Recipe Raiders

Today I started to write about those who pilfer recipes from sites and post them on their own sites as originals, or at the very least make NO mention of where the recipe or their idea originated.   Anyone who has ever shared an original recipe knows that can be very annoying –  to see it show up elsewhere after they spent the time, effort and the money to develop that recipe. 

But once I started reading blogs, copyright legalese, and other related articles — I lost my desire to write about any of it.  One topic seemed to lead to another and another on this never ending data supply we call the internet –  so that I started getting confused myself!

My original viewpoint was  — there are too many recipes shared from parents, friends, and pot luck suppers over the years — that not every recipe you think is original or “from your own mom” is actually that!  And maybe a word or two about common ingredients used to make certain items,  and that being unique in ingredients or execution may be harder than you think. 

Recipes are all over the web.  There are thousands of good sites containing all sorts of recipes, and using all sorts of ingredients.  Some of them measure like a chef in grams and pounds and others go by our standard method of a cup and a tablespoon.  You will, if you look, see the gambit in terms of ingredients, combinations and even techniques.  But certain sauces, pastries, meringues, and even some cooking methodologies have specific names attributed to them because they use the same ingredients or procedure time after time to achieve the desired result….and yet, even those are recipes someone, somewhere originally devised.

These are all pictures of some of my breads.
These are all pictures of some of my breads.

Recently some actual recipe developers complained about their recipes being copied, stolen, or used on a “well known” blog without their permission.  And it made me seriously wonder why the blog would do that (knowingly or not) and why the original author didn’t just send a note — thanking them for making and sharing their dish and asking they add a line or two from where the recipe originated. Wouldn’t that just solve the problem?

Yes and No.  And therein lies the dilemma and that’s why I wanted to stop writing about this subject.  I like things black and white, not grey.  While a baker, cook or recipe developer may think that they originally made that recipe and it belongs to them to distribute, authorize or use — what if it doesn’t?  Who makes that call?  What if 40 years ago it was published somewhere and their grandmother found it, made it and then it eventually got passed down — doesn’t it still belong to the original cookbook author  — and how is one to know?  Grandma might be long gone and there isn’t anyone else who really does know.  You could be sure that your dish is unique, but it’s still possible it’s not.

So, while I am not a lawyer and this is definitely not any legal advice — I will just quote the actual US copyright law** with regard to recipes.

Mere listings of ingredients as in recipes, formulas, compounds, or prescriptions are not subject to copyright protection. However, when a recipe or formula is accompanied by substantial literary expression in the form of an explanation or directions, or when there is a combination of recipes, as in a cookbook, there may be a basis for copyright protection.

Copyright protects only the particular manner of an author’s expression in literary, artistic, or musical form. Copyright protection does not extend to names, titles, short phrases, ideas, systems, or methods.

But that doesn’t end the discussion.  The real discussion actually just starts there.  And so after reading about 20 different articles about this subject – I still feel that most recipes are not subject to being copyrighted.  I do believe some may (though there are formidable obstacles) but most are not. 

What seems to be clear to me (and again this is not legal advice, and I am not a lawyer) is that while the list of ingredients and way of preparation (divide into quarters, add the butter to the boiling milk, etc)  is not protected …. the way in which you actually did it, the extra flourishes, your descriptions, your expressions of your unique style and also your photographs are subject to copyright protection.

Clear a mud, right?  That’s how I felt.  And so, just as an aside to anyone who might see this – do yourself a favor – do your own descriptions, do your own photographs, add/subtract and make a recipe your own, but also take a minute to give credit to whomever you got the inspiration from — be it your long gone grandmother, your dinner club, or a specific chef, author or blogger.  If you don’t know …. maybe a word about that might also help them know your intention was not to pilfer their work.  

Some of my homemade soups.
Some of my homemade soups.

 I saw a cookbook recently that had several recipes I have been using for years.  I know that these recipes (shared from my relatives and friends) were not the original work of this author.  I don’t know where they actually originated and likely neither does the author (because saying this is Aunt Mary’s recipe may or may not be actually truthful) — but just because she has now published them into a book — the recipes are still not hers to claim.  The book however and it’s design, format, and contents are unique, copyrighted and hers.

For more information …. **Copyright Information – Main:  Recipes:

**Disclosure, I am not a lawyer and this article does not contain any legal advice, you need to consult with someone much more knowledgeable on this subject if you have a question about copyright laws.  I was not compensated in anyway for this article and the content and opinions are 100% mine.

Odd Woman Out

There are times when you know that you are just…. THE ODD WOMAN OUT.

This weekend I had what I consider to be a unique opportunity – I won a giveaway sponsored by Duncan Hines® to be a guest of one of their bloggers at a unique and fun event at their headquarters.

I entered for this on a blog — and while usually the prizes given away on blog sites aren’t a trip, this one was one that sounded like an opportunity I couldn’t miss.

And yes, I won it from a cooking/baking blog called RealMomKitchen. I wasn’t even the first name drawn, as the first choice didn’t respond to the win notice. That means that I was double lucky. I was lucky the first person didn’t respond and then lucky enough to be chosen as the replacement.

I really was excited and thrilled to have won. I absolutely love to cook and bake. I absolutely love the Pinnacle® Brand of Products of which Duncan Hines® is only one…. and I considered this — for me — an opportunity of a lifetime.

I don’t usually enter for trips to travel alone — but because this was in NJ (where I was born) and because it was to a Duncan Hines® Event – I considered it was going to be more than just a trip for me — AND IT WAS!

The entire weekend was fabulous!

There were some other candidates for the odd woman out title …. those who felt they were “ignored” by the blogs representatives where they had entered – feeling that as a fan and subscriber they meant nothing to the blog owner — and there were some other minor (in my opinion) things to make others feel as if they too were the odd woman out.

But I think I qualified and won that event  – because I spent the entire weekend hungry.  I was not only hungry for the information provided, and for the companionship of the other accomplished bakers, but physically hungry.  

You see I have allergies. Severe allergies. And the foods provided by this spectacular food company just couldn’t really avoid using corn, fructose and fruit, or related products in what they provided to us to eat.   Don’t get me wrong, they provided a ton of food, including unbelievable desserts and everyone but me got to eat well.  Some ladies were even hitting the gym in the hotel to work some of it off, I instead felt like I was going to pass out from hunger. 

It was not 100% their fault, I mean although I filled out my questionnaire listing my allergy, I just don’t think it must have been taken that seriously.   Most people do not realize that there is hidden corn/fructose in products they eat every day – and for the most part don’t have to.  But even commercially prepared bread has corn syrup or fructose added –  and although it’s necessary in many cases to be able to provide a consistant product – do you think about that when you serve it?  Usually not. 

The first night, when I had some green beans and a couple slices of meat/turkey — since it was at the hotel — I thought it would be better the next day.   It wasn’t.  

Do you know the ingredients I asked in the ranch dressing?  And they acted like I had asked them in a foreign language.   The answer, oh it’s just regular ranch.  Helpful?  Not really.  Their reason for not knowing,  “oh we’re just the marketing people”.   I asked because there are products, and even commercially made ranch dressing that I can eat.  For lunch I was having only lettuce and tomato (the only things provided that I could eat) and I would have to eat it dry if I couldn’t find out the ingredients of the dressings.  I couldn’t even have the chips because Lays® products use oils, including corn oil to make their products (which I learned the hard way trying it one time).

To their credit they have a kitchen and they did make me a balsamic vinaigrette that was fabulous — but it didn’t quench my hunger.  I really needed some protein which wasn’t available.


   We spent the entire day learning about great stuff from decorating cakes to making simple sauces, and decorations for our creations.  I would never have wanted to miss a minute of those demonstrations, they were that good!!!  But I couldn’t eat or even taste any of that because almost every item contained or used corn syrup. 

   I didn’t feel “left out” because I know my allergies limit me to what I personally can and cannot have.  I am used to doing without, and not sharing in many of the wonderful things that I love to cook and bake — including desserts.   I cannot eat most commercially made products and/or even indulge in most fast food choices.   I didn’t expect, nor would I ever expect a menu to be made around what I could or could not eat.  But, I can’t just have a bagel, or a waffle till I know what’s in it.  Sometimes they use flours that have corn flour mixed it (from a previous allergic reaction having a pancake in Maine).

   My reactions can be just from my lips and nasal passages swelling, to migraine, to asthma attack, to having to use all the techniques in my arsenal, including my epi-pen to quell it. It’s not an easy journey. I cannot take a chance and just “try” something without considering it could be the last bite I take.

   What made me the Odd Woman Out contest winner this past weekend was that no one even vaguely considered how hungry I would be all weekend without being able to eat the provided food? 

But, am I still a Duncan Hines® Sweet Star?  You bet I am!

**Disclosure: I was not compensated in any way for this post, and all the information contained here is 100% my personal observations and perspective.

Ham and Cheddar Soup

SOUP NUMBER FIVE:  Ham and Cheddar Soup

This soup started from leftover ham.  Since I have been making so many things into soup – this of course was a natural assumption when that beautiful ham first arrived at our house.  Most people would chose to make pea soup with leftover ham and a ham bone — and I could have also done that, but it’s not a favorite in our house and this one looked so much more appealing.

This recipe originated at Taste of Home Site ( – and has been minimally modified (no peas, for example).

This soup is a little different in preparation from the others I have made and posted about, but I chose it to use because it still looked fast and easy and of course it used up that all important ingredient – the leftover ham.

So I started with chopping, dicing and slicing so I’d be ready to add these ingredients once the roux was ready.  Yes, I said roux and yes, this is the first time that I posted a soup using one.  I have tried to avoid using flour and butter as a thickening agent (using instead mostly olive oil for the butter, and using potatoes to thicken my soups – but sometimes you need a change). 

This soup has potatoes, but we aren’t going to cook this soup long enough to use the potatoes for the thickening, nor are we going to use the blender in any way. This soup is meant to be creamy and chunky!

2 1/2 cups or so of peeled and diced red potatoes (used these because I happen to have them on hand)
2 cups water
1/2 cup or so sliced carrot
1/4 cup or so chopped onion
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
2 cups milk
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 1/2 cups cooked cubed ham

 Ham and Cheddar Soup

As you can see, in my ingredients picture above, I don’t always use exact measurements when making soup – for one thing, the soup is forgiving, and for the other, there is no way I am going to not add the entire potato (for example) once I have peeled and diced it.

Note: I always place my potatoes in water after I’ve peeled and diced them – my mother always said it would help them from darkening in color – and who I am to question her wisdom.


1. In a medium saucepan, combine potatoes, water, carrot and onion. Bring to boil then reduce heat; cover and cook for 10-15 minutes or until tender.

While that is cooking:

2. In another saucepan (large enough to hold the entire batch of soup) – Make the roux.  Roux is simply butter and flour that will be used as the thickening agent in this soup.  It’s not difficult…. basically you …  melt the butter and then stir in the flour until smooth.

3. Once your roux looks smooth – gradually add in the milk, salt and pepper – bring to a boil and let that boil for about two minutes or until thickened.

4. Stir in the cheese until melted. Stir in undrained potato mixture.  Then add the ham… and heat it throughly. 

It’ll look something like this, and I can say without a doubt – it was delicious.

Finished Soup

Tuscany Soup – Version 2

SOUP NUMBER FOUR ~ Tuscany Soup – Version 2

These two recipes (Soups number 3 & 4)  are my own variations for a Tuscany Style Soup.  This version used ingredients I had on hand and I almost didn’t get any to even taste!  This was definitely the favorite of the two versions I have made so far!

And as a reminder, most of my soups are “fashioned” to use up ingredients that I happen to have on hand.  I do sometimes have to buy something to make a specific soup but my overall goal in making these soups is to “use up” what might be sitting on my shelf or in my refrigerator. To that end, you should feel free to substitute some items and make your own variations.  I am currently making these soups for either dinner with my homemade breads or as a carry to the office lunch (or both).  I feel good about these meals because they are made with fresh ingredients.

tuscan soup ingredients 2

 **This picture is from my phone, and so sorry it’s blurry!**

4 Slices of Bacon, cut into small pieces –  again  I used a kitchen scissor to cut the bacon
1 lb. Hot Breakfast Sausage
1/2 to 1 Tablespoon each of Oregano, Basil and Parsley
1 large yellow onion, diced
6 cloves of garlic, minced
4 cups of chicken broth or stock
3 cups of Russet Potatoes Cubed
salt, pepper to taste
1 cup of heavy cream
Parmesan cheese, grated for garnish
**Changes in the ingredients from Tuscany Soup – Version 1 are in red.

 The overall method to making this variation of Tuscany Soup is the same.  In a large soup pot cook bacon until crispy, then add the sausage and break it apart as it cooks.  Once the sausage is browned and crumbled, drain off the majority of the grease, leaving just a little (tablespoon or two) to use to saute the onion.  I added the oregano, basil and parsley at this point because the breakfast sausage wasn’t “Italian” smelling at all.  It smelled like breakfast sausage and that was not what I had in mind for this soup.  You may adjust these spices to your own taste.  I added these slowly (stirring the meat mixture after each addition) till I went from a breakfast sausage smell to an Italian smell.  Then just like in version 1, I pushed the sausage/bacon mixture again to the edges of the pot and left a space in the center to add and saute the onion until it is translucent.  Next I added the garlic and sauteed it till fragrant. 

 Once you are done with that you will want to add the broth and potatoes and season with some salt and pepper (about 3/4 tsp. salt and 1/4 of pepper – you can always add more later).  Simmer till your potatoes are done, or longer.  I let this mixture simmer about an hour, because I was waiting for my dinner guests to arrive – and when it was apparent that they might not arrive soon, I finished up the soup  by adding the heavy cream, and slowly stirring it in.  Bring the entire mixture again to a simmer after adding the cream and simmering it again for another 10-25 minutes to mix the flavors. 

Again my company hadn’t arrived, so I did let it cool down and refrigerated it.  I reheated it for my guests – and since I was making alfredo sauce and someone else was serving the soup for me, I almost didn’t even get to taste it!  They did however think about me (yeah!) and saved me a bowl.  It was delicious.  There is no “ready to serve picture” because I was just so happy everyone had arrived and we were finally eating  that I didn’t even come close to remembering to take a picture!

This soup was gone in 30 seconds, but everyone  (aka my dinner guests) voted this one a keeper.  It was spicy but not as overwhelmingly as it was when using the ground hot Italian sausage (Version 1) and it was “thicker” because  I used less potatoes and the potatoes cooked down more than in the first one.  It also was simmered so much longer,  that it actually thickened the soup.  I have to almost thank my guests for being late – as this soup is now a family keeper!

This version also happens to be less expensive to prepare.  The roll of hot breakfast sausage was $2.50 less than the package of ground hot Italian sausage.  It also was, believe it or not, less oily and fatty.   The other plus was that the breakfast sausage didn’t add that “red” color to the soup. 

So if you decide to actually make this soup, try version 2 first! 

UPDATE: I have since made this soup two additional times by request and both times it was a hit!

Tuscany Soup – Version 1

SOUP NUMBER THREE ~  Tuscany Soup – Version 1

These recipes are my own variation of a recipe that I have seen for a Tuscany Style Soup.  So far I have made this soup twice (and will post both versions) and each time I adjusted ingredients and things based on what I had on hand.  Both times it was well received by my family, but each soup was different in flavor, and texture and I’ll share their comments.

4 Slices of Bacon, cut into small pieces –  I used a kitchen scissor to cut the bacon, and I cut all 4 slices at one time — and for me that was much easier than trying to dice it with a knife.
1 lb. of hot Italian Sausage – I used the ground package for this soup
1 large yellow onion, diced
6 cloves of garlic, minced
6 cups of chicken broth or stock
4 cups of Russet Potatoes Cubed
salt, pepper to taste
1 cup of heavy cream
Parmesan cheese, grated for garnish

In a large soup pot cook bacon until crispy, then add the sausage and break it apart as it cooks.  Once the sausage is browned and crumbled, drain off the majority of the grease, leaving just a little (tablespoon or two) to use to saute the onion.  Push the sausage/bacon mixture to the edges of the pot and leave a space in the center to add and saute the onion until it is translucent – then add the garlic and saute it till fragrant.  This does make a wonderful smell and everyone in the family came to see what I was making.

Once you are done with that you will want to add the broth and potatoes and season with some salt and pepper (about 3/4 tsp. salt and 1/4 of pepper – you can always add more later).  Simmer till your potatoes are done, this will take about 20 -40 minutes depending on the size of your diced potatoes.

When the potatoes are done, you can add the heavy cream – I added mine slowly and while stirring.  Bring the entire mixture to a simmer and simmer for another 10-20 minutes to mix the flavors.  Serve with a grated parmesan garnish.

Comments:  This soup was much more spicy and liquid than the Version 2 will be.  As such it was a totally different taste/texture experience than Version 2.  Hubby liked this one more because of the spicy-ness, one of my sons said this version was a thinner soup (than version 2) with sausage and potatoes although he did like the flavor.