Limitless

Pancakes were the winner for breakfast with the strawberry + ginger sauce.

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It was like eating dessert at 8am.

The rest of Saturday was pretty random.

A friend’s baby shower for twin boys took up most of the afternoon. It was  super cute and they had the best looking cake I’ve ever seen at a shower but I didn’t snap any pictures because I was about 1 of 2 people there not part of the family and it just felt weird. People probably would’ve been wondering who the strange girl with the camera was.

I’ve always been amazed at how much stuff one baby “needs” but now after seeing the amount of gifts for twins I’m in pure shock. All I could think about was this Netflix documentary I watched recently called “Babies”. It chronicles the lives of 4 babies born at the same time in different countries (2 of which were the United States and some country in Africa). The African baby literally has nothing. Barely any clothes. They showed the mother wiping it’s butt on her leg at one point. And yet, they were all happy. When you see the amount of stuff at a baby shower in juxtaposition to that, it’s just kind of shocking. Not that I’d want to live like African family but it’s just an interesting comparison. That’s all. I realize that’s probably an odd thought during a baby shower but somehow it popped into my head.

Ulysses got home early from work so we all hopped in the truck to go mow the lawn at our rental property. Well Ginger and I went for a walk, Ulysses mowed the lawn.IMG_0757

Ginger has a weird obsession with pick-up trucks. She hates jumping in any other kind of car but any truck Ulysses brings home she’s in within a second of the door opening.

This is our seating arrangement in the truck.

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I get bitch and Ginger gets the entire passenger seat. Seriously.

It’s actually because Ginger had gone to work with Ulysses a bunch of times before I ever needed to sit in the truck and by then the passenger side was covered in dog hair to the point that had I sat in it I would’ve emerged a weimaraner. So instead of putting a towel down, I just sit in the middle. Smile

After all the mowing was done, we decided to try out this cheap theater nearby that plays movies that are a few months older than the regular theater. It’s $3 a ticket so we figured if it was gross and disgusting we could always just leave.

First, dinner at Panera.

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I have to get their lobster sandwich at least once in the summer. It’s expensive for Panera, but pretty cheap in the world of lobster considering how much you get and it’s really good.

My smuggled-from-home movie snacks.

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Who brings fruit to the movies?

And then 2 hours with my man Bradley.

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Honestly, when Ulysses said he wanted to see Limitless, I had no idea what it was about but, the second he said “Bradley Cooper and DeNiro are in it” I had no more questions and it wasn’t because of DeNiro. His character makes him even hotter than usual in this movie. If you’re a Bradley fan I suggest checking this out. Winking smile 

The movie itself was actually pretty good too. It was one of those movies that have just enough twists and turns to keep you on your toes and interested but still understanding. Not one that’s so freakin confusing you have no idea what’s going on or what’s real or not (Inception anyone??). 

$6 movie total + 2 hours with Bradley = one good night!

We’re off to the lake for the first time this summer for some sun and jet-skiing. Can’t wait!

Favorite actor to stare at for 2 hours?

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Filed under Around the house

Strawberry ginger sauce

I feel bad for ginger.

No not this one,

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she’s got quite the life.

This one.

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It’s kinda ugly with it nubs and wrinkled skin and people tend to ignore it because they don’t know what to do with it or think it’s too strong.

I’m not afraid to use ginger and I actually like it a lot but, I have to have a reason for buying it. It’s not something that I just happen to have on hand at all times. So, when I walked past it in the store yesterday and looked down into my hand basket to see the 2 lbs. of strawberries I was purchasing, it was an instant light bulb moment. I think I may have even let out a little “oh!” as in “oh!, I can use it in a sauce”.

Best idea ever.

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Fresh, in season, sweet strawberries + spicy ginger is a match made in sauce heaven.

Oh, and this doesn’t hurt either.

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I have a liquor cabinet full of obscure liquors that I needed 1 oz. for at one point in time for some recipe, usually a holiday cookie or cake, and then never use again. Anytime I can use these orange liqueurs & apricot brandies I get super excited, maybe by the time I’m 50 they’ll be gone.

I added orange juice, the orange liquor and the chopped up strawberries to a sauce pan and let them come to a boil.

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Then I added some brown sugar, a cinnamon stick and minced ginger and let it boil away for about 30 minutes until it reduced and thickened. I stirred it frequently to kind of break down the strawberries even further.

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The end product was somewhere between a sauce & jam consistency. Barely sweet, slightly spicy. And, totally delicious.

Want to know what torture looks like?

A near empty container of vanilla ice cream when you thought it was at least half full.

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I was nice, we shared. But for the record, I didn’t want to.

Over ice cream, it’s like a sundae topping gone gourmet.

Do it.

And if you need a back-up plan, there’s always lemon rosemary olive oil cookies for dunking.

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I dare you to try and have just one.

I haven’t decided on breakfast yet but, I can assure you whatever it is, it will be topped with this.

 

Strawberry Ginger Sauce

Makes about 2 cups

  • 1 lb. strawberries, chopped
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • splash of orange liquor (optional)
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 inch nub of ginger, minced

Directions:

Combine chopped strawberries, orange juice and liquor in a small sauce pan and bring to a boil. Once boiling, add remaining ingredients and boil on medium for about 30 minutes or until sauce thickens and reduces. Serve warm and then keep refrigerated.

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Filed under Recipes

Bertha

Yesterday was not one of my finer moments. It started off great with my new HUGE coffee mug from Bed Bath & Beyond that got me more excited for my morning fix than I’d like to admit.

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But the day quickly deteriorated as work threw a few punches and I let them get the best of me. It was a long, stressful day with lunch eaten at my desk during a 2 hour conference call from hell.

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I’m not going to get into details because in the words of the almighty Dooce, “be ye not so stupid” to write about work on the internet. Winking smile

Let’s just say 5pm was more than needed and it’s days like these that I’m so incredibly thankful and happy I’ve found an outlet in running. I went out for a music-less 3 mile run and got all my frustration out on the pavement. Does any one else have mock conversations in their head while running? Totally did that. If I can’t express my feelings in real life, I’ll just play the scene out in my head. I’m probably sounding like a head case right about now!

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It wasn’t my best or my fastest run (I’ll blame my screaming sore glutes<—hello 40lb dumbbell lunges!) but it did the trick.

And then Bertha came out.

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Yes, I’ve named my dutch oven Bertha. She’s big and ugly and it seemed like the only fitting name.

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After our wedding, I had a few hundred dollars in gift cards and returns from duplicate items on our registry to a store called Fortunoff. It’s out of business now, but it was local to NY,NJ,CT and was basically a department store on steroids/bridal registry palace. You could waste hours of your life in there from bedding to china to furniture and more. I could’ve gotten a lot more with the money, but I spent it on Bertha. I had wanted a Le Creuset dutch oven forever and it’s a lot easier to convince yourself when it’s not your own $275 you’re throwing around. Her color looked so nice and rustic online but when she came in the mail it was all I could do to not puke at the sight of her. In real life it’s the color of poop. Ass grass, and now poop. What has come of this blog? It’s unfortunate really to have to cook delicious meals in something so offensive looking, but we make do and she hasn’t let me down yet.

On the menu was Anne’s turkey barley vegetable chili. Is there a food more comforting than chili? I don’t think so. I’ve made this before and followed her recipe almost exactly but I did take out the mushrooms (didn’t have any) and threw in some carrots & fresh tomatoes.

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I’m pretty sure ground turkey meat is one of the least appetizing looking things ever.

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Garnished with some sharp cheddar and avocado.

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Perfect.

Other good things about chili? 

It’s a one pot meal = less dishes

There are tons of leftovers = don’t have to cook dinner for the next 2 days = more time to bake cookies.

So for the math nerds out there, if bad days = chili and chili = cookies then bad days = cookies, right? I could handle a few more bad days in that case. Winking smile

 

What was your major in college? I was an overachiever and double majored in International Business and Spanish. I loved math in hs and never took an ounce of it in college, go figure.

27 Comments

Filed under Dinner, Running, Work

Lemon rosemary olive oil cookies

Well hello, new readers! Who knew ass grass would be such a popular topic?! Ginger is a little embarrassed but I explained to her how much you all enjoyed hearing about it and she was a good sport. Also, bacon strips helped.

Now, what can I do to bribe some of you to stick around?

Cookies perhaps?

Yes?

Ok, good because these are some damn good ones. Smile

There’s something about a rainy day that just makes me want to crawl into sweatpants and bake. We’ll ignore the fact that it was 78 degrees yesterday and pretend sweats were still a realistic option because it just adds an element of coziness, no?

This was the scene outside of my office at 9:30am.

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I apologize for the crappy through the window screen iPhone shot but I wasn’t expecting anything worth photographing at work.

Check out the downspout on the building across the little courtyard. It was like a river coming out of that thing. The crazy rain and thunderstorms eventually subsided but it continued to be a rainy, drizzly day which meant one thing when I got home. Baking.

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Olive oil, lemon and rosemary. No, not your typical cookie ingredients.

Oh, but these are not your typical cookie.

They are crisp on the outside yet cakelike on the inside.

They are sophisticated.

They smell like Christmas.

They would be amazing with a lemon glaze on them, yet perfect without.

They might be my best creation yet.

Are those reason enough to make them? I hope so, because you are seriously missing out if you don’t.

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Eat 3 and then decide it’s as good a time as any to go do your strength training workout for the day.

 

Lemon Rosemary Olive Oil Cookies

Inspired by Joy the Baker

Makes about 2 1/2 dozen

  • 1 1/2 cups spelt flour
  • 1 cup AP unbleached flour
  • 1/4 turbinado sugar
  • 1/2 cup regular granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup almond milk
  • 1 sprig of fresh rosemary, minced
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. lemon extract

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine sugars, rosemary and lemon zest in a small bowl and mash together until fully incorporated. In a large bowl, mix flours, baking powder and salt together. In a smaller bowl, whisk eggs, almond milk, evoo, lemon juice and extracts together. Pour wet ingredients and sugar mixture into large bowl with the flour and mix until just combined. Spoon batter onto a greased cookie sheet and bake for 12-14 minutes until edges are just browned. Let cool for a few minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

 

Rosemary fan? I love it, but I know others think it tastes like a Christmas tree.

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Filed under Baking, Recipes

Mud, grass, sauce & sprinkles

How do you like that randomness for a title?

After leaving Ginger at home on Sunday for 9+ hours I felt like I owed her one. So after work I sucked it up and put her in my car for the 2 mile drive to the bike trail. I had done a quick 25 HIIT run on the treadmill earlier and wasn’t feeling much else besides a walk.

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Doesn’t she look thrilled? For 2 miles I had one hand on the steering wheel and the other keeping her wet little nose from touching my dash everywhere.

The damage:

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And I thought I lost a lot of hair! You can bet I wiped that off within 2 minutes of being home. I kind of have OCD tendencies with keeping my car clean. It probably stems back to my childhood and a father that wouldn’t let us eat in the car or get in with dirty feet. I blame you, dad.

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Ginger enjoyed the hour walk minus the bikers. She’s a little skittish around them. Not sure what a bike has ever done to her but she apparently found them scary enough to hide between my legs anytime one would pass. Wuss.

We stopped by the creek that runs under the bike path at one point to let her have a drink since it was kind of hot out and she was panting like crazy.

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And this is the payback I got.

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A bike went by on the bridge above us while she was drinking and rang it’s stupid little bell horn which freaked Ginger out and she jumped out of the creek, flinging mud all over me. So then I had a wet, muddy dog and muddy sneakers going into the car! We both got hosed down when we got home.

Oh, but the fun did not end there! Fast forward about an hour and I’m outside grilling dinner when Ulysses comes home and Ginger runs onto the deck to see him. That’s when he points this out.

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Can you see it? ASS GRASS!  And yes, I’m holding her tail up so I can get a better picture. Wouldn’t you? This has happened before so Ulysses knows full well I draw the line here. Ass grass removal is his job. I just take pictures and blog about it. That piece of grass ended up being a good 6 inches long (guess we don’t mow the grass often enough). Perfect dinner time entertainment.

Speaking of dinner, we had roasted vegetables and tofu on the grill with Mmmm Sauce. I’m starting to think I should rename the blog to “Running to Mama Pea’s Kitchen” considering how many recipes I make of hers. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it though, right? I actually saw Caitlin post about it yesterday and finally decided to take matters into my own hands and make it myself instead of drooling over everyone else’s.

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There’s a reason it’s called “Mmmm Sauce”. It is tasty! So tasty that I was lamenting the fact I couldn’t get it all out of the blender without risking some digits.

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Does it drive anyone else crazy that you can’t get the stuff under the blade out?

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I pretty much slathered it on everything. This was the first time I grilled tofu and all I did was season it with olive oil, salt & pepper. I purposely kept it simple because I knew this sauce was going on top of everything anyway. It reminded me of a sauce you’d find in an Indian dish. Loved it. Glad there is at least a cup left in the fridge.

And since it was the first day of summer and all, this was necessary.

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And promptly devoured in about 3 minutes.

Happy Summer!

 

Sprinkles or Jimmies? Sprinkles!!!

Would you pull grass out of your dog’s butt? Heck no, that’s what husbands are for!

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Filed under Around the house, Around town, Dinner

NROLFW update & more mango

I’m halfway through the first stage of NROLFW and wanted to do a quick update on my thoughts/progress so far with the plan.

Stage 1 calls for 16 workouts, alternating between workout A & workout B. After 3 full weeks, I’ve completed 8 of the workouts at the “2 set” phase and just today moved into the second half of stage 1 which increases the sets to 3.

I’m not going to do any updates on measurements yet, I’ll wait until the end of stage 1 for that. Sorry, no awkward full body muscle pictures today. Winking smile 

In general, I love it! In these 3 weeks, I’ve learned to live and function in a perpetual state of soreness (in a good way!). This is the longest I’ve ever stuck with a strength training program before. I seriously look forward to each and every workout. I think a few things are contributing to that:

  • The way the program is structured it encourages you to add heavier weights as the workouts progress.
  • It gives you “beginner” moves when necessary so it’s easy to tell when you’re gaining strength because they start to feel easy and you move onto the “real” moves (push-ups are an example here).
  • I think the emphasis on dumbbells and barbells instead of machines makes it more easily recognizable when you can handle increased weight.
  • I already see a difference in muscle definition. Positive reinforcement baby!

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These are me not flexing. I’m going to call them my “rolling hills” and I’m pretty sure they weren’t there before. Winking smile Well on my way to looking like the book cover.

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Click here for before pictures (granted, I am flexing in those so they’re not totally comparable).

A few fun facts:

Prone jackknife is my favorite move of this stage.

Step-ups are my least favorite (boring and tedious)

-I can now do 3 sets of 10 full push-ups!

-In general this is how I feel about deadlifts:

Diet wise I haven’t been doing anything out of the ordinary besides being more cognizant of my protein intake. I will try to have a protein smoothie or something high in protein after each session. It doesn’t always happen, but I’d say about 75% of the time.

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Today’s smoothie, which overflowed the second I put the camera down and which Ginger promptly licked up.

Stay tuned after another 3 weeks for a full Stage 1 recap.

**********

Now, let’s talk about mangoes. Again.

I actually bought 2 mangoes for last week’s Mango black bean salad but only ended up using one because the other was hard as a rock. 6 days later after hanging out next to the bananas getting all ripe, it was begging to be used. After reading Jenna’s recap on her fruit detox, I had been craving fruit and couldn’t even think about “real” dinner foods. I just wanted fruit. The practical side of me kicked in though and somehow I ended up with this.

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Quinoa, mango, spinach salad.

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With a piece of whole wheat sunflower seed bread. Delicious, light dinner.

Quinoa Mango Spinach Salad

Makes 2-3 full dinner servings or 6 side dish servings

  • 3 cups cooked red quinoa
  • 2 cups chopped baby spinach
  • 1 mango chopped
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/4 cup pepitas
  • 1/4 cup chopped dried cherries
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • juice of half a lime
  • juice of 1 small orange
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • salt & pepper

Directions:

Rinse quinoa and toast with coconut oil before adding water and cooking normally (optional, but recommended). Combine next 6 ingredients in a large bowl. When quinoa is finished cooking, add to bowl and mix to combine. Whisk together last 5 ingredients and pour over salad. Toss. Chill in refrigerator for at least an hour before serving.

 

What’s the weirdest craving you’ve ever given into for dinner (or any meal)?

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Filed under Dinner, Recipes, Strength training

Father’s Day

Like most everybody else, we spent yesterday honoring the dads in our lives.

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Ha! Got ya mom! At least we don’t think he’s a dad yet?? Winking smile

Of course, no get together in our family is complete without the canine brood.

You already know these two, Sugar & Switch.

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Let me introduce Mack, Claire’s son (we like to keep it in the family here).

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Adrian & Doreen’s puppy who just turned 1. He has many talents including plastic bottle domination in 1 minute flat.

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And way more impressively, hammock acrobatics.

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He’s a pretty cool dog.

Ginger missed all the fun today. She got to spend 9+ hours at home because I’m too lazy to clean up the massive amount of dog hair that would’ve been in my car if we took her. Dog mommy fail.

It was a gorgeous day and we just sat, chilled, ate and drank. Smile

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Do we look alike?

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Classic Sal pose. No doubt telling some ridiculous story.

Hope all the dads out there had a great Father’s Day, especially mine. Smile And, thank you Adrian and Doreen for hosting at your lovely house!

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Filed under Around the house, Family, Videos

Bloggers + Greek festival

For as lame as Friday night was, Saturday more than made up for it.

We had a little blogger meet-up at Gouveia Vineyards in Connecticut. A bit of a hike for me but very much worth it for the friends, conversation and scenery. The wine was just ok. Winking smile

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Picture stolen from Kat because apparently I have no good group shots on my camera!

Left to right we have Loucindy, Kim, Kari, me, Molly and Emily. Kat of course was taking it since it’s hers. Smile

We started with a little tasting.

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And then decided on a bottle to split.

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We spent the next hour or so listening to Kat explain the difference between Russian and American animal sounds. Bet you didn’t know pigs don’t “oink” in Russian. I don’t even know how to spell out the sound they do apparently make according to the Russians, but let’s just say it’s the most ridiculous thing you’ve ever heard and it had us all in tears we were laughing so hard. Thank you, Kat Smile

We kind of forgot to bring any food and by about 4:30pm we were all ravenous and contemplating crashing birthday and bachelorette parties at the vineyard for food so we said goodbye until next time. Thank you ladies, it was a fun day!

{Enter 1.5 hour drive home + Large DD iced coffee + wheat bagel w/ cream cheese to keep me from eating my arm here}

As soon as I got home we pretty much headed back out the door for a local Greek festival nearby with some friends.

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Nothing better than some Greek food,

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with my Greek man,

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his Greek friends,

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and their Greek kids.

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How adorable is she? I also love that she’s eating the one thing that was not Greek at the festival, a hot dog.

No Greek festival is complete without some dancing right?

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And definitely not without some Loukoumades.

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These are the sole reason I go to Greek festivals. Fried dough, rolled in powdered sugar, cinnamon, honey and walnuts. It’s like the Greek version of Zeppole for you Italians out there. I could’ve eaten all 12, but I made myself stop at 3. Baklava can’t even compete.

Hoping these don’t sit too heavy for my run this morning.

Happy Father’s Day!!

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Filed under Around town, Dinner

Whole wheat sunflower bread

I’m 29. We have no kids. And yet my Friday night was spent roasting sunflower seeds and baking.

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You see, I’ve had a container of sunflower seeds for about 6 months now. Raw, unsalted sunflower seeds. And, they were just not doing it for me. At 5:15pm on a Friday night I found myself face to face with said seeds in the pantry and had an epiphany. Roast them! Salt them, cover them in olive oil and roast them! And, that’s exactly what I did.

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They tasted amazing as I ate them one by one off the sheet pan and I probably should’ve stopped there, got showered and convinced Ulysses we should go out like oh, you know, the rest of the young, childless population on a Friday night but, no. Somehow I found myself searching for something to do with my now roasted, salted sunflower seeds.

And that something turned out to be this.

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Whole wheat sunflower seed bread.

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I don’t think I can adequately put words to how amazing this is straight out of the oven with some butter and agave on top. Pure bliss.

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If staying in on a Friday night to bake this is wrong, I don’t want to be right.

We may be lame, but at least we eat well.

 

What did you do on your Friday night?

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Filed under Around the house, Baking

Spinach & cheese stuffed portobello mushrooms

Alternately titled, “creamy delicious bites of heaven”. Seriously, this dish came out way better than anticipated. Make it.

In Florida we had this horribly phallic mushroom, apparently called a “stinkhorn” according to Wikipedia, that would occasionally grow in our front yard. As if it’s shape wasn’t bad enough, the smell it would give off was, let’s just say “appropriate” for it’s appearance. If that doesn’t make sense, google it. mushroom

source

How something like this can be related to the amazingness of an edible mushroom like a portobello baffles me. Fungus is a weird one.

I love mushrooms, at least edible ones. When I see grocery stores with a section for all types of wild mushrooms I can’t help myself. This is why it’s probably a good thing that there is no whole foods even remotely close to my house. Mushrooms aren’t cheap and I have no self control.

I’ve been craving a calzone lately and that gave me the idea to basically use the stuffing of a calzone but in a mushroom cap instead when I saw these at the store.

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The thing is, I’ve made plenty of calzones at home before and they usually come out disappointingly bland, so I didn’t have incredibly high hopes for this. I shouldn’t doubt myself so much, these were amazing.

First, I just cleaned off the mushrooms and removed the stems. Drizzled them with some extra virgin olive oil and seasoned with salt & pepper.

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Portobellos remind me of eggplant. They soak up a ton of olive oil. I was pretty generous with it because of this and I think all that olive oil gave it great flavor when roasting. I roasted them for about 20 minutes at 450.

In the meantime I got the filling together.

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Added all these goodies plus some sautéed onion & garlic to about 1.5 cups of ricotta.

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I used whole milk ricotta. Could you use part-skim? Yes. Do I recommend it? No. Ricotta is one of those things that I don’t think the “low fat” version tastes nearly as good. Mayo is another. There’s only 1.5 cups of it, split among 6 mushroom caps it’s 1/4 cup a serving. That’s not enough to worry about in my opinion. Winking smile Whole milk ricotta is so incredibly creamy and almost “sweet”. Part skim just doesn’t live up.

By this time the mushrooms should be all roasted and shriveled up.

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They lose a lot of water while roasting. If there is any excess water in the pan, drain it out before stuffing them.

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Want to know about the perils of food blogging? An ant climbed into the tray while I was taking these pictures outside! I’m a firm believer in the 5 second rule. I figured it was about to get roasted at 450 for another 10 minutes anyway.

During the last minute or so, I sprinkled some bread crumbs on top to give it a little crunch. And voila!

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I think the sautéed onion & garlic really helped bring out the flavors in the filling. And let’s be honest, when there are 3 cheeses involved it’s hard to taste bad. This could be a great side to some grilled chicken or eat 2 and call it a day like we did!

 

Spinach & Cheese Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

Makes 6 stuffed mushroom caps

  • 6 portobello mushroom caps, cleaned and stems removed
  • 1.5 cups chopped baby spinach
  • 1.5 cups whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 14 oz. can artichokes in water, drained & coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup sundried tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 a medium onion, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  • breadcrumbs (optional)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 450. Arrange mushroom caps on greased baking sheet and drizzle with evoo, season with salt & pepper. Roast mushrooms at 450 for about 20 minutes. While mushrooms are roasting, combine spinach, 3 cheeses, artichokes and sun dried tomatoes in large bowl. Sauté onion & garlic until soft and then add to bowl. Mix to combine all ingredients and season with salt & pepper. Once mushrooms are done roasting, drain any excess water and then fill caps with stuffing generously. Put back in oven for another 10 minutes. If topping with breadcrumbs, do so in the last 1-2 minutes.

 

Fungi lover? Yes or no? 

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Filed under Dinner, Meals, Recipes