Escarole & Anchovy Soup with Garlic Crostini

Escarole & Anchovy Soup with Garlic CrostiniI’ve been trying to take it fairly easy on myself in the kitchen lately.  You see, I have this dream of one day carving out time to finish painting my cupboard doors, getting them rehung, and putting an end to my drawn-out painting project.  I thought I was being clever and made this super quick, super tasty soup for dinner, thinking I’d free up my evening to deal with doors.  But, in typical Sarah-fashion, I opted out of the tedious housework and into making an apple cake instead.  Yeah…

We’ll cover the apple cake later in the week.  For now, I’ll show you my easy escarole and anchovy soup so you can get yourself fed quickly and spend the rest of your day being productive.  Or baking.  Your choice.

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Cauliflower Steak with Currant & Black Olive Gremolata

Cauliflower Steak with Black Olive and Currant Gremolata

It’s amazing how good something as simple as roasted cauliflower can taste after you’ve been relegated to ordering takeout or eating a can of chickpeas and calling it dinner a few nights in a row.

You see, last weekend, I bit off a big kitchen project.  I’m not talking about a fun kitchen project; there were no homemade ravioli, certainly no baked goods, rather hours upon hours of scrubbing, sanding, taping, painting, and, naturally, a few bouts of insanity.  When I finally got things (mostly) back together, I couldn’t bear the thought of making anything that might splatter my newly grease-free, freshly painted walls, so I took it easy on myself and made the restaurant and culinary magazine vegetarian darling du jour: cauliflower steaks. 

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Baked Pasta with Pumpkin, Caramelized Onions & Chèvre

Baked Pumpkin Pasta with Caramelized Onions, Sage, and Chevre

Who does that?!  Who writes a recipe that calls for half of a can of pumpkin?  That’s just asking for trouble; asking for a scary forgotten container of fuzzy pumpkin in the back of the refrigerator.

I would have felt a bit guilty, posting that recipe for pumpkin gingerbread that called for only half of a can of pumpkin, but I had this gem of a quick and comforting baked pasta dish that uses the remainder up my sleeve.  

This is what we’re looking at today: pumpkin-coated pasta with pockets of sage caramelized onions and chevré with a crispy bread crumb and parmesan crust  It takes mere minutes to assemble, it’s warm and comforting, and just feels right for a late fall dinner.  And if that’s not good enough, how about this–most of its rich creaminess comes from pureed pumpkin not cream, so eating a big scoop won’t require digging out your fat pants after dinner.

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Pumpkin Gingerbread with Cream Cheese Frosting

Pumpkin Gingerbread with Cream Cheese FrostingYou know me, but do you really know me?  The weird quirks, the oddball eating habits?  

Do you know I’m the type of person who pours herself a bowl of raisin bran then picks through the next 6 inches of cereal, foraging for bonus raisins?

Do you know I like my leftover pizza heated just to the point of cheese un-coagulation and not a degree more?

And do you know that I ate the cream cheese frosting off of every batch of pumpkin bars my mom made during my childhood, leaving behind a sad pan of naked treats?  And blamed my brothers?  Yeah…

But I’m getting older and I’m trying harder to keep my weirdo-ness under wraps.  I’m getting better about keeping my dirty mitts out of the cereal box, I promise I won’t fly off the handle if the cheese on my day-old pizza starts to bubble.  And if I make a pumpkin dessert that requires cream cheese frosting, I’ll use an almost obscene amount to make up for my years of misdoings.

So here’s a fall pumpkin gingerbread cake, layered with decadent cream cheese frosting.  The cake is dark from molasses, rich with pumpkin, and deeply flavored with ginger and a handful of other warm spices.  I made it to share with my parents because, well, they’ve got some catching up to do when it comes to fully frosted pumpkin desserts.

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Slow Roasted Pork Shoulder with Pickled Red Onion

Fennel & Rosemary Slow Roasted Pork Shoulder with Brown Sugar Crust

Every season, it seems you get 1 magical day that’s the epitome of the particular season; a day you get to do exactly what you want, everything goes as planned, and things are just…right.  For me, that day came last Sunday and this pork roast had plenty to do with it.

So what makes a perfect fall day?  For me, I’d say crunching leaves while taking a meandering walk, stopping off for an impromtu cappuccino, fussing over dinner preparations, and enjoying a meal in good company.  I hope whatever you’re up to this weekend, you get to do one or more of these activities.  And if it’s dinner you choose, I am here to help!

It might not be much to look at, but I’m convinced slow roasted pork shoulder is one of life’s greatest pleasures.  This one was particularly good, rubbed with rosemary and fennel, basted with apple cider, and finished with a dark brown sugar crust.  I served it over creamy polenta with pickled red onions and apples and it wound up being the fall dinner I’ll think back on when I envision ideal autumn eating .

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