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.

Enjoy!

Recipe from Orchard Street 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

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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.