Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Mushroom and Chile Carbonara

Continuing the parade of favorites...I have been known to make this more than once in the same week. Mmm, mmm. You really can't beat mushrooms cooked with chile flakes in a cream sauce.

One of the sad days of my life was when I realized that whipping cream isn't very good for you. But some days, like today, I just pretend I don't know that and run an extra few miles to compensate.

I admit, these pictures aren't the most attractive. Trust me, it tastes better than the poorly lit shot would seem to indicate.

Also, I sort of had to stop taking pictures because Abigail was eating Parmesan cheese straight out of the thingie (but I didn't stop until I'd taken a picture of her. Go figure).

Oh, and yes, I use canned Parmesan, because Neil shakes his head at me when I look pleadingly towards the $$$$$/lb chunks of real Parmesan at the grocery store. He's a wise and prudent man...what more can I say?

Mushroom and Chile Carbonara

8 oz thin spaghetti Parmesan cheese
2 T. butter 2 Roma tomatoes, chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed 1 t. dried oregano
8 oz mushrooms, thinly sliced 1 t. dried parsley
1 t. dried red pepper flakes 1 t. dried chives
2 eggs 1 t. dried basil
1 ¼ c. light cream Salt and ground black pepper

Cook the spaghetti according to package directions, drain and rinse.

In a separate bowl, beat the eggs, then add the cream and herbs, seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. Chop the tomatoes and set them aside.

In a large saucepan heat the butter and oil together and lightly sauté the garlic for half a minute. Add the mushrooms and chile flakes to the pan of garlic and stir well so everything cooks evenly. The original recipe tells me to only cook the mushrooms for two minutes, but we like them to be more well-done, so cook them until you're happy.

At this point, theoretically you should add about half a cup of water. However, because I generally use half and half rather than cream (unless I've run about a hundred miles the preceding week, or more honestly, if cream was on sale), I skip the water.

Turn the cooked spaghetti into the mushroom sauce and then toss in the eggs and cream. Reheat the mixture, WITHOUT BOILING. Add the tomatoes, toss, and sprinkle each portion liberally with Parmesan to taste.

Abigail's favorites

Sweet potatoes--they're not just for Thanksgiving!!

We eat them a lot. Mostly because both Abigail and Juliet absolutely adore anything with sweet potatoes in them, like this soup:

which Abigail gobbled down in about two seconds.

But our hands-down favorite is the classic sweet potato casserole, except because we eat it so much we try to make it a little healthier. And simpler, so that it can be thrown together in about five minutes (not counting the roasting time).

Sweet Potato and Applesauce Casserole

3 lbs sweet potatoes
3-4 cups applesauce (I just use the stuff we canned in fall; if you buy it from the store make sure it's unsweetened)
1-2 t. each of ginger, cinnamon
sprinkle of nutmeg
brown sugar
sweetened flaked coconut
1/4 c. butter, if you're feeling wild and crazy

Wash the sweet potatoes and pierce them with a fork. Bake at 350 degrees for about an hour or until soft. Peel, then combine (I use my stand mixer) with applesauce and spices (add the butter at this point if you so desire). Spoon into a casserole dish and top LIGHTLY with brown sugar, then with flaked coconut. At this point you can refrigerate it for dinner later, or pop back in the oven to brown the coconut. If you refrigerate it, plan on warming again at 350 degrees until it's warmed through (20-30 minutes).

When combined with broccoli, and grilled dill-and-lemon salmon, this is Abigail's absolute favorite dinner in the world--it's one where she requests thirds (and getting her to finish her first serving is usually an enormous battle on a regular night).

Tuesday, April 29, 2008


Sundays are always a really hard dinner day. We start church at 1 pm and get out at 4 (which means we get home around 4:30) and there are two tiny people who didn't nap, didn't really eat much lunch, and are now ravenous and want to EAT RIGHT NOW.

When we first switched to the afternoon block, we experimented for a few weeks with putting things in the oven and programming the oven to switch on. Except it didn't. Oh, it would switch on just fine when we programmed it and sat there watching it, but if we left the house...nada.
We'd come home to room-temperature lasagnas that were likely harboring pathogens by this point.

Four months into afternoon church, I'm starting to run out of crock pot and oven-for-three-hour recipes. So I'm cheating and making things that mostly come out of cans and jars and packets and can be on the table in about twenty minutes (which is how long it takes the girls to run around the house like crazy, be persuaded to change out of their dresses and finally find something else to wear).

Anyway. Now that I've gotten that whole not-cooking-from-scratch thing off my chest...let us proceed. But not before noting that I'm ashamed of my cans-and-packets dinner and I can't believe I'm posting this, but for the sake of truth...oh, and yeah, it's really tasty. Which is why I'm posting it.

Green Curry Chicken with Hot and Sour Soup

1-3 T. green curry paste, depending on how adventurous you are (I use the Thai Kitchen brand)
chicken, diced into bite-size pieces (I used two boneless skinless breasts, about a pound)
1 14-oz can light coconut milk
green peas
1 can bamboo shoots
2 T. oyster sauce (the recipe on the curry paste jar says fish sauce, which I think stinks too much to eat)
1/3 c. chicken stock
Jasmine rice
1 packet Sunbird hot and sour soup mix
1 egg

Start rice--generally I cook 1 c. dry rice with 1.5 c. water on the stove. It needs about 15-20 minutes; then let it sit for about 10 minutes off the heat.

Simmer curry paste and coconut milk together for about five minutes. Add chicken and simmer for another seven minutes, then add bamboo, peas, oyster sauce, and chicken stock.

Using egg, make soup according to package directions.