Rocco DiSpirito at RJ Julia Bookstore


Tonight I went to see Rocco DiSpirito speak at RJ Julia Booksellers. He was promoting his new book, Now Eat This! Diet. I purchased the Now Eat This! 100 Quick Calorie Cuts On-The-Go.
He is a wonderful speaker. (I did not know he was on Dancing With the Stars, but I do watch Rocco's Dinner Party). And it his recipes make sense. He is working on the Italian food version, that one I will buy.
So after listening to an informative talk on how to eat healthy I came home and had half an Eggplant Parmesan sub from Petrillo's. Oh it was so good!

Summer Vegetable and Chickpea Lasagna

This recipe is wonderful. I found it at the Cara's Craving blog. I was hesitant at first thinking that a vegetable lasagna made with chick peas and cottage cheese would not be well received. Well I was wrong. We both enjoyed this. The roasting of the vegetables was a great idea. And the cheese and chickpea filling was a nice change from ricotta.

The Perfect Pie

No I did not bake the perfect pie today.

I went to RJ Julia bookstore to see and hear Michele Stuart, the author of The Perfect Pie. Back in July I posted about a Key Lime Pie that my niece brought over to my sister's house. When I saw that the owner of the Michele's Pies was going to be speaking at the bookstore the first think I thought was that maybe she will bring samples! Well guess what - she did! I had some Zucchini Nut Bread and some Peach Pie that was amazing. There was also some Chocolate Pecan Boubon Pie, which I brought home for Chris to try. Oh he liked it!









She had a wonderful story about learning to bake her grandmother's pie recipes and starting out at farmer's markets and ending up with 2 bakeries. And also winning many awards along the way. She said the most important ingredient in her crust is love. Without love the crust will not work.

Mini Meatloaf

So the heat is still an issue and so is my inability to do anything with my hair! But we have to eat. I found the recipe for mini meatloaf on the Food Renegade site. It was an interesting recipe that used Chorizo in the meatloaf. But what I found more interesting was making the meatloaf in muffin tins. I have heard of this but I never thought to try it. The cooking time is obviously less so that was good. I made a basic meatloaf. I sauteed carrots and onions. Added the meat, some ketchup, mustard, salt, pepper, egg and bread crumbs. Chris popped them in the oven for 25 minutes and presto!

Nuzzo's Apizza

I went to bed last night and it was September 24th. I woke up and it was mid August. Not a fan of the current weather conditions. Forget trying to get my hair to do anything...

I did some cooking this morning and gosh it was hot. So hot that I decided enough was enough. No more cooking today. Pizza! Pizza delivered to our house! I love staying in on Sundays!

We opted for Nuzzo's Apizza tonight. The owner, Barry Nuzzo, is a third generation pizza maker from the Modern Apizza family. I am sure you have all heard of "New Haven Style" pizza. Well we have it here in Madison too!
Our pizza choices were Sausage and Pepper and Eggplant Rollatine. Not sure which I liked better, no it was the eggplant! The crust was nice and crispy! It was not greasy at all. So that makes it a healthy meal right?

Infinity Bistro and Commandor Cody

 
Tonight we went up to the Infinity Bistro for dinner and to see Commander Cody.

We started with cocktails at the bar and then we moved to our seats which were on the the Mezzanine Level where they serve dinner and drinks before and throughout the show. Nice.
We started with the Lobster Hushpuppies. The pieces of lobster meat were large and the batter was very light. The sweet corn, poblano pepper, Creole spiced remoulade was a nice addition.

For dinner Chris had the Teres Major Steak served with a crispy smashed potato cake with bacon and mimolette cheese, horseradish demi, and green beans.

 
I had the Parmesan and Basil Crepe - Marinated julienne vegetables, grilled asparagus and red pepper coulis. Sorry about the awful photo. They were delicious but I could only eat one (leftovers for lunch!). And I wanted to save room for dessert... Pumpkin Ice Cream!
The concert great. Afterwards I was able to get the Commander's autograph on the CD which Chris had purchased.  Nice venue, excellent food and not that far of a drive.

Fettuccine with Zucchini and Eggplant

Zucchini from Dad's garden. Eggplant from Dad's garden. And a couple of tomatoes from Dad's garden.
I was going to add the peppers from Dad's garden but I have other plans for them.
This was a quick meal to make. I sauteed the zucchini and eggplant in a little olive oil and butter. Seasoned it with salt, pepper, crushed red pepper, parsley and basil. I put the tomatoes in before adding the cooked fettuccine along with little of the pasta water. Then I tossed in some grated Ricotta Salata and some fresh mozzarella.

Spaghetti Squash with Pork and a Big Salad

This is so easy to make and Chris really liked it.
I steamed the Squash and scraped out the squash from the shell. I cooked the ground sausage. Mixed the squash and sausage adding salt, pepper, oregano, Parmesan and Mozzarella cheeses. I put this in a casserole dish and topped it with breadcrumbs. Baked for 25 minutes at 350 degrees.

The salad had green beans and tomatoes from my Dad's garden!

Chicken Pot Pie

Talk about Fall Dinner All Stars...
It's Chicken Pot Pie! The chicken was from a rotisserie chicken. The crust was Pate Brisee with thyme added in.

Pate Brisee -

1-1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour

1/2 tsp salt
1 pinch granulated sugar

5-1/2 Tbsp (2/3 stick) sweet butter, chilled

3 Tbsp vegetable shortening, chilled
1/4 cup ice water

Sift the flour, salt and sugar together into a bowl; add butter and shortening and cut them into dry ingredients with a pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture is like coarse meal.
Sprinkle on and blend in enough of the ice water to make a workable dough, mixing water in lightly with a fork.
Turn dough out onto you work surface and, using the heel of your hand, smear the dough away from you, about 1/4 cup at a time. Scrape up the smeared dough into a ball, wrap, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
I love this crust!



Butternut Squash Soup

It is almost fall so this weekend I made a big pot of Butternut Squash Soup. The recipe is from one of my favorite blogs, The Italian Dish. I now have 3 ziplock bags in the freezer and I brought some to my Dad. This recipe is so good. I did not include the pancetta... maybe the next time.

Baked Macaroni

Today I had a vacation day and I finally got the living room painted.
I had made some Baked Macaroni that I made the other night. It was perfect for a busy day.

Red Wine-Braised Short Ribs

I received the new Bon Appetit in the mail this week. This is the first recipe from the magazine I have tried. What a fantastic dinner!

I am not cooking tonight.

Saturdays are a funny day. Laundry, grocery shopping, cleaning the house and visiting Dad. Today was a little different. I got to meet a new person. I do mean that literally. She was born a week ago! I got to meet my new great niece, Nora Elizabeth. What a sweetheart. Dark hair, dark eyes and what a smile!


Today I told Chris I was not cooking tonight. So I stopped by La Rosticceria. What a great idea! For Chris I got Chicken Parmesan and for myself I got Sole Florentine. I also picked up some Roasted Autumn Vegetables and some green beans. And I even got dessert - 2 Coconut Cupcakes.
While at my Dad's today and picked some figs, and yes I forgot to bring them over my brother's house. So I made a recipe I found on a blog I follow, Over a Tuscan Stove, Figs in Syrup or Fichi Sciroppati.
Before and After -
No I did not use all that brandy, the bottle was already 1/2 empty. 
Most of the liquid is from the sugar and fruit!

Okay one more baby photo... Nora with her big brother, Owen!








Grilled Chicken and Roasted Pepper Panini

Thank goodness for that panini press. I used it to grill the chicken and that grill the sandwiches. For a side I picked up some Snikiddy Baked Fries. You can't eat just one....

Grilled Pork Chops

Now here is something different for us. Mid week grilled pork chops. Chris marinated them in olive oil, Rosemary and Sage. He grilled the zucchini and I made some couscous. And of course we had applesauce too!

Lentil Soup and Kale and Butternut Squash Pie


It seems the weather is turning cooler...
So our first soup of the season is Lentil Soup. I started with this recipe from Mark Bittman and then added some pasta and there was also that rotisserie chicken that I could not resist at the store yesterday ($4.99 for a roasted organic chicken!). I chopped up some of the chicken and added it to the pot of soup.
 
Now about this Kale and Butternut Squash Pie. The recipe is from Proud Italian Cook blog. And if you have not visited this blog you will be amazed by the recipes there. This one was her adaptation of a Whole Food recipe. I thought I was following it exactly until I realized that what I thought was phyllo dough in the freezer was actually Puff Pastry. Sigh... But fear not. As the painter Bob Ross use to say, "there are no mistakes there are happy accidents" or something like that. The puff pastry worked out fine. I even had enough left over to make some Parmesan Puffs!
 
And the Kale and Butternut Squash Pie was well received. Yes we both went back for seconds (and I will be enjoying the leftovers for lunch).

Grilled Panzanella Salad

Tonight we had burgers on the grill but the highlight was the Grilled Panzanella Salad.
I found the recipe on The Italian Dish blog. This blog is fantastic. I have found many good recipes there. If you have not visited this blog please take a moment to do so.





Penne with Sausage, Zucchini and Tomato

I wanted pasta for dinner. I wanted zucchini with the pasta. I had some tomatoes and then I thought some fresh mozzarella added at the end would be nice. And why not add sausage too. So that is what I made for dinner tonight.
I started by browning the sausage in a saute pan. Next I added a little white wine to the pan and then added the sliced zucchini and tomatoes. A little butter was added along with some salt and pepper. After the pasta was cooked it was mixed in with the ingredients in the saute pan along with some of the pasta water. The fresh mozzarella was added at the end and every thing simmered for a couple of minutes.
We garnished the pasta with fresh grated Parmesan cheese and crushed red pepper.

Grilled Chicken and Zucchini

Thankfully Chris cooked dinner tonight.
He marinated chicken in olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper and fresh sage.
He also grilled Zucchini Spears and made brown rice.
The tomatoes in the photo are from our plant on the deck!

Green Beans and Sauce with Eggs

This is one of my favorite meals. I started by steaming some fresh green beans. Next I heated up some of the marinara sauce that I made this weekend. Dropped in the eggs and covered them with sauce. Cover the pan and simmer for about 10 minutes or until the eggs are poached. Then I added the beans to the pan. After that all we needed was some grated cheese and Italian bread! Simple. And even the cats like simple meals.

Lavash Pizzas

 
Tonight we turn to the new Bon Appetit. Lavash Pizza with Arugula and Eggplant.  I had the Lavash and I had the eggplant.  I roasted the eggplant but then I stopped following the recipe. We had some leftover sausage and peppers from last night so I topped one Lavash with that. On the second Lavash I put the roasted Eggplant and some leftover fresh mozzarella, some olives and some Parmesan cheese.  We both enjoyed the dinner. But the best part was... the wine.
We had this bottle of wine on our rack and we decided to open it. Fattoria Le Pupille 2007 Morellino De Scansano. I think I have a new favorite wine! 
Click here to read about it.

Sausage and Pepper Sandwiches

I had some peppers from my Dad's garden. I picked up some sausages. I made a marinara sauce. Then I roasted the peppers and sausage for about 40 minutes. I had picked up loaf of Italian bread, no we did not eat a whole loaf, sprinkled some some grated cheese on top and that was dinner.

Harvest Dinner

Dinner at my sister's house! 

- Antipasti -
 Sopressata, hot and sweet and Grana Padano and Pecorina Romano

 Panzanella Salad

Escarole and Beans (my favorite!)

Fresh Lima Beans and Sausage!
(Everyone's new favorite!)

Figs, from my Dad's yard.


- Primi -
The next course was Gnocchi with Pesto Sauce. The Gnocchi was made with baked potatoes and it was so light. The Pesto was made from the Basil from my Dad's garden.


- Secondi -

Roast Chicken


- Contorni -
Zucchini

- Dessert -
 Blueberry Peach Pie with the best crust ever!


 - Wine -


 Thank you Lenore and Ralph for a wonderful dinner!