Saturday, October 25, 2014

Italian Sautéed Mushrooms

As a typical picky kid, mushrooms were the last veggie on earth I wanted to eat - get the pun?  I know, it was bad, moving on...  Their spongey and dirt-like characteristics were just too bizarre for me to ever want to associate with.  But then one day, when I discovered these little foreign creatures could be smothered in butter and wine and topped on crispy crostini, they weren't so bad!  In fact, they were absolutely delightful - covered in rich flavors to disguised their distinguished earthy taste, they quickly became one of my favorite veggies.  This particular Italian recipe cured me of my mushroom phobia and eased me into the wild world of shroomy appreciation and love.  Now, any excuse to put mushrooms in a recipe, they're tossed in!  Pizza, casseroles, salad… which is why they're due for more stardom than we often give them.  There is no mistake that these buttoned shaped goodies are the center of deserving attention with this filling appetizer.  And despite this dish typically considered as a starter plate, its heartiness can easily turn this into a small meal for one.

Serves about 4

Prep Time: 10 mins

Cook Time: 15 mins

What you'll need:

3 tbsp olive oil + extra for toasting baguette slices
3 tbsp unsalted butter
3 garlic cloves (finely chopped)
2 cups whole button mushrooms (brushed cleaned)
1 cup white wine
salt and pepper to taste
parmesan cheese for garnish
basil for garnish
baguette (thinly sliced)

Preheat the broiler.

In a large skillet over medium heat, add the olive oil and butter.  Just as soon as the butter melts, toss in the garlic and stir to avoid burning.  After a minute or two, add the mushrooms, salt and pepper and sauté for about 5 minutes.  Depending on how much the mushrooms absorb the oil and butter, add another tbsp of oil if needed.  Pour in the white wine, turn the heat down to medium-low heat and simmer for another 10 minutes.

While the mushrooms are simmering, prep the crostini.  On a foil-lined baking sheet, line up the baguette slices and drizzle with olive oil.  Place in the broiler until crispy and golden brown, 5 minutes or less.

Transfer the mushrooms and sauce into a bowl, top with parmesan cheese and garnish with basil.  Serve hot along side the toasted crostini on a platter or plate.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Gluten Free Girl Scout Cookies

It's finally here!  A buttery, chocolate chip cookie I can eat with no gluten qualms from my amazing fellow Girl Scouting Community.  After 10 years of personally selling the famous array of American Cookies down the streets of my neighborhood and local grocery stores, this gluten free treat gets my vote for the smartest one they've done yet.  Sure, it's no Thin Mint, but for a GF option, it's quite delicious.  No complaints here.  But be careful, they're super addicting (especially after a stressful day).  And my bag was completely empty by day two...  It's been a long week.

I'm proud to see my Girls take one for the GF team.  Hope this one is here to stay!  Five more bags to my order, please.

For more info, click here.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Italian Meat Pie

The Irish know what they're doing when it comes to potatoes.  They've got their Shepherd's Pie down to a T.  And whenever a specific dish is considered a staple for a certain culture or country (like the Irish's famous meat pie), I always think, "Well, why the heck don't the Italian make this?  It's delicious!".  Being an American instead of Italian born, it's too easy for me to constantly question this.  I'm not the kind of girl who just eats pasta and bread everyday.  I need some variety in my life.  Otherwise, I'd be bored to death!  I guess for many other cultures, their very specific cuisine is what they grew up with and all they know.  But being fortunate enough to live in a melting pot community, it's fun to be able to taste somebody else's staple and give it my own cultural twist.  An Italian Twist!

Inspired by the ever so filling Irish Pie, this Italian version is made of spicy sausage, typical Italian veggies and herbs instead.  Reminiscent of the ole "meat and potato" days, this layered one pot wonder has just the amount of Italian flare to let you know that this bellywarming meal may be slightly different than the last meat pie you tasted but is just as scrumptious and satisfying.

Serves about 6

Prep Time: 10 mins

Cook Time: about 90 mins

What you'll need:

2 lbs fresh ground spicy sausage (I purchased mine from a local Italian deli)
3 tbsp olive oil
1/2 yellow onion (finely chopped)
2 cloves garlic (roughly chopped)
2 zucchinis (1/4 inch sliced and halved)
1 small package of sliced button mushrooms
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
pinch crushed red pepper
salt and ground black pepper to taste
1 - 1/2 cups red wine
3 tbsp tomato paste

Topping: Mashed Potatoes

3 large russet potatoes (peeled and diced)
1/2 stick unsalted butter
1/2 - 1 cup low fat milk (warmed)
salt and ground black pepper to taste
1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
light sprinkle smoked paprika for garnish

In a large fry pan on medium high heat, cook the ground sausage until cooked all the way through and broken up into small pieces (about 15 mins).  While that's going, start your veggies in a different large fry pan on medium heat.  Sauté the onions first in the olive oil (about 10 mins).  Once they're clear, add in the garlic and stir (about 1 min).  You don't want to burn the garlic!  Then toss in the zucchini, mushrooms, herbs, crushed red pepper salt and black pepper (cook for about 15 mins), stirring occasionally.  Pour in the wine and let cook for 5 mins over medium low heat.  Turn down to low and let simmer for another 15 mins.  While simmering, add in the tomato paste.  Pour veggie mixture into the pan of sausage and stir until incorporated.  Distribute meat mixture into 6 individualized baking dishes (at least 2 inches deep) or in a large pie dish. 

Mashed Potatoes: (boil while cooking the veggies)

Boil the potatoes until soft for mashing (about 20 mins).  Drain and mash.  Add in the butter, warmed milk, salt and black pepper.  Cover to keep warm until you're ready to layer on top of the finished meat/veggie mixture.

Spread the mashed potatoes over the meat and sprinkle the top with the shredded parmesan cheese and smoked paprika.

Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes or until the cheese is golden brown.  Eat while it's hot!