Category Archives: wine

Cream of Mushroom Soup with Port Wine


This recipe comes from a friend of mine from England. She used to frequent a restaurant close to her home quite often and told me over and over again how wonderful this soup was. How she would actually dream about it! She wanted to make it at home but had no idea where to start. I finally told her to just ask the chef for the recipe. She doubted that he would do it but went a ahead and tried. To her huge surprise he was more than happy to help her out! I have unfortunately lost contact with her now, but this recipe will always be special to me because she shared it with me. 

I don’t know why I had to but this soup was just calling to me, begging me to make it, and who am I to tell food no right? I love love love cream of mushroom soup. I grew up eating the good ol’ Campbell’s version and it became one of my favorite comfort foods. Once I had my surgery the canned version was no longer an option to me because of the high fat content, it made me sick. I was very sad for a while, until I remembered I had this recipe!! 
This is of course a much more “adult” version of cream of mushroom soup. Cooking the mushrooms down in the port wine give this soup such a deep, rich, earthy flavor. Mmmm I am craving it again just thinking about it! Thank goodness I have some leftover in the fridge because I know what I am having for lunch!! 
Thanks Karen my love, for sharing this soup with me and many wonderful memories!!

Cream of Mushroom Soup with Port Wine
1/4 cup unsalted butter
4 cups (about 1/2 pound) cremini mushrooms, stems removed and finely chopped, 2 cups sliced and 2 cups finely chopped
2 shallots, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped (plus some for garnish if wanted)
1/4 cup flour
1 cup tawny port wine
2 1/2 to 3 cups chicken stock (save 1/2 cup to thin soup at the end if needed)
1 cup half and half
2 cups heavy cream
Dash of nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste.
In a large sauce pot, over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the shallots and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for an additional minute. Stir in the mushrooms and thyme and cook till the mushrooms have released most of their water, about 5 minutes.
Add the port wine and continue to simmer until the liquid is almost gone, about 10 minutes. Whisk in the flour   until it is all incorporated into the reduced wine. Slowly whisk in the 2 1/2 cups of chicken stock, making sure there are no lumps of flour. Simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the half and half, heavy cream, and nutmeg. Bring to a boil and then reduce to simmer. Cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. 
Salt and pepper to taste.
Serves 4

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Bobbi on a Budget-Fish and White Bean Tostadas with Pineapple Avocado Salsa


OK you asked for it so here it is….Bobbi on a Budget TADA (and the crowd goes wild)! Ahem….OK let me reel myself back in and be a bit serious here. I was very happy when the votes came in and I saw that people wanted a budget post on a regular basis. With the economy the way it is and so many people out of work, it just makes sense that many of us can not afford to cook whatever we want whenever we want it. The dilemma? Trying to cook healthy (or at least healthiER) on a limited budget. That is something I struggle with all of the time. I love to use fresh produce and fresh herbs and, let’s admit, that isn’t “budget” cooking.

I am realizing that sale fliers are a wonderful thing (Ya, I know, who knew?). I have been so bad about just making a menu plan and shopping without even looking to see what was on sale. Now I am getting the hang of checking the sale fliers to the 3 local grocery stores and finding what meat, produce, etc. is on sale for that week.

A suggestion, look for things like canned tomatoes, tomato paste, stocks, beans, etc. All of things that are staples in your pantry. If you use dried spices a lot (I use a lot of cumin and coriander) grab those when they are on sale too. Again, probably not something you didn’t know but something I am having to learn quickly.
For the budget meals segment I will be trying to stay as close to $10 for a 4 serving meal as possible.

I took a little help from Melissa d’Arabian for my first post to get me started and in the swing of things.  I have to admit I thought there was no way I could feed my 3 hungry guys for $10 but I was shocked and pleasantly proven wrong. With the white beans they end up being quite filling. They all loved this meal and there was enough for everyone. I was lucky enough to have the O Olive Oils that I won in the challenge, so I used the Tahitian Lime oil for this recipe. But regular olive oil is just as good.

Oh, the meal? Ah yes, the reason we are all here. I guess I should post the recipe so you can all enjoy!!

Fish and White Bean Tostadas and Pineapple Avocado Salsa
  • 1 lime, zested and juiced, plus lime wedges for garnish
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for baking sheet
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound white fish fillets, (I used Tilapia) cut into finger-sized pieces
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 8 (6-inch) corn tortillas
  • Sauteed White Beans, recipe follows
  • 1/2 cup shredded purple cabbage
  • Pineapple and Avocado Salsa, recipe follows
  • Sour cream, for garnish

In a small bowl, combine the lime juice, zest, garlic and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Put the fish in a baking dish and pour the marinade on top. Marinate for no more than 15 to 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the broiler or grill. Lightly coat a baking sheet with olive oil. Remove the fish from the marinade and arrange on the baking sheet, making sure to leave space between the pieces. Broil until just cooked through, about 4 to 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a medium saute pan, heat the vegetable oil over medium heat. Fry the corn tortillas, 1 at a time, just until crisp, flipping halfway through to brown both sides. Drain on paper towels and salt while still hot.
To assemble the tostadas: Layer each tostada first with Sauteed White Beans, then the fish. Top with the shredded cabbage and Pineapple and Avocado Salsa. Garnish with a dollop of sour cream and a squeeze of a lime wedge.

Sauteed White Beans:

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 white or yellow onion, finely chopped
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked white beans
  • 1 tablespoon dried Mexican Oregano
  • Freshly ground black pepper
In a small pan, over medium heat, add the oil. When the oil is hot add the onion with a pinch of salt and saute until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cumin and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Raise the heat and add the white wine. Cook until the wine has reduced by half. Stir in the beans and oregano and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Cook gently for 15 minutes. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve.

Pineapple and Avocado Salsa:

  • 1 (14-ounce) can sliced pineapple in juice, drained and juices reserved
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 small jalapenos, seeds removed and diced (You can just use one if you don’t like much heat)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 medium avocado, halved, pitted and flesh cubed
  • 2 tablespoons minced cilantro leaves
In a medium bowl, make the dressing by mixing 2 tablespoons of pineapple juice with the lime juice, honey, oil and jalapeno. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Add the pineapple and onion. Gently fold in the avocado and cilantro. Let the flavors blend for at least 15 minutes before serving.

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Chicken with Fennel Cream Sauce


Everyone in this house loves pasta. It is the one thing I know I can make that EVERYONE will be happy to see it on the plate. I will say, I am pretty lucky because the people that I cook for are appreciative of every meal that I make. Kevin’s son Dylan said the other day “Bobbi your dinners are like a 5 star meal every night”! OK well you know that is the quickest way to my heart right? Flattery will get you EVERYWHERE (except out of the dishes).

I knew I wanted to do something with fennel. I have developed a love for the flavor of fennel over the last few years. Roasted, raw, sauteed, you name it, I want it. I had seen a recipe Rachael Ray had done along these lines and decided it would give me another way of sneaking chicken in on Kevin without him feeling beef deprived. I mean if I can pack a ton of flavor into a chicken dish he won’t miss beef right? One can only hope.

This dish is takes a bit of time, but most of it is spent poaching the chicken. We got it going and then hopped in the hot tub for a while to pass the time. The only problem is I was really good about taking pictures up until things started to get really busy and then *POOF* taking pictures went right out of my head. Until the finished dish THEN I smacked myself for missing some of the steps. I promise I will get much better with my photography. 30 lashes with a wet noodle to me!!

I can tell you that not one bit of this meal went to waste. I think my son actually licked the leftover container clean!

Penne with Chicken and Fennel Cream Sauce
For the chicken:
1 1/2 to 2 pounds of skin-on bone-in chicken 
3 bay leaves
3 carrots, roughly chopped
3 ribs celery, roughly chopped
1 very large onion, quartered
A palm full of whole black peppercorns
3 stems of fresh rosemary
8 stems of fresh thyme
Kosher salt
For the pasta:
1 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 whole head of garlic, thinly sliced
1 head of fennel, cored and thinly sliced (save some of the fronds for the garnish)
1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup heavy cream
1 pound penne pasta
Kosher salt and white pepper
Grated Parmesan cheese for garnish
Place the chicken along with the carrots, celery, bay leaves, onion, peppercorns, rosemary, thyme, and kosher salt in a large heavy bottomed soup pot. Add water to just cover and heat to boil. Reduce the heat to simmer and cook for one hour. Remove the chicken from the pot and allow it to cool. Strain the broth and save for future use, saving 1 cup for the fennel sauce, (I put mine in quart ziplock bags and freeze it). Remove the skin and bones from the chicken and tear chicken into bite sized pieces with your fingers.
Meanwhile heat the olive oil and butter in a pan over medium heat. Add the garlic, onions, and fennel and cook, stirring occasionally, 20 to 25 minutes until soft and sweet but not brown. Deglaze the pan with the white wine.
Place fennel mixture in a food processor (or you can use an immersion blender) adding the reserved chicken broth and the heavy cream. Puree the sauce well.Return to the pot and season with kosher salt and white pepper (caution; white pepper is a very strong pepper so better to add a small amount at first then more if needed). Simmer sauce over low heat until it thickens, about 15 minutes. Add the chicken to the mixture.
Bring a large pot of salt water to boil. Add the penne and cook to package directions.Drain the pasta and add it to the sauce. Toss to combine. Top with fennel fronds and Parmesan cheese.

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Cod Ratatouille En Papillote with Herb Salad


OK I know that is a mouthful (and a tasty one at that, trust me) but really it is just fancy talk for cod cooked in parchment paper with a truck load of vegetables and a yummy herb salad on top of it all. But I figured that wouldn’t fit as a title so I went with the foo foo wording.

I was really excited to cook fish again because it gave me the opportunity to use some of my O Olive Oils. Remember I won the O Olive Oil and recipe challenge a while back? Well they sent me some of the olive oils I won and they have been staring at me from my counter saying “use me, use me!!” I didn’t marinade in the oil, which afterward I thought “dangit why didn’t I marinade?” but I did give the veggies and fish a good dousing of their Myer Lemon Olive Oil. I can’t say enough about their oils. The crush process they go through just gives the oils a fresh clean flavor. You can actually taste the fresh fruit in them sooooo yummy!!

I also got to break out the new Cuisinart food processor Kevin bought me for Christmas. He was disappointed because he thought he bought the one with the wide feed tube, but I am happy with it. I can chop the bigger stuff if needed. It sure made quick work of my zucchini I can tell you that!

But enough about my toys and gadgets. Lets talk about the food. I have to admit, this recipe looks a lot harder than it really is. The hardest part is slicing all the veg (unless you have a food processor…or a sous chef  hehe). Once you get the fish in that paper the oven does all of the work. No worrying that you have overcooked the fish or wondering if you should flip it over yet. Bing, bam, boom, fish done. Top it with the herb salad and you have a wonderfully healthy and tasty meal that the family, at least my family, will gobble up in no time flat! We had 2 pounds of fish for 4 people and I only eat small portions because of my surgery. So I will say that between the 3 of them they consumed 1 3/4 pounds of fish in mere minutes!

Even if you aren’t a big vegetable person (this has eggplant which I know some people will say eeewwww to right off the bat) the veggies are sliced so thin and they cook in the oilive oil, butter, and white wine which gives them an amazing flavor. A great way to get your vegetables without having to eat plain boring ones.

Oh, little side note, my parchment paper was not wide enough to wrap completely around the fish so I topped it with another sheet and folded up the sides. I even secured them with paper clips just to make sure it stayed sealed so all of the yummy steam and juices properly cooked the fish and veggies.

I know the dish looks a bit “rustic” but it is oohhhh sooooo yummy!!

This is the fish all piled up on the veggies and buttered up ready to go into the oven.
When it comes out you cut open the parchment paper and top it with the herb salad. And then…..Viola a beautiful, healthy, and darn tasty dish!!
Cod Ratatouille En Papillote with Herb Salad
For the Cod Ratatouille:
2 pounds cod, skinned
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1 large or 2 small zucchinis, thinly sliced
1 large or 2 small eggplants, thinly sliced
1 large or 2 small tomatoes, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons olive oil
White wine
1 red pepper, quartered and thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, chopped (we love garlic but you could use less if you aren’t a big fan)
8 sprigs fresh thyme
4 tablespoons butter, cubed
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the Herb Salad:
1 bunch fresh basil, leaves picked
1 bunch of fresh chives, chopped
1 bunch of fresh flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
1 bunch of celery leaves, roughly chopped (I picked them off a bunch of celery I just bought)
1 bunch of baby dill, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
For the cod ratatouille, cover a baking sheet with a piece of parchment paper that is about 2 inches wider than the baking sheet on all sides. Alternate the sliced vegetables along the length of the sheet making sure they are tightly aligned and long/wide enough to just peek out from under the fish. Season with salt and pepper. Lay the fish on top of the vegetables, drizzle with olive oil and white wine, season with salt and pepper.
Top with the red pepper, garlic, and time. Then dot it with the cubes of butter.
Top the fish with another sheet of parchment paper of the same size and roll/fold the sides and then ends up to seal the fish and veggies in tight (like I said I used paper clips to ensure it was sealed right).
Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, until the fish is flaky.
Meanwhile to make the herb salad, add all of the chopped herbs into a medium bowl. In a small bowl combine the balsamic, olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Whisk it up and pour over the herbs. Toss with your fingers to get it combined. 
When the fish is done cut or tear the top open and top with the herb salad.
Serves 4 to 6

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Pork Pot Roast with Sweet Pepper Sauce


With the holidays, my father’s passing, and my daughter leaving to go off to school, I haven’t been on the ball like usual with my planning meals and cooking. It seems like forever since I posted a Rachael Ray Wednesday recipe or a Food Star Friday. So yesterday, as I was scanning my email, I read one from my subscription to the Rachael Ray Show mailing. It was for a pork roast. BING the light bulb went of in my head…I have a pork roast in my freezer!!

Yay I found a recipe for my Rachael Ray Wednesday post!! All I needed were the peppers and I was good to go. So I asked Kevin to pick peppers up for me on the way home from work. It was funny how excited I was to make this meal. Like I said I am easily amused at times and it was a nice feeling to be so happy about cooking again.

Once I got down to the business of cooking I started to realize that I wanted to change a few things up in the recipe (of course) so this isn’t Rachael’s recipe as it was written. I am sure it would have been fantastic without the changes, but I can tell you that with the changes I made it was so good! My kitchen smelled amazing, the kids kept asking when dinner was going to be done because it smelled so good. It took 40 minutes to cook so Kevin and I went in the hot tub while we were waiting. The fan for the stove blows right out by the hot tub and we were both watching the timer because it was making our tummies rumble.

Once the roast was out and sliced I had people hovering around waiting for me to take pictures so they could dive in. Having a food blogger in the house can be a pain at times. I think this would have made wonderful leftovers but it never made it that far. The plate was clear in about 15 minutes! There was left over pepper sauce so Kevin sliced up some sausage and mixed it in to have a lunch for today. The pepper sauce is fantastic over rice too.

Pork Pot Roast with Sweet Pepper Sauce
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 boneless pork loin end roast (approx 2 pounds)
Salt and pepper
3 large sweet bell peppers, preferably red, orange, and yellow, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 large onion, cut in half and sliced thinly
3 cloves garlic, sliced
4 leaves of fresh sage
1 14-ounce can fire roasted diced tomatoes, drained
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup dry white wine
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons hot water (maybe a bit more)
In a large heavy bottomed skillet or dutch oven over medium-high heat, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Salt and pepper the roast and brown it on all sides. Transfer the roast to a plate.
Add the other tablespoon of olive oil to the pot and add in the peppers, onions, garlic, and sage, season with salt and pepper. Cover and reduce the heat to medium-low heat, stirring occasionally. Cook for about 10 minutes. Stir in the white wine, chicken stock, and tomatoes. Bring to a boil, add the pork and cook over medium-low to low heat for 40 minutes, or until an internal thermometer reaches 145 degrees. Turn the roast once during the cooking time.
Remove the roast and place it on a plate, cover with foil to keep it warm. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix the flour and hot water until it reaches a smooth paste. Add the flour paste to the peppers sauce and increase the heat to a low boil. Cook until sauce thickens, 3 to 5 minutes. Adjust seasoning to taste. Serve with sliced roast.
Serves 4

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Pork Stew


I was trying to come up with a recipe to use a pork loin roast I had in my freezer. It was the beginning of fall and the temperatures had just started to drop. The time of year I love the most because it is cool enough for me to make and enjoy soups and stews, something I love but not it’s not so cold that I freeze my toes off. I love the fall…not so fond of the winter.

Anyway, beef stew is one thing I chomp at the bit every year to make. As soon as the temperature dips I am off to the store to get the required goodies to make my treasured meal. But what to do with this pork? Kevin and I had gone shopping at Costco and they had a deal on the pork roasts. You got 4 roasts in one pack. I like doing that from time to time just to test myself to come up with new recipes and meal ideas.

I decided that if I couldn’t make my beef stew I would twist the recipe into a pork stew. Thereby killing two birds with one stone (hopefully) coming up with a meal to use the pork in and enjoying a nice bowl of stew.

One of the things I love in my beef stew recipe is, I use an entire bottle of red wine. Have I mentioned I love wine? If you look at my ingredients list for the recipes I have posted you will see red and white wine listed quite a bit. So it only seemed logical that I use a entire bottle of white wine in the pork stew.

OK, recipe written and off to the store I go to grab a few things I needed. Now I am standing in the wine area wondering what white wine to use. I know what I like to drink, and normally you should use a wine you enjoy the flavor of because cooking with it will concentrate the flavor. But I realized that my favorite white wine, a pinot grigio, would not be complimentary to the flavors in the recipe. Now I am looking in the chardonnays. I knew I wanted a good dry white wine, the problem, I am not a huge chardonnay fan so I really don’t know much about them. Lucky for me the wine guy was there and he pointed me in the direction of Kendal Jackson. He said it was one of the top selling chardonnays and it was not that expensive. I took his word and bought two bottles, one for the stew one for me (hey the cooks gotta have fun too!).

I have to say that I was very pleased with how this stew came out. Everyone was tasting the broth before it was ready and the chorus of yummmm, mmmmmmm, WOW this is good, made me a very happy little camper. Now I have two stew recipes to look forward to every fall!

Pork Stew

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, for frying, plus more to drizzle
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 to 3 pounds pork loin roast, cut into 1 to 2-inch pieces
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 bottle good quality dry white wine (recommended: Chardonnay)
  • 8 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • 9 small gold potatoes, scrubbed clean and cut in 1/2
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 3 ribs of celery, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • Fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped, for garnish
  • Toasted French Bread, recipe follows, for serving
  • Preheat a large heavy-bottomed saucepan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat with the oil and butter.
    While the pan is heating, arrange the flour on a large dish. Season the cubed pork with some salt and freshly ground black pepper and then toss in the flour to coat. Shake off the excess flour and add the pork chunks in a single layer to the hot pan, being careful not to over crowd the pan, you might have to work in batches. Thoroughly brown all of the cubes on all sides. Once all the meat has been browned remove it to a plate and reserve.
    Add the wine to the pan and bring up to a simmer while you scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon being sure to loosen up all the tasty browned bits. Once the wine has gotten hot add the browned meat, thyme, garlic, freshly ground black pepper and salt, to taste, bay leaves and vegetable stock. Bring the mixture up to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook uncovered until the liquids start to thicken, about 15 to 20 minutes. Cover and cook on low heat for 2 hours.

After 2 hours add halved potatoes, sliced carrots, onions and celery. Turn the heat up slightly and simmer, uncovered, for 45 minutes more, until the vegetables and meat are tender. Season with salt and pepper and remove the thyme sprigs.

To serve, place the stew in a soup bowl and garnish with parsley. Right before serving add a slice of Toasted French Bread, half way submerged in the stew.

Toasted Peasant Bread:

  • 1 loaf French bread, sliced into 1/2-inch pieces
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, halved
  • Chopped parsley leaves
Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F.
Place the bread slices on a sheet pan. Drizzle the bread with the extra-virgin olive oil bake for 5 minutes, until the bread is nicely toasted. Rub the bread slices with the garlic cloves, and discard garlic. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

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Food Star Friday – Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms


For Food Star Friday this week I decided to go a bit small, as in appetizer small. With my household being huge football and Nascar fans, it is nice to whip up a few nibbles to have around so when the mood strikes you there is something tasty to put in your tummy. Football + beer + good food = the perfect Sunday right? To all my non football friends out there, don’t worry I am not obsessed with any other sport so once football season is done I will be back to normal, well normal for ME hehe.

There are so many great appetizer recipes out there  by all of our favorite food stars I really wasn’t sure what I wanted to make. Then I ran across these babies by Ina Garten. I love stuffed mushrooms and haven’t had them in forever. The last couple of times I made them with crab and cream cheese. I liked the whole sausage idea and the fact that she used mascarpone cheese instead of cream cheese. I am really becoming quite the fan of mascarpone cheese VS cream cheese. Oh I am not hating on the cream cheese or anything, I just like the change of pace. It is lighter and a bit sweet, can be used in sweet and savory dishes, just a nice new taste.

The only downside is that you get to taste that yummy stuffing and then it goes into the mushrooms and has to bake for 50 minutes! Aaahhh I must have been in the bathroom when they were handing out patience when it comes to food I swear. But they are worth the wait. Kevin and I went to work on them as soon as they were cool enough to bite, actually even before then. I burned my tongue a bit, like I said, no patience.

The only thing I would change about this recipe is the olive oil. Of course mushrooms themselves carry a lot of  moisture, but I felt it really didn’t add anything to the recipe and made the mushrooms kind of wet. I would however still drizzle the mushroom caps with the Marsala  wine. You don’t want to cut out ANY of the flavor for these bad boys!

 Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms

  • 16 extra-large white mushrooms ( I used creminis)
  • 5 tablespoons good olive oil, divided
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons Marsala wine or medium sherry
  • 3/4 pound sweet Italian sausage, removed from the casings
  • 6 scallions, white and green parts, minced
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 2/3 cup panko crumbs
  • 5 ounces mascarpone cheese, preferably from Italy
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
Remove the stems from the mushrooms and chop them finely. Set aside. Place the mushroom caps in a shallow bowl and toss with 3 tablespoons of the olive oil and Marsala. Set aside.
Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the sausage, crumbling it with the back of a wooden spoon. Cook the sausage for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until it’s completely browned. Add the chopped mushroom stems and cook for 3 more minutes. Stir in the scallions and garlic and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the panko crumbs, stirring to combine evenly with all the other ingredients. Finally, swirl in the mascarpone and continue cooking until the mascarpone has melted and made the sausage mixture creamy. Off the heat, stir in the Parmesan, parsley, and season with salt and pepper, to taste, Cool slightly.
Fill each mushroom generously with the sausage mixture. Arrange the mushrooms in a baking dish large enough to hold all the mushrooms in a snug single layer. Bake until the stuffing for 50 minutes, until the stuffing is browned and crusty.

Italian Style Garlic Shrimp


I picked up last night where we left off with the Italian Style Garlic Shrimp with Cherry Tomatoes and Thin Spaghetti (remember I didn’t have all the ingredients to make it the other day?). I have to admit I was a bit nervous that I would over cook the shrimp. I have done all kinds of fish, clams, muscles, scallops, but for whatever reason I get nervous when I cook shrimp. I know that if you overcook it they are rubbery and awful, so I just was a bit worried. But this is a recipe that, if you follow the directions, you can’t mess it up. It was great! My nerves gave way to a very hungry tummy as I was cooking.

I had a houseful last night. Kevin, Jessi, Seth, and Melissa were all here for dinner. Everyone gave this recipe their seal of approval, even Jessi, my pickiest eater. My Dad just doesn’t like seafood so he was out of this one. All of us, except Jessi of course, thought the addition of some red pepper flakes would be fantastic in this. But as it stands it is still a terrific meal. You know we just like things a bit hot in this house.

I actually followed the recipe very closely, believe it or not. Like I said I was nervous so no going crazy for me this time. The only things I did were, used two pounds of shrimp instead of one. Which if you do make sure and double the lemon zest and juice. I also used grape tomatoes instead of cherry tomatoes because I think they are sweeter. I think I have told you that I am not the biggest fan of tomatoes, at least raw tomatoes, but grape tomatoes are great.

So in my wrap up here I will say MAKE THIS RECIPE!! This was a master recipe too and the variations sound just as yummy, Spanish Style Garlic Shrimp, and Greek Style Garlic Shrimp……stay tuned for those, I know I am excited!

Oh, and I know that you are not supposed to use cheese with seafood, but I sprinkled some Parmesan cheese on mine and it was fabulous!

Italian Style Garlic Shrimp with Cherry Tomatoes and Thin Spaghetti


  • 1 pound thin spaghetti
  • 1 pound small shrimp, deveined and peeled, tails removed
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest plus the juice of 1/4 lemon
  • 1/4 cup EVOO (4 times around the pan)
  • salt
  • 6 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • 4 scallions
  • 1/4 cup white vermouth or 1/3 cup dry white wine (eyeball it)
  • 2 handfuls flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 20 fresh basil leaves, torn or shredded
  • course black pepper

Heat a large pot of water for the pasta, when the water boils, salt it and cook the pasta al dente.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Season the shrimp with the lemon zest, lemon juice, and a little salt. Add the EVOO to the the hot pan and then the shrimp. Cook for a minute, then add the garlic, tomatoes, and scallions and toss, cooking for another minute or two until the shrimp are firm and pink. Add the white vermouth and the herbs. Turn off the heat. Drain the pasta well and add to the sauce. Toss and combine the sauce with the pasta and season with salt and black pepper.

Serves 4 (very very hungry people)

Fish en Papillote or Fish in Parchment Paper


This recipe is such an easy one. But it looks so fancy it will make you look like a professional chef. I mean just the sound of it. Fish en Papillote. Really it is just the French way to say “wrapped in parchment”. But it sounds much more romantic in French right? This is a perfect date night meal. The fish and veggies all cook together in their little parchment paper envelopes, it makes for a beautiful presentation. Just add some wine, candles, and WALA it’s a date!

I have made this recipe in different versions with different fish several times. I love the fact that the fish steams with the vegetables in one neat little package with whatever you chose to include. I used thyme as my herb, but you could do this with salmon and use dill, or chives, or tarragon they are all so good! You can also mix the vegetables up using asparagus, summer squash, etc..Then when you are done….clean up is easy peasy lemon squeezy!

You can use foil instead of parchment paper but you will have to leave out anything acidic such as lemon, wine, etc… they will react with the metal of the foil and make the meal taste awful. Parchment is supper easy once you get the hang of folding it into the “envelope” and pssstttttt don’t tell, but I cheat a bit by using a paper clip to seal the very end. Just make sure to use your hot pad holder to remove that hot clip when you take the fish out of the oven!

Fish en Papillote

1 red onion, thinly sliced
1 zucchini, julienned
1 large carrot, julienned
3 cloves of garlic, minced
Extra virgin olive oil for drizzling over the veggies
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
4 (6 ounce) white fish fillets such as sole, snapper, flounder (I used Ling Cod)
1 lemon, thinly sliced
several sprigs of fresh thyme (you could use dill, chives, or tarragon too)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
Dry white wine
Preheat oven to 375 degees F
In a bowl mix together the onion, zucchini, carrots, and garlic. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Toss to combine.
Salt and pepper the fish fillets and set aside.
Tear off 4 large squares of parchment paper. Place a handful of the vegetable mixture on the parchment paper, then top with 1 of the fish fillets. Top fish with 2 slices of lemon, a pat of butter, several stems of thyme, and drizzle a couple tablespoon of white wine over it all. Fold parchment paper over the fish to meet the edges together. Begin folding the paper around the edges tightly in 1/4 inch folds to create a half moon shape. Make sure you press as you fold the paper to get a tight seal to keep the steam from escaping. When you come to the end fold the piece under (this is when I use the paper clip).Arrange the packets on a baking sheet. Bake until the fish is cooked through, about 10 to 12 minutes depending on the thickness of your fish fillets.
To serve, cut open the packets with a small X in the center and carefully tear the paper open in triangles and place directly on a plate.