Monday, November 29, 2010

Farfalle With Forest Mushrooms, Peas & Parsley

1/4 cup butter
4 large garlic cloves, minced
3 shallots, chopped
12 oz shiitake mushrooms, stemmed, quartered
12 oz crimini mushrooms, quartered
12 oz chanterelle or crimini mushrooms, quartered
1 1/4 cups dry white wine
1 1/2 cups whipping cream
2 cups frozen peas
2/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 1/4 lbs farfalle

1) Melt butter in large deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and shallots; sauté 1 minute. Add shiitake and crimini mushrooms and sauté 5 minutes. Add chanterelles; sauté until all mushrooms are tender, about 5 minutes longer. Add wine and boil until reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Add cream and simmer until liquid is reduced to sauce consistency, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Stir in peas and parsley. Remove from heat. Season sauce with salt and pepper. Cover to keep warm.
2) Meanwhile, cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain, reserving 1 cup pasta cooking liquid. Return pasta to pot.
3) Add mushroom sauce to pasta and toss to coat, moistening with reserved pasta cooking liquid, if necessary.

Review:  Costco began carrying chanterelle mushrooms, so we were curious and I looked for a recipe to use them in.  However, we were greatly disappointed.  The mushrooms are very slick to the touch, which is a little odd, and the texture was quite mushy and a little stringy.  We were so sad and I tended to pick out the chanterelles, though they were so pricey!  It was also disappointing, considering I had more than 12oz of each of these mushrooms, and our shiitakes were sooooo small.  I easily spent half an hour cleaning and quartering the mushrooms!  The rest of the dish was pretty yummy, though.  I could see us having the dish again, but substituting a different mushroom.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

This Week's Planned Menu

Black Bean Lasagna

Farfalle with Forest Mushrooms, Peas & Parsley

Greek Pasta With Tomatoes & White Beans

Butternut Squash & Linguine

Nutty Lentil & Brown Rice Salad

pizza @ PieHole (a NYC style pizzeria)

Pumpkin Dumplings With Radicchio

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Baked Shells With Winter Squash

Butter, for baking dish
4 Tbs olive oil
2 large onions, halved and thinly sliced
Coarse salt and ground pepper
2 tsp chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1 pound small pasta shells
1 pkg (12 oz) frozen winter squash puree, thawed
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3 slices crusty baguette, cut into 1/4-inch cubes (1 1/2 cups)

1) Preheat oven to 400F. Butter a 9x13-inch baking dish. Heat 3 Tbs oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add onions; season with salt and pepper. Cover; cook until onions are soft and release liquid, 15 minutes. Uncover; raise heat to medium. Cook, stirring, until onions are browned, 20 to 25 minutes. Stir in 1 tsp rosemary.  
2) Meanwhile, cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water 2 minutes less than package instructions suggest. Drain, reserving 1 1/2 cups cooking water. Return pasta to pot. 
3) Stir squash and reserved pasta water into onions; simmer 2 minutes. Toss squash mixture and 1/2 cup Parmesan with pasta. Transfer to prepared dish.
4) Combine bread cubes with remaining Parmesan, rosemary, and oil; season with salt and pepper. Top pasta with bread cubes; bake until golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes.

Review:  I significantly tweaked this recipe.  I can't find squash puree at my local grocery stores!  So, I bought the prediced stuff at Costco and made the puree myself.  One package resulted in enough for this recipe, and an equal amount to be frozen for future use.  Yay me.  I skipped the step of browning onions, as I didn't like the idea of it.  So, instead I cooked the pasta, then drained it.  In the pot, I returned the pasta and tossed in the pasta water, puree, the Parmesan, 1 Tbs of dried onions and 1Tbs of dried shallots.  I cooked until bubbling and then tossed it into the baking dish.  I also substituted the bread cubes with 3/4 cup of bread crumbs.  So, this is basically a dressed-up mac-n-cheese.  However, it was really yummy and was filling on a snowy evening. 

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

We celebrated the holiday with friends/classmates, so I didn't have a full menu this year.

I made my Grandma Birdsong's pecan pie.  I don't ever recall having it before, but it was a nice addition to the festivities today!

And, I made Meg's sweet potato casserole:

And, Dmitri & Katya even had a little something special:

Cinnamon Sugar Muffins

For cinnamon sugar topping:
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

For muffins:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/3 cup milk

Make topping:
In a small bowl stir together sugar and cinnamon. Preheat oven to 375°F. and butter six 1/3-cup muffin cups. 

Make muffins: 
Into a bowl sift together flour, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg. In a bowl with an electric mixer beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg until combined well. Beat in flour mixture and add milk, beating until mixture is just combined. Divide batter evenly among cups and sprinkle with topping. Bake muffins in middle of oven 15 to 20 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean. Remove muffins from cups and cool on a rack. Muffins keep in an airtight container 2 days.

Review:  Ah, this was my Thanksgiving day surprise for Mike, but he woke up before I even got started!  I've had muffin cravings for a few days, but due to the blizzard, I couldn't run out to the store for muffin ingredients.  I found this recipe and was in heaven, as I had all the ingredients in the house!

So, I used whole-wheat flour, so my muffins are a little darker.  I also omitted the nutmeg and tossed in a dash of allspice, cloves and ginger.  My muffins are also misshapen because I lack a muffin pan.  I don't like the metal ones and I was disappointed by the silicone pans.  I haven't quite found what I'm looking for yet, so I just dumped the batter into paper cups and placed them on a cookie sheet.  It worked just fine and now I have super yummy, from scratch, muffins in my belly.  Yay.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

But I Don't Like Ragouts

As I began prepping dinner, Mike kindly informed me he doesn't like ragouts and really didn't want the planned dish for dinner.  As all the other ingredients could be saved for a different week, I worried about the mushrooms.  Therefore, we got sauteed mushrooms in our spaghetti sauce tonight.  Fancy.  :)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Mozzarella-Stuffed Arancini

1 1/2 cups instant brown rice
4 green onions, divided
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley, plus more for garnish
1/3 cup grated Romano cheese
2 cups breadcrumbs
16 marinated fresh mozzarella balls, drained, oil reserved (1 12oz container)
1 28oz jar marinara sauce

1) Combine rice, 1 whole green onion, garlic and 3 1/2 cups water in saucepan. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to medium low, and simmer 15 to 20 minutes, or until all liquid has been absorbed and rice is soft and slightly sticky. Remove from heat, transfer to bowl, and cool. Remove green onion, and discard.
2) Preheat oven to 425F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper, or coat with cooking spray. Chop remaining green onions finely. Fold eggs, parsley, cheese and onions into rice. Spread breadcrumbs on large plate.
3) Place 1/4 cup rice mixture in palm of hand. Shape into tangerine-sized ball around one mozzarella ball. Roll in breadcrumbs, and place on prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining rice, mozzarella and breadcrumbs. Drizzle arancini with reserved oil, and bake 20 to 25 minutes, or until outsides are crisp and browned.
4) Warm marinara sauce, and ladle into bottom of large serving dish. Place arancini on top of sauce, and sprinkle with parsley. Serve immediately.

Review: I found this recipe awhile back and thought it'd be an easier version of the risotto balls that my CT family loves so much.  They're so labor intensive (though Teresa makes it look so easy!) and I just couldn't duplicate it.  Well, these were not an easy replacement.  The recipe appears flawed, as it was too much water for my instant rice to soak up, even after 40 minutes!  I drained it, but I still couldn't get it to adhere to the rest of the ingredients.  I ended up with 9 lumps (how did Vegetarian Times make 16?) that had to be dusted with bread crumbs, as they wouldn't firm up enough to roll through the bread crumbs.  They were tasty once they were finished, and I served them with a cabernet marinara sauce (Classico).  But, my kitchen was TRASHED and I didn't get to eat for almost two hours after I started the meal.  Of course, in the meantime, I was snacking on the mozzarella balls.  We bought the 40oz container from Costco and they're absolutely amazing.  Yum.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Asparagus Casserole (crockpot recipe)

2 bunches asparagus, wooded ends snapped, cut into 1 inch pieces
4 hard boiled eggs, sliced
2 cans cream of celery soup or cream of asparagus soup
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup bread or cracker crumbs
4 Tbs butter cut into chunks

1) Spray crock with cooking spray, or use plastic cooker liner. 
2) Layer asparagus evenly over the bottom of the crock.  Layer the eggs evenly over the asparagus. 
3) Mix cheese and soup together and pour over the asparagus evenly.  Top with bread crumbs and dot with butter. 
4) Place a kitchen towel or paper towels over top of crock and cover with lid.  Pull ends taught and into the center.  The towel will serves as a moisture wick while cooking. Cook on low for 7-8 hour or high for 4-5 hours.  Serve warm.

Review:  Mike made this while I was at work, as he's off on Thanksgiving break.  It was quite atrocious looking when we removed the lid.  Once again, he offered pizza if it wasn't good, but it was apparently my turn to be the guinea pig!  I liked it and we both ate it.  It was really a fancy soup and not much of a casserole.  The flavor was good and savory, but Mike thought it lacked a starch.  His idea is to add potatoes next time, to enhance the texture and the flavor. 

Sunday, November 21, 2010

This Week's Planned Menu


Asparagus Casserole (crockpot recipe)

Mozzarella-Stuffed Arancini

Thanksgiving Day:
We're celebrating with friends/classmates.  I'm making Grandma Birdsong's pecan pie and Meg's sweet potato casserole.  Yum!

pizza delivery

Baked Shells With Winter Squash

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Warm Lentil Salad With Grapes, Feta & Mint

3 Tbs olive oil
2 leeks, white and light green parts thinly sliced
2 Tbs sherry vinegar
2 tsp whole-grain mustard
2 cups cooked lentils
1 1/2 cups red grapes, halved
1/4 cup chopped roasted pistachios
3 Tbs finely chopped mint
3 Tbs finely chopped parsley
1/4 cup crumbled feta

1) Heat oil in skillet over medium heat.  Add leeks, and cook 7 to 9 minutes, or until tender and translucent, stirring often.  Remove from heat, and stir in sherry vinegar and mustard.
2) Combine lentils, leek mixture, grapes, pistachios, mint and parsley in large bowl.  Season with salt and pepper, if desired, and top with crumbled feta.

Review:  I thought this would be an interesting dish.  After I finished it, I thought - ew, I don't want to try this, Mike has to go first!!!  He tried it and said it was edible, though he promised to spring for pizza if it wasn't.  The lentils and pistachios provided a savory flavor, most of the rest was tangy, the mint added a coolness and the grapes added just a bit of sweet.  It really balanced out.  Overall, the dish was alright, but probably not something I'll make again.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Israeli Couscous Salad With Black Beans, Mushrooms & Corn

2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 cup Israeli couscous
coarse salt and ground pepper
1/2 lb cremini or button mushrooms, sliced 1/2-inch thick
1 small bunch scallions, white and green parts separated and thinly sliced
1 1/4 cups frozen corn kernels
15.5oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
2 Tbs fresh lime juice
1 jalapeno (optional), thinly sliced
1 avocado, halved, pitted, peeled, and sliced
1) In a medium saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high. Add couscous and cook, stirring constantly, until golden brown and fragrant, about 4 minutes. Add 1 1/2 cups water, season with salt, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until liquid is absorbed and couscous is tender, about 15 minutes.  
2) Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat 2 teaspoons oil over medium-high. Cook mushrooms, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Season mushrooms with salt and pepper; transfer to a large bowl. Add 1 teaspoon oil to skillet. Cook scallion whites and corn, stirring occasionally, until scallions are soft and corn is browned, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and add to mushrooms.  
3) Add couscous, black beans, lime juice, jalapeno (if using), and scallion greens to mushroom mixture and toss to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Divide among four bowls and top with avocado.

Review:  Israeli couscous is a tapioca-size pasta with a pleasingly chewy texture when cooked. Regular couscous, which is granular, cooks in a shorter amount of time. If you can't find Israeli couscous, cook regular couscous according to package instructions. 

I've been looking for Israeli couscous, after substituting regular couscous in the few recipes I've tried.  I was convinced I would never find the Israeli version in Idaho and even contemplated buying a case from  However, I found it last week at our local grocery store!! (and found kasha - now to find a recipe for that . . . )  I excitedly made this dish tonight and marveled and the bubbles of couscous that was the end product.  It looked odd, but was really tasty.  I loved the toasty flavor, and the gummy texture.  It's not an every week kind of food, but I definitely will look for more recipes!!!!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Pumpkin Ice Cream

2 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups heavy or whipping cream
1 cup milk
1 cup unsweetened canned pumpkin
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground cinnamon

1) Whisk the eggs in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes.  Whisk in the sugar, a little at a time, then continue whisking until completely blended, about 1 minute more.  Pour in the cream and milk, and whisk to blend.
2) Pour about 1 cup of the cream base into another bowl.  Add the pumpkin, nutmeg and cinnamon, stirring until blended.  Return the pumpkin mixture to the remaining cream base and blend.
3) Transfer the mixture to an ice cream maker and freeze, following the manufacturer's instructions.

Review:  I have an allergy to nutmeg, so I omitted it.  Instead, I tossed in a dash of other pumpkin pie spice ingredients - allspice, clove and ginger.  I apparently made more ice cream than my machine could handle, as it began oozing out the top.  Oops.  However, it just meant more for my belly!!!  This ice cream was really amazing and tasted like a frosty pumpkin pie (minus the crust).  I think I'll end up making a batch every time I make my famous holiday pie, as each recipe uses half a can of pumpkin. 

Quinoa With Mushrooms, Kale & Sweet Potatoes

1 cup quinoa
2 Tbs olive oil
1 lb sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch pieces
10oz button mushrooms, quartered
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 bunch kale, stems discarded and leaves torn into 2-inch pieces
3/4 cup dry white wine
kosher salt and black pepper
1/4 cup grated Parmesan (1 ounce)

1) Place the quinoa and 2 cups water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until water is absorbed, 12 to 15 minutes.
2) Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat.
3) Add the sweet potatoes and mushrooms and cook, tossing occasionally, until golden and beginning to soften, 5 to 6 minutes.
4) Stir in the garlic and cook for 1 minute.
5) Add the kale, wine, ¾ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Cook, tossing often, until the vegetables are tender, 10 to 12 minutes.
6) Serve the vegetables over the quinoa and sprinkle with the Parmesan.

Review:  Mike recently read that sweet potatoes are a super food.  They're loaded with nutrition, fiber and are great for low-carb or diabetic diets.  So, I looked up some new recipes to include more sweet potatoes into our diet.  I had been assuming they were as bad as white potatoes, but was pleased to hear how great they are.  So, combined with the kale, cheese and quinoa, we've got a super nutritious dinner!  And, it was pretty yummy. 

This Week's Planned Menu

Quinoa With Mushrooms, Kale & Sweet Potatoes
Pumpkin Ice Cream

Israeli Couscous Salad With Black Beans, Mushrooms & Corn

Warm Lentil Salad With Grapes, Feta & Mint

Southwestern Salsa Pasta
take out (mini date night)

spaghetti with jarred sauce (Dave's Gourmet - Red Heirloom)

Vegetable Pilaf

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Pumpkin & Black Bean Chili

2 lb pumpkin or butternut squash, peeled and seeded
1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 jalapeno chile, minced
1 14.5oz can diced tomatoes, drained
1 14.5oz can crushed tomatoes
1 cup water
1 cup apple juice
4 Tbs chili powder
1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp cayenne powder
3 cups cooked or canned black beans, rinsed and drained if canned

1) Cut the pumpkin into 1/2-inch chunks and set aside.
2) Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Add the onion, garlic and jalapeno.  Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 10 minutes.  Add the reserved pumpkin, diced tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, water, apple juice, chili powder, salt and cayenne.  Stir well.  Bring to a boil, lower the heat, cover and simmer until the pumpkin is tender, about 30 minutes.
3) Add the beans and more water if the chili is too thick for your taste.  Cover, and continue to simmer about 15 minutes to blend flavors.  Serve hot.

Review:  I was so sure that the grocery store would still have pumpkins.  I was wrong.  That was pretty disappointing, as I really wanted the pumpkin flavor.  So, instead I used butternut squash.  I tossed all the ingredients in together and simmered for 30 minutes.  I probably cooked it for 5 minutes too long, as the squash was a tad too soft.  This was pretty good, but we also tossed a little shredded cheddar on top.  Yum. 

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Monday, November 1, 2010

Zucchini “Fettuccine” With Fresh Marinara

1 1/2 lb plum tomatoes, quartered
1 cup packed fresh basil leaves, chopped, plus sprigs for garnish
1/3 cup dry-packed sun-dried tomatoes, softened in warm water and chopped
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 shallot, minced
Sea salt or kosher salt to taste
freshly ground black pepper
8oz mixed summer squash (green and yellow), ends trimmed
1 orange bell pepper, halved and seeded
8oz soy or fresh mozzarella, diced
1 cup chopped walnuts
grated regular or soy Parmesan cheese for garnish, optional
6 basil sprigs for garnish, optional

1) Put tomatoes, basil, sun-dried tomatoes, 3 Tbs. oil, shallot, dash of salt and several grinds of pepper into food processor, and process until sauce resembles finely textured salsa.  
2) Pare squash lengthwise on 4 sides into paper-thin slices, about 1-inch wide, using sharp vegetable peeler. Discard soft centers, or save for another use. Stack slices, and cut into 1/4-inch-wide “fettuccine” strips. Cut bell pepper into paper-thin strips. 
3) Put “fettuccine” into bowl with mozzarella, walnuts, remaining 1 Tbs. oil and salt to taste; toss gently. Pour sauce into 6 shallow bowls, and top with “fettuccine” mixture. Grind fresh pepper over each and, if using, top with Parmesan cheese and basil sprigs. Serve.

Review:  I used oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, as I had some leftover in the fridge.  It turned out just fine.  When I picked this recipe, I didn't fully read the directions (imagine that).  I had made "fettuccine" from zucchini before and it was easy and yummy.  However, what made this truly different is that there was NO cooking involved.  I reread this three times before I fully accepted that I didn't need the pots and pans.  It was sooooo easy and quick to make.  I really loved the flavor and it seemed so fancy.  I'll definitely make this again!