Baked Mushroom Marsala (adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

This week brought a flurry of cooking. Cold weather (and horrible rainy/icy weather) and Dad’s birthday party inspired lots of new recipe testing.

Here’s the first of four recipes I made this weekend.



This was a new recipe posted to the Smitten Kitchen blog (Marsala Mushroom Pasta Bake) and as soon as I saw it I wanted to make it. Chris and I make pappardelle with mushrooms and parsley often and this was a very similar dish but with a full marsala sauce (I usually just add marsala to the mushrooms as they cook but don’t make a rich sauce with it) and a little fresh mozzarella. I increased the mushrooms, marsala and mozzarella from the SK recipe, otherwise I left everything else the same. It was delicious! In case you’re curious, I added the recipe to myfitnesspal and it came to 550 calories per serving (4 servings in the dish). It was really filling and delicious. Chris devoured 2 servings (half the tray!) and I’m saving the remaining serving for tomorrow’s dinner. Yum.

This made 4 servings. For a crowd I would double it in a 9×13 pan. I used a 2 Qt pyrex casserole dish.

Baked Mushroom Marsala

1/2 pound (8 ounces) ziti
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound fresh cremini mushrooms, sliced
1 medium onion, halved and sliced thin (I used a red onion)
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup marsala wine
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups broth (I used chicken because I had it open from another recipe)
1/2 cup finely grated pecorino romano cheese
8 ounces fresh mozzarella, cut into small cubes
3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Cook the pasta: Bring a pot of well-salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente, about 1 to 2 minutes before perfect doneness. Drain and set aside.

Heat oven: To 400 degrees.

Make the sauce: Heat a saute pan or dutch oven to high heat. Add oil and once it is hot, add mushrooms and cook until they’ve begun to brown and glisten, but have not yet released their liquid. Reduce heat to medium-high, add onions, salt and pepper and saute together until the liquid the mushrooms give off is evaporated. Add Marsala and cook mixture, stirring, until it has reduced considerably (just a little left in the pan). Add butter, stir until melted. Add flour, and stir until all has been dampened and absorbed. Add stock, a very small splash at a time, stirring the whole time with a spoon. Make sure each splash has been fully mixed into the butter/flour/mushroom mixture, scraping from the bottom of the pan and all around, before adding the next splash. Repeat until all stock has been added. Let mixture simmer together for 2 minutes, stirring frequently; the sauce will thicken. Remove pan from heat.

Assemble and bake dish: If you’re cooking in the dutch oven, add cooked pasta and stir until combined. (If you’re not, transfer this mixture to a 2-quart baking dish.) Stir in the pecorino romano, all of the mozzarella and two tablespoons of the parsley until evenly mixed. Sprinkle the top with remaining parsley. Bake for 25 minutes, until edges of pasta are golden brown and serve hot.


Turkey Roulade


A sample packed up for my expert recipe taste-tester (Mom) 🙂


I loved this recipe. I made a number of changes to an Emeril Lagasse roulade recipe. It came out great! I found that if the stuffing is a little dry before preparing the roulade that’s just fine since the moisture from the spinach and mushrooms makes it perfectly moist after cooking. Chris thought that the outside could do with some kind of rub or breadcrumb coating to keep it soft. I’m not sure what I’ll try on the outside next time, probably a chopped fresh herb and butter coating. I’m going to double this if I make it for our Christmas Eve dinner.


  • 1 boneless turkey breast half, about 2-3 pounds
  • salt, pepper
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp minced garlic
  • 8 ounces mushrooms, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 3-4 oz fresh baby spinach
  • 1/2 batch of Pepperidge Farm herb stuffing (1/2 of 14 oz bag, prepared)


  1. Make stuffing according to package directions on stove top and allow to cool.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  3. Place turkey breast on cutting board and make a butterfly cut. Pound to an even thickness of 1/2-inch.
  4. In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tsp olive oil over medium-high heat and saute the mushrooms and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and cook, stirring, until caramelized around the edges, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the spinach, and cook, stirring occasionally, until spinach is wilted and any juices have evaporated from the pan, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat until it is cool enough to handle.
  5. Lay the turkey breast flat on a clean work surface. Season the skin side of the turkey with salt and pepper. Arrange stuffing over the turkey to reach within 1/2-inch from all edges, then top with spinach mushroom mixture. Carefully roll up the breast. Using twine, tie the roll at even intervals so that it remains tightly rolled. Rub the outside of the roulade with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and transfer to a rack inside of a shallow baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  6. Roast until golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the very center of the roulade registers 150 to 155 degrees F, about 1 1/4 hours. Set aside to rest for 15 minutes then slice into 1/2-inch slices and serve.

Turkey Day

I have developed a habit of not posting my recipes until a month after I have made them, but it’s been so busy lately that I just can’t get a chance to work on it. Good thing this blog is just my virtual notebook and not my profession!

We delivered thanksgiving dinner to my grandparents’ apartment so I brined it to make sure that they turkey would be nice and moist since I had to pack and deliver it after cooking, and was afraid it would dry out (or fall on the floor). I used the Fire & Flavor brand brining kit, herb flavor. It was easy to use, and then I rinsed it all off after 13 hours of brining time. I ordered a fresh 13 lb turkey from Fresh Direct, and it was excellent.

In order to really keep the white meat juicy I roasted the turkey upside-down, well, breast side down anyway. I found the tip on simply recipes (see Mom’s Roast Turkey Recipe), and it was excellent advice! You won’t get a brown and crispy top but the breast meat is perfect and the skin over the dark meat is golden and crispy, so there is enough skin for those that like it.

My recipe:

  • 13 lb turkey, cleaned and brined
  • 1 stick butter, melted and cooled
  • salt and pepper
  • chicken stock, 1-2 cups
  • 2 yellow onions, peeled and quartered
  • 3 stalks celery, including leaves
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 lemon, halved
  • fresh rosemary (4 sprigs)
  • fresh thyme (4 sprigs)


  1. Wash brine off of turkey and place turkey on roasting rack. Allow it come to room temperature for an hour. Keep neck aside and place in bottom of roasting pan.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  3. Place carrots, celery and 1 quartered onion and 1-2 cups of stock in bottom of pan (this will build a great base for gravy).
  4. Truss turkey , stuff with thyme, lemon and 1 quartered onion.
  5. Coat turkey in butter and season with salt and pepper.  Tuck rosemary sprigs between leg and breast and wing and breast. Place turkey breast side down on roasting rack.
  6. Put turkey in oven on lowest shelf, cook for 30 minutes.
  7. Lower oven to 325 F and roast for 2 hrs more.
  8. Take turkey out and flip it over so that the breast is facing up, and roast for 45 minutes more, or until breast reaches 160 F and thigh reaches 170.
  9. Remove from oven and cover loosely with foil. Allow it to rest for 15-30 minutes before carving. While resting, use drippings to make gravy.

If you haven’t seen it, this carving video (Ray Venezia from Fairway Market, also available on the website) was excellent. I was able to carve the turkey perfectly after watching the video the night before, it was so clear and easy to follow! There was enough to serve 10 people, and it was great! Wish I had taken a photo of the platter that I put on the table, it looked so good! We had a great time, too much fun to worry about documenting it! I did get one photo of the before shot (I forgot to mention that I sprinkled a little paprika on top too).


I also made mashed potatoes (5 lbs yukon gold potatoes, boiled, 1.5 sticks butter, 8 oz sour cream, salt, pepper) – not health food, but so good – with or without gravy.

Farro with Butternut Squash, Spinach, Walnuts & Cranberries

If it’s fall it’s time for butternut squash! This delicious recipe was actually from the bag of farro (Nature’s Earthly Choice organic Italian pearled farro). I made it for our birthday party at Aunt Mary’s and it was a hit. Everyone else added salt because I didn’t add it to make it work with my nutritarian diet. I think this would be great with an orange squeezed over it or some balsamic reduction to brighten it up and add a little more liquid (I also omitted the oil called for in the recipe).


This photo was taken of the leftovers after they had been refrigerated for hours. The original looked fresher.


12 oz pearled farro (2 cups), rinsed and drained

5 cups vegetable broth (low sodium) or water, or a combination – I used 2 c broth, 3 c water

pinch kosher salt

1 large butternut squash, peeled and cut in 1/2″ dice

1 large red onion, cut into eighths

1 tbsp fresh thyme

2 tsp olive oil (to rub on the pan for squash)

1 bag baby spinach (6 oz)

1 cup walnuts, toasted

1 cup dried cranberries (I used a brand that was sweetened with apple juice, not sugar)


Preheat oven to 375 F. Combine the farro, salt, and water in a large saucepan over medium heat. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the farro is tender, 15-25 minutes. Taste often as it is cooking, you want it to be al dente, but tender. Remove from heat, drain excess water, and toss with baby spinach in a large mixing bowl to wilt spinach. Set aside.

While the farro is cooking toss the squash, onion, and thyme with the olive oil [or just rub oil into pan with paper towel], and salt [optional] in a large glass pyrex 9×13 pan or a roasting pan. Cover with foil and bake in the oven for 30 minutes. Remove foil cover and cook for an additional hour, turning the squash every 30 minutes. Remove from oven , let cool a bit, and chop up the cooked red onions.

Add squash and onions to bowl and gently toss everything together, including walnuts and cranberries. Optional: squeeze an orange on top and toss, or add balsamic vinegar and oil to boost the flavor. A fig balsamic vinegar would be excellent with this. Taste and season as necessary.

Changes from the original recipe: the orig. recipe calls for 3 tbsp olive oil and 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar to cook with the squash and onions, 3 tbsp walnut oil for dressing, and 1/4 cup goat cheese – they don’t call for cranberries, but I like the combination with cranberries better. I omitted all of the oil except a tiny bit, just enough to rub on the pan to prevent sticking.

My new favorite things: natural vegan convenience food!

Sometimes I don’t have a recipe but just a product that I want to remember.  In this case, I have been cooking (and blending) non stop for 6 weeks (hooray for nutritarianism!) and was hoping that somewhere out there someone was making organic, natural, chemical and preservative and sugar free yummy vegan food that I could just buy and heat up. I’m not a fan of processed soy products or tvp or seitan, I just want unprocessed yummy stuff!

I’m sure this would not be an issue if there were a Whole Foods or even a Wegman’s on our little island, but as it is, I’m happy that at least we have a Trader Joe’s.

In this case, Fresh Direct came through! They have all kinds of local yummy and organic stuff, but now they have added some excellent fresh-made vegan food that’s incredible and all made here in New York.

Flourish Baking Company makes 4 vegan pot pies that look awesome. I had the Lentil Simmer vegetable pot pie a couple of days ago, which is not liquidy, despite the sound of the name. It’s so good! Spinach, broccoli, lentils, other veggies, cumin, and a whole grain crust. I just nuked it for 3 minutes and then heated it in a 350 F toaster oven for 10 minutes. So good and no chemicals or sugar! Next time I’m going to try the two potato pie, but I’ve bought them all to test them (yay, research)! You can also buy them from the bakery website.


It really does look just like the photo on the box!

I just ate Hunan Dumplings from Macro Vegan tonight… they were so delicious! Whole wheat, organic veggies and delicious flavor. They were great hot or cold! They make a ton of other dumplings (Shanghai and Thai) and noodle dishes (Soba, Pad Thai, etc). I don’t know if they sell this stuff anywhere else…. sooo good. The portions are great too, 300 calories for half of the container (7 oz, about 9 dumplings). I had mine with some liquid aminos.


I took this photo before I tore into the package  🙂


Leftovers as today’s lunch… yum!


Veggie Marinara Sauce (cheat)

I love Victoria marinara sauce (so does Chris). There are no scary ingredients (such as chemicals or sugar) in it, but there is olive oil and salt, the two ingredients that I try to avoid in the early stages of this nutritarian diet (I have just finished week 6 so now I can go back to olive oil as a treat! Yay!). This sauce is delicious, it’s the one food that I will not give up entirely.

I thought I would have some whole wheat pasta (I love DeCecco’s 100% whole wheat spaghetti) and wanted to sneak some veggies into the meal. The only hard part is limiting my portion to only 2 ounces of pasta… this is why adding more veggies is so important! Kids would definitely love this. It’s so yummy and you’d never know there was zucchini in it!


Next time I will definitely add spinach to it, I just didn’t have any on hand.

  • 1 clove garlic, sliced
  • 2 yellow onions, diced small
  • 1 large zucchini (or 2 small), shredded and drained
  • 2 containers cremini mushrooms (about 10 oz each), cleaned and sliced
  • 2 cups baby spinach (I didn’t add this but definitely will next time)
  • One 25 oz. jar Victoria marinara sauce


  • Grate the zucchini using the small shred holes of a box grater. Let it drain in a mesh sieve. While you’re waiting for it to drain, prep other veggies.
  • In a large pan saute (in a little water) the garlic and onion until it starts to get soft. You could also add some red pepper flakes here if you like your sauce spicy.
  • Add the shredded zucchini and cook some of the water out.
  • Then add sliced mushrooms and cook down further, until you don’t see water in the bottom of the pan.
  • Add 1 jar of sauce and simmer on low for 10 minutes until it thickens.
  • Then add baby spinach, stir and simmer for another 5 minutes or until leaves are wilted.

Serve over whole wheat pasta with a big romaine salad on the side. Yum!


Zucchini, onions and mushrooms cooking down


Simmering away…

UPDATE 10/7/13: Tonight I heated up some of the remaining veggie sauce and sauteed 2 bunches of swiss chard with some shallots and then heated them together. This on top of a serving of whole wheat pasta (2 oz dry, 5.2 oz cooked) was sooo delicious! The chard made it  even better. Next time I’ll use three bunches of chard to make a full batch. The sauce really thickened up in the fridge, I guess the zucchini and mushrooms really soak up that liquid, but I liked it even more. I don’t like watery sauces.


Sauce and paste before I mixed them together. Yum!


The red stems and green leaves also add great color to the dish. The zucchini kind of fades during cooking so you don’t see much green from that.



Veggie Fajitas

Not that anyone needs a recipe for this, but it’s more to help me remember. I loved the way this came out. I made enough veggies to pack it up and heat up for dinner every night for 4 nights. Yummy.  🙂

Next time I will add fresh salsa to make it taste a little fresher. I used the whole grain tortillas from Trader Joe’s (delicious) and spread 1/4 cup of fat free vegetarian refried beans (Bearitos brand, but the TJ brand is great too – the only ingredient in each is beans!) on top of the tortilla.  I think some jalapeno peppers would also be great on top. Next time I’ll make a chipotle version.


Forgot to put on the scallions before the photo.

Ingredients for veggie fajitas:

6 red onions, sliced thin

1 clove garlic, minced

2 red bell peppers, cut into matchsticks

2 zucchini, cut into matchsticks (skin on, get organic)

3 containers cremini mushrooms (or cremini and shiitake), cleaned and sliced

1-2 tbsp trader joe’s taco seasoning (depends on your preference)

1 bag baby spinach (it really cooks down to nothing)

Scallions, sliced (don’t cook these)

Fresh tomato salsa (optional)

Saute onions and garlic in a tablespoon or two of water until soft and translucent. Add pepper, zucchini, and taco seasoning, cook down until liquid is drawn out and cooks down a little. Then add mushrooms and cook down again. Add spinach after all veggies are cooked through and allow spinach to wilt.

Serve on tortilla spread with refried beans, top with scallions (or cilantro) and salsa.