Butternut Vegetable Curry

I have no idea how long it’s been since I last blogged. A lifetime, I’m sure!! Last summer, I quit my job and took a giant leap of faith and decided to go to nursing school!! I could not be happier with my choice. I love everything about it – even though it’s a LOT of work (and I mean a LOT), I am a very happy girl!!

I started school in August and I’ll be honest – I didn’t cook much at all. We ate lots of tacos and spaghetti and, well, that’s just the way things have to be sometimes!! This semester started last week and I am so far, very pleased with my schedule. I have class on Mondays and Fridays. I go to the hospital for clinicals on Tuesdays and am completely off Wednesday and Thursday. That’s a huge improvement from last year!! This means, too, that I can get some cooking in. I could not be happier and my family seems to like it too 😉 Hopefully I can keep it up!

So that brings me to today’s recipe. I had a part of a butternut squash I needed to use up. I have been craving curry. It’s Monday (Meatless Monday!) and VOILA this dish wash born. There’s a little chopping, but once you get moving, it’s not too hard. One note – you really do need to cut the squash in bigger cubes otherwise you’ll have mush.

You won’t get any fancy pictures on this one (sorry!) because lord only knows where my camera and my light box and all that jazz are. Here’s the view from my iPad, though! I love technology in the kitchen!



Meatless Monday – Mushroom & Goat Cheese Rotini

Confession #1: I am a victim of Sam’s Club, lately!! My daughter turned 2 at the end of June and we went nuts stocking up for her party (the party which didn’t happen, by the way, thank you stomach flu!). Ay. I’m up to my eyeballs in goat cheese. I have a bag of rotini that’s big enough to feed all of St. Augustine! And don’t get me started on the hot dog buns….

Confession #2: I freaking love goat cheese, mushrooms, and peppers together. Last week’s Meatless Monday was Balsamic Grilled Portobello Sandwiches with Goat Cheese and Roasted Peppers. Same flavors, different presentation from today. I can’t help myself! I promise something different next week! Until then, sit back and enjoy a meatless main dish that won’t have you wondering ‘where’s the beef’!, I promise!

Mushroom & Goat Cheese Rotini

2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp olive oil
3 cups chopped onions
3/4 tsp kosher salt, divided
1/2 tsp sugar
1 red bell pepper, chopped
16 ounces sliced baby portobello mushrooms (creminis)
3 Tbsp chopped fresh basil
1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper
12 ounces uncooked rotini
3 ounces soft goat cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1. In a large skillet, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter with 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium heat. Add the onions, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, and the sugar and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are well browned, about 20 minutes. Remove from the pan.

2. In the same pan, melt the remaining 1 tablespoon butter with 1 tablespoon of the oil over moderate heat. Add the red pepper and sautee 2-3 minutes until soft. Add the mushrooms and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and brown, about 8 minutes. Add the reserved onions, basil, and the pepper.

3. In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the rotini according to the package directions. Reserve 3/4 cup of the pasta cooking water and then drain the pasta. Toss the rotini and 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta water with the mushroom mixture, the goat cheese, and the Parmesan. If the pasta seems dry, add more of the reserved pasta water. Serve with additional Parmesan.

Serves 4
Inspired by a recipe from Food & Wine

Meatless Monday – Balsamic Grilled Portobello Sandwiches with Goat Cheese and Roasted Peppers

Another Meatless Monday is here with another lure to the grill. It’s just so stinking hot here in FL, that grilling is a much welcome end to a busy day. It certainly beats standing over the hot stove!! I loved the last grilled portobellos that we made, so I was in search of another variation to try. This sandwich combines all of my favorite things in the world – balsamic vinegar, roasted peppers, goat cheese, and mushrooms! It’s SUPER easy to put together and you can customize it to your tastes. On a diet? Cut the cheese in half. Don’t like red peppers? Go for tomatoes instead. The variations are endless!

A quick note on the goat cheese
– for this recipe, use a log of goat cheese, not the precrumbled stuff. I find that goat cheese dries out considerably when it’s precrumbled. That’s fine for a salad or a casserole where it will be mixed with other things, but for this recipe, you need the creamy texture of a good goat cheese.

Balsamic Grilled Portobello Sandwiches
with Goat Cheese and Roasted Peppers

4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp dried parsley
1 tsp dried thyme
2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
4 large portobello mushroom caps – washed and stems removed
4 whole wheat hamburger buns
4 tsp dijon mustard
4 large slices roasted red peppers (freshly made or from a jar)
4 ounces goat cheese
2 ounces arugula

1) Combine first 7 ingredients (garlic through olive oil) in a bowl, stirring well to combine. Place the mushrooms in a large container with a lid or a plastic zip-top bag and pour the marinade over top. When the container is sealed tight, give it a few turns to make sure that the mushrooms are well covered with the marinade. Keep at room temperature for about an hour (more is fine) and turn once or twice.

2) Preheat grill to medium heat. Place mushroom caps on the grill and cook approximately 4 minutes per side, until they are soft. Use the remaining marinade to baste the mushrooms as they cook.

3) Toast the buns and then on each of the bottom halves place 1 teaspoon of dijon mustard, 1/2 ounce arugula, 1 large slice of roasted red pepper. On each of the top buns place 1 ounce of goat cheese. Add the mushrooms and close the bun to make the juiciest, tangiest dinner feast! Enjoy!

Makes 4 sandwiches

Meatless Monday – Very Veggie Fettucine Alfredo

Are you new to Meatless Monday? Check out this post for more details…

I have been having so much fun with Meatless Monday. I’m really having to stretch outside of my normal kitchen comfort zone to find meatless meals that will be satisfying for this carnivorous family of mine. This recipe is a combination of several recipes I had been wanting to try for a while. You’re going to look at it and think ‘wow, that’s a lot of stuff’, but I promise you, it took no more than 45 minutes from first chop to on the table. You can work on several things at once and when it all comes together in the end, you will be glad you took the chance!

I will say that this dish does use a lot of pans, and for that, I apologize. The reason I cook so much is that I hate washing dishes. You see, whoever cooks dinner, the other spouse washes dishes, sooooooooo….

Very Veggie Fettucine Alfredo

Serves Four

8 ounces uncooked fettucine

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup carrots, cut into 1/4″ pieces
1 cup red pepper, diced
1 (8oz) package sliced mushrooms
1/2 c finely chopped green onion (use the whites and green part)
2 cloves garlic, minced
10 ounces fresh spinach, washed, stems removed and torn into pieces
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly cracked black pepper

Alfredo Sauce
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 tsp flour
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup heavy cream (or half and half)
1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
pinch of nutmeg (optional)

1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

1) Prepare fettucine according to package directions. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta cooking water. Drain remaining water and set pasta aside.

2) Prepare the sauce: Heat butter over medium heat in a large saucepan (until it foams). Whisk in flour until the mixture is smooth and golden, about 1 to 2 minutes. Whisk in milk, heavy cream, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp black pepper, and a pinch of nutmeg. Bring to a simmer until the sauce is slightly thickened. Remove from heat and stir in Parmesan cheese. Set aside.

3) Prepare the vegetables: In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Saute carrots and red peppers for 4-5 minutes until beginning to soften. Stir in garlic; saute 1 minute. Add mushrooms and onions, stirring until mushrooms are tender (3-4 minutes). Pile spinach into the pan and cook for 3-4 minutes or until the spinach is wilted and excess liquid is mostly evaporated. Season with 1/2 tsp kosher salt and 1/4 tsp freshly cracked black pepper.

4) Time to assemble! Pour the cooked pasta into the vegetable mix and give it a stir. Next, whisk 1/2 cup of the hot pasta water into the alfredo sauce to help thin it out. I ended up using about 3/4 of a cup, but you can use the whole 1 cup if the mix is dryer than you’d like it. Start small, though – it’s easier to add than take away! Pour the alfredo sauce over the pasta and vegetables and sprinkle in the fresh basil. Stir to combine well (a good pair of kitchen tongs work wonders right about now!) If you’re feeling adventurous, you can top your dish with more freshly grated Parmesan.  Enjoy!

Meatless Monday – Grilled Portobello Burgers

This summer is quickly on it’s way to becoming “The summer of the grill”. I can’t get enough of the charbroiled goodness! When thinking about Meatless Monday, I knew that our love for the grill would eventually have to join our meatless crusade (ok, not really a crusade, but it sounds fun, doesn’t it?!) and that one week would have to be portobello mushrooms on the grill. Portobello mushrooms are a surprisingly rugged stand in for hamburgers and can be doctored up a thousand ways! I roasted my own peppers, but you could easily use pre-roasted peppers from a jar, add pickles, banana peppers, anything your heart desires, really.

I realize that Worcestershire sauce is not normally a meatless item (it contains anchovies?! Surprising, huh?!). You can, however, buy a Vegetarian Worcestershire Sauce! Learn something new every day, don’t you!!? 🙂

Grilled Portobello Burgers

3 Tablespoons honey
3 Tablespoons yellow mustard
2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked pepper
4 large portobello mushroom caps
1 medium onion, sliced into thick slices
4 pieces of roasted red pepper (or roast your own – pepper cut into quarters)
4 (1-ounce each) slices sharp cheddar cheese
4 whole wheat hamburger buns
lettuce, tomato, ketchup

1. Prepare grill.

2. If roasting your own pepper – quarter a large red pepper and remove the stem and seeds. Place the pepper on a baking sheet covered in foil, skin side up underneath the broiler for 10 minutes or until slightly charred. Place in a paper bag for 10 minutes. Peel off the skin. Set aside.

3. In a small bowl, stir together honey and mustard.

4. Stir together 1 Tbsp of the honey mustard mixture, Worcestershire sauce, and black pepper. Brush both sides of the portobello caps with the sauce mixture.

5. Place the mushroom caps and onion rings on the grill and cook 4 minutes on each side or until the mushrooms are tender and the onions are soft and starting to blacken. Top the mushrooms with cheese and continue to cook until the cheese is melted.

6. Time to build your sandwiches! On the 4 buns, share the remaining honey mustard, ketchup, lettuce, tomato, grilled onion, roasted pepper, and a top each with one grilled portobello. Have napkins ready, these babies are juicy and delicious!

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