My Favorite Soldier

Veteran’s Day is a very special day in our household. My husband was a captain in the Army and deployed to Iraq. Although he is no longer active duty military, I treat November 11 as another birthday. He worked hard to serve our country with honor, and during his deployment he never complained once. He knew he had a job to do! I am so proud of him, and I know how blessed and fortunate I am to have him home now. So many wonderful soldiers made the ultimate sacrifice over there, so we always remember them today, too.

To honor this very special day, I always make a nice dinner for Chris. On tonight’s menu? Campanelle pasta with turkey sausage and broccoli rabe, a flavorful and subtly spicy pasta dish that is a guaranteed hit. My recipe is a simple twist on classic Italian flavors. For dessert I made carrot cake (the same one I made for our wedding cake!). However, I only made a third of the recipe below, because if I made it all we would eat it all, and no two people need to be eating a cake that contains a full pound of butter!

Campanelle with Turkey Sausage and Broccoli Rabe

2 bunches broccoli rabe
16 oz campanelle pasta (or any short-shaped pasta)
olive oil
1 pound spicy turkey sausage
4 cloves garlic, sliced
crushed red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon butter
1/3 cup parmesean cheese
salt, pepper

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Remove stems from broccoli rabe and discard. Chop leaves and broccoli bits. Add broccoli rabe to boiling water and cook for 1-2 minutes (until bright green). Using a slotted spoon, remove broccoli rabe from water and immerse in a large bowl of iced water. Keep the hot water boiling in the pot and add the pasta. Cook according to package directions.

Add a few turns of olive oil to a large pot over medium heat. Remove the sausage from the casing and drop in hot pan. Brown and cook through. Add sliced garlic and a few good shakes of red pepper flakes. Cook 1-2 minutes, then add the drained broccoli rabe. Stir well.

Drain pasta, reserving 1/4 cup of the pasta water. Add pasta and pasta water to sausage mixture. Stir in butter and grated parmesean cheese. Serve to a very happy husband!

Gigi’s Carrot Cake by Emeril Lagasse

3 sticks, plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 cups granulated sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon salt

4 large eggs

1 teaspoon pure vanilla
3 cups grated carrots

1 cup chopped toasted pecans (I usually omit the nuts, but add in dates or raisins)

8 ounces cream cheese
1 stick unsalted butter
1 (1-pound) box confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Butter 3 (9-inch) cake pans with 1 tablespoon of the butter and set aside. In a large bowl, cream the butter with an electric mixer. Add the sugar, and beat. In a medium bowl or on a piece of parchment, combine the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt, and mix well.

Add the dry ingredients, alternating with the eggs, beating well after the addition of each. Add the vanilla extract and mix. Add the carrots and beat on medium speed until well incorporated, about 2 minutes. Fold in the nuts. Divide between the 3 cake pans and bake until set and a cake tester inserted into the middle comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let rest in the cake pans for 10 minutes. Invert onto wire racks, remove from the pans, and let cool.

For the Frosting: In a large bowl, cream together the cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Add the sugar gradually, beating constantly. Add the vanilla and pecans.

When the cake is cool, place 1 cake layer on a cake plate or stand. Spread the top with cream cheese frosting and top with a second and third cake layer, spreading the icing between each layer. Spread the icing around the sides of the cake and let harden slightly before serving. To serve, cut into wedges.

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