Ah, these red wine short ribs! They are the perfect, hearty, easy way to welcome in fall. Because as much as I hate to say farewell to the basil and the local tomatoes and my flip-flops and sleeping with the window open, there’s something comforting about breaking out the cozy sweaters and the first fire in the fireplace of the season. And of a warm and wonderful supper bubbling busily on the stovetop on a gray Sunday afternoon. Ready to break in fall with me? Let’s make it!
Today not only am I going to tell you how to make this spicy, creamy, bet-you-can’t-eat-just-one-bite cheese dip, but I’m also going to tell you about two of the most special people I know. I’m going to tell you about an astonishing gesture of love that started out as a brave and beautiful gift between the the two of the them, that has now turned into a project that supports hundreds of people. I’m going to give away what is without a doubt the most precious and unique item I’ve ever given away on this site. And yes, I’m going to tell you how all of this circles back to a mama named Lillian, and the love she put in to taking care of her family. Including this cheese dip. Let’s make it.
Before I start on this easy recipe for chicken butternut soup, I’ll just admit right here and now that I know that butternut squash can be intimidating. More than once I’ve regretfully push my cart past the pile of butternuts in the supermarket (okay, the Southern husband was pushing the cart, but the butternut abandonment was all mine. I own that.) because it just looked so dang hard to handle. And more on that later, because there are various ways butternut squash Can Be Conquered. But more importantly were all those days that I was missing out on this thick, hearty soup that is full of tender chicken and spinach and roasted carrots and lots and lots of butternut. It’s one of the most good and good for you soups I know, and I’m here to tell you that you need to brake at the butternut just to be able to cook up this soup. Let’s make it!
The definition of Fra Diavolo is “brother devil,” and whenever you have that kind of language being tossed around in the food category it means this is going to be SPICY. So since I am the least spicy person I know, I’m not sure what compelled me to make this shrimp pasta fra diavolo version. My sister is the spice-loving one in our family, but for some reason I decided to make an exception for this…maybe because I love the exotic name? And since I am the cook and the Southern husband is the clean-up crew, I was able to take it just to the edge of my spice tolerance level. Meaning that mine has just enough naughty heat to make you sit up and take notice, but it won’t have smoke coming out of your ears. If you are a spicier person than I am, or you are my sister, dial up those red pepper flakes!
Happy Saint Patrick’s Day one and all (or as my Irish mama calls it, The Day!)…it’s finally here, and I know all of you are Irish today regardless of where your ancestors hail from. Mine hail from Ireland, which is why you won’t catch me wearing any green today. My Irish grandmother Aileen alway said to me, “Kate, you should never wear green on Saint Patrick’s Day because you don’t need to – you have Irish blood in your veins!” I do eat all the Irish food around me though, including my mama’s scones and brown bread, and of course the classic corned beef and colcannon. But if you want to mix things up a little on The Day, you could also do bangers and mash. These are just as much English as they are Irish, which introduces a little harmony as well. Plus they are easy and delicious, especially when you top them with a little onion gravy.
I love getting fajitas in a restaurant. As a matter of fact, I like when ANYONE gets fajitas in a restaurant. The smoky, sizzling drama of it all – “Be careful!!” Very Hot Plate!!” – in combination with the spicy deliciousness of it all is just plain delicious in every way. However, the thought of recreating the smoky sizzling part at home seems like a direct invitation to my over-zealous smoke alarm to do its thing, and so I came up with a little less dramatic, still just as delicious version of fajitas…a version that bakes up in the oven and lets you scoop it right out of the baking dish into your tortilla. Bake and scoop fajitas!