I am so happy that you have landed in my little corner of cyberspace. If you join me here, you will, hopefully, get to know a little about me. You will read my thoughts, my hopes and dreams, and see some of my favorite things. I hope you will visit often. I will try to update it regularly and hopefully you will see an improvement in the blog along the way. Thank you for stopping in to see me as I travel on this journey called "life"!

Sunday, January 29, 2012


I know my posting has been sparse, at best, lately; but the cooking and eating have continued around here. We still love food even though I share the love with you less often these days. I just have lost my spark for blogging.

With Christmas comes calories and all things indulgent and once the New Year dawns, we simply must lighten things up. We don't lighten things up so that we have to eat tasteless, bland "diet" food. Oh no. That would never do around here; however, we look for ways to consume fewer calories and make things healthier without compromising flavor.

When I saw the recipe for Mushroom Lasagna in the January/February issue of Cooking Light magazine, I knew that I had to give it a try. After the lasagna that I told you about here and the thousands of calories consumed in eating it and amount of money that I spent in buying the ingredients to make that dish, this lasagna had its work cut out for it.  I seriously did not know if it could even compete. 

After giving it a try tonight, I have to say that this is way more than a cheaper and lower calorie alternative. This dish can stand on its own any day. With the "meaty mushrooms"....the garlic...the fresh herbs...the "lite" yet creamy and oh so flavorful sauce, the heavy cheeses and thick bechamel sauce that were in the last lasagna were not missed in this one.   Don't let the awful photo fool you.  It definitely does not do this dish justice.  You simply must give this one a try.

I've simply got to get more colorful plates!

Mushroom Lasagna

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 1/4 cups chopped shallots (about 4)
1 (8-ounce) package cremini mushrooms, sliced
1 (16-ounce) package white button mushrooms, sliced
1 teaspoon salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
6 garlic cloves, minced and divided
1/2 cup white wine
3 oz. cream cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives, divided
3 cups 2% reduced-fat milk, divided

1 cup broth
1 1/10 ounces all-purpose flour (about 1/4 cup)
Cooking spray
9 no-boil lasagna noodles

1/2 - 1 cup of fresh baby spinach
1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated
1/2 cup Monterey Jack Cheese, grated

Preheat oven to 350°.  In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add 1 tablespoon oil to pan along with the chopped shallots. Sauté 3 minutes. Add sliced mushrooms, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Sauté until mushrooms are browned, about 6 minutes.  Add fresh thyme and 3 chopped garlic cloves. Sauté 1 minute and stir in wine. Bring to a boil. Cook 1 minute or until liquid almost evaporates, scraping the bottom of the pan to loosen up any browned bits that may be on the bottom. Remove from heat; stir in cream cheese and 1 tablespoon chives. Set aside.

Heat a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to pan and swirl to coat. Add remaining 3 garlic cloves to pan; sauté 30 seconds. Add broth,  2 3/4 cups milk, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper; bring to a boil. Combine remaining 1/4 cup milk and flour in a small bowl; stir with a whisk.  Add flour mixture to milk mixture, and simmer 2 minutes or until slightly thick, stirring constantly with a whisk.

Spoon 1/2 cup sauce into an 13x9 inch baking dish coated with cooking spray, and top with 3 noodles. Spread half of mushroom mixture over noodles. Cover the mushrooms with fresh baby spinach. Ladle some sauce over the top. Repeat layers, ending with remaining sauce. Sprinkle cheese over top.  Bake at 350° for 45 minutes or until golden. Top with remaining 1 tablespoon chopped chives.

 I used what I had in the fridge for this recipe.  I didn't have the interesting and exotic mushrooms.  I didn't have light cream cheese.  I had chicken broth to use in place of the "reserved porcini broth".  We like cheese and I happened to have some Monterey Jack that was grated in the fridge so we added that on top along with the Parmesan Cheese.   Even with that addition, it was still much less than we normally use in a dish like this.  This recipe is so much easier and so versatile that I can see it being a great base recipe to alter and change according to what I have in the fridge.  David and I were talking about that tonight as we prepared this together.  Goat cheese would be a fantastic substitute for just about anything the cream cheese.  Chicken would be a great addition to this dish.  With or without spinach, it would still be wonderful.  This is definitely a keeper and will be a recipe that we will make again and again.  It's pure comfort food for a cold winter's evening and special enough to serve guests for dinner.  If you are fortunate enough to have leftovers (we didn't!),  they would be amazing.

Thanks so much for stopping by.  I know this little blog has kind of gone by the way-side and yet you never fail to stop by and comment or send me a kind and encouraging email in response to my sporadic posts.  You are appreciated more than you know.

Have a blessed week!

This recipe is being shared here
with Miz Helen's Full Plate Thursday.

Miz Helen’s Country Cottage

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


My newly adopted home state of New Hampshire is proud to host the "First in the Nation" primary.  Tiny Dixville Notch in the northern part of the state begins voting just after midnight.  9 whole votes were cast in that tiny little hamlet.  Can you believe that?

It has been a hotbed of activity up here with the candidates.  Mitt Romney recently held court at our beloved Village Pizza here in town.  Earlier this week, Newt Gingrich toured our largest manufacturer here in town, Sturm Ruger, and held court with a town meeting.  Neither of which I attended, by the way.  I work in a different town so I didn't know about it until after it had happened.  Just yesterday, on my way to work, I passed by a local restaurant that had a handful of men in black dress coats and a couple of photographers outside.  Some unknown political candidate holding court, I'm sure.  Word on the street says that it was Jon Huntsman in town.

Yes, sirree....New Hampshire has been the place to be!

I have to say that I am not political by any means and I am not excited about any of the people who are running for election at all - Democrat or Republican.  Having said that, since this is the first major election since we relocated, I had to get in on the action and exercise my right to vote.    The whole process was so interesting.  

I wasn't registered to vote here until today.  In New Hampshire, you can register at the polls.  A current driver's license and proof of my home address was all that I needed to sign up to vote.  I filled out a short form and presented my credentials for review and off to get my ballot I went.  New Hampshire, unlike Louisiana, does not have a closed primary.  While it's technically not open so that anyone, regardless of party affiliation, can vote in either primary.  In New Hampshire, if you are an undeclared voter like myself  (not affiliated with either party), you can vote in either the Democratic or Republican primary just by stating which ballot you would like to receive.  I chose to vote in the Republican primary. 

By stating which primary you would like to vote in and receiving and casting your vote, you automatically become affiliated with that party.

But here in the "Live Free or Die" state, they are not going to lock you into being a Democrat or Republican.  If you wish to return to an "undeclared" voting status, all you have to do is stop by the booth by the exit door and change your affiliation back - which I did. 

There were a few surprises for me on the ballot tonight.  Herman Cain and Michelle Bachman were still on there (and people were actually voting for them!)  Seriously people!  Even I know they are no longer running for President!   Why do you waste your vote like that? There was, also, a familiar name that I hadn't heard of in years....


Buddy Roemer, former governor of Louisiana
Seriously?  Where have I been?  At this time, with 57% of the precincts reporting, he has 475 votes.  Who are these people voting for him and how did THEY know he was running?  I am really out of touch, I guess.

It's very interesting times we live in people.  Very interesting indeed...

Sunday, January 8, 2012


Out of five lemon pepper plants from the summer, I only got one pepper.   It appeared this winter on a plant that I had brought into the house.  I thought it might be good in a pasta dish with black garlic.  I gave it a little taste before adding it to the pasta.  After chugging a pint of cold milk from the fridge, my mouth finally cooled off enough that I did not have to go to the hospital.  I was concerned there for a moment.  I'm really happy that I didn't add it to the pasta.   It was smoking hot.

I hope you have enjoyed your weekend.  It has been another weekend that has just flown by way too quickly for me.  Let's hope the week goes by just as quickly.

Thanks so much for stopping,

This is being linked up here
for Mellow Yellow Monday.