Comfort Dish, Pasta, Veggies

Mushroom Duxelle Lasagna

Who doesn’t like a nice cheesy lasagna? That’s exactly what we have here. It’s a cheesy lasagna with a yummy mushroom duxelle filling. The first time I made mushroom duxelle was for beef wellington. I loved it so much I decided to try to put in this dish. It came out delicious and I had to share.

For the record, mushroom duxelle is like a mushroom paste or mixture made from mushrooms, onions or shallots with herbs and usually sautéed in butter. If you enjoy mushrooms, this recipe is for you. I could seriously eat the mushroom duxelle right out of the pan.

Try this recipe for a different spin on lasagna.

Mushroom Duxelle Lasagna

8-12 lasagna noodles, boiled al dente
20 oz mushrooms, (I used white button)
1 shallot, rough chopped
2 garlic cloves
2 t fresh parsley
2 T butter
1 t garlic powder
1 t onion powder
2 t dried basil
15 oz ricotta cheese
¾ cup shredded Italian cheeses, (I used a lasagna mix)
8-10 oz fresh mozzarella, sliced evenly
3/4-1 cup tomato sauce, (Any kind of your choice, more or less to taste)
Salt and pepper to taste

Extras:
Cooking spray
Large loaf pan

Directions: Preheat oven to 375°. In a food processor add mushrooms, garlic and shallot. Pulse until very finely chopped. Season mixture with fresh parsley, salt and pepper.

Heat a medium sauté pan on medium heat. Add the butter until it melts, then add in the mushroom mixture and cook on medium high heat mixing often until all the water cooks out. This may take 10-15 minutes. Let cool slightly.

In a medium bowl add the mushroom mixture, ricotta, garlic and onion powder and basil and mix well. Season mixture with salt and pepper.

Completely spray the large loaf pan with cooking spray. Spoon some sauce on the bottom of the pan, add 2 lasagna noodles to bottom and top with sprinkle of shredded cheese next add the mushroom mixture evenly and add 2-3 slices of fresh mozzarella lengthwise. Top with a little sauce and add lasagna noodles and complete the steps with the remaining ingredients. You should end with the fresh mozzarella and sauce.

Cover loosely with aluminum foil, bake in the oven 35-45 minutes. Remove the foil and cook another 10-15 minutes until the cheese is bubbling.

Let the lasagna sit 10-15 minute for it to settle before cutting and serving. Serve with garlic bread.

Notes: Use whatever mushrooms you have on hand, it’s delicious even if you use regular button mushrooms. Feel for to use more or less sauce. I like less sauce so I don’t use too much. You can double this recipe and make it in a larger pan. I choose to make in a large loaf pan because I was only making enough for 1 meal for 2 people. Make sure to get as much water out of the mushrooms as possible so it won’t affect the lasagna. In a pinch you can use no boil lasagna noodles. Just bake the lasagna according to the package.

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Appetizers, Easy & Quick, Party Foods, Starters

Herbed Goat Cheese Wonton Bites

Let’s talk about goat cheese! I’ll be honest, for years I use to avoid it. I just never thought about using in in dishes or cooking with it. A few years back I had a friend that turned me onto it and ever since I’ve been hooked. I don’t buy it often but when I do, I love to incorporate into different dishes. I now put ontop of pizza, in pasta, with eggs and also make cute little appetizers like these.

This is a simple dish. It may take a bit of time just stuffing the wrappers but this is perfect for an appetizer and the goat cheese mixure can be made ahead of time to cut down on time.

Herbed Goat Cheese Wonton Bites

Ingredients:
24 Wonton wrapper
8 oz goat cheese
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
2 t dried or fresh oregano
2 t dried or fresh parsley
2 t dried or fresh thyme
1 garlic clove
1 shallot
2 T olive oil
1/2 t crushed red pepper
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste
Olive oil spray
1/4 cup sriracha or chili sauce, for dipping

Directions: Preheat the oven to 350°. In a food processor add in goat cheese, garlic clove, shallot and spices. Pulse slowly while drizzling in olive oil. Pulse until creamy. If mixture becomes too think, add more oil slowly. Taste and add more seasoning as needed.

Add a spoonful of goat cheese to the middle of the wonton wrapper. Fold the edges in and place in a mini muffin tin. Complete with all remaining wonton wrappers.

Spray Olive oil over the wonton wrappers. (This will help brown the wontons.)

Bake in oven 12 minutes then remove from oven and cover loosely with aluminium foil. Add back in the oven and cook for another 6-7 minutes. Using the foil will help make sure the top of the wonton wrappers don’t burn while cooking the bottoms.

Make sure to keep an eye on these as they can burn quickly. Serve warm with sriracha or chili sauce.

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Appetizers, Easy & Quick, Healthy, Party Foods, Salad, Starters

Easy Tomato & Mozzarella “Flowers”

Caprese salad is probably one of the only salads I could eat every single day. Wait, I could eat the fresh mozzarella every single day. That’s what I meant!! Ha ha! Nonetheless, I still really enjoy a nice caprese salad with fresh juicy tomatoes and yummy mozzarella. I try and make it different ways. This was my take on making it pretty and playful. It’s definitely a simple salad that packs a big impact!

This salad definitely reminds me of summer, and living in Chicago I could really use that after the massive amount of snow last week. Luckily spring and summer are right around the corner. Here’s my Caprese “Flowers.”

Easy Tomato and Mozzarella Flowers

Ingredients:
4-6 camparai tomatoes (or any smaller round tomatoes)
2-4 oz fresh mozzarella, cut into 1 inch thin squares
1 T olive oil
½ T balsamic vinegar (optional)
2-3 t dried basil (or 1 oz chopped fresh)
Sprinkle Salt and Pepper (to taste)

Directions: Cut tomatoes with and X not going completely through to the bottom. Gently pull the pieces slightly apart to open them up a little. Next place 1 square piece of fresh mozzarella in the center of the tomatoes. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar if using. Sprinkle the basil over the top and season with salt and pepper to taste. Chill for 15-30 minutes before serving.

Notes: Definitely feel free to use fresh basil. I decided to make this because I had all the ingredients minus the fresh basil. Still comes out delicious with the dried. You can omit balsamic f you choose. I don’t always use it, I just like the depth of flavor it adds.

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Appetizers, Meatless, Seafood

Absolutely Delicious Crab Cakes

My Dad was an amazing cook.  He had a habit of throwing together ingredients and just making it taste good.  I definitely got that from him.  He didn’t write down recipes all that often but we’ve come across some recipes of his over the years that he did actually write out.  These crab cakes are one of them.  I found both a handwritten copy and also a typed copy.  The handwritten one just brought a smile to my face because it’s his written.  It made me happy to have that.  It’s just a rough draft as you can probably tell.

I wanted to share with you this recipe as it’s special to me since it’s my Dad’s.  I hope you enjoy these crab cakes as much as I do.

Absolutely Delicious Crab Cakes with Garlic Aioli
By Tony T.

Ingredients:
1 lb real lump crab meat ONLY
1/2 cup chopped red or green pepper
2 bunches green onions chopped, or 1 small yellow onion
2 cloves, minced
2 T Dijon mustard
1 cup plain bread crumbs
¾ cup grated Parmesan or Romano
3 eggs
¼ cup flour
1 t Cajun spice
1 t cayenne
Salt & Pepper to taste
½ T olive oil
Oil for frying (cover bottom of a sauté pan with 1/2-3/4 inch of oil)

Garlic Aioli

Ingredients:
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1/2 T olive oil (good quality)
2-3 garlic cloves, grated or minced
2-3 t parsley, dried or fresh
1 1/2 T fresh lemon juice
Salt and Pepper to taste (About 1/2 t of each)

Directions: In a medium bowl add all ingredients for the Garlic Aioli.  Mix well and refrigerate until ready to use.  Heat a medium sauté pan on high heat.  Cook garlic, onion and peppers 3 minutes.  Add in spices to taste and cook till mixture is tender and cooked.  Remove and let cool completely.  In a medium bowl mix in the cooled pepper mixture, 2 eggs, mustard, ¼ cup breadcrumbs and the cheese. Mix together with your hands and make into patties/cakes.

Whisk last remaining egg in a small bowl.  Make a breading station.  1 bowl of ¾ cup of bread crumbs, 1 bowl with ¼ cup of flour and one with the whisked egg.

Dip cakes into flour on both sides, then into the egg and then into the bread crumbs. Place on a plate. Complete with remaining crab cakes.  Cover completely and refrigerate for 30 minutes until firm.

Heat a medium or large sauté pan with oil. Oil should be about 1/2 -3/4 inch in the bottom. Heat until oil is hot and fry for 2 minutes on each side until golden brown.  Drain on paper towel and season with salt while hot.  Serve crab cake with garlic aioli.

Notes: You can omit the cayenne and Cajun spice and replace with 1 teaspoon each of, garlic, onion, chili powder and paprika. When cooking in a sauté pan you won’t be fully submerging the crab cake, it will cook on one side and then be flipped.  If you want to use a deep fat fryer it will cook for 2-3 minutes total and be completely submerged.

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Chicken, Party Foods, Starters

Crispy Baked Parmesan Garlic Wings

I’m a huge chicken wing fan! I would say over the last few years I’ve really come to enjoy wings and really started to seek out the best wings around. I know they aren’t a healthy food habit but they are delicious. I never really made them at home. I always felt like it was too much work and that never thought I could capture the deliciousness I look for in a chicken wing. I look for crispiness yet tender and flavorful.

I decided to give it a go and the wings came out SO good I wanted more. They were delicious and had all the key things I look for in a chicken wing. These can be made with a traditional wing sauce or even bbq sauce. I just decided to do a quick Parmesan Garlic coating.

Give this recipe a try for your next wing craving.

Crispy Baked Parmesan Garlic Wings

Ingredients:

3 lbs chicken wing portions, wingettes and drumettes
1 T baking powder (NOT soda)
1 T olive oil
Sprinkle: Garlic & Onion powder
2-3 T Parmesan cheese, finely grated

Sauce:

Ingredients:
6 T butter, melted
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 T olive oil
1/2 T parsley dried (or 1T fresh)
1 t garlic powder
1 t onion powder
sprinkle: salt

Directions: Preheat oven 250°. Pat dry the wings. Place on a greased baking sheet, skin side up. Brush baking powder over the top of the wings. Sprinkle with garlic and onion powder. (Note: you can also mix the baking powder with the wings in a large bowl. Also, you can bake on a metal rack over a baking sheet)

Bake in the oven 30 minutes. Once 30 minutes are up, raise the temperature to 425°. Remove wings from the oven and drizzle with olive oil. Put back in the oven and bake 30 minutes.

A few minutes before 30 minutes is up make the sauce. In a small bowl mix melted butter, garlic, parsley, garlic and onion powder and salt. Set aside. Once time is up remove wings from the oven and brush with half of the butter mixture. Place back in the oven and bake for another 15-17 minutes.

Once completed remove from the oven and toss with remaining butter mixture and Parmesan cheese. (Note: If the butter has harden, melt in microwave for 10-15 seconds. Serve immediately.

Notes: Feel free to serve with blue cheese or ranch. However, the wings are very flavorful you don’t need any dipping sauce.

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Cakes, Desserts, Sweets

Piña Colada Cake

My birthday was over this past weekend and my Mom made a Piña Colada cake that is one of my favorite cakes she makes. It’s not super sweet and is has a refreshing taste. My Mom use to make this all the time for my Dad and over the last few years I’ve had her make it for my birthday. It’s a delicious alternative to a regular frosted cake and is really very simple.

Check out this recipe and give it a try! It’s definitely a favorite of mine!

Piña Colada Cake

Ingredients:
1 yellow cake mix
1 package instant coconut cream pudding
1 15 oz can cream of coconut, (Mix to remove chunks)
½ cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
1, 8oz can crushed pineapple (drain pineapple if using rum, if not using rum keep liquid from pineapple)
½ cup flaked coconut
½ cup rum (optional, see note below)
1-2 T flour (For pan)
Cooking spray

Directions: Preheat oven to 350. Combine cake mix, ½ cup cream of coconut, vegetable oil, eggs, flaked coconut and rum (if you using.) Mix or beat 2 minutes. Stir in pineapple and liquid if omitting the rum. Mix till full incorporated. Grease with a Bundt pan with cooking spray. Add in flour to lightly coat the pan. Shake off excess flour.

Bake for 50-55 minutes, checking after 45 minutes. Bake until fully cooked and a toothpick comes out clean and the cake bounces back against your finger. (That’s what my Mom says.”

Cool slightly about 15 minutes. Next poke holes all over the top, pushing down almost to the bottom of the cake. Pour remaining cream of coconut over the cake evenly into the holes. Use a spoon if needed to help the liquid get into the holes.

Chill thoroughly before eating.

Note: You can omit the rum from the cake but then just add the liquid from the crushed pineapple for moisture. If using the rum, make sure to remove the liquid from the crushed pineapple. This cake is much better once it’s chilled. If you eat while it’s still warm it will fall apart and not have the same taste.

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After baked

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With coconut cream topping.
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Finished, chilled and sliced
Comfort Dish, Family Recipes, Peppers

Italian Sausage & Peppers with Potatoes

One of my family’s favorite dishes is Italian Sausage & Peppers!! It has always been a favorite in my family since I was little. My grandparents,made Italian sausage and peppers often. I think at every major party in my family my Mom would make sausage and peppers. It was one of my Dad’s favorite meals, he LOVED his sausage and peppers.

I’ve tweaked the recipe over the years and removed the stewed tomatoes. (For those of you just tuning in, I don’t care for cooked tomatoes so I try to avoid them as much as I can) Sausage and peppers is really rather easy. It may be a little more prep but it’s really very simple. This is a great dish for a dinner party or for a crowd. You can make this ahead of time and then just pop in the oven and you have little to do when your guest arrive.

There are a few ways you can make this. My family use to make with green peppers and stewed tomatoes. It made a delicious juice that you could dip your crusty bread in. It was heaven!! I have changed it to my liking and now i use colored peppers, onions and I actually put in some potatoes. I personally like color bell peppers better than the green because they are less bitter and have a sweeter taste. I hope your family will enjoy this recipe as much as my family does.

Italian Sausage and Pepper

Ingreidents:
5-6 Italian sausage links (Mild or Spicy), chopped or left whole
1 large onion, cut into strips
2 red peppers, cut in strips
2 yellow peppers, cut in strips
2 orange peppers, cut in strips
1, 14 oz can diced tomatoes (optional)
1 T olive oil
6 golden potatoes or multi colored potatoes, cut in half or fourths depending on size
2 t oregano
1 t garlic powder
1 t onion powder
Sprinkle: Salt & Pepper

Directions: Preheat oven to 375°. Bake sausage for 15 minutes in a large oven safe pan. After times up remove sausage and set aside.

Add in peppers, onions and potatoes and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with oregano, garlic and onion powder. Mix well. Add into oven for 30 minutes mixing half way through.

After 30 minutes add sausage back into the pan and add diced tomatoes (if you’re using) and cook another 20-25 minutes mixing half way through. Make sure sausage is completely cooked. Peppers should be soft and tender. Remove from oven and season with salt and pepper. Serve sausage with peppers, onions and potatoes and a nice chunk of crusty bread. Enjoy!

Note: This recipe freezes well. Cutting sausage in half or big chunks will make the sausage cook faster. If you choose to do that, just reduce the initial cook time for the sausage.

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