Hungarian Mushroom Soup

Inspiration: As always, I love finding new soup recipes so that B and I can have some variety in our weekday work lunches. This was a great one to put on the list because it could take another chunk out of a spare container of sour cream in my fridge. Those things are so hard to use up when you don’t really need them, aren’t they?

What we Loved: B and I both love the flavor of mushrooms, so we of course loved this soup. It was full to the brim with mushrooms in every bite! And the broth had a nice, creamy paprika flavor similar to the sauce in the chicken paprikash that  I made earlier this week. I really loved the earthiness of this soup and its simplicity.

Helpful Hints: Sauteeing the onions and mushrooms takes some time, because there are a lot of them. Make sure that you have 15-20 minutes or so to get them cooked through!

Hungarian Mushroom Soup
Source: Eat Me, Delicious, originally from AllRecipes

I made some changes to the recipe, mainly to make more servings and to omit the flour carbohydrates. Here’s the recipe as I made it.

Extra virgin olive oil
2 onions, chopped
2 lbs fresh mushrooms, chopped
1 teaspoon dried dill
1 heaping teaspoon sweet Hungarian paprika
1 tablespoon soy sauce
5 cups chicken stock (or vegetable stock to keep this vegetarian)
1 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
Ground black pepper
Lemon juice from 1/2 lemon
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 cup sour cream

1. Heat the olive oil in a large stock pot over medium heat. Saute the onions and mushrooms until all of the water released from the mushrooms has evaporated and the vegetables are softened and starting to brown, approximately 15-20 minutes.

2. Stir in the dill, paprika, soy sauce, chicken stock, and milk. Reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 15 minutes.

3. Add the salt, pepper, lemon juice, cilantro, and sour cream. Whisk together well, and allow the soup to heat through before serving.

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Sausage and Bacon Stuffed Mushrooms

Portabella Mushrooms with Sausage and Bacon

Portabella Mushrooms with Sausage and Bacon

*Photo and Recipe Updated December 2012*

Inspiration: These are the kinds of meals that I love to eat when the weather is nice. It has been gorgeous around here for the past few days. We opened up every window in the house last night for the first time this year, just letting the sunshine soak in and the breeze fly through, and this was the perfect, light meal for such a day. The avocados at the store started tasting really, really unbelievably good recently, so I’ve been shoveling them into my cart every week like it’s my job. Avocados are one of my favorite foods, right up there with goat cheese and almond butter and chocolate. I mixed them up here into a chopped guacamole salad for such a great side dish.

What we Loved: We first used the basic idea of the stuffing for this recipe when we made cubanelle peppers stuffed with bison and bacon. Brandon came up with that great flavor combo, and we’ve been using it as a stock recipe for stuffing peppers and mushrooms ever since. Bacon, onions, garlic, salt and pepper, chihuahua cheese, and meat of choice. It’s really an incredibly flavorful, crispy, salty, cheesy combination that we just love. And this recipe was no different. It was hearty and satisfying, and it paired perfectly with the guacamole salad.

Helpful Hints: I really prefer chihuahua cheese as a melting cheese when I’m making dishes like this, because it really has a great, creamy texture when it melts. If you can’t find it, though, pepper jack or monteray jack would be good substitutes for this meal.

Portabella Mushrooms with Sausage and Bacon
Source: Original Recipe

2 large portabella mushrooms
2 slices bacon, diced
1/3 lb pork sausage
1/2 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
Kosher salt and black pepper
3 oz chihuahua cheese, shredded

1. Clean the mushrooms, and cut off the stems. Chop the stems into small pieces, and set aside.

2. Heat just a pat of butter in a saute pan over medium low heat. Add the two mushroom caps, and cook for 5-6 minutes per side, allowing the moisture to be released from the mushrooms. Place the mushrooms in a baking dish.

3. Meanwhile, in a small sauce pan or saute pan, saute the bacon until it’s crispy. Remove to a plate and set aside. Add the sausage, onions, and mushroom stems to the pan, and saute until everything is cooked through and starting to brown. Add the garlic, and cook for an additional minute. Season to taste with salt and pepper and turn off the heat. Mix in about 2/3 of the cheese.

4. Fill the mushroom caps with the sausage mixture. Distribute the remaining cheese atop the mushrooms.

6. Bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes, until everything is warmed through and the cheese is melted and starting to brown. Broil for a few minutes at the end if you’d like additional browning on the cheese.

Creamy Mushroom Soup

Creamy Mushroom Soup

*photos updated December 2011*

Inspiration: It was another week, and B and I needed another soup to take to work for lunches!

What we Loved: The flavor of this soup was really fantastic. It was rich and earthy, full of the herby flavors of thyme and rosemary and the great earthiness of mushrooms. I really can’t think of a better word than earthy to describe this meal. And being finished with cream, I found this soup to be very filling, too! I could barely finish my lunch servings. I’ve really grown to love mushrooms over the past few years, and B has always loved them, so we both quite enjoyed the rich mushroom flavor that this soup had to offer.

Helpful Hints: Since mushrooms are the predominant ingredient in this soup, I wouldn’t give it a try unless you’re sure that you love them! It’s a mushroom meal through and through. That being said, if you do like mushrooms, then I can almost guarantee that you’ll love this soup! I used thyme and rosemary as my complimenting herbs, but the original recipe called for thyme and sage. Oregano or tarragon would also work well, I think, if you prefer those herbs. The soup will have a little bit of a different spin depending on which herbs you use, but the mushrooms are really the main flavor, so there’s some room to experiment.

Creamy Mushroom Soup
Source: Closet Cooking

I was trying to stretch the recipe, so I used more mushrooms than called for. I also changed the herbs and decided not to roast the mushrooms to save some time. Here’s the recipe as I made it.

Extra virgin olive oil
24 oz baby portabella mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
1 sweet onion, roughly chopped
2 large cloves garlic, roughly chopped
2 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste
4 cups stock (I used chicken, but use vegetable to keep this recipe vegetarian)
1 cup heavy cream

1. Heat a good drizzle of olive oil in a large saute pan. Add the mushrooms, 1 teaspooon of the thyme, and salt and pepper. Saute until the water released from the mushrooms evaporates and the mushrooms begin to brown, approximately 15-20 minutes.

2. While the mushrooms are cooking, heat a drizzle of olive oil in a large pot. Add the onion, and cook until softened, approximately 4-5 minutes.

3. Add the garlic, additional teaspoon of thyme, and rosemary to the pot with the onions. Cook for an additional minute.

4. Add the mushrooms and the stock, and simmer for 10 minutes.

5. Puree the soup with an immersion blender or a food processor.

6. Mix in the heavy cream, and season to taste with salt and pepper.  I ended up adding about a teaspoon of salt in total, but make sure to add the salt slowly and adjust to your preference.

Mexican Stuffed Mushrooms

*Photo Updated August 2012*

Inspiration: On my list of favorite appetizers, stuffed mushrooms are way up there. There are countless recipes for them, and I’ve loved nearly every one that I’ve tried. That being said, when I ran across these Mexican stuffed mushrooms, I knew that they would be perfect for our football-watching Mexican appetizer spread. And as an aside, I’ll be blogging my absolute favorite recipe – creamy shrimp and bacon stuffed mushrooms – just as soon as I get the chance to make them again.

What we Loved: These stuffed mushrooms tasted just like tacos. It was amazing, especially considering that they were vegetarian. We couldn’t quite believe how much they reminded me of the traditional beef, cheddar, and lettuce taco that everyone loves. All of the vegetables were mixed with a nice helping of chili powder, cumin, and colby jack cheese, which is what really gave these that wonderful taco flavor. We especially loved how the gooey cheese held everything together.

Helpful Hints: Make sure to cook your mushrooms long enough so that a lot of the moisture from the mushrooms can escape. The baking dish will be quite watery when you take them out, but that’s a good thing. I think that this recipe would also work fabulously using large portabella mushroom caps for a main dish.

Mexican Stuffed Mushrooms
Source: Pots and Plots

I made a few changes to the recipe. Here’s the recipe as I made it.

12-15 baby portabella mushrooms
Approximately 2-3 inches of a zucchini, very finely chopped
1/2 small vidalia onion, very finely chopped
1/4 red bell pepper, very finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt (using more or less to taste)
2-3 oz colby cheese, finely grated

1. Clean the mushrooms, and remove and finely chop the stems. Place the mushrooms cap-side down in a baking dish.

2. Add a pat of butter to a small saute pan over medium heat. Add the chopped mushroom stems, zucchini, onion, and bell pepper. Saute for 4-5 minutes, until the vegetables are softened and the liquid is gone. Add the garlic, and saute for 30 seconds more.

3. Season the vegetable mix with the cumin, chili powder, and salt.

4. Remove the pan from the heat, and stir in the cheese.

5. Spoon the mixture into the mushroom caps.

6. Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes, until the mushrooms are softened and browned.

Pork, Chorizo, and Mushroom Stew

Inspiration: B bought me the most fabulous slow cooker for Christmas. My last slow cooker, which I really loved, was a really nice (or so I thought!) Kitchenaid slow cooker whose ceramic pot cracked all the way down the middle one day while I was cooking a nice pot roast. And after only 10-15 uses! Needless to say, I was really upset with the fact that it broke and with Kitchenaid’s customer service, and I had to resort to using my old, pretty terrible crockpot for at least a year because I didn’t want to spend the money to replace my nice one. So this past Christmas, B hooked me up with a fabulous All-Clad cooker that has an aluminum insert that’s also safe to use on the stovetop and in the oven, which means crock pot cooking all in one pot, with no worry of a cracking ceramic insert! I didn’t even know such a thing existed, and I’m still unnaturally excited about it :) B showed me this recipe on the Williams Sonoma site that made use of the all-in-one pot functionality, so we spent a nice Sunday afternoon changing the recipe to suit our tastes and creating a lovely, Sunday night stew.

What we Loved: What didn’t we love about this stew? It was incredible. It made our home smell so delicious and hearty all day long as it cooked, and the end result was an intensely flavorful stew with fall-apart pork pieces, ridiculously tender chorizo pieces, and a rich and earthy sauce. The sauce was particularly enjoyable because it contained all of the flavor from the vegetables and garlic, as well as all of the juices and fats from the three different types of meats that cooked in it. And I just loved the rich red color! We put the whole cloves from a entire head of garlic in the stew, and they ended up with a softened, roasted garlic flavor that I really enjoyed. A clove on my spoon with a bit of the sauce was a little piece of heaven! I was also very surprised by the chorizo, which was more tender than I ever thought it could be. All-in-all, this was a very meaty, filling, and wonderful stew that was so perfect for a cold Sunday evening.

Helpful Hints: As B was cooking the bacon, which is the first step of the process and which renders the fat in which to cook the pork and vegetables, we realized that our bacon wasn’t very fatty (as far as bacon goes, anyway) and wasn’t rendering enough fat. So, we added some of the discarded pork fat to the pot with the bacon, and this browned up wonderfully and added plenty of extra fat and flavor to the pot.

Pork, Chorizo, and Mushroom Stew
Source: Adapted from Williams Sonoma

We used the cassoulet recipe as a base and changed it to suit our preferences and make a stew. Here’s what we did.

4 oz bacon, cut crosswise into 1/4 inch strips
2-3 pounds boneless pork shoulder (I used a picnic roast), trimmed of excess fat and cut into 1 inch pieces
3 medium yellow onions, chopped
24 oz baby portabella mushrooms, sliced
1 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 28 oz can peeled Italian plum tomatoes, drained and chopped
2 cups chicken broth
24 oz Spanish chorizo links, sliced
1 head garlic, cloves separated and peeled

1. Add the bacon pieces to a saute pan or dutch oven (I used the stovetop-safe insert of my crockpot). Heat over medium heat until the fat is rendered and the bacon is browned, approximately 7-8 minutes. Remove the bacon  from the pot and set aside.

2. Add half of the pork to the pot and brown it on all sides, approximately 7-8 minutes total. Transfer the cooked pork to a platter, and repeat with the remaining pork.

3. Add the onions and mushrooms to the pot. Cook until all of the water releases from the mushrooms and evaporates, approximately 15-20 minutes.

4. When the mushrooms have started to brown, add the wine, and simmer until reduced by half. Stir in the tomato paste, tomatoes, and broth.

5. Remove the pot from the heat, and add the pork, chorizo, garlic cloves, and reserved bacon.

6. If you aren’t using a stovetop-safe crockpot insert, transfer the contents of the pot to your crockpot insert. Cook on low for 9-10 hours, until the pork pulls apart with a fork.

Salisbury Steak

Salisbury Steak

*Photo and recipe updated March 2012*

Inspiration: I’ll admit it. I used to love those Salisbury steak TV dinners as a kid. I mean, really love them. Salisbury steak, mashed potatoes, corn, brownie. Something reminded me of them the other day, and I got to thinking that I’ve never had a homemade Salisbury steak before. In fact, I didn’t even know how you would even go about making one. Would you use cube steak? Ground beef? Some other cut of meat?  When I told Brandon that I was making this for supper, he replied with, “I don’t even know what those are.” Meaning, “I used to eat those,  but what are they…?” Sure sounds like a meal in need of a nice homemade revamp.

What we Loved: These were absolutely fabulous. Really, they’re the perfect comfort food for a dark, cold evening, and I’m craving one again just writing this post. The steak itself is made from ground beef that’s mixed with seasonings and onions and then pan fried, but what really makes this dish is the gravy. It’s rich and flavorful, thick and creamy from a touch of sour cream, and nice and earthy from the mushrooms. When you cut into the meat, which is already moist on the inside like a burger, the gravy seeps down into the steak for a really delicious bite. The gravy is made in the same pan in which you pan fry the steaks, so all of the brown bits from the beef get incorporated into the gravy for an extra layer of browned beef flavor. What a great comfort meal.

Helpful Hints: Make sure to allow your pan sauce time to reduce down. At first it’s very thin, but after a few minutes of simmering away, it really thickens up nicely.

Salisbury Steak
Source: Yum Sugar

I modified this recipe to serve two. Here’s the recipe as I made it.

1 slice Vidalia onion, minced
About 3/4 lb ground beef
Garlic powder, to taste
Seasoned salt, to taste (I used Lawry’s)
Dried thyme, to taste
Black pepper, to taste
About 4 ounces baby portabella mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup beef stock
1/4 – 1/3 cup sour cream

1. Heat a pat of butter in a saute pan, and saute the minced onion until it is nice and softened.

2. Combine the meat with the minced onion, garlic powder, seasoned salt, thyme, and pepper. Form the meat into two oblong oval-shaped patties, flattening as much as possible.

3. In the same saute pan, add another good pat of butter of medium heat. Saute the mushrooms until they are softened and beginning to brown. Remove the mushrooms to a bowl and set aside.

4. Place the meat patties into the pan, and cook for approximately four to five minutes per side, until completely cooked through. Remove from the pan, setting aside and tenting with foil to keep warm.

5. Add the beef stock to the hot pan, and bring to a boil. Scrape the brown bits from the bottom of the pan to incorporate. Reduce the heat, and slowly whisk in the sour cream. Add the mushrooms back into the pan. Continue to cook until the sauce thickens.

6. Serve the sauce over the steaks.

Chicken Cutlets with Portabella Bleu Cheese Sauce

Chicken Cutlets with Portabella Bleu Cheese Sauce

Inspiration: I really tried bleu cheese for the first time within the past year, and let’s just say that I couldn’t understand why anyone would eat it. To me, it was so ridiculously strong that I couldn’t even enjoy the taste. I wanted to like it, though, so I kept sampling it here and there, tried out some milder kinds, and before I knew it, I loved it. Now, bleu cheese is one of those random foods that I really crave all of the time, like peanut butter or avocados. Anyway, I get excited when we have some extra bleu cheese that needs used up, because I love finding ways to use it in our suppers.

What we Loved: We loved this sauce because it really tasted like bleu cheese. I’ve tried other bleu cheese sauces before that were too muted, but this one is really strongly flavored, because it doesn’t have many ingredients other than the cheese. If you don’t like bleu cheese, I wouldn’t try this one! On the other hand, if you love bleu cheese, then this is really great. The sauce has a nice, creamy texture, and the mushrooms really compliment the flavor of the cheese.

Helpful Hints: Make sure to let this sauce lightly boil for a bit to thicken up. It will be very thin at first. The sauce works great with chicken, but it would really work well over any protein of your choice. Beef or pork would be great!

Chicken Cutlets with Portabella Bleu Cheese Sauce
Source: Original Recipe

1 chicken breast, butterflied and then cut in half to create two cutlets
Extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and black pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary, or other herbs as preferred
1 package baby portabella mushrooms
4-5 oz bleu cheese (I used gorgonzola. Roquefort would also be good)
Splash of milk

1. Season each side of the chicken cutlets with salt and pepper, and sprinkle them with rosemary.

2. Heat a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil in a saute pan. When it is hot, add the chicken, and saute until the chicken is cooked through and browned on the outside, approximately 4-5 minutes per side. Remove the chicken to a plate, and cover with foil to keep warm.

3. Add the mushrooms to the saute pan. When the water starts to release from the mushrooms, stir and scrap the bottom of the pan, stirring any browned bits into the mushrooms.  Cook until the water released from the mushrooms is nearly gone.

4. Crumble the bleu cheese into the pan. Add a splash of milk, and stir until the cheese is melted. Bring the contents of the pan to a low boil, and cook for a few minutes longer until the sauce thickens up.

5. Serve the bleu cheese sauce over the chicken cutlets.