One, two Mushroom Ragu

I was good all day. No instant hot cocoa in the cafeteria, no trip to the vending machine, no mindless munching.

My fruit salad and my English muffin with homemade strawberry faux-jam kept me full and satisfied all day.

Okay there may have been a piece of chocolate in there. But it was dark chocolate. And that’s good for me. Check this Fitday article on the benefits of dark chocolate.

So now I get to go home and indulge. A little.

This recipe actually feels more indulgent than it is. Mushrooms have a way of doing that to a dish. They trick your brain into thinking you’re eating something you shouldn’t be when really you’re giving your body so much goodness.

Mushrooms are the only fruit or vegetable source of Vitamin D. Those little guys are more than just a fungi! ¬†They help give us that does of D. And Vitamin D helps make us happy; deficiencies can lead to depression, which is why we’re so blue in the winter when we get less sunlight.

So mushrooms have this feel good vitamin to give us a feel good boost. Cake gives us a feel good boost, but it’s short lived. And we feel guilty afterwards. Mushrooms feel naughty, but they help boost our immune system, ¬†give us a dose of antioxidants and provide B vitamins that help boost metabolism.

Check that out!

You’re not going to pass by those humble-looking little mushrooms in the grocery store again!

In fact, here’s a great, quick dinner to get in some D and B vitamins and to help comfort you as you make your way through the mid-week hump day slump.

Because if you’re like me, you’re tired at the end of Wednesday. You’re looking at the calendar and feeling like Friday. Is. So. Far. Away.

This dish combines the comfort of pasta with the feed your body the right things goodness of mushrooms.

Yes, you can make your own ravioli.

No, I do not have time to do this after work.

Guess what? Frozen ravioli is okay. I grew up in an Italian household where my mother AND my grandmother used frozen raviolis. If grandma did it, then it’s okay.

There are definitely occasions when making your own is called for – anniversaries, birthdays, days when you’re snowed in with nothing to do – but week night dinners is not one of those occasions.

There are a ton of brands that make really tasty, good quality frozen raviolis. Explore the freezer section.

This is a two pot dinner – one to cook the pasta and one to make the sauce.

But everything comes together so quickly that it makes up for having to wash two pots. Promise.

You will need

ravioli (I’m using three cheese, but you can get creative with flavor combinations and try spinach or even pumpkin ravioli)

mushrooms (I’m just using plain button mushrooms)

onion or shallot (whatever is on hand)

2 cloves of garlic

1 tablespoon butter

olive oil

black pepper

red wine

Fill a pot with water and turn to high to bring to a boil. While the water is coming to a boil, you can make the sauce. The sauce and the pasta should be finished at the same time.

Drizzle olive oil into a frying pan. Add the chopped onion and garlic. I want the mushroom flavor to be really prominent, so I’m not using much onion or garlic. Adjust according to your taste.

Cook the onions until translucent. Be careful not to burn the garlic (I have a tendency to do this, so the warning is as much for me as for you).

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While the onion and garlic simmers, chop the mushrooms.

Toss them in with the onions and garlic and add some black pepper. Again. One of my favorite kitchen smells.

Cook the mushrooms down.

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Around this time, your water should be at a boil. Toss in the ravioli. I never salt my pasta water. I know this is an area of much debate, but I do drizzle a little olive oil in the pot when I’m making ravs so they don’t stick together. Mom did it. Grandma did it. I do it.

Cook the ravs according to the instructions on the package. You can lighten this meal up by using penne or angel hair too.

When the mushrooms are cooked down and while the ravs are bubbling away, add the butter and some red wine to the mushrooms, onion and garlic. You can leave the butter out to make the sauce lighter. I was good all day, though, remember? So a little butter is okay.

When the ravs are cooked (they usually float to the top when they’re done) drain and divide them into bowls. Pour the sauce over.

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Sprinkle with some some parmesan cheese.

Mangia!

(Please excuse the lack of pictures in this post… we were too hungry to think straight!)

Almost No Cook Spicy Peanut Veggies Over Noodles

Hello heat wave.

Here in New York, we’ve got those 3 H’s in town.

Hazy, Hot and Humid.

When they’re around, the last thing I want to do is cook.

But a girl (and her boyfriend) has got to eat.

So here’s an almost-no-cook dinner to help you beat the heat.

Spicy Peanut Veggies Over Noodles.

This is my own spin on some of my favorite Thai flavors.

For some reason, summer makes me think vegetarian. Piles of vegetables and fruits in the grocery make me wonder why I would ever need meat in my diet (then I think about mom’s meatballs or a burger from The Smith and I forget about my vegetarian conversion).

This is also one of my favorite kinds of meals to prepare because it all just goes into one big bowl and then gets dished out.

You will need:

  • 3 tbsp Peanut Butter
  • Chili oil (or hot sauce) to taste
  • 2 tbsp Rice Wine Vinegar
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • Egg Noodles
  • Veggies (We’re using cabbage, broccoli, cucumber and scallions)

We’re going to start with the cook part.

Bring a pot of water to boil.

I don’t want the broccoli to be raw, so I’m going to toss the florets, chopped up into bite-size pieces, into the boiling water for a minute. Not even a minute.

While the water is coming to a boil, pull out a large bowl and combine the peanut butter, rice wine vinegar and chili oil. If the mix is a little thick, don’t fret. We’re going to toss hot egg noodles in and the heat and the water that is bound to make its way into the bowl will thin it out some.

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When the water’s boiling and the peanut sauce is mixed, toss in the broccoli.

You want to have the sauce done because the broccoli is going straight from the pot into the bowl.

Just cook enough to take away the rawness. If you want, you can leave your broccoli raw. I’m just not a fan.

Scoop out the broccoli and transfer to the bowl. Pour the egg noodles into the water now vacated by the broccoli. Why waste water? Why dirty two pots?

Cook according to the directions on the package.

While they cook, add your other veggies to the bowl. I used a few handfuls of the bagged coleslaw mix with cabbage and carrots, some chopped cucumber and some sliced scallions.

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Toss the veggies with the peanut sauce.

When the noodles are cooked, add to the veggies mixture.

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The heat from the noodles will melt the peanut butter and will warm the veggies.

Scoop heaping spoonfuls into bowls.

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Top with some chopped peanuts if you like.

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The bowl goes in the dishwasher, making this a one pot to wash dinner.

Which is necessary in this heat.

Who wants to stand in an itty bitty kitchen, scrubbing a stack of pots on a lazy summer city night like this?

Leftover Veggie Crustless Quiche

Friday night’s calzones left me with a half a bag of spinach and a container of mushrooms in my fridge.

Much as I wanted to stop at the store and peruse the produce section ( I like grocery shopping. I know. I’m strange), I knew I had food to use in my fridge.

I hate having food go to waste.

Usually when I have leftover veggies, I sautee them up and toss them over pasta.

Unfortunately, we just had pasta last night.

So I racked my brain.

And came up with this.

Leftover Veggie Quiche.

This is a crustless quiche so it’s super quick to prepare and needs only a few ingredients:

  • some veggies (I’m using spinach and mushrooms and some scallions)
  • parmesan or another shredded cheese (optional) (I also scooped in some ricotta because the sell by date’s approaching)
  • 4 eggs
  • milk
  • butter (to grease the pan, you can use cooking spray too)

Sautee the veggies in some olive oil and black pepper over medium heat. Remember they will cook some more in the oven, so don’t cook them all the way.

Meanwhile, grease a pie pan or a baking dish. You can use whatever you have on hand – glass pyrex casserole, a brownie pan – I’m using a pie pan because I have one and because it’s dishwasher safe. One less pot to wash!

When the veggies are cooked, dump them into the greased pan in an even layer.

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I, for whatever reason, cooked the spinach first, put it in the pie pan as my bottom layer, then cooked the mushrooms and laid those on top of the spinach. I tossed the chopped scallion over.

In a bowl, crack four eggs, pour in some milk, sprinkle in some cheese, scoop in a spoonful of ricotta, add a few grinds of black pepper if desired and whisk away.

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When the yolks are broken and well combined, pour the egg mixture over the veggies.

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Bake in a 350 degree oven until the eggs are set. About 30 minutes.

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Slice, serve with a side salad and some crusty bread.

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I’m starting to notice just how often I type the words crust bread, and, subsequently, just how often I eat crusty bread.

I think I have a problem.

Is there a crusty bread eaters anonymous?

Wait.

This is a crustless quiche.

No crust means no bread. An otherwise breadless meal.

And I need carbs.

I did have yogurt today for lunch. And fruit.

Totally healthy. And totally breadless.

So, I’m perfectly entitled to my crusty bread tonight.

What say you, Rachael Ray, is that the correct girl math?

I was always bad at math. I’m an English major.

Oh well.

The math I can handle? Dinner ready with only five minutes of prep + a nice long hot shower during the thirty minutes while the quiche bakes + only one pan to wash = a very calm and relaxed girl ready to settle in for some Game 7, Blackhawks vs Red Wings old school hockey!

#Becauseitsthecup

Linguine in Clam Sauce in a Flash

I thought the song was Manic Monday?

Well, today’s Tuesday and boy was it manic.

Why is it that the day after a long weekend is always crazy? Shouldn’t everyone be coming back into the office nice and calm and relaxed?

Well, that’s unfortunately never the case.

So after a long weekend of lazily preparing meals and relaxing with wine, I’m coming home from a busy day, ravenous and in need of an easy dinner.

This is also what comes to mind when I’m in need of comfort food.

Comfort food is different for everyone. It totally depends on what you grew up eating and what will transport you back to mom or grandma’s house. For you it may be meatloaf or mac and cheese or spanikopita.

For me, it’s a big bowl of pasta. Comforting, warm and easy.

This dinner is so easy, I even have the time to make a quick appetizer.

Linguine in clam sauce.

The real world way.

Yes, if I had the time, I’d prefer to use fresh clams. But I don’t have the time to stop at the store, nor do I have the patience right now to cook clams.

I didn’t get to eat lunch today, and I know that if my day were that hectic, then my boyfriend’s was probably at least three times worse. And he’s probably hungry. And he gets cranky, and a little angry when he’s hungry.

Like his dad says, an angry man is a hungry man.

Hangry. That’s what men are when they’re hungry and angry from the hunger.

You don’t want a hangry boyfriend on your hands after a long day.

Get this recipe started by bringing a pot of water to a boil. While the water starts to bubble, make the sauce.

This sauce is a great friend of the itty bitty city kitchen because 1. it’s made entirely of pantry staples and 2. it doesn’t take a lot of assembly – chopping garlic then the rest happens in the frying pan.

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  • 1 can minced clams, drained of juices (this is the real world way to make the sauce, replace with fresh clams if you have time)
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • olive oil
  • white wine
  • black pepper

This is the easiest sauce you will ever make.

Drizzle a pan with olive oil and add the chopped garlic; turn to medium heat and let the garlic start to brown.

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Add the drained clams, pour in the white wine and cook until the alcohol is gone. Or cook just a little and leave some of the alcohol if you had that kind of day.

Add a few grinds of black pepper and let the sauce hang out on the stove over a low flame. Odds are, the sauce is done and the water hasn’t boiled yet.

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Which gives you the perfect amount of time to make an appetizer. Also known as something to hand to the hangry man at the door to quell the hanger.

Bruschetta is one of those highly versatile and highly underrated foods.

There’s nothing better than crispy bread in my book. Crispy bread topped with some fresh and yummy accouterments (you like that word, don’t you?) is even better.

For a really quick bruschetta, slice a baguette and toast the slices at 400 for a few minutes. If you don’t have time to preheat the oven (or forgot like me) throw the slices on a foil-lined cookie sheet and pop under the broiler for a few minutes. Just watch the bread because it can burn quickly.

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Peel a garlic clove and slice in half.

When the bread is toasted, pull from the oven and rub with a garlic clove half. The heat from the bread will melt the garlic, and the crusty texture will provide an abrasive surface that will rub the garlic flavor off onto the bread.

You can sprinkle with some olive oil and parmesan cheese and pop it back in the oven for a minute and, ta-da, garlic bread.

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You can also take it a step further and chop up some tomatoes, toss them in a bowl with some olive oil, salt and pepper, and set on the table with the garlic bread for a make your own tomato bruschetta station.

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This should keep your hangry man occupied while you cook the linguine.

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Linguine takes like four minutes to cook, so it’s the best option here.

A side salad with a simple dressing, tomatoey, garlicky bruschetta and a steaming bowl of linguine topped with the winey, oceany, peppery clam sauce. A sprinkle of parmesan cheese.

Dinner on the table in under ten minutes.

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And there’s nothing more satisfying or comforting than a steaming bowl of pasta.

Hangry man be gone.

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