​​Mascarpone ​​Mascarpone (mahs-kar’-pohn) – an Italian cheese from the Lombardy region, made by curdling milk cream with citric acid or acetic acid

8 oz mascarpone ≈ 6 oz cream cheese blended with 1/4 c heavy cream and 5 Tbsp sour cream

more about mascarpone

how to make Homemade Mascarpone Cheese

Pectin Pectin (pehk’-tin) – setting agent for jams and jellies; available in powdered or liquid form

1 box powdered pectin ≈ 1 packet liquid pectin

Whisk powdered pectin into the sugar before you combine it with the fruit. It must be cooked with the fruit & sugar to avoid clumping.

More about Pectin

more about Substituting Pectin

Kale Kale (Kayl) – a plant in the mustard family, having dark green, spreading, usually crinkled leaves that are eaten as a vegetable

Swiss Chard

Beet Greens

Spinach – can substitute equal amounts, but spinach will cook much faster

more about Kale

more about XXX

Zuppa Toscana

based on Olive Garden’s
adapted from several recipe website posts,
my version has less meat and more veggies than most

pot of Zuppa Toscana
½ pound spicy Italian sausage – crumbled
¼ pound bacon – chopped
4 cups water
2 cans (14 oz) chicken broth
1 large bunch kale
4 large russet potatoes – cut in ½” cubes
2-4 garlic cloves – minced (I usually use 4)
1 medium onion – peeled, chopped (about 1 cup)
1 cup half & half (I use non-fat)
salt and pepper – to taste (I don’t usually add any – the spicy sausage adds enough)


  1. In a pot over medium-high heat, brown sausage, breaking into small pieces; drain, set aside.
  2. Brown bacon; drain, set aside.
  3. Strip kale leaves from stems. Slice stems into ¼” pieces (like celery). Chop leaves coarsely.
  4. Add water, broth, kale stems, potatoes, garlic, and onion to pot; simmer over medium heat until potatoes are tender.
  5. Add sausage and chopped kale leaves; simmer for 10 minutes.
  6. Add half & half; season with salt and pepper if desired; heat through.
  7.  Sprinkle with bacon.
  • You can discard the kale stems if you prefer, but with a little extra cooking they taste great & I hate to waste them.
  • You can substitute Swiss chard, beet greens or spinach for the kale. Spinach will only need a few minutes cooking.