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Archive for October, 2012

I couldn’t tell you how long this recipe has sat neatly written in one of my recipe binders, begging to be brought to life.  Three years?  I remember sitting at my parents’ house, watching Everyday Italian and immediately logging onto the Food Network website so I could copy the recipe down.  I even read the reader comments and wrote notes on the margins such as “probably use less salt.”  🙂  However, I never found a reason to make it.  My dad, Alison and I all really enjoy mushrooms, but my mom is only a borderline fan, and has complained before when I’ve made dishes that lean too heavily on them.  So it was never really an option if she was around.  When Holly and I lived together, we were probably just too cheap to go out and buy smoked mozzarella and proscuitto (if we could find them!).  But, now I live with two brave foodie souls, and I am fully employed…no more excuses!

It seems, for now anyways, that this never-ending 2012 Los Angeles summer has come to an end.  Thus, it’s now acceptable to turn on the oven to make dinner!  We were down to one meal on our list from the most recent grocery trip; this one.  Seeing as it was a Sunday evening and I didn’t work until the following night, we went for it.

A word of warning: Giada says this only takes 30 minutes to prepare…however, with 2-3 of us working at any given time, it was probably more like 45.  There is a lot of chopping and grating of ingredients, not to mention three pots and pans going at once before you can assemble the finished product.  So we cranked some Florence + the Machine, opened some red wine, and went to town.

Here’s the recipe.  It’s long, so I thought it was hyperlink appropriate 🙂

Remember before when I said I had written down the one comment about not using so much salt?  This version has been updated since I copied down mine; Giada now calls for 1.5 teaspoons of salt in both the sauce and the mushroom mixture versus the full tablespoon previously.  We still used only about a teaspoon in each.  8 ounces of proscuitto means A LOT of salty flavor, and I didn’t see any reason to over-do it when it would be so easy to sprinkle a little extra on if necessary.

Let’s see, what else did we change….

  • Black pepper: I love pepper, however, 2 teaspoons in each part of this dish seemed excessive.  We cut that in half, and I thought it was the perfect amount.  There’s a ton of flavor in the dish, and instead of being overpowering, the pepper was just a nice heat in the background.  So…season to taste, and work your way UP to the full amount!
  • Fresh herbs are expensive (though worthwhile, I know…), and since this was already getting to be an expensive dinner, we opted to use the dry versions we already had in the pantry.  Instead of 1.5 Tablespoons of chopped, fresh rosemary and thyme, we used 1 heaping teaspoon of the dried versions.  Again – it was just the right amount, for us at any rate.

As far as mushrooms, we used 10 oz. each of white and cremini.  Trader Joe’s sells them sliced for about $2 a bag; it’s a great deal.  I’m SURE shiitake would have been awesome, but again, the cheapskates in us reared their ugly heads to put the kibosh on that idea 🙂  Also, please don’t consider substituting regular mozzarella for the smoked stuff.  The flavor is so important to the success of this dish!  If you can’t find smoked mozzarella, try a smoked gouda.  We ended up using regular lasagna noodles, since none of the three stores we checked at carried spinach noodles.  Had we had any on hand, we decided we would have thrown some wilted spinach in with the mushrooms for a little green in the dish.  But the plain pasta was absolutely fine!

Dinner is served!

Forgive my photography skills on that picture.  I had been texting a friend all day, bragging about how good this recipe was going to be, so I snapped a pic on my phone once I sat down to eat.  In fact, forgive my slicing-and-serving skills too!  We did let the dish sit for about 5 minutes once we took it out of the oven, but the smell was driving us all insane 🙂  Obviously, it didn’t hold its form very well!

And seriously, for essentially being noodles and mushrooms, this dish was so amazing!  Each bite is full of flavors, and none overpowers any other one.  There’s the saltiness of the proscuitto (one of my favorite things, ever).  The pepper and the herbs.  The smokiness of the mozzarella.  If you need a “fancy” dish to impress guests, this would definitely be an option!  With some fresh, crusty bread to soak up all that white sauce and steamed veggies this would look like something you’d pay a lot of money for at a nice Italian place 🙂

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Buffalo Chili

Look at me, on a blogging roll.  As I mentioned yesterday its been quite warm here, and yet that didn’t stop us wanting to make a very cozy fall dinner: chili.  To mix it up, though, we were trying a new recipe from Closet Cooking (found through Pinterest, of course) for a chili loaded with the flavors of buffalo chicken wings.

We like our buffalo chicken flavor, and not just on wings: pizza, dip, sloppy joes.  When I came across this recipe I knew it’d be right up our alley.  It was just as delicious as I expected, but I hadn’t anticipated how easy it would be, too!  Aside from chopping some vegetables and opening some cans there’s not much to do but measure out spices and let everything simmer to peak tastiness.  We swapped the called for ground chicken for ground turkey and diced tomatoes for tomato sauce to get the flavor without the chunky tomato bits.

Buffalo Chili

  • 1 – 1 1/2 lb ground chicken or turkey
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup carrots, diced
  • 1/2 cup celery (2 ribs), sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 cup beer or chicken broth (we used beer plus a 1/2 tsp or so of chicken bouillon for broth flavor)
  • 15 oz can tomato sauce or diced tomatoes
  • 15 oz can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 cup hot sauce (more or less to taste)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • blue cheese crumbles for serving

Brown your chosen meat and set aside.  Heat a little veggie oil in a pot and cook onion, carrots and celery about 15 minutes until tender.  Add cumin and garlic, cook about a minute.  Add beer to deglaze pan, then add meat, beans, tomato, hot sauce and remaining seasonings.  Stir together and simmer at least 15 minutes.  Top with blue cheese crumbles and enjoy!

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Iced Coffee

I know it’s fall and I wish I could snuggle up in a woolly sweater with a hot spicy latte or tea, but it is 90 degrees in LA today.  So even though I need my morning caffeine fix, I also need to stay cool.  Thus I reached for a Tupperware tumbler instead of a mug and poured myself an iced coffee.

Iced coffee is incredibly simple, with cream and/or sugar to taste just like a regular cup of coffee and poured over a glass full of ice to cool it down.  The only problem I had was that all that ice waters down the coffee when it melts.  I believe it was that mecca of inspiration Pinterest.com that led me to the brilliant idea of pouring left over coffee into an ice cube tray.  Ta da! Ice cubes for iced coffee that doesn’t get watered down!

With a houseful of coffee drinkers we regularly drink a whole pot, but on the days when there is a cup or two left at the bottom of the pot I make up an ice cube tray and keep a small bowl of coffee cubes in the freezer for days like today when a cold cup of coffee sounds more refreshing.

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