Creamy Mushroom Soup

I am usually in the kitchen for hours creating recipes and writing and photographing but today I decided to try this recipe since it looked like the most beautiful, warming soup I could hope for ( I LOVE SOUP). Well…. the results were exactly as I had hoped. Warming, rich and totally perfect for a fall rainy day.I converted the metric measurements for you. This was FANTASTIC you must try it.
1 lb mushrooms
3 1/2 Cup Stock
7 ounces Cream Cheese
Foodasion approved!!


If there’s one thing the downturn in weather condition in the latter days of September denotes, it’s that soup can once again make a legitimate claim to roughly a third of my diet. This year, the contrast in diet between summer and autumn seems particularly pronounced. As far as I can tell, the reason for this is two-fold; firstly, I was in Spain only a month ago, enjoying indecently balmy weather and; secondly, the weather in Britain really is living up to its reputation. Indeed, as far as I can tell, whole cities have been swept away by torrents of water, so comprehensive has the media coverage been here. However, as has been suggested, the weather hasn’t had a particularly negative effect on my diet since soup, one of my favourite types of food, is back on the menu!

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This is SERIOUS!

Really….this is above and beyond what a good dessert tastes like. Danielle, our friend said it is the “Its sweet but not too sweet.  Soooooo yummy and to me it tastes like a mix between Summer (with the strawberries) and Fall (with the cinnamon and honey graham crackers)” And she pretty much nailed it! That is exactly what it tastes like.

This was dreamed up when I got my first order of “WECK” jars. They are the most beautiful canning jars ever. If you want them order them from the WECK site on line they are way more affordable there then on other sites.
Now lets get to it…..this takes a little work but is the most impressive yet. Not only that, they are awesome to bring anywhere for anything and definitely to show your skills on making Drop Dead Delicious Desserts.
What to call it though??? “PARFAIT” isn’t really accurate but gives you an idea of what to expect,  “CHEESECAKE”…kind of but no eggs and no baking, “TRIFLE” is close but not quite right, “FRUIT LAYERED DESSERT” sounds boring but again gives you an idea of what’s coming but, Meh……

“Vanilla Bean creamy rich decadent cheese cake folded with fresh whipped cream fresh fruit and graham cracker cinnamon honey crazy deliciousness”

Yep that sounds about right. But use Trifle if you want, it’s easier.
This makes a lot so you can HALF THE RECIPE  but I wanted to have a bunch to give and I think I ended up with 8 or 9 and they are gone! 2 days ago & they are gone!!
If you do not have canning jars/mason jars you can use a Trifle dish. You want something glass and see through so the beauty of this dish is fully visible.

6 cups fresh fruit cut up in to bite sized pieces ( I did strawberries, Raspberries and Mangos but they sky it the limit, i wish i had done peaches too)
8 12 oz Weck or mason jars
2 Cups Plain greek yogurt (16 oz container)
1 Cup Sour Cream
16 oz container/tub Cream Cheese (room temp)
8 oz Marscapone Cheese (room Temp)
2 Cups Heavy cream (for whipped cream & simmering vanilla)
2 Vanilla Beans (fresh, soft)
1 Cup Sugar
1/4 Cup Light Brown Sugar
1/4 Cup Confectioners Sugar (powdered)
1/2 Cup Honey
1 Stick melted butter
1 2 to 3 inch Cinnamon Stick
1 Nutmeg (fresh nugget)
2 Packages Graham Crackers (20 full size crackers)

Several of these steps can be done ahead of time if you like and then put together at the time you are ready to create your masterpiece.

First lets start with the yogurt…..
Using a cheese cloth strain the yogurt to remove the excess water. Simply put the yogurt in cheese cloth and tie it with kitchen twine then hang over a pot. If you look at the photos you will see I tied it to a wooden spoon and hug it over a large pasta pot. You can do this way ahead but it will work well if you can strain it for an hour or so. This makes the mix it nice and thick!!

The Vanilla….
`Cut the 2 Vanilla beans lengthwise and scrape with the back of your knife.
`In a small sauce pan heat 1 cup of heavy cream with the 2 Vanilla beans and seeds and 1/2 cup of sugar on LOW. Simmer for 10 minutes to melt the sugar and release all the Vanilla flavor into the cream. Do not let it BOIL just heated through.
`Set aside to cool completely the refrigerate for a 1/2 hour to get it cold. (adding warm ingredients will deflate the whipped cream and melt the cheese and that will not work).

Next lets do the “crust”…..
`In a food processor grind up the Graham Crackers until they are crumbs.
`Put them in a big bowl
`Using a Microplane grate the cinnamon stick until you have about 2 teaspoons in with the graham crackers. This is going to be the hardest part of this recipe, use your muscles….it’s takes a bit of energy but this is really important. The taste of fresh grated cinnamon is very different then the pre-powdered stuff. It has a lot more depth of flavor and a richness.
`Using the same Microplane grate in about 4 or 5 grates of fresh nutmeg (too much will add bitterness so just about a good “pinch”)
`Add in the melted butter, the 1/2 cup of honey and 1/4 Cup light Brown sugar and mix until all the ingredients are incorporated.
`In a large pan “toast” the Graham Crackers until brown on Medium heat, keep an eye on them and mix them in the pan to ensure even browning. (If you don’t have a pan big enough you might have to do it in batches. It should look like damp sand.
`Let them cool, they will become dry and crunchy while they sit.

On to the Whipped cream….
`Using a cold bowl makes the cream whip faster. Stick it in the freezer for 5 minutes.
`In the cold bowl add the remaining cup of Heavy Cream and 1/4 cup confectioners Sugar.
`Whip until it is nice and thick and has stiff peaks (with a hand mixer it should only take about a minute or two). Set aside

The Cheese Mixture……
`In your largest bowl add in Cream Cheese, Sour Cream, Marscapone Cheese, Yogurt and mix very well, there should be no lumps. I used a hand blender to quicken the process but if you are Popeye you can certainly whisk it by hand. This is why it is necessary for all the cheeses to be a room temperature.
`Once the cheeses are combined add in the remaining 1/2 cup sugar and incorporate.
`Strain the Vanilla Beans and Cream from earlier (that has cooled) and add to the cheeses and blend in.
`The last step on the cheese mixture is to FOLD in the fresh whipped cream. This will make the mixture rich like cheesecake but have a lighter, less dense-ness  about it.
`To fold, add in the whipped cream and using a rubber spatula cut down the middle and pick up at the side and fold over. Each time turn the bowl a quarter of the way around.
~Once it is folded in (NO MORE THEN 10 Times) stop. The idea is to make it light and airy. If you mix too much it will deflate the texture and will be “all not not”. If you re totally lost on “folding” you tube it and watch a video.

Now the Last step is to put everything together….
`Starting with one of the Jars, put in about 2 table spoons of the Graham Cracker Crumbs
`Spoon in about 2 Tablespoons of the Cheese Mixture (Adjust amounts based on your jars or dishes-if you are using a trifle dish layer crumbs, cheese, fruits and then back to crumbs)
`Top with fresh fruit
`I did all different versions to make it more interesting but the basics are layer one of each layer and repeat!
Be sure to package with some ribbon and bring in a nice basket to wherever you are going.
I really hope you enjoy and really hope you make this, it is a wonderful dessert to share and eat.


Creamy Mushroom Linguine

Oh Yea, This is not for the faint of waist line. This is a rich creamy, cheesy decadent dinner. Just be sure to serve a nice starter salad so you don’t have to eat a pound of this gooey deliciousness, because you will, it has everything you could want any more from a pasta dish.

Making the mushrooms perfect is the trick and I will walk you through it, and of course PHOTOS! Lots of photos.
A few tips:

  • This dish cools fast, as do most creamy dishes so be sure to time it properly or keep the pasta and sauce separate until you are just about to serve so you can re-heat sauce and add it as you are serving….I don’t like my dishes to get cold.
  • Mushrooms are very independent and like to be alone in the pan. They brown much faster and better if you don’t crowd them. If there are too many they will not brown at all, so take your time and do them in small batches, it is not that big a deal this you can totally do ahead of time and set them aside.
  • Buy mushrooms whole and slice them your self, they dry out pre cut and loose flavor, so if possible get them in one piece.
  • Use Butter and oil in the pan when browning so you get the high cook temp of the oil but the flavor of the butter.
  • Mushroom variety and sizes are what really makes this dish. You get complex flavor and great texture if you mix it up. Slice them thick and thin & quarter them, that way you have different bites rather then having a plate of pasta with mushrooms that are the same texture…..Boring (Zzzzzzz) Each type have a different texture too so mix it up
  • Try other combinations like Enoki, Porcini, Oyster & Portabella. the only ones I don’t suggest are canned (Eww Gross) or dried, Dried are great for other dishes

Now lets get to it!
1 Lb of Linguini cooked al dente, The box directions almost always are perfect but you can cook it to you liking, obviously.
3.5 Oz Shitake Mushrooms (Pkg was that size use what ever amount you want)
8 Oz White Button Mushrooms
8 Oz Baby Bella Mushrooms (Crimini)
1 Large Shallot Minced
2 Cloves garlic Minced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (more or less if you like the heat)
1 Pint Light cream
4 oz plain cream cheese (1/2 of a package at room temp)
3/4 Cup really good freshly grated Parmesan (Rigianno if your purse can handle it, it is good and salty and really noting compares)
3 Tablespoons chopped chives
Fresh Cracked Pepper
1 tablespoon Kosher salt (to salt the water)
3 tbls butter (as needed)
3 tbls oil (as needed)
~Fill a large stock pot with water and set on high heat to boil, add in the 1 Tbl salt (this is the only time you can flavor the pasta and it is crucial to really salt the water before the pasta goes in, it will absorb into each piece and really boost the flavor of the dish…I promise)
~When it is at a FULL ROLLING BOIL add in pasta and set the timer.
~When timer goes off drain but DO NOT RINSE that removes all the starch, If you can time it properly you can use tongs and scoop the pasta right from the boiling water into the mushroom mix & that would be the best way.
~Cut up your mushrooms first make 2 piles out of each kind around the same size. so you will have 6 piles. Quarter half and slice the other half. but be sure the are all in different bowls, they will all have different cooking times.
~In a large saute pan add 1 tbl oil and a little butter and heat on medium high to melt.
~Add in the first batch of mushrooms and saute until brown on all sides, watch the pan you don’t want anything to get burnt.
~As they brown remove them to a dish. Some may brown faster and just remove those to the bowl.
~Follow with each batch browning each one until they are all done, this takes a little time but feel free to do this step ahead.
(Mushrooms cook way down so it might seem like there are a lot but they will shrink up so se sure to use them all or even add more!)
~Once they are all browned and removed from the pan add in the shallots and saute until translucent.
~Add in the garlic and cook another few minutes. If you add the garlic too soon it will brown and take on a slightly bitter taste and that is not what you want.
~Add red pepper and saute one more minute to release the heat
~Return mushrooms to pan and add in cream cheese.
~Mix well as the cream cheese melts
~Slowly add in the Light Cream about a 1/4 cup at a time mixing to incorporate and making sure everything is mixed together.
~Once all the cream is added mix in the grated parm and fresh cracked pepper.
~The mixture should be bubbly hot and add the pasta right to the creamy mushrooms.
~Serve immediately, making sure to get out all types of mushrooms and garnish with fresh chopped chives and a few shavings of parm. Drizzle just a touch of olive oil to make it look really pretty!!

Happy 100!!

I have officially hit the 100 blog mark! I couldn’t be more proud. Thank you to my sister who said, You should write a Blog! I can’t believe I have made about 100 recipes. Its exciting to see it in black and white and purple (thats the back round) and in honor of my 100 blog I am going to revisit #1. My how far I’ve come Hello World!  was pretty courageous to start off with and I was a little shy about how to share and what. I have certainly found my voice since! Oh….. and these have been served several times since. With one easy recipe and one photograph I was off and running. Hope you enjoy my mini trip down food blog memory lane. MAKE THESE WILL YOU PLEASE?!


Hello World!


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Saffron Mussels Yum!

So for my first post I am giving you the recipe for mussels because it is what I made today.
It was super fast and the mussels were only $2.99 so the dish was very inexpensive to make. I had everything but the fennel so I spent about $6.00 on this and it was just beautiful!

Mom came over and said they were the BEST she had ever had and Karen my next door neighbor said “Oh my God you need to open a restaurant” so I think they were a success:)

I can’t wait to hear what you think.
BTW  (I cook with my eyes and nose and not so much minutes so all the times and amounts are approximate)

2 lbs mussels (cleaned, beards removed )
1c. shallots finely minced
5 or 6 cloves of garlic pressed (oh yea!)
2 1/2c. white wine
2c. chicken stock
1/2 c. heavy cream (or half & half whatever you have)
1/4 c. chopped parsley
1/4 c. chopped fennel fronds(the dill looking part)
10 saffron threads or more if you have them
1 tsp red pepper flakes
2 tlbs butter
1 tlbs olive oil
salt & pepper to taste
french bread or baguette toasted for dipping

-in a deep saute pan saute the Shallots on medium heat in the butter & olive oil until translucent about 5 minutes
(you do not want them browned so keep an eye on them)
-add in pressed garlic, saffron and red pepper flakes saute additional 3 minutes or so until garlic is cooked through
(again no browning, it can be bitter)
-pour in wine and chicken stock and turn up the heat! the liquid needs to reduce to about 1/2  stirring occasionally (10min)
-once the liquid has reduced add in the mussels &  fennel  cover  tightly
the mussels only need 5 to 7  minutes to cook
-while the mussels are cooking heat the cream in a sauce pan to a simmer
(adding cold cream to hot liquid will curdle)
-once the mussels are cooked take a ladle of the broth and add it to the cream to make sure it is totally tempered then add it to the pot, sprinkle the parsley and stir
gently so you don’t break the shells and serve in a big bowl with plenty of broth the dip the bread in.

Check out how to clean them on line, that’s what I did and to find out if there are any bad ones. its pretty simple if it does not open after cooked, discard it and if it will not close prior to cooking it, discard it.


What do you do with day old bread?

Croutons & Breadcrumbs, that’s what you do!! I actually forgot to photograph the breadcrumbs because I ended up hurrying to get everything done for dinner the other night. I had so many things going for the guys coming to eat after surfing. I always worry there won’t be enough and there is always plenty I get to over excited wanting everything to be perfect 🙂
 I had some really nice Ciabatta sandwich rolls that I totally forgot about because it was so humid and hot out I put them in the fridge.I could not let these go to waste. This works with all types of breads the only difference would be cooking times, some will cook faster. Ciabatta is a heavier bread then say a French Bread so it will cook a little longer. This is a must do if you have day old bread.
Check out the photos for so great ideas on how to use both!

Day old bread cut into cubes (not too big)
1/4 Cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon Celery Salt
1/2 teaspoon Garlic Powder
1/4 teaspoon Aleppo Pepper (Optional)
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
drizzle of olive oil (1 to 2 teaspoons
Adjust spices to the amount of bread you have, I had abut 4 or 5 cups
Heat oven to 425 degrees
place cubed bread on baking sheet and bake dry until bread is toasted through about 12 to 15 minutes.
Let them cool and toss half of them in a bowl with all ingredients (save the other half, unseasoned for breadcrumbs)
Add just a little olive oil to make it stick as you are tossing it
Let them cool completely before storing
Place the unseasoned cubes in a food processor and pulse until you get desired breadcrumb constancy
Place them both in large mason jars for great storage and to keep them from getting stale. Season them as you use them so you can make all different types!

Fennel and Tomato Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette

Seriously simple and so tasty!
This is a great combination of flavors and textures. The tomato is soft, juicy and acidic and the fennel is crunchy and complex with a slight anise flavor, The lemon rounds out the flavors and make this a fresh tasting healthy side dish to serve with any meal.
2 Large tomatoes (they must be fresh picked from the garden or local from the farmers market. Grocery store tomatoes are tasteless and covered in wax.
1 Large Fennel Bulb with fronds
1 Lemon
1/2 Tsp dijon mustard
1/4 cup olive oil
pinch of salt
Pinch of pepper
pinch of sugar

Slice the tomato and fennel and place in a large bowl
Top with the Fronds from the fennel (the top greens that look like dill)
Whisk together the ingredients for the dressing until emulsified and drizzle over the fennel & Tomato
Serve immediately YUM

Enjoy -T

Enjoy -T

Sweet Potato Fries

Well they are not technically fried but they are in the shape of fries…….
I like fried things but they are not too good for you and they are really smelly to make in the house. I am terrified some day my house will smell like a combination of food, dogs and 100 year old house so I don’t cook fried food and I burn Yankee Candle Tarts like I own stock in the company. My house was built in the 1800’s so it is not ventilated like a new modern house but it’s definitely got character!
This is a great way to eat Sweet Potatoes and go with anything or alone.
2 large sweet potatoes cut into fries (about 1/2 inch thick, try to get them the same size so they cook evenly)
3 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Teaspoon Paprika
1/4 Teaspoon Aleppo Pepper or Red Pepper Flakes
3/4 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
1/4 Teaspoon Celery Salt
1/4 Teaspoon dried thyme

Preheat oven to 475 Degrees
Toss everything together in a bowl, coating the potatoes very well
Place on a non-stick foil lined baking sheet
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes turning half way through
They will be brown and crisp on the outside and soft and tender on the inside.
Enjoy -T

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