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

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Published in: on April 21, 2015 at 8:19 am  Comments (1)  
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Italian Chicken Pasta Salad


Tonight’s dinner is one of those super simple dishes that can be thrown together with little effort and very little actual cooking as well, which makes it the perfect weeknight meal.  It also makes great leftovers for lunch the following days.  This is yet another recipe that takes advantage of the ever-convenient and delicious rotisserie chicken…. one of my favorite cheats!  I suppose you could make your own chicken if you wanted, but last I checked there were no awards being handed out for causing yourself unnecessary hassle and making it from scratch lol.

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The concept of this dish is pretty basic, with many of the usual Italian ingredients… and that’s ok.  Sometimes you just don’t need to mess with a good thing.  I really enjoyed this salad, and would definitely make it as is over and over again with complete satisfaction.  I can also see room for embellishments too if you wanted to mix things up from time to time.  Perhaps some crispy proscuitto, maybe some parsley or lemon… or whatever other Italian ingredients you like.  The only change I made to the original recipe was to use half kalamata olives just because they are my favorite and I happened to have some of both in the fridge I needed to use up.  Another area of versatility is in the dressing.  With so many options out there this could easily take on a lot of different flavors.  I used some Olive Garden Italian dressing I had on hand which I really love because it’s so creamy and cheesy.  You can also use whatever type of pasta you prefer.  I used some orecchiette, which is great for catching the dressing in the little bowl shaped centers.  The only downside is that they tend to stack up in there.

I cut the recipe in half and still had LOTS of food, so take that into consideration.  This would feed a lot of people, but like I said it can also make good leftovers.  I actually made mine earlier in the day and let it hang out in the fridge for a few hours before I served it.  I did sneak a taste right away before putting it in there, and I gotta say I really liked it with slightly warm pasta.  However, it’s still very good totally chilled.  It’s not a bad idea to reserve a bit of dressing to mix in later on just in case it seems a bit dry after sitting so long.

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Italian Chicken Pasta Salad

Ingredients :

  • 1 pkg. (16 oz) pasta
  • 3 cups chopped rotisserie chicken
  • 1 can (14 oz) artichoke hearts, diced
  • 1 can (6 oz) sliced black olives
  • 1 tub (8 oz) mozzarella pearls
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup torn or julienned basil
  • 1 cup shaved parmesan
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 bottle (16 oz) Italian salad dressing, divided

Directions :

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions until al dente.  Rinse under cold water and drain well.  Pour pasta into a large mixing bowl.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients, reserving about 1/2 cup of the dressing.  Mix to combine.
  3. Serve or refrigerate until ready to use.  (Pasta may dry out upon standing. Add reserved dressing if needed)

Recipe from In Good Flavor

Pasta with Shrimp, Lime & Saffron


Whenever I make a dish with fish or shellfish in it I just feel like I am eating better.  Obviously that is not always the case, but generally I do feel it holds some truth.  Fish and shellfish are both very low calorie and fat, and generally are prepared in ways that keep things light and fresh.  Despite the large amount of olive oil in this dish (but keeping in mind olive oil IS good for you lol) I do feel like this is a pretty light, yet satisfying dish.  The nice fresh, slightly sweet taste of the shrimp pairs perfectly with the bright tangy and spicy sauce.

Let’s talk about saffron for a minute.  It is the most expensive spice on the market and most people have probably never tried it.  It is actually the stigma of a certain type of crocus.  It lends a sort of sweetness to a dish, and a little goes a LONG way.  When you buy it you often get a tiny amount and you really only need a few threads for a dish.  If you just can’t justify spending so much on a spice, I think this dish would still be a winner without it, but if you’re curious definitely give a shot!  It will probably last you a long time because not many dishes call for it.  A tip I found for dispersing the flavor more evenly in your dish is to soak the threads for about 5 minutes in a teaspoon of warm water or white wine to then be used in your dish.

The recipe I followed actually had a slightly different name (Pasta with Scampi, Lime & Saffron), but I don’t think it’s correct.  When I think of scampi I think of shrimp cooked in a garlic butter sauce, and there is no butter in this dish.  There is however a good deal of garlic.  Don’t shy away from it, it’s not nearly as intense as it seems lol.  I used a shallot as my onion for a more mild onion flavor.  The recipe was also originally written for a full lb box of pasta, but I used a bit less (11oz).  I didn’t end up needing any pasta water to thin my sauce out, but don’t forget to hang on to it just in case.  The recipe I followed called for Nolly Pratt, but I have no idea what that is (however they referenced white wine in the article so that’s what I went with), instead I used a chardonnay.  And, as always, if you can get your hands on some nice fresh shrimp that would definitely be best.  However frozen is fine too.  I wanted to leave the tails on for a prettier picture, but the part of me that can’t stand food that is a hassle to eat won in this case.

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Pasta with Shrimp, Lime, & Saffron

Ingredients :

  • 12 oz. linguine
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 18 medium sized shrimp (about a lb)
  • 1 onion finely chopped (or shallot)
  • 8 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 100 ml white wine
  • few strands of saffron (remember a little goes a long way)
  • zest of 2 limes
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1 tsp. chili flakes
  • 1/4 cup freshly chopped parsley
  • 1/4 sliced green onions
  • black and white sesame seeds for garnish
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions :

  1. Clean, devein, and prepare shrimp how you like them.  Salt and pepper them.
  2. Heat a skillet over medium to medium-high heat with a bit of your oil and cook shrimp on each side for about a minute and set aside.  They should be mostly cooked through because they won’t cook much longer after this, but remember shrimp are easy to over-cook.
  3. Add the rest of your oil to the skillet and saute onions for a few minutes until softened.  Add garlic, chili flakes and saffron (on medium so your garlic doesn’t burn) and cook until fragrant.
  4. Add white wine, and scrape any bits off the bottom of your pan.  Bump it back up to medium-high and let it simmer for a couple minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions and reserve some of the starchy pasta water to thin your sauce as needed.
  6. Add to your pan the chopped parsley, lime zest, lime juice, green onions, and drained pasta.  Add a little of the pasta water at this time (only if necessary) as well.
  7. Add your shrimp, toss to coat, and heat through… make sure your shrimp are now fully cooked through.
  8. Garnish with a sprinkling of black and white sesame seeds and a wedge of lime.

Recipe from My Kitchen Treasures

 

 

Skinny Capellini Carbonara


In my last post I covered that all too familiar scenario where you plan out your meals and realize when you’re at the store that you can’t get certain ingredients.  Similar to that, I often find that I can’t find a specific version of something.  This can become a major issue for a less experienced cook because if you do have to substitute you may find that you need to tweak the directions in order to get a good result.  In this case, it was proscuitto.  Although you can get thinly sliced proscuitto at nearly every store around me, I have yet to see it in a form that would allow me to dice it up.  I have a feeling you need a specialty store, or butcher for that sort of thing.

Anyway, with really no other options, I decided to just go with the thinly sliced stuff, which thankfully I am familiar with.  If you put a thin slice in a hot skillet it will sort of wrinkle and curl up and though it will cook, it won’t be very even.  I decided instead to pile it up and just roughly cut it up, allowing it to stick together and form bits.  I also don’t think you get the amount of fat in the skillet that you would if you were using a thicker cut, so I added just a bit of olive oil to my skillet to get it going.  As it cooked, I stirred it around pretty constantly as I didn’t want areas to overcook, which can happen quickly.  I cooked it over medium or even a little lower for about 5 minutes until it started to crisp up and all the fat pieces loss that chewyness I don’t enjoy.

The packages at my store came as 3oz, which I think is pretty standard, so I grabbed 2… and because I had nothing in mind for the leftovers I used it all.  I figured my husband especially would appreciate the extra in a pretty simple dish.  It was good that way, but the proscuitto does add a good deal of saltiness to the dish, so if you aren’t big on salty foods I would stick to 4oz as I am sure it would have been plenty.  The other substitute I made, if you can even really call it that, was to use shredded Parmesan instead of grated because I already had that and shaved and didn’t want to purchase a third variety.  I just ran my knife through it a bit until it was closer to grated texture and that worked out just fine.  The recipe states that you could need additional pasta water to thin your sauce, but I definitely didn’t find that to be the case, it was nice and thin with just the 1/2 cup.  For the capellini, I used thin spaghetti, and mine was actually a vegetable variety which I hadn’t tried before.  I have never seen capellini in my stores, but I am pretty sure there really isn’t much if any difference between the two, or you could even use angel hair pasta.

Now for the review…. I have to say I didn’t expect to like this as much as I did!  I had hoped I would of course, but I guess having the word skinny in the title just makes you assume it’s going to be bland at best.  The proscuitto adds so much flavor to this dish, and especially if you use 1 1/2 the amount like I did lol.  The peas give that nice counter balance of freshness to the decadent and velvety smooth sauce.  All in all, a fantastic pasta dish!  This is also a very quick dish to prepare which is perfect for most people on a busy weeknight.

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Skinny Capellini Carbonara

Ingredients :

  • 1/2 lb capellini pasta (sub thin spaghetti or angel hair)
  • 4 oz. proscuitto, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced (I doubled that)
  • 4 large eggs, at room temp
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan, at room temp
  • 1/8 tsp. kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup pasta water
  • 1/2 cup cooked peas
  • additional Parmesan for top

Directions :

  1. In a large skillet over medium heat, brown the proscuitto until golden, approximately 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for one minute. Turn off the heat. (See notes above if you had to use thinly sliced proscuitto)
  2. In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook the pasta until al dente. Approximately 2-3 minutes (or according to package directions if you substituted another pasta)
  3. While the pasta cooks, whisk the eggs with the cheese, salt and pepper. Slowly whisk in 1/2 cup of pasta water to the eggs to temper them. (So they don’t scramble when mixed into the pasta.)
  4. Remove the pasta with a slotted spoon and transfer to the skillet with the proscuitto. Mix the pasta with the fat and proscuitto and then slowly add the eggs to the pasta while stirring constantly. If the pasta still seems dry add another 1/4 cup of the pasta water and stir until cream. Fold in the peas and serve immediately.

Recipe from The Suburban Soapbox

Published in: on January 13, 2015 at 7:42 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Tex-Mex Taco Pasta


If you’re like most people you probably find a recipe you like and then make it over and over until you eventually know it like the back of your hand.  There’s nothing wrong with that!  As some would say, why fix it if it’s not broken?!  I, however, look at things a little differently and rarely do I make the same recipe twice unless it was just so amazing that there is no question in my mind of whether a different version could ever top it… and even then I still might try.  Because of this, I have found that though a recipe can essentially have the same ingredients and even be prepared similarly, it only takes a small change to sometimes make a more substantial difference in flavor.  This allows me to not only find “better” (or sometimes worse) versions of a dish, but I guess i get to enjoy many good versions of a good dish without it ever seeming too familiar or boring.

This dish is one of those dishes.  I have made plenty of taco inspired pastas or casseroles, and they use basically the same things, but each is a little different from the other.  Some are more punchy or spicy in flavor, some more cheesy and indulgent, textures vary, etc.  I would consider this version a family friendly version which we really enjoyed, with all the great flavors you would expect but somehow in a mild form if that makes sense.  This one is also quite simple to prepare, which I guess most are, but this one especially so, making it a perfect weeknight meal.  There was enough for us to have this two nights which is always a bonus during a busy week!  Even my picky child…. ok BEYOND picky…  said he didn’t totally hate this.  Which actually means he kind of liked it and just won’t admit it and eat new foods.

My only issues with the recipe were minor things.  The first being the rotel tomatoes… it called for 15 oz, and I could only find 10 oz cans.  No biggie, I just went with 2 and I think that worked out perfectly.  The second issue was during the step where it says to season the browned meat with the taco seasoning.  I have seen recipes that go both ways, and this one did NOT state whether I should use the water as directed on the packet.  However, it did say to simmer, which I imagine couldn’t happen very well without the water so I decided to go with it and I am glad I did.  Whether or not it was intended it worked out great that way and I would suggest for sure using it as directed on the packet.  The last small thing was that the recipe said to add the beans, corn, and rotel at the end of simmering the meat and turn off heat.  I wanted to be sure everything was heated through so I just left the burner on medium-low and kept it stirred until my pasta was done.

I used an organic 85/15 beef, and a taco blend of Mexican cheeses.  I also opted for the original rotel tomatoes, which I am sure has a lot to do with my mild flavors, but if your family is all ok with some heat feel free to use a spicier version. Of course I could add various things to this to make it better, or different at least to better suite our tastes…. but that would be a new recipe… and perhaps one I will come across later on!

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Tex-Mex Taco Pasta

Ingredients :

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 packet low sodium taco seasoning (plus water suggested on packet)
  • 12 oz. farfalle (bow tie) pasta
  • 15 oz rotel tomatoes (or 20 oz in my case), drained of excess liquid
  • 15 oz can sweet corn, drained
  • 15 oz. can black beans (low sodium), rinsed and drained
  • 2 cups Mexican blend cheese
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • cilantro

Directions :

  1. Cook farfalle according to package directions in salted water.
  2. Meanwhile brown your beef in a high-rimmed skillet over medium-high heat.  Drain the excess grease off.  Add taco seasoning (and water) and allow to simmer for 5 minutes.
  3. Add rotel tomatoes, corn, and black beans.  Reduce heat to a medium-low or low and stir occasionally to keep things heated through until the pasta is done.
  4. Drain pasta, and put back into pot.  Add the meat mixture, cheese, and heavy cream.  Stir until cheese has melted in. 
  5. Serve with chopped cilantro to garnish.

Recipe from catz in the kitchen

Published in: on January 9, 2015 at 8:24 pm  Leave a Comment  
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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

 

Skillet Baked Ziti with Sausage


Let me start off by saying that though this is REALLY good, I mean seriously so, a friend that has made real baked ziti many times (something I can’t say that I have ever tried) says this does not resemble it very closely.  She did agree that it was fantastic however.  So whether you want to call it baked ziti or not, you should try this for sure!

The sauce is amazing, and everything together screams comfort food.  I did make a few changes/substitutions in my version as did the friend I mentioned.  So I am going to list the recipe out with those ingredients.  One big change I made was to use fresh roma tomatoes rather than canned peeled tomatoes because I am trying to avoid canned foods as much as possible.  This is a personal choice, but I have been hearing so much about BPA in the lining and I am just really trying to make better food choices for my family where and when I can.  Having never substituted fresh tomatoes for canned in something like this I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect.  I read about how to blanch and peel tomatoes but I didn’t want to go through the hassle.  I knew that might mean I would have pieces of the skin left in my dish but honestly I didn’t notice it if there were.  They blended up nicely in the processor.  The other notable change I made was to use chicken sausages (the kind that are more like hotdogs).  I don’t love sausage, so again this is preference.  I didn’t have any casings to remove, and I ended up chopping it into bite sized pieces.  Since it comes fully cooked I just had to heat it up really and let it get some browning before moving on with the next step.  Of courses I added more cheese… but I will list that as it stated and let you be the judge there.

I made mine in my cast iron skillet, just make sure you are using an oven proof one.  I love dishes like this where you make everything in one skillet.  Saves on dishes… even though admittedly that’s my husband’s job… and it’s just easier.  I really love the rustic look of serving a full dish in a cast iron skillet too.

 

Skillet Baked Ziti with Sausage

Ingredients :

  • 28oz fresh roma tomatoes (about 5-6)
  • 1 4-pk Italian Chicken Sausages, cut into bite size pieces
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3 cups water
  • 12 oz. ziti (I used penne)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 oz. parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 4 oz mozzarella cheese, shredded (or more!)

Directions :

  1. Preheat oven to 475 F.
  2. Add the tomatoes to the bowl of your food processor and pulse until there aren’t any large pieces left, about 12 pulses.
  3. Set a 12-inch skillet over medium heat and add the sausage. Cook until the sausage is slightly browned.  Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook just until fragrant, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Stir in the tomatoes and the salt (if you’re not using a nonstick pan, now is a good time to scrape the bottom of the pan to release the browned bits). Reduce the heat to medium-low and allow the mixture to simmer gently for about 10 minutes, or until the tomatoes don’t taste raw anymore.
  4. Add the water and pasta to the pan (the pan will probably be quite full, just stir gently to prevent overflow). Cover the pan and turn the heat up to medium to medium-high (adjust as necessary to maintain a vigorous simmer). Cook, stirring frequently to prevent the pasta from sticking to the bottom of the pan, for about 15 minutes, or until the pasta is tender. The pasta will not have absorbed all the liquid in the pan.
  5. Add the heavy cream, Parmesan cheese, and parsley to the pan. Stir to incorporate, then season to taste with salt and pepper. Top the pasta with the mozzarella cheese then transfer the pan to the oven and bake for about 10-12 minutes, or until the cheese has melted and browned.

Recipe from Tracey’s Culinary Adventures

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Paprika Chicken Stroganoff


This dish has almost all the elements that to me make a perfect meal…. pasta, mushrooms, garlic, meat, bold flavor, creamy sauce, and some fresh parsley!  The only thing it IS missing to be a perfect combo of my favorite things is some cheese, but this isn’t really a recipe that needs it, so I guess I will give it a pass on that lol.  This is not only a tasty dish, but is also very visually appealing.  The red/orange color of the sauce, the white of the pasta, and the bright green of the parsley make it look like a piece of art!

As if those elements alone weren’t enough to make me or anyone else want to try this, I was also intrigued by the use of Greek yogurt in the dish.  When I think of stroganoff I think of cream of mushroom soup, or some other variety.  If the recipe is more health conscious or just more involved it at least calls for cream or butter or something to make it so good and creamy, but not quite so healthy.  With this dish there really was no need.  The sauce was thick and creamy from the yogurt and the flour alone.  This for me at least cuts back on the guilt of either using cream and butter or “cream of soup” (which I am trying to phase out in our house).

I didn’t make any changes to the recipe, which for me is rare lol.  So with that, I will just get on with it and share the recipe.

Paprika Chicken Stroganoff

Ingredients :

  • 1 1/4 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 T. paprika
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 2 T. all-purpose flour
  • 1 T. olive oil, divided
  • 1 medium  yellow onion, diced
  • 8 oz. baby bella mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 3/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 T. tomato paste
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 1 T. all-purpose flour whisked with 1 T. water
  • 1o oz. dry egg noodles
  • fresh parsley, chopped, for garnish

Directions :

  1. In a medium bowl, toss the cubed chicken with the paprika, salt and pepper. Sprinkle the flour on top of the chicken and toss to coat.
  2. Heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until rippling and hot. Add the chicken and cook 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until no longer pink (no need to cook through); remove the chicken onto a plate and set aside.
  3. Add the last teaspoon of oil to the pan and allow to get hot, about 1 minute; stir in the onions and mushrooms. Saute the mixture, stirring occasionally and scraping up the browned bits from the chicken, until the onion is translucent and the onions and mushrooms are browned, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, saute 30 seconds or until fragrant.
  4. Meanwhile, heat 2 quarts of water in a large pot. Bring water to a boil and add noodles. Cook 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Drain and set aside.
  5. Pour in about 1/4 cup of the chicken broth and deglaze the pan by scraping up any bits from the bottom. Stir in the tomato paste, whisking to combine. Add the rest of the chicken broth and the bay leaf, whisking well. Add the chicken back into the skillet and simmer the mixture over medium-low to medium heat, until the chicken is cooked through and the sauce thickens slightly, about 5-6 minutes. Stir in the yogurt and cook for about 2-3 minutes longer.
  6. Add the flour and water slurry to the simmering mixture in the skillet, whisking quickly to combine. Let the mixture simmer for 2-3 minutes until thickened. Serve over hot noodles and garnish with fresh parsley.

Recipe from Prevention RD

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Broccoli-Chicken Mac & Cheese


Continuing on with my comfort food theme of late I decided to give this Broccoli-Chicken Mac & Cheese a try.  I am not really a fan of basic mac and cheese, but I do like the jazzed up versions.  Nothing screams comfort like pasta, cheesy sauce, and other flavorful bits all mixed in with it!

We both thought this was really good.  It has a rich creamy/cheesy feel to it, but the best part is that you are saving so many calories by using laughing cow cheese in this dish.  I used garlic and herb as suggested in the recipe, but I bet it would be good with the french onion variety or perhaps some of the others as well.  I used oricchiette, but the person who posted it used shell noodles.  The last change I made was to use half and half in place of the milk.  I know it undid some of the benefit of using the laughing cow cheese, but I had some left over from another recipe and I didn’t want to waste it.  I used probably about 1/2 cup of that, and 1/2 cup of fat free milk.

Anyway, this dish is a complete meal, comes together easily, and would please even the pickier eaters (as long as you can actually get yours’ to try things that is lol).  It also looks very nice on the plate with all the colors, I would just suggest tossing it a bit more gently than I did since I broke up a lot of my broccoli in my haste to get dinner on the table.  What can I say, I was hungry! lol

 

Broccoli-Chicken Mac & Cheese

Ingredients :

  • 8 oz. large macaroni noodles (or whatever noodle you prefer)
  • 3 cups small broccoli florets
  • 2 large chicken breasts (about 1 lb), cut into bite-sized pieces
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tsp. oil (I used oil from the sun-dried tomatoes)
  • 6 oz. laughing cow lite cheese wedges (I used Garlic & Herb)
  • 3/4 – 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped

Directions :

  1. Cook macaroni noodles in a large pot of salted, boiling water. Add broccoli to the pot 3 minutes before noodles are done cooking, then drain well and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, season chicken pieces with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat, then add chicken and cook until no longer pink. Remove to a plate and set aside. In the same skillet, add cheese, milk, sun-dried tomatoes, salt, and pepper, then stir until cheese is melted, and sauce is thick. Add cooked chicken, noodles, and broccoli to the skillet then stir well to combine. Add more milk if sauce isn’t creamy enough, then serve.

Recipe from Iowa Girl Eats

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Cheesy Chicken Stroganoff Bake


If you are looking for a dish low in calories, while still allowing you to eat your fill, this is a great one for you.  It definitely resembles that stroganoff taste, but tastes lighter.  My husband liked it, but when asked to elaborate he said it tasted like health food lol.  Well he’s right, it is health food, but that’s not a bad thing.

It came together easily, and I didn’t change a thing.  I would say it is somewhat thinner than I might have liked, but not terribly so.  I didn’t get a chance to eat the leftovers (my husband took them to lunch) but I imagine by then it soaked things up a bit better.  I almost broke from the directions and put more pasta in, but I really wanted to give the dish a chance because of the low calorie count.    For a whopping 2 cups it boasts only 390 calories.  And while I know my husband would have appreciated more pasta, I was fine with the smaller amount.

Overall, if you are watching what you eat, and don’t mind compromising just a bit on those comfort food dishes this is one to try!

Cheesy Chicken Stroganoff Bake

Makes : 4 servings

Ingredients :

  • 5 oz. whole-wheat or multi-grain rotini pasta, uncooked
  • 6 cups small broccoli florets
  • 12oz. boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • optional : salt, pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder to taste (I just did salt and pepper)
  • 2 cups sliced mushrooms
  • 1 cup chopped onions
  • 1 tsp. garlic, minced
  • 1 11/2 tsp. Italian seasoning
  • 1 cup (about 1 can) 98% fat-free condensed cream of mushroom soup (I used the whole can)
  • 1/4 cup light sour cream
  • 1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • 2 T. reduced-fat grated Parmesan cheese

Directions :

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 9×13 inch baking pan with nonstick spray.
  2. Cook pasta according to package directions, adding broccoli to the boiling water for the last 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, season chicken if you like (I definitely recommend this!). Bring a large skillet sprayed with nonstick spray to medium-high heat. Add mushrooms, onion, and garlic and cook and stir for about 2 – 3 minutes. Add chicken and cook and stir until chicken is cooked through, about 8 minutes. Add soup and sour cream and cook and stir until hot and well mixed. Remove from heat. Add drained pasta and broccoli to skillet and mix well.
  4. Spoon mixture into baking pan, cover with foil, and bake 15 minutes. Uncover, top with mozzarella and Parmesan cheese, and bake uncovered until cheese is melted, about 3 – 5 minutes.

Recipe from Callie Cooks

 

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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

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Dijon Chicken Linguine with Crimini Mushrooms & Toasted Almonds


This was one of those recipes that had me drooling over my screen when I came across it while browsing for much healthier recipes.  I couldn’t help myself, and even though I knew it wasn’t low FODMAP (in fact with all that cream, garlic, pasta, and mushrooms it is anything BUT), I just didn’t care because it looked so dang good!  I decided to do my best and cut back where I could, but I figured this would be one of those “cheat” nights…. which really just means my stomach will give me hell which it did, but some days you just don’t care.  I cut out the garlic…. sad I know… and cut the cream in half and replaced the other with my fat free/lactose free milk.  It really didn’t seem to diminish the flavor whatsoever so that’s a plus, and I imagine it did a good job of cutting the calories and fat as well.  I REALLY enjoyed this meal, even though I was questioning my sanity shortly after when it starting causing me stomach troubles lol.

Fresh pasta is just so much better than it’s dried cousin.  So soft and delicious!  Top that off with some nice earthy mushrooms, perfectly toasted almonds, simply seasoned chicken and a luxuriously creamy dijon sauce and you have heaven on a plate in my opinion.  Perhaps it wasn’t even just the ingredients in this recipe that caused me so much trouble, but rather the insane amount that I consumed lol.

Other than the changes I already mentioned above, I only made a minor adjustment to the mushrooms.  Rather than only allowing them to simmer in the almost finished dish for a couple of minutes I knew I wanted them a bit more sauteed/soft, so after toasting my almonds I did just that and sauteed them in a bit of butter just for a couple minutes.  The picture that drew me in so easily also had some chives sprinkled on the final dish, and I even bought some for this purpose, but ended up forgetting them since they weren’t listed in the actual recipe.  Oh well… next time.  I did however whip up some crostini to go with this and it was PERFECT together.

Regarding the wine…. not being a connoisseur myself, I am always slightly annoyed when a recipe gives such general instruction such as “white wine” or “red wine”.  This was one of those recipes.  I didn’t really want a fruity wine, which I tend to gravitate towards for drinking when it comes to white wine so I was not sure what to get.  I settled on one that claimed to be crisp and balanced in flavor, as well as low calorie (always a plus lol).  The one I picked was called Skinny Girl California White, and I think it was a great choice for this dish!

Dijon Chicken Linguine with Crimini Mushrooms & Toasted Almonds

Serves : 4

Ingredients :

  • 350 g pkg. fresh linguine (Mine was something like 250g, just whatever I found at the store)
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (I used 3 large breasts weighing about 1.5 lbs total)
  • 1 C. sliced crimini mushrooms
  • 3 T. olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced (I left this out)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 C. toasted slivered almonds
  • 4 oz. white wine (see note above)
  • 2 C. whipping cream (or like me half cream and half fat free milk)
  • 3 T. dijon (I suggest a nice coarse variety)
  • salt and pepper to season

Directions :

  1. If, like me, you would prefer softer mushrooms saute them for a minute or two before you get started after toasting your almonds, and set aside.
  2. Heat olive oil in a large heavy bottomed frying pan over medium low heat. Add chicken breasts, garlic, season with salt and pepper and continue to fry the chicken until completely cooked.  Remove chicken from pan and hold in a warm oven.
  3. Add white wine to pan, and deglaze.  Simmer until volume is reduced by half.
  4. Add cream, dijon, and salt and pepper.  Simmer until sauce thickens enough to coat a metal spoon.
  5. Return Chicken to the sauce, add the mushrooms and simmer for an additional 2 minutes.
  6. Serve over cooked linguine. Sprinkle with toasted slivered almonds.

Recipe from Rock Recipes

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Published in: on August 11, 2013 at 8:15 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Mediterranean Pasta


This was another fantastic dish.  Judging by the ingredients I didn’t expect it to be as flavorful as it was.  While I am all for eating healthier, I will admit that at times I find the food to be a bit on the bland side.  There wasn’t much in this recipe that made me think it would be otherwise, and especially in regards to the sauce.  But somehow, when you put these simple things together, magic happens and as I said, there is an abundance of great flavor.  There is a nice not of heat from the chili flakes, plenty of freshness from the lemon and basil, and a great Mediterranean flavor blend from the garlic, artichokes, capers, and sundried tomatoes.  It’s just another added bonus that this dish is so healthy for you!

For the pasta, I suggest using something like Barilla Plus.  It has the health benefits of other whole wheat pastas, but resembles white pasta more closely in texture and appearance which makes it a bit more enjoyable.  I used regular spaghetti because it’s the size I had on hand, although the recipe calls for thin.  I really don’t think it matters.  For the artichokes I used marinated hearts from a jar, and I used sundried tomatoes packed in oil to save time.  I just squeeze as much oil off them as I can before cutting them up.

As you can see from the picture, this is also a beautiful dish with all the colors.  As you know, I am a firm believer in the enjoyment of foods based on not only how they taste, but also how they look!  This one was so good, and so simple I think I will be making it again soon!

 

Mediterranean Pasta

Makes : 4 servings

Ingredients :

  • 1/3 cup sundried tomatoes
  • 1 cup reduced sodium chicken stock
  • 1 T. lemon juice
  • 2 tsp. lemon zest
  • 2 tsp. flour
  • 8 oz. multigrain thin spaghetti
  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into bite size pieces
  • salt and pepper
  • 3 tsp. olive oil, divided
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp. red chili flakes (I think I used about 1/3 tsp.)
  • 1 (9oz) pkg. frozen artichoke hearts, thawed (or canned)
  • 2 T. capers
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil
  • 2 T. grated parmesan cheese

Directions :

  1. Place the sundried tomatoes in a small bowl and soak them in warm water to soften them.  If using tomatoes packed in oil, you can skip this step. 
  2. To make the sauce, stir the chicken stock, lemon juice, zest and flour together in a bowl.  Set aside. 
  3. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add the spaghetti.  Cook according to package directions, until al dente.  Drain and reserve about ½ cup of the pasta water. 
  4. Season the chicken with salt and pepper.  Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large sauté pan or skillet over medium high heat.  Add the chicken and cook without moving it until it is browned on one side, about 3 minutes.  Turn the chicken over and cook on the other side until browned.  Remove the chicken and set aside in a bowl.
  5. Turn the heat down to medium and add the remaining teaspoon oil.  Add the garlic and chili flakes and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Stir the sauce mixture and pour it into the pan.  Stir to pick up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.  Drain the sundried tomatoes and slice them.  Add them to the pan along with the artichokes, capers and chicken.  Simmer for a few minutes to allow the ingredients to heat up and the flavors to meld.  Add the pasta along with the basil and cheese.  Toss to combine all ingredients well.  Add some of the reserved pasta water as needed until the sauce reaches the desired consistency.  Garnish with fresh basil and serve.

Recipe from The Foodie Physician

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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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