Monday, January 17, 2011

Join the Mushroom Challenge!

It's mushroom time! This weekend I've gotten really interested in mushrooms and all of the differet ways I can cook with them. Last night I made a chicken, rice, and mushroom stew. Tonight I'm making penne pasta with cream sauce that's lightly flavored with sherry (a white wine that every kid must vow not to drink before using it in their food). Lately, I've been using champignon mushrooms. They're small, white mushrooms that develop a darker color when cooked. They are about the same size as crimini mushrooms, but they're less expensive and are a different color. I also use portabello and crimini mushrooms often. But... what other mushrooms are there?

Now I'm starting to think about all of the other mushrooms out there that have been neglected by so many shoppers... which is why I've created the mushroom challenge! I challenge you, my readers and followers, to create a yummy dish using a mushroom that you've either never eaten or never cooked with. For those of you that hate mushrooms (I know what it's like, because I hated mushrooms until quite recently), then this is your opportunity to try a mushroom and love it. For those of you that have been limited to criminis (also spelled "cremini") and portabellos, then explore the lovely world of shrooms! I know that next time I go to Whole Foods, I'm going to pick up the weirdest looking mushorom I can find and make something incredible with it.

So, how does the mushroom challenge work? Just follow these easy steps.

1. Go to to discover all of the kinds of mushrooms that they sell and their qualities.
2. Go to Whole Foods (or another grocery store if you don't have a Whole Foods in your area) and pick up some mushrooms of your choice!
3. Research recipes using this type of mushroom. This will help you create your own recipe. If you are having trouble making a recipe, email me and I can help you out.
4. Make your food! If you want, take some pictures.
5. Email me at with your recipe, and maybe even some photos, and I'll make it too. Who knows? Maybe I'll even post it on the blog!

Remember, if you have any questions or need any help figuring out what to make, email me and I will gladly help you out.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Cooking in January

          So far, 2011 has gone great. I made some wonderful treats with my friend Renee, and I created 3 new recipes.

          On New Year's Day, I went over to Renee's house and I learned how to make peppermint bark. We started out with 56 candy canes and two large peppermint sticks for the top. We also had 5 lbs of both milk and white chocolate. In the end, we used about 2 lbs of each type of chocolate, 20 candy canes, and both peppermint sticks all for 3 sheets of peppermint bark.

          Last night, I made a delicious Italian dinner. I had to think of something creative to make with chicken, mozzarella cheese, cherry tomatoes, basil, and other stuff from my fridge. I came up with the idea of making an Italian chicken roulade. A roulade is pounded meat rolled up with yummy ingredients in the middle (generally vegetables, herbs, and cheese). My roulade had mozzarella and basil in the middle, plus a drizzle of balsamic vinaigrette. I forgot to add cherry tomatoes to that one, but it's in the recipe below anyway because I know it would give some good flavor. I also made spaghetti with vegetable sauce. That was the best spaghetti I've had in a really long time, and my parents are some tough competition in the spaghetti world. ;) The spaghetti had cherry tomatoes, bell peppers, green beans, and onions. I didn't post this recipe because I'm trying to put variety in the recipes I'm posting, but if you'd like to make it, email me!

Italian Roulade
Serves 4
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 mozzarella balls, thinly sliced
¾ cup julienned basil
1½ cups cherry tomatoes
Balsamic vinaigrette, to taste
Olive oil, to taste
Salt and pepper, to taste

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. Butterfly the chicken breasts. Put a breast into a gallon-sized plastic bag, and set it down on a sturdy surface (your counter or your floor). Pound the chicken with a meat mallet until about it is about ¼ inch thick. Do not pound it too thinly, or it will tear. Repeat this process with the other chicken breast.

3.Lay out a large piece of parchment paper. Transfer a pounded chicken breast to the paper. Place some pieces of mozzarella cheese on it and sprinkle some basil. Season it with salt and pepper.

4. Tightly roll up the chicken, and lay it seam-side down on the parchment paper. Cut two pieces of 7-inch long string. Lay each piece underneath the roulade. Place them each about an inch or so away from the ends. Pull each string up and tie tightly in a double knot. Repeat steps 2 and 3 with the other chicken breast.
      5. Heat a large nonstick pan and some olive oil to medium-high heat. Add each chicken roulade and sear for about 2 minutes. Make sure all of the sides have been lightly browned. Remove from heat and transfer the roulades with a fork into a roasting pan. Place in the oven for 15 minutes.

6. Once the chicken has been in the oven for 15 minutes, take it out and pour the cherry tomatoes in the roasting pan. Bake for another 15 minutes. Make sure the internal temperature is not above 170 or below 158 degrees.

7. Meanwhile, combine olive oil and balsamic vinaigrette in a small ramekin. Add more balsamic than you think you need, because the oil will come out of the ramekin first when poured.

8. When the roulade is done, cut into thick slices. When serving, be sure to put cherry tomatoes on the plate as well. Pour a small amount of the balsamic mixture onto the chicken.    


                                                          Milk chocolate hardening
                                     5 lbs of milk and white chocolate from Boehm's Chocolate
                                                  56 candy canes and 2 peppermint sticks
                                                                    Last night's dinner

Monday, January 3, 2011

Kewl Bites

I just checked out a great cooking website. It was created by Reed Alexander. He plays Nevel Papperman, or Apperman (I can never tell) on iCarly. Even if you don't know who he is, you should still see his website. I saw him on the Today show a couple of months ago, and his recipes looked delicious. I need to get around to making them!

I just emailed Reed about my blog and I asked for some healthy tips. Once I get his reply, I will share his tips with all of my readers.

Go to for more info about Reed and his recipes.