there’s gonna be some changes ’round here. (pasta with portabella cream sauce and chicken)

Posted on Nov 30, 2010 in Food

This here blog of mine has been having an identity crisis since my very first post. I knew I didn’t want to log each and every morsel that went into my mouth, like a lot of healthy living bloggers do. While I enjoy reading the real time food logs, it just wasn’t a format that would fit into my lifestyle (or writing interest). I also knew I didn’t want to exist solely on recipes. A healthy lifestyle is so much more than food (although it is a big part of it) and I felt like just sharing recipes wouldn’t pique my interest either.

So in an attempt to solidify my goals here, let me list my known truths.

  • I love food. I love cooking. I’m passionate about real food and how it makes me feel.
  • Food, fitness, relationships, art, self-reflection, and fun are all elements of what make up my “healthy lifestyle.”
  • I’m a creative. Sometimes even an artist. It is a huge part of who I am, regardless of medium.

With all of these in mind, it was obvious that I needed to expand the reach of my blog past food and recipes. Obviously, not everything I’ve written about has been about food, but for some reason I always question publishing posts about non-food topics. Which is silly.

The sidebar of my blog says this:

This is the story of a girl. A girl who grew up playing in freshly-tilled soil and picking red ripe tomatoes. A girl who played basketball in her driveway and went on hikes in the woods. Somewhere this girl lost her way. Her world became ruled by deadlines, drive-thrus, and a desk-job. This is the story of a girl going back to her roots. Her healthy, happy, natural, and fresh roots.

And that pretty much sums up my mission. From here on out, I’m going to use that paragraph as my barometer for good blog content. Are my daily decisions (and blog posts!) adding up to me getting back to my roots (and/or creating new, healthy roots)? If they are, then that is the type of content and lifestyle I embrace.

So what does this mean in concrete terms?

  • More posts about things that make me happy beyond food and fitness. Wellness is not just about nutrition and exercise! My journey is mental and spiritual, too and that part has been seriously lacking.
  • Less posts that are meal centric. As in, less of “this is the grilled cheese I had for dinner tonight” and more of “grilled cheese : the ultimate in comfort food. why i love it.” More anecdotes, more stories, more fun, generally more interesting.
  • An idea from BTHRDad: A change in how recipes are posted. Recipes will still be frequent, but the format will shift. I’d expect a lot less measurements like tablespoons, ounces and teaspoons and a lot more glugs, spoonfuls and handfuls. Cooking to me is an art form and giving you paint-by-numbers for a dish isn’t very fun, now is it? I learned to cook from my parents by hearing phrases like “mix until it feels right” and that is how I still cook today. Of course, sometimes chemistry is chemistry (like baked goods) and we’ll have to be more precise.
  • Prettier photos. Better photos. More photos.
  • A change in tagline! While I love “eating my way through this ridiculous thing called life” it just doesn’t quite sum up who this blog is. Still thinking on this one. Suggestions are welcomed!

Made it through that wall of text? If so, you get handsomely rewarded with a recipe for a mushroom cream sauce that was excellent served on whole wheat spaghetti with chicken. Seriously excellent.

portabella pasta

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Pasta with Portabella Cream Sauce and Chicken

Serves 4

Large handful spaghetti
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 chicken breast
Medium onion, chopped roughly
2 portabella caps, chopped roughly
2 cloves garlic, chopped roughly
Pinch of dried sage
1 glug of wine (whatever you have open)
2-3 glugs of half and half
2 dollops of sour cream
1 glug broth (whatever kind you have handy)

Cook spaghetti according to directions, seasoning water liberally with salt. Drain and set aside. Season chicken breast with salt and pepper. Swirl skillet or dutch oven with olive oil, and cook chicken on mediumish heat until cooked through. Remove from pan and slice however you wish (shred, slices, chunks, on the diagonal). Set aside. In chicken pan, add another swirl of olive oil and saute onions, garlic, mushrooms, a pinch of sage, and a pinch of salt until onions are soft and mushrooms have lost most of the moisture. Add a glug of wine and allow to cook into mushrooms for a minute or so. Add half and half, sour cream and broth. Stir, bring to a simmer and cook for a few minutes until it thickens. Unless it doesn’t. Then add a spoonful of cornstarch to a cupful of warm water and add to sauce. Return to simmer and THEN cook until it thickens. It will this time, I promise. Toss with pasta and chicken and enjoy.

portabella

This is a good one, my friends.

portabella

First up, you want to cook your chicken. You could very easily make this chicken-less, I just had a few cutlets to use up in the freezer.

chicken

While your chicken does it’s thang, get to choppin’ your veg.

portabella

onions

No need to worry about winning beauty contests here—big chunks are fine. It will all cook down into a mushroom-y goo anyways.

portabella

onions

Chicken out. Veg in.

portabella

Add some more olive oil and a pinch of salt (to help draw out the moisture of the mushrooms) and cook ‘em down. While they are shrinking, slice up your chicken however you desire. I went for on the diagonal.

chicken

After your knife work is done. Pull out the wine. Any wine will work. White, red, whatever is open. Today’s winner is this Shiraz.

wine.jpg

Most important step in the recipe: pour yourself a glass.

wine

Seriously. VITAL. Oh, also put a glug (or two if you are feeling frisky) in with the shrooms.

portabella

Stop. Inhale the amazing wine-scented earthy steam and resist the urge to pick out and eat a perfectly caramelized and covered-in-wine piece of onion.

onion

Once the wine has been absorbed into the veg, whisk in your half and half, sour cream and broth. Green whisk owners of the world unite.

portabella

Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until the sauce thickens. Or if it never does (such is life), dissolve a spoonful of cornstarch in a cuppa warm water and add to sauce. Spoon over warm spaghetti and top with chicken.

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portabella

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Oh, and pour yourself some more wine.

13 Comments

  1. I LOVE THIS BLOG!!!

    I know I feel that way about each and every one of your blog posts but I feel extra warm fuzzy love for this one! I love all of your ideas and look forward to reading all of your stories and side comments and beautiful, funny, poetic, exquisite verbal wanderings. Honestly, that’s what I read your blog for! If I just wanted a bunch of recipes, I’d go buy a cookbook, right?

    And by the way, I am so planning on getting myself a set of condiment spoons as a reward for sticking to and completing all my teuxdeux lists for the month of December. I would have never discovered them if not for you!

    Thank You SO Much for inspiring me and making me smile every day!!! <3 :)

    • Aww, thank you SO much for the kind words! And I might have to steal the “If I just wanted a bunch of recipes, I’d go buy a cookbook, right?” quote. It is so true!
      And the condiment spoons are AWESOME. I want more. In every color!

  2. While I love your pictures and recipes, I’m looking forward to hearing more about your personal growth, your joy and life’s lessons as you continue exploring this crazy thing called life!! You’re so right, there really is more than just food involved in leading a joy filled life!!

  3. I think this is a great idea. It is something that I have been mulling over for the last few weeks with regard to my blog. Mine is mostly recipe-centric, but I have come to the realization that a recipe-centric blog may not be realistic for me to maintain.

    Pre-blogging I measured in “glugs, spoonfuls and handfuls”. I always had healthy tasty meals, but not all of them were food pairings that would conventionally be considered meals.

    I also find myself wanting to write a post because I have something great to say, but stopping myself because I don’t have a recipe to post with it. Silly, right?

    I still haven’t decided on my direction yet, but kudos to you for making a bold move! Good luck!

    • I think your blog should be a reflection of who you are “in the real world” and if it isn’t, the chances of it being maintainable are slim. Good luck figuring out your direction! :)

  4. Love this blog, excited to read as you change it!
    Oh and that dinner looks freaking amazing!!!!

    Jen

    • It WAS amazing! And really good for lunch the next day, too! :)

  5. Cooking, as with life, if best when neither science nor art dominate but rather enhance the experience. Looking forward to your blog taking on a tone more in the vein of the way I know you live your life.

    -gw-

  6. Your new format sounds great! I am really enjoying your blog and am interested in reading about all aspects of healthy living, not just the food and recipe part. I am a 44 year old working single mom (from Kirkland, WA in case you’re interested in where your readers are from). Posts and ideas you have for quick and healthy things (food, exercise, self improvement, etc.) are very much appreciated!

    • Thanks! I am so excited about my new format. It really feels like it “fits”. :)

  7. My blog has taken the exact same turn as of late and it will evolve even more once I go back to school in September and have bit more time on my hands. Until then, thanks for this post! It is a comfort to read that I am not the only one who questions whether or not a non-food post is acceptable!

    • Since I wrote this post, my blog has grown DRAMATICALLY. What I’ve found out? People love the variety. I myself have even gotten a little bored with blogs that focus so much on food diaries or just recipes. I read blogs to get a picture of a person, not just to get recipes. If I just wanted recipes, I’d read a cookbook.

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