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!

lomein

Whenever we order Chinese carry-out, I usually end up getting lo mein. When I saw this post on Annie’s site, it looked so delicious, I couldn’t wait to try it. Very glad I did! It was a delicious dinner that came together in a matter of minutes. Not to mention, it’s pretty figure friendly! Any vegetables would be wonderful in this. I kind of used what I had on hand. Also, I cannot wait to try it with Chinese roasted pork (you know – the red tinted stuff?). I’ve seen it at my local grocer, have wanted to try it, but just wasn’t quite sure what to do with it. Now I know!

I sort of had a hard time finding the lo mein noodles. Chances are you will find them in the International or Asian aisle of your supermarket. It seems to be hit or miss! You could use spaghetti noodles, but semolina pasta doesn’t absorb the sauce as well. I was shocked how much soy sauce goodness that these babies absorbed. It really was delicious!

This was plenty for myself and my husband, with a small portion leftover for leftovers. If you’ve got more than 2 folks to feed, I’d double the recipe.

Zucchini Spice Cupcakes

My father has got one of the greenest thumbs that I’ve ever seen. Every summer, for as long as I can remember, my dad has had a HUGE garden. It’s actually come to be quite the spectacle at their current home. They live on Chincoteague Island, which is a popular tourist destination in summer. Evidently, people are not used to seeing a garden up close and personal. Every time we are visiting, there are folks stopping in the street to take pictures. Poor souls – I don’t know what I would do without a garden at my fingertips!

Last weekend my dad gave me two HUGE zucchinis. You know, the kind that are too big to do anything with? Then, I came across a post over at Erin’s site. It was the perfect use for these goliaths. Actually, I only used one. Any suggestions for the other?

These were seriously some of the best cupcakes I’ve had in my life. And, I’ll tell you kids, I’m no stranger to a cupcake. The were so moist and delicious, they literally melted in your mouth. They would have been awesome “as is”. But then, to slather them with heavenly cream cheese frosting? OMG, make these.

I always have a cache of spices I am trying to use up, so I tweaked the original recipe a bit. I added in some allspice, as well as a pinch of 5-spice powder. If you don’t have those – feel free to omit them, they will still be just as good!

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!