Monday, October 27, 2008

Pasta E Fagioli

I got the idea from the pasta soup at Olive Garden. But very honestly, mine is better. :p We love it and I make it pretty consistently throughout the year here in WA. It is quick, VERY good, and not terrible for you. I do use some canned items, but I think the ease of this soup outweighs the need to soak your own cup of kidney beans and butter beans. If you want to, then by all means, you can... I just usually don't. Last time I used fresh herbs from my garden and from the farm. Rosemary, oregano, thyme, and tarragon were the ones that I chopped and put in this beautiful soup.


Pasta E Fagioli Ala Val

1 lb mild Italian sausage
1 28oz can of stewed tomato with basil (Mur Glen has the perfect ones)
1 can of white butter beans
1 can of dark kidney beans
1 HEAD of garlic, skins off and chopped fine
1/2 lg onion, diced
1/2 green pepper, diced
28oz water (just fill the tomato can)
1 Tbs oregano
1 tsp marjoram
1 tsp tarragon
2 Tbs basil

Brown Italian sausage. Add diced onion, green pepper, and garlic and saute until onion starts to clear. Add can of tomatoes and water. Bring to a boil. Add beans, and all spices. Stir for 1 minute. Put a lid on the pan and let boil on Med for about 10 minutes or when the spices are not all sitting on top of the soup.

As you are making the soup, boil 1 cup of small shells (or any small pasta) until al dente making sure to salt your pasta water. Add them into the soup at the last moment, and mix well.

Serve with good bread and salad. It is the best soup I have ever tasted.


Our pumpkin patch field trip was Friday. Now my kids are FULLY in the spirit of the season. We don't do the freaky Halloween stuff. No decapitated heads hanging from our doorway, or dead people coming up from a patch of soil in the front yard. No sir. I hate that part of Halloween, and frankly, don't understand it. There is enough terror and nasty war going on in this world to create a time to romanticize it. But I do love Halloween. Black cats, spider webs covered with dew, turning leaves, jack-o-lanterns, candle light, dark evenings, being something that you are not normally for a day. I just love the season.

In that spirit, the kids and I made today: "Fall Foods From Scratch Day". lol! Cyan made a pumpkin pie, and Alex made cheesy zucchini bread (I will post recipe and picture later).

It is surprisingly easy to make a pie from a real pumpkin. And also surprising how often I don't get around to doing it.

Before pie:

1 pie or cheese pumpkin

Cut pumpkin in half and take out the seeds. Bake for one hour in a 400* oven or until a fork can go through skin easily. Let cool for a couple hours and peel. Then chop up the inside and scoop it into a blender. Blend until very smooth.

From Pumpkin to Pie Recipe

1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
3/4 cups sugar
1/2 tea salt
1/4 tea ground ginger
1 tea ground cinnamon
1 tea flour
1/4 tea nutmeg
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup evaporated milk
2 Tbs water
1/2 tea vanilla extract
1 9-inch pie crust (homemade or otherwise)

Combine pumpkin, sugar, salt, spices, and flour in a medium mixing bowl. Add eggs; mix well. Add evaporated milk, water, and vanilla; mix well. Pour into pastry crust (in pie pan). Bake at 400* for 15 minutes, and then turn the oven down to 350* and bake for 35 - 55 minutes or until pie is set in the center. Allow to cool at least 1 hour before cutting. (recipe adapted from For the Love of Pumpkins)

Serve with good dose of whipping cream and enjoy!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Leek and Sausage Pasta

Sometimes I go out. I know... shocking. But it is true. Sometimes I get to leave my house and go be with people that are not my family. lol... But even when that happens, I am the cook in the house. I have taken that roll so completely, that I end up cooking for my family even when I am going out to dinner with friends. Don is branching out and starting to cook... but habit is habit. Which means that last Tuesday, when I was going out to Thai with my friend Sarah, I cooked this meal for my family before I left. It turned out so well that I had to add it in here. :)

Chicken Sausage and Pasta

1 pkg rotini pasta
2 leeks
1 lb chicken sausage (we used sundried tomato and provalone)
3 ripe tomatoes
2 red bell peppers
Provalone cheese
olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

First, I made the pasta, and Don cooked the sauages until they were hot and plump. Then I cut the sausage into slices and put it aside. I put some olive oil in my large saute' pan and saute'd the leeks, cut into little rounds. When they were nice and tender, I added in the tomatoes and peppers, diced, until the leeks were seperated and almost clear and the peppers were cooked through.

I tossed the sasuages back into this mix and tossed until everything was good and hot. Then tossed with pasta and added in the provalone cheese, cut into small chunks.

It was really really good. I served it with small carrots, pealed, and green beans, both saute'd in butter and tossed with a little bit of summer savory and salt.

I made these with Cyan Saturday morning. They are this recipe, with WW flour instead of Spelt this time and put into muffin tins. Notice they are on sweet little red flower plates that I found for $.40 a peice at Goodwill. They don't totally match my bowls, but I really liked the compliment... so they are here to stay. And even if they were not, the whole set cost me less than a Pumpkin Spice Latte. Gotta love buying used.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Vegan Lunchbox

What a great book. Whether you are vegan, or going in that direction, or a total carnivore, this book is a great one to have on hand. Great recipes, good ideas, all sorts of good.
I personally recommend the Quick Peanut Sauce and the Black Rice Pudding.

One thing that I didn't like about the book. There was a lot of fake foods. For me, healthy eating isn't cutting out meat and dairy to add in soy meat, soy milk, and soy dairy. Those foods are just as processed as Kraft Dinner... and often just as bad for you. She doesn't put them in every meal. There were many recipes that I couldn't wait to try. And of course, these foods were included to make the child's meal more 'normal'. I totally understand the motivation. I, of course, don't send my children to school at all... so it is easy for me to say that it shouldn't matter while the children in my 'lunch room' all eat the exact same stuff and don't have to worry about fitting in at school. But the fact remains, I would rather find a humane way of eating chicken nuggets than getting nugget type foods made from soy products.

My favorite section was in the front where they had she put down several menus for all different types of lunch packers. That was brilliant. There is a bit for those of us who pack lunches the night before, a section for those of us who are early risers, and a section of quick and easy for those of us who like to have things on hand and don't think about it till morning. Great idea! I think more cookbooks should learn from her organizational ways.

I can't wait to try her Savory Autumn Leaf Pies. They sounds so good...

Friday, October 3, 2008


For the next 54 days, I am going to follow Michael Pollans philosophy of food.
Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.
I am doing this because I am inspired. Inspired by this woman's blog:
She has a wonderful idea... but a limited palette. Hopefully we can banter back and forth good ideas and recipes that both of our great grandmothers would recognise. ;)
Today so far, I have had a Delicata Squash, cooked in it's skin with the seeds in, in some salt and topped with brown sugar. Baked at 400* last night for 45minutes. The skin is eaten, the seeds are not.
Oh and I scored a tomtato out of my garden basket of saucing tomatoes.