pasta with pumpkin, sausage and sage

Monday, October 31, 2011

H A P P Y   H A L L O W E E N ! ! !

I went to an audition on Friday and while walking on the studio lot among 99.99% of people not in costume, I spotted a random middle-aged female Peter Pan. With a straight face. That is precisely why I love me some Halloween.

In addition to that, I also love love love:

candy corn
choosing pumpkins
carving pumpkins
bite-size candy bars
seeing people driving in costume
seeing people pumping gas in costume

What is better than that?

Another thing I love? Orange, orange, orange! Orange is my most favorite color and that may be the number one reason I love this season so darn much. I am compelled to cook orange food. In the past week I've made a crazy good carrot soup (coming your way eventually), a gummy pumpkin cake (not coming your way ever) and this delicious fail-safe pasta that is one of my Autumn standbys (coming your way this very moment!)  

Once I made this pasta while my friend Nic was visiting and she (no joke) proceeded to eat leftovers three times a day for the duration of her stay. And then took some with her to eat on the plane. No joke.

I'm sure if she could figure out a way to fashion a pumpkin/sausage/pasta Halloween costume she'd be all over it. Then she could become the dish itself.

It comes together pretty fast but tastes like it's been cooking all day--that's because of multiple layers of flavor from the onions, garlic, white wine, sage and pumpkin. Oh, yeah--and the sausage. Finishing with a swirl of decadent cream doesn't hurt either.

Check out that bubbling goodness........................................!

And for an accompaniment: how great is this dangerous Halloween wine selection? BTW--scary good.

Pasta with Pumpkin, Sausage and Sage
adapted from Rachael Ray
serves 6

2T extra virgin olive oil
1 pound bulk sweet Italian sausage (out of the casings)
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 bay leaf
4-6 sprigs fresh sage leaves, cut into chiffonade (about 2 heaping T)
1 cup dry white wine (pinot grigio or sauvignon blanc)
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/8 t ground cinnamon
1/2 t ground nutmeg
kosher salt and black pepper
1 pound penne or similar (I used some fancy imported tube-y/twisty one I can't pronounce)
Parmesan cheese, grated for serving

In a large, deep skillet or dutch oven, over medium-high heat, add 1T olive oil and brown the sausage. Break it up into small pieces with a wooden spoon as it cooks. When cooked through, transfer to a plate lined with paper towels to drain and set aside. Add the remaining 1T oil to the pan and then the onion and garlic. Saute 5-7 minutes until the onions are tender.

Add the bay leaf, sage and wine to the pan. Bring to a boil and reduce the wine by half, about 5 minutes. Add stock and pumpkin and stir the sauce until it comes to a gentle bubble. Return sausage to pan, reduce heat and stir in cream. Season with cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste. Simmer mixture 10 minutes to thicken the sauce.

Cook pasta according to directions on the package, leaving it undercooked by 2 minutes. Return the drained pasta to the pot you cooked it in and pour the sauce over. Stir and cook together over low heat for a couple minutes until the pasta is cooked al dente. Check for salt. Serve with heaps of Parmesan cheese and sage sprigs if you're feeling fancy.

Hope you have a day filled with candy corn and that you spy people doing mundane things in ridiculous costumes. That is my dream for you. And myself.

Happy Halloween!

10 years

Thursday, October 27, 2011

10 whole years ago today I married my sweetheart--the most kind, funny, talented man. And we haven't stopped laughing since.

Here's to the next 10 years of amazing adventures. And also to eating dinner on the couch.

Love you, Chicken.

scenes from a bookstore's craft aisle

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

I once knew a girl who brushed her super hairy dog, gathered the hair together, spun in into (dog hair) yarn and then knit the dog a sweater.  Out of its own hair.  I was horrified.

But cat hair finger puppets?  That might be worse.

Happy Wednesday!

P.S.  This girl also went everywhere with a bird on her shoulder so I shoulda known something was up.

more RC craziness: Gimme A Beat

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

I don't know how you've been able to stand it without a Runyon Canyon fix in three long weeks but the wait is over!


#10 has arrived------------------------------------> Gimme A Beat

Have an awesome day,

P.S.  Numbers 1-9 are linked from the right side of the blog!

cool stuff, vol. 5

Sunday, October 23, 2011

I've been so touched by all of your lovely and heartfelt condolences about my Grandma.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart.  I feel so much more closure after her touching memorial service.  And also after sharing my favorite of her cookie recipes:)

It's been a busy week.  My auditions were so varied that I felt a bit schizophrenic.   In a 36-hour period I played an OCD-riddled woman-in-love, a convicted murderer living in a psychiatric-ward, and a conservative 60s housewife. Yeeks!

Needless to say I'm getting back to myself this weekend (except a short stint playing crazy people in Runyon Canyon:)).  I hope you're enjoying yours as well.  Here are some fun things I've found on the web lately that you might like............

Loving all the music on PARENTHOOD like me?  Find it all here.

Best craigslist for-sale post ever written.

Brilliantly sarcastic responses to well-meaning signs.

If you see me making these, smack me up 'side the head.

I'm in love with this little girl!

Loved this optimistic article about being a fully expressed woman in Los Angeles.

My new favorite lipstick!

My new favorite moisturizer!

My new favorite nail polish!

The history of lyrics that aren't lyrics.

More fun stuff coming this week including a new RC installment and a recipe for granola that'll knock your socks off.

Happy Sunday:)

grandma's italian biscuits

Monday, October 17, 2011

My Grandma was most at home in her kitchen. In fact, it's hard for me to picture her in any other room. Everyone used the backdoor entrance to my Grandparents' house, which was fitting: they were easy and informal and had an unspoken open-door policy. And you'd best stop by when you were hungry.  That backdoor dropped you right into the cozy kitchen, where you'd be overwhelmed by the comforting smells of something delicious that was always simmering, baking, toasting or roasting.

A giant wooden kitchen table was the centerpiece of the small room and Grandma would inevitably be bustling around it, flitting from pantry to fridge to cupboard, from countertop to sink to stove, stopping to swoop you into a big tight housecoat hug, greet you with a cheerful "Hi, Honey!" and promptly fix you a plate.

Her specialty was cake decoration and she fashioned Birthday and Wedding cakes for her entire family, designing them to order. And come Holiday-time, she made candy--a multiple of varieties--and divvied them up into special tins, wrapping and labeling each piece and then delivering them to all her family and friends. I've never known anyone who showed love through food more generously and gracefully than she.

I see her influence on me, my love for cooking and baking and feeding people. I suppose writing about and photographing food is the virtual way of feeding others, the equivalent somehow to dropping off a comforting quart of soup or loaf of bread. And I'm sure she is to blame for my love love love of cookies.  Growing up, whenever I visited we'd bake together. Usually rolled-out sugar cookies that I could cut with one of her million cookie-cutters and then decorate with sprinkles and colored sugar, red-hots and those little silver balls that look like BB gun ammo.

My favorite though were these Italian Biscuits, little frosted donut-shaped cookie-cakes that remind me of her more than any other food. They're deliciously soft and sweet, festive yet hardy. They take practical, non-fussy ingredients and make something special out of them. Just like her.

When my brother and I moved to California, she'd regularly send us cookie boxes filled with them. And when we'd come to visit she'd send us off with a giant box to take on the plane. As if it wasn't enough to feed you on your way into her home, she'd give you food to take with you on your way out.

So in honor of her passing, I'm sending her off with a batch. And virtually sending a batch to you, too.  I'm sure she'd be so proud and glad to see her recipe shared, a new way for her to expand her delivery territory. A new way for her to spread her love through food.


Grandma Jenkins' Italian Biscuits with Icing

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1/2 cup plus 2T sugar
1/2 t salt
2 eggs
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 t baking powder
1/4 cup milk
1t real vanilla extract

Combine the flour and baking powder. Whisk together well and set aside. With an electric mixer, cream together the butter, sugar and salt for a few minutes, until light (we want the salt to dissolve thoroughly). Add the eggs and mix well. Combine the vanilla and the milk. Begin to add the flour mixture a bit at a time, alternating with the vanilla/milk mixture until all is combined. Do not overmix at this point. Wrap the dough in plastic and chill for at least an hour (2 is better).

Preheat oven to 350. Roll dough (by heaping tablespoons) between your hands into a tube and then bring the ends together to make a ring. Place them onto parchment-lined baking sheets and bake, 2" apart, for about 9-12 minutes. Watch these suckers closely--you want them to still be very pale on top, very light brown on the bottoms. Take care to not overcook. Cool on racks completely before icing.


1 cup powdered sugar
1 T milk
a few drops of food coloring
(have more of all ingredients on hand)

Whisk together the sugar and milk until you have a consistency between a glaze and a spreadable frosting. I almost always add too much milk at first so go slow. Add desired food coloring a drop at a time and mix well. Dip the tops of the cooled cookies into the icing and let the excess drip through racks onto wax paper or  parchment. If it's too thin and see-through once you start, add more sugar to the mix and then re-dip. I was going for a pale orange color (it's fall!) but it looked more like pale flesh (gross) so I added a couple more drops of red to make it truly pink. That was Grandma's favorite anyway.

{Carolyn B. Jenkins--------------1918-2011}

scenes from Fredericks of Hollywood

Monday, October 10, 2011

Nothing says come hither like a giant fire-engine red feather and sequin headdress.  Seriously, what man could keep a straight face when approached by a lady sporting this?

Happy Monday, y'all.

carolyn jenkins

Sunday, October 9, 2011

I'm at a loss.

Last Sunday my sweet 92-year-old Grandma passed away.

When I heard the news I immediately felt relief for her as she was bed-ridden in Assisted Living for the last 18 months of her life. And she was never the same after she lost her husband and love, my Grandpa, in 2005. They were two peas-in-a-pod, living for over 60 years in the same cozy house and it was heartbreaking to see her without him. While newly alone she took a hard fall, breaking a leg and her health deteriorated sharply afterward. Eventually she couldn't live at home anymore, an even harder fall. She wore his wedding band on a chain around her neck and every time I talked to her she'd say "I miss Grandpa so much." and "Jolie, I'm never going home again." She sounded like a little girl.

So I feel relief that she's free of her pain, both in body and in heart. I hope she and my Grandpa are spirits swirling together, reemerged in pure joy. That gives me such comfort.

All week I've been trying to put my feelings to words about her and her life and how she touched and influenced me. From the perspective of my 30s self, I see her imprint in so many ways.

Bear with me as I find the words.

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