Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Easy Homemade Cream of Mushroom Sauce for October #Unprocessed

Today is the 1st of October. For me, it's a meaningful day this year. I'm taking a challenge by participating in October Unprocessed 2014

I am going to try to stay on track and not eat processed foods for the whole month. This is a challenge that's been going on every October since 2010. Andrew Wilder is the brains behind this wonderful madness. You too can participate in October Unprocessed 2014. Just visit Eating Rules and join in....the experience. I have a feeling your body will thank you.

What does unprocessed mean? I think people have a wide range of how far unprocessed can and cannot go. I personally like Andrew's definition....

"Unprocessed food is any food that could be made by a person with reasonable skill in a home kitchen with whole-food ingredients"

A lot of foods undergo some level of processing. It's just a matter of whether or not it can be done without all of the added junk. Not that you have to do it yourself (unless you want to) but you can eat things like cheese and pasta that you buy, just pay attention to the ingredients. You can use flour, just make sure it's not bleached and that it's not enriched.

Stuff like that is totally fine.

This isn't meant to make your life crazy. No one expects you to churn your own butter...just be mindful of the products you buy. Of course if churning your own butter is a life long dream of yours, and this gives you the perfect 'excuse' to do it....then go for it!

Before I keep going on and on....just visit the Frequently Asked Questions at Eating Rules and you'll see some wonderful posts that will give you some very valuable information about our foods.

With all that said, one of the things I pretty much try and avoid in my cooking in general, are those canned cream soups. There are a gazillion recipes out there that call for them, but they contain so many ingredients that I can't pronounce, identify and don't want in my body.

This recipe is NOT a condensed version. It makes just over 2 cups. If you're going to use it to replace condensed cream of mushroom soup, take into account that 1 cup of broth or milk that you'd be adding to the recipe as well and adjust accordingly.

Homemade Cream of Mushroom Sauce

Printable Version
makes about 2 cups

8 oz mushrooms, chopped or sliced (use whatever variety you choose)
1/2 large onion, chopped or sliced
1 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoons light olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons flour
Splash of vermouth, white wine or chicken broth
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup milk
1/8 tsp nutmeg
Salt and pepper

Heat the butter and olive oil in a skillet over a medium heat. Saute the mushrooms and onions until tender, stirring occasionally. Add in the garlic and saute for an additional minute. You'll know by the magnificent aroma when everything is ready for the next step.

Stir in the flour, and continue stirring for about a minute. Pour in a splash of vermouth, white wine or chicken broth. Stir to deglaze, getting up all that flavor off the bottom of the pan. Pour in the chicken broth and then slowly stir in the milk. Season with nutmeg and then the salt and pepper to taste.

Reduce heat to medium low and continue to stir until it begins to thicken. Make sure to keep it moving so nothing adheres to the bottom and sides of the pan, scraping as needed.

Reduce heat to low and let simmer until desired thickness, stirring frequently.

Now it's ready to add to whatever your heart desires. Like I said early, this makes over 2 cups...maybe 2 1/2?

I use this when making green bean casserole for the holidays. It's great in soup, casseroles or as is, poured over mashed potatoes or even roasted chicken

However you decide to use it, you'll feel so much better about what you're putting in your body. You'll appreciate the natural flavor of the mushrooms that shine in a way that does not happen from a can.

Let's just say...unprocessed just tastes right.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Chai Tea Jello Shots #SundaySupper

Are you all ready for a Fabulous Fall? So are we at Sunday Supper! Check out all of the fabulous recipes linked at the bottom of this post.

When you think of fall foods, does jello flit through your head?

Probably not.

What if the jello flavor were....chai tea? And what if we took it a step further by adding some spiced rum?

And then went even 5 steps further and topped it with pumpkin pudding?! Now we're talking!

This really is a fun little appetizer type dessert-ish un-drink almost cocktail, that would be great for your fall get-togethers. If you're not into rum, thats fine. Just leave it out. No worries. The beauty of this is that you control the strength of everything, from how strong and sweet the tea is to how strong (or non-existent) the alcohol  is.

Chai Tea Jello Shots
Makes approximately 12 shots (depending on the shot size)

2 cups boiling water
1/2 cup sugar, or according to taste. I recommend making it a bit extra sweet to balance the rum.
3 chai tea bags
2 packets of unflavored gelatin
1/4 cup spiced rum or according to taste (optional)
12 spoonfuls of pumpkin pudding (recipe to follow if needed)
Ground cinnamon
Ground nutmeg
12 whole roasted pepita seeds plus more for grinding

Stir the sugar into the boiling water until dissolved. Remove from heat and add the tea bags. Allow to steep for several minutes. Remove teabags, squeezing out the excess "tea" from the bags. Taste, adjust sugar if needed.

Stir in the gelatin and stir continuously until thoroughly dissolved, about 5 minutes. Add in the rum. Taste, adjust accordingly.

Carefully fill your shot glasses

Refrigerate for a few hours or over night.

Meanwhile, make some pumpkin pudding. The recipe below makes more than you'll need, but it's really good, so you'll want to eat it anyway. (or make more shots hee hee)

Pumpkin pudding:
Inspired by: My Recipes

6 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 3/4 cups milk (I didn't have enough milk so I used cream and it was wonderful)
1 large egg
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Combine the sugar and cornstarch in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Combine the milk and the egg, whisking together thoroughly. Gradually add to the sugar and cornstarch and bring to a boil, whisking constantly. Whisk and stir for 1 minute. Remove from heat.

Combine the pumpkin, vanilla extract, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg in a bowl. Slowly add the pumpkin mixture to the milk mixture, whisking constantly. Place the pan over low heat and cook for 3 minutes, stirring constantly, until thoroughly heated. DO NOT BOIL!

Divide among 4 dessert bowls (or one big bowl), cover the surface with plastic wrap and chill.

Once everything is chilled, take a handful of pepitas and grind them up in a spice grinder (I have an extra coffee grinder that I use just for spices).

Set up garnish station with a bit of cinnamon, nutmeg and extra pepitas

Place a dollop of pumpkin pudding on each shot, sprinkle with cinnamon, nutmeg and ground pepitas and top with a whole pepita seed. 

Serve with tiny spoons and enjoy leisurely. 

.Appetizers and Drinks
Soups, Stews, Chili, and Casserole
Salads and Side Dishes
Main Dishes
Desserts and Baked Goods
Sunday SupperJoin the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. Check out our #SundaySupper Pinterest board for more fabulous recipes and food photos. Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy! You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Roasted Kabocha Squash #SundaySupper

Squash. When I was a kid, I didn't think I liked "squash". Probably more cuz of the name than anything. It just didn't sound right. Squash. Thank God, I figured out as an adult that I really love the stuff!

Learning all the wonderful ways squash can be made didn't hurt either. Steamed, pureed in a pie, soup, sauce, roasted, BBQ'd etc,'s all good. My favorite is roasted. Soups and sauces are runner-ups for sure. Oh oh man. Like I said...its all good!

It is the season for squash-a-plenty. This Sunday Supper is all about giving you ideas on what to do with your squash and how to enjoy the bounty, whether its from your garden, the farmers market or your local grocery store. Do you know what I recommend? Make a pledge to try a new kind of squash this season. There are so many different kinds out there....why limit yourself to the well known few?

When I saw this kabocha sitting in the bin at the market, I had no clue what it was. I wasn't even sure it was edible. Whaaaaat? I dunno....maybe it was one of those kinds you use to decorate, ya know? So I googled it right then and there and bought it.

Kabocha is an Asian winter squash, commonly called a Japanese pumpkin. It resembles a pumpkin in texture but is more like a mild butternut squash, maybe a bit sweeter. The sweetness will vary depending on how ripe your kabocha is.

(note: I noticed as I was about to begin making my dish that there was a "blemish" on top of my kabocha. Once I cut it open, I saw that it was very superficial and just cut it out. Not point in wasting the whole thing for one small area.)

To prepare, I sliced it in half, scooped out the seeds, cut it into manageable sections, then cut the skin away.

Easy peasy....chop it up and its ready to roast.

Roasted Kabocha
Inspired by Anne Burrell

4 cups kabucha cut into 1/2" cubes
Olive Oil
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Crushed red pepper flakes to taste
1 lb greens beans
1 lb fresh mushrooms (I used crimini), sliced
1/2 cup roasted pepitas for garnish
1 bunch fresh chives, finely diced for garnish

Preheat the oven to 375' F

In a large bowl, toss the squash with olive oil, cinnamon, crushed red pepper flakes and salt. Spread out onto a baking sheet and roast until very soft, about 30 minutes.

In a large bowl, toss the green beans in olive oil, crushed red pepper flakes and salt. Spread out onto a baking sheet and roast for about 15 - 20 minutes.

In a large bowl, toss the mushrooms in olive oil, crushed red pepper flakes and salt. Soread out onto a baking sheet and roast for about 7 - 10 minutes.

Once everything has roasted, combine them all together.

Look at those bright, beautiful colors! Everything roasted separately to keep their flavors individual. Garnish with the pepitas and chives and serve warm.

This was the perfect side dish for crispy lemon chicken. I even drizzled the vegetables with a bit of lemon and it was delish!

I was telling my daughter that this might even make it on this years Thanksgiving table. I'm always looking for ways to cook vegetables that will stand up to a turkey and I believe I have found the perfect mix.

There are so many difference kinds of squash and ways to use prepare them, check out the rest of Sunday Supper's squash recipes below.

Starters – Appetizers & Cocktails:
Pickles & Relish:
Soups & Salads:
Main Dishes
Side Dishes:
Sweets to Start or End the Day:
Sunday Supper MovementJoin the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board. Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

BLT Canapes #SundaySupper

Happy Labor Day Weekend! And it's all for you....the laborer. Whether you work in home, from home or away from home, your hard work is being recognized and appreciated.

Many of us will be celebrating Labor Day with our friends and family. Attending BBQ's, picnics, or just relaxing at home. What ever the case may be, this appetizer is perfect. It doesn't require much labor, it's quick, easy and delicious!

How can it not be? It's a deconstructed BLT sandwich and who doesn't enjoy a good ole BLT? (if you're raising your hand, I don't wanna know. I'd rather continue to think that I live in a perfect world where everyone loves BLT's.)

Today's Sunday Supper is all about Tantalizing Trays. Perfect for entertaining whether it's for Labor Day or a future event....the recipes that we've put together for you are bound to make your mouth water.

Now, this recipe calls for bacon that has been cooked and crumbled. If you must, use can use store bought bacon crumbles. If you have a little bit of time, cook your bacon (I bake it in the oven at 375' F on a baking sheet, turning once, until crisp) drain, then stuff it in a food processor

I have this wonderful mini food processor that was a wedding gift....a long, long time ago (I'm not going to say how many year ago, but if it were a child, it would have graduated from college by now). It's amazing. I use it often and it still works wonderfully! They just don't make things the way they used to, sadly enough.

Give the bacon a couple of pulses and viola!

You have fresh bacon crumbles with very little effort!

BLT Canapes
from the cookbook "What Can I Bring?" by Anne Byrn
makes about 24 canapes
Printable Version

1 cup mayonnaise
8 slices of bacon, cooked, drained and crumbled
1/4 cup loosely packed parsley, chopped
Cayenne Pepper to taste
24 toasted bread rounds or crackers
24 slices of plum tomatoes, patted dry (I used the heirlooms that I had on hand)
2/3 cup shredded iceberg lettuce

If you are using toasted bread rounds, get about 8 - 12 slices of sandwich bread. Using a 1 1/2" cookie cutter, cut the bread into rounds. Place them on a baking sheet and broil until lightly brown on one side, about 1 or 2 minutes.

I used crackers.

In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, bacon and parsley. Add the cayenne pepper to taste. I started off with about 1/2 tsp, and ended up using 1 tsp. It has a nice little kick in the end. This can be stored in the fridge for up to 24 hours.

When you're ready to serve, spread 1 or 2 tsps of the bacon mixture on your bread or toast. Top with a tomato slice and garnish with the shredded lettuce.

And enjoy your bite sized BTL!

Check out the other Tantalizing Trays listed below and enjoy your weekend!

Savory Bites:
Sweet Treats:

Sunday Supper MovementJoin the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board. Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Fettuccine with Bacon and Kale #InternationalBaconDay

Happy International Bacon Day! 

Bacon is definitely a food to be celebrated. The salty, smokey crispiness seems to satisfy many food cravings all at once. I cringe at the thought of a 1/2 lb burger but wouldn't notice if I noshed on a pound of bacon and realize how much I'd eaten until it was almost gone.

Bacon has taken on a whole new level of popularity in the recent decade. Although it has been a popular and common breakfast food for centuries, it seems that bacon has gone a bit wild in the culinary scene. Not only has it flown from the breakfast plate to the dessert bar (and every meal in between)bacon seems to have found its way into the non-food venue as well.

Bacon has been presented in a rustic manner most of it's life; a slab of meat that's cured and smoked then baked as is and eaten with our hands. We've also experienced it's recent fun side, dipped in chocolate, mixed with ice cream, etc. And even it's silly side, scented candles, air fresheners, and shaving cream. Now it's time to allow it to shine in a more sophisticated manner, as a flavor enhancer rather than having it hog the spot light. Let's appreciate it in it's more grown-up presentation in this delicious dish. With all the crazy things that bacon has been subjected to, it's nice to present it in a more subtle, upscale fashion.

Fettuccine with Bacon and Kale
Printable Version
From the cookbook, Bacon Nation by Peter Kaminsky and Marie Rama

5 slices of bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces (cooking shears work wonders with this prep)
8 oz of kale, center rib removed, leaves coarsely chopped
8 oz fettuccine
Olive oil
3 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese, plus more for garnishing
Fresh ground nutmeg for garnishing

Bring 4 or 5 quarts of water to a boil.

While that is going on, cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat for about 5 - 8 minutes, until the bacon is lightly browned and most of the fat is rendered. Remove the bacon for the skillet and place on a paper towel lined plate to drain, reserving the bacon fat in the skillet.

Once the water has come to a boil, add salt and the kale. Cook, uncovered for about 5 minutes then using a slotted spoon transfer the blanched kale to a colander to drain.

Return the water to a boil. Add the pasta, stirring to separate and cook until al denta, according to the directions on the package.

Meanwhile, add enough olive oil to the bacon fat in the skillet to measure 2 or 3 TB. Heat for about 30 seconds or so, over medium heat or until the fat begins to shimmer. Add the kale, garlic, and crushed red pepper flakes, tossing to coat. Cook for about 3 minutes, tossing and stirring occasionally.

Return the bacon the skillet along with the chicken stock and let simmer until warm, about a minute or two.

When the pasta is cooked, reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water. Drain the pasta and return to the pot, over low heat.

Add the kale and bacon mixture to the pasta and toss to combine. Add the cheese and about 1/4 cup of pasta water to thin the sauce as desired.

Serve immediately, garnishing with a bit of freshly grated nutmeg (not much...a little goes a long way) and more grated cheese.

If you don't have, or can't get Pecorino Romano cheese then use Parmesan. While they are not the same, I believe they are similar enough for the dish.

I love the flavors that come together so nicely in this simple dish. The kale (which could be substituted for spinach if cooked in less time) with all of its nutritional value, made me feel like I was being very conscientious about what I was eating. With only 5 slices of bacon in the whole dish, (which serves 3 - 4 people as a main dish) there really wasn't any guilt going on here.  See? We can have our bacon and eat it too. In a more grown-up sort of way.

If you love bacon but feel guilty when you eat it...use it as an accent rather than a side in and of itself and you'll be able to enjoy it's culinary benefits more often.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Honey Dew Lime Ice Cream

We are in the height of honey dew melon season (along with watermelon and cantaloupe). I love them all but when you get a good one...nothing can beat the beautiful sweetness of a good honey dew.

I recently had 2 honey dew melons and knew I couldn't eat them both on my own before they went bad.
Sir Sportsalot and my youngest daughter aren't fans of it. My oldest daughter is, but she's so busy I hardly see her. With that in mind, I wanted to make something that would preserve the melon so nothing would go to waste.

I cut one of the melons open and was so disappointed. No flavor what so ever. Can't use that in ice cream. Honey dew has such a delicate flavor as it is, that it would've been completely lost in the cream. Thank God the second one was amazing! Plus this recipe only uses 2 cups so there was plenty leftover for enjoying on it's own.

Honey Dew Lime Ice Cream
Printable Version
Makes about 5 cups

2 cups chopped honey dew
juice from 1 lime (or 2 if your lime isn’t “juicy”)
2 ¼ cup whipping cream
⅔ cup sugar
pinch of salt
Zest from one lime

In a food processor or blender, puree the honey dew and lime juice.

In a medium size bowl, whisk together the cream, sugar and salt until sugar dissolves.
Pour honey dew mixture into cream mixture. Add the half of the lime zest and stir to combine. 

Cover and refrigerate for 1 - 2 hours or over night. The longer you chill it, the creamier your ice cream will be (says Alton Brown).

Taste your mixture. Add a bit more lime zest if desired. Save the rest to garnish.

Pour the mixture into your ice cream maker and process according to your ice cream maker’s instructions.

Garnish with lime zest and chunks of honey dew if desired and enjoy.

The lime is a surprising flavor enhancer and if used sparingly, doesn't over power the delicate flavors of the melon. This ice cream is refreshing and subtle in it's richness making you want to savor each bite before digging in for more. 

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Savory Fig and Sweet Onion Freezer Jam #SundaySupper

One of the best things about summer is the abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables. The gardens are filled with ripened produce and the farmers markets are loaded with whatever you can't / don't grow.

But soon enough, it all comes to an end. (boo-hoo)

No fear! Sunday Supper is hear! Today it's all about saving summer! We have how-to's on dehydrating, freezing, making sauces, jams, pickling, oh my gosh...there's so much you can do to save those summers flavors.

I recently made Grilled Fig Onion Glazed Pork Tenderloin and afterward I was bummed cuz I won't be able to make this year round. Figs aren't always in season. And that's when it dawned on me....I can make a savory jam with the very same ingredients I used to make the glaze....voila! My summer flavor has been saved for the whole year!

Savory Fig and Sweet Onion Freezer Jam
makes about 10 cups of jam
Printable Version

1 tsp light olive oil
1 1/2 cups thinly sliced sweet onions
2 tsps white balsamic vinegar
1 garlic clove, minced
7 cups chopped figs, stems trimmed off (about 2 1/2 lbs)
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
4 cups sugar
juice from 1 lemon
1 box of fruit pectin

Wash and sterilize enough jars and lids to hold a total of 10 cups of jam.

Heat the oil in a large heavy skillet or sauce pan over medium-low heat. Add the onions and saute, stirring often until tender and just starting to turn a nice golden color. Stir in the garlic and saute for another minute. Deglaze with the balsamic vinegar. Remove from heat.

Add in the chopped figs, sugar and black pepper. Stir to combine. If you prefer a less chunky end result, use a potato masher and smash everything up a bit.

Stir in the lemon juice and pectin. Place over low heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until thickened, about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

The way to test if your jam is ready, is to place a glass plate in the freezer. Place a dab of your jam in the middle of the very cold place and turn your plate on it's side. If the jam begins to quickly run, it's not thick enough. If it runs slowly or stays put, it's ready for the jars.

Carefully spoon the jam into your clean jars, leaving about 1/4" space at the top. With a clean, damp cloth, wipe up the spills and make sure the edge is clean and put your lids on.

Allow to cool to room temperature before freezing or using.

The aroma is mouth watering...the caramelized onion and balsamic vinegar seems to dominate the jar, but when you taste it\ you're surprised by the sweetness that accompanies the delectable flavor of fig while the onion is just a lingering after flavor that brings it all full circle.

Not only is this an amazingly delicious glaze, but if you really want to wow your taste buds (and who doesn't?) then you must try it with brie cheese in the center of a bundled up puff pastry!

So simple, easy and quick...

Preheat your oven to 400'
1 sheet of puff pastry, thawed (cuz I use the frozen kind)
1 wheel of brie cheese
about 2/3 cup of Savory Fig and Sweet Onion Freezer Jam
1 egg mixed with 1 TB water

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Lay the puff pastry sheet on a floured surface. Place the brie in the center. Top with the jam

Pull all the sides up to the center and pinch a little so they stick together some, to resemble a cute little bundle fulled with surprises.

Brush the top and sides with the egg wash.

Carefully place it on the lined baking sheet and into your oven. Bake for about 30 minutes or until golden brown.

Allow to cool for about 10 minutes before serving. You might even want a little extra jam handy to toss a glob or two on your plate to ensure that you have a little of everything in each bite. The is the perfect balance of sweet and savory, gooey cheesy buttery flakiness.

I'm not sure if 10 cups is going to last me through the winter....

For more delicious tips and how-tos and fantastic recipes on saving summer, visit the other Sunday Supper blogs.

Learn how to …

Sip sunny cocktails and smoothies

Scoop up special salsas and sauces

Jump into jellies, jams and preserves

Pucker up for pickles

Slurp and spoon soup and a side dish

Dive into divine desserts

Sunday Supper Movement
Join the #SundaySupper conversation on Twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7 p.m. ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board.

Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement?
It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.