minestrone

We’ve had a slight chill in the air this week. As you might be able to tell from my last post, I’m thinking about fall. I’ve really been trying to go through my collection of cookbooks, as I have collected such a wonderful assortment over the years. This one is no exception. It’s written by Henry Hill, the notorious mobster that the film “Goodfellas” is based off of. Now, let me just say what a great “food movie” Goodfellas is. The razor thin garlic? The cannoli incident? So many good scenes. But, I digress. You get me talking about any classic mafia movie, and I could go on for days!

There are so many great recipes in this book, I diddn’t even know where to begin. After much deliberation, I decided on this wonderful minestrone. It was delicious, and a relatively easy. It wasn’t super quick as far as cooking time goes – at 2 hours. But, for me, as a general rule of thumb – a good soup can’t come together quickly. Just the way it is folks!

I like to pre-cook my pasta first. I find that it doesn’t get quite as overcooked in the leftovers that way. I used elbow macaroni in this batch – but feel free to use whatever you like or have handy. This is really a “clean your fridge” out kind of meal. Lots of room for additions and substitutions. I kind of felt like maybe it would benefit for corn? Or some canelli beans perhaps? I was out of Parmesan cheese (I know! I know!), but I’d definitely top the soup with some before serving. Or, if you happen to have a rind laying around in the refrigerator or freezer, feel free to toss that into the mix as well. Just make sure you remove it before dishing it up!

Serve with a nice green salad and some crusty bread. Perfect for the cool fall evenings we have ahead of us!

tacos

I have a confession. Up until recently, I was a taco spice packet user. I tried to make my own spice mixture, but it was just never as pungent as the kind from the yellow packet. After taking a gander at the nutritional information, and the whopping amount of sodium (I’m a salt lover folks, but come on. How do they pack that much sodium into that tiny little package? The world may never know) I decided it was time to ditch the packet for good!

As far as taco shell selection goes, we like to fry our own corn tortillas in this house. Every once in a while I get a hankering for a boxed shell that you just warm up in the oven.  But, there is definitely something to be said for the pan-fried corn tortillas. They aren’t soft, yet they aren’t completely crispy either. I find that the outer portion of the shell gets nice and crispy, while the center stays soft and pliable.

I’m sure this recipe would be just as wonderful with ground turkey or chicken as well.

chickenenchiladas

I think if my husband had to choose his favorite dish, aside from a big honking steak, it would be enchiladas. I had never had them before meeting him. My mom was a great cook, but ethnic dishes were few and far between in our house. The first time I had them, my father-in-law made them for a football game.  I took one bite of that saucey-gooeyness and realized what I had been missing my whole life. He was a fan of using pork, which, I really would like to try.  But, we always have large quantities of chicken in the freezer here…

This recipe originated from America’s Test Kitchen, but I’ve changed quite a few things over the years. It is certainly a favorite in our house, and I’m sure it will be one in yours as well. Don’t be afraid to play around with the ingredients. Sometimes I add diced green chiles, sometimes chopped black olives. Or, this time of year, when I have jalapenos overtaking the garden, I’ll throw in a couple of those that have been diced. The only limit with these is your imagination!

risotto

I have a confession: I was a risotto virgin. I know, I know… How could call myself a “foodie”, and not yet experienced a delicious masterpiece like risotto? Alas, I have now found it, and plan to keep it in my repertoire for a long time to come. It was ridiculously easy; not only to cook, but also to clean up as it is a “one dish meal”.  I can easily see it becoming a “go to” meal for those nights when I just don’t feel like cooking anything. You can pretty much throw anything in there with equally delicious results. A great way to clean out the refrigerator at the end of the week!

I was concerned that this dish would need a protein to go with it. So, I served it with seared scallops. Now, the scallops were delicious, don’t get me wrong. I made a balsamic reduction in the pan that I seared them in, and drizzled that over the whole mess. It definitely added an extra oomph, or “kicked it up a notch” if you will. But, both my husband and myself agreed that it could certainly stand on it’s own as a satisfying dinner – sans meat.

So, if you haven’t tried making risotto at home yet – do yourself a favor, and please do. I kick myself for waiting as long as I did!