1

Zucchini Pancakes

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Happy September!  Today is the kiddos first day of school.  My daughter starts 4th grade and my son starts 2nd grade.  We had such a great summer and they were NOT looking forward to heading back to school.  They were looking forward to seeing their friends and meeting their new teachers.  They were not looking forward to early bedtimes and homework.  However, with Labor Day and the Jewish holidays, I don’t believe they have a full week of school in September, so they have some time to adjust to this whole back-to-school thing.  Hopefully I will be able to adjust as well.  Returning from our Disney trip and then getting thrown right into the whole school/activity schedules and routines has me a little stressed.

I have mentioned before how much my kids love breakfast for dinner.  And while I wasn’t able to grow any of my own zucchini, (even though I tried!) they are always cheap enough at the grocery store.  For those of you lucky enough to have a garden full of zucchini, I am jealous!  This pancake recipe is a great way to use some of them up and sneak some additional veggies into your child’s breakfast, or in our case, dinner.  When my son heard what I was making for dinner, I of course got a response of “but I don’t like zucchini pancakes!”  He then proceeded to eat 4 of these pancakes at dinner.  This was a winning recipe at our house!

Zucchini Pancakes
Recipe adapted from Two Peas & Their Pod

Ingredients:
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoon granulated white sugar
2 cups almond milk
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups grated zucchini, squeezed dry
Maple syrup and butter, for serving

Directions:

1. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon brown sugar and white sugar.

2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the almond milk, melted butter, eggs, and vanilla extract. Pour liquid ingredients over dry ingredients, stirring until just combined. Fold in the zucchini.

3. Heat a large pan or griddle to medium heat. Spray with cooking spray. Pour about a 1/2 cup of batter onto heated skillet. Cook until surface of pancakes have some bubbles approximately 3 minutes. Flip carefully with a spatula, and cook the other side until lightly browned, an additional 2 -3 minutes. Continue making pancakes until all the batter is used. Serve pancakes with butter and maple syrup, if desired.

 

3

Family Armchair Travel: Israel

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As mentioned yesterday, our subscription to International snack box Universal Yums!  sparked the idea of our family to armchair travel to the featured country each month.  May’s snack box featured country was Israel, so off we went!

Prior to receiving the box, I knew that the featured country was Israel.  I printed up a blank flag of Israel found at Coloring Castle and using an online picture I had my son color the flag (see picture above).   We have a children’s atlas and the kids found Israel.

We watched volume 1 of Shalom Sesame: Welcome to Israel.  This is a 12-DVD series that includes episodes on Passover, Purim, Shabbat and more.  My children are almost seven and nine years old.  I figured that this DVD was going to be too babyish for them.  Although Sesame Street characters like Grover and some new characters from Israel are featured, this DVD was surprisingly informative and engaging for even my older children.  Viewers accompany Anneliese as she goes to Israel to visit a relative.  You get to see the sights and food of Israel and meet children from the country.  Hebrew words and numbers are also introduced.  There’s a special appearance by actress Christina Applegate who teaches viewers the different meanings of “Shalom.”  (We borrowed this DVD from the library.)

We read the following books:
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Count Your Way Through Israel by Jim Haskins
Rating:  3 out of 5 stars

This book was published in 1990 and has a dated look and feel to it.  There’s an informative introductory note that gives a little background information on Israel and the alphabet and pronunciation of some of the letters.  The book counts from 1 through 10 showing the Hebrew word and pronunciation for each number.  It also connects each number to information about the country.  While the Four Questions is appropriate for number 4, for the number 5 Haskins writes about five agricultural products that Israel is known for.  The book also shows illustrations, whereas I think photographs would be much more engaging.  This book had difficulty holding the interest of my six year-old son.  (We borrowed this book from the library.)

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Exploring Countries: Israel by Joy Gregory
Rating:  4 out of 5 stars

This book is part of the Exploring Countries series AV2 Media Enhanced Books collection.  There’s a special code in the beginning of the book that when input into the AV2 website makes a variety of additional resources available to the reader.  This is one of the most recently published children’s books about Israel.  It includes information about the land and climate, plants and animals, goods and services and much more.  The supplemental online media includes videos, quizzes and activities.  Each set of pages includes a “By The Numbers” feature, with factual information relating to the particular topic.  For example, under Politics and Government, the “By The Numbers” feature notes that Israeli citizens can vote at the age of 18 and that there are 15 judges on Israel’s Supreme Court.  The book is colorful and includes lots of photographs.  The text on each page is semi-lengthy and the book is geared towards older elementary students.  (We borrowed this book from the library.)

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The Remarkable Journey of Josh’s Kippah by Barbara Elissa
Rating:  2 out of 5 stars

In this picture book, we follow a kippah from Joshua Jacob’s Bar Mitzvah as it travels around the world.  From Rosh Hashanah to Yom Kippur the kippah travels from New York to places like Israel, Argentina and Miami before making its way back to New York.  Unfortunately, we were not big fans of this book.  There were lots of words that many readers may be unfamiliar with.  While there’s a glossary in the back of the book, the number of words that are unfamiliar, and not defined in the story, disrupt the flow of the book.  While many Jewish holidays and special days are identified in the story, there’s little to no description as to what the day is about. This was not a favorite book of ours. (We borrowed this book from the library.)

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Welcome to Israel by Elma Schemenauer
Rating:  3 out of 5 stars

This book is part of the Welcome to the World! series from They Child’s World.  This book is a little older, but still very informative.  Again, the amount of info and detail in this book makes it geared toward middle to upper elementary students.  It covers information about the land of Israel as well as its people, food, holidays, school and work.  At the back of the book there’s a list of famous people from Israel as well as a glossary and pronunciation guide for some basic Hebrew words.  This book was informative but did not keep my six year-old son’s interest.  (We borrowed this book from the library.)

To finish up our Armchair Travel we ate some Israel-themed dinners. 

The Weekend Chef’s family is part Jewish, so we celebrate Passover and Hanukkah with them.  Our kids are familiar with latkes, gefilte fish, matzo ball soup, matzo and haroset.  I wanted to make some dishes that were new to us.

I made Fresh Mozzarella, Mushroom and Eggplant Shakshuka from blog May I Have That Recipe?  Although, my shakshuka didn’t come out quite as pretty as theirs!  I served this with some Italian bread which we used to scoop up the sauce and veggies.  I was pleasantly surprised that both kids ate this, eggplant, mushrooms and all.

I made a whole roast chicken in the slow cooker and made Noodle Kugel from the Food Network to go with it.  The kids loved this sweet noodle dish!

The last dish I made was Baked Falafel, adapted from allrecipes.com with a Tomato and Cucumber Salad.  This wasn’t a new dish for us, but I hadn’t made it in a long time.  I love falafel  but the kids aren’t the biggest fans.  They ate theirs mixed with the tomato and cucumber salad inside their pita.  I wanted to have them try it again before we had the falafel-flavored snacks in the Universal Yums! snack box.

We are looking forward to see where we will be traveling next month!  Stay tuned so you can travel along with us!

 

Shrimp Marinara Soup

Shrimp Marinara Soup

Soup in April?! This Shrimp Marinara Soup recipe was in Cooking Light’s May 2014 issue, so, yes, soup in April is totally acceptable!  Although this past weekend was GORGEOUS, today is supposed to be rainy and in the 50’s.  Perfect soup weather to me. I don’t cook with shrimp often, but I should.  Especially because my little guy loves shrimp so much. This meal was super quick and easy….I mean, 25 minutes or less easy!  And the kids loved it!  If you have kids that are not very adventurous eaters you many want to try this recipe out. It has pasta and marinara sauce, both ingredients that most kids are familiar with and like.  You can try cutting the shrimp up into smaller pieces, so they’re not so intimidating. Feta is pretty tangy, especially for those not familiar with the taste. However, my daughter, who is not a big cheese eater, enjoyed this soup even without the feta.

Shrimp Marinara Soup
Recipe slightly adapted from Cooking Light, May 2014

Ingredients:
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup white wine
2 cups unsalted vegetable stock
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup uncooked orzo
2 cups lower-sodium marinara sauce
16 ounces large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 ounce, feta cheese, crumbled (about 1/4 cup)

Directions:
1. Heat a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the olive oil, coating the pan. Add the oregano, pepper, and garlic and sauté for  30 seconds. Add the wine and cook 1 minute. Add the vegetable stock and 1/2 cup water to the pan; bringing to a boil. Stir in the orzo and cook approximately 6 minutes.  Stir in the marinara sauce and the shrimp, cooking approximately 4 minutes until shrimp are done. Spoon soup into bowls and top with approximately 1 Tbsp. crumbled feta.

5

Buttermilk Hush Puppies

 

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A couple of weeks ago, we posted our recipe for “Blackened Catfish.”  To accompany the fish, the Weekend Chef made these Buttermilk Hush Puppies.  For those unfamiliar, hush puppies are deep-fried cornmeal batter, often associated with Southern food.  They remind me of the corn fritters that my mom made us growing up, but smaller, and with cornmeal instead of flour. The Weekend Chef prefers chunkier hush puppies, so he added some canned corn to the mix to add some texture. They came out of the fryer hot and crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside.

Buttermilk Hush Puppies
Recipe adapted from allrecipes.com courtesy of Mama Smith

Ingredients:
1 quart vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs, room temperature
1 cup cornmeal
1 1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup canned corn

Directions:
1.  Heat the quart of oil in a deep fryer and preheat oven to 200 degrees F.

2. Whisk buttermilk, 1/4 cup vegetable oil and eggs in a medium sized bowl.

3. In a large bowl combine the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt.  Fold the buttermilk mixture and canned corn into the cornmeal mixture until just combined.

4.  When deep fryer is ready, drop tablespoon sized balls of batter into the oil, frying approximately 3-5 minutes.   Then turn each ball and fry an additional 3-5 minutes until each ball is cooked evenly and golden brown.  Remove the hush puppies with a slotted spoon and place on paper towels to drain.  Transfer the hush puppies to a baking pan and place in preheated oven to keep warm until ready to serve.

3

Southwestern Barley Chili

Southwestern Barley Chili

I was never a barley eater.  I had bad memories from back when I was a child being forced to sit at the dinner table and eat my bowl of chicken barley soup…..which I don’t think I ever did eat.  Since that time, I have never liked barley.  Recently, I discovered that I enjoy farro, which has a similar texture to barley and thought it was time to give the grain another try.  With all of the cold weather we have been having I’ve been trying to make lots of soups and chili and am always on the lookout for new and interesting recipes. This recipe inspired me to try barley again.  I figured the southwest flavors would appeal to the kids, while introducing them to barley for the first time.  I ended up discovering that although barley is still not my favorite grain, I can now eat and enjoy it!  Put some sour cream and cheese on anything and the kids will most likely eat it, including this!  This was a great chili variation and was a perfect dinner for a cold night.

Southwestern Barley Chili
Recipe adapted from Mel’s Kitchen Café, adapted from the back of the Quaker Medium Barley box

Ingredients:

  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup medium barley (not quick cooking)
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • dash cayenne pepper (more or less to taste)
  • 2-3 boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 1 1/2 pounds), cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 12 ounce bag frozen corn kernels
  • Optional Garnishes: shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, scallions, tortilla chips  (we used only shredded cheese and sour cream)

Directions:

  1. In a large stock pot combine the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, chicken broth, barley, water, chili powder, cumin, dried oregano and cayenne. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat and add the chicken, stirring to combine. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer the mixture for approximately 40 minutes.  Stir the chili occasionally to prevent sticking.  The barley should be tender and chewy and the chicken no longer pink.  After 40 minutes, add the beans and the corn, stirring to combine.  Simmer the chili for five more minutes, then serve with the garnishes of your choice.** Mel noted that the chili will thicken considerably upon cooling.  If reheating leftovers, you can add chicken broth or water as needed to achieve a desirable consistency.
2

Bruschetta Scones

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We are pretty new to the world of scones.  When I think of scones I always think of a sweet breakfast pastry.  So I was intrigued by these savory scones.  These had a great combination of flavors that the adults enjoyed.  The kids did not enjoy these as much.  I think that there were too many ingredients in these that the kids didn’t like – and it was too difficult for them to pick out the things that they didn’t want to eat!   These were a great addition to have with soup and were a nice change from the usual muffins and bread that I normally make.

Bruschetta Scones
Recipe adapted from Very Culinary adapted from BHG

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup almond milk
  • 1/3 cup virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup baby spinach leaves, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/4 cup green olives, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon Penzy’s Pasta Sprinkle

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 425 F. and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the milk, olive oil, spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, olives, and cheese.

3. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Make a well in the center and add the milk mixture; with your fingers or a fork, combine until moistened, being careful not to over mix.

4. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and pat it into a 1-inch thick rectangle. With a sharp knife, cut the rectangle on the diagonal into 8 pieces. Place scones on prepared baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes until golden. Cool slightly before serving.

1

Italian Herb Muffins

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Whenever I make soup for dinner I also try to make a muffin or a bread to go with it.  Soup just doesn’t seem filling enough as a meal by itself for me.   I love to make muffins because they’re so easy and leftovers can be eaten frozen and/or eaten for breakfast.  These are an easy to make, savory muffin.  As the Mr. noted, they have an almost biscuit-like consistency.  The kids were surprisingly not big fans of these muffins.  However, I think that these muffins made a nice side to have with our soup.

Italian Herb Muffins
Recipe slightly adapted from One Perfect Bite
Yield:  10-12 muffins

Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. Penzey’s Pasta sprinkle
3 tsps. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 egg
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Grease a 12 cup muffin tin (or you can use cupcake liners).

2. Combine flour through salt in a large bowl.  In another bowl combine the egg, milk and vegetable oil.  Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until combined.

3.  Fill muffin cups 3/4 full and bake in oven for 15-20 minutes until toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.  Cool for 5 – 1o minutes in the pan and then take the muffins out and let them continue to cool on a wire rack.

 

Sharing at the Tasty Tuesday Recipe Link-Up.

Red Curry Turkey and Zucchini Meatloaf in a Coconut Milk Red Curry Sauce

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Meatloaf just screams comfort food.  It is also a really versatile dish in that you can pretty much give it any flavor profile that you want.  Baking ground turkey made me a little hesitant, since it can dry out very easily.  However, the combination of ingredients in this recipe gives it enough moisture that the meatloaf stayed moist and there’s a sauce to add on top.  This meatloaf is packed full of flavor from the curry paste.  The kids ate this but didn’t love the sauce.  We served this with rice and veggies.

Red Curry Turkey and Zucchini Meatloaf in a Coconut Milk Red Curry Sauce
Recipe adapted from Closet Cooking

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 pounds ground turkey
  • 2 cups zucchini, shredded and squeezed to drain excess liquid
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoon red curry paste
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • zest of one lime
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/4 cup green onions, sliced
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

For the sauce:

  • 1 teaspoon oil
  • 2 tablespoon red curry paste
  • 1 (14 ounce) can coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoon lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons  sugar

Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Lightly spray baking sheet or loaf pan (if using) with cooking spray.

2. Combine ground turkey through the cilantro until mixed well.  Form into a meatloaf shape and place on baking sheet or put in loaf pan.  Bake for 45-50 minutes or until it reaches 160 degrees F. on a meat thermometer.

3.  While the meatloaf is baking, heat oil in a small pot over medium-high heat. Add the curry paste, heating for a minute or two.  Then add coconut milk through sugar stirring to combine.  Bring to a boil and then simmer for 5 minutes.

4.  Once meatloaf is done cooking, slice and serve topped with sauce.

Spicy Cider Beer Braised Chicken Enchilada Tacos with Sweet Chili Apple-Pomegranate Salsa

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As I mentioned yesterday, our supper club’s January theme was alcohol.  I chose beer, thinking I would make some type of beer-braised chicken dish.  When I found this recipe I knew this was what I was going to be making.  Saturdays are busy with our morning farmer’s market trip, my son’s basketball game, and our weekly trip to the library.  Tieghan from Half Baked Harvest, where I found this recipe, gives directions on how to cook the chicken in the slow cooker.  So, of course, I went that route! The name’s a mouthful, but the dish is oh so flavorful!  It went really well with the black beans and whiskey glazed carrots that other supper club members had made.   Everyone enjoyed these tacos!  The flavors of the spicy chicken mixed with the sweet of the fruit salsa worked really well together.  This is not a dish that I’d think of making for the kids, based on the “spicy” and “sweet chili” in the title.  However, we had lots of leftover chicken and for lunch the next day both kids ate tacos without the salsa.

Spicy Beer Braised Chicken Enchilada Tacos with Sweet Chili Apple-Pomegranate Salsa
Recipe very slightly adapted from Half Baked Harvest

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or grated
  • 2 chipotle chilies in adobo, minced
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne, or more or less to taste
  • salt and peper
  • 1 (8 ounce) beer
  • 1/2 cup apple cider
  • 1/2 -3/4 cup enchilada sauce
  • 8 warmed flour or corn tortillas, for serving
  • sharp cheddar cheese and queso fresco for serving

For the Sweet Chili Apple-Pomegranate Salsa:

  • 2 apples, finely chopped (we used gala)
  • arils from one small pomegranate
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • juice from 1 lime
  • 2-4 tablespoons sweet thai chili sauce

Directions:

1. Add chicken through enchilada sauce into crockpot. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours or low 4-6 hours. Shred the chicken and return to the crockpot. If needed cook the chicken oh high for 30 minutes with the lid off to help thin the sauce.

2. Meanwhile, make the salsa. Add the chopped apple, pomegranate arils, jalapeño, cilantro, lime juice and sweet thai chili sauce to a bowl. Toss well to combine, taste and adjust if needed. Cover and store in the fridge until ready to serve.

3. Once the chicken is done cooking, remove it from the pot and shred with two forks. Meanwhile reduce the sauce that is left in the pot down to about 3/4 of a cup. Add the shredded chicken back to the sauce in the pot and toss. Next add the enchilada sauce and continue to cook about 2 minutes or until warmed through. If the sauce gets too thick, add a splash of apple cider.

4. To serve, add the shredded chicken to a warmed taco shell. Top with cheddar, avocado and then the apple salsa. Sprinkle with queso fresco and chopped cilantro.

1

Ben’s Cognac Risotto

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We belong to a Supper Club with two other couples.  Each month we rotate hosting duties and each of the six members cooks a dish that fits that particular month’s theme.  We end up eating six awesome dishes each time we meet!  January’s Supper Club meeting was at our house,  with the theme being “alcohol.”  Each person chose a different alcohol and had to make a dish using their booze of choice.  The Mr. chose cognac and made this risotto. Risotto is a particular favorite of ours that requires a bit of time and attention to make well.  The combination of flavors in this dish really complimented each other and tasted amazing.  Supper Club was a perfect opportunity to make this recipe since this is not a dish that the kids would enjoy.  They both really dislike mushrooms even though are exposed to them every time it’s in a meal at home. For us, though, the umami of the mushrooms brought an extra comforting dimension to the richness of the chewy rice and cheese. The flavor of the cognac wasn’t overpowering and was one that we usually wouldn’t think of adding. Alcohol isn’t on our regular ingredient list for food, but it should be. Also, we probably should have made more risotto. There was only one lonely serving in the fridge after everyone left. We would definitely make this again.

Ben’s Cognac Risotto
Recipe very slightly adapted from Foodnetwork.com, courtesy of The Gambaro Family

Ingredients:

  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 15 small Portobello mushrooms– cleaned, trimmed and quartered
  • 2/3 cups cognac
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 7 cups vegetable stock (we used Better Than Bouillon, which we featured recently in this “Friday Favorites” post)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 medium shallots, peeled and minced
  • 1 3/4 cups arborio rice
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

Directions:
Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and saute until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add cognac, bring to a boil, and reduce the liquid by half, 3 to 4 minutes. Lower the heat to medium, add cream and simmer 5 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and set aside. Bring the stock to a simmer in a medium saucepan over medium heat.

Meanwhile, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons butter with the oil in a deep, heavy medium saucepan over medium heat. Add shallots and cook until soft, about 2 minutes. Add the rice and stir to coat with the butter and oil. Add simmering stock, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Wait until liquid is almost completely absorbed before adding more. This process will take about 20 minutes. The rice should be just cooked and slightly chewy.

Stir in the mushroom mixture and cheese. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper and serve garnished with parsley.