Tag Archives: parmesan

Baked Macaroni and Mushrooms

Baked Macaroni and Mushrooms from Taste Love & Nourish

Something happens the moment I twist open a bottle of a spice or an herb and the fragrance hits my nose.  I’m taken back to my Mom’s kitchen where the child version of myself lingers as she cooks.  I can almost taste the food on my tongue.  This is what makes cooking so compelling. The smells and tastes stay with us forever. Then, when we come across them again, even much later into adulthood, that tie to our past, our parents and families, becomes so tangible.
To me, dinner time is the best part of every day. It’s that moment we all come together to share both the good and bad. I know we all have those dishes that remind us of family and of home. You may remember my recipe for Macaroni au Four, a baked macaroni dish. Pure comfort food that I make anytime anyone in the family needs a little extra love and a taste of home. It is a favorite of both of my kids. My son asks for it every single time he’s home from college, so I make it fairly often. When my daughter made the decision to stop eating meat a few years ago, the one thing she missed was this dish. It has a really unique ground meat center, spiced with a bit of allspice. Whenever I made this, I’d make one small casserole for her with just the macaroni in béchamel. She loved it, but it was missing that wonderful flavor of the allspice. She is a huge fan of mushrooms, so one day, recreated the dish substituting mushrooms for the meat. It was incredible. It has become a regular on our dinner table.

Baked Macaroni and Mushrooms from Taste Love & Nourish

I use McCormick spices, just as my Mom did when I was young. Two key flavors in this dish are McCormick’s allspice and nutmeg. I use allspice a lot. I love it paired with meat. It has a warm, sweet flavor with a really distinctive scent. Nutmeg, too, has a warm and almost sweet taste and is essential when making the perfect béchamel. Use it sparingly, but as soon as you stir it in, you’ll taste the subtle difference it can make.

Do you have your own secret spices or herbs you use in a family recipe, too? Share your stories and recipes below as part of McCormick’s American Homemade program. You may also want to head over to McCormick’s page and create a FlavorPrint account. I’ve created my own FlavorPrint profile and have found some really wonderful new recipes based on my flavor preferences. FlavorPrint is a tool that provides recipes and recipe ideas based on a few questions you’ll answer about tastes, foods and flavors you love. The more you use FlavorPrint, the more familiar it becomes with your preferences. Sign up now to find recipes you and your family will love. It’s fun!

Baked Macaroni and Mushrooms

2 T. olive oil
16 oz. mushrooms, stems trimmed and sliced
1 large shallot, finely diced, about 1/3 C.
1/2 t. McCormick allspice
salt and pepper

4 T. butter
1/3 C. all purpose flour
4 1/4 C. warm milk
1/4 t. McCormick ground nutmeg
salt and pepper
1 T. grated Parmesan

1 lb. penne pasta (I use mini penne)
sea salt

In a 12” sauté pan over medium heat, combine the olive oil and the mushrooms. Continue cooking until the mushrooms begin to brown. Add the shallots. Continue cooking until the mushrooms are a deep brown (see Notes) and the shallots have softened. Add the allspice, salt and pepper.

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk for 2 to 3 minutes. Do not allow the mixture to get too much color. Whisk in the warm milk and increase the heat to medium high. Once the sauce begins to gently boil, reduce the heat and cook for about 5 minutes, whisking frequently. Add the nutmeg, salt and pepper. Set aside until ready to assemble.

In a large pot, bring about 5 quarts of water to a rolling boil. Add the sea salt and the pasta. Refer to the package for cooking time. Stir frequently, until the pasta is cooked to al dente. Drain in a colander and assemble with the other ingredients immediately.

In a large, lightly greased casserole dish, spread about 1/2 cup of the béchamel followed by half of the pasta. Next, add all of the mushroom mixture and spread evenly over the pasta. Add the remaining half of the pasta and spread it evenly over the top. Pour the béchamel over the pasta covering the entire casserole. Sprinkle the Parmesan lightly on top.

Bake in the oven uncovered for about 40 minutes or until golden brown on top. Allow to sit for at least five minutes before serving.

Baked Macaroni and Mushrooms from Taste Love & Nourish

  • When cooking the mushrooms, you’ll want to get them quite brown. That is how you’ll get the most flavor from them and it will prevent them from watering down your casserole. One important key is to never salt them until the very end when they are their deepest brown. The salt can draw the moisture out if added too early and will make it hard to cook them properly.
  • If you do not have shallots, go ahead and use half of a medium onion. It will still be fabulous!

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of McCormick. I was compensated for my work. All opinions and text are one hundred percent my own.


Shrimp with Pancetta and Peas Over Soft Polenta

Shrimp with Pancetta and Peas Over Soft Polenta from Taste Love & Nourish

As much as cooking is a passion of mine, finding a meal that comes together quickly, simply and impressively is like finding a five pound box of jumbo shrimp at my door! So, imagine my happiness right now…I’m one of thirty food bloggers chosen to participate in a Shrimp Showdown hosted by OXO and the NFI Shrimp Council. So, with a box full of OXO tools and another of jumbo shrimp, I’ve come up with a simple recipe perfect for a quick weeknight meal and special enough for fuss-free entertaining.

We love seafood, but shrimp may be our favorite. What I love about shrimp is its versatility. It just melds with any variation of flavors. I have to tell you, I had a very long list of ideas for this project and at some point, I’ll share them all with you, but I wanted this to be something simple that can become your go-to recipe. The shrimp, as you know, cooks in mere minutes, so, pairing it with a quick cooking polenta gives you this perfect dish that looks like you fussed…but you didn’t. No one has to know…I’ll keep that secret!

Shrimp with Pancetta and Peas Over Soft Polenta from Taste Love & Nourish

Shrimp with Pancetta and Peas Over Soft Polenta

Soft Polenta
1 1/2 C. milk (I use a low fat milk)
1 1/2 C. low sodium chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 C. quick cooking polenta
1/4 C. ricotta (I use fat free, but use what you have)
1 T. butter
1/8 C. grated Parmesan

Shrimp with Pancetta and Peas
olive oil
4 oz. pancetta, finely diced
approx. 1 lb. jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 medium onion, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 C. dry white wine
4 Campari tomatoes, quartered (you can also use about 1/2 C. of grape tomatoes halved)
1 C. peas, fresh or frozen
lemon zest
fresh parsley, roughly chopped

Prepare the polenta first. In a large saucepan over high heat, combine the milk and the broth and bring to a boil. Whisk in the polenta, reduce the heat to low and cook for about two minutes. Add the ricotta, butter and Parmesan. Cook for another 30 seconds. Cover and remove from the heat. Set aside.

In a 12 inch skillet over medium-high heat, drizzle just a tad (about 1 teaspoon) of olive oil and add the pancetta. Cook until the fat is rendered and the pancetta begins to crisp a bit and get golden. Remove the pancetta with a slotted spoon onto a plate. Add the shrimp to the pan and cook for just about 2 minutes per side. Do this in two batches to avoid crowding the pan. Once the shrimp are cooked, move them to the plate with the pancetta. You may need to add another small drizzle of olive oil to the pan. Now, add the onion and be careful to just sweat the onion. You don’t want to brown it. As soon as the onion is translucent, add the garlic. Cook for just a minute and add the white wine. Simmer for another minute and add the tomatoes and peas. After one more minute add the shrimp and pancetta back to the pan and immediately remove the pan from the heat. Toss everything together.

To serve, divide the polenta between four dinner plates, top with the shrimp and pancetta and sprinkle on some lemon zest, parsley and some extra grated Parmesan.

Serves 4

Shrimp with Pancetta and Peas Over Soft Polenta from Taste Love & Nourish


  • The polenta will seem a bit loose right after you’ve made it, but this is intentional. As it sits, it will thicken up and become the perfect consistency for serving. If you like it even more loose, feel free to whisk in a tiny bit of warm milk before serving.
  • I love adding the ricotta to this polenta, but if you don’t have any…the recipe will still work fine. It does add a bit of creaminess that I really like.

Another key to bringing this together quickly and easily is working with great tools. I’d never seen this OXO tool before, but their Shrimp Cleaner is very cool! I was intimidated just looking at it, but once I tried it…I was impressed. It removes the shell and the vein in basically one step. Easy peasy. Some of their other tools I used are their 3 Piece Bowl and Colander Set for rinsing the shrimp, the Flexible Kitchen and Herb Snips for snipping fresh parsley and I absolutely love their 12″ Tongs with Silicone Heads. They get used on a daily basis in my kitchen and I love that they don’t scratch my pans in the process.

Lucky you…OXO and the NFI Shrimp Council are giving away a set of those tools and many more along with a $100 Visa card! Click to enter now!

Shrimp with Pancetta and Peas Over Soft Polenta from Taste Love & Nourish

The Shrimp Showdown Giveaway!

Click here to enter to win all of these great OXO Shrimp Tools ($80 value) and a $100 Visa Gift Card from the NFI Shrimp Council!

Disclaimer: This post and giveaway are sponsored by OXO and the NFI Shrimp Council. I was given the tools and the shrimp to provide a review. All opinions are one hundred percent my own.

Take a peek at all of the other food bloggers participating in the Shrimp Showdown!