Wednesday, January 1, 2014


Do you ever have that moment of, "Ugh, I really need to go to the grocery store because I have nothing to make for dinner!" even though your pantry is jam packed?  I took an inventory and realized that our kitchen is housing plenty of shelf stable meal ingredients, which means I can make dinner without a trip to the store.  Time to get creative!

The only fresh ingredient I had on hand: mushrooms.  Pantry finds: gnocchi from World Market and a packet of Alfredo pasta sauce mix.  I love alfredo sauce, but it's not the healthiest option to top pasta.  There are jarred "light" sauces out there, but I really can't get down with the flavor of alfredo sauce in a jar.  Knorr offers a variety of sauce starters, including alfredo.  If you use skim milk and a lighter margarine option, you can have creamy, dreamy alfredo sauce with minimal calories and fat. 

Freezer finds: Dorot garlic and basil cubes.  Have you heard of these?  I found them at Trader Joe's and they are fantastic!  Mincing or crushing fresh garlic can leave your hands reeking for days.  Keeping fresh herbs in the kitchen and using them all before they go bad?  Impossible.

These cubes are perfectly portioned and live safely in your freezer, away from expiration danger.  You can read more about their magical powers here.

How cool are these?

I sauteed the mushrooms for about 15 minutes while waiting for the water to boil.  Throwing dry mushrooms in a pan without any oil or liquid always makes me nervous, but then I remember how much liquid they are holding.  After only a couple of minutes, they release enough moisture to cook themselves way down.  After they've cooked for a bit, add some salt and pepper.

Help me!  I'll burn without any cooking liquid!

Just kidding!  I make my own*

Meanwhile, boil your gnocchi and get started on that sauce.  Once sauce is simmering, whisk in 3 basil cubes and 1 garlic cube.  The gnocchi only take about 3 minutes, then they float to the top and are done!  Drain, then throw in the saute pan with the mushrooms.  Pour on sauce and stir to combine.  Done!  I've also made this alfredo sauce with mushrooms and spinach, then mixed it with hot, cooked pasta or tortellini.  Equally delicious.


1 package gnocchi, 16 oz
1 package alfredo sauce mix, plus required milk and butter
2 packages sliced mushrooms, 8 oz each
3 basil cubes, or fresh basil
1 garlic cube, or 1 clove minced garlic
salt and pepper, to taste

Boil gnocchi according to package directions.  Saute mushrooms for about 15 minutes, while gnocchi water comes to a boil.  Prepare alfredo sauce according to package directions, adding basil and garlic.  Drain gnocchi, then saute with mushrooms for about 5 minutes.  Pour on alfredo sauce, season with salt and pepper, then stir to combine.  Serve immediately, with grated parmesan if desired.  

*Yes, there were talking mushrooms in this post. 

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