Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Creamy Swiss Mushroom Soup

Evening friends!  By the time you see this, you will be in a panic over Thanksgiving preparations.  Is my turkey going to be dry?  How am I supposed to deal with my annoying in-laws?  I make the worst pies ever, I should have bought them!  I hope my nephew is over his conjunctivitis!  Oh great, here comes my sister who picks in everything!  WHY, WHY, WHY did I offer to host Thanksgiving......AGAIN?

The good news is, everyone will eat, everyone will drink and everyone will fall into a food coma for so long, you have time to pack their bags packed and have their cars warmed up!  "Oh your up? Nice to have, you, toodles"!  Maybe if you are lucky, they will be nice enough to bring you a fabulous unique gift!

In fact, remember to take your host or hostess something nice for having you!  Some think it is an old fashioned practice, I say, "bring me presents"!  Heh, did I say that out loud?

I mention gifts, because well, I want to share a great gift idea with you.   How about that adorable bowl and plate in my cover photo?  I received it from Uncommon Goods!   
I love this company.  How can you not love a company that not only provides a platform for artists, and designers, but gives back as well!  As an independently run company, they have the ability to support causes they believe in and support the world!  If you place an order, $1.00 will be donated to a non-profit that they support, there are several to choose from and YOU get to choose!

The truth is, yes, I was gifted these items, including those "Pinch and Dash" salt and pepper shakers, LOVE!  But there is nothing "unique" you can't find here.  Even kids will enjoy the gifts available to them!  You not only give a gift, you, in a way, give a lesson in giving.  I think it is a great idea and knowing that my purchase will also support a good cause, just is the coolest thing.  I wish I lived in Brooklyn, where Uncommon Goods is headquartered.  I would creep on that place daily, they would give me things, just to get rid of me.  (pats myself on the back) Good idea.  Anyway, when I found out I could choose what I wanted, of course being the soup obsessed human I am, I needed soup bowls of some sort.  These ROCK!  I love to serve food on crisp, clean, white dishes.  Just my preference, and these were perfect for feeding my OCD tendencies.  I wanted a nice, comforting soup, one that you needed a stack of crackers for, or a big ol' grilled cheese, (OMG WHY didn't I dunk a grilled cheese in this?!?!).

Oh, WAIT!!!!  I forgot!!

Uncommon Goods has been so kind as to offer to send one of you, a duplicate of what they sent me! ACCKK!  I know right?!?  A set of 2, plates with bowls and an adorable set of "Pinch and Dash" salt and pepper shakers!  What do you have to do to win?  OK, here it is.......ready?
Leave a comment on this post!  NOT on Facebook, NOT on Twitter or Instagram.  Here.  If you haven't registered please do.  You will need to leave your email address along with your comment as I will have to contact you to provide your address to Uncommon Goods so they can ship your prizes. 

I will pick the winner on December 3rd, at noon CST!

Now on to the recipe!

2- 8oz cans of mushrooms, drained
4 T. Butter
5 T. Flour
1 T. Chives
4 cups half and half
8 ounces Swiss Cheese
1 bouillon cube (2 if your cubes make only 1 cup of broth, if you use the softer cubes ex. Knorr that makes 2 cups, use just one)

Yes, the answer is yes, I used canned mushrooms for this, you can use fresh but use about 18-20 ounces, and cook them down in your butter straight away! Even if you use canned, chop them up if you like small unidentifiable pieces or keep them just sliced as is.

In a medium pot on medium heat, melt your butter.  Add in your drained/cleaned mushrooms and saute for about 3-4 minutes.  Add a pinch of salt and a dash of pepper!

Now add in your flour.  Let's face it, it is going to look like vomit.  Flour added into veggies, in this amount always looks like vomit.  I can't help my honesty, the facts are the facts. My mother's voice is going off in my head right now, "Christine Ellen why in God's name would you use the word VOMIT, can't you think of a more adult word"?

On medium/medium high heat, stir in the flour and continue to stir for about 1 minute, constantly.  Add in 1 cup of half and half, Stir until smooth.  Add in the rest of your half and half, your bouillon cube, and your chives and stir until combined.  Let simmer while stirring for 2-3 minutes, add in cheese and guess what......?  Stir some more!  When your cheese is melted and your soup is creamy and delicious it is time to serve it up!

This will easily serve 4 as a meal, in my opinion.  Especially if you don't forget the "big ol'" grilled cheese!!

I can't believe I used the word "vomit" in a food blog post.  Just goes to show you, some of us never grow up!  Make sure to get registered and leave your comment including your email address below!

ENJOY!  And thanks to Uncommon Goods for partnering with FoodThoughtsOfaChefwannabe!!!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Apple Cinnamon Muffins

Let's talk muffins.  I love them.  Do you?  But you know one thing I Dis-like about them?  I don't like when they have fake flavoring in them.  Fake blueberry, or strawberry or apple, fake anything for that matter.  That being said, I think you will find these muffins to be the most fresh tasting muffins you have had in a long time.  A combination of fresh apples, added two ways, and some cinnamon, make these simple, a little sweet, and a lot delicious!

I had been over at my sisters house to pick up a few things she had left for me and along with it was a bag of apples.  Not sure if they were from her yard or someone elses but, SCORE, fresh apples are always a good thing!  I kind of love to play with muffin flavors and since I it had been awhile since I had done so, I knew the first apple recipe on the list was going to be muffins.  Now, I will admit, when you get to mixing fruit flavor, to a girl who isn't wild about fruit, it gets a little creepy for me.  So I decided to go with just a simple flavor, of ONE fruit, and complimentary flavors that were NOT fruit.  I am actually sitting here chuckling at myself.  Is it obvious I am not a fruit lover.  Just a few I will eat, odd, I know.

I think these would be perfect for any morning, I think they will freeze like a dream, and I think you should make a double batch because of the obvious reasons listed previously.  Obviously I think Thanksgiving morning would be the perfect time to try them out since they can be made ahead and just yanked from the freezer the night before.  Nobody will know you weren't up all night slaving away for their holiday enjoyment.

Make sure to follow the apple directions, it makes the flavor more intense, makes the muffins SO moist and face it, it makes the dang muffin what it is! HA!

You will need:

3 medium apples (directions below)
2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup veg oil
1/2 cup white granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup instant oats

Preheat your oven to 375.  In a bowl combine your flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Whisk to combine and set aside.  In another bowl or your mixer bowl, combine your oil, sugar, brown sugar, eggs, vanilla and cinnamon.  Whisk to completely combine.  Add in flour mixture, and quick oats and mix until JUST combined.


Now for the APPLES.  Peel your apples, and use 2 of them to dice into about 1/2 inch pieces.  Use your third peeled apple to GRATE into the batter.  This will create a flavor and level of moistness you won't want to miss out on!

Scoop into muffin liners.  Fill them a bit fuller than cupcakes so you get that classic "muffin top".  Trust me it is better on muffins than me!  I got about 15 muffins.  Bake for 20-23 minutes.  Just do the toothpick test and make sure they are done.  They will carryover cook a bit out of the oven as well.

Now get ready to NOM NOM NOM on these babies!

PS.  I realize these muffins look like "nothing special" but the fresh apple flavor just can't be beat, and I hope you give them a go for yourself!

Monday, November 2, 2015

Mom's Mac and Cheese

Hiya!  Been spending a lot of time walking down "food" memory lane with my mom and one of my sisters recently.  We were talking about our favorite foods that mom made.  Every year on our birthday we got to pick our meal, and I always picked her spaghetti and meatballs.  She made meatballs about the size of her fist, and sauce that cooked all day, with her homemade tomato sauce, etc.  I am guessing I was 20 years old before I knew spaghetti COULD be made in under 12 hours. HA!

ANYWAY, my sister was speaking about my moms mac and cheese.  Now, to be honest, I only remember having it a handful of times, on special occasions.  We grew up without a lot of money and so we didn't get to indulge in boxes of mac and cheese like many other kids, or anything really that wasn't truly homemade.  When I think about it now, it was awesome, at the time, I just wanted what other kids had!  My sister, #1 (first practice child) still makes her mac and cheese this way which I had no idea about.  OK, well not exactly the same but I wanted to make it just like my mom did.  I used every processed thing she used, and do NOT feel bad!  So for some of you this recipe may be out the door before it even starts, for some of you, it may be your dream, for me, it was an awesome step back into my childhood.  I don't think any other food of my moms that I have eaten, literally made me close my eyes and say, "OM-GOSH, this is like being a little kid, in Ord, NE, eating mom's food". This did.  While I love that about it, and while I enjoy it, I don't make macaroni and cheese on the regular like this.  But once in awhile, when I am missing my mom's cooking, this will cure all that ails me!

Thanks mom for the food memories, thanks for all the birthdays you made spaghetti and meatballs when you probably didn't want to and thanks for laughing now about all the things you had to do to stretch a buck.  I will never forget 32 ounces of macaroni with 1lb of hamburger in it for goulash, or your canning pot full of chili with 2 lbs (on a good week) of hamburger and 20 cans of beans.  I love you for all those things and thankful in hindsight that we grew up like that, but mostly that those days are so far behind you.

Now, make sure when you cut up the cheese you cube it in perfect squares, tiny squares, because if my mom finds out you didn't, she is NOT going to be happy.  Oh yes mom, I love you for your OCD and thank you for passing it on to me! HAHAHA

Here we go!

16 oz. cooked elbow macaroni
16-18 ounces of Velveeta cheese, cubed very small (my mom is watching)
2 cans cream of mushroom soup
2 T melted butter
1/2-3/4 cup of milk

Breadcrumb Topping
1 cup breadcrumbs (seasoned or not) I used my homemade
3 T butter

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.  Boil your macaroni according to package directions.  Drain and let cool.  This is the one time I won't be mad if you rinse it with cold water.  Stop the cooking and separate.  Do that right away and then before adding to your bowl.

Now prepare your breadcrumb topping.  In a small skillet, melt your butter, add in breadcrumbs and toast up for 2-3 minutes, when they are golden brown and the butter is absorbed, turn off and set aside.

In a large bowl, add cream of mushroom soup, milk  and melted butter.  DO NOT add salt.  I repeat DO NOT add salt.  Do you KNOW how much is in that soup and cheese?  OK.  Good.  Mix to combine, now add in rinsed and drained macaroni and the cubes of cheese.  Mix just until combined.

Pour into buttered 9x13 or any casserole dish it will fit in to, and smooth the top.  Sprinkle the breadcrumbs like toasty, buttery rain and bake for 30-40 minutes.

There you go.  This is how my mom made baked mac and cheese.  While I make it different for my family, this turns back the clock to happy memories as a child.  I hope you enjoy as well!