Looking Back On Cooking With Stanley

January 14, 2015 I embarked on a journey to cook through The Tucci Cookbook by Stanley Tucci. There has been blood, tears, screaming, but most of all an overwhelming sense of success. I fell in love with cooking my junior year of high school. Food had always been a part of my life growing up with a strong Italian influence. Some of my fondest memories are intertwined with scents like gravy cooking on the stove and pizza on Christmas Eve. However, it was Rachael Ray every day at 2pm that I would run home from school to watch. I started cooking dinner for my family, using almost all Rachael Ray recipes and began to get comfortable with ingredients. I guess you could say that if it weren't for her, I would have never had such an appreciation for being in the kitchen. 

In college and afterward, I was never able to get comfortable cooking for one. I had a blast experimenting like crazy but I always found myself making way too much food for only me. I guess you can take the girl out of the giant Italian family but you can't take the giant Italian family out of the girl. Moving back home, I was rewarded with the opportunity to cook for several people again. I received The Tucci Cookbook for Christmas in 2014 along with several other cookbooks and decided that I would make my way through each recipe. I wanted to get into the nitty gritty of Italian cooking and push myself outside of my comfort zone. I honestly believe that the journey, no matter how frustrating at times, has made me a better cook. With that said, here are a few of my favorite menus and dishes throughout the series:

Ponticello's Orange Cookies: These were delicious. Simple, buttery and perfect paired with chocolate. The orange can easily be swapped out with other flavors or left out completely for a simple cookie.

Week 26: Summer Vegetable Soup, Spareribs and Fresh Tomato Salad. This menu screamed summer and was so flavorful. The soup was delicious and filling, the spareribs tender and also packed with flavor and the tomato salad was great as a bruschetta. The spareribs had an Asian flare that was amazing. 

Week 27: Mediterranean Pasta Salad with Arugula and Tomatoes, Egg Tart with Spinach and Potatoes and Kate's Banana Bread. I don't even know where to start with this one. The pasta salad I ate for days without even being hungry it was so good. The egg tart was such an accomplishment for me and the first time I used a cast-iron skillet. The banana bread has an unusual ingredient that makes it out of this world. This is the perfect brunch right here. This is probably my favorite meal from the series overall.

Pasta Casserole & Arugula with Prosciutto, Pears and Parmesan: These two dishes were part of Week 34. The salad was refreshing and bright. I loved the prosciutto. It's one of my favorite Italian meats. The Pasta Casserole was pheomenal. The flavors were so beautiful. Creaminess, brightness, fresh from the vegetables. So much cheese! I was eating this hot and cold for days without a complaint.

Warm Individual Chocolate Souffle: This could pass as either my favorite dessert or favorite accomplishment. It was rich, almost too much so. It paired perfect with vanilla ice cream. I stored these individually in the freezer and warmed them in the oven for a few minutes when I was craving a bite.

Basil Pesto: This was potentially my favorite sauce in the cookbook. I love pesto so much and this recipe just made it impossible for that to ever change. 

Mamma's Little Fritters: I think we'll make the souffle my favorite accomplishment because these fritters were my favorite dessert. Similar to beignets, they're basically just fried dough. Nothing more perfect was ever created. I could eat these for days!

Rosemary Foccacia: This bread was unforgettable. Not only was it simple to whip up, it was delicious. If I had the patience to bake, I'd make it every weekend. 

Did you have a favorite meal, dish or dessert from Cooking With Stanley? Have you ever cooked through a cookbook before?