A Few of My Favorite Things - September

By Emily Russo, MS, RD, CDN

While we’re in a seasonal limbo between summer and fall, this Favorite Things offers a bit of this and a bit of that.
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We don’t want the summer to end. But then again, September promises warm days and cool nights and the return of football (woohoo!). So, while we’re in a seasonal limbo, this Favorite Things offers a bit of this and a bit of that. There’s a new condiment that’s sweet and spicy, a novel that blurs memory and reality, zoo animals for lunch, and more…


If there’s one thing this year or two has taught us, it’s that uncertainty is our only certainty. It’s hard to say for sure what will happen this fall, or next week for that matter. So, I’m embracing the unknown, trying things I might not have before, and re-examining some old routines (including getting out my what’s for breakfast rut!).

Without further ado, here are some of our favorite things for this month. And don’t forget to scroll down for my current go-to Fountain Avenue Kitchen recipes!


Favorite Topping of the MonthMike's Hot Honey
Ever feel like food needs a little something extra? Mike’s Hot Honey may do the trick. It looks and feels like a traditional honey, but is infused with chili peppers for a kick after each bite.

This honey is so versatile – drizzle it on pizza (the way founder Mike Kurtz first intended it to be used), in these Grilled Chicken Recipes, or the Roasted Feta with Honey. I even suggested that Ann try it as a topping for her upcoming Jalapeño Poppers recipe, and she agreed it was fantastic.

Mike’s Hot Honey can be found at most grocery stores, and now comes in extra hot.


Favorite Gadget of the Month
I love a home cooked waffle. But digging in the depths of my pantry to pull the giant waffle maker out of storage is sometimes too much for the morning (especially if I haven’t had my coffee yet). Enter Dash’s adorable Mini Waffle Maker

There are no timers, settings, or inserts, no bells or whistles. Simply plug it in to pre-heat, pour in the batter, and wait until the waffle is golden brown. For ease, I use a classic store-bought waffle mix, but honestly anything goes. We have tried whole grain, blueberry, and chocolate chip and all were delicious.

And, since it is just a single serve machine, it is perfect for trying some more off beat flavors and concoctions. Add chia seeds, crushed almond, and/or bananas to the batter for a high fiber morning. Use it to make mini hash browns and eggs for a hearty high protein morning (good idea Ann!). Or, I’m even thinking of using it to get creative with Stuffing Waffles on after Thanksgiving.

Simply wipe to clean and store in a small drawer. Comes in a variety of fun colors, and I snagged mine from Target for $9.99.


Favorite Grocery Product of the MonthPastabilities Kids-Shaped Pastas
If you, like me, enjoy lavishing in a good bowl of noodles, check out The Pasta Shoppe, a family-run business from Nashville, TN.

The company offers a wide assortment of interesting products, but my kiddos (5 and 3) are especially into their Pastabilities right now. Each box reflects a theme – sports, dinosaurs, princesses, or zoo animals – and the shapes often make for interesting points of discussion. “Why don’t we have a king of America?” was a recent dinnertime question (thank you, princess pasta!).

Organic durum wheat is the only ingredient in these plain pastas, and the noodles hold their shape when cooked (Oftentimes kid-friendly shaped pastas break or get too mushy, but this one doesn’t).

I’ve bought the pasta from Whole Foods but it is widely available.


Favorite Book of the MonthThe Shimmering StateThis one is hot off the press — and wow has it been getting press. Featured recently in the Wall Street Journal, Vogue, and USA Today, The Shimmering State is the must-read novel right now.

The storyline: Lucien and Sophie meet at a recovery center after an experimental memory drug, Memoroxin, warps their lives. Neither has any memory of how they got there—or why they feel so inexplicably drawn to one another. Is it attraction, or something they cannot remember from before?

Sound intriguing? Well, the author Meredith Westgate, also happens to be a Lancaster, PA native and my most favorite (OK, my only) sister-in-law. Her ability to describe the same situation from multiple perspectives was especially impressive, particularly as it is her debut novel.

Support local bookstores, while making shopping a breeze, by getting a copy from bookshop.org/shop/FAK.


Favorite Kitchen of the MonthKitchen of the Month
In our weekly Friday kitchen series on Facebook and Instagram, this kitchen received the most enthusiastic response. People commented on the bright lights and the warm vibes, and though some readers preferred the sink to be under the window, the majority of the feedback was glowing. One reader summed up the sentiments when she volunteered to cook in it!


Favorite TV Show of the MonthTed LassoSeason 2 of Ted Lasso came out in July, and I’m really looking forward to watching it. This 30-minute comedy series on Apple TV+ is the perfect “veg-out” show. We binge-watched the first season every night when we finally got the kids to bed and were craving a comedic break during a recent pandemic-related quarantine.

Ted Lasso (played by the always hilarious Jason Sudeikis) is an American Football coach who randomly – or so it seems – gets hired by a British soccer club. He knows very little about the sport, but his motivational speeches have definite appeal and seem to translate to most any situation. It’s reminiscent of the 1989 movie Major League – so if you’ve seen that you may realize where this plot is going…

Though it borders cheesy sometimes, it’s chock full of funny one-liners and is brilliant in its own way. I think you will enjoy!


Favorite Recipes of the Month

  • With crazy schedules end-of-summer schedules, I’ve been gravitating towards simple and hearty breakfasts. My go-to this month has been a batch of these Green Smoothie Muffins – I eat them split in half with a spread of almond butter, or with some fresh peach slices, or even on the go when I need to head out early. They pair beautifully with Ann’s Cold Brew Coffee and a dash of Simple Vanilla Syrup.
  • It’s been so hot that all I want for lunch is something refreshing. Light soups like this Classic Gazpacho and cold plates like this Cheater Shrimp Ceviche appeal to me. If I have some leftover pasta or rice, I may mix in some Leafy Greens Pesto and topped with halved heirloom tomatoes.
  • We’ve also been making a lot of chicken for dinner. I love Easy Thai Roast Chicken, and regularly mix in Honey Lime Chicken and my family’s favorite Super Crunchy Oven Fried Drumsticks. We usually serve chicken with a hearty side like Southwestern Rice Salad. I leave some plain rice, corn, and beans for my kids and then add in extra toppings for my husband and me.
  • This has been the summer for Non-Alcoholic Beers in our house. They are so refreshing and make sense as we take care of the kids. They even work with the Summer Shandy recipe…though sometimes we do spring for the real deal!
  • If we have room for dessert, popsicles it is. Sometimes we opt for the classic store-bought Italian ices, and we’ve also been enjoying these Easy Fruit & Yogurt Popsicles. End-of-summer freezer staples for sure!

It was an honor to be part of this September Favorite Things, and I hope to be back soon! As always, we welcome all comments, questions, suggestions, and recipe feedback. What are you eating this month…and what are your favorite things?


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  1. Dawn

    Hi Ann! I love Mike’s hot honey but I’ve never purchased it before I’ve only tried it on pizza at a pizzeria. If I recently saw a hot honey that looks very similar at trader Joe’s I would love to see how this compares if you try it, Please let me know.

    1. Ann

      Hi Dawn, I have yet to try TJ’s hot honey but will report back if I do. The lower price is appealing and I read a good review on its flavor (described as sweet and smooth, hot but not too hot, and balanced) and consistency (thin enough to drizzle easily). Hope that helps for the time being!