Creamy Mushroom Soup

3 Tbsp butter

2 Tbsp olive oil

1 small container of button mushrooms, chopped

1 medium sweet onion, minced

2 small Yukon Gold potatoes, chopped (smaller cooks faster)

3 cloves garlic

1 bay leaf

32 oz chicken stock

Salt and pepper to taste

3 Tbsp flour

1/4 cup cream


Melt butter in a pot. Add olive oil to prevent butter from burning. Add mushrooms, onions, and garlic. Cook until onions are softened and mushrooms are cooked

Add chicken stock, bay leaf, and chopped potatoes. Add approximately 1 tsp of salt.

Cook until potatoes are tender. Remove about 1/2 cup of stock and add flour. Whisk vigorously to make a “slurry” and add back to the pot.

Once soup thickens a little, add cream to finish and salt and pepper if needed. Enjoy!

Easy dutch oven pulled pork

I love pulled pork. The test of a good bbq joint for me is how good is their pulled pork. Sadly, it’s not fiscally responsible to go out for bbq all the time so here’s a quick pulled pork from your Dutch oven. It is technically not bbq and doesn’t have that awesome smoke but it’ll make you pulled pork sandwiches in a pinch. Just a note, I go light on the heat for my little ones who don’t like it. This is for a 5 lb pork shoulder or Boston butt.

Dry rub:

1 Tbsp paprika

2 tsp brown sugar

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp onion powder

1/2 tsp chili powder

1/4 tsp oregano

1/4 tsp black pepper

Heat oven to 375.

Trim excess fat from your pork. Mix the rub together and rub on to your pork. Let sit overnight if you have time. I will admit I have rubbed this one before immediately putting into the oven. I put on the dry rub on the pork while directly in the Dutch oven. Make sure to coat the whole piece of meat.

Put into the oven and cook for 3 1/2 hours.

Remove from the oven and pull pork away gently with two forks. I like to leave larger pieces so it’s not all shredded.

Top with your favorite bbq or vinegar sauce. Eat by itself or in a sandwich!

Simple Tomato Sauce

I remembered this recipe recently that I had from my poor college days. It was cheap and fairly fast but mostly good and nutritious way to eat my noodles. Depending on what spices I put it in, it could be a zesty pizza sauce or a tomato base for various pasta dishes. This one is so simple. Only tools needed are a pot and if you like, an emersion blender (though I didn’t have this when I was in college). When you don’t start with a pre made tomato sauce, it’s a little surprising how much salt is required.

1 Tbsp olive oil

5 ripe roma tomatoes

1 large onion

5 cloves garlic

Italian seasoning

salt and pepper to taste

Optional: Cream, chili powder

Chop all your vegetables. If you’re using an emersion blender then you don’t need to chop finely. Pour some olive oil in a pot before adding vegetables on medium heat. Stir periodically to ensure even cooking. Once the onions are tender and translucent, I blend. Add Italian seasoning and salt and pepper to taste, it may take a little more salt but you’re starting with an unsalted base unlike pre made sauces in jars. I will admit, it won’t be a pretty red color but it’s a fresh and light sauce. For a little zestier flavor, you can add a little chili powder, it gives a milder heat without being over powering. A little goes a long way. Also, if you want to make it creamy, I add 2 Tbsp of cream right before you serve since cream has a tendency to burn.

If you want your sauce to be more tomato-y and red like traditional sauce double the tomatoes. I like the flavor of this one more than wanting that pretty red color.

If you want to be Super Healthy! I make this with spaghetti squash with some mushrooms and broccoli. Happy Cooking!

No soak black beans

This is my new favorite way to make  black beans. I rarely remember to soak my beans the day before or if I do, something comes up and I can’t quite cook them. So! This is very tasty and has no risk of BPA from canned beans. It makes a lot so I freeze about half it can be made in a crockpot on the high setting for about 4 hours. I use a pot on the stove for about 2 1/2 – 3 hours.
1 lb bag of dried black beans

1 onion, diced

5 garlic cloves

2 bay leaves

1/2 tsp chili powder

Salt and pepper to taste

7 cups of water

I begin with sorting out my beans, removing any that have wrinkles, are misshapen or any stones that sneak into the mix. Once they’re sorted, they get a good rinsing before I stick them in the pot of water. I turn the heat to high until it boils then lower the temperature medium low (sometimes low depending on the stove. I had the onions, garlic, and spices. I let it cook at a low simmer, stirring very 30 minutes to ensure nothing is stuck on the bottom. Once the skin pulls away a bit on the beans, they’re done. Add salt and pepper to taste. This recipe doesn’t begin with any salt so a sprinkling probably won’t be enough.

My new favorite way to eat them is with some rice and scoop it into lettuce…. Korean style

Light and Fluffy Belgian Waffles j

I had the good fortune, some years ago, to visit Bruges, Belgium. It is a beautiful and preserved Medieval city that I had been wanting to visit for some time. They have the best chocolate (really, really… the best) and beer and waffles! absolutely wonderful waffles. Now, there are two kinds of waffles in Belgium I’ve encountered: the sugar-middle street fare and the light, crisp and delicate cafe version. This post is dedicated to the latter as I find the former to be far too sweet. After returning to the states, I spent months searching and experimenting on recipes to get back to that elusive Belgian waffle. Below, I shall share what finally worked and why. But for now, I must explain how a fluffy Belgian waffle saved me. So… the ATM’s in Belgium are different from the ones in the states. I had recently gotten married and I had only a single debit card in my new name which is a bit of a problem to match with my new id cards and passport. At the time, I had no reason to believe I really needed more than one card so I only brought the one. I was not familiar with european ATM machines and unfortunately, forgot my card in it… my only card!!! Luckily, my very kind sister in law helped me out… and was stuck with a grumpy and somewhat devastated me who’s thinking of all the ways I might not be able to make it back to the states. I don’t know why we ended up at the cafe that we did land in, but we sat and ordered waffles. When in Rome… Back to the short story made long… after the first bite, which I can only describe as taking a bite of a cloud, I no longer had a care in the world. Other than “is it socially acceptable to order another? Will my sister in law think I’m a big pig who’s going to stuff the last remaining cash in my name into waffles? Delicious, delicious waffles”. I had the most heavenly waffle that completely reversed my misery, wiped it clean away. Light, slightly sweet, and the most simple, delicious waffle I never knew existed.

My biggest regret is not eating more waffles… and not buying more chocolate. The recipe below will yield 4 waffles

Cloud Belgian waffles

1 1/4 cup all purpose flour

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

1 Tbsp Sugar

1 egg

4 Tbsp butter (unsalted)

1 1/4 cup buttermilk (or 2 Tbsp plain yogurt and 1 cup whole milk or 1 cup milk and juice from half a lemon) *1 1/2 cup milk for desert or elevation

Turn on your waffle iron. Mix the first four ingredients together in a bowl.

Melt butter (30 seconds in the microwaves should suffice). Whisk butter and sugar together. Add your egg and whisk until smooth. Add your buttermilk to the egg mix and whisk smooth.

Combine your liquid and dry ingredients. Be sure to whisk as little as possible. Clumps are alright but large lumps need to be broken up.

Pour 2/3 of a cup (or 1/3 cup two times) of batter into the waffle iron and gently spread to the edge then close the iron. Pouring just in the middle and closing makes the waffle more dense and doesn’t really spread as far. Also be careful to not disturb the batter after you’ve mixed. The leaveners (baking soda and powder) will have been activated and will create bubbles. If you disturb these bubbles you lose fluff in the waffles and they will become more dense.

Dust with a little powdered sugar for a proper Belgian waffle, or Americanize it with syrup. I add some sprinkles for my kids. I do not think there is a way to mess this guy up! Enjoy!


Couple of tips!

The biggest reason to spend little time blending with the flour mix is when liquid is added to flour, it causes gluten to form. That would be great if you’re making bread or pizza but in the case of waffles or even pancakes, typically a softer crumb is desired. It is a matter of frequency not time, so don’t whisk as quickly as you can in a minute or anything. Also, I’ve seen recipes with whipped egg whites rather than more baking powder. I’ve tried this and waffles had a tougher texture. It seems the additional protein from the eggs did not taste like taking a bite of a cloud. It was good but I feel this is closer to what I had in Bruges. Also! if you don’t have buttermilk or yogurt, you can just use milk but the acid in those will help tenderize the flour. You can add a tsp of distilled vinegar in a pinch.