Mushroom, Caramelized Onion Macaroni and Cheese

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This isn’t something that I get many chances to make, so as soon as I saw it I sent a text to my vegetarian food-loving friend. As expected, she was all in for this fancy mac and cheese! It was so good – full of savory flavors from the caramelized onions and meaty mushrooms. Don’t substitute any of the cheeses; they’re worth every penny – besides, when I make her lunch I get a date night ūüôā Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Mushroom, Onion Macaroni and Cheese – adapted from Joy the Baker

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil and 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided, for cooking the onions and mushrooms
  • 1 large yellow onion, sliced in semi-circles
  • half a pound of button or cremini mushrooms, cleaned and quartered
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme, divided
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 scant teaspoon salt
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 4 ounces goat cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded Gruy√®re
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 pound pasta shells, boiled until just undercooked
  • 1/3 cup panko crumbs

Directions –

In a medium skillet over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter.  When heated, add the sliced onions and saute until translucent, stirring occasionally.  Add a pinch of salt, a pinch of black pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon fresh thyme, and reduce the heat to low.  Continue to cook until the onions are completely browned and thoroughly cooked, about 10-15 minutes. Spoon caramelized onions into a small bowl and set aside.

In the same skillet, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil and 1 tablespoon of butter over medium heat. Add the quartered mushrooms and stir to coat in fat. Allow the mushrooms to soften and brown, about 2 minutes. Add a pinch of salt, a pinch of black pepper , and remaining thyme and reduce the heat to low. Cook until mushrooms are browned on all sides, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a large saucepan, melt 4 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Add the flour and stir until mixture is combined. Add the milk and whisk together until mixture has thickened, about 5-7 minutes. Add scant teaspoon of salt and black pepper. Stir to combine.

In a small bowl, beat the egg. Add a few tablespoons of the warm cream sauce to the egg and whisk together. Once the egg is warmed, add it back to the cream sauce and whisk well to combine. Reduce heat to low and stir in cheeses. Stir until melted and combined. Add the cooked pasta, onions and mushrooms and stir until all is coated in cheese sauce.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a  a 9×13-inch pan, and scoop the pasta mixture into the greased pan then top with panko crumbs. Bake for 25-30 minutes until the bread crumbs are browned and the pasta is sizzling. Remove from the oven and serve warm.
**Pasta can be made a day ahead and left in the fridge unbaked. Just add the bread crumbs just before baking.

Crock Pot Spaghetti Sauce

 

 

I’m usually leery about crock pot recipes and I rarely search for new ones. Most recipes I have seen (or most that are popular on Pinterest), are full of canned this and packaged that…I have seriously considered creating a new pin board entitled: “Recipes that Scare Me”! ¬†There is nothing questionable in this recipe and it is so good! The aroma greeted me as I walked through the door after picking up my SIL from the air port. This was the perfect meal to come home to and I will make this again. It’s rich, hearty and goes perfectly any thick, tube pasta. I served this with a quick garlic bread, but if I had more time – I would have made this one (always a favorite!) Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Crock Pot Spaghetti Sauce – adapted from Iowa Girl Eats

  • 1 lb ground beef (I used 90/10 ground sirloin)
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 8 oz can tomato sauce
  • 6 oz can tomato paste
  • 1 Tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 bay leaf (or 2 small)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 3/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon red chili pepper flakes (optional)
  • 2 Tablespoons butter

Directions:

Season ground beef with salt & pepper then brown with minced onion in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Drain then add to a large crock pot. Add all the ingredients except for the butter, stir to combine, then cook on low for 5-6 hours. Remove bay leaves, stir in butter, then serve over cooked pasta.

Shrimp Pasta with Oven Dried Tomatoes

Quick Post: This pasta was amazing! I have tried and posted several shrimp pastas¬†here, and this one is sure to be a repeat offender in this house. This was my first time using mascarpone cheese – it’s like butta! It created a smooth and creamy sauce that perfectly complimented the rest of the flavors in this dish. I really like the oven dried tomatoes, because all that richness would be overpowering if not for the presence of the slightly acidic, sweetness of them. They’re worth making, especially if you want to avoid preservatives of most store-bought sun dried tomatoes. The kids were leery of them, but I explained that they’re like tomato-raisins ūüėČ Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Shrimp Pasta with Oven Dried Tomatoes – adapted from Annie’s Eats

  • 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • Olive oil
  • Small pinch of sugar
  • Kosher salt and pepper
  • 1 lb. bowtie pasta
  • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 lb. medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • ¬ĺ cup chopped yellow onion
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¬Ĺ tsp. red pepper flakes
  • ¬Ĺ cup dry white wine (or chicken broth)
  • 6 oz. mascarpone cheese
  • ¬Ĺ cup fresh basil leaves, chopped (*I forgot to buy this*)
  • ¬ľ cup grated Parmesan, plus more for serving

Directions:
To make the oven dried tomatoes, preheat the oven to 225ňö F. Place the tomatoes in a small baking dish in a single layer, cut side facing up. Drizzle lightly with olive oil and season with a pinch of sugar, salt and pepper. Bake for about 3 hours, or until the tomatoes are mostly shriveled up. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Once boiling, cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain well.

While the pasta is cooking, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp to the pan and cook in a single layer, flipping once during cooking, just until opaque, about 2-3 minutes. Remove to a plate, tent loosely with foil and set aside. Melt the remaining tablespoon of butter in the pan. Sauté the onion until slightly softened, about 4-5 minutes. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes to the pan and sauté just until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the wine or broth and scrape any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.

Reduce the heat to medium-low. Return the shrimp to the pan and add in the drained pasta along with the oven-dried tomatoes. Add the mascarpone to the pan and stir until completely melted. Stir in the basil and Parmesan, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately with additional Parmesan as desired.

PW’s Spicy Beans

My sister visited this summer – and while that was awesome, she made it even more memorable by making these amazing beans! This will forever be my go-to recipe for pinto beans and the whole family enjoys them – so much that I made them three times in one month. Don’t let the “spicy” deter you, these are easily modified. Two teaspoons of pepper is too much for our palettes, so I only add 1 or 1 1/2 teaspoons. Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Spicy Beans – adapted from The Pioneer Woman

  • 4 cups¬†Dry Pinto Beans
  • 1 whole¬†Ham Hock
  • 2 quarts of water (this is the perfect amount for me)
  • 1 whole¬†Onion, Diced
  • 4 cloves¬†Garlic, Minced
  • 2 whole¬†Jalapenos, Sliced
  • 2 teaspoons¬†Salt, More To Taste
  • 2 Tablespoons¬†Chili Powder
  • 1 – 1 1/2 ¬†teaspoons¬†Black Pepper

Directions –

Sort through the beans, making sure to pick out all the weird looking and broken beans and rocks. Dump the sorted beans in a large colander and rinse thoroughly with cold water.

Place beans in a stock pot with the ham hock and cover with water by 2 inches. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cover the pot and simmer for 2 hours, checking occasionally to make sure the water level is fine. Add more water as needed.

Then throw in diced onion, red bell pepper, garlic and jalapeno. Cover and continue cooking for another hour or two, remembering to check the water level.

Add salt, chili powder (if desired) and pepper, then cover and cook for another 20 to 30 minutes, or until beans are lovely and tender.

Ground Beef Tacos II

When in doubt, ask your nine-year old what you should make for dinner…the boy loves tacos! Any Tex-Mex style foods, really. We haven’t had tacos in a while, so I agreed; searched through Pink Parsley and chose this recipe. M is anti-corn tortilla for some reason, so I haven’t decided if I want to fry up the flour tortillas I’ll be using for these.

Verdict: Yum! The leftovers didn’t last more than one day either! I served this with my fave rice, fresh pico de gallo, pepper jack cheese and lettuce. Everyone enjoyed these and my picky daughter even ate more than a few bites. This is the second ground beef taco recipe that I have posted here, and I’m happy to report that this one is going to be my go-to recipe. Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Ground Beef Tacos – adapted from Pink Parsley via Cook’s Illustrated

  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped (about 2/3 cup)
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 Tbs chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano (*I used Mexican oregano)
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 1 pound 90% lean (or leaner) ground beef
  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
Directions:

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet until shimmering.  Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 4 minutes.  Add the garlic, spices, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.  Cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Add the ground beef and cook, breaking up meat with a wooden spoon and scraping the bottom of the pan to prevent scorching, about 5 minutes longer, until meat is no longer pink.

Add tomato sauce, broth, brown sugar, and vinegar; bring to a simmer and reduce heat to medium-low.¬† Simmer uncovered, stirring frequently, until liquid has reduced and thickened, about 10 minutes.¬† Adjust seasonings with salt and pepper and serve with your favorite taco fixin’s.

 

 

Slow-Cooker Shredded Beef Tacos

I ¬†love taco night:) Especially when all the work takes about 10 minutes to prepare and then the crock pot does the rest. I seared the meat and prepared the sauce the night before. I decided that it was best to have it ready to go so I don’t have to stress about it the next day. There is lots of spring cleaning I need to finish…one less thing is just that – one less thing.

The verdict: The meat was so flavorful, tender, juicy and not at all spicy. It just has a wonderful smoky flavor from the chipotles and smoked paprika. I used two chipotles in mine and they weren’t overpowering at all. We ate these tacos with my “orange” rice, this salsa, cilantro¬†and some shredded Colby¬†Monterey jack cheese. I suppose some day I should share my “orange” rice with you all since I have mentioned it in several different postsūüôā Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Slow-Cooker Shredded Beef Tacos – adapted from Gimme Some Oven

  • 1-2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 pounds beef (boneless chuck roast)
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin (*cumin is my favorite, so I always use extra)
  • 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1 cup beef stock
  • 2 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, minced
  • 1/2 large sweet onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • Flour tortillas
  • Favorite taco toppings

Method:

Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat.  Meanwhile, combine the chili powder, cumin, and smoked paprika in a small bowl.

Rub the spice mix into the beef, covering each side evenly. Once the oil is hot (it will shimmer a bit in the skillet), place the beef in the skillet and sear on each side.

Remove the beef from the skillet and place in the bottom of a slow cooker.  Leave the pan on the heat, and add in the beef stock to deglaze, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.  Add the tomato paste and minced chipotle and whisk into the pan sauce. Bring the sauce to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for a few minutes until the sauce has reduced and thickened slightly.

Add the diced onion and minced garlic on top of the seared beef in the slow cooker.  Pour the pan sauce down over the onions, garlic, and beef.  Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours.

Remove the beef from the slow cooker and shred with two forks.  Use a slotted spoon to remove the onions from the slow cooker, and mix into the shredded beef.

Serve the beef in the flour tortillas, topped with your favorite taco toppings.