20 Minute One Pot Zucchini Mushroom Pasta

I know I'm not alone when I say that a lot of the recipes I try come from Pinterest. Sure, I still crack open my cookbooks now and then to try something new, but Pinterest is so convenient. Plus, I find a lot of great food blogs that way. I've no idea how I stumbled upon this gem but this is a pasta dish that is here to stay. I'm seriously making this for dinner, again, after I finish typing this post.

I've made this dish twice now. However, the first time I made this, I looked at the water to pasta ratio and thought, "There is no way this is going to turn out. I'm going to end up with soup". Do not be fooled like I was. Do not, I repeat DO NOT drain out some of the water... like I did. Trust me in this. I did just that and wound up with bone dry pasta that I ended up adding sink water to in order to eat. It's kinda like that science experiment you did in elementary school with the baking soda and vinegar. You know the one. You look at the two components and think, "There's no way this is going to... HOLY COW! IT'S A VOLCANO!" Yeah, that's how I felt the second time around when I actually followed the directions. I started with what looked like the beginnings of spaghetti soup and wound up with a mouth watering alfredo that took one pot, about twenty minutes, and little time on my part in the kitchen to make.

adapted from Damn Delicious

  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 1 pound cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 2 zucchini, thinly sliced and quartered
  • 2/3 c. peas (fresh or frozen)
  • 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/3 c. grated Parmesan
  • 1/4 c. heavy cream

  1. In a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium high heat, combine spaghetti, mushrooms, zucchini, peas, garlic, thyme and 4 1/2 cups water; season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  2. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until pasta is cooked through and liquid has reduced, about 8-10 minutes. Stir in Parmesan and heavy cream.
  3. Serve immediately.

Review: Cooking with Frank's RedHot Cayenne Pepper Sauce

Ever since I was a little girl, Franks has always been a staple in our home. My mom would make something called "hot noodles". Which are essentially egg noodles mixed with various spices and seasonings, then doused in Franks. I put Franks in just about everything I make. I'm not joking, it goes onto everything from my morning eggs, to my popcorn. Not only does it have a kick to it, but it's got great flavor as well. So when I was asked if I wanted to review Cooking with Frank's Redhot Cayenne Pepper Sauce by Rachel Rappaport, I was over the moon excited. I mean, c'mon! This is a cookbook focusing on Franks. How could I say no?!

The first recipe I tried was the Sizzling Sesame Noodles. The recipe is easy to make and was ready in no time. My one issue with this was that the recipe is just for the sauce. In the description at the top of the page, the author talks about how you could make it a meal by adding various vegetables. I personally wish the vegetables were included into the recipe because I had no idea how much snow peas, scallions, or carrots to buy at the store. Which is why I settled on just carrots. As for the flavor... I've made peanut ginger noodles before and hated it. However, this recipe has tahini and Franks in it, which I thought would alter the flavors... it didn't. With that being said though, I did like the kick of heat the Franks brings to this dish. It's just I've come to terms with the fact that these types of noodle dishes are not for me. However, if you like peanut ginger noodles, then you should give this recipe a try.

The next recipe I tried was the Hot Nuts Brittle. I actually made this right before the holidays as one of our holiday treats. The directions were easy to follow, everything was mapped out for you in the recipe itself, unlike the previous recipe. I liked that there's a note at the bottom of the recipe that gives you a tip on howto make them even spicier (which we did). These turned out fantastic! I actually brought some over to a friends house on Christmas and she loved them. They aren't sweet like I would assume nut brittle to be, but rather savory. The Franks definitely adds this kick to them that really takes these to a new level. I plan on making this recipe every year for the holidays and even doubling the recipe to send out as gifts. Trust me, this recipe is that good.

The last recipe we tried was the Oven-Baked Crispy Catfish Nuggets. I've been on a fish kick lately and was excited to give these a try. I've never had catfish before and thought this was a good way to try it. Although I wasn't a fan of the fish itself (I guess I'm more of a salmon, tuna, swordfish kinda girl), the flavor combination was awesome. You definitely got that tangy, creamy, spicy flavor from the Franks buttermilk marinade. I was a little worried that after all the Franks I poured into the marinade you wouldn't even taste it with the coating, but you can. Plus, there's the added bonus of flavors with the mixture of chili powders and panko that really made for a delicious crispy outside. Now granted, the recipe called for breadcrumbs but all I had was panko. So with that being said, the recipe itself is forgiving if you need to swap a few things out for something else. I think this is a great recipe and if you like catfish or any white fish, then no swap outs needed. However, if you're not a white fish fan like myself, I would substitute the fish with chicken. ;)

In the end I would say this is a great cookbook for any Franks lovers out there. There are a lot of recipes in here. There are recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, side dishes, appetizers, dips, and dessert. A lot of the recipes even had full page pictures of the dish which I really liked. I'm a visual person and like to see what I'm making and how it's supposed to look. The only down side to this cookbook is that it is not vegetarian friendly and I currently gave up meat for a year. I was honestly hoping for more out-there recipes like the peanut brittle. There is one recipe in here that I wanted to try that's a cinnamon bun with Franks icing. THAT'S what I was hoping to see here but those kinds of recipes were few and far between in this cookbook. Then again, I realize that not everyone is as adventurous when it comes to cooking and eating new things.

With that being said though, I do think there are some good sounding recipes in here and I love that there is a cookbook out there that revolves around Franks. The author takes the time to give you the background story on Franks and even lists the various types of Franks sauces that are out there. If you didn't know, Franks is more than just the original hot sauce that's known for covering wings. She also includes a recipe to make your own dry ranch dressing mix and blue cheese dressing. Neither of which contain Franks, but compliment the hot sauce nicely. Like I said, this is a nice cookbook. It's not something you would want to get for your vegetarian family member or friend, but any Franks or carnivore lover would definitely get use out of this book.

 *I'd like to thank Kourtney and Ulysses Press for sending me a copy of the book for review.

French Toast Bread Pudding

Happy new year, everyone! I hope you guys had a wonderful holiday break. I know I sure did. The Mr. and I didn't really go anywhere or do anything, but it was nice cuddling up on the couch, watching movies. I was able to try out a bunch of recipes over the holidays. One of which was this lighter version of the french toast casserole that I make for Christmas every year.

This one is actually a lot easier to make since you don't have to make the praline topping. It's also healthier too since it has half the eggs and sugar. The Mr. sliced up the homemade cinnamon bread I'd made the day before while I got to work zesting and mixing the batter ingredients together. Then we just poured the mixture over the eggs, covered the pan with foil, and stored it in the refrigerator the next day. The orange zest added a light citrus flavor that really brightened up the dish. However, even though this is delicious, it won't be replacing the not-so-good-for-you praline french toast casserole from years past. It will however be a recipe I will go to when company is staying over.


  • cooking spray
  • 4 c. bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 4 oz. reduced-fat cream cheese, softened
  • 2 very ripe bananas, mashed
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 c. low-fat milk or dairy-free milk
  • 3 Tbsp. pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 1 Tbsp. confectioners sugar, for garnish (optional)


  1. Lightly spray a 8x8 baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. Add the bread to the pan. With a standing or handheld mixer, beat the cream cheese and bananas at medium speed until smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Pour in the milk, maple syrup, vanilla, and zest, and mix until smooth. Pour the cream cheese mixture over the top of the bread; cover and refrigerate overnight. 
  3. Preheat the over to 375°F.
  4. Remove the bread mixture from the refrigerator and let it sit out 15 minutes. Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until a knife comes out clean and the center is set. 
  5. Sift confectioners sugar over the top if desired. Cut into squares and serve immediately.


Review: Mason Jar Salads and More by Julia Mirabella

Before we moved I had a full time job at Joshua Tree National Park, and was either eating quickly made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or eating out on my lunch break. I guess I was just too lazy to make an actual lunch for the day and would just wing it when the time came. So I was interested in reviewing a copy of Mason Jar Salads and More by Julia Mirabella in the hopes of adding some homemade healthy lunches to the mix. I'm not really a salad person, it's just one of those things that never fills me up. I was happy to see that not all of the recipes in here were salads. There are pasta, oatmeal, and quinoa dishes as well.

The first recipe I tried was the guacamole salad. The process was rather easy and I really liked the fact that you make the vinaigrette yourself. In fact, in the back of the book there's a whole bunch of vinaigrette recipes that you will be using for various mason jar dishes. I made this a day in advance and I will be honest, the avocado was starting to brown, so I wouldn't let it sit in the refrigerator longer than a day. However, the flavors were really good. It did in fact taste like a guacamole with lettuce and chicken (for the Mr). The only bad thing about this was that the dressing was very oily. Maybe we are just not homemade vinaigrette people but it seemed like everything was coated in a layer of olive oil. However, the flavors were there and in the end we thought this was a nice salad.

The second recipe I tried was the curried butternut squash over lentils. This one was delicious. There's a little bit more prep work to this because you have to cut and roast the squash but it's well worth it. With the added crunchiness of the pecans, the lime and cilantro sprinkled over top, and the creamy butternut squash... YUM! We had this as a main dish and I also put some in pint jars to pull out later for a side dish to dinners.

*picture taken from book*
This was a whoopsie on my part. I thought I had taken a photo of this one and apparently I didn't. This was another recipe where I made a big batch, ate it for dinner and then put the leftovers in the jars for lunches and side dishes later on. This was a tasty tortellini with basil pesto, cherry tomatoes, and mozzarella. There's a recipe for pesto but I bought store bought stuff because basil is not cheap here. I'm talking about those small herbs packets that you see in the produce section that still have their roots but are packaged into these small plastic containers for like $4. Yeah, I wasn't about to buy a bunch of them to make the 4 cups of basil I'd have needed for the pesto. Especially when I could buy pre-made pesto for a fraction of the price of purchasing the basil alone. In the end I don't think it really mattered because this was a delicious pasta. Definitely one that I will be making again.

Apparently mason jar food is somewhat of a craze right now... or was. I don't know, I don't keep up with these things. However, I could see why they would be popular. They are easy to store, take up less room in the fridge than your Tupperware would, are pleasing to the eye, you can pack it in perfect individual servings, and you can pack pretty much anything in them from liquid to solids and the jars don't leak. Only down side is that if you drop your lunch, it will smash. Luckily I didn't have this happen to me even though I'm a total klutz. This is definitely a book that I would recommend to anyone looking to try mason jar foods. In the beginning of the book Julia explains how and why you want to assemble the food a certain way in the jar, she talks about the benefits of using mason jars instead of tupperware, and she also gives you extra tips for making your mason jar meals work. The only thing with mason jar recipes is that you need to make sure you are at a place where you have a bowl handy since a lot of the dishes need to be emptied out into a bowl to be eaten (they are layered so that they don't get soggy). For instance the guacamole salad was layered with the dressing and veggies on the bottom, then packed lettuce, then the avocado and chicken on top. So there are some dishes in here that wouldn't work for a full on-the-go dish. However, the tortellini dish would be perfect to just open and eat as you are running errands or moving around. Either way, I plan on trying out more of the recipes from this book and putting my dusty mason jars to good use.

Maca Truffles

Every year around this time I start pulling out recipes for cookies. Even though it's just the Mr. and me, I will still try to make at least a batch of cookies, gingerbread marshmallows, and fudge. I always try to make a different cookie each year and this year I decided to try something a little different. Instead of making a butter and sugar packed cookie, I went with a healthy energy truffle instead. This was my first time trying maca and I wasn't overly sure what to expect. Maca is a root (like radish) that has a lot of health benefits ranging from balancing your mood, providing energy, and even relieves PMS and menopause symptoms. I tasted the maca straight from the bag before making the truffles and it's not sweet. It actually reminds me of powdered peanut butter.

This is a super easy truffle recipe. You literally just mix everything, either by hand or in a food processor. These are not sweet truffles, they are actually kind of dry, so make sure you have a glass of milk, but they are delicious. I found that when I needed a snack halfway through the day, I would eat one of these and I'd be good until dinner time. They definitely help give you that little boost you need. Plus, they look like some fancy truffle you'd get at a shop. So if you want to make something for your health conscious friend, or want to try something a little healthy this year for your holiday treat, give these a try.

Recipe adapted from Mary Vance, NC

  • 1/2 c. cocoa powder
  • 1/2 c. raw maca powder
  • 1 c. nut butter (almond, walnut, peanut, or coconut)
  • 1 Tbsp. virgin coconut oil
  • 1-2 Tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • dash of vanilla
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • cocoa powder for dusting

  1. In a large bowl blend the nut butter, honey and vanilla. 
  2. In another bowl mix cocoa powder, maca powder, cinnamon, salt and cayenne pepper.  Mix the dry ingredients into the wet until combined. Taste to make sure the flavors are good. (I wound up adding a little more cayenne for more of a kick)
  3. Roll about a tablespoon of mixture into a ball. Dust with cocoa powder and chill in the refrigerator for at least one hour.