Creamy Mushroom Pasta

I adore mushrooms.  I just love their earthiness.  A lot of people like them as a meat replacement in meals because they are fairly hearty.  This is completely ok with me, but my husband doesn’t quite agree.  Of course, the person who plans and prepares the meals has final say, and so sometimes he has to just put on his best game face and muddle through without meat.  Though he will often comment that a dish might be better with some meat added…. as is the case with today’s Creamy Mushroom Pasta in which he suggested pouring the mushrooms over some steak, he usually admits that it was pretty dang good and he can handle it without.

This particular dish is definitely satisfying and unless you’re a pure carnivore like my husband you won’t miss the meat.  When a dish calls for a lot of mushrooms I like to get a mix if I can.  Today I went with half and half cremini and white button mushrooms.  The recipe also left me with a choice to make regarding the cheese used, calling only for “tasty cheese”.  Knowing that it was an age old pairing I went with Gruyere, which if you are unfamiliar resembles a Swiss cheese.  Any Swiss cheese would be a good choice for this.  In fact I found an applewood smoked Swiss cheese at the store that I ALMOST went with but decided last minute on the gruyere…. maybe next time.

According to the blog in which I found this recipe it was created with an inspiration of removing the “cream of soup” aspect.  I never saw, or tried the original recipe, but I can definitely vouch for it’s success in producing a cream of mushroom soup taste, however with a definite fresher note.  I especially liked the thyme coming through in this… another age old pairing with mushrooms.  The dish holds up beautifully as leftovers, allowing me to enjoy it for lunch the next few days which is always a plus too.  One variation I might try next time is to add a splash or two of some white wine to bring a brightness and cut through some of the heaviness of the dish, but you definitely can’t go wrong with this recipe as written if you are in the mood for a great comfort dish!

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Creamy Mushroom Pasta

Ingredients :

  • 2 T. butter
  • 1 tsp. cooking oil
  • 1 brown onion, peeled and chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 5 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 400g sliced mushrooms (I used two 8oz packages from the store)
  • 4 T. all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 cup low fat milk
  • 1 cup tasty cheese (see note above)
  • 250g shell pasta, cooked according to package directions

Directions :

  1. Melt butter with a teaspoon of cooking oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  When butter begins to bubble, add onion, garlic and thyme. Saute until the onion is translucent and the garlic becomes aromatic.
  2. Add sliced mushrooms and mix well.  Allow the mushrooms to cook until their size reduces to about half and they are browned.  Sprinkle flour over the mushrooms and mix well.  Continue to cook, stirring for about a minute to cook out the raw flour flavor taking care not to burn it.
  3. Add vegetable stock, a quarter cup at a time.  Stir to combine each time and allow the mixture cook over a low heat and thicken between each addition.  Once all the stock has been incorporated, add the milk and again allow it to simmer and thicken. Once it resembles cream of mushroom soup add the cheese.  Cook until cheese has melted and the sauce becomes thick (like a velvety cheese sauce).  Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Toss in the cooked pasta shells and serve topped with a bit more thyme.  Other optional toppings suggested are some red pepper flakes, parsley, or a bit more pepper.

Recipe from Fuss Free Cooking

Published in: on April 21, 2015 at 8:19 am  Comments (1)  
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Porcini Fettucine Alfredo

As I mentioned in my last post, there were a couple recipes I tried this week that had a snag or two.  This was another one, though not to worry, it’s easily fixed.

As in the last dish, the sauce was just too thick.  The picture on the blog I got this from showed a much thinner sauce, but mine was thick from the moment I added the cream cheese, and never needed time to thicken up as the recipe suggested.  Had I realized this would be an issue I would have been less heavy handed, so part of it was my fault, but I didn’t use much more than it called for, so be prepared.  I was able to thin it out enough by just adding a bit more of the mushroom soaking liquid (save it all just in case) which just amplified the mushroom flavor that much more.  In my book that is a good thing!  I SHOULD have saved a bit of the pasta water, to further thin it out since I prefer my alfredo somewhat on the liquidy side, but I almost always forget to save any (generally a good idea for many dishes to have some just in case because the starchy salted pasta water will thin sauces without watering them down).

The good news is that even with a thick sauce this is a very good dish!  It has a nice earthy flavor which I just love!  I know there are lots of people that don’t like mushrooms but I just can’t get enough of them personally.  For me they are perfectly acceptable as a meat substitute… however, if you have a picky husband like I do you could definitely get away with adding some chicken or something to this dish as well.  The dish was listed as a lighter version, but I was unable to find light whipped cream cheese, so I guess mine wasn’t quite as light in the end.  Still… it’s probably at least slightly healthier than a more traditional alfreo with LOTS of butter and cream lol.  Speaking of butter, I did add a pad to my mushrooms and shallots while sauteing just to keep them moving around in the pan a bit better and for flavor of course.  The recipe didn’t list how much oil to use, but I used about a tablespoon, maybe less.  I prefer a mix of oil and butter when sauteing mushrooms personally.

Although I did enjoy the dish as written, I had a hunch that I could make it even better with a little marsala wine added in…. SO RIGHT!  I didn’t use very much, and unfortunately didn’t think to add it until after I had combined everything (I imagine it would work best added in while cooking), but it just gave it that little something that kicks it up to the next level, at least for me.  If you are comfortable tweaking recipes to your taste without specified measurements this is a MUST addition.  I won’t give a suggested amount though since I didn’t measure what I used and that was for only a portion of the recipe to begin with.

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Porcini Fettucine Alfredo

Ingredients :

  • 3/4 cup dried porcini mushrooms
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 12 oz. whole wheat fettucine
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 8 oz. light whipped cream cheese
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan
  • 1/2 tsp. lemon zest (optional)
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley

Directions :

  1. Combine boiling water with mushrooms in a small bowl, cover and let stand 30 minutes or until soft.  Drain through a sieve over a bowl, and reserve liquid (see notes above, I suggest to save it all, but recipe calls for 1/4 cup).  Chop mushrooms if not already desired size.
  2. Cook pasta al dente according to package directions in generously salted water. (save some pasta water just in case!)
  3. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in large saute pan over medium-high heat.  Add garlic and saute 30 seconds until fragrant.
  4. Add shallots and mushrooms, saute 5 more minutes (see note above regarding oil and butter), stirring frequently.
  5. Add cream cheese and heavy cream, bring to a boil.
  6. Stir in salt, pepper, lemon zest, parmesan and 1/4 cup soaking liquid (or more as needed if your sauce is thick like mine ended up being, this would also be a good time to add the marsala wine if you wanted as mentioned above).  Simmer 5 minutes or until slightly thickened.
  7. Add pasta, toss well to coat.  Serve with parsley on top.

Recipe from Divine Cuisine

Marsala Mushroom, Spinach & Hazelnut Orzo

First things first… some of you may have noticed I took a rather long hiatus from this blog.  There were multiple reasons, it was just basically something I needed to do, but I am ready to get back into things…. I hope lol.  Life is a bit chaotic right now as I am adjusting to new schedules with my baby finally in preschool 3 days a week, but I have been having that urge to not only start meal planning and trying new recipes again, but to blog them as well.  The rest of you, maybe didn’t notice at all, and that’s ok too lol.  I hope in my absence everyone still enjoyed the many wonderful recipes already posted on my blog.

Now for the recipe…

This was definitely a winner in my book.  Such wonderful flavor and a great blend of textures.  I especially liked the crunch and nuttiness of the hazelnuts along side the mushrooms.  This does make a lot, so I am hoping the leftovers are just as good, which I think they will be.

I actually have never cooked with marsala wine before, and it was kind of funny… I was searching all over the wine section for it, when I had to look it up on my phone and realized it would be near the vinegars.  So there, I have saved you that bit of embarrassment if you have never purchased it before.  Anyway, I love a good mushroom dish and this is exactly that.  It called for 3 cups of mushrooms, but I honestly don’t know how you can measure mushrooms by the cup… so I just grabbed like 12-14 and eyeballed it.  I cut them fairly thick so they would stand up to the cooking and retain a bit of meatiness to them and that worked out well.  I actually simmered everything for about 9 minutes, instead of the 5, because I had a late start getting my orzo into the boiling water.  Everything came together very easily, and dinner was ready in a short time which is always a plus on those busy weeknights.

I tried something a little different from my norm, which is just taking a shot at the end… and attempted to get some ingredient shots and even some cooking shots, but it wasn’t hard to realize that’s not my forte!  Not only is the light in my kitchen not very conducive to that sort of thing, but I just don’t have the time while cooking to fiddle with it.  I am usually always doing SOMETHING, and more often than not I am a sweaty, frazzled mess and the last thing I want to do is take pictures lol.  I might try from time to time, but I can’t promise anything.

Because I was in a rush when copying the recipe down I forgot one of the ingredients (which I did put in the dish since I added it in the steps), so it didn’t make it in the picture.  Any guesses as to what it was?  I will give you a hint… it’s not the salt and pepper (though also not pictured) and it’s one of my FAVORITE and most used ingredients…..

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 Marsala Mushroom, Spinach & Hazelnut Orzo

Ingredients :

  • 2 C. uncooked orzo
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 C. cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 C. vegetable stock
  • 3/4  C. marsala cooking wine
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 2 C. fresh spinach
  • 1/2 C. marscapone
  • 1/4 C. pecorino, or an Italian blend like parmesan and romano like I used
  • juice of 2 lemons
  • 2/3 C. toasted hazelnuts

Directions :

  1. Cook orzo according to package directions.
  2. Meanwhile saute shallot in oil over medium heat until softened (about 2 min.).  Add garlic and saute another 30 seconds or so until fragrant.
  3. Add mushrooms, cook until they begin to brown and soften.  This takes about 3-4 minutes.  Stir often.
  4. Add Vegetable stock, marsala, salt and pepper, making sure to deglaze the pan.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and allow to simmer at least 5 minutes (or longer if you are waiting on your orzo like I was).  Stir often and make sure not to overcook your mushrooms.
  5. Add mushroom mixture to drained orzo, then add your spinach, marscapone, and Italian cheese, stirring until cheeses are melted and spinach is wilted in.
  6. Stir in lemon juice and hazelnuts and serve immediately.

Note : it calls for toasted hazelnuts.  I find it best to do this BEFORE I start cooking so I don’t totally forget about them and end up burning them.  There are two ways to do this…. some people like to do it in the oven, or you can do it like I do, in a skillet over medium heat stirring almost constantly and watching closely.  Once they start to toast they will burn quickly if you aren’t careful.  I prefer the skillet method because I am not only watching them the entire time and not likely to forget them, but I find they cook less evenly when just left on a sheet in the oven and some will still burn in there.


Recipe from Orchard Street Kitchen


Hearty Black Bean Quesadillas

These quesadillas are perfect for a busy weeknight meal, or perhaps a weekend lunch.  They really come together very quickly, and are both flavorful and satisfying.  They are also a great option for a vegetarian dish.  Even my husband didn’t complain of the lack of meat in these.  As an added bonus these are also a very budget friendly meal!

I used whole grain tortillas for these and cheddar cheese, because that’s what I had on hand.  I think a Mexican blend or maybe some pepper jack would be good also.  Everything else I made as listed.  I did top mine with some sour cream though, which is of course optional.  You could also top them with some salsa.

When I said these would be great for a busy weeknight meal I wasn’t kidding.  What’s easier than opening a can of beans (unless you use dried beans that is lol), mixing it with some frozen corn, onions, a few spices, and some cheese and cilantro, then filling the tortillas and giving them a quick turn in the skillet?!  I think someone told me that you can even freeze the extra quesadillas, but I won’t stake my life on that…. I don’t do a lot of freezing of meals so I don’t really know much about what works and what doesn’t.

They may be a tad spicy for kids, but you could cut back on some of the spices if you prefer.

Hearty Black Bean Quesadillas

Ingredients :

  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1/2 small red onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/4 bunch cilantro
  • 2 cups shredded cheese
  • 1 T. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne
  • 1/2 tsp. oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. cornstarch
  • 10 taco-sized tortillas (I think I got closer to 8 from mine but I was generous with the filling)

Directions :

  1. Drain & rinse beans, and combine in a bowl with the corn.
  2. Rinse cilantro, and give it a rough chop.  Dice onion, and mince garlic.  Combine with the bean and corn mixture. 
  3. Add seasoning and stir well to combine everything.
  4. Spoon 1/2 cup of filling onto one side of your tortilla and fold over.  Cook until brown and cheese has melted, flipping when needed.

*Tip* : To keep them warm while you make the rest place on a glass dish in the oven set to warm or about 200F. 

Recipe from Budget Bytes


Published in: on December 3, 2013 at 9:56 am  Comments (2)  

Pumpkin Mac ‘n Cheese

I always see recipes for these healthier versions of dishes that are made with things like pumpkin, squash, sweet potatoes, etc, and I find myself skipping over them more often than not because I haven’t enjoyed those ingredients in the past.  I love pumpkin in desserts though.  The funny thing is, though, that I really WANT to like those things because they just scream Fall to me, and they are pretty healthy obviously.  I kept telling myself I just had to find the right dish for me, and this dish proved that theory!

I had no idea what to expect, whether it would taste like pumpkin and just have that cheesy texture, or if the pumpkin flavor would disappear all together like certain other alternative ingredients.  The answer is that it falls somewhere in between.  I could taste the pumpkin, but with the marscapone, garlic, onions and sage it takes on a somewhat sweet quality that takes it far enough away from that raw pumpkin taste that I really enjoyed it.  Texturally it reminded me a lot of mac ‘n cheese, but if you are hoping for that really cheesy flavor this may fall a little short.  Personally I am not a big fan of boxed mac ‘n cheese, and prefer more “grown-up” versions anyway with a variety of flavors and cheeses so I did not find it lacking at all.  Visually it definitely resembles traditional Mac ‘n Cheese.

To make more of a meal out of this I threw in some pan-fried chicken sausages and frozen peas.  I think mine were an Italian variety, but I can’t remember now that I have thrown out the package.  I imagine many of the different varieties available out there will work with this based on your tastes though.  The same goes for the peas.  You could use whatever vegetable you like, just be sure to allow for some cooking time if you are using something other than peas (I just threw them in frozen and the heat of the dish softened them up enough).

One side note…. the recipe calls for grated parmesan cheese, but I am fairly certain they meant the shredded variety.  I HATE when a recipe calls for grated and I get the powder because that’s what it’s called only to realize later they meant shredded.  It doesn’t matter that much in terms of flavor, but sometimes it does in terms of texture.  For this I just added some of it to the sauce as it heated, and then topped with a little more of the powder.

Anyway, both Jeff and I agreed this was a great dish and that we would make it again.  If you have kids that eat real food they would probably like this as well.

Pumpkin Mac ‘n Cheese

Serves : 4-5

Ingredients :

  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 2 T. butter
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. dried sage
  • 1/4 cup marscapone cheese (I added about 1 T. more)
  • 1/8 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 12 oz. whole wheat pasta (something with ridges will catch the sauce best)

Directions :

  1. In a frying pan, melt the butter over medium heat.
  2. Add the onions, garlic and sage and saute until the onions are translucent.
  3. In a blender, combine the pumpkin puree and cooked onions, garlic and sage, and blend until smooth.
  4. Pour the blended mixture into a saucepan and heat through.
  5. While the sauce is heating, cook pasta according to package directions.
  6. Add the mascarpone and parmesan to the pumpkin sauce and stir until combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  7. Drain the pasta once al dente, reserving about half a cup of the pasta water.
  8. Place the drained pasta back into the pot and add the pumpkin sauce, stirring until all the pasta is coated. Add pasta water if necessary to thin out the sauce.
  9. Any add-ins should be mixed in next – I sauteed chicken apple sausages and added frozen peas to give a little more substance.
  10. Garnish with freshly grated parmesan cheese and devour.

Recipe from Bites N Brews


Roasted Asparagus Grilled Cheese with Aritchoke & Arugula Pesto

What a mouthful!  This is not your mom’s basic grilled cheese, that’s for sure.  From the sort of peppery, nutty pesto, to the smoky cheese and slight crunch from the roasted asparagus this is anything but ordinary.  We really enjoyed these sandwiches, and I think you will too.

A couple of notes… first off this makes a lot of pesto.  Way more than we needed.  The recipe stated that it served one, so I naturally doubled everything for my husband and I, but I definitely could have made both sandwiches with one batch of pesto.  This may not be a problem though if you wanted to have a little extra pesto on hand for pasta the next night perhaps, or to serve with some crusty bread perhaps.  Another thing, and this may just be me, but I find it nearly impossible to slice those small rounds of gouda.  Because of this I likely got much more cheese in my “slices” than was intended.  This, again, may or may not be a problem for you.  I like a lot of cheese so I really didn’t mind, but I will say that it was a bit messy with the oozing cheese and seemed a bit heavier for it.  And my last note would be regarding the asparagus…. the spears I got seemed pretty thin so I just used enough to cover the width of the bread.  I also roasted them a bit longer than 5 minutes since that seemed rather short to me.  I actually made extra and we just served the rest alongside the sandwiches.

I made mine in a panini press type thing, but you can certainly just cook them in a skillet like you would with a basic grilled cheese.  You just won’t get the pretty marks.  It’s a bit of work to get these assembled… especially when you consider they are called Grilled Cheese and when you think of that you think SIMPLE, but sometimes a little more effort is worth it!  I couldn’t find raw pistachios so ended up having to use roasted with sea salt.  So I just held off on the extra salt and that seemed fine.

Whether you don’t eat meat, or just want to mix things up a bit these would make a great dinner or even a nice lunch.

*Note, the recipe originally mentioned smoked gouda in the ingredients list, but then gruyere in the directions.  I have changed it for my post, but I honestly don’t know which was inteded.  If you prefer gruyere, go for it!

Roasted Asparagus Grilled Cheese with Artichoke & Arugula Pesto

Makes : 1 (or two if you double the sandwich ingredients)

Ingredients :

  • 4-5 spears of asparagus
  • 1/2 tsp. olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 T. artichoke and arugula pesto (recipe follows)
  • 2 slices smoked gouda
  • 1 T. softened butter
  • 1 T. grated parmesan
  • 2 slices of your favorite bread

Pesto :

  • 1/4 cup raw pistachios
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 cup arugula leaves
  • 1 cup artichoke hearts (rinsed and drained if using canned)
  • juice of half a lemon (I also added zest)
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/8 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 T. olive oil

Directions :

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Combine the pistachios and garlic in a food processor and pulse until fine. Add the parsley and arugula and process for a minute or two, scraping the sides as necessary, until all greens are very finely chopped. Pour in the artichokes, lemon, salt and pepper, then process until the mixture is creamy and mostly smooth. Slowly pour in the olive oil while the processor is running so that the pesto slightly thickens and becomes smoother. Taste and adjust salt and pepper to your liking.
  3. Cut the tough ends off of 4 pieces of asparagus, then coat with olive oil. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper, then roast for 5 minutes in the preheated oven.
  4. Spread the pesto on two pieces of bread, then stack a slice of gouda, the 4 asparagus spears, and another slice of gouda on one side. Top with the other slice of bread.
  5. Combine the softened butter and parmesan in a small bowl, then spread on the top and bottom of the sandwich. Cook in a non-stick skillet, griddle, or panini press over medium heat until golden brown (3-4 minutes). If you’re using a skillet or griddle, flip and cook on the other side, then eat up!

Recipe from Veggie and the Beast

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Corn & Jalapeno Griddle Cakes

When I saw these I just knew they would be good, and I was not disappointed!  In theory they are a bit like a pancake, but more dense and moist, and definitely more savory.  In taste they are not unlike a good cheesy cornbread, but not quite as “bready” and have a fresher taste, especially with the salsa on top.  I would definitely suggest using both sour cream and salsa verde on top though they are only listed as optional suggestions.  They really pull these cakes together.

For the salsa verde you can use whatever brand you like.  I have actually never bought salsa verde that I can think of so I picked mine based on sodium content as we are trying to watch our intake around here.  I believe the one I used was called World Table and I really liked it.  In fact I used it again on another recipe coming up I plan to share that was out of this world!  So be on a look-out for upcoming entries!

Anyway back to the griddle cakes.  Not only are they tasty, but they are easy to throw together as well.  I used my Griddler and they came out very nicely golden on both sides and cooked through.  I imagine you may end up with a darker exterior before getting a fully cooked cake if you were to cook it in a skillet or something over stronger heat, so I would just suggest being watchful and maybe cooking on a lower heat to ensure it cooks through without getting too dark on the outsides.  I also took my measuring cup I was using to scoop out the portions and lightly pressed it down into a circle to get a nice traditional pancake like shape.  The recipe says you shouldn’t need to do this, but I figured it would cook a bit better and they were pretty thick and didn’t spread out on their own very much.

One little thing I did differently than the recipe, was I added a splash or so of heavy cream just for the taste/creaminess.  If you have it on hand, great!  If not, don’t worry about it.


Corn & Jalapeno Griddle Cakes

Makes 10

Ingredients :

  • 2 C. fresh or frozen and defrosted corn (about 3 ears of corn)
  • 1 jalapeno, finely chopped
  • 2/3 C. thinly sliced green onions (about 5)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 C. sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 2 T. olive oil + extra for cooking
  • 1/2 C. flour
  • 1/2 C. yellow cornmeal
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • sour cream or greek yogurt for serving (optional)
  • salsa verde for serving (optional)
  • additional green onions for serving (optional)

Directions :

  1. Pulse 1 cup of the corn kernels in food processor until roughly chopped, just a few seconds. Add to a large bowl along with the rest of the corn kernels, jalapeno, green onions, eggs, cheddar, and olive oil. Stir to combine.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Add to the corn mixture and stir gently to combine.
  3. Heat a non-stick pan or griddle over medium-high heat. Add a small amount of olive oil to coat. Scoop the corn batter, 1/4 cup at a time, onto the griddle. It should be somewhat thick, but you should not need to flatten or spread it. Cook until golden brown, about 2 minutes on each side.
  4. Serve with Greek yogurt or sour cream, salsa verde, and additional green onions.

Recipe from coffee & quinoa

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Greek Chickpea Salad

I had this one up on the menu for over a week.  Each time I planned to make it something came up and it got pushed back.  That entire time Jeff complained about how he would never eat something like that, and how gross it sounded.  I decided to compromise and allow him to order something the night I finally  made it to go along with it from a local Greek restaurant.  I instructed him to get some falafel or maybe a gyro or something.  He ended up getting gyros, falafel, pita and hummus, and buffalo calamari!  Obviously a full meal in itself and thus we didn’t eat much of the salad I made that night because we didn’t want to waste the other stuff.  I honestly think that was his plan all along.

However, we did both try it.  I thought it was great, and full of flavor.  He hesitantly admitted that he also thought it was pretty good.  I ended up eating it the next day for lunch and WOW!  It was even better, as the flavors had plenty of time to marry over night.  This could seriously become one of my new favorite things to make because you can make it ahead, and eat it for days.  I also think it would be the perfect thing for a potluck or dinner party, but I would suggest maybe making it the day before just so it can get better like mine did.

I really didn’t change anything in the recipe, but I may have used a little more garlic than was called for.  I also didn’t have fresh rosemary so used dried.  I eye balled most of the ingredients so I may have been a bit generous with some of them, but that’s what I like about dishes like these.  You really can’t go wrong.  I especially loved the dressing for this.  This is not one to pass up!


Greek Chickpea Salad

Makes 2 lunches or 6 smaller side dish servings.

Ingredients :

  • 1 (15 oz) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup cucumber, chopped
  • 1/2 cup tomatoes, chopped (I used grape tomatoes and squeezed out the seeds)
  • 1/4 cup red onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 cup kalamata olives, sliced
  • 3 – 4 T. olive oil (I think I used 3)
  • juice of 1 lemon (I threw in the zest as well)
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic paste (I made a paste with about 3-4 cloves and a little coarse salt)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/4 – 1/2 tsp. rosemary, finely minced and to taste)
  • feta cheese (optional)

Directions :

  1. In a medium sized bowl, toss together the chickpeas, cucumber, tomato, red onion, parsley, and kalamata olives,  In a separate bowl whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic paste, salt, pepper and rosemary.  Taste the dressing and correct your seasonings.  Be aware that fresh rosemary can easily overpower a dish.  Add the dressing to the garbanzo mixture.  Mix lightly.  Top with optional feta cheese.

Recipe from Feral Kitchen


Mushroom – Spinach Stuffed Shells

Everyone loves stuffed shells.  What you might not know is that they are pretty easy to make… most of the time.  I say most of the time because I usually take a little help from the store and use jar sauce.  This recipe however, is all made from scratch and though it’s a bit labor intensive it’s definitely worth it.  It’s still easy to make, you just have to plan to have some time to do it.

I have always loved the combination of spinach and mushroom, and these are no exception.  I was intrigued by the use of cottage cheese, when most recipes would use ricotta, because it reminded me of my mom’s lasagna in which she also used cottage cheese.  The one thing I knew I wouldn’t be on board with was the use of fennel seed, which I just hate.  I decided just to omit that entirely and throw in some things like basil, parsley, and oregano which turned out nicely.

The filling makes quite a lot, more than enough for 8 oz of pasta.  I just went ahead and prepared the whole 12 oz box of shells and though I had some left over it wasn’t hard to find someone to gobble them up lol.  The recipe does call for white mushrooms, but I just love the more earthy flavor of the crimini so went with those.  This recipe also calls for frozen spinach out of convenience I imagine, but I am sure you could use fresh too if you wanted.

On a side note, I apologize for not posting as many recipes lately.  I have just been a bit busy at home, we’ve gone through a lot of illness this year, and we’ve been eating out or repeating meals more lately as well.  I have a few planned to make soon, so hopefully it won’t be as long before the next recipe is posted.  Thanks for your patience!


Mushroom – Spinach Stuffed Shells

Ingredients :

  • Kosher salt
  • 8 oz. jumbo shells
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 12 oz. mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 (10 oz) package frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 1 1/2 C. low fat cottage cheese
  • 1 C. mozzarella, shredded
  • 1/3 C. parmesan, grated
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • 1/4 C. fresh basil, chopped

Tomato Sauce Ingredients :

  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp. fennel seeds (see note above)
  • lg. pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1 (28 oz) can tomatoes, crushed by hand
  • kosher salt

Cheese Sauce Ingredients :

  • 1/4 C. low fat cottage cheese
  • 1/4 C. mozzarella, shredded
  • 2 T. parmesan, grated
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten


Directions :

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta shells and cook until slightly softened but still firm, about 7 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water. Drizzle with olive oil and toss; set aside.
  2. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, 30 seconds. Add the mushrooms and cook, undisturbed, until golden in spots, about 2 minutes. Add 1/4 teaspoon salt and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are soft, about 5 more minutes. Add the spinach and stir until heated through, about 2 minutes. Let cool completely.
  3. Finely chop the spinach-mushroom mixture and combine in a bowl with the cottage cheese, mozzarella, parmesan, egg, basil and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Stuff each shell with about 2 tablespoons of the filling; set aside.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  5. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, fennel seeds and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring, until lightly golden, about 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes, then rinse out the can with 1 cup water and add to the skillet; add 1/4 teaspoon salt. Bring to a simmer and cook until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a blender and puree until smooth. Return to the skillet and rinse out the blender.
  6. Combine the cottage cheese, mozzarella, parmesan and egg in the blender and puree until smooth.
  7. Brush a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with olive oil and pour in half of the tomato sauce. Add the stuffed shells, then top with the remaining tomato sauce. Cover with aluminum foil and bake 25 minutes; uncover and continue baking until bubbly, 15 to 20 more minutes. Turn on the broiler; drizzle the shells with the cheese sauce and broil, about 2 minutes.

Recipe from Full Fork Ahead


Eggs Baked In Bread

I picked this recipe because I was honestly  just curious how it would turn out.  It sounded good… bread, eggs, cheese and broccoli.  I was just curious as to how the egg would actually turn out, and also the broccoli.  As I was preparing it for the oven I had a lot of doubts.  I imagined the broccoli would dry out or burn, and the eggs would either become very hard or spill off the side.  During assembly one of the eggs actually did spill over the side because I hadn’t made the hole big enough or perhaps I just put too much cheese and broccoli in.  I wiped up the mess so it wouldn’t burn and managed to salvage that yolk and most of the whites so I just put it in as it was.  I was baking my bacon at the same time and checking on that often so every time I would peak in there and see the eggs were nowhere near set up I would panic and start thinking of a back-up plan in my head.  Really up to the last minute I was sure it wasn’t going to turn out…… but somehow magic happened and it not only worked, but surprised me in the textures of the egg and broccoli.

The bread did not burn as I feared it would at that temperature for that long, though the ends did get pretty crusty since it was already a crusty piece of bread.  The broccoli sort of steamed in the bread leaving it moist and keeping the bread soft inside which was a nice contrast to the crusty outsides.  The eggs on the ends did cook more fully and the yolks, while not unpleasant, were solid.  I chose to make one large roll rather than cutting them into individuals prior to cooking so the two inside eggs didn’t turn completely solid like the two outside ones.  They were fully cooked, but the yolks took on a thick creamy sauce-like texture that really took this to the next level.  I would suggest cutting your bread before hand to ensure even cooking, and also to dispose of the very ends of the bread as they get a bit too hard.

The recipe was kind of general on some things… such as using a “sourdough sandwich roll” and how to stuff the ingredients inside.  I bought one of those really large sourdough loaves, and rather than cut it in half like you would if you were making a sandwich roll I just took enough off the top of the roll to level it off and make the entire thing crust-less on the top.  I wanted to make sure it was deep enough for stuffing and that worked out well.  One tip I have would be to not only make your holes big enough to accommodate an egg and some cheese and broccoli, but when putting the eggs on top do it very slowly and sort of stretch the holes a little with your fingers to allow the egg to settle into the bread rather than sit on top, or in the case of one of mine spill off the side!  The recipe called for mozzarella but I found I was out when I went to grab some and so I just used some pepper jack instead.  I am sure you could use whatever cheese you like though.  Same thing with the seasonings… the recipe mentioned chili powder in the list of ingredients, but then it wasn’t mentioned in the steps so I left it off not really thinking I wanted any on and it was good with just salt and pepper.

There are probably many ways you can alter this to suit your tastes, or improve on it, but the basic idea is definitely simple and also a little bit fun.  Perhaps some fresh herbs on top, or bacon crumbles.  Throw some ham inside.  Kick it up with a little hot sauce.  The sky is the limit.  All you have to do is put those doubts aside and trust that it will work!  As I mentioned the recipe I followed was little unclear on a couple of things so I am going to just elaborate on the recipe below to include the steps I took.


Eggs Baked In Bread

serves : 2-4

Ingredients :

  • 1 large sourdough loaf (unsliced)
  • 1/2-3/4 cup broccoli florets (make them on the small side)
  • 1/4-1/3 cup mozzarella, shredded
  • 4 eggs
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • fresh Parmesan, grated

Directions :

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F., and line a baking sheet with foil. 
  2. Slice just enough off the top of the roll to leave a leveled crust-less top on your bread.  Make 4 holes across evenly spaced, digging out some of the bread.  There should be enough room for a little bit of broccoli, cheese and an egg in each hole. 
  3. Start by putting some of your broccoli into the bottom of each of those 4 holes, then stud the bread all around the holes by poking the broccoli into it.  Next put cheese into the holes over the broccoli, but leave room for the eggs.
  4. Carefully crack an egg over each of the 4 holes, going slowly, and taking time to stretch the holes a bit to settle the egg into the bread without breaking the yolks.  Season to top with salt and pepper, sprinkle with Parmesan, and bake about 20-25 minutes or until eggs are set and bread is toasted. 
  5. **** Alternately, cut your roll into halves or fourths before stuffing them and arrange side by side to ensure more even cooking.  See notes above regarding the outer yolks cooking through more than the inside ones when left as one long roll.

Recipe from Divine Cusine Viva la Food!


Healthy Fettuccine Alfredo

A title that seemingly defies the laws of physics!  We’re all familiar with the amazingness that is Alfredo.  And most of us are also painfully aware of how bad it is for you.  I can still remember the first time I made it at home and how shocked I was to find out the particular recipe (which is right up there with the best I have ever had btw) called for not one, but TWO sticks of butter, a TON of parmesan and cream.  It’s no wonder it tastes so good!  After that day I vowed to find a more guilt-free, or least less guilty version to satisfy that craving.  I actually have found some rather great alfredos, that are indeed lower in fat or calories, but far from “healthy”…… until today that is!

I won’t sit here and try to tell you this tastes as good as the full fat, cheesy, creamy version… that would be ludicrous.  I can however, in all honesty, tell you that this recipe definitely delivers on the creamy factor and the taste is surprisingly much closer to actual alfredo than you would imagine.  In case you haven’t figured out my dirty secret by now, this recipe is made with a cauliflower based sauce.  You do get that hint of cauliflower in your bite, but the texture is so rich and creamy and the garlic masks a lot of the veggie taste.  It’s not perfectly smooth like some alfredo sauces, but then again, neither are some of the other low fat versions I have tried.  For a person who is quite picky about textures I found it not only NOT bothersome, but pleasant in it’s texture.  I did cheat just a little and added some fresh grated parmesan to the sauce, in part because I had it and didn’t want it to got to waste, but also because I admit I was a doubter and couldn’t imagine alfredo without parmesan.  I only added a little… probably not even enough to notice, but I think it could be a good addition nonetheless.  It certainly didn’t take away from it in any way.

The recipe comes from a blogger in the Philippines, and there seems to be some difference in our produce from what they have over there.  So her estimation of using three small heads of cauliflower was a bit tricky to figure out.  I ended up going with about 1 2/3 heads of cauliflower, and the heads were just your average size I’d say.  I only had one box of vegetable broth on hand, which is 4 cups, but that seemed to be just enough to cover my cauliflower, which I assumed was the point since you only use about 2 cups of it later anyway.  I ended up with almost exactly that amount after the cooking process.  Unlike the recipe I was following I didn’t see a need to add any of the pasta water to my sauce, so I would just make that call when you get to that point on whether you think it is necessary or not.  The other thing I did differently was in my haste to get dinner on started and while struggling to keep my youngest out of the way I used the olive oil while sauteing the garlic and skipped the butter altogether.  I didn’t go ahead and add any extra olive oil in the blending and didn’t have any problems.  I used a food processor to blend mine which worked very well.

I took a few extra pictures of this particular dish in an attempt to prove to you how good it really was by how beautiful the sauce looked both in the skillet and on the pasta.  If someone had not told you it was cauliflower you honestly might not have figured it out.  The recipe included a nutritional calculation, and though I imagine it could vary slightly depending on ingredients used and measurements being exact, the calorie count was at only 316 calories a serving, and fat was a measly 5 g.!!!  Finally alfredo you can enjoy without the guilt!

Healthy Fettuccine Alfredo

Serves : 8          Time to make : 30 minutes

Ingredients :

  • 3 small heads of cauliflower (I used 1 2/3 heads, see note above)
  • 1 lb. uncooked fettuccine noodles
  • 6 cups vegetable broth (I found 4 cups to be enough)
  • 6 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 T. butter
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • pinch of black pepper
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup starchy pasta water (see note above, I didn’t need to use any of this in mine)
  • Fresh grated parmesan (this wasn’t included in original, but is something I added, and I would just add however much you like)

Direction :

  1. Chop the cauliflower.  Bring the vegetable broth to a boil over medium high heat and add cauliflower.  Cook until cauliflower is soft, about 15 minutes.  The softer it is, the smoother your sauce will turn out.  Meanwhile melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add minced garlic and saute for 4-5 minutes or until soft and fragrant.  (4-5 minutes seems like a long time to me for garlic so I just did it until it started to turn golden)
  2. As the garlic and cauliflower are cooking, bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the fettuccine according to package directions, reserving some oft he starchy pasta water for the sauce.
  3. Transfer cauliflower along with 2 cups of the vegetable broth to a blender (or food processor).  You may need to do this in batches depending on the size of your blender.  Add the sauteed garlic, salt, nutmeg, and black pepper, and puree until very smooth.  Once mixture is moving stream in olive oil.  Add more broth if the mixture is too thick.  When it is very smooth return it the skillet.
  4. Add the cream and cook over low heat.  Add the starchy pasta water (I didn’t need any, and I suggest adding it a little at a time if you feel it might be necessary until you reach a desired consistency) and keep warm until ready to serve.  Combine noodles and sauce in a large pot and serve immediately.

Recipe from pinch of yum

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Buffalo Fried Goat Cheese

I only need one word to describe these…. AMAZING!  I’ve been so good with my diet lately that I felt it was time to have a bit of indulgence to stay motivated.  I had come across these the other day while browsing recipes and knew I had to try them.  In our house we don’t often have goat cheese because my husband claims he is allergic…. though I am not sure if I believe him or if this is one of those allergies that comes around out of convenience for not wanting to eat a specific food.  I have only had it a handful of times, and always enjoyed it, but one time stands out in my mind as noteworthy and that was the time in Tahiti that I had it deep fried…. OMG!  I have to say these are as good if not better than those were with the addition of the buffalo sauce.  Each gorgeous ball is packed with perfect balance of tang, creaminess, crunch, and heat!

I have a pretty sketchy track record when it comes to breading and frying things…. more often than not I lose all my breading in the pan.  It usually ends up fine, at least as far as taste, but darn it if it doesn’t look terrible!  This is the most successful I have ever been with breading and it was so easy.  I think the cheese is the perfect soft/sticky for the breading to stick, and by double breading it allowed for a nice thick coating.  Because you are frying soft cheese I would recommend getting your oil fairly hot before you start since this is not something you want to cook for very long or you will get cheese escaping out the sides.  I went with medium-high heat, and once I put them in (working with only three at a time so I could really watch them closely) I only needed to fry them for maybe a minute total before they were nice and brown.  I just carefully rolled them around with a slotted spoon so that they cooked evenly and avoided spilling out the sides from staying on one side too long.  My advice is just to watch very closely.  Another bit of advice…. the original recipe which I halved called for me to use a cup of panko crumbs for my breading and I probably used less than half of that which then leaves the rest wasted.  I understand wanting enough to be able to roll them around in, but if you would prefer not to waste so much start with half of it and see how much you can coat before adding the rest to your dish.

These would be a fantastic appetizer to serve for any party, but I am thinking especially for the superbowl.  They really are easy to make, and once you get them all prepped, cook in very little time at all.  I think a fresh veggie tray with ranch would be the perfect accompanying appetizer for these, and with that you also have the perfect vegetarian spread as long as they are ok with the eggs anyway.

Buffalo Fried Goat Cheese

Makes : about 12                        Time to make : 15 minutes

Ingredients :

  • 4 oz. log of soft goat cheese
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 2 cups panko breadcrumbs (see note above)
  • 3 cups vegetable oil, for frying (I didn’t measure, but just put about a half inch in the bottom of my skillet and I used canola oil)
  • 1/2 cup Frank’s Red Hot Wings sauce

Directions :

  1. Cut off 1/2 inch slices from your goat cheese log and roll them into balls. 
  2. Roll cheese ball into egg mixture, taking care to evenly coat the entire thing before then rolling into a dish of the panko very gently pressing into the crumbs to help them stick.  Roll in egg mixture again carefully and then into the crumbs a second time.  Repeat with all the cheese balls before you start frying.
  3. Heat oil over medium heat, and test before you start frying your cheese balls by dropping in a piece of breading.  It should float and bubble.  Carefully drop a few balls into the pan and gently roll them around with a spoon for a short time (maybe a minute or so depending on how hot your oil was) until they are a nice even golden brown.  Read above for a more detailed tip on this.
  4. Remove to a plate lined with a paper towel to absorb the extra oil.
  5. Toss your fried cheese balls in the wings sauce gently and serve warm on a bed of greens.

Recipe from a Bitter Sweet Wife


Day 74 : Asian Noodle Bowl

I often see variations of noodle bowls on tv that look like something I would enjoy, but once I see the recipe I pretty quickly realize that a lot of the ingredients are not available in my small area.  I came across this particular recipe on Key Ingredients and was thrilled to learn that it called for such basic ingredients.  The only thing I wasn’t sure I’d be able to find was the chili garlic sauce, which I did find at Walmart.  I even had the almond butter on hand because my oldest son is allergic to peanut butter so we started buying that for him a while back.  So I had all the ingredients and was set to make this, but I was still a bit skeptic only because I know Jeff doesn’t like a meal with no meat in it lol.  He actually gave this 5 stars though!  I also really enjoyed it and would definitely make it again.

I just made the entire box of noodles since I hate leaving such a small amount in the box to put back in the cupboard.  I think I will do the same again next time, but add even more of the broccoli and snow peas in since I had extra this time.  I just didn’t want it to be too much so I stuck to the proper measurements.  I found my snow peas and broccoli already prepped in bags in the produce section which made prep work that much easier.  The entire dish only takes as long as it takes to cook some noodles since the sauce goes together SO quickly.  It’s the perfect weeknight meal and something a little different to help shake things up mid-week.

Asian Noodle Bowl

Serves : 4-6           Time to make : 15 minutes

Ingredients :

  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds
  • 3/4 lb. whole wheat spaghetti
  • 1/2 head broccoli, tops cut into florets, stems sliced thinly
  • 2 cups snow peas, trimmed
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup almond butter
  • 1/4 cup reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 3 T. fresh squeezed lime juice
  • 2 T. brown sugar
  • 1 T. chili-garlic sauce, like sriracha
  • 1-2 scallions, green parts only, sliced thin

Directions :

  1. Toast almonds in a dry skillet over medium heat until brown.  About 3 minutes, stirring often.
  2. Prepare spaghetti according to package directions in a large pot.  When there is about 3 minutes left of cook time add the broccoli.  In the last minute add the snow peas and red pepper.
  3. While pasta is cooking combine the almond butter, soy sauce, lime juice, chili-garlic sauce, and brown sugar in a large bowl with 3 T. of the hot pasta water.  Whisk until smooth.
  4. Drain the pasta and veggies and throw into the bowl with the sauce, tossing carefully to coat with the sauce.
  5. Serve with the sliced scallions and toasted almonds on top.

Day 37 : Penne with Asparagus and Mushrooms in a Gorgonzola Sauce

I hope you have been enjoying my blog so far.  I obviously have been enjoying everything a little too much given the fact that I am up about 2.5 lbs from the start!  Looks like it’s about time to start picking more healthy dishes lol.  Anyway, tonight’s dish was great, and in my opinion not too UN-healthy either!

I used a multi-grain penne, which tends to be a little dryer in flavor so I really think next time I would make twice the sauce because it was SO good.  I did already double the mushrooms (crimini) because I didn’t want to waste any, and also doubled the garlic because I pretty much always do.  I didn’t measure the gorgonzola, but I am sure I used more than an ounce of that too, but I figured that would be better since I had used more mushrooms.  Really the only thing I hadn’t doubled was the milk and cream but will for sure next time.

I took the asparagus out at the start so once that had thawed a bit I cut it and then sauteed it shortly over medium heat in a  little bit of oil and seasoned it with salt and pepper with a small squeeze of lemon juice.  I love how it mimics the penne in size and shape.  It just makes it look so pretty!  If you love asparagus and want to get in more veggies feel free to throw a few more spears into this too.

Not being a wine connoisseur I am not really sure what passes as a DRY white wine, and so decided to just try a moscato for this which I think went very well.  It added a little sweetness that made the mushrooms burst with flavor in your mouth.  It was also a nice wine to drink along with the meal.

Penne w/ Apsaragus & Mushrooms in a Gorgonzola Sauce

Serves : 4                 Time to make : 25 minutes

Ingredients :

  • 1 T. butter
  • 4 oz. mushrooms (sliced)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 lb. penne
  • 1 clove garlic (chopped)
  • 1/2 tsp. fresh thyme (chopped)
  • 1 splash dry white wine
  • 1/4 C. milk
  • 2 T. heavy cream
  • 1 oz. gorgonzola (crumbled)
  • 1/2 lb. asparagus (cleaned, trimmed and cut into 1-in. slices like penne)

Directions :

  1. Melt the butter in a pan.
  2. Add the mushrooms, saute until tender (about 10 minutes), then season with salt and pepper at the end.
  3. Add the pasta to boiling water, and cook until al dente, about 7-10 minutes.
  4. Add the garlic and thyme to the pan of mushrooms and saute until fragrant, about a minute.
  5. Add the white wine and deglaze the pan.
  6. Add the milk,  heavy cream and gorgonzola.
  7. Place asparagus into a primed steamer until tender, about 3-4 minutes.
  8. Simmer the sauce until it thicken, several minutes.
  9. Drain the pasta and toss in the gorgonzola sauce along with the asparagus.


Published in: on February 7, 2011 at 9:21 pm  Leave a Comment  
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