"Pearl Pasta" with Mushrooms

I've only had "pearl pasta" at DC's Central restaurant. They make a creamy mushroom pearl pasta "risotto" that's just divine. But, what I loved most about the dish is the tiny little pearls. It looked so unique, elegant, and had a wonderful bite...very different from any other pasta I've ever had. Ever since then, I've been keeping an eye out for this cute pasta, with no luck. Recently, I came across a box of "Israeli Couscous" at Trader Joes that appeared to look very similar. I was thrilled to discover that it's exactly what I was looking for! It definitely tastes more like a pasta than couscous, but call it whatever you want. Neil calls it "addictive", and I think that's the best description. Israeli couscous will be yet another staple in my home.
I didn't make Central's version of it because I wanted something more summery and light. So, I made it with cremini/shitake mushrooms, lemon, dill, thyme, and chives. It's delicious, refreshing, and light. And unlike "risotto", it doesn't need to be served right away. This tastes fantastic at room temperature, so I suggest you take this dish to a friend's bbq this summer. That's what I made it for. Oh, and this also fits my "need for ease" right now :) I'm going to try the "risotto" version of it soon.

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Berry Buttermilk Cake

I'm nearing the "home stretch" of my pregnancy and as many of you have noticed, my cooking/baking has slowed down quite a bit...although eating hasn't :) Most everything I make now has to be fast and easy. This cake definitely fits the bill. You don't need to have any baking ability whatsoever for this one, yet your guests will see you as quite the expert. This is my go to cake whenever I have a last minute guest or making an elaborate dinner which requires a super quick dessert. And it definitely doesn't look or taste "quick". It's incredibly light and moist with the perfect sweetness and tartness from the berries. Look at how pretty this will look on your kitchen table for the sunny, warm months ahead! And you have the satisfaction of it coming freshly baked from your oven in the same time it would take you to go out and buy one. It's best served as soon as it's cooled to take advantage of the sugary crisp topping. The cake stands on it's own, but serving it with freshly whipped cream or ice cream is how I like it. Make it with whatever berries look good that day. You're really missing out if you don't try this one!


Balsamic Onion Salad

I've never been a salad person, but to balance out my increased consumption of pepperoni pizza, I've been trying to incorporate it into my diet for my little peanut. This is not at all easy for me given that my idea of a salad has always been potato or macaroni salad :) So, obviously not any salad will do. Luckily the traditional salad that I usually dodge can be easily reinvented into exotic goodness.
The word "salad" doesn't do this yummy dish justice. Loaded with balsamic onions, figs, nuts, and cheese, not only is it healthy, but it's absolutely delicious. Customize this to your own liking by switching out different types of nuts, cheese, fruit, etc. Adding some roasted chicken or even sliced steak makes this into a fabulous meal as well. I'm still not a "salad person", but I've come a long way :)

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