There’s redbud, dogwood, locust, blackberry, whippoorwill and yet another called linsey-woolsey britches winter. So named for the plant, tree, birds seen for the first time or for the heavier clothes needed again after “real” winter is passed. Spring always comes and some of today’s recipes will see you right through to next spring.

Fresh, homegrown tomatoes are a ways down the road, but I get very nice vine ripened tomatoes all year ‘round so the soup is delicious now. Later when fresh tomatoes are over running your garden and after you make all the tomato and mayonnaise sandwiches you can eat, process the tomato through peeling and pureeing, then freeze. Add the remaining ingredients when you prepare it in December. If you grow your own basil, your soup will be even more delicious.

Molded desserts with Eagle Brand milk, cream cheese, Jell-O and, yes, cottage cheese (no, I don’t know why) were all the rage in the 1960s and 1970s. I was afraid of the stove until the mid ‘70s. So, these recipes are new to me and I love them. I’ve found sugar free Jell-O is more flavorful than the sugared varieties.

Small curd cottage cheese makes better texture. You can use most any flavor of Jell-O instant pudding for the cheese cake dessert. If you have a source for store bought lemon curd, feel free. Making your own is more tasty and much cheaper.

Tomato Basil Soup

6 large tomatoes

1 large green bell pepper

3-4 cloves garlic

3/4 cup half and half

1/4 cup fresh basil or 1/8 cup dried

Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Halve and devein pepper. Place pepper halves, garlic and whole tomatoes on a sheet pan.

Roast 10 minutes. Remove garlic. Turn pepper halves and tomatoes. Continue to roast 20 more minutes.

Remove from oven, cover pan with plastic wrap. Cool 10 minutes. Peel, put into food processor. Add all remaining ingredients. Blend until smooth. Heat through.

Lemon Cheesecake Dessert

36 golden Oreos

3 tablespoons melted butter

1 small package instant Jell-o cheesecake pudding mix

1 cup milk

4 cups Extra Creamy Cool Whip

1 cup lemon curd

In the food processor, crush 20 of the cookies. Add melted butter. Press into a 9x9 or 8x11-inch dish. The mixture will be loose. Whisk together pudding mix and milk. Set aside two minutes. Fold in 1 1/2 cups cool whip. Spread mixture over the cookies.

Crush 16 cookies and spread half of them over the pudding. Fold remaining Cool Whip into the lemon curd. Spread over the cookies. Sprinkle remaining cookies over the lemon mixture. Cover and refrigerate 8 hours.

Lemon Curd

3 large eggs

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/4 cup butter, cubed

In a medium size heavy saucepan whisk together eggs and sugar. Add lemon juice. Cook and stir until thickened and coats the back of a spoon. Transfer to a shallow bowl. Cover and cool 10 minutes.

Refrigerate. Use as needed.

Tropical Fluff

8 ounces extra creamy cool whip

1 small package peach Jell-O

1 cup small curd cottage cheese

3/4 cup chopped pecans

1 (20-ounce) can pineapple tidbits, well drained

In a medium size bowl, gently mix cool whip and Jell-O until well blended. Stir in remaining ingredients.

Chill one hour before serving.

Lemonade Parfait

2 packages graham crackers

1/3 cup sugar

1/2 stick butter, melted

Preheat oven to 375°

Add graham crackers to a food processor and run until fine crumbs. Stir together with sugar and melted butter. Spread evenly in a large sheet pan. Toast until golden. Watch carefully and stir after about three minutes. Set aside to cool. Seal in a zip top bag. Refrigerate. Use as needed.

For the filling:

1/2 of a (12-ounce) container minute maid lemonade concentrate

1 (14-ounce) can Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, at room temperature

1 (8 ounce) carton Extra Creamy Cool Whip

In a medium bowl, whisk cream cheese until smooth. Add Eagle Brand and mix until smooth. Add lemonade and whisk until smooth. Fold in Cool Whip. Cover and refrigerate.

To serve:

Place a tablespoon of crumbs in the bottom of a small dessert dish. Top with about 1/4 cup lemon custard mixture. Sprinkle generously with more crumbs. Add another dip of custard. Top with more crumbs. Garnish with a dollop of real whipped cream if desired.

Miss Olivia Sipe is the owner of Miss Olivia’s Table in Maryville.

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