Creamy Chicken & Mushroom Soup

On a cool night, this creamy soup is just perfect.

Chicken Mushroom Soup 5

I forgot to add the chicken tonight, and it was still delicious.  It could be completely vegetarian by substituting vegetable stock for the chicken stock.

INGREDIENTS:

    • 1 tablespoon olive oil
    • 8 ounces boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch chunks
    • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
    • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
    • 3 cloves garlic, minced
    • 8 ounces cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
    • 1 onion, diced
    • 3 carrots, peeled and diced
    • 2 stalks celery, diced
    • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
    • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
    • 4 cups chicken stock
    • 1 bay leaf
    • 1/2 cup cream
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • slivered green onions
  • cooked and crumbled bacon

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Heat olive oil in a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Season chicken thighs with salt and pepper, to taste. Add chicken to the stockpot and cook until golden, about 2-3 minutes; set aside.
  2. Melt butter in the stockpot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add garlic, mushrooms, onion, carrots and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 3-4 minutes. Stir in thyme until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  3. Whisk in flour until lightly browned, about 1 minute. Whisk in chicken stock, bay leaf and chicken thighs, and cook, whisking constantly, until slightly thickened, about 4-5 minutes.
  4. Stir in half and half until heated through, about 1-2 minutes; season with salt and pepper, to taste. If the soup is too thick, add more half and half as needed until desired consistency is reached.
  5. Serve immediately, garnished with parsley, rosemary, green onions and bacoN, if desired.

Chicken Mushroom soup 2

Chicken Mushroom soup 1

I used crimini and white white mushrooms tonight, but you could use any mushroom.

Chicken Mushroom Soup 3

Chicken Mushroom soup 4

I love the way soups are taken over the top with the garnishes.

 

Raspberry Macaroons

Raspberry macaroons

So pretty, these raspberry macaroons are absolutely delicious.

  • 1 1/4 Cups granulated sugar, divided
  • 1 Package (6 ounces) Driscoll’s Raspberries
  • 4 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 4 packed cups unsweetened shredded or fine flake coconut (7 ½ ounces/212g)
  • 1 Tsp. salt
  • 1 Tsp. vanilla extract
  • 6 Ounces dark chocolate, chopped
  • 1 Tsp. coconut oil
  • PREHEAT oven to 325˚F.
  • LINE two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • PLACE 1/4 cup sugar to a medium bowl.
  • ADD 1 package raspberries.
  • MASH mixture with a fork or muddler until berries are broken down.
  • SET ASIDE raspberry mixture to macerate, about 2 minutes.
  • PLACE remaining 1 cup sugar into bowl of a stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment.
  • ADD 4 eggs whites.
  • WHISK mixture on high speed until foamy.
  • ADD raspberry mixture, 4 cups coconut, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon vanilla.
  • WHISK until well combined.
  • ADD more coconut as needed to make sure all liquid is absorbed into mixture.

    Raspberry macaroons 4

    Depending on how juicy your raspberries are, it may take up to a cup of additional coconut in order to get the right texture.

  • SCOOP 2-tablespoon-sized macaroons onto prepared baking sheets.
  • PRESS and PAT surface of macaroons with fingertips to ensure they look tidy and don’t crack while baking.
    Raspberry Macaroons 5
  • BAKE for about 30 minutes or until the tops are dry and lightly golden brown and ROTATEsheets halfway through bake.
  • PLACE baking sheets onto cooling racks.

    Raspberry macaroons 2

    Bake until just lightly golden.

  • ALLOW macaroons to cool for about 10 minutes.
  • PLACE 6 ounces dark chocolate into a microwave safe bowl.
  • ADD 1 teaspoon coconut oil.
  • HEAT chocolate mixture in microwave for 15 seconds.
  • STIR chocolate mixture.
  • CONTINUE heating and stirring chocolate in microwave in brief intervals until completely melted.
  • DIP bottoms of macaroons into melted chocolate.
  • DRIZZLE tops of macaroons with remaining melted chocolate as desired.
    Raspberry Macaroons 1
  • CHILL macaroons in refrigerator until chocolate is set, about 20 minutes.
  • ALLOW macaroons to come to room temperature before serving.Raspberry macaroons 3

I watched a video on Instagram from feedfeed, and they made these macaroons with blackberries – they looked so delicious, and I had everything already in the house, as long as I worked with raspberries instead of blackberries – the recipe came from Driscoll’s Berry website.

Chocolate Chip Crisp Cookies

Cookies 6

Cookies are such a treat!  You can convince yourself (quite easily) that you are eating a nutritious cookie with the addition of wheat germ and rolled oats ….. (insert eye roll).

  • 1 3/4 cups unbleached flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup white sugar (granulated)
  • 2 large eggs (at room temperature)
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup large flake rolled oats (not instant)
  • 1 cup puffed rice cereal
  • 1/2 cup wheat germ
  • 1 – 1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cups chopped pecans

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl, set aside.

Cookies 1

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or using a hand held blender, beat the butter for 1 minute.  Beat in the sugars until the mixture is quite light and fluffy.  Scape down the sides and beat in the eggs, one at a time.  Blend well between the 1st and 2nd egg.  Beat in the vanilla and remove the bowl from the stand.

Cookies 2

You can see how fluffy the butter, sugars and eggs are – now is the time to work it by hand.

Using a wooden spoon, stir in the dry mixture just until combined.  Stir in the oats, cereal and wheat germ.  Stir in the chocolate chips and pecans.

Cookies 3

You don’t want to over mix cookie dough – stir just until combined.

Drop the batter in heaping tablespoonfuls onto the prepared cookie sheets, spacing them about 2 inches apart.  You should be able to get about 12 cookies on a regular cookie sheet.

Cookies 4

What are those coloured bits you ask?  I had coloured rice crisps …..

One sheet at a time, bake in the centre of the oven until set and lightly browned around the edges.  My oven took 11 minutes, but check after 9 – ovens can be so different!  Cool the cookies on the sheet, set on a wire rack for about 5 minutes before removing to a separate wire rack to cool completely.

The results are best if you allow the cookie sheet to cool slightly before putting the next batch on to bake.

Cookies 5

So many schools have restrictions on nuts these days – you could always replace the pecans with raisins (but not in this house) or dried cranberries.

 

 

 

Soft Dinner Buns

Buns 9

Admit it, you wish your house smelled this good right now!

 

April 1 is tomorrow, and that’s our Auntie Elsie’s birthday, or it would have been if she was still with us.  We miss her every day, and while I was busy thinking of her I felt that need to make some soft white dinner buns, the kind she used to bring to every family dinner as a treat.  This dough is soft and tasty, and the texture is perfect.  Pretty sure she would have been proud of this effort!

Buns 7

Step 1:

  • 1 1/2 cups boiling water
  • 6 tsp. honey
  • 6 tsp. butter
  • 2 tsp. salt

Combine the above ingredients in a large bowl and cool.

Step 2:

  • 1 1/2 cups lukewarm water (not too warm, you’ll kill the yeast)
  • 3 tsp. sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. fast rising yeast

Dissolve the water and sugar in a small bowl.  Sprinkle the yeast on top and let sit.

Step 3:

  • 2 eggs, well beaten
  • 6-7 cups unbleached white flour
Buns 1

Just waiting for this yeast to bloom a little more and I’ll be ready to start combining everything.

  • Mix the eggs into the first (Step 1) mixture once it has cooled to room temperature.
  • Add 1 cup of flour to this mixture and stir well.
  • Add the yeast mixture (Step 2) to the bowl and stir to incorporate.
  • Gradually add the remaining flour, cup by cup, until the dough gets too difficult to stir in the bowl.  At this point, on a floured surface (your counter), empty the dough and knead by hand until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes.  You will need to keep the surface floured to prevent it from sticking.
  • Place the dough into a greased bowl, cover with a clean tea towel, and place in a draft-free warm area to rise.
buns 2

This dough is so soft, I can taste it already….

Buns 3

It’s true.  I’m that dork that has a re-usable cover for raising yeast dough.

  • Let the dough rise until doubled (about 40 minutes) and punch it down.  Repeat this process once.
Buns 4

Yes, the yeast and time has done it’s job.

Buns 5

Time to release the dough and form buns.

  • Preheat your oven to 350 F and grease two  9x 13 baking trays (the ones with the small sides).  You can use any shape of pan you want in actual fact.  Cut off pieces of dough that are approximately 1/2 cup in size (doesn’t have to be exact!) and form into buns.  I keep my fingers slightly floured and tuck the dough under as I stretch the dough to make it smooth on top, but you can use whatever technique you like!
  • Place the buns about a 1/2 inch apart on the greased pan, cover and let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes.

Buns 6

  • Bake for 15-20 minutes or until nicely browned.
Buns 8

Use this recipe for whatever you like!  Today I made mini pizza shells for the grandkids to make lunches with.  I call it the organic look when they aren’t all uniform in size and shape….

 

Buns 11

A tray of these is welcome at any dinner.

I thought I had Auntie Elsie’s original recipe, but couldn’t find it.  This recipe is from “Fraiche Nutrition” and if you haven’t been to her website, well – get on over there.  It is packed with delicious and nutritious recipes and tips.

Rosemary Cheddar Soda Bread

I’m only a 1/4 Irish, but I’m pretty sure my Irish Nana, Kathleen O’Doherty, would have been pretty happy with this Irish Soda Bread.  It takes about 5 minutes to put together, and your house will smell heavenly while it bakes.

Irish Soda Bread 4

Tender inside, crusty outside – it’s perfect.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chopped rosemary
  • 2 cups grated sharp cheddar
  • 1 cups buttermilk (if you don’t have buttermilk, use 2 tsp lemon juice and fill to 1 cup milk)
  • 1 whole large egg

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Heat the oven to 425 degrees F. Lightly flour a non stick baking tray or spray with a non stick spray.

  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, salt, pepper, rosemary and cheese.

  3. Add the egg to the buttermilk and beat until mixed.
  4. Add the buttermilk mixture to the flour and lightly mix through until it becomes sticky and a ball forms.

  5. Dump the dough out onto a flour dusted work surface and roughly knead the dough into an ball shape. It may be on the wet side so have some extra flour on hand for dusting.

  6. Place the dough onto your prepared baking tray. Take a sharp serrated knife and cut an X on top of the soda bread.

  7. Season the top with some more salt and pepper and bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes and the top is golden brown.

  8. Let cool for 20 minutes before slicing and serving with butter.
Irish Soda Bread 1

Combine all the dry ingredients together, and lightly toss.

Irish Soda Bread 2

Once you’ve mixed the dry ingredients together, very lightly combine with the wet, don’t over mix or the dough will get a bit tough.  You want a lightly handled dough.

Irish Soda Bread 3

Gently form the dough into a ball, brush with melted butter and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Irish Soda Bread 5

Allow the dough to rest before slicing into it …. I know, it’s hard to resist!

Irish Soda Bread 6

Just waiting for some soft butter to spread ….

I reviewed a few recipes looking for the perfect bread to serve with my Irish Guinness stew for St. Patrick’s day, and this is a sure fire winner, it will be on repeat around here!

Check out “foodnessgracious” …. the food is fantastic.

Perfect Medium Rare Steak

Oh … winter… not a season we are ever going to taste a perfect grill marked steak.  I’ve been working on achieving the perfect steak during the “off” season.  Nailed it!

Perfect steak 5

PERFECT.  Pink inside, crusty outside, and drizzled with Cafe de Paris Beurre.  I’m in heaven.

First step is to make your dry rub:

1 lemon – zested, and zest set aside to dry

Perfect steak 1

Zest your lemon, and allow it to sit a bit, just to dry it out so it helps create the perfect crust.  Do you buy lemon pepper dry rub?  Stop!  Just try this instead …

Combine:

  • freshly cracked pepper
  • sea salt
  • onion powder
  • garlic powder
  • mustard powder
  • paprika
  • raw sugar

I use all equal amounts of all these ingredients.  You can certainly adjust to your own preference!

Stir to bring it all together, and once the lemon zest has dried out a bit, add it in there too.

Perfect steak 2

We are lucky.  I’d be the first to admit that.  We dry our garlic and onion in the fall, and create our own powder.  Yep, we even do paprika, this one is grilled poblano peppers.  No, sorry, we didn’t create either the mustard powder or the salt and pepper.  (But, does it give us extra points because we bring the sea salt home from a favourite region in Mexico??)

Pat the steaks dry – VERY important.  Drizzle over a little neutral oil, and then press in the seasoning.  Make sure to get the seasoning rubbed into the sides as well as top and bottom.

Perfect steak 3

Got everything ready??  Just look at that marbling on the steak … that is what you are hoping for.

While the steak is coming to room temperature, heat up a pan that can handle the heat of a 400 degree oven.  (this would be a great time to preheat your oven!)

Sear the steak on all sides – get it good and crusty!  Pop it into a 400 degree oven for about 10 minutes. . . . check it carefully, you want to pull it out of the oven once the steak hits 120 degrees.  Tent it with tin foil, and allow it to rest for 10 minutes.

I couldn’t help myself, needed to top the steak with my Cafe de Paris Beurre ….. it makes everything better.  I’ve eaten …. but want to eat it again.  I think that says it all.

perfect steak 4

Served with baked potato and a simple iceberg wedge salad and I’m totally satisfied.  You will be too! Give it a try.  If you are able to grill all year ….. well good for you!  Maybe you want to try it anyway, and see what you think??

 

Prosciutto wrapped stone fruit

Prosciutto & peaches grilled

I prefer nectarines, or slightly underripe peaches. Make sure your fruit is not overly ripe or it will become mushy on the grill.

These little gems are one of my most requested appetizers …. and looking at all that snow outside makes me think fondly of summer days.  The only time I make this is when stone fruit is in season, and we can grill.

Prosciutto & peaches

Ready for the grill

Ingredients

  • stone fruit, pitted & quartered (you can cut them into 6 pieces if they are large)
  • goats cheese
  • prosciutto
  • apricot jam (optional)
  • pepper (freshly cracked)

Once fruit is prepared, place a tablespoon or so of goat cheese on a section, and wrap with a piece of prosciutto.

If you want to use the apricot jam, brush over pieces right before they hit the grill.  I’ve used it, or olive oil, or nothing and we love them anyway they are done.  Grill just until the prosciutto crisps up a bit and has grill marks.  Sprinkle with cracked pepper and enjoy.