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Posts tagged “mushrooms

Creamy Mushroom and Leek Soup

These wintry days call for warm soothing meals at home.  Soup  with savory leeks and mushrooms in a creamy broth is the ticket.  Leeks are of the mildest among the onion family.  They cook up to be so tender and tasty and paired with the mild taste of mushrooms, this soup will melt away those chilly winds and give you plenty of energy to shovel the sidewalk yet again.  It’s so easy to make too.  All you need are:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 leeks cleaned and chopped in 1/4 inch slices
  • 5 mushrooms (any kind) thinly sliced
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely minced
  • 1 quart low sodium chicken broth
  • 3 cups milk
  • 3/4 cup cream (I used heavy)
  • 3/4 cup instant mashed potato flakes
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
  • a pinch of red pepper flakes
  • Salt and pepper to taste

First saute the leeks and mushrooms in the olive oil until  tender.  Add the garlic and stir it in to bloom the flavor  Add the broth, milk and cream and stir in the potato flakes.  Stir in the remaining seasonings and let it simmer about 3 minutes.

Now at least six of you can have a nice hearty bowl of soup to warm you up all over.  For extra hardiness you could add some left over chicken cut into cubes  or add more pepper flakes to clear the sinuses during a nasty cold.  This soup will provide relief and give you energy to muddle on through all that snow.100_1118

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When it’s 12° Only Soup Will Do

100_1038In the Region of Emilia Romagna in Northern Italy the tortellini was born.  It is unclear why it is named tortellini; perhaps because of the architectural structures using a tortoise shell for inspiration but also the pasta is called little navels (ombelico) reminding some of the navel of Venus.

This divine reference is perfect for how this tortellini soup tasted and warmed us through and through tonight.  I think Venus herself might have relished this soup.   Just smelling it cook gives one a feeling of warmth.

If you would like to warm up the same way just gather these ingredients from the pantry and refrigerator:

  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 white mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced100_1042
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 scallion, sliced thinly
  • a pinch each of salt and black pepper
  • 1/2 lb pork sausage or ground turkey (turkey will need Italian seasoning)
  • one 15 oz. can diced regular or roasted tomato
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • 2 beef bouillon cubes
  • 3 cans (from the tomatoes) water
  • 1/2 package thawed frozen spinach
  • 1/2 lb fresh 3 cheese tortellini

First, in a dutch oven or stock pot saute the onion, m100_1045ushrooms, garlic and scallion in olive oil until the onions brown a bit. Brown off the meat, add seasoning if necessary, then add the tomatoes with the juice to 100_1048deglaze the bottom of the pot.  Add the stock, cans of water, and bouillon cubes and stir.  When 100_1046the spinach is thawed remove half from the box and put it on a paper towel.  At the sink squeeze out as much liquid as possible, open the towel and place the spinach in the pot and stir until it breaks apart.  Let the soup come to a boil, add the tortellini and 100_1047let it boil for about 5 minutes or until the tortellini it is tender.

This only takes a little more time than boiling a big pot of water but instead of just hot water you get a delicious, nutritious body warming soup with such a depth of flavor you won’t believe could happen so fast.  It will fill you up as well.  On a chilly January night what more could one ask?

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A Pastry Full of Vegetables

100_8846I had this odd assortment of vegetables that I just knew would make a delicious lunch for us once I figured out a way to put it all together.  I thought for a while and decided a pastry crust could contain these veggies and they could be topped with a 100_8854tasty brown crumbly topping.  I was really on to something!

This variety of veggies had potential to blend well, with savory mushrooms and onions, the acidity of the tomatoes,  and the zucchini which would absorb any flavor …and be a fourth vegetable so I could say, “Ha, I ate four vegetables for lunch!”

First, I choped up all the vegetables in nice bite size bits and put them in a skillet with olive oil and some of my favorite herbs and spices.  I chose garlic powder, parsley, cayenne pepper, black pepper and of course salt.  I let them saute a bit and while I did, I began making a pastry crust sort of like pie crust but I added a little something special to give is a bit more savory flavor.

100_8847I saved the stock from a chicken I roasted a few days ago that tasted so good.  The flavor was still swimming around in this stock and was cold to boot, so I added it instead of water to the dough.  Turns out, this was a great idea.  The dough quickly 100_8849came together using a cup and a half of flour, 3/4 cup shortening cut into the flour, a couple pinches of salt and about 1/3 cup or so of the chilled and gelled stock.

100_8857I set that aside and continued cooking down the veggies.  I tweaked the seasonings to make sure they balanced well.   A splash or two of soy sauce helped brighten up the zucchini.  Between the tomatoes, 100_8860onion, mushrooms, and zucchini there was a lot of moisture to cook away and that took about 15 minutes on a medium heat with an occasional stir.  I added a bit of the chicken stock and let the sauce simmer down again.

100_8861Once the juices were reduced and a bit thicker, I dumped this out onto my pastry which was now waiting on my baking stone.  The mixture was a bit runny but I quickly folded the edges over to make a 100_8863100_8864large vegetable galette .  To finish it off, I mixed equal parts of Parmesan cheese and Italian bread crumbs in a small bowl, then added a splash of extra virgin olive oil and sprinkled this on top of the whole thing.

100_8866I baked this at 400° for about thirty minutes and WOW!  The smells that filled the kitchen were fantastic!  The crust, I could tell was going to be so flaky and tender…and it was.  The veggies and 100_8867seasonings, after cooking all together for so long, really blended well and the crust couldn’t have turned out better.

I just love it that I didn’t know what I was going to cook and suddenly something really wonderful was coming out of the oven.  The biggest joy of all though came from my husband when he said, “I hate mushrooms, yet I keep eating this.”100_8871100_8878


More Dehydrating

As I have posted before, dehydrating is a great way to store food.  When you dehydrate, you only take out the water…all of  the flavor and most of the nutrients stay in the food.  This week there was a great sale on green peppers, onions, and mushrooms.  These are things that I use a lot in my cooking…especially in cooking stews and soups.  Stews and soups are the foods that are really easy to make, and great to prepare when the weather is not the best.  In the summertime I hope to have food from the garden on hand that won’t need cooking.  Even so, the surplus from the garden with all its fresh flavors can be dried and stored as well.

We have a snow storm coming our way just now and besides stocking up last week, we have dehydrated several bags and trays of  mushrooms, onions and green peppers to use another day.  Dehydrated foods last far beyond the shelf life of regular canned items, decades beyond even.  To do this we have sterilized mason jars with lids,  and a special attachment that hooks to our Food Saver vacuum bagging system.  It cost about 25 dollars but is worth a lot more because we can seal up food that we purchase on sale that ten years from now will be maybe ten times the price.

49422The mushrooms we dehydrated cost us 69 cents per container, and the onions were on sale for 79 cents per bag (7 medium onions in each).  We use a lot of onions so roughly a dime an onion is a great deal.  Having them ten years from now because we dehydrated and stored them at that price seems even better.

49436So you might see that purchasing vegetables and even some meat when there is a really good sale makes for some super savings in the future.  It also takes up so much less space  storing these foods when you take out the water.   We  love to store food this way and store lots of vegetables from the garden this way, food on sale from the store, and food that our relatives have hunted and shared like deer meat.  I’ve posted on how to dry deer meat and beef before, also how to store vegetables like broccoli, tomatoes, potatoes, carrots, corn, apples, also herbs like parsley, cilantro, and basil.

In this photo you will see four containers of mushrooms in one Mason jar, also a bag of onions in one jar as well.  You could fit at  least three pounds of dehydrated meat in one jar, and a whole two bags of  frozen broccoli in one as well.  Ten green peppers chopped and with the stems and pith removed can fit into an 8 oz jar…yes, this is ten chopped green peppers we can preserve up to 25 years!  At any time we might toss a portion of these jars into a soup or stew and enjoy all the flavor it had on the day we dried it.  People all over the world have been doing this for thousands of years!

If you ever try to dehydrate apples, good luck getting them in storage.  They are so delicious that we can hardly help ourselves from eating the whole batch.  I think that they are  the best treat of all from the dehydrator.  A close second is corn and the tomatoes are third I think.  Corn makes a great crunchy snack and tomatoes are great when baked into bread and bagels.  We’ll have a tons of snack food some day if  stores can’t provide fresh veggies for what ever reason…snow storm, power outage, or the proverbial “Zombie Apocalypse” .  We’ll be OK by having prepared  just a little beforehand.  Anyone can do this if they put their mind to it.


And Now For Some Creamy Mushroom Soup

I’ve been cutting back on calories lately in the hopes of dropping a few inches around the middle.  There’s the insurance physical and a vacation to Houston coming up and I’m always looking for food that won’t hinder my progress (10 lbs now, woot!) but is big on flavor.  Here is another soup that is absolutely creamy, savory, and quite satisfying… even though each bowl is a mere 150 calories.

The next few pictures will show you how easy it is to achieve this rich and flavorful soup.  In a 5 quart saucepan, I saute the onions and mushrooms in a tablespoon of olive oil. I like to use Baby ‘Bella mushrooms.  They have a meatier texture.From the spice rack I grab the salt, pepper, garlic powder, corriander, thyme, cayenne pepper, and paprika and give a few healthy shakes of each.  Man, it smells good!Keep everything moving over the high heat until the onions and mushrooms are golden brown. Quickly add 32 oz of your favorite broth.  I used chicken, but beef or vegetable broth will also be fine.  The broth lifts that caramelized goodness from the bottom of the pan.I measure 1/2 cup cream and add three tablespoons flour and mix well then add it to the pot.  I also add an additional cup of cold water and three more tablespoons flour…it needed more thickening.  Always dissolve  flour into cold liquid before adding to the hot liquid or you will end up with little floating white lumps in your soup.Let it come to a boil, and turn down the heat to simmer.  It will thicken a bit after a while.  In the meantime I go outside to snip some fresh parsley.

 Now add the freshly chopped parsley to the pot, let it simmer about 15 more minutes and soon you will have a bowl of the most delicious soup.

You’d think that while we are experiencing  108° temperatures outside, soup would be the last thing  I’d want to eat.  I’m outside a lot and quite used to the heat.  108° is and all time record for St. Louis, in June and it is a bit extreme.  I have no desire to go out and do yard-work, but inside, in the air-conditioning, I find myself feeling a bit chilly.  So to strike a balance this soup really hits the spot.It’s time to get a bowl now…I like my soup with a little extra pepper.  Have a cool weekend!


Hooray For Grilling Weather!

You can’t resist an extra sniff at the air when a neighbor is cooking up something on the grill.  Today, I was the one stinking up the place with my grilled marinated zucchini, mushrooms, and chicken breasts.  After last weekend’s hailstorm, I welcome the sunshine and warm weather back to our area so I could fire up the grill.  Grilling in the backyard is my favorite Spring and Summer activity…oh heck, Fall and some of Winter too.  Today, there were fringe trees and roses blooming, making the fragrant air a sheer joy to breathe…  Added to it, that smell that is Barbecue.  Ahhhh!  I thought to myself,  “This is what Heaven must smell like!”

To prepare a marinate, I squeezed a good couple of tablespoons of honey dijon salad dressing into a gallon sized zip lock storage bag along with, 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, 1/4 cup soy sauce, 1/4 cup teriyaki sauce 1/4 cup Cabernet Sauvingnon, a few dashes of steak seasoning, a dash of cayenne pepper, and a teaspoon of dried parsley  leaves.  I used a ridged slicer to slice the zucchini in 1/4″ slices, then let all the vegetables soak for about ten minutes.  I then poured some of the marinate over three chicken breasts and let everything soak for about 20 more minutes.  The chicken soaked on a separate plate to not contaminate other food.

I prepared the grill by cleaning off the rungs of the grill and brushing them with a little olive oil.  I place the chicken on the hottest part of the grill and the zukes and mushrooms on the  lesser flames.  Within about fifteen minutes the vegetables were done having been turned once in that time, but the chicken needed more time and a little higher flame to get up to temperature but not burn.  Fifteen and ten minutes on each side got the job done.  In the kitchen I cut up some whole wheat bread into little points and we made little sandwiches with the vegetables and chicken…some,  just the vegetables.  There was no need for condiments…the marinate made for wonderful flavor and the perfect al dente texture of the vegetables made each slice of chicken burst with juiciness and incredible smoky and savory flavor.   This will become a weekly event during the warmer weather I’m sure.  I don’t think I could ever get tired of outdoor grilled food.  Apparently, others are in agreement.  There wasn’t a scrap left of this delicious food.


A Pasta Dish Without Cheese But With Yum

I’ve had a little one feeling under the weather this week…lots of tummy troubles.  Sometimes dairy products aggravate these kinds of troubles so I needed to come up with a few dishes with out our beloved cheese, butter, cream, milk, sour cream… tough it was!   Going without dairy was a particular challenge for this cheese loving bunch.  I needed to get my daughter to eat something, and could see that the little peanut had lost a bit of weight.  There isn’t that much there to begin with, so this is what turned her lack of appetite around…Angel hair pasta with mushrooms, leeks, and tomatoes in a chicken broth based sauce.  I was happy to see her eat a nice little bowl of it.  It was the first thing she didn’t turn down or just pick at, in a few days.

I started by boiling the pasta for about 7 or 8 minutes in a pot of lightly salted water.  In a skillet I got the leeks and mushrooms going in a little olive oil.  Then I added a bit of dry white wine…just a half cup, some chicken broth, about a cup and a quarter of that, and a tablespoon or so of lemon juice.  A seasoning of salt, pepper, a shake or two of garlic powder, and about a teaspoon of dried parsley flakes went in.   I used about a teaspoon of arrow root powder to thicken the sauce, so everything simmered and reduced by about one third.  At the end, the sauce had a little more body and the flavor was very nice.  Over the now drained angel hair pasta, everything went.  I stirred it all together and served my hungry little girl.   Not eating a proper meal in a while, she fairly gobbled up her supper.  I couldn’t resist, I had to add a little parmesan to the top of mine.