Balsamic Mushroom and Leek Penne Pasta

Balsamic Mushroom and Leek Penne Pasta

Yay for Fall!!! Cooler weather, cuter outfits, and a wonderful excuse to start eating heartier dinners. I was all about the salad this summer, and honestly, I’ve been eating the Chopped Thai Salad at least 3 nights a week since I posted it on the blog. It was too hot to really cook this summer and I credit this salad with helping me bounce back to pre-baby weight. Yippee! But now it’s Fall and I’m my normal self, so I can start cooking and eating like my normal self. That means one word. Pasta. I’ve said it before, but pasta is without question my favorite thing to cook and eat. It’s so much more than spaghetti and meatballs. Pasta is a blank canvas for whatever you’re in the mood for. It can be light, rich, loaded with veggies, loaded with cheese, full of protein or completely meatless. It’s basically the best. I love that you can easily find whole-wheat AND gluten-free pastas in your regular grocery store, so it’s not too difficult to amp up the health factor when you want to. I really love whole-wheat pasta. It’s rich and nutty and holds up really well against bold flavors, and this Balsamic Mushroom and Leek Penne is a great example of that.

There are a lot of bold, fall flavors in this pasta. Mushrooms are a quintessential fall ingredient. I love their earthiness and the perfect umami they bring to things. Balsamic vinegar, heavy cream and parmesan cheese melt into an unbelievable sauce that soaks into the ridges of the penne pasta. Throw in some butter-caramlized leeks and shallots and you have yourself a delicious plate of autumnal comfort. If you’re anything like me, you’re breaking out the fall decor this weekend.  This pasta would go great with that! Grab yourself a pumpkin spice latte in the morning, grab a few pumpkins at the farmer’s market, plant some mums in the front yard, take a stroll through a park showcasing the changing leaves, burn a cinnamon candle or twelve, and whip this up as the finale. That sounds like one pretty amazing day to me. Let me know how it goes! 🙂

Happy fall y’all! …And happy cooking!

bite-of-pasta

Balsamic Mushroom and Leek Penne Pasta

16 oz. whole wheat penne pasta (can use regular if you prefer)
8 oz. crimini mushrooms, sliced
1 leek, trimmed, washed and sliced
1 shallot, minced
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley, chopped
salt and pepper, to taste

1. Cook pasta al dente according to package directions. Reserve.
2. Heat butter and olive oil over medium high heat until butter is melted. Add leeks and shallot and sauté until beginning to caramelize, about 4 minutes.
3. Add mushrooms and cook until softened, about 4 more minutes.
4. To the mushroom mixture, add balsamic vinegar and heavy cream. Stir until combine and simmer over low heat as it thickens, about 2 minutes.
5. Toss in parmesan cheese and stir. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Top with a sprinkle of chopped fresh parsley.
6. Serve.

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Salted Caramel Apple Pie Bars

saltedcaramelapplepiebars

If you’re looking for something to do with that batch of salted caramel you made with me last week, I have a recipe for you! We are right at the peak of apple season…the perfect time to pick some apples and turn them into pies, bars, butters, and jams. Apple nirvana! Combine apple season with the fact that salted caramel and apples go together like peanut butter and jelly, and you will soon agree that these Salted Caramel Apple Pie Bars are the perfect way to kick off November. I snagged this gem of a recipe from my favorite website for all things sweet, Sally’s Baking Addiction, and made them for our Life Group last week. They were a huge hit! I suggest serving them warm and smothered with nothing but caramel, but my mom would argue that they’re best served up with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream. Either way, these bars are sure to become a fall staple in your house. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

Shortbread Crust

1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour

Apple Filling

1 large Granny Smith apple, peeled and thinly sliced (1/4 inch thick)
1 large Honey Crisp apple, peeled and thinly sliced
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Streusel

1/2 cup (40g) old-fashioned oats
1/3 cup (70g) light or dark brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup (30g) all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (60g) unsalted butter, cold and cubed
Salted Caramel recipe from below

  1. Preheat the oven to 300F degrees. Line an 8-inch baking pan with aluminum foil, leaving an overhang on all sides. Set aside.
  2. Make the crust: Stir the melted butter, granulated sugar, vanilla, and salt together in a medium bowl. Add the flour and stir until everything is combined. Press the mixture evenly into the prepared baking pan. Bake for 15 minutes while you prepare the filling and streusel.
  3. Make the apple filling: Combine the sliced apples, flour, granulated sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg together in a large bowl until all of the apples are evenly coated. Set aside.
  4. Make the streusel: Whisk the oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, and flour together in a medium bowl. Cut in the chilled butter with a pastry blender or two knives (or even with your hands) until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Set aside.
  5. Remove the crust from the oven, and turn the oven up to 350F degrees. Evenly layer the apples on top of the warm crust. Press them together tightly and press down to fit in pan. Sprinkle the apple layer with streusel and bake for 30–35 minutes or until the streusel is golden brown.
  6. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for at least 20 minutes at room temperature, then chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours. Lift the foil out of the pan using the overhang on the sides and cut into bars. Once cut, pour salted caramel sauce on top. Enjoy!