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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Kicked Up Beef Dip Sandwiches

beefdip

BJ hit another home run cooking dinner last night. He’s gotten REALLY good at choosing awesome recipes that pack a major flavor punch. I would argue that choosing a good recipe to prepare is an important key in being a good home cook. Not everyone has that ability. If you don’t choose a good recipe to follow the end result won’t be tasty no matter how well you foliow it. You can’t always trust every recipe you see, and some basic knowledge of flavors and combos that work well together will take you far in the kitchen. That’s where BJ is. He is a total amateur cook, but he knows what sounds good and he can follow directions. More often than not this translates into a successful dinner, which is exactly what we had last night.

The Food Network is almost always on the TV in our house. Especially right now. I’m not exactly watching it all day long or anything, but it’s our background noise. BJ’s grown pretty accustomed to it and even catches himself paying attention from time to time. That’s how he discovered this recipe and decided he wanted to give it a whirl. Ree Drummond calls them Drip Beef sandwiches but I’m not a fan of the “drip” part. Sounds kinda gross to me. So since this is my blog and I just totally gave her the credit for the yummy goodness, let’s call them Kicked Up Beef Dip sandwiches. They’re delicious and super easy to get on the table. Perfect for BJ. He seared a chuck roast and then cooked it low and slow for five hours in a Dutch Oven with beef stock, fresh rosemary and chopped pepperoncini, with their juice. Just four ingredients. Pretty amazing. He let them cook for five hours, then shredded the beef and piled it high in deli rolls. We didn’t top the sandwiches with caramelized onions like the recipe calls for, although I’m certain it would have taken it to a whole other level. These are so good you will definitely want to add them to your rotation. You can’t beat a four ingredient recipe that tastes like you spent a ton of time perfecting it. It absolutely hits the spot at the end of a busy day.

Enjoy!

Kicked Up Beef Dip Sandwiches

One 4-pound chuck roast
Salt and black pepper
3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 cups beef broth
2 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary
One 16-ounce jar chopped or sliced pepperoncini, juice and all
2 yellow onions, sliced
10 to 12 toasted, buttered deli rolls

  1. Sprinkle the chuck roast with salt and pepper.
  2. Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter and the canola oil in a heavy pot over high heat. Sear both sides of the chuck roast until very browned, about 5 minutes in all. Pour in the beef broth and 1 cup water. Add the rosemary, and then pour in the pepperoncini with their juices. Now cover the pot and simmer until the meat is tender and falling apart, 4 to 5 hours.
  3. Meanwhile, heat a skillet over medium heat and add the remaining 1 tablespoon butter. Add the onions and sauté until light golden brown. Set aside.
  4. Remove the roast from the pot and shred the meat completely using two forks. Return the meat to the cooking liquid and keep warm. To serve, slice wedges out of the tops of the deli rolls. Heap a generous portion of meat on each roll, and then spoon some of the cooking liquid over the meat. Top with a few peppers from the pot and plenty of caramelized onions. Top the sandwiches with the wedges of roll and serve.

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