Thursday, March 1, 2012

Photo Shoot with His Life Magazine

We interrupt our usual programming to bring you some recipes and photos from our photo shoot with His Life Magazine.  This blog and my family are featured in the Spring issue and I wanted to share the recipes I made for the photo shoot. I also took some photos with my iPhone camera and with the Instagram app, so I'm sprinkling in a few of those here.

Photographer Tanea Devriend is the creative force behind His Life Magazine and she happens to take beautiful family photos of my family.  When she was looking to add blogs to partner with her magazine, I jumped at the chance and together she and I collaborated on a feature for the spring issue.  I put together a four course meal using the theme of love as inspiration.  The plan was that I would make a meal, with the help of my daughters for my husband.  It would be foods he loves, made by us, with love.

Link to download the magazine- His Life Magazine Spring 2012 Issue

First Course- Stuffed Mushrooms
There's a lot of great recipes for stuffed mushrooms out there.  My husband loves mushrooms, and the ones that I make are super simple.

Stuffed Mushrooms

1 doz mushrooms- large sized for stuffing, some stores sell pre-packaged "stuffers"
2-3 tbl. olive oil
2-3 small mushrooms, finely chopped
1 1/4 c. mozzarella cheese
1/4 c. shredded parmesan cheese
2 tbl. mayonnaise
3 tbl. butter
2 cloves garlic- crushed
1 tsp. cajun seasoning or Emeril's Essence
salt, pepper to taste
Pre-heat oven to 350
Wash stuffing mushrooms, remove stems and chop, then hollow them out a little (if possible) and save those bits to mix into the stuffing. Brush the insides and outsides with olive oil.
Melt butter in medium sauté pan, add garlic and begin to sauté, add chopped stems and insides. Cook for just a few minutes to soften mushrooms.
Mix together cheeses and mayo. Add the cooked garlic and mushrooms. Season with Cajun seasoning or Essence. OR experiment with other seasonings- herbs or more garlic, whatever you like. Add salt and pepper to your taste and mix this all together.
Place spoonfuls of the filling into the mushroom caps.
If your baking dish needs it, brush some olive oil or butter on the pan. Place the mushrooms on the pan and bake for about 10-15 minutes. Then turn the temp to BROIL and cook for another 3 to 5 minutes, watching closely.
A note about the cooking time: Larger mushrooms are going to need more time to get the stuffing heated and melted and the mushroom soft. So, cooking time will vary.

Here's another recipe, somewhat the same technique, little different flavors, but from one of my favorites, The Pioneer Woman.

Second Course- Spinach Salad with Warm Bacon Balsamic Dressing
My husband is not a big salad eater, but he does love a good spinach salad.  This one is very easy.  I left it simple but like with any salad you can add anything you like.

1 bag baby spinach
2-3 slices of bacon
3 tablespoons good balsamic vinegar (I get mine in the bulk section at Whole Foods, it's a Fig Balsamic Vinegar)
Dried cranberries and sliced almonds (use however much you want)

In a small pan fry the bacon slices until crisp, then set aside on a plate and crumble them.  Then using the same pan, remove some of the bacon grease leaving about a tablespoon or so.  Put the pan on medium/high heat and then slowly pour in the vinegar.  Be careful as it can splatter, but you want it to bubble and boil so it can combine and reduce a little.  Prepare the salad; place spinach in desired serving dish, add the cranberries and almonds, pour the warm dressing over, gently toss everything together.  Serve immediately with some crumbled bacon on top.

Third Course- Buttermilk Roast Chicken with Mashed Potatoes and Collard Greens
My husband loves chicken prepared all sorts of ways.  I chose this recipe from the fabulous Deb of Smitten Kitchen because I felt like it was easy for everyday cooking, but yet also worthy of being served for a dinner party.  Delicious and yet inexpensive.
Smitten Kitchen Buttermilk Roast Chicken
As far as the mashed potatoes, you may have your own favorite method, on this day I did a basic version using red potatoes that the girls then smashed with a bit of butter, milk and salt.  But here's a fantastic version that I LOVE, it's what I consider "special occasion" mashed potatoes.
Mashed Potatoes with Browned Butter, Goat Cheese and Sage
For the collard greens, something my husband grew up eating and loves to have with chicken or ribs, I use a recipe from Paula Deen.  I just happen to omit the hot sauce and drizzle in a bit of balsamic vinegar toward the end of cooking, so it's got a smokey yet sweet and tangy taste to them.

It was really hard to wait for the ice cream to finish!

Fourth Course- Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream with Peanut Butter Hot Fudge Sauce and Chocolate Brownies
Homemade ice cream is fun and it's delicious and the recipe I used is featured in the magazine.  It's from Mark Bittman who writes for the New York Times, has published several books and has an iPhone app, which I happen to use quite a bit.
Peanut Butter Hot Fudge Sauce 
Using this Chocolate Sauce recipe from Martha Stewart, I adapt it to just make it in the microwave, heating it in 30 second intervals and stirring until it's all smooth and combined.  I added to that, 2 heaping tablespoons of smooth peanut butter, stirring and using the heat of the sauce to melt the peanut butter and if you need to, put it back in the microwave for 10 or so seconds.
For the brownies, I again use a simple recipe from Martha Stewart that I love and I haven't made brownies from a box mix ever since I discovered this recipe-  Fudgy Brownies

You can make a sundae with a brownie on the bottom, a scoop (or two) of ice cream, top it with the peanut butter hot fudge sauce and then whipped cream and chopped peanuts.  Or, what I did that day, I topped it with tiny chocolate peanut butter cups.

Sharing the ice cream sundae with Daddy

The aftermath!!

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