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Creamy Pumpkin Rigatoni

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The seasonal obsession with pumpkin definitely caters to those with a sweet tooth. Flavored lattes, baked goods, and even the scent from a candle all represent the squash’s affiliation with dessert. While its natural flavor when cooked is mildly sweet, similar to that of butternut squash, the flavor most of us lust after this time of year isn’t really pumpkin at all. The spice squad of nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and allspice, collectively known as pumpkin pie spice, are all used to create that notable “pumpkin” taste we’re so familiar with.

I’m not one to pass up a pumpkin scone, but I actually prefer mine in hearty recipes, like soups or sauces. This pasta recipe uses autumnal herbs to flavor a rich sauce and coax canned pumpkin to the savory side.

fall ingredients

Best of the fall.

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Breakfast Risotto

When I was growing up, breakfast for dinner was always reliable when my mom was overdue for a trip to the grocery store. I knew it meant that we probably didn’t have another meal option, but I never minded. Bacon and eggs, pancakes, or French toast at any P.M. hour felt like breaking the rules, and I always considered it a special occasion.  Read More…

Beer Macaroni and Cheese

I’ve been participating in races for several years now; I love to run 5K’s to support a great cause, the Broad Street Run is permanently on my calendar the first Sunday every May, and I even have a half marathon under my belt and look forward to many more. This past weekend, my family participated in the first annual St. LauRUNtius 5k to support St. Laurentius School. Since we live on the same block as Fishtown’s only Catholic school it was extra exciting for us and the positive energy was contagious.

The busy corners of our neighborhood were lined with volunteers that not only helped direct runners and walkers along the route but also supported participants with encouraging cheers and chants. As I crossed the finish line I felt a huge grin form across my face, not because I completed the course, but because Berks Street was filled with our neighbors and friends applauding each runner racing through the final stretch. I had even more to celebrate when I discovered I was among two award winners: my younger brother placed first and Joe received an alumni award for being the first St. Laurentius graduate to cross the finish line.

I have to admit, running does not come as naturally to me as my loved ones who leave races with ribbons, medals and trophies. For me, running is a healthy activity that allows me to indulge every now and then, and I make sure I reward myself after each race. I may not have won an award, but I felt like a winner with this Beer Macaroni and Cheese. Read More…

Beijing Hot Noodles

Across the city, through several neighborhoods and past the large, fancy skyscrapers lies a magical spot like nothing else I’ve found in Philadelphia. Though University City is home to prestigious collegiate institutions and Ivy Leaguers from all over the globe, I’m less fascinated by the geniuses roaming the college campus as I am wide-eyed over the “kitchens on wheels”. Scattered throughout the blocks from 38th to 33rd and Spruce to Chestnut (arguably) are the cities best food trucks. Whatever you’re in search of will be found, as the trucks and carts in the area boast global cuisines, menus catered to anyone from the adventurous palate to the student coming off of an all-nighter, and even vegetarian fare or fruit salad stands for those in need of a lighter lunch.

Food trucks seem to be a somewhat recent trend in the culinary sector, but Philadelphia is extremely familiar with them; one might even say our city was on the forefront of the movement and may just have the best food trucks in the country. Not only are new ones popping up all over the area, the Food Network has dedicated and entire show to cooking from a vehicle and our very own Chef Jose Garces makes his rounds in the Guapos Tacos truck. Heather Shouse, a food writer and contributor to Food & Wine magazine, has one-upped the rest of the food channels and articles covering the fad by not only scouring the country in search of the best food trucks America has to offer, she has also included some of the best recipes she’s encountered in her travels so we can enjoy them in the comfort of our own kitchen.

Food Trucks: Dispatches and Recipes from the Best Kitchens on Wheels  is packed with almost 200 pages of coast to coast trucks making anything from juicy burgers, smoky barbecue and SPAM sandwiches to cookies, pudding and other sweet treats. Shouse also included the back story of the trucks, which are sometimes just as exciting as the food they tout. Many respectable, trained chefs choose to leave the limelight of 4-star restaurants in favor of cooking is a tiny kitchen on wheels. Even more inspiring are those with self-taught skills, talent for cooking, and a passion for food, who are simply following their dream of bringing delicious dishes to hungry people.

On 38th Street, between Spruce and Walnut, the Yue Kee Chinese mobile kitchen dishes out traditional Chinese food from a somewhat beat-up, silver truck with a striped awning. The appearance of the vehicle is certainly no reflection of the food, but is a testament to the hours Yue Kee serves the University City community; the truck is open 7 days a week and provides a phone number for pick-up service. If you have trouble spotting it amongst the other food trucks on the either side of the block, just look for the long line of students, professors and locals alike. Read More…

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