Mushrooms: Part One

My dear readers, Thank you for sharing your thoughts with me via the new poll feature. I really enjoyed learning more about what you would like to see from this blog. I was especially delighted to see the majority vote for recipes, seeing as I have quite a few up my sleeve. If recipes wasn’t your preference, don’t worry I’m thinking of you as well in my current writing. Didn’t get the chance to cast your vote? Well there is no time like the present.

To all my fellow foodies, I have written a three-part series (with recipes) featuring one of my very favorite ingredients, the Portobello mushroom. Although I am fond of the Shiitake and Crimini mushrooms, the Portobello is tops in my book.  These nutritional powerhouses are rich in Niacin which is also known as vitamin B3, Potassium (they contain more potassium than the average banana), and Selenium, and to top that they contain almost zero fat and are very low in calories. Another plus is  that the size and shape of the mushroom are just right to create a petite appetizer bowl. And so without further ado, I give you Italian Mushroom Cups.

Italian Mushroom Cups

Baby Portobello mushrooms, whole, 8-10ct.
1 lb. lean ground Turkey
1 can of Natural Diced Tomatoes, 14.5oz. (Without tomato sauce)
Zucchini, ½, seeds removed and diced
Red Bell Pepper, approx. ½ cup, seeds removed and diced
Fresh Garlic, minced, 1 clove
*Spices: Sea Salt (to taste), Crushed Red Pepper Flakes (1tsp.), Paprika or Chili Powder (1/2tsp.)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Possible Garnishes: Fresh Parsley, Thyme, or Basil

*I give approximate amounts for each spice, but depending on your preference level, feel free to adjust.

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Remove stems from the mushrooms and then discard. Scoop out the black inner parts of the mushroom, leaving a hollow bowl shape mushroom shell, and set mushroom cups aside Reserve mushroom “meat” for another recipe, perhaps for my upcoming Spinach and Mushroom Rigatoni?).

2. In a large skillet over medium heat, brown the ground turkey until fully cooked. Drain any excess liquids from the turkey and return to the skillet.

3. Add the zucchini, and red bell pepper and sauté till fully cooked. Next, add the diced tomatoes, stirring well to combine all ingredients. Then, add the garlic, sea salt, red pepper flakes, and paprika.

4. With a small spoon, generously fill the mushroom cups with the turkey and vegetable mixture. Arrange on a small baking sheet, and drizzle the tops with a little bit of olive oil. Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes or until the mushrooms are tender and slightly dark brown

Top with fresh parsley, thyme, or basil. Enjoy!

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Home Away Adventures

Striker

As a third floor apartment dweller, I am always surrounded by lots and lots of background noise. I’ve grown accustomed to the sounds of barking and whining dogs, cars coming and going, construction and maintenance repair, loud parking lot music, giggly college girls, and  the massive (and not so massive) birds that reside in a nearby group of trees. Strangely enough, I’ve become quite comfortable living apartment life (I prefer it actually), but even so it is nice to get away every once in a while.

This post is brought to you by a change of scenery. Allow me to elaborate…I recently accepted an offer to house sit/dog-sit for my wonderful mother-in-law Susan, while she and the family took a week-long visit to California. So far it’s been a quiet and restful experience. I’ve gotten the chance to catch up on my reading (you might’ve noticed my updated current reading page), gain some inspiration for new articles, enjoy a nice St. Paddy’s Day date with my husband, and of course spend some time in the kitchen. I guess it just goes to show you that you can be inspired anywhere you are, you just have to take some cues from the noises around you.

Best Friends, Callie the boxer & Isabella the Dachshund

Striker, the energetic Sharpay

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Cooking Class 1.20.10

On January 20th, 2010 I was obliged to accept an offer to teach a cooking class for a group of young ladies at my church. This being my first experience teaching, I will admit I was a little nervous. I chose Asian cuisine as a primary focus, namely because of my great love for the food and culture of Asia. Upon much toil and research, I prepared a menu that would give a small taste of the staple flavors and cooking techniques from China. Why China specifically? Well, it is known as the root of all Asian cuisine, so I thought it best to start at the beginning. This is a sample menu, and highlights of my class.

~Menu~

Yum Cha – Spring Onion Pancakes form Northern China, served with Jasmine Green Tea.

(I taught the Cantonese tea house traditions of drinking tea and eating Dim Sum.)

Soup- Chinese Chicken& Mushroom Soup

(My students learned traditional soup techniques that are used in countless Chinese recipes and are still utilized today.)

Entree- Bok Choy& Chicken Stir-fry in Five Senses Sauce, served with brown rice

(I taught the stir-fry technique, as well as the balancing of flavors using the “five senses”, which are hot, sour, salty, sweet, and bitter. This method helps develop the palette and create the harmony and balance found in Asian food. )

Dessert- Chilled Chocolate Mousse cups with Orange

(Dessert was a surprise for my students. It was gone in a flash!)

~I would like to give a special thanks to Ms. Olivia McClendon for sharing her charming photos for this post! Check out the Photo Gallery page at the top for more photos. Enjoy!

Much ado about Curry

I have a confession to make. I have just bought (and tasted) curry powder for the very first time.

As a native Texan I grew up with the food and flavors of the South. I have absolutely no regrets about that, in fact I’m working on revisiting some of my favorite dishes from childhood in a new somewhat modern way (stay tuned for that one). However, I love learning about other cultures from around the world especially when that pursuit of knowledge leads to fascinating new food. Thus began my new experiences with Indian spices. I have been a long time fan of the loose-leaf teas of India, but I can honestly admit I have very little (if any) practice cooking traditional Indian food. So I decided to push my intimidation aside and start introducing these new flavors into my cooking and to my husband (who is very brave and honest). I’m dabbling to say the least, with Curry and also Turmeric powders and digging into any Indian cookbook I can get my hands on. Trite as my efforts may be, I hope they will inspire you to try something new.

my orange curry couscous

Roasted Radish Salad

The great thing about this time of year is the colorful variety of produce available at the market. As a seasonal shopper, I try to utilize what is in season (along with my regular produce) as a springboard for new recipes. It’s a great way to cook outside of your comfort zone, not to mention have the freshest food at lower cost. Thus, I stumbled upon this recipe. With radishes as my inspiration, I combined some of my favorites to create a Roasted Radish Salad of sorts. The Roasted Sesame Oil finishes the dish, adding a slightly smoky flavor to the hearty vegetables. This recipe may seem understated in nature, but trust me when it comes to texture and flavor this one’s definitely got it.

Roasted Radish Salad
Radish, 1 bunch
Carrots, 2 whole
Squash,1 (I used Yellow Summer, but any firm squash will do)
Zucchini, 1/2
Red Kidney Beans (Dried) approx. 1/2 cup – Soaked, Rinsed well, and Cooked Completely*
Italian Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Spices: Red Chili Powder, Cracked Pepper, Minced Garlic ( 2 Cloves), Sea Salt
Roasted Sesame oil
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Wash all vegetables and trim off the ends.
  2. Cut the radishes in quarters. Peel the carrots and slice them in thin rounds. Cut squash/zucchini in half and remove seeds with a  small scoop or spoon, then chop in 1/4 inch thick slices.
  3. Add all vegetables and kidney beans into an oven-safe dish, and drizzle lightly with Olive Oil. Add Chili Powder, Pepper, Garlic, and Sea Salt. (I usually don’t measure spices, but as a guide use about  1 teaspoon of each.)
  4. Roast in the oven for 20 minutes or until tender and almost fully cooked, stirring occasionally.You must watch the vegetables, because they cook up fairly quickly.
  5. Remove dish from oven, and drizzle with Roasted Sesame Oil (lightly coated). Return the dish to the oven, and continue roasting till slightly golden around the edges.

*Note: I used dried beans that I had pre-cooked, but canned will also work if rinsed very thoroughly.

This recipe is great as a stand-alone dish, or paired with grilled beef or brown rice. It’s very versatile.

Turning a New Page: How it all began

I guess you can say it all started when what I had known ended. Upon getting engaged, I made a pact with my (now) husband that I would resign from my hectic job and take the first year of our marriage to explore the brave new world of domesticity.  So resignation in hand, I said goodbye to my vocation of four years and armed to-the-teeth with cookbooks I set out on an extraordinary adventure. It’s been quite the adventure too. I’ve had the opportunity to take root in my strengths and learn from my mistakes. This is a compilation of my experiences as a housewife, my culinary feats and ever-growing search for great food, and pearls of wisdom that I’ve gathered along the way.

This is a gift to you, my fellow readers.