Christmas · Holidays · kid-friendly · Recipes · Uncategorized

Michelle’s Stuffed Mushrooms

By popular demand, I’ve got Michelle, my brother’s girlfriend and an awesome cook, to guest blog about how she makes her easy yet delicious stuffed mushrooms. They’ve been a staple at our holiday celebrations this year, and are truly addictive! Interested in finding out how she makes this healthy dish? Keep reading!

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Michelle’s Famous Stuffed Mushrooms

INGREDIENTS

  • White mushrooms, 3 or 4 packages
  • Plain bread crumbs, any brand
  • Butter (5 TBSP total)

DIRECTIONS

The number of people you are planning to serve determines how many packages of mushrooms to buy. I buy the white mushrooms that still have the stems attached. For Christmas, when we had 12 guests, I got four packages, and for Easter I got three. It may seem like a lot, but remember that mushrooms shrink! I also use the 4C Plain Bread Crumbs but you can use your favorite kind.

Usually the night before I am going to make them, I take the stems out and I save about 10 of them. Then I wash all the mushrooms to make sure I have all the dirt off, and put them back in the fridge. (Don’t forget to wash the stems too!)

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To make them, I get a pot of boiling water and put the mushrooms in the water for 5 minutes. Make sure not to leave them in any longer then that! I have a limited amount of large pots in my house so I boiled them in three batches, and it works well either way. Then use a (clean) towel and put them facing down so the water doesn’t pool. Then, you want to use the stems: chop them up very fine and use about 1-2 tablespoons of butter (it can be salted or unsalted). I use salted butter for mine. Have the butter melt in the frying pan then put your stems in and let them cook until they get a deeper brown color. Make sure to keep stirring them so they don’t burn. That usually takes about 3 to 5 minutes on medium heat.

In a bowl, have your bread crumbs ready. The amount will vary depending on how many mushrooms you have. I used a little less than a cup. If you’re making more mushrooms, then add more breadcrumbs. Once the stems are done cooking you add those in with your bread crumbs.

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You will need to melt about 2-3 more tablespoons of butter (just use the same frying pan you cooked the stems in) and once that is melted add that to your bread crumbs and mix it all up until it kind of looks like wet sand. (You can do a taste test here ~ I promise you it doesn’t taste like sand!) You just want to make sure that all the breadcrumbs are coated.

**At this time if you wanted, you could add whatever spices you like, for example garlic powder, cheese, onion powder, etc. You can get creative, but I keep things plain.**

Now time for stuffing! I have a large round glass dish that I like to cook my mushrooms in. By this time they will be cooled from being boiled so just move them into whatever dish you baking them in and stuff them! I use a small spoon and make sure I really pack the stuffing into each mushroom by using the back of the spoon. You will more than likely have a little left over stuffing, so that’s what I sprinkle over the top. Put them in the oven at 350F for about 20-25 minutes (or until the stuffing looks golden brown) and that’s it! Very easy and delicious!

Thanks, Michelle! We are so glad to have you sharing your recipe with us by popular demand, and can’t wait to see what you cook up next 🙂

Holidays · Recipes

Split Pea Soup

OK, finding dried peas was IMPOSSIBLE this week, which is why this post is so late. Am I crazy, or is making Split Pea Soup with your leftover holiday ham bone not a thing anymore? At Christmas and Easter my relatives usually fight over the thing on their way out the door, and having pea soup for lunch all week is supposed to be a post-holiday treat, not a chore. Poor Mark went to three different stores for me before finding a one-pound bag of regular old Goya dried beans yesterday. Trader Joe’s and Target said they don’t even carry peas at all, so this isn’t a case of stores running out because everyone else wanted to make pea soup, too.

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My mom always made a wicked good pea soup, but her memory of the recipe was approximate, so I decided to use a good old fashioned Betty Crocker recipe for this Split Pea Soup. My mom does not use celery or carrots in hers, but I wanted to try that and see how I liked it. I think it worked, so I’ll probably do that again the next time I make it.

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It came out delectable, if I do say so myself!

SPLIT PEA SOUP

Ingredients

  • 1 pound dried split peas, sorted and rinsed
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 medium celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 ham bone (or 2 pounds shanks)
  • 3 medium carrots, cut into 1/4-inch slices

Directions

Heat the peas and the water to boiling in a 4-quart Dutch oven. Boil uncovered for 2 minutes, then remove from heat. Cover and let stand for 1 hour.

Stir in the onion, celery, carrots and pepper. Add the ham bone. Heat to boiling and reduce heat. Cover and simmer about 1 hour 30 minutes, or until peas are tender.

You can either remove the ham bone trim and off the excess fat, and then chop some ham from the bone and place into the soup, or leave the bone in the soup and cut off some pieces with scissors, like I did, then remove and discard.

Heat to boiling again, then reduce heat and cover. Simmer about 30 minutes more or until the soup is your desired consistency.

Skim the fat at this point, or later before serving (that’s what I did). Serve warm with toast or a salad. IMG_9517

Start to finish, this took just over 3 hours, most of it simmer time. I started right after putting Georgia to bed Friday night and finished up right in time for ME to go to bed, at 10:30. I put portions into takeout containers for me to have lunches all week. If you make this in a cast iron Dutch oven, it may take quite a while to cool down completely, so I’d recommend storing in a separate container. It will look much more liquid-y when you first stop cooking and then it’ll solidify overnight, which is how long I like to let it sit before eating.

Betty Crocker’s Tips include:

How to sort and rinse peas. Preparing split peas for cooking is easy, BC says! “Just pick over the dried split peas and discard any grit or discolored peas. Place the split peas in a bowl, and cover them with water. After a minute or two, remove any skins or split peas that float to the top. Finally, rinse the split peas in a colander.”

What to do if you have no ham bone? “If you’re looking for another option for a ham bone, use 2 pounds of smoked pork hocks.”

How to eat this. Like you need the help. “Serve this hearty soup with warm crusty bread and a fresh green salad drizzled with raspberry vinaigrette. Mmm!” Adorable.

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Nutrition Per Serving: 170 Calories, Total Fat 2g, Cholesterol 15 mg, Sodium 30 mg, Carbohydrate 33g, Fiber 13g(!), Protein 17 g.
Baby & Toddler · Holidays

The Easter Bunny Came! {+ our new fave camera}

Hope everyone had a nice holiday weekend! We had a wonderful Easter. Georgia not only wore her bonnet the whole day, to my complete surprise she also hunted for eggs rather enthusiastically! My brother hid plastic eggs (with stickers inside) around our house for her to “find,” and she loved it so much we had to keep running behind her to re-hide them in new places. It was adorable.

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Daddy had to work, so Georgia and Mommy went to church, where we stood on ours chairs to better see the special musicians, and then played with our friends in the nursery downstairs. Then we went home and Georgia took a nice long nap while Mommy made a glazed ham, and pretty soon Grammie, Uncle Brent and Auntie Michelle came over and we all ate a nice big dinner! Daddy made it home just in time for baby’s bedtime.

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The ham came out great — even G ate it, and loved it! — and I’ve got a Split Pea Soup queued up for the ham bone later this week. I’ll be posting my recipe on the blog as soon as I can! In the meantime, it’s back to work, and crossing my fingers for continued warm weather so we can start our garden, plant some flowers, and enjoy our front porch. 

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My brother’s girlfriend brought the coolest camera to capture the fun  yesterday: the FujiFilm Instax, which is like an old-school Polaroid that develops instantly.

Georgia was a little freaked out by the photo popping right out of the top (she’s only ever seen an iPhone camera, remember!) but quickly got the hang of it and loved seeing her pictures right away. I might have to get one of these things.

She was so into the pictures that she barely wanted to look at the Easter Basket Grammie brought her! She did, however, pause long enough to eat an entire Lindt Chocolate bunny. What can I say? She has good taste. Hope you all have a great week, and stay tuned for my Split Pea Soup recipe!

Holidays · Recipes

Eating Fish on Good Friday?

Allow me to share my two favorite seafood recipes for any last-minute Good Friday cooks out there (with apologies for the 2012-style fuzzy photo in the second dish). These really are scrumptious and easy to pull together.

Seafood Pasta Baked in Foil, adapted from the Pioneer Woman

Are you eschewing meat entirely this Lent? Allow me to share with you my favorite meat-free risotto recipe.

Springtime Risotto

However and whatever you’re celebrating, have a lovely weekend and enjoy your family, friends and food. XOXO

Baby & Toddler · Books · Holidays · kid-friendly · minted · Tips and Tricks

Our Easter Menu + Baby Easter Gift Ideas!

It’s Easter (and Passover) Week, and even though the weather won’t cooperate, we are still going to assume it’s Spring and will celebrate this quintessentially Spring holiday accordingly! Mark, as always, has to work on Easter, so once again I’m preparing a pared-down menu with help from family for a nice, low-key day. Here’s what we are making! Photos of babies in bonnets to follow shortly.

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One year ago. How time flies! My lil’ bunny!

Our Easter Menu

  • Glazed Ham
  • Warm buttered rolls
  • Stuffed Mushrooms
  • Butternut Squash
  • Cold Potato Salad
  • Applesauce
  • Honey Mustard
  • Cheesecake, Coffee & Tea

This year Easter is so early that I really refused to buy any kind of special dress, not knowing whether she’d even be able to wear it (or fit into it, since she just finished a growth spurt from 12-18 month clothes into 18-24 and even 2T). Last year, though, her Nani in Florida had sent her this gorgeous dress that we paired with a darling white Easter bonnet with patent leather crib shoes for church:

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Where does the time even go!!!

I think Georgia is still a little bit young to enjoy an Easter Egg Hunt or Easter-themed toys, but that won’t stop us from trying. I’m cajoling my brother into hiding eggs and I am fairly certain her Grammie will be showing up with some presents for our bunny!

If you need Easter gift inspiration, beyond candy, you’ve come to the right place.

the classic

something different

Hide & Squeak Eggs, $10.80 on amazon

something huggable

skip hop “hug & hide” lamb, $18, Amazon

a nightlight

$10.95, Land of Nod

a lovey

angel baby blankie, $13, amazon

a push toy

$19, amazon

a party in a box

easter egg hunt kit, $18, Land of Nod

treat bags

personalizable! pottery barn, on sale from $9.99 to $30
personalizable, via pottery barn, on sale from $9.99

munchies

a bit of seasonal decor

frameable bunny art from $22 via minted.com (in five colors)

Last but not least, one Easter craft idea for the family and three fun recipes:

Italian Easter Bread

Rice Krispy Treat Eggs

Easter Egg cake

neon dipped eggs by Joy Cho/Oh Joy! via Merrimentevents.com

Have a wonderful week everyone!

Holidays · Recipes

5 Great Pies for Pi Day!

It’s Pi Day (in the U.S., anyway) and what better way to celebrate 3.14.15(92653…) than with a roundup of my favorite PIE recipes, starting with one I just saw yesterday that I haven’t made yet but cannot WAIT to try, courtesy of Smitten Kitchen:

Black Bottom Oatmeal Pie from Smitten Kitchen

That’s zooming to the top of my must-make list!

Next up comes my Key Lime Pie, which I often make for Easter. Either that, or Strawberry Shortcake, which is also inside that key lime post, because one year I made both and my lucky relatives got to eat it all up.

Then there’s the classic Raw Pecan Love Pie from Kimberly Snyder, which I just love.

And who can resist this go-to Chocolate Pie by Pioneer Woman, so easy and so good. Mark just eats this up.

Next is something a little bit different: a Pumpkin Pie Smoothie!

Which can’t hold a candle to my Strawberry-Rhubarb Crisp filling, which can be used just as easily to make a pie, as I have done and will continue to do every year.

And what’s a post about pie without some savory options?

Like Shepherd’s Pie, or Roasted Zucchini & Tomato Ricotta Pie, just to name a couple of examples.

But here’s the embarrassing part.

My favorite pies — pumpkin and apple — are two that, believe it or not, I DON’T have recipes for on this blog yet! So I am hereby setting a goal to rectify that this year.

Maybe I can get my mom to guest blog about her famous lemon meringue pie, and then eventually I’ll have to share my family’s recipe for Swedish Apple Pie, too. And come to think of it, what about Ricotta Pie??

Clearly, I have a lot of catching up to do! Stay tuned, and hopefully there will be some new desserts coming your way in short order.

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What about you? What are YOUR favorite pies? Tell me in the comments 🙂 And have a great weekend.

Holidays · Recipes

Orange Creamsicle Cake

OK, I made up that name. I have been craving an Orange Julius SO BAD LATELY (and no, I’m not pregnant, just eating like it…and possibly stuck in the 90s) so when I decided to make a simple cake for Easter at the last minute, it had to meet two criteria: involve fewer than five ingredients, and taste like an Orange Julius. I think this is a success story.

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I found a Pinterest recipe that looked promising, then made it even more citrus-y by making up a light orange icing. That was the critical element! Fresh, juicy and bright, this cake is a definite winner.

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I had two tough critics to please — my Easter guests, the husband and the brother — and both loved it. They are both chocolate freaks and not fruit lovers, so I considered that a victory. I hope you like it, too.

Orange Creamsicle Cake

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 box of white cake mix
  • 1 small container of orange juice, no pulp
  • (you’ll use 1 cup for the cake, 2 TBSP for the icing)

  • 1 small (6 or 7 oz.) container Greek yogurt (I chose 2% Fage)
  • 1.5 cups of confectioner’s sugar
  • optional: one orange for zest and/or garnish

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DIRECTIONS

In a large mixing bowl, combine the cake mix, orange juice and Greek yogurt. Mix by hand until well combined and no longer lumpy.

Preheat the oven to 350F and grease a 9×9 glass baking dish.

Pour the cake mixture into the pan and bake at 350 for about 30 minutes; let cool.

Check with a toothpick that the middle is set. Serve cool or at room temp with whipped cream! If you like, garnish with orange zest, peel or confectioner’s sugar.

TO MAKE THE ICING

I winged this, based on past experience which told me that citrus juice + confectioner’s sugar = icing (if you get the ratio right). Here, I used 1.5 cups of sugar to 2 TBSP orange juice, and a dash of zest from a fresh orange I had lying around (optional). Just mix until a paste forms and spread on the cake.

I iced the cake in the morning and then sat it back in the refrigerator while we went to church, so it was ready when we got home. I thought this cake actually tasted best a little on the cool side, so I kept it in the fridge during supper and served it right to the table with whipped cream on the side. (Since it was a rush job, I didn’t have time to make fresh. It was still tasty!) You could certainly serve at room temp if you prefer. I’m sure it would also taste fine with Cool Whip, and my brother had the awesome suggestion to make a simple fruit sauce like you would with strawberry shortcake, just sliced fruit with granulated sugar sprinkled on top until the juices come out. I’m definitely going to try that next time! Maybe, like Mark suggested, for Georgia’s 1st birthday party.

Speaking of her little self, check out that baby of mine on Easter!

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I hope you all have a lovely week and that the rain clears out of Boston and other parts of the Northeast some time soon. Just like babies have to sleep through the night eventually, at some point it has to become summer this year. Right?

If you liked this recipe, and enjoy easy dessert recipes, check this out. Or, if you’re a bit more advanced (I’m not), there’s this lovely cake. And I’m dying to try these.

Baby & Toddler · Holidays

Happy Easter Week!

I had Georgia in the cutest outfit for Palm Sunday — she was even waving a palm frond in church along to the music! — but, tragically, I didn’t get a picture of it. How could I be so lame?? I know. I’ll make sure to share a cute picture of her on Easter Sunday, for which I have the cutest outfit and bonnet planned. I think she’ll probably outgrow it the next week, because she’s packing on the pounds so fast these days.

Our friends Scott and Jena were passing through town the other weekend, and they snapped a couple cute portraits of Georgia. Scott is a very talented photographer based out of New York. He even caught the whole family together!

I think we are keeping it low-key this year with the holiday itself because of the baby. In past years, I’ve made simple food and dessert to celebrate Easter. Things like:

Strawberry Yogurt Cake
Strawberry Shortcake

On a totally random, other note, I heard about a cool website that just launched this week which I wanted to share with y’all. A co-worker told me about it. It’s called Urbanful, and they call themselves “part magazine, part marketplace.” They promote city living and all that makes the urban life so interesting, and you can find a lot of cool products on there — plus interesting stories about entrepreneurs and inventors, like these guys who created mushroom kits for the urban gardener:

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‘Back to the Roots’ mushroom kit.

They say they don’t make commission on the sale of any goods on the site, so they’re just trying to connect people to relevant profile pieces and products. We’ll see how they evolve! Could be a cool resource for info about local food, urban food production and DIY stuff. I’m going to keep following them on Pinterest and Facebook. I hope you have a wonderful Passover and/or Easter, and let’s hope this spring weather is finally here to stay! XOXO