Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Pasta e Fagioli

Bon Appetit

Thanksgiving is over, so here I am taking down my fall decorations and, getting ready to put up my Christmas lights. We are having unusually warm weather here so, I also spent several hours in my garden cutting back my raspberries. I was then able to get my bushes in the front yard covered with some netting to protect them from the deer.  In the midst of all my work, I was looking for something easy and comforting for dinner. We have eaten leftover turkey for the last few days, and quite frankly, I am not in the mood for more turkey in any form. All those rich foods have left me craving something warm and satisfying. I will be making a turkey soup this week, but tonight I decided on making Pasta Fagioli.  A favorite in my house! This is an easy dish to prepare and, when served with some nice crusty Italian bread, it's just about as good as it gets.  
Pasta e Fagioli is pronounced many different ways, depending on the Italian dialect. It is considered a peasant dish. If you have a chunk of parmesan cheese in your possession, cut off the rind and cook it along with the vegetables. It gives the soup a wonderful flavor.

A pot of comfort and satisfaction  
So nice for a cold day

Pasta e Fagioli 
(Macaroni and Bean Soup)

2 cups either ditalini, small shells, or elbow macaroni
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 ½ Tbsp. parsley, finely chopped
2 to 3 fresh basil leaves
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
2 cups plum tomatoes, chopped coarsely
1 can with liquid cannellini beans (I use Progresso)
1 qt. of warm water
grated parmesan cheese

In a large heavy saucepan heat olive oil  and saute onion, and garlic till tender about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, basil, parsley, salt and pepper and simmer 10 minutes. Add warm water and beans and bring to a boil. Cook about 10 more minutes. Stir in the pasta and boil uncovered for 10 to 12 minutes or until the macaroni is cooked; stir frequently to keep from sticking. Serve hot and top with grated cheese. If desired you could add crushed red pepper. Serve with some crusty Italian bread.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

Yummy Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

Everybody loves a sweet, sticky cinnamon roll. It's a perfect food to serve for breakfast during the holidays. There is something irresistible about the aroma of freshly baked cinnamon rolls just out of the oven. A cup of tea or fresh brewed coffee served with one of these warm rolls, drizzled in a sweet gooey frosting, is absolutely heaven. Since I host Thanksgiving at my house, and have out of town family visiting, I wanted to have something quick and easy for breakfast. I decided on a tray of Pumpkin Cinnamon Sweet Rolls. I found this recipe on King Arthur's site and thought these rolls would be a nice treat to wake up to on Thanksgiving morning.
I decided to make them last week and freeze them for Thanksgiving. I did bake a few extra, so I could give them a try. Honestly, this is the first time I made the pumpkin version of cinnamon rolls. They were really very good but, I think my personal favorite is still the Traditional Cinnamon roll.  I made the dough in the morning, went to the grocery store and when I got home it was ready to roll out. I brushed the dough with butter, rolled and cut it, I then placed them in the baking pan. After I covered them well with foil, I froze them. Other than the rising time, these rolls are pretty quick to make.  I am sure these lovely Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls will be a big hit on Thanksgiving morning.
Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!!

Rolled dough

Rolling up the dough with filling

Sliced rolls
Placed in the pan and ready for the freezer 
The irresistible Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls
Sweet deliciousness!

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls
adapted from King Arthur Flour

Yield: 9 servings
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 25-30 minutes


For the Dough
1 cup canned pumpkin or squash
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons to 1/4 cup lukewarm water*
1/4 cup soft butter
2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 3/4 cups King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour
1/4 cup nonfat dry milk
1 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. ginger
1/4 t. cloves
3 tablespoons brown sugar, light or dark
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons instant or quick rise yeast

*Adjust the amount of water by the time of year or your climate. For summer, or in a humid environment, use the lesser amount of water. In winter, or in a dry climate, use the greater amount. It's always best to start with the lesser amount; you can always add more.

For the Filling
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. ginger
1/4 t. cloves
1/2 cup chopped pecans
For the Glaze
1 cup confectionary sugar
1 T. butter
1 1/2 T. milk or enough to make a glaze to drizzle


1. Mix and knead all of the dough ingredients together — by hand, mixer, or bread machine — until you've made a soft, fairly smooth dough.

2. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover the bowl, and allow the dough to rise for about 1 1/2 hours, until it's almost doubled in bulk.

3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly greased surface. Roll it into a 14" x 22" rectangle; the dough will be pretty thin.

4. Use a pastry brush to brush the melted butter onto the top of the dough. In a medium bowl, mix together the filling ingredients and sprinkle them onto the butter creating an even layer, leaving one short edge free of filling (about 1 inch).

5. Starting with the short end that's covered with filling, roll the dough into a log.

6. Cut the log into nine 1 ½"-thick rolls.

7. Place the rolls into a lightly greased 9" x 9" pan that's at least 2" deep. Set aside, covered, to rise for 1 hour, or until the rolls look puffy.

8. Bake the rolls in a preheated 375°F oven for 25 to 30 minutes, until they're lightly browned and feel set. Remove them from the oven, and set them on a rack. Turn them out of the pan, and allow them to cool for about 15 minutes. Towards the end of the cooling time, make the glaze.

My dough made more than the recipe said it would make. I used a 9 x13 pan.  

Monday, November 21, 2011

Pumpkin Bread and a Revisit to Last Years Dark Date Nut Bread

Delicious Pumpkin Bread...just right for Thanksgiving
My first memories of Thanksgiving are of huge family gatherings! They were always at my Aunt Emma's house. She, my mother, my Aunt Louise and my Aunt Lillian would rotate holidays. My grandmother always had Christmas Eve. Back then, we would always go to the big Thanksgiving Day football game at my high school.  It was a huge rivalry, with a neighboring high school, that had started in the early 1900's. It was always so cold, you would be chilled to your bones, but would never think of not going to the game. Sometimes there was snow and we would be bundled up in our hats, scarves and mittens! There would always be a bonfire the night before the game. After the game we would be off to my aunts house for dinner, where she had been slaving away creating a delicious, memorable meal.
All the women would be in the kitchen helping to get dinner on the table. Strays were always welcome! The house was full of wonderful smells and delicious food. My aunt always served a marvelous Italian chicken soup with orzo. A table in the kitchen was full of sliced quick breads served with cream cheese, bowls filled with fresh fruit and platters of sliced veggies and cheese. Nibbling was allowed! The dining room table was set for all the adults. All the young people got to sit in the kitchen. I would so covet the dining room table...always wanting to sit with the adults. I was the oldest and considered myself to be way too grown up to be sitting with my younger cousins! The first time I was allowed to sit at the dining room table, I think I was 16, you would think I was awarded the Emmy or something equally as wonderful! Ok, I was a geeky kid!

This week all those wonderful memories came flooding through my head. My wonderful aunt is in a rehab center and not doing well. My memories of all these wonderful women, my mom, my aunts and my grandmother, cooking and working together in the kitchen are my inspiration! My love of cooking has definitely been passed down from all of them, but most importantly, my love of family and the chaos that comes with those big gatherings also has been passed down.

Thanksgiving week is a very busy week for me. That's why it's great to have a few nice quick breads on hand to serve for breakfast or snack. I always keep a few in my freezer. My all time favorite quick bread is my Aunt Emma's Dark Date Nut Bread which I posted last year. However, I also make a wonderful pumpkin bread. Make sure you have cream cheese on hand. Dark date nut bread is the best with cream cheese spread all over it! This pumpkin bread is scrumptious! In my quest to make a perfect bread using my new harvest mold I made three batches. Each batch makes two loaves. My husband and I have already eaten a loaf...yum! Several will be given to family and friends. These breads bring back so many great memories of Thanksgivings past.

Pumpkin Bread

1 cup butter or margarine, softened
3 cups sugar
3 eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
1 1/2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
1 (16 ounce) can solid pack pumpkin

In a mixing bowl, dream butter and sugar. Add eggs; mix well. Combine dry ingredients; stir into creamed mixture just until moistened. Stir in pumpkin. Pour into two greased 9-in. x 5-in. x 3-in. loaf pans. Bake at 350 degrees F for 1 hour or until bread tests done.

Just out of the oven
After three tries...Perfect!
Delicious and Pretty, too!

So nice to have for a quick breakfast or as a snack with coffee or tea

This was my first try...it stuck to the stoneware mold...Bakers Joy saved the day! By the way, it still tasted great!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Gourmets 50 Most Influential Women in Food # 24 Paula Deen--Wayne's Cranberry Sauce

Paula's Cranberry Sauce
This weeks one of 50 is Paula Deen. Restauranteur, cookbook author, and Food Network star! ! She is # 24 on Gourmets list of the 50 Most Influential Women in food. 
Paula Deen happens to be one of my favorite celebrity cooks. Watching her is like being in the kitchen with a good friend.  Even though I own several of her cookbooks, most of what she cooks is not the kind of food that a nice Mediterranean girl feels comfortable feeding her family. She cooks very southern...very high in fat! Everything she makes looks luscious, however the fat content has to be high enough to set off alarms!
Paula Deen married very young and had two sons. She suffered from panic attacks and agoraphobia, eventually becoming housebound. During this time she focused on cooking for her family. Something she could do without leaving her house. In 1986, she took a job in a bank as a teller. After that she and her sons moved to Savannah, where in 1989 she divorced her husband. Paula, needing to support her sons and herself, started making sandwiches, bagging them in lunch bags, then sending her sons down town to sell them. It was the birth of her catering business "The Bag Lady".  She soon needed a bigger space so in 1996, Deen opened her own restaurant in downtown Savannah called "The Lady and Sons". Within a few years, she moved her restaurant to a larger building in Savannah's historic district. The specialty being the buffet which includes sweet potatoes, macaroni and cheese, deep fried Twinkies, fried chicken and so on and so forth.  I've visited her store front, wanting to have some lunch there, but the line wrapped around the block. Maybe next time I'm in Savannah I will have that pleasure. 
Paula has self-published two cookbooks "The Lady and Sons" and "The Lady and Sons Too".  Then in 1999 she began her relationship with the Food Network. She has since published several more books and has become a fixture at the Food Network. 
Because it's Thanksgiving week I chose to make Wayne's Cranberry Sauce  from her book "Lady and Sons, Too".  This was delicious and may become my new "go to" recipe when I make cranberry sauce. 
Hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday! Eat merry and enjoy!

Everything in the pot simmering

This is a lovely cranberry sauce, with wonderful flavor
I'm sure everyone at my table will enjoy it!

Wayne's Cranberry Sauce
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 (16-ounce) bag fresh cranberries
  • 1 cup chopped apple
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup Grand Marnier
  • 1/2 orange, juiced
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated


Combine the sugar and water in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Add the cranberries and return to a boil, then lower the heat so that the liquid simmers. Add the apples, walnuts, raisins, Grand Marnier, orange and lemon juices, cinnamon, and nutmeg, and cook for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and let the sauce cool.
Serve in a side bowl with turkey or any preferred holiday dish. 

Thanks to Mary of One Perfect Bite for this wonderful challenge. These other bloggers are also featuring the recipes of Paula Deen. Hope you'll check them out. They are all very talented ladies.

Annie- Most Lovely Things

Monday, November 14, 2011

Sherried Beef

A delicious dinner...quickly prepared...makes for a very relaxed evening

The dish I'm sharing with you today is one I've been making for a very long time. It was a family favorite when my kids were growing up...for everyone that is, except my older son. He absolutely hated it. He hated the smell...he hated the beef...he hated the mushrooms, he just hated it! At first, I thought of it as a food fad and figured he would eventually out grow it.  However, it became very evident that he was never going to eat Sherried Beef. When he would walk in the door after school and say "Are we having Sherried Beef?" "I'm not eating!".
Even though my son never developed a taste for this dish, it still remains a family favorite. It happens to be one of those easy to prepare dishes that looked like you spent hours preparing. One of the reasons for the quick prep is that it uses Campbell's Soup. Don't leave yet...give it a chance! The soup makes the gravy that the beef cooks in. This recipe may not be gourmet, but no one has to know.  Everyone I have ever served this to has loved it and asked for the recipe...except of course, my son!

beef chuck

Oh No!! Campbell's soup and onion soup mix....it saves a lot of time and makes a delicious gravy!

Soups mixed with sherry and mushrooms

Add beef

Cover well and bake

Bon Appetit!

This is really delicious---Carrots from my garden

Sherried Beef

3 lbs.  beef chuck, cubed
1 can cream of mushroom soup (low sodium)
1 can golden mushroom soup (low sodium)
3/4 cup sherry (may use 1 Cup)
1/2 package dry onion soup mix
6 to 8 oz. sliced mushrooms

1. Cut Meat into 1 inch cubes.
2. Combine all ingredients in a large casserole dish.
3. Cover and Bake@ 325 degrees for 3 hours. (I bake it @350 
    for about an hour and a half.)
5. Serve over cooked rice or noodles.

Friday, November 11, 2011

FFWD Spiced Squash, Fennel, and Pear Soup

My delicious Spiced Squash, Fennel, and Pear Soup

As I've mentioned before, my husband is not a very adventurous eater. That's probably an understatement! However, every once in awhile he surprises me by eating something I thought for sure he would scowl at e.g. Dories Stuffed Pumpkin. What a surprise that was! Despite the surprise, I truly thought he would enjoy this French Friday recipe. He has a fondness for pureed soups...he ate the stuffed pumpkin...he enjoys most fruit, including pears. So what was not to like? Who knows, but he didn't! I did! So, more for me! I had cooked down a pumpkin and pureed it last week. Therefore, I didn't have to cook the pumpkin (squash) today. This made the preparation much easier. The most difficult part of this soup was chopping all the veggies. I found this to be a lovely, flavorful soup. The added cream gave the soup a luscious, rich taste. This would be a delightful soup to serve for a holiday meal...just don't invite my husband!

This recipe can be found in Dorie Greenspans cookbook "Around My French Table". It has also been posted here.

Soup simmering...ready to puree
Lovely aroma and texture

Delightfully delicious! 


Gourmets 50 Most Influential Women in Food # 23 Nancy Silverton and Ginger Scones

These were delicious...I understand why they are one of the most popular items at the LaBrea Bakery

This weeks one of 50 is Nancy Silverton, Baker extraordinaire! She is # 23 on Gourmets list of the 
50 Most Influential Women in food. A chef and baker who has also written several cookbooks. One
of which is the very popular "Breads from the La Brea Bakery" (1996). She trained at La Cordon Bleu in London. Nancy is also a co-founder and head baker at La Brea Bakery as well as the head pastry chef at Campanile Restaurant in Los Angeles. Both of these businesses were opened with her ex-husband Mark Peel. Nancy is also influential in the movement to revitalize sourdough and artisan breads in the U.S.  She has been recognized and given many awards for her contributions to the food industry. Among them are Best Of Food & Entertaining, Food Artisan 1999 and the Best Pastry Chef of the Year 1990 James Beard Foundation.
I chose to make Nancy's Ginger Scones. These were fabulous! Much easier to put together than I thought, with so much flavor. Will definitely make these again!


Brushed with cream and ready for the oven



Ginger Scones 
Epicurious | October 2000 by Nancy Silverton
Candied ginger turns this traditional cream scone into a spicy and addictive breakfast. After all these years, it's still our bestselling scone at the bakery.
Yield: Yield: 8 scones

Special item: 3-inch round cutter

2 1/4 cups unbleached pastry flour or unbleached all-purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon finely chopped lemon zest (about 1/2 lemon)
1 1/2 sticks (6 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes and frozen
4 1/2 ounces candied ginger, finely chopped into 1/4-inch pieces to equal 2/3 cup
3/4 cup heavy cream, plus extra for brushing the tops of the scones

Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 400&Deg; F.
In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade or in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, sugar, and baking powder, and pulse or mix on low to incorporate. Add the lemon zest and butter, and pulse on and off, or mix on low, untl the mixture is pale yellow and the consistency of fine meal.
Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and stir in the ginger. Make a well in the center and pour in the cream. Using one hand, draw in the dry ingredients, mixing until just combined.
Wash and dry your hands and dust them with flour. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and gently knead a few times to gather it into a ball. Roll or pat the dough into a circle about 3/4 inch thick. Cut out the circles, cutting as closely together as possible and keeping the trimmings intact.
Gather the scraps, pat and press the pieces back together, and cut out the remaining dough. Place the scones 1 inch apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
Brush the tops with the remaining cream.
Bake for 12 to 16 minutes, until the surface cracks and they are slightly browned.

Thanks to Mary of One Perfect Bite for this wonderful challenge. These bloggers are also featuring the recipes of Nancy Silverton. Hope you'll check them out. They are all very talented ladies.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Chicken Marsala with Linguini

Yummy and so delicious on a busy day!

After the trick Mother Nature played on the North East last week, we have been given a wonderful treat. An absolutely gorgeous week of fall! I know it won't last long, so I've been trying to take advantage of this beautiful weather and squeeze in a lot of yard work. The early snow had caused quite a bit of damage to my plants. Many of them needed to be cut back. My garden, which has been sadly neglected, also needed to be cleaned out. I pulled the last of my carrots this morning. I've also been trying to get my house cleaned for the holidays. Washing windows and taking down screens. I'm somewhat of a dinosaur but, there is something nice about taking down those screens and letting the sun shine in! All this work has taken away any desire from me to be in the kitchen cooking. By dinnertime, I'm exhausted! Last night I sent my husband out for Chinese. Tonight I will be cooking. After all, I couldn't send him out two nights in a row. Could I?  No!!! 
I recently found a delicious and easy to prepare Chicken Marsala recipe in last months issue of Southern Living magazine. This is the third time I have made this dish! It has gotten rave reviews from my tasters. What else could a cook want? Not to spend so much time preparing? This one gives you that too!  

Post Script...I thought my original post was better, but blogger decided to delete it while I was in the middle of editing! It stressed me out so much that now, I really need to rest!! 

Browning the chicken
Making the sauce with the mushrooms, chicken stock, and marsala. I doubled this.
Add a glass of wine, some nice crusty bread and enjoy!

Chicken Marsala

adapted from Southern Living

3 tablespoons butter, divided 
1 cup pecan pieces, divided
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
4 skinned and boned chicken breasts (about 1 1/2 lb.)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
8 ounces mushrooms
2 shallots, sliced
3/4 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup Marsala
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley


1.Melt 1 Tbsp. of butter in a small nonstick skillet over medium-low heat: add 2/3 cup pecans and cook, stirring often, 4 to 5 minutes or till toasted and fragrant.
2. Process flour and remaining 1/3 cup of pecans in a food processor, place mixture into a plastic bag.
3. Place chicken between 2 sheets of heavy-duty plastic wrap; flatten to 1/4-inch thickness, using a rolling pin or flat side of a meat mallet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Dredge in flour by shacking in plastic bag.
4. Melt remaining 2 Tbsp. butter with olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat; add chicken, and cook 2 to 3 minutes on each side or until golden brown and done. Remove chicken from skillet.
5. Add mushrooms and shallots to skillet; sauté 3 minutes or until mushrooms are tender. Add broth and Marsala to skillet, stirring to loosen particles from bottom of skillet. Bring mixture to a boil, reduce heat to medium, and cook, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes or until sauce is slightly thickened. Return chicken to skillet, and cook 1 to 2 minutes or until thoroughly heated.
6. Transfer chicken to a serving platter; spoon mushroom-Marsala mixture over chicken, and sprinkle with parsley and pecans. 
This recipe called for pecans but since I had none in my pantry I left them out. I thought this was excellent without the pecans but will definitely try them next time.
I served mine over linguini, with a nice salad and some crusty Italian bread. Delicious!