This recipe originated as part of my research for the romance novel I’m currently writing, Return to Drake Springs. The hero is on a tight budget but wants to impress the heroine by cooking her dinner. While shopping, I bought only sale items (the lengths we writers go in the name of research!) at my local supermarket, which included bags of fresh, ready-to-eat spinach and boxes of pasta (Both Buy-One-Get-One free), and a discount on fresh baby portabella mushrooms and red bell peppers. The result of my experiment is Mushroom Pasta Florentine.
This recipe is a hearty and delicious meal for meat free Monday or any day. Whole grain pasta bumps up the protein, and the spinach and mushrooms give two servings of vegetables per meal. It’s affordable, too. This has become one of our household’s favorite meals. A writer never knows where research will lead. ☺
Mushroom Pasta Florentine with Whole Wheat Pasta
Hasty Tasty Mushroom Pasta Florentine
- 4 oz. dried thin spaghetti, whole grain or whole wheat
- 1 package fresh spinach leaves, washed and ready to eat
- 8 oz. crimini (baby bella) mushrooms, cleaned and quartered
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- ¼ red bell pepper, diced
- 1 clove garlic, sliced
- ½ tsp. grated fresh nutmeg
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh herbs (i.e. Rosemary, thyme, basil, parsley)
- ¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- In a large pot, bring 4 – 5 quarts water to a boil. Add salt and pasta. Cook to al dente (follow instructions on the package).
- In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-low heat. Add spinach.
- Cook spinach until it wilts and leaves room to add mushrooms and red bell pepper.
- Using tongs, toss cooked mushrooms, spinach, and pepper with nutmeg and garlic. Cook another two minutes and remove from heat.
- In a large shallow bowl, pour extra virgin olive oil, garlic, and herbs.
- Drain pasta and immediately add it to the bowl. Use tongs to toss hot pasta with the oil, garlic, and herbs until pasta is coated and fragrant.
- Add the spinach-mushroom mixture. Toss with the pasta.
- Sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese and serve.
Recipe can be doubled.
Pumpkin Cake with Maple Glaze
Pumpkin is rich in nutrients and abundant in the fall. Whether you puree your own or buy canned, you can enjoy pumpkin in a variety of dishes. Canned pumpkin puree (Not pumpkin pie filling!) makes this cake a hasty tasty quick bread. I use the Vitamix to make the batter, but a mixer works, too. The maple glaze is optional.
- cooking spray
- 2 cups whole wheat flour
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
- 2 tsp. baking soda
- ½ tsp. salt
- 6 oz. Egg Beaters®
- 15 oz. can pureed pumpkin
- 3 Tbsp. powdered sugar (for glaze)
- 1 Tbsp. real maple syrup (for glaze)
- Preheat oven to 350° F.
- Spray inside of a 8½” X 4½” loaf pan or a small tube cake pan with cooking spray.
- In a 2 quart mixing bowl or pitcher, combine all dry ingredients. Form a depression in the center. Set aside.
- In the Vitamix container (or a mixing bowl) combine the pumpkin and Egg Beaters® starting at Variable Speed 1. Gradually increase speed to 10 then High. Run for 20 seconds.
- Add the wet ingredients to the center of dry ingredients and fold using a spatula or spoon. Don’t over mix. Batter will be stiff.
- Spoon batter into the loaf pan and place in the oven.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
- Remove cake from pan and cool on a rack, at least 30 minutes.
- In a small plastic food storage bag, combine powdered sugar and real maple syrup. Seal bag then snip a hole in one corner to create a small piping bag.
- Drizzle the cake lightly with the glaze and serve.
Variations: If you prefer a less dense cake, use 1 cup whole wheat flour and 1 cup all-purpose flour. Add ½ cup nuts for more fiber and flavor.
Note: Cake will be dense and moist.
Yield: 12 servings
Recently I’ve been obsessed with making my own cereals. I like the total control over ingredients. I searched for granola recipes and quickly learned there are as many variations for granola as there are for chili. I want a granola I can eat in a bowl with milk or dry as a snack or yogurt topping. I want high fiber, natural ingredients, and my choice of nuts. I don’t want raisins!
Here is what I created, a recipe I call Cheri’s Granola. I encourage you to make your own version. It’s easy.
- 1 box old fashion oatmeal
- 8 oz. shredded coconut
- 8 oz. pecan pieces or halves
- 8 oz. slivered almonds
- 1 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
- ¼ cup honey
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- (optional) 1 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
- Preheat oven to 325°F.
- Spread oats to cover the bottom of a bar pan (approximately 10″ X 14″)
- Add nuts, coconut, and cinnamon. Using your fingers or a large spoon, toss to mix evenly with the oats.
- Drizzle the honey and oil over the mixture. Lightly toss.
- Bake for 30 minutes, remove the pan from the oven and turn the granola, then bake for another 15-20 minutes.
- Remove from oven and allow to cool. (Wait till it cools to add optional chocolate chips!) Store in a sealed container¹ in a cool, dry cabinet.
¹I use a Tupperware cereal keeper, and this recipe fills it almost full.
There are endless variations for granola. You can add flaxseeds, or pumpkin seeds. Or after your granola cools, mix in some of your favorite dried fruits, chopped. You can switch out the coconut for shredded wheat or crisped rice cereal. You can increase the amount of honey or add real maple syrup or molasses. You can mix granola with a little peanut butter and make your own granola bars.
Make it your own and name it after you!
The secret to this healthy, nutritious apple crisp is the high fiber flavored instant oatmeal. The tiny bit of butter goes a long way on flavor. I made it the first time without walnuts (see slideshow), but the walnuts add flavor, fiber, and nutrition. Next time I’ll use the walnuts.
HASTY TASTY APPLE CRISP
1 Tbsp. real butter
1 20 oz. can apple pie filling, no sugar added
1 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
¼ cup chopped walnuts (optional)
1 packet high fiber instant oatmeal, maple and brown sugar flavor
1 pint vanilla ice cream (optional)
Preheat oven to 350°.
Generously coat the inside of a square or round baking dish
(approximately 8” diameter) with the butter.
Pour contents of the canned apple pie filling into the buttered baking
Stir in the cinnamon.
Spread the instant oatmeal evenly over the top of apple mixture. Top with walnuts.
Bake uncovered for 30-35 minutes or until bubbly. Carefully remove dish from oven and serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, if desired.
Yield: 4 servings