GISHy Meal Plan.

GISH, what is GISH? Simply put for the newcomer it’s a week long international scavenger hunt. For a full fledged GISHer its a whole week wrapped in weirdness and chaos but above all; fun. So much fun that many of us go through withdrawals afterward because we aren’t doing/planning something weird.

In the weeks leading up to the hunt the burning question from the newbies is always; what do I do to get prepared? The typical response is to gather supplies. A prepared GISHer needs dryer lint, googly eyes, yarn, cardboard, paint, hot glue and a stormtrooper costume if you have one (I told you it was weird). Myself I prepare by gathering art supplies, setting out the first aid kit and making a meal plan. GISH brain usually sets in on day two, meaning I have to remind myself to stay hydrated, get some rest and eat. Meal planning and prepping assures that I eat but also gives me a sense of control in the mayhem which keeps my mental state in good standing. This post is only about the meal plan, the prep work and cooking for hunt week can be found here. Don’t worry I’ll repeat the link at the end.

That time Misha asked me to learn something new.

Alrighty – That’s why I meal plan, so now lets talk about how I meal plan. I try to pick meals and ingredients that can be prepared ahead of time without sacrificing quality. These meals don’t require any fancy skills or baby sitting, unless of course there is a GISH item to make a five course meal – I don’t see the need. Additionally these meals don’t rely heavily on processed foods, those can be great time savers it’s just not something I like to do.

Here is my meal plan for this years hunt ( I usually don’t plan this far in advance but I wanted to share) . Feel free to follow it to the letter, or use it as a rough guide adding and subtracting meals in a way that suits your needs. I also understand that not everyone has the same finances, some have likely already poured their monthly food budget into googly eyes. Again – this is what works for me and how I like to get ready for GISH.

Other meals I have done in the past; sheet pan chicken fried rice, Vietnamese noodle bowls, hot dogs with store bought sides, mushrooms steak with gravy, spaghetti and cobb salad.

To save time when I’m at the store, and to ensure I don’t overlook anything, I write my list in the same order as the grocery store. I typically shop the day before the list drops.

Veggies

  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Stir fry veggies, I usually get a bag from fresh produce but feel free to get frozen veggies
  • Cilantro
  • Head of romaine (or already shredded lettuce)
  • 2 Large white onions
  • Couple of shallots but a small sweet onion works too
  • Jalapenos
  • Limes
  • Any taco topping preferences like avocado, or pico
  • Depending on what looks good I’ll grab some fruit and veggies for snacks.

Meat

  • 3 lbs of boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 2, 1lb each, flank steaks
  • 1lb ground beef

Dairy

  • 8oz shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 16oz Mexican cheese blend
  • 16oz Ricotta cheese
  • Sour cream for tacos

Non-perishables

Obviously these can be picked up whenever, many of which might already be in the pantry.

  • 1 large can of Enchilada sauce
  • Stir fry sauce (I like to make my own)
  • Marinade for carne asada (I make my own, but I’ll tell you how to doctor store bought)
  • Corn or flour tortillas (enough for tacos, enchiladas, and carne asada)
  • Linguini (fresh or dry, fresh will cook faster so sometimes I spring for that )
  • Lasagna noodles (fresh or dry)
  • Big jar of marinara
  • Italian seasoning
  • Taco rub, not a seasoning packet cause gross
  • Instant rice
  • 2 cups of chicken stock/broth, unsalted is best
  • From the freezer section I will also pick up a few frozen burritos, a pizza and Klondike bars. Cause you know ice cream.

If it’s not already obvious I am a planner at heart. At this point you might have a pretty good idea of where I am going with meal prep. If you are still curious, and as I mentioned above, the post with all the prep work can be found here. Otherwise I hope this was helpful with preGish preparations, even if you just said “oh snap I gotta get googly eyes”.

Bonus Content
If you feel like you just need a little help getting organized, I have a meal plan and grocery list printables in my Etsy Shop.

That time Misha invited me to high noon tea.

GISHy Meal Prep

Still with me cause here is where it gets crazy? Just joining catch up by taking a look at my GISHy meal plan. Alrighty – I am gonna walk you through each day and what I do.

Saturday – Pizza night

It’s the first night, my head is usually spinning as I try to get a grasp on all the Damnit Mishas the next week has in store for me. Pizza night, whether it’s frozen or delivery, it’s a simple way to kick off the hunt.

Prep

I know it’s nuts to take a chunk of time away from the hunt but I usually do the prep Sunday morning. Saturday is out of the way with a pizza night and it gives me time to think about the items I’ve claimed. There of course is some wiggle room in the timeline this is just what works best for me. Starting Sunday morning also makes sure the meals will be fresh for the week ahead. I worked very hard to put this in the order that I think will flow best, it’s obviously not iron clad so yeah – do whatever you want.

I like to start with the vegetable prep first.

  • Shred the head of lettuce and store in the fridge.
  • Chop the cilantro (about a cup and a half). Store about 1/2 cup of it in the fridge for later, and place the remainder in a gallon ziplock bag.
  • Slice the lime into wedges for squeezing over tacos or putting into gin and tonics, store in the fridge.
  • Before moving on to the messy stuff this is a good time to slice up any fruit or veggies you may have gotten for a snack. Orange slices are always nice.
  • Slice the tomatoes in half lengthwise and put them into a container with a lid.
  • Finely chop the shallots, place in a small ziplock, then tuck them in with the tomatoes. Toss em in the fridge.
  • Chop both of the white onions. Put half in with the cilantro and set the other half aside.
  • Remove the seeds from the jalapeno, chop and add it to the bag with the onions and cilantro.

Next I like to move on to the sauces and marinades.

  • Make the stir fry sauce if you are doing so. I like to use lime juice, soy sauce, toasted sesame oil, ginger, garlic and a little brown sugar. A container with a tight lid makes it easy to shake the sauce and mix it.
  • If making your own enchilada sauce now is the time. My husband prefers the canned stuff so that is what I do.
  • Next I make the carne asada marinade. I typically use all kids of citrus juice, soy sauce, brown sugar, lots of spices and then pour it over the onions, cilantro and jalapenos. If you got premade, be sure to doctor the sauce by incorporating the onions and what not.

Finally I move on to the meat.

  • Cook and shred 2lbs of the chicken. Add Italian seasoning to half of the shredded chicken and store it in the fridge.
  • Using the other half of the shredded chicken assemble the chicken and cheese enchiladas. Save some of the Mexican cheese for tomorrows tacos. These can be stored in the fridge or freezer, just be sure to pull them out mid week so they can thaw.
  • Finally rub the remaining chicken breasts really well with the taco seasoning and a little oil. These can be grilled, sliced and stored now or cooked off tomorrow.
  • Slice one flank steak for stir fry. I usually season it with salt and pepper before tossing it into the fridge to chill before dinner time.
  • Put the other flank steak in the carne asada marinade. Smush it around real good and place it in the fridge. This is always best if marinated two days.
  • Remember that second onion that got chopped? Brown the ground beef in a skillet with the onion. Break the meat up with a wooden spoon. While it cools cook the lasagna noodles and, yep, assemble that lasagna with the mozzarella and .ricotta and giant jar of marinara. This can also go in the freezer getting pulled out mid week.

I can usually do all of this start to finish (including clean up) in less than 3 hours. This gets all the heavy lifting out of the way before the hunt gets into full swing.

That time Misha asked me to fish for a compliment.

Sunday – Stir Fry Beef and Veggies

Stir fry the sliced flank steak with the sauce and veggies of your choice. Serve over white rice and call it done!

Monday – Chicken Tacos

It’s chicken taco night! I know it’s not Tuesday but it’s also not a normal week. If you haven’t already done so, cook the chicken and slice it. Assemble the tacos with the shredded lettuce, tortillas and whatever other toppings you may have scored. Squeeze of lime and your done.

Tuesday – Carne Asada

By now your brain is getting really GISHy but that’s okay cause that flank steak is gonna be so tender. Reserve the marinade and toss that steak on the grill. While that is happening bring the marinade to a light simmer. This makes the most fabulous sloppy sauce, sometimes after we slice the steak we will dip in in the sauce real quick. Assemble those tacos with sliced steak, lettuce (I know it’s not traditional but it holds the sloppy sauce), cilantro, s and whatever else.

Wednesday – Chicken Pasta in light sauce

Pasta is a comfort food anytime, but it’s especially nice mid hunt week. Start a pot of water for the pasta, don’t forget to season it. In a heavy dutch oven heat a generous tablespoon of oil over medium heat. Once the olive oil is shimmery add the tomatoes and shallot. Stir until the tomatoes start to break down and get wrinkly, this happens pretty quick since they were sliced in half. Add the chicken broth and cook until the sauce reduces by half. Toss in the shredded Italian seasoned chicken to reheat it. Meanwhile cook the pasta and add that in with the chicken. Toss in a splash of pasta water if the sauce isn’t lose enough to coat everything, it’s not gonna be a heavy or thick sauce. Taste and season as needed. This is also a prime opportunity to use up fresh basil that has been growing like a weed all summer.

Psst – pull the meals in the freezer out.

Thursday – Chicken and Cheese Enchilada

Bake it at 350C until it’s heated all the way through, cover them with foil if they look to be getting to dry. This is the home stretch, lets not burn dinner or complicate things now.

Friday – Lasagna

Rinse and repeat from Thursday. Bake at 350C until it’s heated all the way through. If the edges start to brown cover the pan lightly with foil.

Saturday

You have made it to the last day – it’s Saturday. Saturday is usually leftovers or take out or a nervous breakdown; one time it was a pizza made to look like the celling of the Sistine Chapel.

I’m always exhausted, pushing that last bit out, but at the same time so immensely proud of myself and my team. There will be no doubt that we made a difference, infused the world with a little more kindness and did a lot of weird stuff. Well the first week of August, not only do you know what I’ll be doing but you now know what I’ll be eating.

Want to know more about GISH? Have a GISH story to tell? Try my meal plan and love/hate it? Let me know in the comments.

Bonus Content
Something else I do that I find immensely helpful. I set out all the containers I’m gonna need with sticky notes that say what goes in what. Then I use the notes to label the shelves in the fridge. I’m super short and it helps me to find what I might not be able to see shoved to the back.

6 best things I’ve cooked during “quarantine”

There are a few weeks left until we are gonna be allowed to roam about freely, but here is south eastern North Carolina we have at least had a gorgeous spring. Even with warm temperatures and sun shinny days I’m still getting tired of being stuck at home in self isolation.

I always find joy cooking with fresh flavors and bright colors, it’s become even more therapeutic over the, what’s the count, 55 days? There is something about a delicious fresh meal that just lifts my spirits, and recently has created a feeling of structure and accomplishment. So please enjoy the best things I have cooked while keeping myself squirreled away at home.

(Disclaimer: the photos are subpar, I didn’t really expect to be blogging about eating during a pandemic. Thanks for being understanding. )

Vietnamese Noodle Bowls. The first place I ever had Bun Thit Nuong is a local Thai/Vietnamese restaurant, they have an garden with little private pagodas open during dinner hours. Cold noodles and fresh veggies make the Vietnamese bowls perfect for out door summer dinning. Partly reminiscent for summer and partly because they are delicious, creating these bowls at home always makes me happy. I prefer mine with lemongrass pork and a health pile of chopped peanuts.

Steak and Nectarine Salad. This one came pretty much straight out of the new cookbook Half Bakes Harvest: Super Simple, which you can find on her blog. I ditched the sauteed peppers and skipped to the steak and nectarines. All on a bed of arugula with lots of sliced cucumbers and basil. This is another bright cheery meal that makes me think of summer and not being stuck at home.

Indian Butter Chicken. I love Indian food, and was excited that this was simple to make and didn’t require a special skill or anything I couldn’t find in the grocery store. I fiddled around on the interweb googles, mushed together a few recipes, bought some naan and went for it. Its a nice warm but not spicy flavor, so very popular with the husband.

Lemon Something Chicken. Typically called Chicken Francese or French or Rochester, it’s all the same; breaded chicken cutlets in a lemony butter sauce that is delicious over pasta. I’ve made this allot during self isolation. Bright citrus and buttery sauce plated over angle hair pasta, it’s fabulous comfort food.

Avocado Toast. I honestly never thought I would warm up to the thought, but now I can’t get enough of it. My favorite accompaniment is sliced cherry tomatoes and everything bagel seasoning, with sourdough being the popular toast choice. It’s crunchy and creamy, hot and cold with a salty garlicy flavor sending it right over the top. Best part; being home all the time I can catch the avocados in that 1 hour window where they are perfectly ripe.

Street Meat, or at least that is what we have come to call it. Using recipes modeled after the sidewalk vendors in NYC, which I’ve actually never had myself so I’m not sure how it compares, it still manages to be delicious. The hot chicken and rice mixed with cold crispy lettuce topped with tangy white sauce vanquishes hunger. It’s also made me love tolerate chicken thighs.

So that’s the list. I’m sure there is more that captivated me but it’s been a long couple of weeks and my brain has taken several days off. Cooking and exploring new cultures through cookbooks and food blogs alike has been a staple for keeping me occupied these past weeks. Self care comes in many embodiments. Stay safe everyone.

Italian Stuffed Flank Steak

Flank steak is inexpensive and versatile, it makes great fajitas, stir fries or even cheese steak. It picks up flavors from a marinade easily, and can be grilled, pan seared, baked or broiled. Although, my favorite is a stuffed flank steak, by pulling together whatever sounds good from the fridge and pantry, there really isn’t a wrong way to “stuff” the steak.

I’ve used leftover sauteed mushrooms, caramelized onions, asparagus, tomato paste, sliced ham, various cheeses the list just goes on. However, my personal favorite is mushrooms, sauteed spinach and sun dried tomatoes. It’s savory and a little sweet, add in provolone or mozzarella coupled with a balsamic glaze- perfect.

I promise next time flank steak is on sale you will want to try this.

Print Recipe
Stuffed Flank Steak with Balsamic Glaze
Stuffed flank steak is probably the most flexible recipe I have right now, and it's simple. The glaze is optional, but it's delicious, I like to make it ahead of time so I can be attentive while it cooks down.
Course Main Dish
Prep Time 25 min
Cook Time 15 min total
Servings
8 pinwheels
Ingredients
Stuffed Flank Stead
Balsamic Glaze (optional)
Course Main Dish
Prep Time 25 min
Cook Time 15 min total
Servings
8 pinwheels
Ingredients
Stuffed Flank Stead
Balsamic Glaze (optional)
Instructions
The filling
  1. In a skillet with a lid, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and saute until they are golden, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the shallots and cook for an additional 2 min while string.
  3. Reduce the heat to low and add the spinach, a little more olive oil if you need to and the garlic salt. Stir to mix and put the lid on allowing the spinach to wilt. Pull this off the heat, stir in the sun dried tomatoes and move on to stuffing the steaks (see notes).
Steak Pinwheels
  1. Preheat the oven to 350C
  2. Place the steak on a cutting board with the grain of the meat parallel to the edge of the counter. Pound the meat thinner to make it easier to roll, or if it's really thick/uneven butterfly it and then pound it flat.
  3. Starting with the edge closest to you begin to plop the filling on the meat. Evenly spread it out avoiding the top third of the steak.
  4. Starting with the edge closes to you roll the steak like a big meaty jelly roll.
  5. Secure with toothpicks and slice into 2 inch thick pinwheels.
  6. Heat an oven proof (I like cast iron for this) skillet over medium heat with a drizzle of olive oil.
  7. Lay the pinwheels cut side down and sprinkle with half the herb seasoning, then place them seasoning side down in the hot skillet. Sprinkle the rest of the seasoning over the pinwheels while they sear.
  8. Once they are nice and brown on the bottom (about 1 min) flip the pinwheels over and sear the other side for about two minutes.
  9. Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese over the steaks.
  10. Place them in the oven for 7-10 min until the desired doneness is reached. If the cheese hasn't browned I like to give them a min under the broiler before I pull them out.
  11. Allow the steaks to rest for a few min before plating them and drizzling the glaze across the tops (if using it which you really should).
Balsamic Glaze
  1. While the pinwheels are in the oven and resting it's time to make the glaze, if you are using it that is. In a small sauce pan mix the balsamic and brown sugar.
  2. Bring to a gentle simmer while stirring. Reduce the heat slightly and allow it to reduce by half. It's really that simple. Drizzle over the finished pinwheels. Sometimes I make a double batch the day before and use it on other stuff too.
Recipe Notes

This can stand alone with a very simple side like rice to catch the extra juices.  Myself, I'm a veggie lover and so I make a simple side salad or steamed carrots.

Note about the balsamic vinegar, you don't have to break the bank but do pick one that has a nice well rounded flavor.  In making the glaze those flavors will be concentrated and made a little sweet, so it's best to start out with a decent quality vinegar.  

Note about the filling, this can be made up to two days ahead of time.  Just store in the fridge in a airtight container until you are ready to stuff the steak.  Any longer than two days and I find it loses it's bright flavor and color.

Not my Momma’s Meatloaf

Before I get into the meat of the post (ha get it, meat!) allow me a moment of candor.  As I was growing up my mom’s  meatloaf was just a terrible grey mass with ketchup drizzled on top. After time in the oven, the ketchup resembled a slightly sticky red shoelace (lawdy I hope she isn’t reading this).  Looking back now I should have appreciated her effort more; She was in college, had a family and was putting home cooked meals on the table.  I’m grateful she taught me that the experience of cooking for others can be rewarding, also thankful she didn’t teach me her meatloaf recipe.

Okay so enough sounding like a brat, time to share my take on the meatloaf. I knew it had to be moist (yes there is that word), full of flavor and boast something unwarranted. The jobs of flavor and juicy; those fall on the shoulders of finely chopped veggies and panko breadcrumbs. I love the sweetness from the veggies and added nutrition (scoffing laughter, okay a little added nutrition) all bound up with the panko. I wanted to take meatloaf past some unseen barrier from my childhood experiences, so I slathered it with BBQ sauce, wrapped it in bacon and added more BBQ sauce. Now you see why I had to convince myself the addition of the veggies brings nutrition to the equation.

I hope y’all enjoy my meatloaf recipe, that you fall in love with this comfort food all over again or for the first time.

Print Recipe
Not my Momma's Meatloaf
Juicy and full of flavor, this meatloaf will become a family favorite.
Course Main Dish
Prep Time 20 min
Cook Time 90 min
Servings
4 servings
Ingredients
Course Main Dish
Prep Time 20 min
Cook Time 90 min
Servings
4 servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 325C, we are going for low and slow.
  2. In a bowl mix together the bread crumbs and seasoning, set this aside.
  3. In a food processor pulse the red bell pepper, carrot and onion.
  4. In a large bowl place the meatloaf mixture, veggie mix (sometimes I don't use all of it, try for a shy cup), followed by the dry ingredients and egg. Mix this together gently, seriously don't give the meatloaf a deep tissue massage just gently fold the ingredients together.
  5. Shape the loaf in a jelly roll pan or large casserole dish, whatever is on hand that is big enough to allow the drippings to move away from the loaf. Otherwise it will just bake in a pool of fat. (I like to line my pan with parchment paper. ) Then brush the loaf well with BBQ sauce, cause that's way better than ketchup.
  6. Cut the three slices of bacon in half to make six short slices. Lay the short slices over the loaf to make it a little bacon blankie. Hush little loafy don't say a word.... Brush with more BBQ sauce.
  7. Put that gloriousness in the oven at 325C for 90min. Drool and remove from the oven.
Recipe Notes

As any meatloaf, it's best the day of but makes great leftovers, if there are any.  The veggies and panko keep this juicy and full of flavor, while the bacon and BBQ make it special.    

A few notes about recipe and technique.

Carrot note - sometimes all I have is shredded carrots, or baby carrots... don't feel like you have to get anything new.

Seasoning note - I adore the Salt Sisters.  I have used their Mediterranean rub, Tuscan farmhouse blend  and smokey BBQ rub in the recipe.  You can't go wrong with them.

Mixing note: I said it but I'll say it again - don't over mix it!  Just fold gently otherwise it will affect the texture. 

No loaf pan:  Despite loaf being in the name I recommend skipping the loaf pan.   I'm pretty sure sitting in it's own slop while it bakes is what turns it into a grey glob, instead of baking it just kinda boils.  No one wants boiled meat.  

 

Sweet and Dirty Rice

I originally posted this recipe back in 2012, I don’t know what made me think ‘yummy apricots and sausage’ but I’m glad I did because it’s fabulous (still). When I decided to start operation recipe revive I quickly thought about my sweet and dirty rice.

This is a casual side dish, although I’ve been know to make a meal out of leftovers.

Print Recipe
Sweet and Dirty Rice
Delicious sweet and savory side.
Course Side
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Servings
4-6 servings
Ingredients
Course Side
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Servings
4-6 servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Over medium high heat in a large, preferably non stick pan, cook the sausage while breaking it apart with a wooden spoon.
  2. If you are adding the sage sprinkle it over the broken up sausage and continue to cook.
  3. When the sausage is nearly done (still a bit pink) add the shallots. Continue cooking until the onions are slightly translucent and the sausage is no longer pink.
  4. After the sausage is done cooking turn off the heat and stir in the rice.
  5. Once the rice is mixed in add the apricots and parsley, stir to incorporate. Serve warm.
Recipe Notes

This is a very causal side dish but I've been known to serve it with Thanksgiving dinner.  Scarfing it down the day of is best, but heating up in the microwave works just fine.  

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Peach Mocktail

My mom’s birthday is New Year’s eve so we always have dinner and celebrate. This year I decided instead of just soda or sweet tea, I was going to serve a mocktail. The great thing about this mocktail is it can easily get boozy.


This is obviously really simple and forgiving.

For the tea I like to use orange pekot, 5 bags steeped in 3 cups of makes it plenty strong enough. Mix together the tea, peach nectar, and simple syrup. If you don’t want to bother with the simple syrup, instead try make 3 1/2 cups of tea dissolving 1/2 cup of sugar in it.

After all that has chilled and loved on each other it’s time to serve. Fill a glass with ice, about two thirds of the peach tea yummies then top off with a little club soda. Feeling fancy, add a sprig of mint or my favorite basil -the fresh peppery-ness makes me happy.

If we’re gonna make it boozy, I pick spiced rum every time. My favorite is Maggie’s Farm made in Pittsburgh PA! The husband – he picks whiskey.

Other fun things I want to try; switch out the one of the black tea bags for mint, peach, cinnamon or other flavors.

So happy mocktailing!

Print Recipe
Peach Mocktail
Fruity, slightly sweet with bubbles - perfect recipe for a refreshing sip.
Course Drinks
Prep Time 10 min
Passive Time 2 hours (to chill)
Servings
6-8 glasses
Ingredients
Course Drinks
Prep Time 10 min
Passive Time 2 hours (to chill)
Servings
6-8 glasses
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Mix together peach nectar, brewed tea, and simple syrup.
  2. Place in the fridge to chill slightly.
  3. Fill a glass with ice, 2/3 full with the peach tea, and top off with club soda.
  4. Optional but guaranteed to take it over the top - add a sprig of mint or my favorite basil.

Herb Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms

Stuffed mushrooms are these little squishy juicy flavor packets of happiness, that will burn the mess out of your tongue if you’re impatient and  greedy.   I use herb cheese spread to do the heavy lifting for big flavor and easy prep.  Start with one container of mushrooms, whatever kind you like as long as they are stuffable.  There are two kinds of people when it comes to using mushrooms, those who wash them and those who don’t, I’m a don’t.  Sorry all you washers, I just assume take a towel and wipe them clean.  Either way once you are satisfied with the state of your mushrooms, pop the stems out, and set the caps aside. Roughly chop the stems, onion and mince the garlic.  This is a good point to go ahead and start pre heating the oven to 350C. This is just saying “stuff me” Next grab your favorite oven proof skillet, personally I’m still super happy to reach for the cast iron one I blabbed about here.  Heat over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil.  Just as this concoction gets a little bubbly add onion and saute until lightly browned,  about 2 min or so.   Follow with the chopped mushroom stems, continuing to saute until everything is golden, an additional 3-5 depending on your pan and heat.  If you are so inclined; this is a good spot to add a splash of wine, waiting for it to cook off before moving on.  Add the minced garlic, stirring constantly until fragrant.  Don’t burn the garlic – keep it moving and cook for a min or less.  Scrape everything out into a small bowl to cool. Blurry action shot! Once the mushroom/onion/garlic mixture of golden goodness has cooled a bit add half a container of herb cheese spread, about 4 oz.  Stir until combined, the trick here is you want the mixture to be warm enough that the cheese melts but isn’t runny.  Sometimes I add a little grated Parmesan cheese too. Now stuff those waiting patiently on the side lines mushrooms with a heaping pile of cheesy goodness.   In the same skillet you were using to saute, melt the last of the butter and add the stuffed mushrooms.  Heat them over a med heat until the bottoms are just turning golden.  You really don’t have to do this, I just think it gives them a running start before they go in the oven.   Carefully add a bit of white wine, or chicken broth – water will do just fine to.  Just enough to cover the bottom of the skillet.  Then if desired (you really should desire this part) sprinkle the tops of the ‘shrooms with panko crumbs and/or Parmesan cheese. If you look close you can see an extra bit of butter I felt like they needed, hehe. Put them in the oven for about 5 – 7 min making sure the tops don’t burn.    Let them stand for a few min when they come out of the oven or you will experience an inferno of epic proportions and burn your lips, tongue mouth fingers etc.   Once cool consume freely. Gracious me, look at that toasted cheesy goodness.  


Print Recipe


Herb Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms

Mushrooms stuffed with creamy herb cheese and sauteed onions.

Course Appetizer

Prep Time 10 min
Cook Time 20 min total

Servings
4 people


Ingredients

Course Appetizer

Prep Time 10 min
Cook Time 20 min total

Servings
4 people


Ingredients


Instructions
  1. Pre heat the oven to 350

  2. Wipe the mushrooms clean and remove the stems. Set the caps aside and chop the stems.

  3. In a heavy oven proof skillet melt the butter and olive oil until bubbly. Once this is ready saute the onion for 2-3 min, then add the mushrooms stems and saute until golden. about another 3 - 5 min.

  4. optional - If you have a little white wine or chicken broth add it to the skillet and let it reduce before moving on.

  5. Working quickly saute the garlic with out burning it. Just a quick swoosh around the hot pan then scrape it all into a bowl and let it cool.

  6. Once cooled add the cheese spread, and mix until combined. Using a spoon carefully stuff the mushrooms with the cheese filling.

  7. In the same skillet melt the remaining butter and add the stuffed caps. Heat them for a few min over medium heat until there bottoms are golden.

  8. With out spilling on the caps add a little white wine, chicken broth or even just water. You want enough to just cover the bottom of the skillet.

  9. Top with a sprinkling of panko bread crumbs or Parmesan cheese.

  10. Bake in the oven at 350 C for about 5 - 7 min. You want the mushrooms to be soft, a little shriveled around the edges and the cheese to be slightly brown on top. Let them suckers cool before you dig in.

Recipe – Dirty White Trash

If it ain’t broke don’t fix it. With that said I have updated this recipe I posted ages ago.  It’s bigger, better, more user friendly and packed with the same addictive yummyness.  Plus I got some photos before the husband descended on it like a swarm of locust.

I like to put this in pretty bags and gift it, or make a huge batch to share at a party, light bulb moment – post a perfectly doubled recipe.   It was then I realized the shortcomings of the original recipe;  the amounts weren’t really friendly to the size packages available in the store, making for waste.  Sad but honest – it just wasn’t good enough to share.   Let me move on before I change this into a monologue about how reevaluating what was once “good enough” brings new perspective.

Alrighty – in a large bowl mix together the cereal and all the other dry mess.  Temporarily leave out anything that might get streaky and gross when it comes into contact with the hot melted chocolate (like chocolate covered candies or sprinkles), we aren’t making unicorn poop that’s a whole other recipe.

In a large microwave safe bowl place the contents of both packages of white chips and 1 cup of peanut butter chips, and the shorting.  (Toss the remaining peanut butter chips in with the cereal or gorge on them, whatever.) Following the package instructions –  microwave, stir melt repeat, blah blah…

Pour the shinny melted goodness all over the cereal, stir and hopefully not flick chex squares all over the floor like I usually do.  Try not to trip over the dog while she eats the floor trash.

When its still goopy and almost combined add in the M&Ms or anything else that would have partly melted.  Take the opportunity to add themed sprinkles , as you can see I added little Christmas trees.  It’s a white trash Christmas, hehe.

Spread it out on parchment paper or foil, then when it cools break it into pieces.  Eat and Share.

Recipe – makes about 12 cups
Melty Stuff
2 bags white chocolate chips
1 cup peanut butter chips (put the rest of the bag in the dry stuff)

Dry stuff
8 cups of Rice Chex cereal
2 cups of broken up pretzels
2 cups of peanuts
1 cup toasted pumpkin seeds
1 bag of M&Ms
orphaned peanut butter chips

It goes with out saying that this is versatile and fool proof; so many options. Try leaving out some of the peanuts and pretzels for dried cranberries and coconut.   Sunflower seeds.  Mini chocolate candies.  Walnuts.
So how do you like your trash?

 

Oh a Tapas Party!

Having tapas for dinner is just a fancy way of saying – I think I’ll make a meal out of the appetizer sampler plate.   Having a tapas party – that’s a guaranteed down right awesome shindig plus good food!  Disclaimer – not a professional tapa menu maker uper party doer, just sharing my experiences and what works.  With that said, lets get to it.

Our tapas night always about being traditional (here is a great traditional  menu  though) it is about whatever small bites speak to me and say “hey sexy, I’m  tasty”.  Yes, my food calls me sexy and sometimes I call it sexy back.  Moving on – My first line of defense is simple quick recipes/nibbles that guarantee deliciousness and not stuck in the kitchen-ness.  Once I build the the foundation of the menu with simple finger foods I pick out one or two items that will need real attention.  I know this will give me a menu that isn’t overwhelming but still makes the party guests feel special, like their host spent a little extra time to make sure they enjoyed the food.

So what qualifies as quick and tasty (and sexy)?  Usually I start with a fruit and cheese plate complete with salty cured meat of some sort.  If I feel spry I might even wrap prosciutto around a piece of fruit and cheese.  Little confession though – I hate goat cheese so you will never find it on/in/near anything at my house.  I do however love Spanish manchego cheese, its a sheep’s milk cheese that is tangy and nutty, if you ever get the chance try it.   Husband likes olives which I’m not fond of but sometimes they make an appearance or some marinated veggies.

Now is when I start to think about the more labor intensive part of the menu  My advice is try to include something that can be baked ahead of time and then served either warm or at room temp, something fixed on the stove top and something from the oven.  That way you aren’t shuffling things around trying to have everything ready at that perfect star aligning moment.   A few favorites in our house are stuffed mushrooms, garlic sauteed shrimp, roasted figs, and a nod to the traditional – tortilla espanola, empanadas and croquettes.

Probably my mostest farvoritest part; presentation.   Pull it all together with cute bowls, rustic wooden trays, small plates and nice napkins.  Then everyone comes out to the table, we pour wine, break bread and graze.

So to wrap it up, just have fun and do whatever feels right.  It really is just about having a good time and family and friends.