There was an unofficial poll done not long ago where most people voted that they loathed the introductions and stories before a recipe was given. Trust me when I say, I get it. I don’t want to read a full novel before I cook dinner. 

But I do want to tell you a little about the recipe before I give it to you because often a few personal notes are what set some recipes apart from others. The beauty is not just in the ingredients and instructions, but in the lessons some of us recipe developers learn through our mistakes while testing things out. That’s the important stuff.

I say all this to say, I always try to be brief when sharing these recipes with you, but I also want to share what I feel is important about a particular recipe, how it can be better based on your personal likes and dislikes and why I chose to share that particular one at that time. This is one of those times.

Even though the holidays are right around the corner, I wanted to give you a recipe for those weeknights where you still need to cook a normal-ish meal. Not everything is pumpkins and gravy as soon as it turns chilly (though what a fantastic world that would be). 

That’s what’s sometimes frustrating for me. When the holidays come around, suddenly every recipe starts looking the same and I just need a non-holiday meal some nights. This meal is great because you can make it year round, but it’s hearty and flavorful enough for the fall.

Another reason I like this meal is because of the additional ingredients you could add to it to make it more autumnal if you’d like. I like adding some sauteed kale and roasted sweet potatoes to it to give it that nudge into chilly season food, but it’s perfectly flavorful without it, too.

I also wanted to throw in a super easy dessert recipe for those nights you want something sweet and want it to sound fancy, but really you just threw it together. Who doesn’t love that? So without further ado, the recipes. Hope you have a wonderful fall season and get ready for some great food and memories with those you love.


Portobello Orecchiette with Italian Sausage in a Parmesan Herb Cream Sauce


  • 1 pound ground Italian sausage

  • 1 package portobello mushrooms

  • 1 small box orecchiette pasta

  • 1 tbsp. olive oil

  • 1/2 yellow onion, minced

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 2 - 3 tsp.fresh thyme, minced

  • 2 - 3 tsp. fresh rosemary, minced

  • salt and pepper to taste

  • 1 1/2  cups heavy cream

  • 1 cup shredded parmesan cheese


  1. Cook the pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water according to package directions. Reserve about a cup of the boiled pasta water before draining.

  2. While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.

  3. Cook the Italian sausage along with the onion, garlic, mushrooms, herbs and salt until the sausage is no longer pink. 

  4. Drain excess fat from the skillet if necessary and return the meat mixture to the pan and continue cooking until everything starts to brown.

  5. Add in about a half  cup of the reserved pasta water and scrape the bottom of the pan to release the flavors.

  6. Turn the heat to low and add the cream to the skillet. Bring to a simmer and cook until cream thickens just a bit. If it has thickened too much, you can add in the remaining reserved pasta water.

  7. Stir in the parmesan cheese until melted. Taste the sauce for seasonings and add in additional salt, pepper or herbs if necessary. Stir the pasta into the sauce.

  8. Garnish with additional parmesan if you’d like. Serve immediately.

Chef's note: If you are planning on using any of the pasta water, be mindful that it is salted, as is the parmesan. Therefore, use less salt with the sausage in the beginning as a precaution to not over salt the dish.


Tiramisu Affogato


  • 1/2 cup chilled heavy whipping cream

  • 1 - 2 tsp. sugar (more if you’d like it sweeter)

  • about 2/3 cup good quality coffee ice cream per cup

  • 4 - 6 savoiardi (Italian crisp ladyfingers), each broken into halves or quarters

  • 1/2 cup freshly brewed strong coffee or espresso per cup (you can add more, if you’d like)

  • optional: cocoa powder or small piece of bittersweet chocolate


  1. Whip the heavy cream with sugar until it just holds medium-stiff peaks. Set aside.

  2. Divide the coffee ice cream between serving glasses, then put the ladyfingers over the ice cream. 

  3. Pour the hot coffee or espresso on top and dollop with the whipped cream. Grate some chocolate over the cream or top with sifted cocoa powder as a garnish. Serve immediately.


From Z to A with Zara Abbasi

Zara Abbasi is the pastry chef and recipe developer for Zara Made It. Follow her food adventures on Instagram at @zaramadeit.