Marinated Mushrooms ~

 As you know, I just got back from a short vacation to Idaho with Nate. Sorry in advance for all the photos. Hopefully you’ll enjoy them. Recipe for these lovely mushrooms are at the bottom.

We stayed at Nate’s dad’s cute little log cabin. Well, it’s not so little. It also isn’t at all rustic. It has all the amenities of a typical house, complete with a beautifully updated kitchen.

Idaho Cabin ~

The cabin is kind of in the middle of nowhere. It’s over an hour from the nearest supermarket. 

Idaho Cabin ~

Idaho Cabin ~

However what the area lacks in the civilization department, it more than makes up for it in the scenery. The mountains and view behind his cabin are just spectacular. I couldn’t stop taking pictures of them in all sorts of light. 

This is in his backyard with the clouds rolling in.

Idaho Mountains ~

One morning after a light sprinkling, we even got a rainbow. I was still sleeping, so thanks to Nate for capturing this one.

 Idaho Rainbow ~

Not a bad  view to have while eating dinner. We used the grill out on his patio the first night for some tasty salmon and veggie kabobs.

Idaho Mountains ~

While there we tried to spend time outdoors, obviously. The cabin is surrounded by camp sites and hiking trails. 

 4th of July Hike, Idaho ~

One day we did a 3 hour hike up to a couple pretty lakes.

4th of July Hike, Idaho ~

The area has had numerous wildfires over the years and you can see the devastation everywhere. Here were some burnt, dead trees along the hike. In this area the grass has mainly grown back. Some areas definitely look much much worse.

4th of July Hike, Idaho ~

Despite the fact that many trees have burned down, there’s an abundance of little baby pine trees starting to grow. I think they were my favorite part of the whole trip. This one happens to be right in his dad’s yard.

Baby tree, Idaho  ~ Elephant

There were a few areas that were so close we didn’t even have to hike. This was a short drive away and then just a walk to this little creek. There were lots of salmon in it! Apparently you can see them spawning at the right time of year.

Idaho ~

Another view of the backyard, just because.

Idaho Mountains ~

And just some more photos…

Walk in meadow, Idaho ~

Idaho ~

Ok, my final mountain shot, I promise. This was during sunset on our final evening there.

Idaho Mountain~

Now back to the recipe. I made these mushrooms as part of Nate’s bday dinner party meal. They’re absolutely delicious but chock full of garlic. If you’re planning on doing some smooching, don’t make these. Unless the other member of your party eats them too…isn’t that the rule?

Marinated Mushrooms ~

They’re really simple to make- a quick boil of the mushrooms, mix up a tasty marinade, and then let them do their thing for a while, or overnight. You’re left with a tangy, flavorful side dish that goes great with just about anything.


Marinated Mushrooms
Serves 4
A zesty, flavorful side dish
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  1. 1 pound fresh cremini mushrooms
  2. 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  3. 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  4. 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  5. 1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
  6. 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh oregano
  7. 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh Italian parsley
  8. 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  9. 1/4 teaspoon crushed pepper
  10. 1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds (or a pinch of dried coriander powder)
  1. Clean mushrooms and remove stems. Simmer mushroom caps in salted water for 5 minutes or until mushrooms are tender. .
  2. While mushrooms are cooking, mix olive oil, vinegar, garlic, red onion, oregano, parsley, salt, peppercorns and coriander in a medium bowl. Stir to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning.
  3. When mushrooms finish cooking, drain and add to marinade. Toss well.
  4. Marinate in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Side-note: Do you guys like my new header?? It took me so long to draw and decide on how it should look (with some good input from Nate and my mom!), but I think I like it. I’m also teaching myself HTML and CSS and am working on a whole new blog design, to be unveiled semi-soon!

Baked Red Wine Rosemary Risotto ~

Do you happen to have some red wine lying around? If Nate was home I wouldn’t, since the man loves some red wine…but he’s not, and I happened to have some red wine leftover from the bolognese I made last week. Since I’m not a drinker or a waster, I had to find another use for it! After doing a little search for recipes using red wine, I settled upon risotto.

But as you know, I’m currently all alone with no one to impress with this dinner, so I certainly wasn’t about to spend an hour standing over a pot stirring. I decided to take the lazy way out and shoved my risotto in the oven (and crossed my fingers it would work).

Baked Red Wine Rosemary Risotto ~

Lo and behold, after about an hour it was done! You don’t save any time making it in the oven versus the stove, but it’s not active time. While it was baking I started this blog post, checked email, chatted with Nate online and cuddled with my kitty cat, so it was definitely an hour well-spent.

I pulled it out of the oven not sure what to expect, but it really looks and tastes like regular risotto. It was absolutely delicious! Although I’m partial to anything with rosemary and mushrooms, so I knew I’d love it even if it came out as one gloppy mess…which thankfully it didn’t :)

Baked Red Wine Rosemary Risotto ~

Since I’m eating this alone and it will take me at least the entire week to finish, I’ll probably be so sick of it that I won’t want to look at risotto again for a year.

I still have half a bottle of wine left. Be prepared for some sort of chocolate cake incorporating it. Unless you guys have some better ideas?

Baked Red Wine Rosemary Risotto ~

Baked Red Wine Rosemary Risotto with Mushrooms

Print this recipe!

Makes 4 LARGE or 6 smaller servings

1/4 oz. dried mushrooms
3/4 cup boiling water
2 Tbsp butter, divided
1 lg onion, diced
1 lg carrot, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups arborio rice
1 1/4 cup red wine
8 oz. mushrooms, sliced
1 Tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped
1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese (plus more for garnish)
32 oz. chicken stock
1-1.5 tsp salt (depending on how salty you like things)
ground pepper

Put dried mushrooms in a cup and cover with 3/4 cup boiling water. Set aside to reconstitute for 20 min.

Preheat oven to 350 and coat a 9×13 pan with cooking spray.

While dried mushrooms are softening, melt 1 Tbsp butter in a large sauce pot or saute pan over med high heat. Add onions and carrots and cook til onion is soft.

Add garlic and cook 2 minutes. Add rice and toss to coat.

Add red wine, stirring completely. Dump winey rice mixture into prepared pan.

Melt second Tbsp of butter in the saute pan. Add sliced mushrooms and stir. Remove dried mushrooms from water, reserving water. Chop mushrooms and add to other mushrooms along with rosemary. Saute til soft.

Add mushroom mixture, mushroom water, parmesan cheese, chicken broth, and salt/pepper to baking pan and stir.

Place in oven and cook uncovered for one hour, stirring halfway. Rice is done when the liquid is completely absorbed and mixture is cooked. If still undercooked/crunchy, add more water 1/3 cup at a time, cooking until absorbed. Remove from oven and cool for 10 min.

Salt more if needed. Serve with a sprinkling of parmesan.

Inspired by Joy the Baker

Smoked Cheddar Sweet Potato Pot Pie

While Nate’s been gone, I’ve been getting my fill of girly activities. This past weekend one of my best friends (and one of my Maid of Honors at my wedding), Emily, came into the city from Jersey. She spent all day Saturday with me, and we did a ton of walking.

Smoked Cheddar Sweet Potato Pot Pie

Since she had travelled so far to get to me, we planned for a sleepover! Since we had worked up an appetite walking around the city, we decided to make this yummy dinner. Then we watched chick flicks :) As much as I miss my hubby, getting to have girl time was great.

If you can believe it, I actually lightened up the recipe I based this from considerably, while adding veggies to give it more bulk per serving. It’s still fairly high in fat content (due to the turkey sausage…who knew??), but it’s only about 500 calories per serving, which is pretty reasonable for a tasty and filling dinner.

Smoked Cheddar Sweet Potato Pot Pie

The smoked cheddar is vital to this recipe, as it adds an amazing flavor. I don’t think it would be nearly as good with regular cheddar. In fact, the cheese sauce was so yummy, I feel like it would be great to make Mac and Cheese out of. I bought way too much cheddar, not knowing how much it would increase in volume when I shredded it, so I may just have to try it out that way next ;)

Smoked Cheddar Sweet Potato Pot Pie

This recipe is delicious and Emily gave it two thumbs up. Sadly it’s also a recipe that Nate would love. Plus, I have so much left and I’m sick of it, whereas he would have made short work of the leftovers. Another reason I need my husband to come back to the east coast!

Smoked Cheddar Sweet Potato Pot Pie

Sausage, Sweet Potato and Smoked Cheddar Pot Pie (lower cal)

Adapted from Cinnamon Spice and Everything Nice

Print this recipe!

Serves 8

1.25 lb lean italian turkey sausage
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, diced
2 cups sweet potatoes, peeled and diced into 1/2″ pieces
8 oz sliced mushrooms, coarsely chopped
10 oz. chopped frozen broccoli, thawed and well drained
pinch of red pepper flakes
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp + 1 Tbsp flour
2 cups chicken stock
3/4 cup fat free evaporated milk
1 heaping cup shredded smoked cheddar cheese
1 sheet puff pastry
1 egg

Take puff pastry sheet out of freezer so it has time to thaw (about 40 min at room temp). Preheat oven to 400.

Put sweet potato pieces in a pot with water. Bring to a boil and cook 8-10 minutes or until cooked but still firm. Drain and set aside.

Heat a large saute pan over med-hi heat and add turkey sausage to pan, removing casings. Cook turkey sausage, breaking it up into small pieces with a wooden spoon. When no longer pink, remove turkey with a slotted spoon to a bowl and set aside.

Add the olive oil to the pan. Add onions and saute until translucent. Add mushrooms and garlic and cook until mushrooms are soft. Add the broccoli, sweet potato and turkey to the pan and warm up. Turn off heat and set to the side.

In a saucepan, add butter until melted. Whisk in 2 Tbsp of the flour, continually cooking for 2 minutes. SLOWLY add the broth, whisking well so no clumps form and it evenly distributes in the broth. Whisk in the evaporated milk and the last tablespoon of flour.

Bring to a boil, whisking often. Simmer for 2-3 minutes or until it thickens. Turn off the heat and whisk in the cheddar. Add red pepper and salt/pepper to taste.

Pour the cheese sauce over the veggie/turkey mixture and mix thoroughly.

Place mixture in serving dish(es). I used individual ramekins for portion control, but it should fit in a 9×13 pan. Cut puff pastry into 8 pieces and place one on each portion.

Whisk egg with 1 Tbsp of water and brush tops of puff pastry. Place in oven, putting a foil-lined pan underneath to catch drips. Bake for 35-40 min or until puff pastry is golden brown.

Cool for 5-10 minutes before eating, as it will be VERY hot. Also, it thickens as it cools.

I recently discovered that dairy and I don’t get along, but have been having trouble figuring out what to cook that’s dairy free yet still tasty…especially since I don’t want to deprive Nate. I miss cheese but decided I’d make it my mission to make a tasty Valentine’s meal despite the limitations.

Last time I was at the grocery store I picked up a couple butternut squash and since they were laying around I figured I’d make some butternut squash ravioli. These typically have milk and cheese mixed into the filling but I used tofu as a substitute. I know it sounds unappealing, but I promise you can’t taste it! It simply adds a creamy texture. I also had some mushrooms and pears, so I made a simple sauce with sauteed mushrooms, shallots, walnuts and a bit of pear.

I also wanted something yummy as an appetizer to hold Nate over til I finished making dinner. Bruschetta is always easy so I contemplated the tasty combos and decided on adding fresh fig and prosciutto. Unfortunately, the store didn’t have any fresh figs, so I got some dried ones and took them home.

I looked around, still unhappy with the dried figs and came up with my Bruschetta with Prosciutto, Pear, and Chopped Figs with Honey Drizzle. And let me tell you…it was DELISH! All in all, a lovely Valentine’s dinner with my man.

I decided to enter this recipe in the The Great Peanut Butter Exhibition #10 – Things Are Heating Up! contest


Dairy-free Butternut Squash Ravioli with Creamy Almond, Mushroom, and Pear Sauce
Recipe by Me


1/2 butternut squash, cooked, and skin removed (prob about 3/4 cup total)
1 tsp fresh ginger
1/4 container of lite firm tofu
1/3 cup dairy-free milk (I used So Delicious Unsweetened Coconut Milk)
1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
pinch of dried ginger
wonton skins
salt and pepper to taste


1 Tbsp olive oil
16 oz mushrooms, sliced
1/3 cup shallots, thinly sliced
1/3 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup sliced pear
1/4 tsp dried tarragon
2 Tbsp dairy-free milk
1.5 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp almond butter


Put butternut squash thru dried ginger in food processor and process til smooth and creamy. Add more milk if needed.

Put 1 Tbsp filling on each wonton skin. Wet edges of skin with water and put another wet-edged wonton skin on top. Press edges well to seal. If needed, use a fork to press edges together.

Add ravioli to a pot of boiling water. Cook 2-3 minutes or until ravioli float. Remove to pan and toss with sauce.


Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in pan over med-hi heat. Add mushrooms and shallots and saute until soft. Add wine and scape brown bits off pan.

Stir in walnuts, pear, tarragon, milk and almond butter. Stir and cook down sauce til slightly thickened. Add ravioli and toss well. If necessary, add pasta water to spread sauce out.


Prosciutto, Pear, and Chopped Fig Bruschetta with Honey Drizzle
Recipe by Me, makes about a dozen

1/2 baguette, sliced into 1/4 inch thick slices
olive oil
2 oz. prosciutto, thinly sliced
1/4 ripe pear, thinly sliced
6 dried figs
2 Tbsp honey

Brush tops of bread slices with olive oil and bake on cookie sheet at 350 for 10 min or until slightly toasted.

While bread is toasting, put figs in a bowl and pour boiling water over the top. Let figs soften for 10 min. Remove figs from water, pat dry, and chop into 1/4 inch pieces.

Top bread slices with a small piece of prosciutto, folded over. Top with 1 pear slice and 1 tsp chopped figs. Drizzle with honey. Serve immediately.