Monthly Archives: January 2011

Tis the Season

Cream of Mushroom Soup


Greetings to everyone this snowy evening.  Originally the weather man was calling for up to 3inches of snow however I think that we are probably going to see a foot before this winter storm ends.  The only good thing about this weather is that it presents the perfect reason for nice warm soups and stews.  There is nothing as warming as a nice soup on a cold evening, especially if some fresh bread is close by.  I tend to prefer thick and creamy soups, ones that you can almost stand a spoon up in.  Nothing against all those broth soups out there, there is just something about a creamy soup.  Tonight’s soup is one of the first creamy soups that I attempted back in college, and when I realized that just because “cream” is in the name of a soup it doesn’t mean that it requires large amounts of actual cream.  

– 2tbsp butter
– 1/2 onion, chopped
– 3 garlic cloves, minced
– 2 cups bella mushrooms, diced
– 2 cups white mushrooms, diced
– 3 tbsp flour
– 2 cups veg. broth
– 1 cup water
– 2 tbsp sherry
– 1/2 cup half&half

1. Melt the butter over medium heat in a large soup pan.  Add the onion and garlic and cook until soft, then add the mushrooms and cook for an additional 5 minutes.  Stir in the flour and cook for 1 minute.
2. Pour in the broth and season to taste with parsley, salt, and pepper.  Bring to a boil, stirring, then turn heat down and simmer covered for 10minutes.  Pour soup into blender (or use hand immersion blender) and mix well.  Return the soup to the pan keeping over med-low heat and add the half&half.  Simmer for 10 minutes and SERVE!

I served mine topped with a dollop of sour cream with some French Bread on the side to help scoop up all the good stuff.  One of the best things about this soup is that it tastes like it was cooking all day but takes around half an hour until it’s on the table.   

Good for your Heart

Black Bean Hot Dogs


Welcome! Tis time for the January International Incident Party, which the lovely Jeroxie is allowing me to post late.  When I saw the theme for January was hot dogs, my heart dropped a little.  Suddenly the IIP went from Iron Chef to Kitchen Impossible which made me slightly nervous.  Even back in my meat eating days I wasn’t always a fan of hot dogs.  In fact I got myself in quite a bit of trouble once at a Friendly’s when I decided that the entire restaurant wanted to know my true feelings for the dinner in front of me.  When I got a little older I discovered a slight love for corndogs, but only if they were prepared to my specifications…luckily I had a very nice friend with a very nice deep fryer so this was possible.  Part of me thought of going in that direction, but then I felt like it would almost be cheating if I posted a recipe for something I haven’t eaten in a number of years.  So I started going thru all of my cookbooks, trying to see if I could find something that would work for making a vegetarian hot dog.  I thought about tofu dogs, or egg salad in panko dogs, or even some seitan dogs before finally settling on Black Bean dogs.  Black bean burgers were one of the first vegetarian meat substitutes I stumbled across and I was hooked from the beginning.    While these aren’t the prettiest dogs on the block. they are delicious and extremely filling!

– 2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
– 1/2 onion, diced
– 1/4 cup pickle. chopped
– 1/2 tbsp pickle juice
– 2 garlic cloves, minced
– 1 tsp parsley
– 1/4 tsp celery salt
– dash of smoked parika
– salt and pepper to taste
– 1/4 cup corn meal
– 1 tbsp olive oil, for cooking

1. Pour the beans into a blender and puree until silky, adding water if needed.  Add the onion, pickle, and pickle juice and blend well.  Then add the seasoning before blending again.  Drain any access liquid from the blender then hand mix in the bread crumbs. 
2.  Form the hotdogs by placing a few tablespoons of the mixture on parchment paper and molding into a snake like shape.  If you have corn shaped cornbread molds they would also work for this.  Be careful using dough piping equipment to form the snakes as the mixture is very thick.  Once the snakes have been formed (I made 6) place in fridge and chill for 30minutes to an hour.
3.  Remove dogs from fridge.  Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Carefully place the hot dogs onto the skillet leaving plenty of room between.  Cook for 3minutes and then use tongs to roll the dogs in order to cook the other sides. Serve warm!

As an added bonus I used homemade bread in order to form the buns, which worked out perfectly.  The hardest part of this recipe is turning the dogs so that they don’t break apart.  The best way to avoid this is by making sure the dogs have chilled long enough in the fridge, and then making sure they aren’t overcrowded in the pan.  If they do wind up breaking they just become Vienna Sausages…black bean style!

True 2

Maple Glazed Salmon 
Parmesan Roasted Red Potatoes


“The best laid plans of Mice and Men…you know how this ends.  This past weekend was the first International Incident blog party and needless to say life got in the way.  However just because I missed all the fun doesn’t mean you have to.  So please bounce on over to Jeroxie and see all the amazing hot dogs that are being offered this month. I was able to prepare my delicious Vegan Black Bean Dogs and chances are they will eventually find their way here…but until then how about salmon mousse?
Hopefully this delicious meal will make a suitable replacement for the missing dogs.  There is something about the smell of maple syrup that just says warm and home and comfortable, so perfect for the winter weather that keeps coming this way.

Ingredients for salmon:
– 2 6oz servings of salmon
– 1 tbsp olive oil
– 5 tbsp maple syrup
– 1 tbsp butter
– salt and pepper to taste 

1. Preheat oven the 350 and lightly grease a small roasting pan
2. Heat a small sauce pan over medium heat.  Add the butter and partially melt before adding the olive oil and maple syrup.  Allow mixture to simmer and then turn to low heat, stirring to prevent sticking.
3. Use a pastry brush to lightly glaze the fish on both sides.  Place on the roasting pan scales down and cook 10minutes.  Reglaze the fish and then cook for an additional 10 minutes scales up.  Glaze one more time then cook salmon for a final 10minutes, scales down, until the fish is a nice medium.  

Ingredients for the Roasted Potatoes
– 1 lb red potatoes, halved
– 3 tbsp olive oil
– 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, divided
– salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 350.  
2. Toss the red potatoes in the olive oil along with half of the cheese.  Place in a medium size casserole dish and cover.  Bake for 40minutes.
3.  Remove from oven, stir, and add the rest of the cheese.  If the potatoes are sticking add a little more olive oil and stir.  Do NOT cover and place back into oven and bake for a remaining 20minutes, until the cheese starts to brown. 

So far 2011 has been an interesting year, and for the most part I’m looking forward to seeing what else is in store.  Hopefully more delicious cooking adventures and some more baking treats!

Young and Loverly

Wild Rice w/Chickpeas


I’ll admit it, sometimes I’m lazy when it comes to cooking.  While I try to cook 100% from scratch as much as possible sometime I go the Sandra Lee route and use a prepared food as the base for my recipes.  Normally I do this because I am craving something outside of my skill level but occasionally it’s because I don’t have the time during the week to do all that I need to do during the day and still have dinner on the table at a reasonable hour.  The challenge I find with these shortcuts is making sure I’m not sacrificing quality or adding more sodium/calories then I need.  This recipe is one of those where it is very important to check the label first.  When looking for a wild rice kit I found ones ranging from 20mg to 80mg to 220mg to over 300mg a serving.  I would up going with the Wild Grains brand which was right around 80mg per serving, after a second look showed that the 20mg variety had mini serving sizes compared to the others and would wind up being closer to 80mg once all was said and done.  In the past I have also used the Whole Foods brand Wild Rice with great results, and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that Wegmanns will eventually have a variety as well. 

– 1 box wild rice mix (look for one that will be around 3 1/2 cups when finished)
– 14oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
– 1/2 white onion, diced
– 3 Plum Tomatoes, diced
– 1/2 cup crumbled feta – divided (or crumbled soft tofu for vegan version)
– pepper to taste

1. Prepare the wild rice per instructions on box but subtract 5minutes from the cook time suggested.  Add the chickpeas, stir, and cook 3minutes over medium heat.  Add in the tomatoes and 1/4 cup of the feta, mix well and cook an additional 5minutes.  
2. Season to taste then top with the remaining cheese.  Serve warm!

There is something about having dinner ready to go in under 30minutes, especially after a long day at work.  The ease of this dish also makes it a great Meatless Monday dish, no excuses that it takes too long to prepare or that it contains hard to find ingredients or too many “strange” vegetables.  It is also easily adapted for vegans, just switch the feta for either a vegan mock-feta or crumble up some soft tofu for all the texture and some added protein.

Coffee Cup

Coffee Cookies


Coffee.  Caffeine. Sugar!  These three components are pretty much staples in my diet, and I don’t really find anything wrong with that.  It has been suggested that I am a nicer person once there is caffeine in my system, yet it has also been suggested that too much caffeine can produce negative results.  After seeing one two many episodes of Iron Chef I decided to experiment with coffee, trying to find other ways for using it that didn’t involve a cup.  While I contemplated coffee ice cream my last experience making ice cream wasn’t very successful.  So I decided to start messing around with cookies, which are becoming my go-to-baked good when I feel the need to do some baking.  Ice box cookies are one of those standard recipes that are extremely versatile, and a great beginner recipe for experimenting with new combinations.  I got my recipe from one of the original Joy of Cooking books, but I’m sure it’s in the newer versions as well.  For the tweaking I dropped down on the amount of butter and sugar, took out the zest, and switched out some of the vanilla in order to make room for more coffee.  I also dropped them instead of cooking them, but there is no right or wrong way.
– 1 1/2 cups flour
– 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
– 1/4 tsp salt
– 1 stick butter, softened
– 1 egg
– 1 tsp vanilla
– 2/3 cup brown sugar
– 1 tbsp coffee or espresso or coffee liqueur
– 1 tbsp finely ground coffee beans

1. Sift together the flour, salt, and baking powder.
2. In a large bowl blend the butter and sugar.  Add the egg, vanilla, and both types of coffee.  Mix well and cover.  Refrigerate for at least 30minutes, and no more than 2hrs.
3. Preheat oven to 375.
4. Drop 1 tbsp of dough onto cookie sheets, leaving space between.  Cook 10 minutes.  Makes 4 dozen 2in cookies.

The cookies can easily be tweaked by adjusting the type of coffee being used, for example espresso for those looking for a real kick vs. decaf coffee for those looking for all of the taste and none of the jolt.  I tend to go for the full throttle version, heavy on the espresso and the ground espresso.  It should be noted that I spent the better part of 8yrs working in various coffee shops so I tend to prefer STRONG.
Also as a note applesauce didn’t work very well as an egg substitute, the cookies spread out but they didn’t want to rise.  I am probably going to try again using flax or maybe bananas and cream of tarter but that’s an adventure for another day!