Old Diary

Balsamic Mushroom Pasta

Mushrooms are among my favorite foods / flavors.  I have played with using balsamic vinegar in a variety of dishes, but it’s not a flavor I use very often.  So, this recipe on Pinterest piqued my curiosity.  We regularly do a meal we call ‘American Spaghetti’ which is very similar to this without the mushrooms, cream or the balsamic.  Then again I also do a knockoff version of carbonara that uses the cream and egg yolks.  This is somewhere in between. Enjoy.

Remember, I am king of the 20 minute meal.  Most of what I cook is ‘designed’ as low-impact cooking: good flavor, but not a lot of time in the kitchen.


PREP TIME 10 mins
COOK TIME 15 mins
TOTAL TIME 25 mins

Balsamic-Mushroom-Pasta2This recipe makes enough for 2 people with appropriate side dishes.  With a side of crusty bread you might squeeze three servings out of it.  If you’re a hearty eater and the pasta is all you’re having — you might need to multiply the recipe a little … some of us have been known to eat 3 or 4 ounces of pasta a person when in the right mood!

Get a big pot of salty water going for the pasta. While you’re waiting for it to come to a boil, prep the shallot, garlic, and mushrooms (or buy the pre-sliced ones!). Once the water is boiling, toss in the pasta and start heating the butter and oil in another pan and get going on the sauce. It comes together so quickly – just saute the shallots, garlic, and mushrooms in the butter and oil, deglaze the pan with some balsamic, and then add in the cream.

(If you are a one induction burner guy like me, you’ll realize as you read through this recipe that you need to change things around a little.  The whole sauté, deglaze, and saucing thing if fine if you’re going to cook pasta in one container while you are making the sauce in another.  But i’m sure you’re smart enough to figure that out, First, do your sautéing and deglazing, the reserve those things in a bowl while you’re pasta is cooking.  After you have drained the pasta then pop your almost completed sauce back into the pan, add the cream, extra butter, and let the sauce come together.  Sometimes doing the single burner thing is easier, other times it’s not! — in this recipe it’s not!)

Some parmesan and parsley finishes the whole thing off.


  • Balsamic-Mushroom-Pasta4 ounces fettuccine pasta
  • 2 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ¼ cup shallot, finely diced (if your RV’ing near some little town where you can’t find shallots, then use an onion instead — hey — gotta be flexible, right?)
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 8 ounces baby portabello mushrooms, sliced
  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar ( I might trim the balsamic a little, but that’s just me)
  • ¼ cup cream
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese, plus a few tablespoons for garnish
  • salt & pepper


  1. Cook the fettuccine according to the directions on the package. While the pasta is cooking prepare the mushroom sauce.
  2. In a large pan, melt 1 tablespoon of butter with 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Once melted, add in the shallots and garlic and cook for a few minutes or so, just until softened.
  3. Add in the sliced mushrooms and toss them around to get them coated in the butter and olive oil. If needed, add an additional tablespoon of olive oil if the mushrooms get too dry. Let them cook and brown for about 8 minutes.
  4. Pour in the balsamic vinegar and stir everything together making sure to scrape up all of the browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Add in the other tablespoon of butter. Cook everything together for a couple of minutes and then turn off the heat and move the pan off the burner.
  5. Pour in the cream and parmesan cheese and stir to combine.
  6. Add the cooked fettuccine to the sauce and toss to combine. Add in the fresh parsley and season to taste with salt and pepper (about a ½ teaspoon of each).
  7. Serve with additional parmesan cheese sprinkled over the top.

Minestrone – Rosemary Soup

I love soups — specially during the calendar winter months (no matter how hot or cold). I guess it’s part of my lifelong internal rhythms.  Ever 9 months I need hearty soup!

More importantly I crave recipes that use less meat or no meat. This one’s a simple winner.

A mix between minestrone and a rosemary soup, it’s oh so refreshing. This soup is chock full of vitamin-rich vegetables wrapped in a warm broth that feels just perfect on a crisp fall evening.


  • enhanced-4550-1415045416-151 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 28 oz can of diced tomatoes, not drained
  • 4 cup vegetable broth (use homemade if possible)
  • ½ tsp dried oregano
  • 1 cup pasta (not spaghetti or long noodles)
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained and washed thoroughly (or about a cup and a half of cooked chickpeas)
  • 1 bunch of Swiss chard, stems and leaves separated and chopped
  • salt
  • pepper
  • dash of red pepper flakes
  • parmesan, for garnish (omit to make vegan)


  1. In a large stock pot, heat the olive oil over medium. Add the onion, celery, and carrots. Saute for 5 minutes or until the veggies begin to soften. Next, add in the garlic and saute for another 30 seconds. Then add the tomato paste, vegetable broth, diced tomatoes (with the juices from the can), and oregano. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Let simmer for 20 minutes.
  2. Add in the stems of swiss chard, chickpeas, and pasta. Let cook for another 10 minutes. Finally, add the swiss chard leaves and let cook for 30 seconds or just until the leaves start to wilt. Remove from heat.
  3. Add salt / pepper / red pepper flakes to taste and top with Parmesan.

Yum OH!


Pan-Seared Brussels Sprouts with Cranberries & Pecans

Here in Wisconsin (and I suppose many other places too) fresh cranberries are hard to find anytime other than late fall.  I like this recipe.  It is best with fresh berries but it’s OK with Craisins.

The thing is…. I love pan-seared Brussels Sprouts.  And, barley has a glycemic index of 28 while white rice is way up to 89!  Similarly, a baguette (which I love) has a glycemic index of 95!  ARGH!  But, I like the flavor of barley!  So this is a win-win for me.   I do cut the maple syrup in 1/2, using 1/2 T instead of an entire Tablespoon.  I think I’ll swap out the syrup completely and use honey instead.

So — here goes…. try it.  You’ll like it.

Pan-Seared Brussels Sprouts with Cranberries & Pecans

Serves 3-4

  • 1 pound brussels sprouts, de-stemed and halved
  • 2/3 cup fresh cranberries
  • 1/3 cup gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
  • 1/3 cup pecans
  • 2 cups barley, cooked
  • 1/2 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • Olive oil
  • Salt & pepper

Heat skillet with drizzling of olive oil over medium heat. Season brussels sprouts with salt & pepper and combine with cranberries in skillet.

Pan Seared Brussels Sprouts

Old Diary

Cucumber Salsa

I have this thing about cucumber.  I love it.  Doesn’t have to be that poncy stuff from Europe with no seeds — just any cucumber will do.  I don’t even worry about taking the seeds out…. I gobble them up along with the meat.

I often do what my mom used to do — serve it with just a little vinegar and oil, or make a sour cream sauce.  What I rarely do is think of cucumber with a more savory taste.

This recipe is just amazing.  I love the hit of heat from the jalapeño, and I substitute parsley for the originally recommended cilantro.

Yield 2-1/2 cups

  • 2 cups finely chopped seeded peeled cucumber
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped seeded tomato
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
  • 2 Tbsp minced fresh parsley
  • 1 jalepeno pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 4-1/2 tsp minced fresh parsley
  • 1/4 c reduced-fat sour cream
  • 1-1/2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1-1/2 tsp lime juice
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp seasoned salt
  • Tortilla chips

If you like garlic go ahead and add 1 clove. Personally I have a hard time digesting garlic, so I don’t use it.   Go for it if you want.

Combine the first seven ingredients. Separately, combine the sour cream, lemon juice, lime juice, cumin and seasoned salt. Pour over cucumber mixture and toss gently to coat. Serve immediately with chips.

cucumber salsa1/4 cup (w/out chips) equals 16 calories

Recipe from Simple and Delicious magazine


Wondering About A Vegan Diet?

I’m trying to keep my mind off real estate.  Have you guessed?

We are getting close to mobility, but the tedium of waiting is wearing. So, diversion is the name of the game.  On the food front there is also that fact that we have to pare down our pantry — again.  The last 6 months we have had more pantry space, and we have been lulled into USING that space.  We have 3+ weeks to consume the gradual accumulation of 6 months in Cudahy!  It’s not a lot of food and we wont visit the grocer quite so often for the next month.

I’m eager to get into the RV in so many ways. “Mobility” looms as both a real objective and also a symbolic goal of getting past uncertainty. It’s also a goal for our diet. In the RV a combination of limited space and more active lifestyle resulted in a healthier and lighter diet.  It’s an excuse, but we / I have been eating for the wrong reasons; the tedium means it’s easy to eat as something to do, rather than because I’m hungry. I’m eager to get back to a more plant based diet.  We were very successful with it in Journey during our on the road time last year.

We aren’t eating more than normal.  I have been cooking an easier to prepare diet, meaning I’ve been gobbling some animal protein. I’m just too distracted to to plan a decent vegetarian day’s food.  The graphic is as much for my motivation as to share.


numeral 25

Twenty-Five days till closing?


Nut? So Good!

Do you like nuts?

I love them. All except Filberts. Not sure why the exception to filberts — just don’t like the taste I guess.

They’re great for you.  Check ’em out.

You love nuts?  I love nuts!  Oh So Good!

You love nuts? I love nuts! Oh So Good!

Today’s a travel day for us. We’re on our way to Bradd & Hall for the new floor and sofa.  We’ll drop Journey off on Monday morning.  We’ll return home later that day.

I’ll try to check in with you later in the day when we arrive in Elkhart.

Twenty-Six days till closing?

Twenty-Six days till closing?


Click on the image for a bigger view.  Vegan Energy


Vegan by the Numbers


Butternut Squash with Cinnamon, Coconut and Honey

Recipe Box

Another recipe in my series of vegetarian recipes to take along in the RV

I came across a blog that promoted the use of honey and cinnamon as an aid to good health.  No more had I saved that article for future reference than I came upon this recipe.

I usually prefer acorn squash to butternut, but in this instance the acorn doesn’t hold up as well.  So, I guess I’m stuck with the original recipe.

Give it a try…. It’s Scrummy!

All you need:

  • 1 Large butternut squash
  • Cinnamon (sprinkled)
  • Nutmeg (sprinkled)
  • Spinach
  • Raw Organic Unsweetened Coconut
  • 1 Gala Apple
  • Raw Organic Honey to taste
  • 1 Tsp Chia Seeds (actually — I prefer sesame seeds)


Dice up butternut squash.
Preheat oven to 365 degrees.
Spread butternut squash out on baking sheet.
Sprinkle with nutmeg and cinnamon
Bake for 20 minutes.
Take butternut squash out and flip.
Sprinkle more cinnamon and nutmeg on top.
Bake for an additional 15-20 minutes.
Let  butternut squash chill in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours.
Slice a small gala apple into thin slices.
Dip apple slices into honey
Coat the honey edges in raw unsweetened organic coconut.
Fill a bowl with spinach.
Top with one cup of butternut squash
Add apples and a sprinkle of Chia seeds
Drizzle one tbsp of honey over the top of the salad. If you don’t like honey, a raspberry vinaigrette or honey mustard would be a great salad dressing choice!

Butternut Squash with Coconut, Cinnamon and Honey

Butternut Squash with Coconut, Cinnamon and Honey