Sunday, May 13, 2018

Cream of Mushroom Soup

I took my mom to Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, PA and then we had a late lunch at the Kennett Square Inn. This town is famous for its mushrooms, and we had a delicious cream of mushroom soup...could have eaten several bowls! Then we walked around to peruse the local shops, and found The Mushroom Cap, where I ended up getting an assortment of shiitake, oyster, portobello, cremini and button mushrooms. Time to look for mushroom soup recipes!!

You generally can't go wrong with Ina Garten's recipes, so mine is based on this one. However, I adapted based on what I had available as I didn't feel like making a trip to the grocery store, and also reduced the butter and cream because...good lord,'s still good with less. Subbed a coffee stout for the white wine. It definitely added a dark and bitter note, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. Also I generally don't bother with making my own stock, but 1) I didn't have any boxed stock, 2) I had some old carrots and celery moments away from being tossed, so obviously it was good to use those up. If you use boxed stock, I would maybe simmer it with your mushroom stems to extract that goodness.

Soup is forgiving, so use whatcha got in whatever quantities ya got!

Mushroom stock:
- mushroom stems
- roughly chopped carrots
- roughly chopped celery
- 1 onion, roughly chopped, including peel
- any other veggie peels, odds & ends
- 1 Tbl olive oil
- 1 tsp salt

Rest o' the soup:
- 1/2 stick butter
- 1-2 lbs assorted mushrooms (cremini/baby bellas are good if you can't find a variety), sliced
- 1 onion, chopped
- a few garlic cloves, minced
- 1/4 cup flour
- 1 cup stout, or other beer, or white wine
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1 cup half & half
- Optional: dash of Worcestershire sauce and/or balsamic vinegar

To make the stock, heat olive oil in a large pot and saute the veggies for a few minutes until they begin to soften. Add 6 cups of water and the salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat & simmer uncovered for 30 minutes. Strain and discard solids.

Heat butter in a large pot and saute onions until soft. Add the mushroom caps and cook for about 10 minutes, until browned & tender. Add garlic and a little salt & pepper, and cook for about a minute. Add flour, cook for a minute and then add stout. Stir and scrape the bottom of the pan. Add the mushroom stock and thyme. Simmer for about 15 minutes. Optional - run an immersion blender briefly through the soup, or puree 1-2 cups of it in a blender. You still want some nice mushroom pieces. Then reduce heat to low and add the half & half (use cream if you want; 2% milk or even non-dairy milk will probably work too). Add a dash of Worcestershire and/or balsamic vinegar if you want a little more depth. Taste for salt & pepper.

I also ended up adding a little instant mashed potato flakes at the end to thicken it up some more!

Monday, February 26, 2018

Chicken & Mushroom Stew with Herbed Quinoa

The other night rob opened the freezer and said "wow, it really makes me feel like an adult to have lots of meat stashed in the freezer with no immediate purpose." My reaction was...oh geez, I guess I should make something with that chicken I've had in the freezer for awhile. easy stew! This is also a bit of an advertisement for Penzey's Sunny Paris blend, which has shallots, chives, green peppercorn, dill, basil, tarragon, chervil and bay leaf. Feel free to sub whatever dried herbs you like!

Chicken & Mushroom Stew
- 4 boneless/skinless chicken thighs
- 1/2 Tbl Penzey's Sunny Paris or other dried herbs
- Olive oil
- 1 package cremini or button mushrooms, quartered
- 1 onion, roughly chopped (keep pieces large)
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 4 carrots, peeled & cut into ~1-inch chunks
- 2 Tbl flour
- 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1 Tbl dijon or whole grain mustard
- dash Worcestershire sauce

Cut the chicken thighs into about 3 pieces each. Season with Sunny Paris, salt & pepper. Brown chicken pieces in a Dutch oven or large pot in oil (they don't need to cook all the way through). Remove chicken to a bowl and saute mushrooms in same pan in some additional oil. If bottom of pot is getting really dark, splash in some chicken stock. Remove mushrooms (put in bowl with chicken). Add onion to pot and saute until just starting to turn translucent, then add garlic. Add flour and stir for a few seconds, then add chicken stock and thyme. Scrape up brown bits and stir. Add carrots, chicken and mushrooms back to pan, bring to a simmer. Cover pot and cook for about 15 minutes, until carrots are softened and chicken is cooked through. Add mustard and Worchestershire & taste for salt. Serve over quinoa.

Herbed Quinoa
- 1 cup quinoa
- 1 Tbl Penzey's dried shallots (optional)
- 1 tsp Sunny Paris
- 2 cups chicken stock

Combine ingredients in pot, bring to boil, cover and simmer 15 minutes or until quinoa is cooked through.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Sauteed Spiced Chickpeas / Roasted Sweet Potatoes & Broccoli / Spicy Hummus Drizzle

This was a good and easy "reset" meal after several days of not-so-good eating. I had turmeric rice with this - recipe over here. Number of servings...I dunno, depends on appetites and how big your vegetables are. Leftovers will keep in the fridge for awhile, so making a lot is good!

Sauteed Spiced Chickpeas:
Drain & rinse two cans of chickpeas. Let dry in a colander while you prepare other things, or dry on a clean kitchen towel/paper towels. Heat 2 Tbl of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Saute chickpeas, stirring frequently, until they get browned & slightly crispy - about 10-15 minutes. Turn off the heat and then add salt and whatever spices you like (I used a Cajun blend and smoked paprika).

Roasted Sweet Potatoes & Broccoli:
Preheat oven to 475. Peel 2 large sweet potatoes and cut into 1-inch chunks. Toss with a couple tablespoons of olive oil, salt and chili powder to taste. Spread out on a baking sheet. Cut 2-3 heads of broccoli into florets (stem pieces are good too). Toss with olive oil, salt, pepper & garlic powder. Spread out on another baking sheet. The sweet potatoes will take around 20-25 minutes, broccoli 15-ish. Toss once during baking. Lots of browning is good. This also works with frozen broccoli florets (don't bother to thaw); texture just won't be quite as firm.

Spicy Hummus Drizzle:
Put a couple large scoops of hummus in a small bowl and add a couple Tbl of lemon or lime juice, and sriracha or other hot sauce to taste. If it's not a "drizzly" consistency, add a little water.

Pile the turmeric rice and everything else into a bowl or on a plate and drizzle the hummus sauce over everything.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Spaghetti [Squash] Pie

Our CSA farm sent out an email ALERT!! that we should check out this post about spaghetti squash because we've probably been cutting it wrong all these years. I too have been in the lengthwise-cut camp but it's true - cutting it crosswise through the middle results in longer spaghetti-like strands...I tried it for this dish.

I like spaghetti squash and I also like carbs, so I don't necessarily view it as a carb substitute. I kinda dreamed this recipe up and it came out well! Spaghetti squash is combined with angel hair pasta (you could use actual spaghetti but I think angel hair blends well with the squash) and alfredo sauce for the "base," then it's topped with a tomato-meat sauce & cheese and baked. You could use spaghetti squash alone if you want to low-carb-it (the base makes a quite a lot if you combine it with pasta). You could also use 1/4 box of the angel hair. This can also be made vegetarian by omitting the meat, or you could add mushrooms or whatever other veggies you like to the tomato sauce.

Though I'm generally not a huge fan of jarred alfredo sauce, it works well here to give a creaminess to the base. You probably won't use the whole jar - try 1/2 and then add as needed - it shouldn't be too gloppy.

You can also make all the components in advance and then assemble & bake; I'd guess you can also assemble & refrigerate to bake later - probably increase the baking time.

1 spaghetti squash
olive oil
1 lb ground beef
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves (or more) garlic, chopped
1 24-oz jar tomato-based pasta sauce
Italian seasoning
1/2 box angel hair pasta
1 15-oz jar alfredo sauce (you probably won't use it all)
garlic powder
2 cups grated mozzarella or Italian blend cheese

Preheat oven to 400. Prick the spaghetti squash in a few places and microwave for 5 minutes to soften a bit. Take a thin slice off each end and then slice in half crosswise through the middle. Scoop out the seeds. Stand each "bowl" upright on a foil-lined baking sheet, brush flesh with olive oil, sprinkle with salt & pepper. Bake for ~40 minutes or until tender (err slightly underdone). Let cool.

Brown the ground beef in some olive oil, season with salt. Drain off most of the grease. Add onion & garlic and cook til onion is translucent. Add pasta sauce & Italian seasoning and simmer on low for a few minutes.

Boil angel hair until barely al dente in a large pot. "Fork" the spaghetti squash to get long strands. Drain pasta, return to pot and combine with the squash. Add 1/2 jar of the alfredo sauce, a little garlic powder, salt & pepper and toss to combine well. Add more alfredo sauce if needed - it should be lightly creamy but not gloppy.

Reduce oven temp to 375. Butter or spray a 9 x 13 baking dish. Spread the squash/pasta mixture in the dish, top with the meat sauce and then grated cheese. Bake for 30 minutes. Let sit for 10 minutes before cutting.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Ginger-Herb Chicken with Turmeric Rice & Roasted Sweet Potatoes

An easy and colorful/flavorful dinner! I've made this chicken before but it's been years - it's based on a recipe in Joy of Cooking, and I'd forgotten about it because a blender/food processor is needed to make the marinade, and I'd been without one for awhile. You can use any chicken parts - boneless thighs or breasts, or bone-in whatever - just adjust the baking time. This would also be great on the grill. I baked boneless thighs for about 40 minutes and the sweet potatoes were done in about 30. You could also be more judicious with the marinade and save/freeze half for later. Also - this meal is apparently a Penzey's ad!

Ginger-Herb Chicken
- 1 large knob fresh ginger, peeled & large-diced
- 1 bunch cilantro
- 1 small bunch fresh mint and/or basil and/or parsley
- 3-4 garlic cloves
- 1 lime, zested & juiced
- 2 Tbl toasted sesame oil
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/2 Tbl (or more) red pepper flakes
- 1/2 Tbl kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 4-6 chicken parts

Put all the marinade ingredients in a blender or food processor & pulse until still slightly chunky. Put the chicken parts in a ziploc bag or bowl & pour marinade over. If possible, marinate in fridge for at least an hour. Then pour everything into a baking dish & bake at 425 until done (run under broiler for a little browning).

Turmeric Rice
- 1 Tbl olive oil
- 1 tsp black mustard seeds
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 2 cups jasmine or basmati rice
- 1 tsp salt
- optional: palmful of Penzey's dried shallots

Put the olive oil & mustard seeds in a medium-sized pot & turn on heat to medium. When seeds start to pop, add rice & turmeric. Stir & toast for about a minute, then add 3 cups water & dried shallots (you could also saute a fresh shallot or small onion along with the mustard seeds). Cover & bring to boil, then reduce heat to low & cook 15 minutes.

Roasted Sweet Potatoes
- 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled & cut in large cubes
- olive oil
- salt
- chili powder (I like Penzey's Chili 9000)

Toss sweet potato cubes with oil, salt & chili powder. Spread on foil-lined baking pan & roast at 425 until done, stirring once (~30 minutes).

Friday, January 27, 2017

Mujaddara (Rice & Lentils with Onions)

I've been meaning to try this Middle Eastern dish for awhile. Very easy, cheap and makes a big pot. There are apparently a ton of variations (one of those dishes where every family has their own version) - as usual I looked at several recipes and cobbled together my own. Spice-wise I think you're at least supposed to use cumin - ground is also fine. But you should head on over to Penzey's and stock up on lots of spices! It looks like the more traditional versions also call for truly frying at least half of the onions until they're brown/crispy and topping the dish with them. That sounds delicious...but I kept it simple and cooked all the onions into the dish.

I served this with a cucumber & cherry tomato salad and plain Greek yogurt.

1 cup brown lentils, rinsed
3 onions, halved, peeled & sliced
olive oil
1/2 Tbl cumin seeds
1 tsp black mustard seeds
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 cups rice (I used jasmine)
3 cups broth or water
1 tsp Zartar
handful of chopped cilantro (parsley and/or mint would be good too)
squeeze of lemon juice

- Cover lentils with water by a couple inches, bring to a boil and simmer (covered) for about 15-20 minutes, until slightly soft but not completely done. Drain.
- Meanwhile, put a large pot over medium heat and add a good amount of olive oil. Saute onions with a pinch of salt until the lentils are done - they should reduce a good bit and get browned.
- Add the cumin, mustard seeds & cinnamon. Let the seeds get a bit toasted and then add the rice. Cook and stir for a couple minutes, then add the lentils and broth. Cover and cook on low heat until rice is tender (about 15 minutes for white jasmine rice).
- Add the Zartar, herbs and lemon juice. Taste for salt & pepper. Turn off heat, cover and let sit for about 5 minutes before serving.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Mexican Chocolate Shortbread

I don't really have the patience for baking, unless I make plans for it. Sometimes you just want Christmas cookies and don't want to put in much effort. This is why shortbread exists! I recently received a free jar of cocoa from my last Penzey's order, and got an idea...

This spicy chocolate shortbread is a conglomeration of various recipes I found online (as is my style). You could add more ancho powder to make the heat more pronounced (or use chipotle, or add some cayenne), but this is a pretty subtle warmth. Not too sweet and makes a smallish recipe (perfect for NOT sharing, if that's how you roll).

- Cream 2 sticks of butter and 1/2 cup powdered sugar (I used salted butter, if you use unsalted add maybe 1/4 tsp of salt to the recipe).
- Whisk together 2 cups flour, 1/2 cup cocoa, 1/2 tsp cinnamon (or more) and about 3/4 tsp ancho chile powder. Add to the butter/sugar and mix until combined.
- Line an 8" square pan with plastic wrap (wax or parchment paper might be better, but I didn't have any, and plastic wrap worked). Dump the dough in the pan and press in until flattened.
- Chill dough until firm but not totally hard (I did 20 mins in fridge and 10 in freezer 'cause I was getting impatient).
- Lift dough out by the wrap and cut the square in half. Then cut each half into 8 rectangles. [ If I made this again, I would cut those further in half for smaller pieces (easier to transport without breaking, and these are pretty rich) ]. Prick dough all over with a fork and sprinkle with sugar. Transfer pieces to a cookie sheet.
- Bake at 325 for about 25 minutes.