Cream of Roasted Mushroom soup~

Wow, what a week it has been! 😬

I hope this finds you doing well, staying healthy!  I have to admit, I really never thought I would live in a time like we are living in today…last night at Midnight, the state of Minnesota went into “stay-at-home” status…shelter-in-place…lockdown…whatever you want to call it.  I have basically doing just that for the past two weeks…now I really have to, for the next two. Fortunately I can still work, much of which I am able to do at home, via my computer & phone. My husband is still going to work, as he has to continue feeding the school kids in the Minneapolis Public School district. My daughter chose to be temporarily laid off from her job a week or so ago…and my son just chose to take a leave from his job for the next three weeks.  I have been trying to get out for walks as often as I can…it’s been so nice to breathe in the fresh air and enjoy the sun and return of all the Robins, Sandhill Cranes, Mallards etc. ☀️

I have also been cooking, ALOT! Which isn’t a bad thing…except for my waistline, lol. This soup was brought on because Mushrooms were on sale and I took advantage of that.  I wanted to find a recipe that was silky smooth (besides the chunks of mushrooms) and because of the addition of egg yolks, this one hit the mark!Adapted from Julia Child’s Cream of Mushroom soup recipe, the biggest change to this recipe, is that I roasted the Mushrooms instead of sautéing them. This served two people, along with a side salad (see pictured recipe below) and with a little bowl leftover for lunch the next day. Double the recipe if you are serving more than two people.

Ingredients:

2 pints of mushrooms – sliced or diced, your choice
2-3 tablespoons of Olive Oil
2 tablespoons of butter
1/4 cup sweet Marsala wine or Sherry
2 tablespoons of flour
1/4 onion, minced
2 cups (+/-) of chicken or veggie stock
1 teaspoon dried Thyme (or stem or two of fresh)
2 egg yolks
1/4 heavy cream
Salt & pepper

Instructions:
Clean mushrooms, trim or remove the stems. Toss in olive oil, salt & pepper & dried Thyme and place on a parchment lined baking sheet and into a 400 degree oven. Bake for 30-45 minutes.

🍻Squeeze a quick happy hour with your honey!

Once they appear nicely browned, remove and set aside to cool…once cooled, slice or dice them.

Then in a large stock pot, over medium to high heat, add butter and once hot, add in onion. Cook until translucent but not browned. Add in Marsala, allowing the alcohol to cook off and some of the liquid to evaporate. Then whisk in the flour slowly…you’ll end up with a bit of a “slurry” here, but continue whisking for a bit, like making a roux. Slowly add in stock, again, continue to whisk to help dissolve the flour into the mixture.

Once the soup has been fully mixed together, add in the mushrooms and simmer. Taste the soup and add salt/pepper if needed.

In a measuring cup, add the heavy cream and egg yolks. Mix together and slowly add this to the soup, stirring to incorporate.

Heat mixture thru, but careful not to bring to a boil.

I think next time I will finely chop the Mushrooms…or, puree most of them into the soup and add a few on the top at the end. Either way, make this and enjoy!😍🙌🏻

     

PS. Here is how I made the salad I posted on Facebook…
Fresh Spinach (placed on plate first)…
Fresh Strawberries, sliced…
Parmesan cheese, grated over top…
Drizzle Jimmy’s Sweet & Sour dressing (found locally at Cub Foods) on top…
Optional…avocado, honey-roasted Almonds, red onion…etc. etc. YUM! 🍓

Hope to see you soon! 💗

Homemade Gyro’s~

My first experience with this delicious sandwich was many years ago, when I lived in Iowa. I had a couple of food memories created in those years…the most amazing fried Pork Tenderloin sandwich, that I used to get from my local Hy-Vee deli counter…that sucker came on a standard hamburger bun, slathered with mayo, and layered with lettuce and pickles.  The Pork patty itself was so big, it sometimes would stick outside of the styrofoam container they packed it in for me.  God I loved that thing…please tell me I can get that somewhere today?!

The Gyro sandwich however, was a late-night, after-the-bars-closed, 10-cent-beer-night induced decision.  One that I made from that night on, as often as I could!  I remember the feel of the foil, wrapped around the soft pillowy pita…which held meat 😂 that was salty & hot…topped with cold, creamy sauce…raw onions, tomatoes and might have had chunks of cucumbers. It was the perfect thing to tuck me into bed after a night of dancing & drinking, as the kids did back then.

Part of the reason I started this food blog, was to have a place to share my food memories…favorites dishes…food adventures and so on.  This dish is one of those memories I want to live on in my family.  Maybe more for me, than anyone else! 🙌🏻

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Okay, so let’s talk about what you need to buy for this recipe:

  • Ground Lamb
  • Fresh Dill, washed, then sliced thin
  • Plain, Greek Yogurt (you can get away with a couple small single serving containers)
  • Feta cheese (at least 8oz. & I buy the block and crumble it myself)
  • Cucumber, peeled and grated
  • Lemon, freshly squeezed
  • Garlic cloves, 3+/-, minced
  • Olive Oil…2-3 tablespoons
  • Fresh or dried Oregano
  • Tomatoes (I used grape tomatoes and sliced them)
  • Lettuce (I used a mix I have been loving from Aldi with baby Spinach & Arugula)
  • Pita Bread (my favorite is Papa Pita brand, which I usually find at my local Cub Foods)

Okay, so I am not the best with measurements…I usually have to refresh my memory on what goes in the sauce, but then I usually add stuff until I think it tastes good. I will do my best to explain everything here….

First thing you should do, is grate your Cucumber…after washing and peeling it.  Use the small grate on your box grater and if you have one, place the grated cuc into a wire mesh strainer, over a bowl. I like to add a bit of salt at this point, stir the grated cucumber up and then let it sit in the fridge for a few hours or the day before, to release as much water as possible.

Then, a few hours before you are going to eat, make the Tzatziki sauce. Combine a cup to a cup and half of the Greek Yogurt, with a tablespoon or so of fresh squeezed lemon, one-two cloves of garlic, that you have grated or minced, a couple tablespoons of olive oil, a crack of pepper and some salt. Now, some people say NOT to add the dill at this point, but I like it enough that I DO add it now. Put this mixture into the fridge until it’s time to eat.

Once it’s dinner time, heat up a pan with a touch of olive oil and add in one clove of minced garlic and the onion and Oregano.  Saute that only until you start to smell it all and then add in the Lamb meat, breaking that up as much as possible, as you cook it.  I kinda like a hard cook on my lamb meat…if you understand that, but it’s just important you cook the meat through.

My husband likes to “toast” the pita bread over one of the gas burners on our stove…so either way, grab a big plate, a slice of pita and start putting together your Gyro!  I am not going to tell you how to do that…because every time I make one, I do it differently, lol! I like the sauce on the Pita…I like the meat next to the Feta…and from there out, it’s all your choice!

If you have any leftovers, the next morning, and feel like it, scramble an egg into the lamb meat! 😍🙌🏻I hope you make this and if you do, please share your thoughts with me!!  ~Shawn

 

Goulash, like the good ol’ days…

I grew up in a little river town, in southeastern Minnesota…at least for the years of my life I remember anyway.  I was born in Iowa and lived there until I was starting Junior High School…

This dish, has all the feels for me…I remember crowding around a little table, in the middle of a tiny kitchen that also served as the back entrance of the home, with my boyfriend (at the time-I think I was in 10th or 11th grade…), and his two other brothers, sometimes their girlfriends, and their ever-patient and wonderful Mom, who made this for all of us.  I remember eating so much of it, and the buttered white bread on the side, along with big glasses of cold milk, until I felt like my stomach was going to burst! Ahh…this was some good stuff!  When I stumbled across this recipe, on one of my favorite food-blogger’s YouTube channel, I thought, “no way, this can’t be the same recipe?!’ and lo and behold, it was! I literally could have eaten the WHOLE POT! 😂 I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I did!

Makes enough for “at least” four BIG bowls…
Adapted from THIS recipe…

Olive oil-(just enough to sprinkle in the bottom of your pan)
1 large yellow onion, diced
1 & 1/2-2 pounds ground beef
4 cloves garlic minced
2 generous teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, plus more to taste
Cayenne pepper if you want…
2 teaspoons regular paprika
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 tablespoon Hungarian paprika (taste at this point, add more if you want)
2 teaspoons dried Italian herbs (blend of oregano, thyme, rosemary, sage, parley, basil)
1 or 2 bay leaves
1 quart chicken broth (or you can use plain water)
1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes (I used the fire-roasted kind!)
1 (24-ounce) jar prepared marinara (I used spaghetti sauce) sauce, rinsed with 1 cup water
2 tablespoons soy sauce (DON’T skip this!)
2 rounded cups elbow macaroni
1 packed cup shredded white cheddar cheese & freshly chopped Italian parsley, as a garnish

Preheat a stock pot on the stove to high…add olive oil and onions. Saute for a minute or two, getting it good and hot. Add in ground beef and using a wooden spoon or similar, chop up the meat as best you can. Continue cooking the meat until all of the liquid has evaporated and the meat is cooked thru. Add in the garlic and stir to cook. Then add in all your spices, including the salt & pepper, but waiting on the bay leaves. Cook until you really smell all those spices “blooming” in the pan. Then add in your broth or water…diced tomatoes and Marinara sauce. Then add the soy sauce…as Chef John says, don’t be tempted to use Worcestershire sauce…trust me on the soy sauce. Let this mixture bubble away on the stove on medium, for at least 20 minutes if you can.

Add in your macaroni noodles and stir frequently, (or they’ll stick to the bottom of the pan!) until the noodles have cooked and the sauce has thickened. Add in the fresh chopped Parsley and once in your serving bowls, top with shredded cheese & parsley, if desired.

Serve with a loaf of sliced white bread and REAL salted Butter! 😍

Enjoy friends! 💗

 

 

 

Open Arms of Minnesota – Harvest Pop-up Dinner…

Last night, my husband and I had the opportunity to attend the Harvest Pop-up Dinner, hosted by Open Arms of Minnesota, a nonprofit that cooks and delivers free, nutritious meals to people living with life-threatening illnesses in the Twin Cities.  Each year, they “host intimate, multi-course feasts prepared by our talented chefs. For one night at a time, our beautiful facility in South Minneapolis transforms into an ephemeral communal dining experience, where you’ll savor an inventive meal and meet others passionate about great food.”  And a feast it truly was!

I didn’t know much about Open Arms prior to last night; my husband has done some consulting work with them, via his position within the Minneapolis Public School system. I quickly learned that they are doing incredible work in our community, and have been since 1986!  When I was a kid, I used to volunteer with my Grandmother, delivering Meals-on-Wheels to people in my community.  That work has left a life-long impression on me…something I have wanted to do again.  I am so excited about what Open Arms offers for volunteer opportunities and look forward to getting it on my calendar soon!

Okay, let’s talk about the food!

The volunteer Servers passed hors d’ oeuvre’s and this was truly my favorite thing of the night…stuffed Squash Blossoms with Poblano Crema! I literally could have eaten an entire plate of them!

Turnip & Cherve on Everything crackers (which I believe were made in-house!)

They also have a cocktail sponsor for each event and this year it’s Du Nord Craft Spirits. This delightful drink was called the “Wealthy Apple” and will definitely be on my Fall cocktail menu!

Thanksgiving tip…”garnish with drunken Cranberries”…yes please!

Once seated, we were served our Amuse-bouche, which was this velvety smooth, beautiful Carrot-Ginger soup, with Chive & Truffle Popcorn garnish. I have long been a fan of Carrot-Ginger soup, since we made it for our first course back when I was a member of the Hospitality Management Club at Normandale Community College and we hosted our first fundraising event.  That soup haunts me to this day…

Did I mention there were wine pairings throughout the meal?  This Chateau Graville-Lacoste Blanc was served just before our next course and was a wonderful Summer wine that paired beautifully with my Scallops!

Our first Entree was Scallops (look at that sear!) served on a Leek Purée (wish I knew how they made that!) and had just enough house-made Kimchi and pickled Radish to give it a nice little kick.  The Scallops were cooked perfectly, something difficult to do for a crowd! They melted in your mouth…bravo to the Chefs who served that course!

Look at this GORGEOUS bowl! This was our Intermezzo…Yogurt with a Beet swirl and Mint. It also had some little herb flowers and a few pops of Ground Cherries that added to the freshness of this dish.

Next wine pairing, G.D. Vajra Langhe Rosso which came just before our Second Entree.

The Chef described this Citrus & Maple Smoked Quail as “tiny Chickens” and tiny they are! I am usually one of the first ones to grab a Chicken leg when My husband bakes one up for us, and to hold that tiny Quail leg while attempting to eat the meat from it, was definitely an entertaining part of the night!

All good things must come to an end…and although my stomach was ready to be done, my mouth was not!  This Lemon Verbena Tres Leches Cake with fresh berries was paired with a Whispering Angel Rosé, and was a delicious end to a fantastic meal!

Not pictured, the beautiful bread selection at each table, and the fun “goodie” bags they sent us home with, that contained a jar of Dilly Beans! One of my favorite things to include in a Bloody Mary! Open Arms actually has five of their own farms (Open Farms), where they grow vegetables and herbs for their kitchen and offer a CSA program as well.  Learn more about all of that HERE.

Next month, September 27-28, 2019, Open Arms is hosting their annual Cook-a-Thon, where they will attempt to make 12,000 meals in 24 hours.  Teams of six will spend two hours cooking in the kitchen, preparing and packaging nutritious food for Open Arms of Minnesota’s clients living with life-threatening illnesses in the Twin Cities.

Every member of each team will be asked to raise at least $150 to support their work, resulting in at least $900 raised from each team to support nourishing meals for neighbors in need.

This event will put the Open Arms’ kitchen at least a week ahead of production before the end of the year and add significant capacity to their efforts to provide nutritious, delicious food to more than 1,000 people in the community, each week!  To learn more about how to apply to get these meals, go HERE.  I think this sounds SO fun…who wants to form a team with me?!

It was a wonderful event and I look forward to the opportunity of volunteering and attending another Pop-up dinner!  I hope you’ll take a minute to visit their website and consider donating time and/or financially to their amazing work!

Cheers, Shawn

Hazed & confused…but it was SO fun!

This past week, the hubby and I took in the Growler Magazine’s event in St. Paul, called Unlabeled: A Blind Tasting Beer Festival. This is a brand new kind of beer festival series, never before seen in Minnesota (or the U.S. for that matter!) which consisted of a blind tasting of 48 (plus one bonus beer they added at the last minute!) Hazy IPA’s from local breweries.

I had been looking forward to the event for weeks, studying up on Hazy IPA’s, what they were looking for when “judging” each beer and “virtually” getting to know the breweries that were participating and what possible beers would be there.  I was feeling nervous…I wanted to take it seriously, while having fun and trying NOT to get too inebriated at the same time. Let’s just say, we mostly accomplished all three! 😂🙌

We started off with two of the different “color” sample stations, and then decided to take a break and visit some of the education booths they had.

One of those, was the “smell vial” test you could take. 9 jars were filled with different things and you had to guess what you thought each one was.  My husband is a super taster/smeller and of course only got one wrong.  He claims it was a “green Mango” and that thru him off.  I don’t doubt for a minute he is wrong about that.

Next up was the Mighty Axe Hops booth. This is a local hop grower in the Foley, MN area, and had some samples of beer made with some of their hops.  Definitely something I want to learn more about, and this event (see above) might be one I have to check out.

 

After that, we continued sampling…collecting stickers for the beer fridge back home…tried to find some shade…started meeting some super fun people and just continued to enjoy the event!

   

49 beers to sample is ALOT.  And the last say, 12, well…we kinda powered thru those and by then, most of it was starting to blur together, in more ways than one!  It was fun to see the top picks for the night, including a new brewery close to where I live, called Uncommon Loon.  They were the #3 top pick of the night, just behind Omni Brewing and their delicious “FAD” and Fair State Brewing Cooperative’s “Mirror Universe” both in my top list of Hazy IPA go-to beers. And before the evening got too fuzzy, I managed to guess another one of my favorite breweries, Lupulin Brewing and their “Hooey”.  That was fun, considering I don’t have the palate of my husbands!

By the end of the night, we made the trek up the hill with a group of attendees, who appeared to have had as much fun as us, and one poor guy trying to get what was left of his keg, back to his car in the parking lot!  The hubby and I took turns helping him with it. We think maybe he was with 56 Brewing, but can’t remember at this point, lol!

 

And lucky for us, we thought ahead and rented a room at the Saint Paul Hotel, which oddly enough, after all the years working in hotels in the Twin Cities, I have never stayed there! We LOVED our room and would highly recommend you stay there, if given the opportunity in the future. Elegant, very clean & comfortable…it was a perfect way to end the night! Who knows, maybe we’ll book it again for the next Unlabeled event, coming this October! Buy your tickets here:  https://growlermag.com/unlabeled/

See you soon friends, cheers! 🍻

💗Shawn

Zucchini Coconut Bread~

One of my favorite times of the Summer is when the Zucchini harvest is in full effect…grilled, frittered, put into bread & brownies etc. etc. I love it!  I found this recipe at Two Peas and their Pod, just randomly one day, looking for coconut recipes.  The original recipe calls for AP and whole wheat flour, but I have always made it with straight AP flour. I also have used Vanilla whole milk yogurt and once used Coconut (full fat) Cream as well. Also, you’ll see Coconut Oil in the ingredient list; do yourself a favor and buy a jar.  I use it for many different things…homemade granola…sautéing beef & chicken & pork…tossing Sweet Potatoes in it before baking or putting on the grill.  But ya gotta like Coconut…of course!

Zucchini Coconut Bread

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

3/4 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1 & 1/2 cups shredded Zucchini (squeezed and drained into a few paper towels)

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup Coconut Oil, melted

1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt (or see note above) at room temperature

1 large egg, at room temperature

1 teaspoon Vanilla extract

1 cup of sweetened coconut

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 9 x 5 loaf pan (you could do mini loafs or muffins too!) and set it aside.  Note:  I use the coconut oil to grease my pan, but just make sure you use enough.

In a large bowl, whisk together all dry ingredients. Set aside. In a smaller bowl, combine Zucchini, sugars, coconut oil, yogurt, egg and vanilla extract. Then add your wet ingredients to your dry and mix well.  Once mixed, go ahead and add in your coconut.

Pour into your pan and bake for about 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let cool before removing from pan and cutting.  Enjoy plain, with a slather of butter, peanut butter and even topped with some yogurt!

Hope you enjoy, let me know if you make it!

😍 Shawn

Life is busy…

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It’s been just over a year since I last wrote here…that’s terrible!  2016 was a business & family focused year…and honestly, I’ve missed playing with my food!  😜 I didn’t spend much time trying new recipes either, but instead just kept plugging along with our usual favorites.  Sometimes that’s just the easiest route, you know?  This year however, I have decided we need to thin out the freezer storage, so I have been making inventory lists and planning out our meals in advance.  That can be somewhat tricky, because you have to make sure someone is checking that calendar BEFORE you head to the grocery store!  And you know, sometimes you just don’t feel like what you had planned for that night, so the plan gets ditched.  But the last time I looked at our deep freeze, I could actually see parts of the bottom, so we have definitely made some progress!

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One of the things I really want to start doing is cooking from the cookbooks crowding my shelves at home.  Last year I added too many to that collection, with great finds at the thrift store, etc.  Who can resist a bag of cookbooks for $3.00!?  So I may implement a day once or twice a month where we pick something from a cookbook and give it a try.  Then I can share it here with you! Win-win!

2017 dawned as the year I would FINALLY lose those 15 stupid pounds I have been dragging around with me since my babies were born.  I decided in December that I needed to stop convincing myself I “wasn’t a runner” and just give it a try.  We have a treadmill just collecting dust, like many of you I am sure!  So, I started slow…and am still taking it slow, but I am trying to at least run five days a week, for a minimum of 30 minutes each time. Now, don’t be thinking I am running that whole time…oh no, I am not there yet.  I walk a bit in between but try to run as long as I can go.  My goal is a 5K in April, so if I can at least get myself to be able to run that far without keeling over, I will feel successful!

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I have also stopped drinking alcohol. during the week and cut way back on my carb intake.  I thought both of those would be hard to do, but it’s been a lot easier than I thought it would be.  The cutting back on carbs is easy, because I have always enjoyed protein, so I just make sure I am getting enough of that and I don’t feel deprived. The no-vino part…well, it depends on the day.  lol!  So far I have lost about five pounds, so for a bit over a month, that’s pretty good.  And helps to keep me encouraged and motivated.  I can’t wait until I can run outside…treadmill running is so boring!!! And I really think I will be able to lose the final amount quickly at that point.

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Are you starting to make your menu for the “Big Game” this coming Sunday? I have come across a few things we might try this year.  We’ll have the usual Chicken Wings, because my son can’t live without those. And I am ALWAYS craving Chicken Nachos…so there’s that.  But I did come across this recipe collection and these Loaded Nacho Skins look pretty delish, right?!  And I shared these adorable Baby Blooming Onions on Facebook today…wouldn’t they be fun to make?!  I will have to run for like an hour that morning just to counter-balance the calories I am sure I will be ingesting! But a little splurge now and then is a-okay!  All good things in moderation! 😍

I promise to not stay away so long next time…until then, Cheers! ❤️