It’s just a spoon. I found it years ago along with a couple of similar ones at a garage sale in Arizona. It’s not fancy and decades of use have worn away some of its luster. I love the shape and the feel of it. It’s appeared on this site dozens of times, usually with some food artistically filling its hollow. Today I thought it looked quite lovely as it caught the light so I decided I would take its portrait. Hello, spoon.
-Ziad K. Abdelnour
The shirt second from the bottom of the stack is almost 40 years old. Most of its fuzz is gone, but remarkably, the elbows aren’t patched yet, even though it’s been worn hundreds of times. The purple one became an official “painting shirt” a dozen years ago, a decision I regretted the instant a splatter of paint soaked through the fabric.
Over the years I have reattached buttons and sewn torn places closed. I can’t quite seem to give any of them away. Twenty years from now they’ll still be hanging in my closet.
I’m flying around trying to get out the door. I wish I had time to go on and on about how great this dish is, but I don’t. Trust me. It’s delicious. If you find an issue with how rich it is, go rake some leaves or go for a run. Or, just eat a tiny piece. (Good luck on that last part by the way.)
I simmered homemade Bolognese sauce on the stove for hours before I put it together, but in a pinch, you could probably substitute a jarred marinara sauce. Note – your neighborhood will not smell like the best Italian restaurant in town if you go the easy version, but I understand that sometimes shortcuts are necessary.
Baked ziti. I used an 8x8-inch pan, plus a loaf pan (to give to a friend), but it makes a nice 13x9-inch casserole. Generously serves 6.
- 1 recipe Bolognese sauce, or 2 (26 ounce each) jars your favorite marinara sauce
- If not using Bolognese sauce, add 1 pound ground beef or sausage, plus one diced onion
- 1 pound ziti or rigatoni pasta
- 6 ounces sliced provolone cheese (9 slices)
- 1 1/2 cups sour cream
- 8 ounces grated mozzarella cheese
- Grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
If not using my recipe for Bolognese sauce, sauté onion in a little bit of olive oil until tender. Add ground beef or sausage and brown until cooked through. Add marinara sauce and taste for seasonings. Add more salt if necessary.
Butter a 9x13 inch baking dish. Layer as follows: 1/2 of the ziti, 1/2 sauce mixture, Provolone cheese, sour cream, remaining ziti, remaining sauce mixture and then mozzarella cheese. Top with grated Parmesan cheese.
Bake for 30 minutes in the preheated oven, or until cheeses are melted. You may want to cover it for the first 20 minutes with foil and then let the cheese melt and brown for the last 10 minutes.
Toasted cinnamon raisin bagel with pumpkin cream cheese and pomegranate seeds
I don’t eat pumpkin-flavored foods year round. Why is it that once autumn arrives I begin to think about pumpkin pie and a toothsome pumpkin cheesecake? I have already picked up what I need for pumpkin bread, and small sugar pumpkins are on my grocery list to cook into a savory soup, made with sweet onions, chicken broth, heavy cream and dry sherry.
My trip to Trader Joe’s the other day was a mission totally zeroed in on this season of pumpkin everything. I left with pumpkin cream cheese (how did I not know this amazing stuff existed until now?), pumpkin-flavored Greek yogurt, a box of their Pumpkin Spice Salted Caramels, and the obligatory half case of sparkling wine.
Yesterday I toasted a fresh cinnamon raisin bagel and slathered on this tangy, slightly sweet cream cheese, and then topped it with crunchy pomegranate seeds. Today’s lunch will be a repeat performance.
Oregon hung on to summer longer than usual. It was just last week we were flying kites and riding our bikes in the sunshine at Cannon Beach. It was inevitable the seasons would change. We returned from St. Louis to the smoky scent of autumn in the air, and last night we heard the familiar sound of rain on the roof.
I could hardly wait to get back in my kitchen, roll up my sleeves and go through the motions of chopping and sautéing – stirring onions in foaming butter until they’re translucent and slightly crisp around the edges. I could hardly wait to make this house smell like our snug home again. I craved a rustic, simple dinner, one that was appropriate to this new feeling of fall.
Roasted acorn squash seemed appropriate. Roasted acorn squash filled with rice and wheat berries, and broccoli and cheese seemed even more appropriate. I shot from the hip and created something new – a dinner that fit the bill precisely.
Roasted acorn squash with broccoli, cheese and bistro rice stuffing. Easily serves 4.
- 2 (1-1/2 pound) acorn squash, cut in half with seeds removed
- Salt and pepper (to season squash)
- 1/2 small onion, chopped
- 4 tablespoons soft butter, divided
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1-1/3 cup milk
- 1-1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese, divided (I used sharp cheddar)
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1-1/2 cups broccoli florets, cooked until still slightly crunchy and then chopped
- 1-1/2 cups cooked rice (I used a bistro rice blend that includes wheat berries)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Set squash (cut side up) in a roasting pan or rimmed baking sheet. Rub interior surface with butter and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover loosely with foil and bake for 25 to 40 minutes, until barely fork tender. (I must not have cut my squash evenly, because one tested done after 25 minutes, and the largest one took 40.)
In the meantime, slowly sauté onions in the remaining 3 tablespoons butter until golden and translucent, about 7 minutes. Add flour and continue to cook and stir 2 more minutes. Add milk all at once and whisk until thickened and bubbly. Whisk in salt and pepper. Take off heat and add 1 cup of the cheese. Stir in rice and broccoli.
Divide filling evenly between squash halves. Return to oven and bake an additional 20 minutes, or until filling is bubbly in center. Remove from oven and sprinkle remaining cheese over stuffed squash. Set under the broiler until cheese is spotty golden brown.
We just returned from a long, incredible weekend in St. Louis. The crazy decision to go was made less than 24 hours before we left, so there were plenty surreal, pinch-me moments of disbelief that we were actually downtown, in a city that was electrified by high-pitched Cardinal fervor. Baseball wasn’t the reason we went (If so, I would have thought to bring something red to wear), but it certainly enhanced the experience.
Walking was our main mode of transportation, and the trip to Busch Stadium was mere blocks/minutes from our hotel. With friends and family, we drank Budweiser beer and rallied with other fans at Ballpark Village. The beautiful Loft District of Washington Avenue was our home for the stay, where we ate and drank and played shuffleboard late into the night.
I’m home — tired but happy, and busy playing catch up. Hopefully tango-mango will get back to its regular rhythm soon. Stay tuned.