Tag Archives: pasta

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.


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Bolognese Sauce

Bolognese Sauce - perfect comfort food from Taste Love & Nourish

Every once in a while, I get this nagging craving. It involves pasta, a hearty Bolognese and a glass of wine. If it’s a Sunday morning and there’s a chill in the air, that’s an added plus. I love to prepare this sauce on those lazy days where it can simmer slowly on the stove while I pad over in my slippers every so often to give the pot a stir. It fills the house with its wonderful smell, magnifying our hunger.

Bolognese takes some time…and some love. Enjoy the process. It makes it taste so much better in the end.

Bolognese Sauce - perfect comfort food from Taste Love & Nourish

Bolognese Sauce

1 T. olive oil
1 T. butter
1 medium onion, finely diced
2 stalks celery, finely diced
2 medium carrots, finely diced (See Notes for tip)
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 lbs. lean ground beef
1 1/2 C. dry white wine
1/2 t. allspice
1/2 t. nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste
1 C. low fat milk
28 oz. can whole San Marzano tomatoes, crushed by hand, hard stem end removed, with juices in a bowl
28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 – 2 C. chicken broth

In a large heavy pot over medium heat, combine the olive oil and butter. Add the onion, celery and carrots. Sauté for about 8 minutes or until the onion and celery have softened. Add the garlic and continue to cook for just a minute. Add the ground beef. Cook until the beef has just begun to brown.

Add the wine. Simmer lightly for three or four minutes, then add the allspice, nutmeg, a bit of salt and pepper and the milk. Simmer lightly again for about five minutes. Add the tomatoes and just one cup of the chicken broth. Save the remaining broth to add as the sauce cooks.

Simmer on low heat for five to six hours, stirring every so often and adding more broth as needed. If you have a slow cooker, you can certainly put it in that at this point to simmer all day.

Serves 8 to 10

Bolognese Sauce - perfect comfort food from Taste Love & Nourish

  • An easy way to finely dice a carrot is to first cut a tiny bit off of one side so that the carrot will lay flat on your board. Then cut the carrot lengthwise into fairly thin slices. Cut those into strips, then cut across the strips into a fine dice.
  • Traditional Bolognese, from the Bologna region of Italy, is not eaten with spaghetti. That came to be popular in other countries in Europe. In Italy, Bolognese is usually served with a wider pasta like tagliatelle that can really hold up to a meat sauce. It’s also very traditional and wonderful in a lasagna paired with béchamel.
  • When serving the Bolognese with pasta, be sure to cook your pasta to al dente, with a little bite left to it. Then, toss the pasta with enough sauce to coat it and allow the pasta to absorb some of it. Serve in bowls and top with a bit more sauce. Don’t skip that step…it makes all the difference. No white pasta with a red blob of sauce in the middle…OK? ;)
  • On those days where I’m feeling indulgent, I love to add some pancetta to this. Use about an inch slab of pancetta. I like to freeze it for about thirty minutes to make it easier to cut. Then dice it finely and add it in the very beginning to render the fat out. Once the pancetta is nice and brown, remove it from the pan and continue with the recipe, omitting the butter from the ingredients. Add the pancetta bits back to the pot with the meat.


Bolognese Sauce - perfect comfort food from Taste Love & Nourish