Caprese Platter

Recipe time! It’s been so long!

Granted, you can’t really call this a recipe. All you need is fresh mozzarella, ripe tomatoes, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Alternate the tomato and cheese, and drizzle everything else on top. It is also absolutely fabulous when you garnish with fresh basil, and sometimes when I’m feeling really fancy, I’ll even splash a bit of balsamic vinegar on top. If the queen is coming, I’ll serve it with freshly baked crostinis (but really, who has the time?)

This dish is fresh and light, totally refreshing for summer, and my new favorite thing…diabetes friendly! No promises on low calorie, big promises on delicious.

Caprese Platter Collage

 

Go make one! You know you want to…

Stuffed Mushrooms

As promised in my last post, here is a quick step by step for how to make the most amazingly delicious stuffed mushrooms you have ever tasted in your life. Now, that may sound like an exaggeration, but once you taste these you will realize it is a spot on description of how wonderful they are. Seriously, my mouth is watering even thinking about writing this post.

Okay, here we go. You will need:

Mushrooms, caps and stems washed and separated
Breadcrumbs, preferably Italian style
Parmesan cheese
Fresh garlic, chopped
Fresh parsley, if available
Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
Salt and pepper to taste

Notice, I don’t have specific measurements for all of these ingredients. I just kind of eyeball it. I’m sorry! I’m Italian and was raised in a household that “cooked until it looked like this” or “tastes like that.” I mean, don’t get me wrong, we had specific recipes too, but I can’t really share those with the internet world because then I would have to kill you. Or my mom would kill me. One or the other. Anyway, back to mushrooms.

It doesn’t really matter what kind of mushrooms you use. For this occasion, I used white button mushrooms because that is what they had on sale. As far as quantity, I was making these for Thanksgiving so I made about 85 or so. I had breadcrumb mixture left over, so we had about 25 more mushrooms later that week. That is one of the nice things about this recipe…it is super flexible and you can make as much or as little as you need!

After the mushrooms have been washed and separated, let the caps dry and chop up the stems. You will be adding the stems to the breadcrumb mixture. In a bowl mix all ingredients except EVOO. You want probably about one third to one half as much cheese compared to how many breadcrumbs you are using. Use salt and pepper to taste, remembering that you don’t need much salt because the breadcrumbs and cheese will be plenty flavorful. I didn’t have fresh parsley, so I added a little bit of Italian seasoning. I personally really love garlic (again, I’m Italian…) so I used 10 to 15 cloves of garlic all chopped nicely. Don’t forget! I made roughly 110 mushrooms with my mixture, so DON’T use that much garlic for just a few mushrooms! These pictures should give you an idea of what the ingredients all look like together:

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In the first picture, I had forgotten to add the chopped mushroom stems, but I did toss them in for the second picture. Once everything is in the bowl, lightly drizzle it with EVOO and begin to toss it all together. You don’t want the mixture too wet because then it would be oily and disgusting. You only want it moist, that way the breadcrumbs won’t burn but instead will crisp up and turn a beautiful golden brown color.

Once everything is all mixed nicely, grab a spoon and begin to stuff your mushrooms. I find it helpful to make sure the cap is filled and then top it with a heaping spoonful so it has a nice little mound of stuffing on top.

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After all of your mushrooms are stuffed, add a bit of water to the bottom of your pan or baking dish. You want to add enough that all of the mushrooms are sitting in water. It will evaporate in the oven and help the mushrooms to stay moist, but most importantly it will ensure the mushrooms don’t stick to the bottom of the pan. Let me tell you, one of the worst feelings is trying to take the mushrooms off the pan and ruining them because they are all stuck. Don’t let that happen to you!

Finally, drizzle the tops with a bit more EVOO so it will really crisp up, and pop it in the oven at 400°F to 425°F for about 25 minutes. When the tops are golden brown they are ready! Remember, they are going to be HOT, so resist the urge to eat them immediately, though I know it will be difficult. Don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone if you sneak a few of the tiny ones!

Mushrooms 2

Delicious!

Don’t know what to make them with? Check out my Kitchenspiration section for ideas!

Thirty Days of Thanks: Days 16, 17, 18

My exam happens on Tuesday afternoon and I feel like I am so close to being able to see over the mountain. Between studying and working, I have had zero time to do anything fun or even cook a full meal, which is why I have been pretty much absent for the past week. If you would all like to send prayers, good thoughts, happy vibes, or whatever you please my way…I would sure appreciate it!

Okay, let’s get to the thanks…

16. I am grateful for answered and unanswered prayers.

Personally, I believe that God hears all of my prayers, and I know that He answers them in His own due time,and in His own ways. Since this topic is pretty personal, I don’t want to elaborate on it much, but I just wanted to openly express my thankfulness for both times when the answers to my prayers are immediate and when they are delayed, when the answer is yes, when the answer is no, and everything in between. I just really feel like my life is all the better because of each and every answer I receive.

17. I am grateful for a good pillow.

This is one of the most difficult things for me and my husband to find. I don’t know if we are just really picky pillow people, but it takes us forever to find something that really works for us as individuals. When we finally do find something that we like, it seems to never really last for more than a few months…but I love that feeling of putting my head down at night and feeling cozy and supported so I can just drift off peacefully. Also if any of you have any tips or tricks for finding a great pillow or making pillows last longer, I definitely want to hear about it. Please leave your comments!

18. I am grateful for food.

Of course I am grateful for having food at all, but what I’m specifically grateful for is what we can create with food. I l love playing around with recipes, learning new techniques, figuring out what works and what is a complete flop. This is something that I realized I loved a bit late. I feel like I missed the best opportunity I had to learn how to cook and bake by spending more time working with my family in the kitchen. I hope it’s something that I can still practice to get better at and that I can learn from my family in different ways while we are separated by the Pacific.

I hope everyone had a great Sunday and has a great start to the week!

Hassle Free Meal Planning using my Awesome New Menu Board

A few weeks ago while I was browsing on Pinterest, I saw a DIY that not only looked cute, but was functional and seemed to be something that would motivate me to meal plan more consistently. Thanks to The Creative Mama, I was inspired to create this menu board which I happen to be totally obsessed with now.

Awesome, right? Menu planning has been a breeze the last few weeks, and what’s even nicer is that I don’t dread doing it anymore. It’s not a tedious chore. All I have to do is flip through the entree cards and look to see what I already have in the house so I can spend as little money as possible on groceries. It took me less than 5 minutes to menu plan this morning. Not to mention, of course, that this looks pretty too! Here is a quick photo step by step on how to make one yourself:

Step 1: Get pretty paper

Step 2: Sand down wood letters, and paint any color. Use 2 to 3 coats to cover.

Step 3: While paint is drying on wood letters, cut paper into creative background pattern, and insert into frame. I kept the glass in on mine.

Step 4: Cut strips of paper to clothes pin size. I used hot glue to make sure they would stay securely on and not peel off.

Step 5: Label the clothespins with the days of the week. I chose to just use the first letter, and I just eyeballed the circles while cutting. I used just a glue stick to glue the letters on.

Step 6: Hot glue the clothespins on the frame. Leave enough space between them that the menu cards won’t overlap.

Step 7: Lay out the letters on the top of the frame however you want them. I traced on the back of the letters where I wanted to place the hot glue, and also lightly traced the frame where I wanted the letters to lay. This made it much easier for me to place it correctly the first time!

It’s coming together!

Step 8: Take some extra scrapbook paper and cut it out so that you can fold it over whatever you are using as the card holders. I used a Rice-a-Roni box cut in half.

Step 9: Glue the paper on the box. I felt that the inside needed to be pretty too, so I added paper inside as well.

Step 10: Add a decorative strip around the box, and glue it to the glass in the frame. (Note: I used hot glue for the at first, but I found that they just peeled off. My husband had some “Amazing Goop” in his stash of fix-it things, so I used that the second time. It has an extremely strong hold and has worked really well, but I do advise to use it at your own discretion. That stuff is lethal.)

Ta-da! Menu board is complete. All I did for the menu cards was brainstorm all of our favorite meals and added them to a word document I created so that each one would have a cute graphic behind it. There was probably an easier way, but this worked for me just as well.

There you have it! Simple enough, though it did take some time to get through all the steps. Right now I am using the top card holder for recently used meals and the bottom one for meals waiting to be used. Once I play around with it a little bit more, I may change that and just use the top one for side dishes and the bottom for entrees, but I am going to see how this works out for me first.

If any of you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment! Happy planning!