Sunday, December 29, 2013

Creamy Mushroom Soup

I recently picked up a copy of America's Test Kitchen's cookbook, Comfort Food Makeovers and let me be the first to say - IT IS AWESOME!!

I was skeptical at first because I tend to find the "lighter" versions of a delicious, fattening, greasy, cheesy, carb-filled recipes never quite hit the mark when it comes to taste. But let me tell ya, these recipes are not only healthier versions, but they're also so GOOD too! Best part, you'd never know by tasting it that it was a lightened up version.

Let's face it, after all the foods, treats, and drinks that come with the Christmas Holiday,  I've been yearning for a lighter meal that would still be filling and satisfying. 

This Creamy Mushroom Soup is the perfect recipe for a lighter meal that can be paired with a (double-decker club) Sandwich or can easily be made into a meal all on its own. 

It's rich and creamy, and will be sure to warm your soul. It's simply made with fresh ingredients like mushrooms and leeks, and has all the components to ensure a delicious meal on a cool winter's afternoon or evening.   

Be sure to thoroughly wash your leeks and mushrooms

Don't forget to save some of the sauteed 'shrooms and leeks to add a little extra  flavor 

Creamy Mushroom Soup

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 pound white mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 pound of leeks, white and light green parts, sliced thin
  • 2 cloves of minced garlic
  • 1 fresh minced thyme
  • 2.5 cups beef broth or stock
  • 1/4 cup half-and-half
  • 1/4 cup balsamic reduction, plus extra for serving
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • Salt & Pepper

  • In a large pan, or Dutch oven, melt better over medium-low heat.
  • Add mushrooms, leeks, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper (or to taste) cover and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, until mushrooms are softened and wet.
  • Next, uncover and cook on medium-high heat until mushrooms are dry and well browned, about 8 to 12 minutes, string occasionally.
  • Transfer 1/3 cup of mushroom and leek mixture onto a cutting board and finely chop. Set aside.
  • Next, stir garlic and thyme into remaining mushroom mixture in the pot and cook about 30 seconds until fragrant.
  • Stir in beef broth and balsamic glaze and bring to a simmer. Cook about 20 minutes until mushrooms and leeks are completely tender.
  • Remove pot from heat and let cool for about 5 minutes.
  • Working in small batches, process soup mixture in a blender until smooth. (Be sure to blend well, so that soup is of a liquid consistency).
  • Return soup into the pot and stir in the chopped mushroom mixture, half-and-half, and lemon juice.
  • Reheat the soup gently over medium-low heat and season with salt and pepper.
  • Drizzle individual bowls with balsamic glaze before serving soup.
  • Serve warm & Enjoy!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Herbed Cheese-Stuffed Steaks

Behold the holy grail of steaks

{drum roll, please}
I give you


Herbed Cheese-Stuffed Steaks

Not only are these steaks so decedent, delicious, and oh so divine…They’re essentially a cinch to make.

This brings up a point. 
Have you started noticing a pattern here? 
Thought so..
And, if not, here's the deal:
I love making {somewhat} quick, simple and easy meals. The recipes that I have shared have a common theme: "deliciousness made simple".

Being a graduate student, teaching part time, and being a housewife leaves me with the struggle of wanting a scrumptious meal, but without a lot of fuss and time. 
Therefore, I love to indulge in a recipe that is quick, not super elaborate, and yet OH so Good!

I am sure many of you college, graduate, or even doctoral students know what I'm talking about. As well as, you busy parents, full-time workers, and all of the alike. Let's face it, most of us just simply don't have the time to spend all day, or night, (or both) creating a masterpiece of meal that takes hours to prep and countless ingredients. Time is of the essence here people! 
Yet, we're HUNGRY, and could use a good meal in our bellies! And when do we want it?? NOW!

That's what I'm all about when it comes to cooking, and I hope that you find these recipes to be great for you too!

Anyway, back to THE Steaks

My mom would make these for us  on special occasions when we were growing up. Those 'special occasions' included events such as birthdays, promotions, good grades, and we must not forget - my dad's especially favorite occasion = Steak Sunday. 
Do you catch my drift here? 
We all loved, and still do LOVE these steaks!
In fact, I've never come across a person who didn't love these steaks, and I assure you, you will love these steaks too!

Real quick: I also have to admit a small secret to you. 
I've never actually made these steaks before...
 I've always left that part up to my mom. 
That being said, assumed that this recipe would be extensive, difficult, and literally take all night to make. {Probably because of how good they are}

Finally, a few months ago I asked my mom for a mother-daughter sleepover, and suggested we make dinner together. In reality, my plan was for her to make dinner, and for her to make me, what we have dubbed "Cream Cheese Steaks".

Once I discovered, from watching my mom, how somewhat simple these were to make, I was on a mission to make them for the Husband. 

The hubs and I recently discovered a fantastic processing center, that I aptly call "The Meat Market". It sounds a little more pleasant right?
Lately we have been picking up some amazing rib-eye steaks. On our latest trip out there I was determined to add the herbed cheese and stuff these beautiful rib-eyes, in addition to a killer red wine reduction. So it was on!
{Recipe Below}

Here's what you'll need {shallots not pictured}

Herbed Cheese in the making
Typically, these steaks are intended to be made with a tender filet, but I was using what we had. And I assure you it didn't matter one bit, they were still super delicious, just on a bigger scale... and let's face it, I'm okay with that.

Herbed Cheese-Stuffed Steaks

  • 2 tender filets (8 oz each)
  • 2 tablespoons of freshly chopped green onions
  • 1 teaspoon finely minced shallots
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme
  • 4 oz. Philadelphia Cream Cheese (softened)
  • Garlic Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 1-2 tablespoons Olive Oil
Preparing the Herbed Cheese
  • Set cream cheese out and bring to room temperature to soften, about 20 minutes
  • In a bowl mix softened cream cheese, green onions, shallots, and thyme
  • Set aside
Cooking the Steaks
  • Heat oven to 425 degrees
  • Season both sides of filets with Garlic Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Next, cut center of filets into the shape of an "X" (be careful not to cut all the way through the filets)
  • Heat olive oil in an oven safe pan over high heat
  • Add filets to the pan "X"-side down for 1 minute
  • Next, flip the steak in the pan and carefully fill the "X" with the cream cheese mixture
  • Cook for 1 - 2 minutes on the stove until seared
  • Next, place the entire pan into the oven and finish cooking steaks through until desired doneness - about 10 minutes for medium well
  • Remove the pan from the oven and cover until ready to serve
  • Serve on individual plates and top with Shallot & Red Wine Reduction
  • Enjoy!
 Link to the Recipe for the Shallot & Red Wine Reduction can be found here.

This post is linked with love to the awesome Home Sweet Home #152 Link Party, at The Charm of Home

Shallot & Red Wine Reduction

This Shallot & Red Wine Reduction is not only quick to whip up, but is also a delicious addition to many meaty dishes. 

I typically use this reduction for my Herbed Cheese-Stuffed Steaks, but it can easily be added to a tasty Pork Loin, Roasted Vegetables, and anything else your heart desires. 

I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

Shallots not pictured

Shallot & Red Wine Reduction

  • 3/4 cup of Red Wine
  • 1/2 large freshly minced Shallot
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly minced Garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh Thyme leaves
  • Olive Oil
  • Heat olive oil over medium heat in a small sauce pan
  • Add shallots and garlic and sauté until translucent, about 2 minutes
  • Add red wine and bring to a boil
  • Simmer until the wine is reduced by half, about 8 to 10 minutes stirring occasionally
  • Remove from heat and serve over meat or vegetable of choice
  • Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Lemon + Parmesan Asparagus

Aahhhhh, Asparagus. Such a delicious and versatile vegetable. 
It possesses magical powers, and has the capacity to make any dish seem a little bit more Fancy...
...and your pee smellin' like.. well we all know where that's going.

But seriously, I love asparagus!  


My hubs loves asparagus! 
It's one of his top requested veggies when I ask him what we should have as a side dish.


There's something to be said about cooking for your man. 
If he likes it and you made it, then why wouldn't you make it again, right?
I'm all about pleasin' here!

I love making food that he loves, it's a win/win for both of us. 
I make it, we eat it, we both like it, I'm full and satisfied, and he proceeds to tell me sweet nothings about my cooking.
 Which makes me all warm and fuzzy. 
 Then I think to myself, 'I wonder if anyone else would enjoy this as much as we do?'
I decide: Heck! Might-as-well post it to the Blog! Great idea!

So here we are... 

 A couple of nights ago I made a rendition of my ultimate favorite food that my mom makes. It's super duper excellent, and I cannot describe to you how much I love my Mom's Herb-Cheese Steaks {don't worry lots more to come on this soon}. 
Since I was going all out with the steaks, I knew I needed a rock-star side dish that would complement the amazing cheezy, herby, steaky meal that I was attempting to make, then proceed to devour. I've raved about this dish for what has seemed like forever to my husband, and I finally got up the courage to try to make my own... So what in the world was I going to make as a side dish?? 
I immediately knew it had to be my 
Lemon + Parmesan Asparagus

Seriously, this asparagus can be served hot or cold, and dressed up or down - any way you like it. You can pair it with meaty beef, fish, chicken, salad.. whatever, you name it - the asparagus will be nothing shy of delightful. 

Asparagus + Parm + Lemon {pre-oven}

Roasted Lemon + Parmesan Asparagus

Lemon + Parmesan Asparagus

  • 1 bunch asparagus
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • Olive oil
  • Salt & Pepper

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Rinse asparagus, and remove the thick ends.
  3. Next, drizzle olive oil onto a large baking sheet.
  4. Place asparagus in a single layer across baking sheet and sprinkle lightly with salt & pepper.
  5. Next, evenly squeeze lemon juice over all the asparagus, then sprinkle the asparagus with Parmesan cheese.
  6. Place asparagus in the oven for 8 - 10 minutes until tender.
  7. Serve & Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Creamy Chicken and Mushrooms

Today I am going to share with you lovely readers a super easy recipe that is sure to please anyone!

This dish is one of my all-time favorite dishes, and a constant go-to when I am not sure what to make. The rich creaminess of the sauce paired with mushrooms makes this dish seem complicated. But I promise it’s just the perfect touch no matter who you’re feeding, and you’ll see just how easy it is to whip up. 

Pair it with some cooked spinach and brown rice, or egg noodles work great as well. 

Creamy Chicken and Mushrooms

·        2 tablespoons butter
·        1 1/4 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
·        4 ounces sliced mushrooms (about 1 1/2 cups)
·        1 small white onion, sliced (about 1/4 cup)
·        1 small clove garlic, minced
·        1 can (10 3/4 ounces) Campbell's® Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup
·        1/2 cup milk
·        2 tablespoons dry sherry
·        1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
·        1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
about 4 cups cooked brown rice (you could also use noodles)

  • Heat 1 tablespoon of butter in a large non-stick skillet, over medium-high heat. While butter is melting, season chicken with garlic salt and black pepper. Once seasoned, add chicken to the skillet and brown on both sides, about 5-8 mins per side depending on the thickness of the chicken. Once cooked, remove chicken from skillet, cover with foil and set aside.
  • Reduce heat to medium and add the remaining butter to the skillet. Once butter is melted add the mushrooms, onion, and garlic to the skillet and cook until the vegetables are tender.
  • Next, stir-in the soup, milk, sherry and black pepper in the skillet and bring to a boil. Add the cooked chicken back into the skillet and reduce heat to low. Cover and cook for 5 minutes. Serve chicken with mushroom sauce over rice (or noodles).
  • Enjoy

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Better Late Than Never

So, I understand this post is well over due, way late, and probably serves absolutely no purpose, but I am going to post it anyway.

You see, I've been feverously grading finals, as well as taking finals myself for school. I've been yearning to write up a quick post but I haven’t really been up to much except finals and grading, and I figured it'd be best to leave out the boring details of such… It's been a little hectic around here since Thanksgiving, to say the least.

Either way, I guess it’s better to post late than never, right?
(you reply) Right!

So here’s a quick Thanksgiving Recap:
 During Thanksgiving we had some family and friends stop by to join us! I’ll again mention now this was our first Thanksgiving at our place, including us doing the cooking. Although, my friend JoAnna brought some delicious home-made pies including home-made whipped cream. It was so AMAZING that I didn't get the chance to snap some photos. I did however get a couple of quick shots of the food between stirring, simmering, baking, roasting, and let’s not forget - EATING!

Papa's Pea Salad
I've been waiting a whole year to eat some pea salad! 

The Turkey
I never know if you’re supposed to take off the casing around the turkey… Oh well, we didn't burn the house down, I guess.

THE Gravy & Check out the Butter shaped into a turkey!! It's so festive we had to get it.
Shout out to Williams--Sonoma for the amazing  Turkey Gravy Base. Make the gravy nice and PERFECT!

We had Ham too! So so SOOO Good!

So there ya have it, our little Thanksgiving in a nutshell.

Stay tuned, tomorrow I'll be posting one of my favorite recipes for a quick meal, that is OH so Good! You won't want to miss it. 

- Amanda 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

BRRR...! {warning: this post isn't about food...well, maybe.}

So remember in my post from yesterday I was explaining how us folks down here in parts of Texas were experiencing some pretty nasty cold weather. For those of us native to the South, it's been really, really cold!! It even turns out we've had some freezing temps, mixed with some rain, some awesome wind chills, and all that fun "wintry" stuff..  after a couple of days of these  "wintry mixes" everything was completely frosted over with ice. It made everything eerie, yet magical all at the same time. 

Despite the power going out on us (eerie), it was quite fun to get a true glimpse of Winter (magical). Not to mention figuring out what to do with yourselves without heat and electric for a few hours. Fun stuff! 
Side note: did you know they make small indoor-safe propane heaters??! We didn't either!  Rest assured, we all know now. 

But, since I couldn't whip-up or try out a fun new recipe, or two {my oven is all electric, Baby!} I decided to get a closer look at Jack Frost, and see what I could (safely) see. I grabbed my camera and ran outside to snap a couple of pictures - What a treat! 

Although, it may not be  a great new food recipe, or a kooky story..   I thought I'd share for all you wonderful readers! 

View of a short-lived "Texas Winter"
I may, or may not, had labeled that last photo as "Snot in Trees" in my computer files. {What can I say? It was the first name that popped into my head}

Sometimes, it's about experiencing the little things in life, right? I mean after a brutal Texas Summer, and heat that would make the devil himself cry, it's nice to see something a little different, like ICE. Anyway, here's another shot for ya.

Fallen tree branch covered in ice


Okay, I guess I should mention a little something about food.. I just can't help myself.

 We are gearing up for our 1st annual Thanksgiving at our place this year {Yippee! I'm seriously soo excited!} 
So, I  also spent  part of the day cleaning out the fridge, pantry, kitchen in general, cleaning up the house... AND...

 We went and picked up our "official" turkey (and a ham)

The Bird & The Pig. They're in there. No one wants to see a naked bird thawing out... Promise.


We fought the crowds at Walmart and the grocery store.. 

The coveted master grocery list

yes, we had to make a stop at both... grrr.. 
Alright, I digress 
{but don't worry, there will be a post soon about all the wonderful awkwardness that happens while grocery shopping} 
I know y'all all know what I'm talking about.

Anyway, what are your plans for the Thanksgiving Holiday? Are you traveling, having family over,keeping it simple? Do you stick to tradition, or play-it-by-ear?

PS -  Raise your hand if your excited about stuffing! I am so excited about the Stuffing!! I'm doing (imaginary) jumps and flips over here! It's my all time favorite! ever.. and maybe the gravy. Oh lawd! THE GRAVY!!! 
No, but seriously, I'm like the Pilgrim on the Stove Top commercials (so is the husband) - I'm over-the-moon, dreaming-about-it-for-months crazy about the Stuffing!  Except this year, I'm making my mother's coveted Southwestern Stuffing recipe (and the Stove Top version, so no one has to have a mild case of Scurvy)... stay tuned. I know I'll have lots to share. What's your favorite dish at Thanksgiving? Oh yea, stuffing!

oxox, Amanda 

Monday, November 25, 2013

Comfort: Chicken N Dumplings

The weather is {finally!}  starting to cool off  here in the South - we're talking temps in the 30's and 40's people! And us Texans think that's purdy darn "cold"! 
With shorter days and chillier nights, nothing sounds better at the end of the day than a nice warm bowl {or plate} of some good ole southern comfort food... and nothing says "cool weather, comfort, and deep south" more than Chicken N Dumplings, right??? 

 {at least in my opinion}

As kids, we didn't really eat Chicken N Dumplings all the time growing up, but when we did, I remember it being pure bliss. So, today I'd thought I'd share a super easy & super quick way to make Chicken N Dumplings to keep your hearts and bellies warm - and this version has some pretty amazing shortcuts to make your life just that much easier. Cause we all know we could use an easy dinner from time to time, especially during the Holiday season.

So, here's the line-up
You'll need:

1 Rotisserie chicken
4 cups Chicken Broth
1 can of Cream of Chicken Soup
Carrot (1 large, or 2 medium size)
Celery (about 2 ribs)
2 - 3 Bay Leaves (optional)
Biscuits (I used Grands and they were way too much, so just grab the cheapest kind... You just need some dough)
Garlic Salt
and, Olive Oil

First, chop your veggies - Carrot, Celery, & Onion - to your desired size(s). I like to dice my onion up into pretty small pieces, and keep my celery and carrots in slightly thicker slices.

Next, heat about 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot. Throw your chopped/ diced veggies into your pot and saute for about 3-5 minutes, until they're slightly tender. 

Next, add 4 cups chicken broth to your sauteed veggies.

Add one can of cream of chicken soup, and stir until mixed well. I added a couple of Bay Leaves  - they always make the house smell so SO good, and they add a nice touch, dontcha think?
Bring to a nice simmer over Medium-High heat, and occasionally stir. Do not bring to a boil.

Next, cut your biscuits into fourths and flatten them out by lightly patting them in between your hands. 

 Lightly coat them in a mixture of flour, garlic salt, and pepper. I used about a cup of flour and added a pinch of pepper and garlic salt. 

Plop those little biscuits babies into your soup mixture and bring to a nice boil.


  While your biscuits and soup mixture is cooking and coming together nicely, get to shredding that chicken! Why, oh why, do I love shredding chicken so much?? It's got to be one of my favorite things to do, I know, I am crazy. 

As your biscuits are cooking, and soaking up all that yummy goodness, make sure you keep the biscuits under the broth. Do not over boil. Cook them for about 5 - 10 minutes until your biscuits are cooked to your liking. Some like them fluffy, some like them doughy. Whatever you little heart desires!

Next, add your shredded chicken, and heat through. About 3 minutes. Be sure to remove the bay leaves before serving. No one wants to eat leaves in their soup. Just toss them once they've done their job.

And that's it!

Now, get a big heaping, steaming, serving of Chicken N Dumplings in a bowl, plate, directly out of the pot (however you want it) and ENJOY!

Yummmmmmy!! Easy, quick, and DELISH!

What's your favorite chilly weather comfort food?