Monday, April 20, 2015

Secret Recipe Club - French Onion Soup Stuffed Mushrooms

It's Secret Recipe Club time of month again! It feel like it's been so long since the last update even though I know it's been less than a month. So much has happened in that time. I got a new job (which I love), my husband and I have been planning our trip back to California for his sister's wedding and we've been dining outside (or going to happy hour on the patio of our favorite bar) almost every day.

I can't believe how busy we've been, but I'm still so happy I've continued to make time for this blog and participation in Secret Recipe Club. I find that I update less (now that I have a job where I have to be on the computer all day) but I still come back to this blog for Secret Recipe Club. I now also get a greater enjoyment from my cooking now that I don't do that for a living anymore. I assure you, all of these changes have been for the best. I'm so happy with the direction my life (personal and professional) is taking.

This week, I was assigned The Savvy Kitchen and got to explore her wonderful recipes. The author, Amy, is a wife/mother living in Northern Virginia (me too!) She makes so many recipes, but mostly specializes in gluten free, low calorie foods. She is the mother of an adorable baby boy (almost two years old) who also enjoys running, reading, spending time with family and friends (all things I enjoy as well). She updates quite frequently, so make sure to check out her amazing looking recipes.

 I searched through the recipes a little but I didn't have to search very long. As soon as I saw these French Onion Soup Stuffed Mushrooms, I knew my search was over. My husband and I both love French Onion Soup and I was looking for appetizers to bring to a friend's house. These were a hit in our house for the flavor, the ease and preparation and the price (normally I make stuffed mushrooms with crab, which tastes wonderful but is a problem for the pocketbook). We didn't even want to bring them to our friend's house after we made them... we wanted to eat all of them in one sitting.

I changed up a couple things in her recipe to make it a little closer to how I make French onion soup, but I didn't change much. I highly recommend this recipe and all the other things on The Savvy Kitchen. Check it out ASAP.

Thanks for the great inspiration Amy!

French Onion Soup Stuffed Mushrooms
  • 24 crimini or white button mushrooms
  • 2 large yellow onions
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • splash of brandy
  • pinch of thyme/caraway seed
  • 1/4 cup beef stock
  • 8 dashes of Worcestershire sauce
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • cheese (I use combo swiss and parmesan, but gruyere is great as well)
  • parsley for garnish
  1. Wipe the dirt from the mushrooms (do not wash) and remove stems. Chop the stems fine and set aside.
  2. Sautee onions and garlic with the melted butter for about half an hour until very soft and sweet. At the start, season the onions with salt, pepper, thyme and caraway (caraway is really strong, so not too much)
  3. After onions are tender, add brandy, Worcestershire sauce and beef stock. Simmer for 5-10 minutes until reduced and remove from the pan.
  4. Sautee the mushroom stems for 10 minutes until most of the moisture has evaporated. Mix with the onions and adjust seasoning as necessary.
  5. Take the mushroom caps and place them in the same skillet, cap side down. Cook for a couple minutes before flipping them and cover the pan for a couple minutes (this will steam them and make them tender)
  6. Remove the mushrooms to a small baking dish. Blot the insides with a paper towel to remove excess moisture and fill with the onion mix. Top with cheese and bake at 350 for 10 minutes.
  7. Move mushrooms to broiler to brown the top. Garnish with fresh parsley and serve immediately.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Cauliflower Alfredo Sauce

A while back, we got a head of cauliflower in our CSA box. It wasn't a normal head of cauliflower. It was easily the biggest head of cauliflower I've ever seen. It was so giant it lasted for dinner (main course dinner) multiple nights. One night we did curry, one night we added it to mashed potatoes, one night we roasted steaks of it, and other night we made cauliflower alfredo sauce.
Fettuccini alfredo is one of those foods that I think everyone loves. It's hearty, creamy, cheesy and so delicious (and it's about a million calories, but whatever). That's the reason most of us don't eat spaghetti alfredo that often: the knowledge that it is about 500 calories per serving for just the sauce.
Then when I was looking up ways to use the rest of my cauliflower, I found a recipe  on Pinch of Yum for cauliflower alfredo sauce. It's pretty tasty as long as you don't expect it to taste exactly like alfredo sauce. It still has a slight vegetable taste, but it's not bad. Most importantly, it goes well with pasta and it's only 80 calories instead of 500. Important thing, you know?
  • 1 small head cauliflower
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • splash of heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup starchy pasta water
  • salt, pepper, nutmeg to taste
  1. Cut cauliflower into small pieces and simmer in stock for 20 minutes or until very tender.
  2. Sautee garlic in butter until soft. Place garlic, cauliflower and 1/2 cup stock in blender and puree until smooth. Add more brother if necessary to get it to the consistency where it moves through the blender easily.
  3. Pour back into sautee pan. Add cream and pasta water and season to taste. Keep warm over low heat (adding more water if necessary) until ready to serve. Serve with pasta and lots of parmesan cheese. 

Friday, April 10, 2015

Cottage Pie

The weather forecast was 80 degrees and slightly overcast. It was supposed to be warm and a little humid (standard spring/summer weather in DC). It was a little chili when I left the house in the morning for work, but I opted for light trousers a thin blouse and a light sweater.

And then it never got warmer than 55 degrees...and it rained all day. You lied weatherman! You lied to me!

I thought we were long past casserole/curry/soup season and long into salad and grilling season. And then my 55 degree afternoon made me want to come home and make a big, warm casserole. One of my favorite casseroles is cottage pie because it's tasty, cheap, and uses leftover mashed potatoes. I only make it when we have leftover mashed potatoes and it's always a hit with my husband (mostly because I rarely make mashed potatoes, so we don't have this all that often.)

Not sure if it's still cold enough for this dish where you are, but next time there's a little chill in the air and you have some leftover potatoes, go ahead and make this

  • 1 lb ground beef or lamb
  • 1 onion
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 stalk celery
  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic
  • a couple tablespoons of flour
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • a few dashes Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme and rosemary
  • a handful of frozen peas and corn
  • leftover mashed potatoes (mine had cheddar cheese mixed in already because they were for perogi filling)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Brown ground meat until cooked through. Drain well (rinse if need if there is lots of fat) and move to a bowl.
  2. Sautee the vegetables in the same pan until they are tender. Add tomato paste and cook for 1 minute until the paste begins to brown.
  3. Add the ground beef back to the pan with some flour. Stir everything together and add the chicken stock, Worcestershire sauce, thyme, rosemary, salt and pepper. Cook until the liquid thickens
  4. Add peas and corn and adjust seasoning to taste. Pour meat into a large glass pan and top with mashed potatoes (you can pipe it or you can spoon it evenly over the whole surface)
  5. Bake at 350 for about 40 minutes or until the filling start to bubble up around the edges. If desired, stick it under the broiler for 5 minutes to get better color.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Cucumber, Mint, Lime Sorbet

This might sounds like a weird combination, but it's a perfect summer sorbet. It's subtle, complex and holds all the flavors of spring in one bite. It is a perfect palate cleanser and it cuts the most heavy, greasiest foods.

Best of all, this drink makes an amazing cocktail. Put a scoop of this in a tall glass with some Pimms, gin, soda water and slices of fresh cucumber. Either that, or serve with rum and soda water for a great, new take on a mojito.

If you're still missing a refreshing dessert for your spring table, give this one a shot. I swear you won't be disappointed.

Cucumber, Mint, Lime Sorbet

  • 1 1/2 cup water
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 oz mint leaves (about 1 cup)
  • 18 oz cucumber, skins and seeds removed
  • 1/3 cup fresh lime juice
  1. Bring the water and sugar to a boil until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat, add mint leaves and let steep for half an hour, moving from time to time to middle the mint. Let cool completely before adding it to the cucumber
  2. Put your cucumber and lime juice in a food processor or blender and puree until smooth.
  3. Add cooled simple syrup to the cucumber and lime juice. Mix well and churn according to your ice cream maker directions.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Apple Cheese Blintzes

When I was growing up, I remember going to Mother's day brunch every year with my parents and grandparents. We always went to the Hyatt downtown for their Mother's day buffet and my favorite thing was the blueberry blintzes. They were a little sweet with a cottage cheese filling. I know that's not how you should eat at a buffet. I know that's not the smart way to do brunch (the smart way, as we all know, is to fill up on bottomless mimosas and the most expensive things possible, i.e. smoked salmon and prime rib carving station, when available.)
My family stopped going there for brunch when I was about 10 years old but I still remember how much I loved the blueberry blintzes. Now I hate buffets (especially brunch buffets) and I would never go back for fear of it ruining my childhood memories, but I knew I had to try making blintzes for myself. I had to use stewed apples because that's what I had, but it was an awesome change. Still not as good as the blueberry, but not bad.
This recipe came from Smitten Kitchen and it was wonderfully and all mine with a couple tweaks. I knew upon reading it that it was a recipe that I could trust because it called for quark (which I don't use, but which is traditional) and her mother in law makes it. I make my own crepes and I don't have a real recipe, so you can use her recipe if you like. I'll give you my rough proportions below.

Ingredients for crepes
  • A couple eggs
  • Equal volume of milk
  • some flour
  • pinch of salt
Ingredients for filling
  • 2 cups quark, farmers cheese or medium curd cottage cheese (I used ricotta in these pictures and it was not as good)
  • about 1/4 cup of sour cream or crème fraiche (more if desired)
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla
  • zest of half a lemon
  • sugar to taste (about 2-4 Tbsp)
  • an egg if you desire a firmer blintz
  1. Crack a couple eggs in a measuring cup. Then pour in the same amount of milk and mix. Add flour until the right consistency is reached and let sit for half an hour at room temperature. Strain out the lumps and adjust amount of milk as needed. Then make crepes in a nonstick skillet with cooking spray. I have no way to help you flip the crepes. I just use my fingers to flip them (but then again, I am a badass)
  2. Mix together all ingredients for the filling. Place a little in the middle of the crepe and fold like an envelope. Then fry the blintz in a little butter until browned on the outside.
  3. Top with your desired stewed fruit (blueberries or cherries are best, but I used apples cooked in a little butter, brown sugar and lemon juice).

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Kale Baked Eggs

Kale is a contentious vegetable in our family. Actually, it used to be but I've forced it on my husband so much that I think he's gotten used to it. He used to hate kale, squash of every kind, beans of every kind (except green) and quinoa. Now he only hates quinoa, and even hate is a strong word.

This breakfast was totally husband approved. He likes kale when I make sure to add lots of garlic, crushed red pepper and lemon. The oozy eggs add a richness to the kale and the greens make it so hearty and wonderful. Like everything else in our house, this gets served with crusty bread.

Today we had a wonderful day. It was the first really nice day we've had in a long time. We woke up late, made breakfast, caught up on some TV shows, sat in our PJs for much too long and eventually went out with some friends to the driving range/mini golf. It was a great double date with my husband and one of my best friends. Who could ask for a better Saturday and a better beginning to spring?

Kale Baked Eggs

Ingredients (for 2 people)
  • 4 eggs
  • half an onion
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 bunch kale, stalks removed and coarsely chopped
  • grated gruyere/parmesan cheese
  • crushed red pepper
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • lemon juice
  1. Sautee the onion and garlic in a little olive oil or bacon fat (in this case, we used the fat from our breakfast sausages). Add the kale, cover and cook on low until kale is wilted.
  2. Add salt, pepper, crushed red pepper and lemon juice to taste.
  3. Make 4 indentations in the kale (if using a big skillet) or divide into 2 individual skillets and make two indentations each. Crack eggs in the holes and place skillet in a preheated 350 degree oven.
  4. Cook eggs for 10 minutes or until desired doneness is reached. A couple minutes before they're done, sprinkle eggs with cheese.
  5. Eat immediately with crusty bread.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Secret Recipe Club: Irish Brown Bread

It's the third Monday of the month again. That means it's time for Secret Recipe Club. You all know what it's about by now. Every month, a group of awesome bloggers make another member's recipe (in secret, of course) and reveal it on a given day. The third Monday of the month belongs to group C. I love participating with this great group of people, seeing everyone's recipes and occasionally remembering one of my old recipes I may have forgotten.
This week, I was assigned Nicole over at PicNic. Nicole is a New Zealand native who is studying for her PhD in Biochemistry. She has a great assortment of recipes in every category. I was really tempted by her Stuffed Mushrooms or her Seafood Gumbo (though this didn't look like any gumbo I'd ever seen...I assumed it was just a difference in culture). I would have gone with her ANZAC biscuits if I didn't already have an amazing recipe given to me by an old boyfriend's mother, but I ended up choosing her recipe for Irish Brown Bread instead. It's a family recipe that is hearty, delicious, and goes perfectly with anything. Plus, tomorrow is St. Patrick's day. I had to post something like this.
This bread was incredibly easy, delicious and perfect for a weeknight dinner because it doesn't involve yeast. I made it with a wonderful Honeyed Chicken that was just screaming for a crusty brown bread. It tastes like Irish Soda Bread (a good or bad thing, depending who you ask) but I enjoyed it. I had some problems with the dough being too wet and I had to add quite a bit more flour (but perhaps there's a difference between New Zealand and US cup measurements)
Today is also my first day of my new job. I'm writing this two weeks before the posting date, but I'm already looking forward to reading all of your comments when I get home.
Thanks so much Nicole! I'll be sure to come back to your blog again for more great recipes.
Irish Brown Bread
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup AP flour (I used about 1/4 cup more to kneading)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 cup buttermilk
  1. Mix together flours, salt and baking soda. Make a well in the center and add buttermilk,
  2. Stir ingredients until combined. Turn out dough onto a floured work surface and knead until smooth (should still be a little shaggy, but should hold it's shape better. I only needed a minute or so)
  3. Place the loaf on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 45 minutes or until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.
  4. Let cool completely before slicing. Serve with a stew or for breakfast with butter, honey or jam