuse to eat chocolate? Not me. The muffins are fluffy with pockets of air and mini chocolate chips throughout.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Muffins | Magnolia Days

A few more words about the Food and Wine Conference: Being in the same room with fellow food bloggers, writers, photographers, journalists, brand representatives, and publishers is priceless. There is so much to soak in, from information to companionship and everything in between. Our bonds are strengthened and we know we will have support to get us through our individual hurdles. To all the sponsors, speakers, attendees, and volunteers: Thank you, thank you, from the bottom of my heart, thank you! Even bigger thanks to Isabel because the conference would not exist had it not been for her following her heart to bring us all together.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Muffins | Magnolia Days

What do you crave after traveling? I very much enjoy all the new food experiences while I’m away and become inspired to bring those adventures into my own kitchen. This trip is no exception and there is much to tackle in the near future. Until then, take a look at Oatmeal Peanut Butter Trail Mix Cookies and Cinnamon Chocolate Chip Ice Cream for other oats and chocolate chip recipes too.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Muffins

30 minutes

Makes 12 muffins

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Muffins

  • 1 cup quick-cooking oats
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup vegetable or canola oil
  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Lightly grease a 12-cup muffin tin.

Stir together oats and buttermilk in a medium bowl. Let stand for 5 minutes.

Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.

Whisk together egg and oil. Pour egg mixture into bowl with oats and buttermilk. Stir to combine.

Add liquid ingredients to flour mixture and stir until just moistened.

Stir in chocolate chips.

Divide batter equally among muffin cups. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until browned.

Remove muffins from pan and cool completely on a wire rack.

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No-Bake Bourbon Pecan Cookies

July 22, 2014
No-Bake Bourbon Pecan Cookies | Magnolia Days

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July 17, 2014
Cherry Chocolate Chip Bundt Cake | Magnolia Days

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Crispy Fish Sticks With Roasted Potatoes for #WeekdaySupper #ChooseDreams

July 15, 2014
Crispy Fish Sticks with Roasted Potatoes | Magnolia Days

Deep frying and Southern food go hand in hand. I think you can find just about any food fried here in the South. Not only is it fried, it is also battered and fried. Chicken is the most common and seafood comes in a close second. There are fish frys held to raise money, gather […]

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Asian Pork Lettuce Cups for #SundaySupper

July 13, 2014
Asian Pork Lettuce Cups | Magnolia Days

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Grilled Lemon Cherry Drop Martini

July 10, 2014
Grilled Lemon Cherry Drop Martini | Magnolia Days

Fire up the grill because it’s martini time! Are you a little surprised by that statement? Honestly, I would have been too. Grilling is something I never thought would be a part of a cocktail. The adventurous path of cooking took me to a whole new place. Now that I’ve visited it, I know I’ll […]

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Meyer Lemon Fingerling Potato Salad

July 7, 2014
Meyer Lemon Fingerling Potato Salad | Magnolia Days

Coincidence, fate, or sheer luck – how do you know which one is why things fall into place so nicely? Could it be a combination? Perhaps it is certain events were destined to happen. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a big event. Even the smallest or things can line up and make your day. […]

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