Farfalle with Creamy Mushroom Sauce

Image from Cooking Light, The Complete Quick Cook

Bruce and Mark were gracious enough to share The Complete Quick Cook with me and answer my questions.  And you may be thinking “well that’s great for you and all but what about me?”  Dear, dear friends, I would never forget about you.  I wanted to put this in a box and wrap it in shiny, sparkly paper before I gave it to you.  But Farfalle with Creamy Mushroom Sauce doesn’t readily lend itself to gift wrapping.  What it does lend itself to is easy transformations based on whatever extras you happen to have on hand.  I doubled the amount of mushrooms, thickened the sauce with a combination of butter and flour, and added diced chicken breast and peas.  That’s how I made it my own.  You do what you like.  So without further ado, I give you my newest comfort food bff.

Farfalle with Creamy Mushroom Sauce

Reprinted with Permission from Cooking Light, The Complete Quick Cook

  • 1 pound uncooked farfalle (bow tie pasta)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 12 ounces presliced exotic mushroom blend
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped shallots
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 11/2 teaspoons salt, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine or dry vermouth
  • 2/3 cup whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) grated fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • minced fresh parsley (optional)

Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat; drain.

Melt butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms, onion, shallots, garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, and pepper; cook 12 minutes or until liquid evaporates and mushrooms are tender, stirring occasionally. Add wine; cook 2 minutes or until liquid evaporates, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.

Add pasta, cream, cheese, and 2 tablespoons parsley, tossing gently to coat. Stir in remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt. Garnish with minced fresh parsley, if desired. Serve immedi­ately. YIELD: 8 servings (serving size: 1 1/4 cups).

 CALORIES 336; FAT 11.4g (sat 6.9g, mono 3.1g, poly 0.4g); PROTEIN 12.1g; CARB 47.5g; FIBER 2.3g; CHOL 36mg; IRON 2.3mg; SODIUM 577mg; CALC 124mg

Cooking Light, The Complete Quick Cook

Cooking Light and I are old friends.  You may recall that I’ve mentioned them here from time to time.  Actually, we are old, estranged friends.  It has been years since I’ve picked up an issue of Cooking Light.  But some of the recipes that Cooking Light introduced me to have earned seniority.  In my kitchen, where the turnover rate of recipes is pretty high, miso glazed salmon, cider roasted pork, and cinnamon sugar cookies all have made return appearances.  And they all came from the pages of the magazine.

So imagine my surprise when I found out that Mark Scarbrough, with whom I exchange pithy Tweets, was half of the dynamic duo of Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough who are long time collaborators with Cooking Light.  I was having one of those “when worlds collide” moments.  Here I was tweeting with someone whose recipes I had made in my own home.  And through those tweets, Bruce and Mark reunited me with Cooking Light.

See, they were kind enough to offer me the opportunity to receive their newest cookbook, which just so happens to be a collaboration with Cooking Light focused on smart, fast home cooking.  Clearly, they know I am their target audience.  As soon as I got the book in my hands, I started reading.  Because in addition to over 200 recipes, The Complete Quick Cook is full of tips, tricks, and strategies to make cooking less intimidating.  I may have been doing my thing in the kitchen for a few years now but there is always something I can learn to cook smarter.  Because really, when you’re trying to balance all of life’s craziness, it pays to take the smarter approach.

And to top it all off with a pretty bow, I was given the opportunity to interview Bruce and Mark about The Complete Quick Cook.  How could I possibly say no to that?  I tried my best to at least sound like I knew what I was talking about, despite my track record of making a hot mess of whatever it is that I’m working on in the kitchen.  Here’s how our conversation went.

Bruce and Mark, you have written over 20 cookbooks, focusing on things such as Cooking For Two, Pizza, Grilling, Ham, and Goat.  What made you decide to tackle the challenge of smart, fast home cooking?

Every year, there’s a new study about how people have less time, fewer minutes, more things to do. It’s a cliché—but true, nonetheless. So while we’re still all for the seven-hour roasted goat leg or the two-day ham brine, cooking quickly remains the real way most of the people we know want to cook. Indeed, need to cook. To get a healthy dinner on the table in under thirty minutes: that’s the challenge of an average Wednesday night.

You’ve been collaborating with Cooking Light for some time and developing recipes for their magazine.  How has that influenced the cooking that you do in your own home?

Cooking Light’s philosophy fits exactly with ours: “healthy” and “tasty” in balance. And a balance without any big no-no’s. It doesn’t make sense to make some ingredients forbidden. You know you’ll eat them soon enough if you do! Instead, it’s far better to see the sensible ways we can even bring indulgences to our tables.

The book is full of tips and secrets to help make cooking less intimidating.  If you had to choose just one tip that people should remember to be a smarter cook, what would that be?

The one who cooks the meal is not the one who cleans up afterwards! Well, okay, more seriously, there’s a lot in the book for how to “mise” your kitchen: put the wooden spoon and spices near the stove, keep the counters clean, keep a list on a marker board or your smart phone of pantry items you need to restock, etc. Many people know about making a “mise en place” for the meal they’ll cook: getting out the ingredients and prepping them before they start to cook. But it’s just as important to organize and prep your kitchen itself. That’s a real secret to quick cooking.

As someone who constantly uses cookbooks and magazines, all I know is I open them up and the recipes are magically there waiting for me to bring them to life.  Can you describe the process of developing the recipes so that they would fit into a busy cook’s available time and embody the Cooking Light philosophy?

Admittedly, our process is pretty complicated. In truth, developed recipes for Cooking Light are a collaboration among editors, publishers, the Cooking Light test kitchen, the many tasters on staff, and us two food writers, who actually have fairly different tastes between us. That collaboration is a tricky dance, but it also assures that recipes remain accessible and that the basic flavors don’t get lost in a search for newish flare. I’d say that the best thing a quick cook can do is to treat meals at home as collaborations, too: keep your family’s tastes in mind, listen to how they respond to dishes, have your kids or spouse help out in the kitchen. Working together can be a key to working quickly. And if you get your family and loved ones involved in the meal, they’re much less likely to complain!

I bestowed comfort food status to the Farfalle with Creamy Wild Mushroom Sauce the first time I made it.  Is there a story behind this recipe?

Recipes are like your kids—they’ve all got stories. In our world, Mark loves dairy, thinks butter is a beverage; Bruce is rather indifferent to it, all things considered. He’d rather have olive oil any day. So recipes like this come about because Mark, the writer, is just craving something creamy and wonderful. Bruce, the chef, then comes up with a way to keep that creaminess in check, so that supper’s satisfying without being a belt-buster. Now that’s real comfort food!

As stated above, I have fallen in love with Farfalle with Creamy Wild Mushroom Sauce.  Although I must admit that I reversed engineered it to be a little less Cooking Light friendly by thickening the sauce with some kneaded butter.  Do those kneaded buttery calories get voided if I add some roasted chicken breast and baby peas to the pasta?

Um, we hate to tell you this, but a food calorie is a food calorie. It doesn’t get nixed from anything in the pan or skillet. That said, some roast chicken from a rotisseried bird would be a fine addition to this recipe. In fact, you’re doing what we dream every reader does: morph our recipes into something that suits your table. We hope to provide the inspiration—where you take it from there is your own creative journey. And a sure sign of a better meal ahead for you and those you love!

Ok, so maybe Bruce and Mark didn’t absolve my additional kneaded butter calories in the Farfalle, but I love their philosophy and they definitely gave me a new recipe to add to my seniority list.  I can’t wait to see how else The Complete Quick Cook is going to make an impact at our table.

Be sure to come back on Wednesday when I will introduce you to Farfalle with Creamy Wild Mushroom Sauce.  You really don’t want to miss this.  And you can follow along with the adventures of Bruce and Mark at their blog.  Want some of those pithy tweets in your Twitter feed?  Check out @markscarbrough and @bruceweinstein on the Twittah.

Cider Roasted Pork

The barrage of holiday recipes is ready to begin at any moment.  The interwebs will invariably fill up with posts about turkey this and stuffing that…all guaranteed to turn your holiday table into a Norman Rockwell/Martha Stewart mash up.  You know who gets left out in the cold by all those posts?  People who don’t like turkey.

I’ve gone of the record as being anti turkey.  Here’s a few reasons why I do not serve turkey for Thanksgiving:

Reason #63 – It takes too freaking long to cook.  The day we set aside to reflect upon the bounty in our lives should not start at the crack of dawn with me muttering and cursing under my breath about the “damn turkey”.  I prefer to spend Thanksgiving in the presence of my family and friends, not babysitting a bird in my oven.

Reason #14 – A turkey, even a small one, is too big for the two of us.  I know what you’re going to say…but you can freeze the leftovers.  I barely have room for frost in my freezer.  I’m not taking up precious cubic footage, to store a half eaten bird, that could otherwise be devoted to important things like ice cream and vodka.

Reason #40 – Cider Roasted Pork.  This recipe makes me buy apple cider year round.  The pork is moist and flavorful and doesn’t require me to hold its hand for five or six hours in the oven.  Two pounds of pork is enough for a satisfying dinner and a serving or two of leftovers so it doesn’t wear out its welcome.

Cider Roasted Pork Loin

Adapted from Cooking Light

BAH Note: The cider reduction can be made ahead of time and gently warmed on the stove over a very low flame until you are ready to use it to baste the pork.

  • 3 cups apple cider plus 2 cups apple cider
  • 3 cups ice
  • 1/4 cup kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon coriander
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 pounds pork loin, trimmed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh sage, chopped

Bring 3 cups of cider, salt, pepper, and coriander to a boil in a saucepan.  Remove from the heat, add the ice, and cool completely.  Transfer the brine to a large zip top bag, add the pork loin, and refrigerate for 8 hour.

When ready to cook, heat the oven to 350 degrees and line a sheet pan with aluminum foil.  Insert a cooling rack or broiler pan coated with nonstick cooking spray.  Remove pork from brine and place on the prepared rack.  Spray the pork lightly with cooking spray  and sprinkle the rosemary and sage onto the pork.  Bake for 1 hour or until the temperature registers 155 degrees.

While the pork cooks, bring the remaining 2 cups of cider to a boil in a small saucepan.  Cook until it reduces to about 1/2 cup.

Use the reduced cider syrup to carefully baste the pork twice during the last 20 minutes of cooking time.

{printable recipe}

Flashback Friday – Miso Hungry

Flashback Friday

The following originally appeared on 12/29/08 at Exit 51.

Miso Hungry

Many years ago I used to subscribe to Cooking Light.  I wanted to cook light, really. Each month I would sit down and tag pages to remind myself to try this or that.  Sometimes I would follow through.  More often than not, the recipes went untried.  There were just too many to sort through and I ultimately began to drown in a sea of Cooking Light.  So I canceled my subscription.  But I held on to those magazines for ages with the hope that one day I would make good on my intentions.

Good intentions will only get you so far, and ultimately you need to cut your losses and move on.  It was in this manner that I broke up with Miso Glazed Salmon.  I think, no I know, that I made this dish and liked it.  But for reasons that I can’t recall, I never moved the recipe from the test pile to the keep pile.  And when the day came to cull the towering stack of pending recipes, Miso Salmon got the boot.

But memory is a fickle thing.  So after a trip to the store that resulted in 2 pounds of salmon and a tub of miso paste coming home with me, I went to dig out that recipe.  It was nowhere to be found.  How could I have let the Mister Right of recipes get away from me?  Clearly, I must not have been thinking rationally.  Why else would I have parted ways with one of the easiest, tastiest, guaranteed not to fail recipes I’ve ever had?

Fortunately, Miso Salmon did not hold a grudge because after one quick Google search, we were reunited.  Absence may make the heart grow fonder, but I’m not going to let this one get away again.  Try it yourself and you’ll see why.

Miso Glazed Salmon

Cooking Light

Notes:  The recipe calls for this to be broiled.  My irrational fear of the broiler will not allow this.  Instead, I cook it at 425 degrees.  Two pounds of salmon needed about twenty minutes in the oven.  Also, I think 2 tablespoons of soy sauce is too much.  So I mix everything else together and then add the soy sauce to taste.  I probably use more like 2 teaspoons, but you add as much as you like.  To make this a truly South Beach Friendly recipe, substitute Splenda Brown Sugar blend for the brown sugar.

  • 1/4  cup  packed brown sugar
  • up to 2  tablespoons  low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2  tablespoons  hot water
  • 2  tablespoons  miso (soybean paste)
  • 4  (6-ounce) salmon fillets (about 1 inch thick)
  • Cooking spray
  • 1  tablespoon  chopped fresh chives

Preheat broiler.

Combine first 4 ingredients, stirring with a whisk. Arrange fish in a shallow baking dish coated with cooking spray. Spoon miso mixture evenly over fish.

Broil 10 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork, basting twice with miso mixture. Sprinkle with chives.

Scallops with Chipotle Orange Sauce

Dear Cooking Light,

Please do not take offense at the fact that it has taken me seven years to finally make your Scallops with Chipotle Orange Sauce.  I do not plan on letting such a ridiculous amount of time go by before I make them again.  Hope you can forgive me.

Regards

Wendi @ Bon Appetit Hon

While I’ve never seen a single hit in my stat counter identified as being assigned to an Cooking Light IP Address, I figure it can’t hurt to throw this out to The Universe just in case someone is listening.

Scallops with Chipotle Orange Sauce

Adapted from Cooking Light

  • 3 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1 1/2 to 2 pounds sea scallops
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon adobo sauce

Blot scallops dry and season with the paprika and half of the kosher salt.  Meanwhile, melt 1 tablespoon butter in a large nonstick frying pan.  Add about half the scallops to the pan or as many as you can fit without crowding them.  Cook for 3 minutes on each side and then transfer the cooked scallops to a plate and tent with foil.  Use a paper towel to wipe out the pan, melt another tablespoon of butter, cook the remaining scallops, and transfer them to the plate.

Add the orange juice and adobo sauce to the pan, scraping up the browned bits from the bottom.  Bring to a boil and cook until reduced by half (to 1/4 cup).  Add 1 tablespoon butter and remaining salt and whisk until smooth.  Add any juices from the plate back to the pan and whisk to combine.

Serve the scallops drizzled with the sauce.

{printable recipe}

Cider Glazed Chicken

Since I seem to be all about le poulet why not post another chicken recipe?  I grabbed this one from The Kitchen Witch, who grabbed it from Cooking Light.  Why do I get the feeling that The Universe is trying to get me back together with Cooking Light?

There’s a story about this dish.  It involves Tivo.  I may have mentioned that I fought Tivo for the longest time.  And then once it came into my life, I couldn’t live without it.  I imagine people once felt the same way about electricity, cell phones, and Facebook.  Anyhow, the beauty of Tivo is that The Mistah and I get to keep up with our shows even if they don’t appeal to both tv viewing members of our household (I’m looking at you Wipeout).  And for those shows that we both enjoy, we can watch them together on our schedule, not the network’s.

So there I was, halfway through the latest episode of White Collar when The Mistah came through the door.  He saw that I had started watching it without him and was all sad faced.  In a moment of inspiration, I told him that he could start watching it from the beginning , I would fix dinner, and when he got to where I was in the show, we would finish watching it together.  Who says compromise is hard?

In the time it took him to reach the 29 minute mark, which through the magic of Tivo is less than 29 minutes since we are not held hostage by commercials, Cider Glazed Chicken was prepped, cooked, and plated.

Sadly, there is no photo documentation that this meal ever existed at BAH.  We were too busy finishing that episode of White Collar.  You’ll just have to mosey on over to TKW’s blog for the photo.

Cider Glazed Chicken

Based on The Kitchen Witch’s Adaptation of Cooking Light’s Recipe

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 4 boneless chicken breast cutlets
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup apple cider
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard

Pat chicken cutlets dry and season with salt.  Melt butter in a large, nonstick frying pan over medium high heat. Add chicken to pan and cook 3 to 5 minutes per side or until cooked through.  Transfer the chicken to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm.

Add the apple cider and mustard to the pan, scraping up any bits off the bottom, and cook for 3 to 5 minutes or until reduced and syrupy.  Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper as desired.

Return the chicken to the pan, coat with the sauce, and serve with rice, noodles, or mashed potatoes.

{printable recipe}

Sweet and Spicy Snack Mix

Long ago there was a football team in Baltimore. And then there wasn’t. For a very long time. And people were bitter and angry. For a very long time.

There is irony in the tale of Baltimore’s football history. When our team was moved to another city, we the people became mightily indignant. How could he (the owner who still shall not be named) take the team, the franchise, the legend and lore and transplant that someplace else?  How could he? How DARE he?

Yes, we were angry for a very long time. Twelve years to be precise.

And then, and here’s where the irony comes in, Baltimore took another city’s team. We the conquered had become the conqueror. However, understanding the vitriol focused on the owner who still shall not be named, and the lawsuit that needed to be settled before he moved the team, Art Modell wisely chose the leave the identity and history of the Browns where it belonged, in Cleveland.

In 1996, the Ravens came to Baltimore. And the people once again had a team to cheer for. We’ve had winning years. We’ve had losing years. And we’ve had years we should have won but didn’t. This year it looked like we had a solid chance at another trip to the Super Bowl to go for a second Lombardy Trophy.

Hopeful optimism spread through the city. Fans donned their purple; the city was lit at night in hues of violet. And in what was to become the Raven’s final game of the season, I sat in front of the Tivo and watched the wheels come off the bus. The saving grace of the evening was the bottle of wine I was using to numb the excruciating pain of the second half in which they threw away their lead, and a enormous bowl of sweet and spicy snack mix I had whipped up to nibble on. Reaching for snack mix, or the bottle of wine, gave me something to do with my hands besides wring them in desperation as the minutes ticked away and the end of the season came into view.

I won’t lie. It was a painful loss. But out of the ashes of the 2010 Ravens season, Sweet and Spicy Snack Mix was born. It’s not quite the same thrill as having another Super Bowl win under our belts, but it’s better than nothing. We’ve had nothing.  And it tasted bitter and angry.

Sweet and Spicy Snack Mix

Inspired by My Morning Chocolate’s Adaptation of Cooking Light’s recipe.

BAH Note: I can’t eat popcorn or nuts so when Jen of MMC suggested substituting cereal, I knew I had to try this.  It’s sweet and salty and spicy…my perfect trifecta of flavors.  I initially thought this would make a great holiday hostess type gift packaged up in a nice big mason jar.  But learn from my experience.  Putting Sweet and Spicy Snack Mix in an airtight container is a sure recipe for soggy SSSM.  It needs to breathe.  Also, don’t be tempted to use the “butter” pretzels because they may be less expensive than plain old salted pretzels.  They will impart a fake, movie theater butter flavor to your mix.  And that’s just wrong.  Please remember that the spices can be used, or  not, in any combination.

  • 2 cups pretzel squares (see note above)
  • 2 cups each wheat, rice, and corn cereal squares (Chex or generic)
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili spice mix (preferably Penzey’s Chili 9000)
  • 1/8 teaspoon ancho chili powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
  • wee small dash of cayenne pepper

Line a half sheet pan with parchment or aluminum foil and set aside.  Combine the pretzels and cereal in a large bowl.  Use your hands to mix it well.

In a medium saucepan, combine the brown sugar, maple syrup, butter, salt, and spices.  Cook over a low flame until the butter and brown sugar is melted.  Taste for seasoning and add more sugar, spice, or salt as desired.

Once the flavor of the sauce is to your liking, increase the heat and bring to a boil.  Cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly while the mixture bubbles furiously.  Carefully remove the pan from the heat and cool for 1 minute before adding the liquid to the cereal in several additions, stirring between each with a wood spoon or plastic spatula.  Remember, boiling sugar is molten hot.

Once the syrup has been mixed in to the cereal, spread the mixture into your prepared sheet pan and allow to cool for 5 minutes before digging in to the sweet spicy mix.

{printable recipe}