Baked Rigatoni with Roasted Butternut Squash, Sausage and Rapini

img_6292

This is a hearty savory pasta bake with juicy bites of sausage, a creamy cheese sauce, hits of bitter from the greens and sweet bits from the roasted butternut squash.  It hits every taste bud in just the right way.  This is easy enough for family dinners and potlucks and special enough for a weeknight dinner party. 

GO TO RECIPE

I came into the butternut squash fan camp way late in life.  I am embarrassed to say – given my mantra to my kids, “at least try it before you say you don’t like it!” – that it wasn’t until last Fall that I discovered my extreme love of this roasted beauty.  I had assumed (and you know what they say about assuming …) butternut squash would taste like sweet potatoes, one of my culinary arch-nemeses. By St. Boogar and all the saints at the backside door of purgatory!! I was wrong and am in the throes of making up for lost time.

Read More


Uncle Frank’s Italian Sausage

img_0345

Uncle Frank and his pilfered sausage making machine. It’s a whiz but he’s not sure where it came from or when it got there. It’s a mystery. If it’s yours, give him a call.

Italian sausages with the snap of real hog casings filled with juicy pork and the perfect balance of cheese, wine and herbs.  Fire up the grill!

GO TO RECIPE

Another fabulous family cook pops out of the woodwork of our wacky family tree!  Uncle Frank is the husband of my mother’s younger sister, Dot.  He is a retired DC fireman, father of 10, currently a custom home builder, and (most important for our purposes here) a very good cook.  Lucky us!  Breakfasts at the Principe house would put an IHOP buffet – should an IHOP buffet serve Rapa brand scrapple – to shame… and that’s just on your standard Wednesday.  Breakfast not your thing?  Pfft! If you need a soup, Uncle Frank’s your man.  Other than one unfortunate incident where he went all not-in-a-good-way-free-form on a pot of pasta fazool (yes, I do have the memory of an elephant … a bizarre elephant but an elephant nonetheless), that man can toss things into a pot and come up with the most delicious combinations.

Read More


Lunch Lady Pizza

img_6034

A soft, yeasty slab pizza with the slightest amount of crisp on the crust holding up a bright tomato sauce and loads of cheese.  A crowd-pleaser.

 GO TO RECIPE

With much deference and a huge blop of literary license, I have dubbed this monstrous-good, locust-and-friends-favorite Lunch Lady Pizza.  I bow to those everyday superheros.  Cafeteria crews who work, day in and day out, to prepare and serve the (oftentimes not wonderful) goods provided them to the sometimes unappreciative (sometimes quite deservedly so) wee masses deserve our respect.   This pizza is easy, tasty, comforting, and budget-friendly… things the lunch ladies worry on our behalf about every day… and so I name it in their honor. Read More


Grilled Korean Chicken

IMG_5718

Grilled chicken thighs or any parts really – and a medley of vegetables – marinated in this lime, fish sauce, and black pepper-centric marinade made for a grilling treat outside the normal barbecue box.

GO TO RECIPE

It’s that time of year again when any meal sounds so much more appealing coming off of the grill.  Mingling with the scent of a fresh-mown lawn and newly turned mulch, nothing goes better with a post-yard work beer than something off the grill.  I say this almost selfishly gleefully since I am generally not she who mans the grill.   That being said, I do sometimes like to play with fire – a family trait so I hear – and this chicken recipe is my go-to favorite.

Read More


Pita Pocket Stuffers

IMG_4846

I love beans.  Love, love, love!  I could eat beans at every meal (which ironically is suggested in the paean to legumes that every kid knows and which some in my house sing to me frequently).  So, I’m sort of jaded when it comes to this recipe when I say that you will love it! Nobody has not liked it (yep, that double-negative was intentional).

Read More


Old Nonnie’s Minestrone

minestrone 2

I’ve finally bitten the bullet and asked my mother to cook with me for the blog. It’s not that she’s not a good cook. To the contrary, she’s an excellent cook. It’s just that it’s my mother and I wasn’t sure I wanted to boss her around in my kitchen and tell her how to cook and where to stand and how to measure … I jest to amuse myself. Those reasons were exactly what got me moving.

Read More


Nana’s Puerto Rican Rice

IMG_4698

Just as Juan Ponce de León searched for the fountain of youth and adventurers, to this day, comb the peaks of the Himalayas for their yetis, I have been – until now – on a heretofore futile mission to recreate Nana’s Puerto Rican Rice. Not nearly as sexy as preternatural beauty or as exciting as a vicious bear-man, this elusive dish with bits of pork goodness and the brininess of green olives dancing a culinary waltz with sofrito and just a whisper of tomato’s acidity rightly sent me into a search from which I could not return until its luscious flavor secrets revealed themselves to me. Lordy, this is good stuff that, yes, makes me write bad prose and most likely bad checks if that need ever arose.

Read More