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Caramelized Onion, Spinach, and Shiitake Mushroom Pasta

July 20, 2010

I love weekends. I eat them up, every second of them. And though I can’t say this is anything new, being in a long distance relationship has most certainly caused my weekend love to grow. Last weekend I ventured out to Illinois on a mission to spruce up J.’s apartment and make it feel a little bit more like home before he started life as a working man.

For someone who loves to take photos of food, I do a very bad job about taking my camera along anywhere besides the kitchen, meaning I have no fun before and after photos to share. The only photo I have is this one, taken before I left for Illinois, wearing these nerdy fake glasses that I’m convinced J. will grow to love if I wear them enough. Okay, so I have some serious doubts, but a girl can try, right?

Besides playing interior decorator for the weekend and wearing glasses that make me look like I need a pocket-protector and a calculator, we also cooked and worked on a few basics, like cooking broccoli, picking a healthy yogurt, navigating the frozen food section, and how to make my favorite peanut butter-brown sugar oatmeal for the mornings.

And while cooking for one on J.’s end might look a little different than dinner at my place on a Monday night, there is something nice about knowing we are both eating dinner at the same time, even when separated by miles and hours. Monday night dinner at my place looked like this and it was delicious. The ingredient list is short, and the toughest part of the whole process is being patient while the onions caramelize. It’s pretty magical when you combine a little olive oil and some sweet onions in a pan and let them do their thing. After that, it’s pretty much a toss-and-eat affair. Some spinach, shiitake mushrooms, and another drizzle of olive oil over a bed of whole wheat angel hair is my kind of supper.

Caramelized Onion, Spinach, and Shiitake Mushroom Pasta 
(Printable Recipe)

*4 oz. whole wheat angel hair pasta or regular angel hair (equal to two servings of pasta) 
*3 Tbsp. olive oil
*1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
*1/2 tsp. salt 
*1 cup Shiitake mushrooms, chopped
*1 cup spinach
Freshly ground black pepper
Additional olive oil


*Cook pasta according to package instructions. Drain and keep warm until ready to use.
*In a large skillet heat 2 Tbsp. of the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and salt and cook, stirring frequently, for 10 to 12 minutes, until onions begin to caramelize and turn deep golden brown.
*Turn off heat. Add the mushrooms, spinach, and the remaining 1 Tbsp. olive oil. Stir for 2 to 3 minutes, until spinach begins to wilt and mushrooms are heated through.
*Divide the pasta between two bowls. Top with the onion mixture. Drizzle with additional olive oil and freshly ground black pepper.

Happy Cooking!


Sundried Tomato Pasta Salad

June 4, 2010

I am going camping. I’ll say it again. I, Madison Mayberry, am going camping for the very first time in my 22 years of life. For those who only know me through this site, it may be hard to understand the humor in this, but for friends and family who know living, breathing, non-camping me, it is nothing short of earth shattering. To top things off, I am recovering from a 24 hour bout with food poisoning that left me curled up in a ball on my couch for the better part of Tuesday.

Once you finish laughing, your prayers would be greatly appreciated.

My camping companions for the weekend? J. and his family- all experienced campers. For the outdoor excursion, J. and I were asked to contribute a salad and some type of sweet. Initially, I jumped at the thought of bringing my favorite lettuce salad, but the prospect of trying to keep lettuce wilt-free, and bringing multiple containers for the ingredients and dressing seemed daunting. I’m no expert, but I think ease of transport and durability is important when camping.

Pasta salad won out because it actually seems to taste better after a couple days. The flavors become richer as the dressing settles into the pasta and there is no need to worry about bruising or wilting. And it’s not just about being easy; this pasta is seriously delicious. It’s sweet, salty, light, and summery – pretty much everything you could ask for in a pasta salad. When looking at this photo, you might notice the Asiago cheese is missing. Since I still have to transport the salad, I’ve left off the cheese so I can add it in at the last minute, but you can be sure the cheese will not be forgotten. 

I’m off to pack my bags and mentally prepare to camp. My camera is coming with, and you can be sure there will be photos upon my return. Wish me luck!

Sundried Tomato Pasta Salad
Adapted from The Pioneer Woman Cooks
(Printable Recipe)
*7 oz. jar sundried tomatoes 
*3 cloves garlic
*3 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
*1 cup olive oil
*1 tsp. kosher salt
*1 Tbsp. dried basil

*16 oz. corkscrew pasta
*1 pint cherry tomatoes
*1 cup freshly grated Asiago cheese

*In a food processor or blender, combine all the ingredients for the dressing. Blend for 2-3 minutes, until the tomatoes are finely chopped. Set aside.
*Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water until pasta is no longer hot.
*Place pasta and tomatoes in a bowl. Add the dressing and toss to coat. Top with the Asiago cheese. Serve cold.

Happy Cooking!


Meatball Monday and a Giveaway!

March 1, 2010

Without a doubt, Monday is not my favorite day of the week. I almost feel bad for Monday, because it’s probably the most dreaded day of the whole week. So to perk up the week, I’m starting it off with a plate of meatballs and a giveaway!

First up, the meatballs. Blogging, I’ve come to realize, makes you a crazy person. What else would motivate someone to wake up and start making meatballs at 6:30 in the morning? Sure, I could have done this last night before bed, but is it any less crazy to make meatballs at 11 p.m.? By rolling these little bites of happiness in flour before adding them to the skillet, a tip I learned from The Pioneer Woman, you get a great crispy outside. And finishing it off by cooking the meatballs in the skillet with the pasta sauce and red wine imparts tenderness and great flavor the both the meatballs and the sauce.

Second, the giveaway! As a thank you to all my wonderful readers and to start off the week on a good note, I will be giving away a year’s subscription to Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food magazine. If you haven’t checked out this little mag, you should! It’s filled with fun, fast recipes, and the smaller size is perfect for taking along when grocery shopping.

To be entered for a chance to win, send me an e-mail ( with the word ‘Giveaway’ in the subject line and your name in the body of the e-mail by Wednesday, March, 3rd, at 7 p.m. I will randomly select a winner and announce it here on Thursday, so get e-mailing!

*2 slices sandwich bread, ripped into small pieces
*1/4 cup milk

*1 lb. ground meat (turkey, beef, chicken, pork or a combination of your choice)

*1 egg

*2 Tbsp. red wine (may substitute grape juice or chicken/beef broth of desired)

*1 tsp. kosher salt (or 1/2 tsp. regular salt)

*1/4 tsp. black pepper
*1 Tbsp. Italian seasoning
*1/4 cup flour

*4 Tbsp. olive oil

*1 (24-oz.) jar pasta sauce

*1 cup red wine (may substitute low-sodium chicken/beef broth if desired)

*In small bowl, mix together bread and milk. Set aside.
*In large bowl, combine ground meat, egg, 2 Tbsp. red wine, salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning. Mix with hands until ingredients are well combined. Form meat mixture into 18-24 balls. Roll each meatball in the 1/4 cup flour to coat.
*In large skillet (choose one that has a lid for later) heat 2 Tbsp. olive oil over medium heat. Add half the meatballs to skillet and cook, 3 minutes per side or until golden brown on both sides. Remove meatballs from the skillet and transfer to a plate. (Note: meatballs will not be cooked through at this point.) Add 2 Tbsp. more olive oil to skillet and cook remaining meatballs as before. Transfer second batch of meatballs to plate with first half.
*Add pasta sauce and red wine (or broth) to skillet; stir to combine. Add meatballs to skillet. Cover and cook, over medium low heat, 10 minutes, or until meatballs are cooked completely through. Remove from heat. Serve over pasta and top with Parmesan cheese.

Happy Cooking!


Green Goddess Pasta

December 12, 2009

There’s something undeniably sexy about pasta of any and every sort. In my opinion, it’s the sexiest of all foods, far surpassing the usual suspects: oysters, caviar, champagne. Maybe it’s because for me pasta has always been a bit of a ‘forbidden’ food. But truly, pasta can be delicious and healthy. Case in point? Green Goddess Pasta.

The base of this dish is 100% whole wheat spinach pasta, but any pasta would work just fine. One of my favorite tricks for stretching pasta is adding a bit of zucchini to the mix. Long, thin strips of zucchini made with a vegetable peeler, then sauteed in a bit of olive oil and tossed in with the pasta adds a mix of textures and tastes, and is a great trick for getting picky eaters to consume some extra veggies.

But the real star of this dish is the sauce. I’ve posted before on pesto made with a broccoli base. Growing up in a small town where fresh herbs cost an arm and a leg meant pesto was more a luxury than a staple, so using broccoli as the base makes it affordable for everyone. This version of broccoli pesto is adapted for pasta with a creamier texture and a bit more milk added in, serving as a luxurious sauce disguising how truly healthy it is. The amount given in this recipe is enough to serve 4-6 plus leftovers – meaning I have a lot of broccoli pesto sitting in my fridge.

*2 heads broccoli florets, steamed
*2 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
*1 tsp. salt
*1 Tbsp. dried Italian seasoning
*2 cloves garlic, chopped
*1/4 cup slivered almonds
*1/2 tsp. black pepper
*2 Tbsp. olive oil
*1/2 cup milk (I used skim)

*Combine all the above ingredients in a food processor 2-3 minutes, scraping sides twice. Pesto will be almost smooth, with slight texture.
*Toss pesto with 1 lb. of spinach pasta or other pasta of choice. Add additional milk of a creamier texture is desired.

Happy Cooking!


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