Bo likes to take salad for lunch in the warm months. However when the weather begins to turn, I am in the mood to make soups, and I seek out those hearty enough for his midday meal.
This season I began with a variation of Pasta e Ceci by Giada DeLaurentiis in her book Everyday Pasta.
This soup came together very quickly. My changes included adding a few more veggies, and taking out the pasta. I did this for one simple reason: I love to eat crusty bread alongside soup, so taking the pasta out keeps my waistline happy. It is full of flavor and after a tiny taste, we both agree it is a winner. I will be anxious to try it for tomorrow's lunch, as soup always tastes better the next day!
Next is a perennial favorite of mine – Cinnamon Apple Cake from Cooking Light. It first appeared in the magazine in January 2000. I made it that year, and have made it every September since. I have tried other recipes. But I continue to come back to this one due to the moistness coupled with the balance of sweet and tart. It is one of my favorite cakes and I anxious await its arrival each fall.
Pasta e Ceci (adapted from Pasta Everyday)
1 T olive oil
1 T unsalted butter
1 c chopped onion
3 oz prosciutti
2 garlic cloves, chopped
½ red bell pepper, chopped
2 t dried thyme
2 t dried rosemary
1 bay leaf
6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 (14.5 oz) cans navy beans, drained and rinsed
2 (14.5 oz) cans diced fire-roasted tomatoes with juice
½ bag frozen chopped spinach
½ t black pepper
Fresh grated parmesan cheese for garnish
Heat the olive oil and butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion through bell pepper and sauté until the onion is tender, about 3 minutes. Add the herbs and the rest of the ingredients through the black pepper. Cover and bring to a boil then decrease the heat to simmer for about 10 minutes.
Transfer about 1 cup of the soup to the blender, being careful not to include the bay leaf. Blend until smooth then add back to the soup pot. Bring back to a simmer and cook for 8 more minutes.
Serve with fresh grated parmesan cheese.
Cinnamon-Apple Cake (Adapted from Cooking Light)
1 3/4 cups sugar, divided
3/4 cup (6 ounces) block-style reduced fat cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3 cups chopped peeled Rome apple (about 2 large)
Preheat oven to 350°.
Beat 1 1/2 cups sugar, cream cheese, butter, and vanilla at medium speed of a mixer until well-blended (about 4 minutes). Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition; set aside.
Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add flour mixture to creamed mixture, and beat at low speed until blended.
Combine 1/4 cup sugar and cinnamon. Combine 2 tablespoons of the cinnamon mixture and apple in a bowl; stir apple mixture into batter. Pour batter into a 9-inch springform pan coated with cooking spray, and sprinkle with remaining cinnamon mixture.
Bake at 350° for 1 hour and 10 minutes or until cake pulls away from the sides of pan. Cool cake completely on a wire rack, and cut using a serrated knife.