Thursday, April 19, 2012

cream of mushroom soup

I love soups.
All kinds.
But I'm quickly losing the window of opportunity for making soups for dinner so I'm going to try and cram a bunch in this week. (we'll see how this goes)

First is this mushroom soup I found on Pinterest yesterday.

Just so happened that I had all needed ingredients so I figured why not.
Family loved it. I loved it because it was delicious and because it was surprisingly quick to make. Love those kinds of recipes.

The original recipe is from 'Season with Spice' but I will post here as I made it last night. And there was only enough for two bowls! If you need to feed more you will need to double or triple what is listed below.


tablespoon olive oil
tablespoon butter
2 1/2 cups chopped mushrooms - I use Shitaake (it's what I had)
4 cloves of garlic - chopped
2 teaspoons dried thyme 
2 teaspoons worcestershire
2 tablespoons flour
1 bay leaf
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg


chop all the mushrooms and garlic first.
set aside.
heat the oil and butter.
add the garlic and cook until the edges just start to turn brown.
add the mushrooms and cook until all the liquid is evaporated.
add the thyme and worcestershire.
cook another few minutes then add the chicken broth and flour.
let this come to a bubbling simmer (I know - terrible description)
then add the milk and cream and nutmeg.
cook for 10 minutes.
add a teaspoon of salt and pepper then taste for seasoning.
adjust as needed.
serve immediately.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Easter 2012

It's one thing after another isn't it?
After all the Renaissance Faire craziness I needed to get everything in order for Easter. This year was actually much, much easier since we were not hosting in our house, and since all I had to produce were appetizers and desserts. 
No problem!
First though we needed to make sure the "Easter Bunny" remembered to stop and visit Ada and bring her some specific treats with the chocolate.

The "Easter Bunny" did a great job.  :-)

Back into the kitchen I go.
Appetizers were deviled eggs made the way my dad loved them - using sweet pickles.
Also did the wildly popular Brie wrapped in pastry - with a little bunny on top.
(humor me and say you can see the bunny)

Mini birds nests with candy coated chocolate eggs.

The to-die-for Brownie Tart.

A giant mess of eggs and chocolate and jelly beans.

There of course was also Carrot Cake with cream cheese frosting and the festive little bowl of jellybird eggs. By the way - what's the difference between jelly beans? and jellybird eggs?
I did also wash, dry and dye some egg shells and use them as part of the table settings.

I think that was about it.
Oh wait...I also had a moment of "Completely lost my Mind" and made these little carrot cake coconut covered chicks!
Which by the way Ada thought they were a little weird looking. Guess I don't have to do these again!
Now I'm done.
Hope everyone had a wonderful weekend.

Until next year...

Renaissance Faire 2012

Where have I been?
Planning, prepping and executing Leonardo da Vinci school's 11th annual Renaissance Faire.
I'm not going to get into how much work this is. Anyone who has put together a giant event with visiting artists and volunteer workers and 20+ stations of activities and a bajillion tables and cloths and paper towels and trash cans and etc...etc...etc...knows this is no light task.
Did I survive?
Of course I did - although I'm pretty sure there is a patch of gray hair on my head with da Vinci's signature.

In case there are any persons who were associated with this event reading this - THANK YOU! I could not have pulled this off without the energy and dedication of so many volunteers. It was a pretty fantastic day.

Some highlights are as follows:
(Yes - that is my daughter looking at the camera)

Explorit Science Center came and spent the day with us.

Bearworthys Games had a very fun table set up

Several local artists came and drew the kids for the Portraits station.
We had a Ceramic Arts station supervised by local artist Mollie Morrison.
She is amazing!
Some of the fruits of their labor - waiting for the kiln.
Of the many arts and crafts stations we had, one was Jester Hat making.
Block Printing

For the Paint Making station we drew out several canvases.
Then the kids add color throughout the day.
Here's one of the finished products.


Until next year...

Friday, April 6, 2012

eggs hollandaise

Why "eggs Hollandaise"?
Because my friend Michael (he's from Germany and still has an accent and hopefully he won't read this post) always says it this way - instead of eggs benedict, or eggs Bearnaise or whatever else name this dish can go by. 
There are quite a few variations of this dish out there. The different titles are determined by whether you use ham, or salmon or spinach or even salsa. The way I made it here would probably fall into the California Eggs Benedict category because of the addition of avocado and tomato. But however it is that you prefer it, the combination of poached eggs and hollandaise sauce is almost always going to be a fantastic breakfast (brunch) and well worth the effort of stirring, stirring, stirring! 
Maybe try this for Easter Sunday? I guarantee the family will thank you?

...just a thought...

I'm on a poached egg kick this week. Probably because Ada is on spring break which means I am also on spring break and have time in the mornings for something other than toast!

note: This post only gives the recipe for the sauce. It took me a long time to get the hang of poached eggs and I'm not sure how to do the tutorial for that without video. If you've never made poached eggs I highly recommend you try - and then keep trying (if you're like me anyway)
You'll get the hang of it. And you'll figure out how long to let them cook for how runny you want the insides. It'll be worth the time to have this small little skill up your sleeve.

eggs - poached
English Muffins (store bought because I can't make my own) toasted
thinly sliced avocado
thinly sliced tomato
Hollandaise sauce 

5 egg yolks
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 stick + 2 tablespoons butter - melted
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper - more if you want more zing
maybe a tablespoon of hot water to thin the sauce a bit

Bring a pot with about 2 inches of water to a full simmer.
In a glass bowl whisk together the egg yolks and lemon juice until completely incorporated.
Place this bowl on top of the pot with the simmering water.
* I do this instead of using a double broiler.
Once the egg and lemon juice mixture has thickened slowly drizzle in the melted butter.
Continue whisking until this whole things doubles in volume.
Should take 15 - 20 minutes (yes - you will get tired of this project quickly)
Add the cayenne pepper and a dash or two of salt.
Taste for additional seasoning and add if needed.

Assemble all the layers.
Some fresh ground pepper on top.
Serve immediately.
By the way - this sauce is fantastic on asparagus or cauliflower or....

Thursday, April 5, 2012

asparagus and poached eggs

This is another of those "not really a recipe just more of an idea" posts.
I saw the idea for this in a magazine - but of course do not remember which one. What I do know is that I've been craving poached eggs ever since.
Weird craving...I know.

The mixture dressing the asparagus is bacon, a little chopped red onion and a couple cloves of chopped garlic. Some salt and pepper and all done. I did the pan fry trick again because I didn't feel like firing up the grill.
Then poached a couple eggs and voila!
Lunch is served.

Bring a pot of water to boiling so it's ready for the egg.
Chop everything up.
Crisp the bacon then remove from the pan.
In the same pan saute the onion and garlic.
Remove from the pan.
Toss the asparagus in there.
Let cook for about five minutes - just until it starts looking a little charred in spots.
Then add the bacon, onion and garlic mixture back in.
Poach your egg(s).
(I imagine a pan fried egg would be just as tasty if you didn't want to dirty another pot)

Sprinkle a little salt and some fresh ground pepper all over the mixture.

Plate and enjoy!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

spicy grilled shrimp with fettucine

I'm FINALLY back in the kitchen!
Actually it's not like I ever really left. You know how it is - we can have 500 projects going all at the same time but still need to get the laundry done and dinner on the table, right? I did tell my family no-one was allowed to open the drapes - this way I couldn't see the one inch high dust covering every flat surface in my house. My usual response? "Go light some candles...let's pretend it's still the middle of winter"
Anyway, these last couple months have been nuts with RenFaire prep - more to come on that later - so food items have needed to be quick and easy and NO fuss - last night was hot dogs - yes...I'm serious...and I'm just fine with announcing I made boiled hot dogs to the entire world - boiled! I didn't even bother to go turn on the grill.

But today I finally have a chance to cook something and I'm craving pasta (???)

Here's how it turned out.

Now remember - I'm the one in the house that doesn't want sauce (husband wants white sauce, daughter wants red sauce...I want no sauce...) 
I like my pasta with just olive oil, fresh parmesan and some fresh ground pepper and whatever else I'm in the mood for.
So this dish is perfect for me and came together pretty quick.
Very happy with my lunch today.

1 package fresh pasta
1 pound raw shrimp - peeled, deveined, dried, etc...
1 1/2 to 2 red peppers - they might be called red jalapeno
4 cloves of garlic - finely chopped
8 tablespoons of butter (gasp)
3 tablespoons olive oil
5 tablespoons fresh lemon juice - and save a little for just before serving


Turn on the grill.
I say this here because I ALWAYS seem to forget to do this until right before I need it.
Grab one of those disposable aluminum trays or some other grill safe pan.
Cut the butter into 8 pieces.
Chop the garlic.
Add the butter, garlic, olive oil, and lemon juice to the pan.
Thinly slice the red pepper and add that in.
Add a few turns of pepper.
Then swish all of that around a little - set aside. You want to make sure that pepper infuses everything in that pan. Kind of share the heat if you will.

Bring a pot of water to boiling.
While you're waiting for the water, prep your shrimp and skewer them.

Drizzle each side with olive oil and salt and pepper.

These next two steps can be done in reverse order I think.
I cooked my pasta according to the package directions - minus a minute so it wasn't mushy, drained it, put it back in the pot, tossed with a little olive oil then went and grilled the shrimp. I'm sure either way will be fine.
The shrimp needs to go on the grill for only a couple of minutes on each side.
Place the aluminum pan on one side of the grill and the shrimp skewers on the other.
Once the shrimp are almost completely done slide them off the skewers into the butter, lemon juice mixture and let cook another minute or so.
When ready pour the contents of the aluminum pan into the pot with the pasta and give it all a good tossing.
Squeeze a little more lemon juice in there.
Add a couple tablespoons of cilantro.
Add some pepper and cheese if you so desire.
Serve immediately.

By the way, I think this would be wonderful with brown rice or even some Asian noodles. I just didn't have any today.
But it's a thought...

I made this last night for my husband and he says it's better with angel hair pasta.

Just another thought....