Mushroom Bourguignon

This recipe from Smitten Kitchen is one I’ve made a few times, and we’ve really enjoyed as a filling, comforting, and meat-free meal. It’s also great as a lighter alternative to the heavy and decadent foods of the holiday season. I’ve added the nutritional breakdown’s from My Fitness Pal to show just how “healthy lifestyle” friendly, notice I didn’t say “diet”, the recipe is, even with the pasta. Enjoy!



Serves 8

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 2 pounds portobello mushrooms, in 1/4-inch slices (save the stems for another use) (you can use cremini instead, as well)
  • 1/2 carrot, finely diced
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup full-bodied red wine
  • 2 cups beef or vegetable broth (beef broth is traditional but vegetable to make it vegetarian; it works with either)
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves (1/2 teaspoon dried)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup pearl onions, peeled (thawed if frozen)
  • Egg noodles, for serving
  • Sour cream and chopped chives or parsley, for garnish (optional)


  1. Heat the one tablespoon of the olive oil and one tablespoon of butter in a medium Dutch oven or heavy sauce pan over high heat. Sear the mushrooms until they begin to darken, but not yet release any liquid — about three or four minutes. Remove them from pan.
  2. Lower the flame to medium and add the second tablespoon of olive oil. Toss the carrots, onions, thyme, a few good pinches of salt and a several grinds of black pepper into the pan and cook for 10, stirring occasionally, until the onions are lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook for just one more minute.
  3. Add the wine to the pot, scraping any stuck bits off the bottom, then turn the heat all the way up and reduce it by half. Stir in the tomato paste and the broth. Add back the mushrooms with any juices that have collected and once the liquid has boiled, reduce the temperature so it simmers for 20 minutes, or until mushrooms are very tender. Add the pearl onions and simmer for five minutes more.
  4. Combine remaining butter and the flour with a fork until combined; stir it into the stew. Lower the heat and simmer for 10  more minutes. If the sauce is too thin, boil it down to reduce to the right consistency. Season to taste.
  5. To serve, spoon the stew over a bowl of egg noodles, dollop with sour cream (optional) and sprinkle with chives or parsley.


                          Calories Carbs Fat Protein Sodium Sugar
Total: 1,896 237 56 65 1,844 19
Per Serving: 237 30 7 8 231 2

Meal Plan – February 8th – Febuary 14th

  • Friday: Family Dinner Out – North Star American Bistro – This is a restaurant I actually forgot about, but we ended up at due to their not having a wait on a Friday night when we’d already stopped at 2 other restaurants with hour+ long waits. I started with the Chestnut Manhattan, which I was looking forward to having again immediately after my first sip. Not surprisingly, we ordered calamari, which was very good. I loved my entrée of short ribs, cheesy mashed potatoes, and sautéed spinach. Unfortunately, Jim did not care for his entrée of bourbon salmon. His disappointment was slightly forgotten when he dug into a slice of turtle cheesecake garnished with candied nuts. So, so good.
  • Saturday: Caesar Salads, Antipasti, and Bolognese Sauce over Tagliatelle – Great recipe, didn’t change a thing. The best part is that it’s a large batch and freezes very well for a quick weeknight meal.
  • Sunday: Buttermilk Roast Chicken, Green Beans, Corn, and Mashed Potatoes – I LOVE this recipe. I don’t change much, except for upping the spices, and adding a bit of tabasco to the marinade. Another step I take is to drain and dry the chicken before roasting. I just use paper towels to sop up as much of the marinade as possible. The first time I made this, I didn’t do that, and the chicken was delicious, but soggy. When you dry before drizzling with oil and roasting, it gives the skill more of an opportunity to crisp up. And really, let’s be honest, isn’t crispy skin the best part of roasted chicken???
  • Monday: Errands & Dinner Out – Chili’s – For as much as I don’t care for chain restaurants, there are a few that are “worthy” of our time and money. Chili’s is one of those on our list. I used to get the chicken tacos, and I’m still a little annoyed that they took those off of the menu. Scratch that, I’m a lot annoyed. They were good. Really good. Whatever, I’ll try to move on … try. My new go-to are chicken fajitas, Cadillac style. They’re always good, and they ensure lunch is also covered for the next day or two.
  • Tuesday: Pizza and Salad – We had Carter’s 4K registration and tour, and didn’t get home until almost 8:00 p.m. Thank goodness for frozen pizzas from Costco. Did you know I love Costco?
  • Wednesday: Slow Cooker Mongolian Beef over Rice with Asian Roasted Asparagus and Mushrooms – This was good. Like, Jim asked if it was from a bag good. I should be insulted by that, but I know him well enough to know he meant no harm. I did add some Sriracha, which I will definitely do next time as well.
  • Thursday: Alfredo Pasta with Chicken Sausage and Mushrooms and Steamed Broccoli – I just wasn’t feeling like actually cooking, so Carter and I picked up some sauce from the grocery and I tossed with sausage, mushrooms, and pasta we already had on hand. It was really a Valentine’s present to myself.

Sesame Noodle Salad

I’ve been flirting lately. Yes, and as you’ve probably guessed, Jim isn’t too happy about it. I think he’d like me to stop, but I know it’s a great thing for everyone involved, so I really don’t plan to quit anytime soon. Oh, maybe I should clarify: I’ve been flirting with vegetarianism. Now, now, don’t get too worried. I have no plan to stop cooking and posting about chicken wings, burgers, steaks, and shrimp po’ boys ANY time soon, but I do think limiting them, while adding in a wider variety of vegetables, is a benefit to our family on many levels, most notably cost and health.

First off, unless you’ve hid yourself in bomb shelter nestled cozily under a rock, you are aware that we’re in a down economy that’s being compounded my an even worse housing market, our condo has been on the market for 2 years!, and events over the world that are resulting in increased costs for food and gas, and, unfortunately, those items also effect one another. By skipping meat in some of our meals, like this egg bake, or making some dinners “meat light” like this pasta I posted recently that has bacon in it, but it isn’t all about the bacon, much to Jim’s chagrin. I would rather we skip, or limit, meat 2 or 3 nights a week and eat high quality animal proteins the other nights, than buy and cook lower quality cuts each and every night.

My desire to serve the highest quality of proteins that I can also feeds, pun intended, into the focus on health I noted above. While I realize that there are mixed messages and studies out there, don’t even get me started on HFCS, we can’t deny that a product from an animal that has been raised humanely and on high-quality feed is going to benefit both your physical and mental health. Hey, I’ll still eat steak, but I’d like to think that that cow had a nice little cow life playing with its cow friends on the farm before becoming my dinner, you know? I strive to buy meats and seafood that are fed a more natural diet and free of added antibiotics and hormones, if not fully organic, but admit that, due to cost, it’s sometimes difficult to do so. (Are you seeing the cycle?) Again though, my answer is not to remove meat products entirely from our weekly menus, but to limit them by the mantra: “everything in moderation”.

That long winded diatribe brings me to today’s post, which, incidentally, I served alongside some delicious organic salmon. I found this recipe on Annie’s Eats, a blog you’ll see I reference quite often, and know I’m not alone, as Annie was recently featured as one of Babble’s
Top 100 Food Mom Blogs for 2011. Way to go Annie! I didn’t make any changes to the dish you see below, with the exception of the noodles used. I’m looking forward to trying it with the Soba noodles feature next time around, but the store I stopped at on Sunday didn’t have them in stock (FAIL!), so I substituted the Somen noodles I already had in the pantry. The original recipe suggests whole wheat pasta as a good substitute too if you’re having trouble finding the Soba as well. We had this for dinner last night, but I enjoyed it even more for lunch today, as the flavors had time to develop, so I think it would be a great addition to a potluck or summer picnic, as it can be served cold or at room temperature.



  • ½ cup Soy Sauce, reduced sodium
  • 2 Tbsp Toasted Sesame Oil
  • 2 Tbsp Canola Oil
  • 2 Tbsp Rice Wine Vinegar
  • 2 cloves Garlic, minced, pressed, or zested
  • 3 Green Onions, thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup Cilantro, chopped


  • 1 lb. Soba Noodles, or whole wheat pasta
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup Red Cabbage, shredded
  • 2 Carrots, peeled and shredded
  • 1½ cups Edemame, shelled and cooked
  • Toasted sesame seeds, for serving (I used black)



  1. Combine the soy sauce, sesame and canola oils, vinegar, garlic, green onions and cilantro in a small bowl. Whisk well to blend.


  1. Cook the soba noodles according to the package directions. Drain well and rinse with cold water.
  2. Transfer the noodles to a large mixing bowl with the vegetables. Pour the dressing over the top and toss well so the noodles and vegetables are well coated with the dressing.
  3. Serve cold or at room temperature and sprinkled with toasted sesame seeds.

Winter Pasta with Cauliflower, Brussels Sprouts, & Bacon

You know those meals that you labor hours over? The ones with multiple components, lots of chopping, hours of stirring, and intensive effort? Yeah, well sorry to disappoint, but this isn’t one of those. This is one of those quality ingredients, minimal effort, and huge flavorful results. Isn’t the latter ALWAYS better? Don’t get me wrong, I have no plans of giving up baking, salsa chopping, or spending hours, alright days, planning the perfect menu, but even I like a night off every once in a while.

So, what I give you is my adaptation of this recipe from The Year in Food that is a mix of perfectly roasted vegetables with the savory flavor of bacon, over a nutty and spicy bed of pasta tossed with deliciously salty parmesan cheese. Can’t you almost taste it? I knew you could. Seriously though, stop thinking about it, and just go make it. Oh, and for you vegetarians out there, go ahead and skip the bacon, it will be almost just as good. J


  • 12 oz. Whole Wheat Pasta
  • 1 small or medium head Cauliflower, stem and leaves removed, chopped
  • 1 pound Brussels Sprouts, trimmed and sliced lengthwise
  • 6 slices Bacon, roughly chopped
  • 3 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • ¼ cup chopped, fresh Parsley, plus more for garnish
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan Cheese, reserving a little for garnish
  • ¼ tsp dried chili flakes
  • Salt & Pepper, freshly ground, to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 400
  2. Heat a pot of water on the stove for the pasta.
  3. Toss the cauliflower, brussels sprouts, and bacon in one tablespoon olive oil. Lightly salt and pepper. Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast until browned at the edges and soft in the center, about 20-30 minutes. Turn once about halfway through. And keep an eye on everything so it doesn’t overcook!
  4. While the cauliflower is roasting, cook your pasta according to instructions on the package.
  5. When the pasta is ready, drain, reserving ½ cup of the cooking liquid. Return pasta to the pot to keep it warm. Add the two remaining tablespoons of oil to the pasta, then the parsley, and chili flakes. If it’s a little dry, add some of the cooking liquid. Toss gently to distribute everything. Add the cauliflower, brussels sprouts, and bacon and toss again, gently. Season to taste with salt and pepper. If the pasta needs to be reheated, do so over a low flame, stirring to prevent burning.
  6. Garnish with grated parmesan and chopped parsley if desired.

Crab Mac & Cheese

I don’t know about you, but when I think of a fancy meal, I often find my mind wondering toward something that includes crab. So, when Jim said that he would like steak and mac and cheese included in our New Year’s Eve plan, I knew just the way to make everyone happy. Alongside the Two-Bite Beef Wellingtons, I would serve some crab mac and cheese in mini-muffin form.

This recipe from Closet Cooking was a delicious find that I only slightly adapted, and that was due to my being cheap more than anything else. See, the original recipe includes gruyere and fontina cheeses, and when I found them at the store, they cost me almost $20, and I wasn’t prepared to spend that much on one part of one recipe. The block of white brick cheese I chose worked perfectly, as it was mild and smooth and let the spices and crab shine in this cheesy dish, at about a quarter of the price of the originally called for cheeses.


  • 1 lb Small Pasta, shells, macaroni, etc., cooked to al dente
  • 5 Tbsp Unsalted Butter, divided
  • 2 cloves Garlic
  • ½ – 1 tsp Crushed Red Pepper
  • 2 Tbsp Flour
  • 2 cups Milk
  • ½ cup Cream
  • ½ tsp Seafood Seasoning, Old Bay or similar
  • 2 Tbsp Mayonnaise
  • 1 Tbsp Mustard, whole grain
  • Kosher Salt
  • Black Pepper, freshly ground
  • 12 oz. White Brick Cheese, shredded
  • 1 6 oz. can Lump Crabmeat
  • 4 Green Onions, thinly sliced
  • 3/4 cup Panko Bread Crumbs
  • ¼ cup Parmigiano Reggiano, grated


  1. Melt 2 Tbsp butter in a pan. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and sauté until fragrant, about a minute.
  2. Mix in the flour and cook until it turns a light golden brown in color.
  3. Add the milk and cream and cook until it thickens, about 3-5 minutes.
  4. Add the old bay seasoning, mayonnaise, mustard and season with salt and pepper.
  5. Mix in the cheese and cook until it melts.
  6. Mix in the pasta, crab and green onions and remove from heat.
  7. Melt the remaining butter in a pan.
  8. Add the breadcrumbs and toss to coat, remove from heat and mix in the Parmigiano reggiano.
  9. Pour the mac and cheese into a baking dish and top with the breadcrumbs.
  10. Bake in a preheated 350 oven until golden brown on top and bubbling on the sides, about 20-30 minutes.

Skillet Lasagna

Every week I make a meal plan. Every week I ask Jim if there is anything he’s like to see on it. Every week he says, “No”. Well, that was until this week when he said, “lasagna”, and I said, “No”. It wasn’t that I didn’t want lasagna; it’s just that I didn’t have the time. I felt badly, and went back to scrolling through recipes, when I came upon this recipe from Ezra Pound Cake.

This was a great weeknight meal to serve with a Caesar salad and some garlic bread. Oh, and of course a glass of wine, but by now that’s implied, right? I was a little nervous, as Jim was looking forward to a “crusty edge”, but he still very much enjoyed it. The recipe made a lot, so I saved some for leftovers, and stashed about half in the freezer for an even quicker weeknight meal in the weeks to come.


  • 1 28 oz can Diced Tomatoes
  • Water
  • 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 medium Onion, minced
  • Salt
  • 3 cloves Garlic, minced
  • ¼ tsp Red Pepper Flakes
  • ½ Ground Sirloin
  • ½ Italian Sausage
  • 9 Lasagna Noodles, broken into 2-inch lengths
  • 1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
  • ½ cup plus 2 tbsp Parmesan cheese, grated
  • Pepper
  • 1 cup Low-Fat Ricotta Cheese
  • 3 Tbsp Fresh Basil, chiffonade


  1. Pour tomatoes with their juices into 1-quart liquid measuring cup. Add water until mixture measures 1 quart.
  2. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion and 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook until onion begins to brown, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic and pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add meat and cook, breaking apart meat, until no longer pink, about 4 minutes.
  3. Layer pasta onto meat but do not stir. Pour diced tomatoes with juice and tomato sauce over pasta. Cover and bring to simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until pasta is tender, about 20 minutes.
  4. Remove skillet from heat and stir in 1/2 cup Parmesan. Season with salt and pepper. Dot with heaping tablespoons of ricotta, cover, and let stand off heat for five minutes. Sprinkle with basil and remaining 2 tablespoons Parmesan. Serve.


Servings – 10

WW Points – 6 pts per serving

Macaroni Salad

When I was planning the menu for Jim’s 30th birthday party, he had just a few requests: Buffalo Chicken Dip, Yellow Cupcakes with White Frosting, and Macaroni Salad. The first two were things I had made before, but, since I didn’t really care for macaroni salad, I had to go on a search for a good recipe. When I stumbled upon this recipe on The Parsley Thief, I was happy to see that there were elements of actual flavor within the recipe rather than something that produced a bland and over mayonnaised concoction that I was used to seeing.

This was a total hit. Not only did I like, but I received a lot of compliments, and requests for the recipe, from our guests … including the guest of honor. Since I don’t see Jim letting go of his love for this salad, I’m happy to have found a recipe we can both love.


  • 1 lb. Elbow Macaroni, or curly pasta
  • ½ Small Red Onion, minced
  • 1 Celery Stalk, minced
  • ¼ cup Fresh Parsley, minced
  • 1 Tbsp Lemon Juice
  • 1 Tbsp Dijon Mustard
  • ¼ tsp Garlic Powder
  • ½ tsp Chili Powder
  • 1 ½ cups Mayonnaise
  • Black Pepper, freshly ground
  • Kosher Salt


  1. Cook the macaroni in a large pot of salted water, until 1 minute less than al dente. Drain & rinse under cold water. Set aside.
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine the red onion, celery, parsley, lemon juice, mustard, garlic powder & cayenne.
  3. Add the macaroni & stir to combine. Let the mixture sit for a few minutes, for the flavors to meld.
  4. Add the mayonnaise, stir well and season with salt & pepper to taste.
  5. Serve immediately, or refrigerate for up to 2 days.