Creamy Mushroom Soup

It’s getting cooler in the evenings, so soup and sandwiches are the perfect meal. When I saw a pound of dirty button mushrooms I instantly looked at John and said I’m going to make mushroom soup tomorrow! After some good and thorough cleaning, the mushroom stems came off and the real cooking began.

The soup is pureed then thickened with a classic mix of egg yolks and heavy cream.

Creamy Mushroom Soup – 6 large servings
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1 lb button (crimini) or portabella mushrooms, sliced
Kosher salt
6 cups low sodium chicken stock
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1/2 lemon, freshly squeezed
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup heavy cream
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Minced parsley and Cayenne, optional

In a small saucepan over low heat, keep the stock warm.

Melt 3 tablespoons butter in a large saucepan over medium-low heat, add onions and cook until softened. Add the sliced mushrooms, dash of salt and mix well. Cook until mushrooms have softened, there will be liquid in the pot. Add the warmed stock to the pot, and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat, and allow to cool, about 20 minutes.

Using a blender puree the soup, this is a matter of taste, some prefer no chunks of mushrooms, so run blender until you don’t see any. John and I prefer a little texture, so 10-15 seconds is more than enough in the blender. Set aside.

In a clean medium saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons of butter over low heat, sprinkle with flour, whisk until combined, and add lemon juice. While whisking carefully pour the pureed mushroom soup into the flour butter mixtur, and bring to a simmer. Whisk together egg yolks and cream in a small bowl, and while constantly whisking, pour into mushroom soup in a slow and steady stream. Turn off the heat.
Taste and adjust seasonings.

Divide soup into bowls, sprinkle with minced parsley and cayenne, serve with plenty of crusty bread!

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Southern Style Mac n’ Cheese with Chipotle Chicken

I love macaroni and cheese! It’s one of those wonderful comfort foods that never disappoints!

The lovely thing about a proper southern mac n’ cheese, is that it has a lot of flavor – it’s not just cheese and noodles – it’s onion, nutmeg, and worcestershire with a whole lot of other goodness. My personal addition to this classic dish is shredded chicken simmered in tomato and chipotle.

It’s great in the winter as a meal, or perfect in the summer for an outdoor barbeque. Also I should note, John likes to mix the type of cheese he will use, for example one of his favorites to use is a Chipotle Sharp Cheddar, you may want to try it out!

Southern Style Mac n’ Cheese – 8-10 servings
2 chicken breasts
1 can of diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons Cholula Chipotle
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 lb (8 oz) cavatappi
Unsalted butter
7 oz extra-sharp cheddar, cut into 1/2inch cubes
6 oz grated extra sharp cheddar
2 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon flour
1 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch of cayenne pepper
2/3 cup sour cream
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups half and half
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/3 cup grated onion
1 teaspoon Worcestershire

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9′ X 13′ baking dish and set aside.

Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil, add chicken breasts and cook for about 30 minutes, or until fully done. Cool on cutting board, and shred using a fork. In a small saute pan, bring diced tomatoes and chipotle to simmer over medium-high heat. Add shredded chicken breast and cook until sauce has thickened, and chicken is fully coated, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook halfway through, only 3 or 4 minutes. Drain pasta and transfer to the prepared baking dish, stir in the cubed cheddar cheese, shredded chipotle chicken and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl combine 1 1/2 teaspoon salt, flour, mustard, black pepper, nutmeg and cayenne. Add the sour cream and eggs then whisk until smooth. Whisk in the half and half, heavy cream, grated onions and Worcestershire. Pour the egg mixture over the pasta, mix well to combine. Sprinkle the grated cheese evenly over the pasta.

Bake until the pasta mixture is set around the edges but a bit loose in the center, about 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes before serving.


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Chocolate Guinness Cake

I neeeded to make a special cake for our friend Alex’s 25th birthday, especially since I wasn’t able to make it to his birthday dinner. I had recently made a Chocolate Red Wine cake from a recipe by pastry chef Kate Zuckerman, so I took a look around and saw that with a few adjustments I could easily use beer.

I chose to use an Extra Stout Guinness so that the flavor would really come out, and although it was subtle, you could taste it! Plus Alex and John really enjoyed the cake.

Chocolate Guinness Cake – 12 servings
Guinness Cake:
2 cups extra stout Guinness
2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
4 cups all-purpose flour
4 cups sugar
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
4 large eggs
1 1/3 cups sour cream
Chocolate Icing:
2 cups heavy cream
1 pound semisweet chocolate chips

For the cake:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Generously butter three 8-inch round cake pans with at least 2-inch-high sides, set aside.

Bring 2 cups stout and 2 cups butter to simmer in large saucepan over medium heat. Add cocoa powder and whisk until mixture is smooth. Cool slightly.

Whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in large bowl. Using hand mixer, beat eggs and sour cream in another large bowl. Add stout-chocolate mixture to egg mixture and beat just to combine. Add flour mixture and beat briefly on slow speed. Using a spatula, fold batter until completely combined.

Pour 4 cups of chocolate stout batter into each of the prepared cake pans. Bake cakes seperately, until a toothpick inserted into center of cakes comes out clean, about 38 minutes. Remove from oven, let cool for 10 minutes and transfer cakes to rack; and cool completely.

For the icing:
Bring heavy cream to simmer in medium saucepan. Remove from heat, add chocolate chips and whisk until melted and smooth. Refrigerate until icing is spreadable, stirring every 30 minutes, for about 2 hours.

Place 1 cake layer on a serving plate. Spread 2/3 cup icing over. Top with second cake layer. Spread 2/3 cup icing over. Top with third cake layer. Spread the rest of the icing overt the top and sides of the cake.

Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving so that the frosting settles. Slice, and let sit at room temperature for 15 minutes before serving.

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Oh and for those of you hoping to see Southern Style Mac n’ Cheese this week, I’m making it tomorrow night and will post it next weekend!
Happy Cooking!

Fancy Frito Pie

Since it’s getting a little cooler, John and I were thinking of dining on something warm and comforting.  And well what’s more comforting than chili?  Besides mac and cheese, which I will make next weekend!

I had never eaten Frito pie before, but John, a connoisseur of all things chili got to explaining what it was.  Spices, onion, beef, cheese and Fritos – no problem!  After some research, I found a few recipes that I combined, influences from Texas, Missouri, and Ohio. This perticular chili, has beans and plenty of spices, but the heat is medium, and subtle – nothing the sour cream can’t temper!

Oh and the reason it’s “fancy” as John says…I use cubed beef instead of ground.  And I put everything together instead of buying a seasoning packet.

Fancy Frito Pie – 6 generous servings
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 teaspoons Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
2 pounds beef (bottom round), trimmed and cut into 1/4-inch cubes
6 ounce can tomato paste (or 1/2 cup)
28 ounce can of diced tomatoes in liquid
2 cups beef stock
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons dried Mexican oregano
1 can red kidney beans, drained
1 family size bag of Frito corn chips
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
Red pepper flakes, for garnishing
Pickled jalapeno slices, drained, for garnishing

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan, over medium heat. Add the onions, 1 teaspoon salt, and cayenne. Stir and cook until onions are softened and golden.

Season the cubed beef with remaining teaspoon salt, and add to the saucepan. Cook until the beef is browned evenly on all sides. Add the tomato paste, mix well. Add the canned diced tomatoes, beef stock, garlic, chili powder, cumin, oregano, and beans. Stir well and bring to a boil, uncovered, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally for about 2 hours.

To serve you layer the items: In individual bowls, place a handful of Fritos (about 1 oz) , top with 1/2 cup of chili, some cheese, another handful of Fritos, 1/2 cup of chili, some cheese, a tablespoon of sour cream, and serve the pickled jalapenos and red pepper flakes on the side so your guest can adjust the heat to their individual bowl.

Another easy way to serve: Fritos scoops – fill a bowl with Frito scoops, chili, top with cheese, sour cream!

Don’t forget to serve with a spoon and thoroughly enjoy!

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Empanadas – Meat stuffed amazingness!

My adorable friend Katie came over and helped me make 24 of these delicious “meat pies”, which made it even more enjoyable to make, while I rolled out the dough, and added filling, she placed them on the pan, did the crimping, and made sure each one got a touch of egg wash.  It was a really fun way to spend the afternoon.

Each pie is filled with ground beef, onions, spices, tomatoes and raisins – they are wonderful with a side of cooked spinach and garlic, and a dollop of sour cream.  The other thing I really like about this recipe is how simple it is to make the dough, and while it’s chilling you make the filling and give it time to cool. Also John wanted me to mention that the eggs seemed strange at first, but when he got a bite of the yolk he wanted more egg!

Empanada Dough – 24 pastries
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons salt
2 sticks (1 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
2 eggs
2/3 cups ice water
2 tablespoons white vinegar

Sift flour and salt into a large bowl and blend in cubed butter with your fingertips until mixture resembles coarse meal. In a seperate bowl beat together eggs, water, and vinegar. Add to flour mixture, stirring with fork until just incorporated.

Turn mixture out onto a lightly floured surface and bring it together, then gently knead once or twice, just enough to bring dough together. Form dough into a flat rectangle (about an inch thick), wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

While the dough is chilling make the filling.

Empanadas – 24 pastries
4 hard-boiled eggs, cut into 6 slices each (lengthwise)
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoon olive oil
2 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 1/2 pounds ground beef (sirloin preffered)
1 1/2 oz box of raisins
3 tablespoons chopped pimiento-stuffed olives
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 14-ounce cans diced tomatoes, reserve 4 tablespoons juice, and drain
1 recipe of Empanada Dough, from above
Canola Oil

Heat a large saute pan with olvie oil and cook onions over medium heat, stirring frequently, until softened. Add garlic, cumin, oregano and cook. Stir in beef and cook, breaking up lumps, until no longer pink.

Add the raisins, olives, salt, pepper, and tomatoes with reserved juice, then cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid is reduced but mixture is still moist, about 5 minutes. Prepare a plate with papertowel, and spread the meat ontop. The papertowel will absorb any excess oil.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Prepare two baking sheets with silpats.

Roll out an empanada disk on about 6 inches round. Place 2-3 tablespoons meat mixture on one half of the disk and top with a slice of egg. Moisten edges of disk with eggwash and fold over to form a semicircle, crimp with a fork. Place empanada on silpat, brush with canola oil. Repeat with the rest of the dough and filling.

Once a baking sheet is filled, bake for 10 minutes. If you think the empanadas are too light, brush empanadas with egg wash, bake 3 more minutes. Baked they won’t be as crunchy as typical empanadas, and if that’s what you are looking for, heat vegetable oil to 360 degrees F, and fry empanadas 4-6 minutes (don’t forget to flip it).

As for eating and storing:
You have multiple options…these can be eaten right away, stored in a container and reheated in a pan with a little canola oil to add crispiness, refrigerated for a few days, or placed in the freezer for a quick snack over the month. To reheat, place in the oven at 325 degrees F for 20 minutes.

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Oh and the lovely lady in the photo is my helpful friend Katie! Bon Appetit!

Lemon Scones

This recipe for scones is absolutely delicious. It’s tangy, light, and goes wonderfully with jams and marmalades.

John and I prefer large scones for breakfast, and this recipe makes rather large scones, so if you prefer, cut the discs into 9 wedges, instead of 6 like the recipe calls for.

Lemon Scones – 6-9 large scones
4 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, diced and cold
1 large egg
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup freshly grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons turbinado

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with a silpat and set aside.

In a large bowl combine flour, sugar, baking poweder, baking soda, salt and ginger – whisk until combined.  Add the diced butter, and use your fingertips to rub the butter into the flour until the butter is pea-sized.

In the bowl of a mixer fitter with whisk, whisk together the egg, 3/4 cup buttermilk, and the lemon zest. Once combined, change the whisk to the dough hook. With the machine running low, add the flour mixture, once the dough has come together, shut off the machine. Move the dough to a lightly floured surface. Use your hands to shape the dough into two discs (about 1 1/2 inches thick). Try not to overwork the dough, it won’t be as fluffy if you do.

Cut each disk into 6 wedges (or 9 for smaller scones). Place the wedges on the prepared baking sheet. Brush each scone with the remaining 1/4 cup of buttermilk, and sprinkle with raw sugar.

Bake in the center of the oven for 25 to 30 minutes, rotating halfway, or until the scones are golden brown.

Remove from the oven, and place on a cooling rack. They are best served slightly warm or completely cooled. They can be stored in airtight container for up to 3 days.

Note: You can also freeze scones, allow them to cool completely, wrap each one in aluminum foil, and place in a freezer bag. They are great for about 2 months. To defrost, pull them out of the freezer the night before and allow them to come to room temperature by sitting out overnight.

Also, instead of a picture of these lovely scones (which I’ll admit, I forgot to take) – I would love to introduce everyone to the newest member to join the Vandike family…Chandon!

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This was Chandon’s first day at home with us, isn’t he just adorable?!  He’s a rescue, about 5 weeks old – and he loves to bite/play, especially John’s nose…He is recovering from poor health, and we hope that you’ll include him in your prayers for a speedy recovery! Thank you!  Oh and we got him August 18th!