Thursday, April 24, 2014

Pizzette, Soup, Naked and Afraid

My husband and I have decided to go on the Naked and Afraid diet.  We have become addicted to the Discovery Channel television series and cannot stop watching it (the kids are even hooked).

I have all the respect for any woman that can just get dropped off into a remote jungle, go bare naked (with maybe not the best figure) and then spend three weeks with a complete stranger, eating termites and making her own bikini out of palm leaves, (all while being filmed on national television and on the internet) - yes, that is a very brave woman.  The best part of all, is they are losing anywhere from 25 - 40 pounds in just three weeks!!  That's the kind of results I would love to have...and they come out of the competition completely tan - it's like an instant makeover!!

Here is our question though....if the man and woman are naked, fending for their own food, shelter and making fires from dried grass and a stick...what are the camera crew, medics and producers doing at the same time?  Are they across a stream living it up in a 10-person Coleman camping adventure tent with built-in shower and a bonfire and grilling up some ribeye steaks?

Or, is the whole thing really filmed in some Burbank, California studios backlot?  Hmmm......

Well at any rate, I'm sure eating this pizza schmeared with herbed cream cheese spread will not help my diet cause, but it sure tastes amazing.

My go to kitchen staple that is always in the refrigerator.
I cannot take any credit for this creative recipe.  My friend Toni in Alaska ( A Taste of Alaska  ) taught me this trick with a simple pre-made pie crust dough and I have been hooked ever since.

I always start with one of the Alouette flavors and build it from there with different veggies, cheeses and toppings.

Served it with a figure friendly minestrone soup to keep it light.

Alouette Pizzette
Courtesy of Toni

(1) Pillsbury Refrigerated Pie Crust (unbaked) and brought to room temperature
3 ounces (1/2 of container) of Alouette cheese spread
4 ounces of button mushrooms, cleaned and thinly sliced
3 ounces of prepared black olive tapenade
4 Tbl. finely shredded Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Roll out pie crust on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet.

Spread Alouette cheese all over pie crust.  Fold over edges of pie crust (about 1/2" all around) to frame the crust.

Spread tapenade over cheese spread, add mushrooms and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Bake approximately 30-40 minutes or until pie crust edges are golden brown and cheeses have melted.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Mediterranean Meatballs and Cake Pops

The girls made it home safe and sound from their tournament travels (with one sprained ankle, again).
We are back in full force of schedules this week and in the final month of school.  They are counting down the days for summer to be here and to work on their tans.

They wanted to make a fun dessert over their spring break and since I was trying to keep them busy during that time, we all agreed on attempting cake pops....very spring-like and really sweet and delicious.

I am still on my cream cheese recipe kick and trying to use it all up.  I acquired a Kraft Foods cookbook many years ago (one of those "free with purchase") books, that I absolutely love.

I thought I would try this one out because anything I can make with either olives and/or capers, is a huge hit with my husband.  This one did not disappoint.  Truly easy, good and definitely a keeper.

Mediterranean Meatballs with Couscous
Adaptation from Kraft Foods

1 lb.  ground pork  (I used 1/2 pork and 1/2 ground beef mixture)

1 cup  dry bread crumbs (I had Panko crumbs on hand and it worked perfectly)

1/2 cup  (1/2 of 8-oz. brick) PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, softened to room temperature

1/2 cup  finely chopped onions

1/ 4 cup  finely chopped stuffed green olives with pimentos

1 egg

2 cloves  garlic, minced

1/2 tsp.  dried oregano leaves

2 Tbsp.  olive oil

2 cups   prepared marinara sauce

2 cups  hot cooked couscous
1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed

Mix first 8 ingredients until well blended; shape into 24 balls, using about 2 Tbsp. for each. (I used my cookie scoop for easier portioning).

Heat oil in large nonstick skillet on medium heat. Add meatballs; cook 5 to 6 min. or until evenly browned, turning occasionally. Add sauce; simmer on medium-low heat 10 to 15 min. or until meatballs are done

Make your favorite couscous, according to packaged directions.  When couscous is done, add the thawed peas and let warm through.

Serve meatballs and sauce over prepared couscous mixed with peas.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Cheese Souffles

Last night I put my teenagers on a plane for their weekend tournament...and then I cried.  Their last words to me before boarding the plane (other than "I Love You"), "mom, please don't cry".  So, I held it together and then the tears came after they went through the doors.  I never understood why my mom always cried (and still does) at the, I completely understand.

Know this now, I am not going to make a great (or even good one, for that matter) empty nester.  I hate the quiet, empty commotion or sounds at all (other than snoring dogs)...I even miss their sibling bickering when they are gone.  Theo was also depressed last night, jumping back and forth from my lap to my husband's lap, looking for love and reassurance that his best friend will be coming home.  I have no doubt that our number of labrador retrievers will double, once my daughters leave me and go off to college.

Since I had an over abundance of cream cheese from all the Easter baking this week, here is a great recipe for a quiet, empty nester, date night...served with grilled tri tip steak and caesar salad.

Easiest Souffle Ever

Courtesy of Kraft Foods

eggs, separated

1 tub   (8 oz.) PHILADELPHIA Chive & Onion Cream Cheese Spread

HEAT oven to 375ºF.

BEAT egg whites in medium bowl with mixer on high speed until stiff peaks form. Beat cream cheese spread in large bowl with mixer until creamy. Add egg yolks; beat until well blended. Gently stir in egg whites until well blended.

POUR into 1-1/2-qt. baking dish sprayed with cooking spray.
** I actually dividided the mixture into 4 ramekin dishes for individual souffles.

BAKE 24 to 26 min. or until top is puffed and golden brown. 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Easter "Cheesecake" Baskets

It is Easter Basket time again for all the little children (and 15 year olds).  We celebrated Easter last weekend, since the girls will be away Easter weekend for volleyball.

We have a tradition at our house that started when the girls were born.  Since we are not really into the overload of candy in the baskets and Easter arrives in the spring, each year the girls get new swimsuits in their baskets to start the summer off.

There is also either a new piece of jewelry, hair accessories, nail polish and lip gloss to top them off.

This year I did bend a bit and put in some extra special candy.  I have become addicted to the television show "The Profit" and saw an episode last month on Sweet Pete's in Jacksonville, Florida.  It was such a charming and touching story of a husband and wife team and the American Dream of owning your own business.

I couldn't resist when I went to their website the next day and saw these darling little gift of course, "Add To Cart" I did.

I also made my traditional Mini Cheesecake Easter Baskets that I have been making since forever.  I love these adorable desserts.  Perfectly proportioned and so festive for the spring season.

Mini Cheesecake Baskets
Courtesy of Kraft Foods

12  NILLA Wafers (I used lemon flavored ones this year - yummy)

2 pkg.  (8 oz. each) PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, softened, room temperature

1/2 cup  sugar

1/2 tsp.  vanilla

2  eggs

1-1/2 cups  BAKER'S ANGEL FLAKE Coconut, tinted green

36 small  jelly beans

12 pieces  red string licorice (4 inch each)

HEAT oven to 350°F.

PLACE 1 wafer in each of 12 paper-lined muffin cups. Beat cream cheese, sugar and vanilla with mixer until blended. Add eggs; beat just until blended. Spoon over wafers.

BAKE 20 min. or until centers are almost set. Cool. Refrigerate 2 hours.

TOP with coconut and jelly beans just before serving. Bend each licorice piece, then insert both ends into cheesecake to resemble the handle of a basket.
How to Tint Coconut: 
Place coconut and a few drops green food coloring in small resealable plastic bag. Seal bag. Shake bag gently until coconut is evenly tinted. (I recommend using food prep gloves, when putting the coconut on the cakes, to avoid staining your hands).

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Carrot Cupcakes

Every year I forget how much I love carrot cake.  It's one of those things like St. Patrick's eat corned beef, cabbage and boiled potatoes once a year and always on that day remember how much you love it.  You swear that you will make it again sometime during the upcoming year...and then you forget again, and never do.

Yep, that's what happens with carrot cake - only remembered at Easter time.  Well, it's that time of year again and I made up a batch of these for both my and husband's offices. I must try to remember to make these more this year - delish.

Carrot Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Icing
Courtesy of Barefoot Contessa

For the cupcakes:
2 cups sugar
1 1/3 cups vegetable oil
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 extra-large eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
3 cups grated carrots (less than 1 pound)
1 cup raisins
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

For the frosting:
3/4 pound cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 pound confectioners' sugar

**Jelly bean designed "carrot" - optional

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Beat the sugar, oil, and vanilla together in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add the eggs, 1 at a time. In another bowl, sift together the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. With the mixer on low speed, add 1/2 of the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Add the grated carrots, raisins, and walnuts to the remaining flour, mix well, and add to the batter. Mix until just combined.

Line muffin pans with paper liners. Scoop the batter into 22 muffin cups until each is 3/4 full.

Bake at 400 degrees F for 10 minutes then reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F and cook for a further 35 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool on a rack.

For the frosting, cream the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add the sugar and beat until smooth.

When the cupcakes are cool, frost them generously and serve.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Bunny Bundles

Easter is upon us and just less than a week away.  For the past few weeks, our house has been filled with all the colors of spring and bunnies everywhere, amidst the intermittent snow storms we have experienced.

This weekend is supposed to bring sunny skies, perfect for cleaning up the yards, planting flowers and getting ready for summer, all while remembering and treasuring our blessings during this season of Easter.

Wishing you a very "hoppy" week.

I wish I would take credit for these darling gift jars, but I admit that I saw them on Pinterest, my online addiction and just had to make them for the grandkids this year.  These are truly one of the easiest gift ideas you could make.  I love the versatility of them that could be adapted for holidays all year long.

Bunny Bundles

Mason Jar
Your favorite jelly beans
Peeps marshmallow bunnies
Your favorite mini packaged candy (i.e. mini Snickers, Reese's, etc.)
Colorful fabric, cut 6" x 6" 

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Mixed Berry Pavlova

In ending yesterday's Masters, I paid tribute to last year's winner, Adam Scott.  At this year's Champions Dinner, he did indeed serve his mom's Pavlova dessert.

I have always been very intimidated by this recipe, but after seeing Ina Garten (The Barefoot Contessa) make her version, I decided to conquer it.

*** A word of warning, this one dessert could feed 50 people because you can only take one spoonful of it, as it is sooo sweet!!

Mixed Berry Pavlova
Courtesy of Barefoot Contessa at Home

4 extra-large egg whites, at room temperature
Pinch kosher salt
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Sweetened Whipped Cream, recipe follows

1 cup cold heavy cream
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Triple Raspberry Sauce, recipe follows
1 half-pint fresh raspberries
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup seedless raspberry jam (12-ounce jar)
1 tablespoon framboise liqueur

1/2 pint fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
1/2 pint fresh blueberries
1/2 pint fresh raspberries

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees F.

Place a sheet of parchment paper on a sheet pan. Draw a 9-inch circle on the paper, using a 9-inch plate as a guide, then turn the paper over so the circle is on the reverse side. (This way you won't get a pencil mark on the meringue.)

Place the egg whites and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Beat the egg whites on high speed until firm, about 1 minute. With the mixer still on high, slowly add the sugar and beat until it makes firm, shiny peaks, about 2 minutes.

Remove the bowl from the mixer, sift the cornstarch onto the beaten egg whites, add the vinegar and vanilla, and fold in lightly with a rubber spatula. Pile the meringue into the middle of the circle on the parchment paper and smooth it within the circle, making a rough disk. Bake for 1 1/2 hours.

Turn off the oven, keep the door closed, and allow the meringue to cool completely in the oven, about 1 hour. It will be crisp on the outside and soft on the inside.

Invert the meringue disk onto a plate and spread the top completely with sweetened whipped cream.

Combine the strawberries, blueberries and raspberries in a bowl and toss with about 1/2 cup of raspberry sauce, or enough to coat the berries lightly. Spoon the berries carefully into the middle of the Pavlova, leaving a border of cream and meringue. Serve immediately in large scoops with extra raspberry sauce.

Sweetened Whipped Cream:
Whip the cream in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment (you can also use a hand mixer). When it starts to thicken, add the sugar and vanilla and continue to beat until firm. Don't over beat!

Triple Raspberry Sauce:
Place the raspberries, sugar and 1/4 cup water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 4 minutes. Pour the cooked raspberries, the jam, and framboise into the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade and process until smooth. Chill.

*** I did not have any framboise on hand, so I subsituted with Grand Marnier - worked great.

The Masters Pimento Cheese Sandwich

Today Bubba Watson took home his second green blazer after winning this afternoon's annual Masters tournament.

I caught bits and pieces of the tournament as I have been non-stop in the kitchen all day producing countless sweets for outgoing care packages tomorrow.  My poor oven has worked well into overtime today.
Cute gift idea - the girls made a movie "bouquet"
for their friend's birthday.
Movie passes, popcorn and lots of goodies.
However, there were others in our family that just could not find the drive to do anything...but nap!!  It was a cold, snowy and dreary day which definitely lended itself for a good snooze (especially after the girls pulled an all nighter sleepover at a friends).

I kept to my promise and produced the famous Masters Pimento Cheese Sandwhich for my husband.  
It was awesome!!

Pimento Cheese
Courtesy of Plain Chicken

1/4 cup cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 tsp garlic salt
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup diced pimentos

Whip cream cheese until smooth.  Add in mayonnaise, sour cream, and garlic salt.  Whip until smooth.  Stir in remaining ingredients.  Cover and refrigerate 30 minutes, or until ready to serve.

I turned my Pimento Cheese into a dip for crackers. - Even better!!!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Comforting Creamy Chicken and Noodles

In my continuing quest for comfort last week from not feeling well, I was also feeling very nostalgic.  I have no idea why this dish came to me, but I vividly remembered my mom buying us this canned chicken and creamy noodle dish and for the life of me I cannot remember if it was from Campbell's or Hormel, or some other company... does anyone out there remember this?  It came in the size of a can of soup and was probably the prequel to what is now Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo. At any rate, I reinvented it for one of our dinners this past week.

I also love, love this nostalgic sign that I found at a vintage store when we moved here.  It hangs in our dining area and this is my moto whenever someone expresses their feelings in my dinner menu decision.

Speaking of menus we have a very busy weekend.  I have already sent my husband off to his golf tournament after making him blueberry muffins, hash browns, turkey breakfast sausage and cheesy scrambled eggs...yeah, wife of the year award again!  Lots of baking to get accomplished the next couple days for upcoming Easter festivities.

I need to get out of my pajamas at some point this morning (or not) and start a little house cleaning, since my husband took on that role the past couple weekends with me being gone at volleyball tournaments.

Of course The Masters will be watched, unfortunately without my boyfriend Phil, but the pimento cheese spread still needs to be prepped today for tomorrow's lunch.

Getting the Easter care package ready for our grand babies to send out and need to have the girls pack for their upcoming out of town tournament.  I'm exhausted already.....

Creamy Chicken and Noodles

2 cans Campbells Cream of Chicken Soup
1 pint (2 cups) heavy cream
1 roasted chicken (homemade or from your deli), meat removed and shredded
1/2 - 3/4 cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese (depending on your taste)
1 bag of regular size egg noodles, cooked per package directions
salt and pepper to taste

Remove all meat from the cooked, roasted chicken and shred to bite size pieces, set aside.

In large sauce/soup pan, heat both cans of Cream of Chicken soup to a soft boil, until heated.  Add the heavy cream and parmesean cheese, until a smooth, creamy consistency.  Add the shredded chicken and let heat through at medium heat setting (approximatley 20 minutes).  Season with salt and pepper, to your taste.

While chicken is heating in the sauce, make egg noodles according to directions and drain.
Serve creamy chicken over hot noodles.

** Makes excellent work day lunch leftovers.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Cheesy French Dippy - All American

Today at Augusta was the first official play day at The Masters, so I will be watching my boyfriend Phil Mickelson the next few days and cheering him on, along with his adorable wife Amy and their precious family.

Meanwhile, back in Colorado, we have been experiencing some really beautiful evenings.  We live near a wonderful lake with parks and walking/biking paths that go all around it and love to take our dogs for a quick swim in their private cove before dinner.

Other than golf (and baseball of course), I cannot think of a more American symbol, than the bald eagle (or in our case eagles)

During our walk and swim this week, there were several people around our cove looking up at the sky.  As my husband was throwing the ball for the dogs to retrieve in the water, I looked up and saw the most spectacular sight...two breathtaking bald eagles right above my head.

I have never been so close to one of these amazing husband and I were in awe - so much that we had to run home and grab my camera for the photos.  Luckily the wind had picked up, so they were just hanging out, letting everyone that crossed their path admire them, and wait for the wind to subside.

Cheesy French Dippy
Inspired by The Pioneer Woman

One 4-pound chuck roast
Salt and black pepper
3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 cups beef broth
2 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary
One 16-ounce jar pepperoncini, juice and all
2 yellow onions, sliced
10 to 12 toasted, buttered deli rolls
12 slices provolone cheese
au jus dip (your favorite brand)

Sprinkle the chuck roast with salt and pepper.

Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter and the canola oil in a heavy pot over high heat. Sear both sides of the chuck roast until very browned, about 5 minutes in all.

Transfer the browned meat into a crock pot.  Pour in the beef broth and 1 cup water. Add the rosemary, and then pour in the pepperoncini with their juices. Now cover the crock pot and cook at low setting for 6-8 hours.

Meanwhile, heat a skillet over medium heat and add the remaining 1 tablespoon butter. Add the onions and saute until light golden brown. Set aside.

Remove the roast from the crock pot and shred the meat completely using two forks. Return the meat to the cooking liquid and keep warm.

To serve, slice wedges out of the tops of the deli rolls. Heap a generous portion of meat on each roll. Top with a few peppers from the pot and plenty of caramelized onions.  Then, top with a slice of provolone cheese and put prepped sandwiches on a cookie sheet, under broiler on low setting for a minute (just until it starts to bubble and turn light, golden brown)

Top the sandwiches with the wedges of roll and serve with your favorite au jus dipping sauce.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Parmesan Potato au Gratin with Chicken Gloria - The Legend of Bobby Jones

In the spirit of Masters Week at our house I was reminded this morning of Bobby Jones as he was one of the founders of Augusta Golf Club, home to The Masters Tournament.

We all know how much I love movies and there are two exceptional movies that come to mind which reference Bobby Jones and are both definitely must sees if you are in the mood for a feel good, American spirit movie:  The Greatest Game Ever Played and The Legend of Bagger Vance.  Of course, leave it to me I think I have seen them both at least twenty times and still cry at the end of them.

We are supposed to have rain and possible light snow this weekend, I hope these are both playing on television, in the Masters tradition....perfect prescription for a feel good movie and a comforting dinner.

Parmesan Potato au Gratin
Courtesy of Basil-Albi

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tablespoons onion or shallot, finely chopped
2 cups half and half
1 cup parmesan, grated
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon thyme {fresh}, chopped
2-3 medium russet potatoes, sliced thinly

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a muffin tin with cooking spray and set aside.

Mix the garlic, onion or shallot, half and half, 1/2 cup parmesan, salt, pepper and thyme in a bowl and set aside.

Stack about 7-8 potato slices into each muffin tin. The number of slices will vary depending on the thickness of the cut. Stack them tightly but not any higher than the muffin tin itself.

Pour the half and half mixture over the potato slices, being careful not to overfill. Sprinkle the remaining parmesan cheese over each muffin tin. 

Bake for 45-50 minutes until the cheese is golden brown, and the liquid has absorbed into the potatoes. I would suggest putting a pan underneath just in case of dripping.

Chicken Gloria Casserole
Courtesy of Betty Crocker

skinless boneless chicken breasts, trimmed and cut in half lengthwise
 cup Gold Medal® all-purpose flour
tablespoons vegetable oil
 tablespoons butter
 container (8 oz) sliced fresh mushrooms
 cup cream sherry wine
can (18 oz) Progresso® creamy mushroom soup
 slices Muenster cheese
tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Heat oven to 350°F.

Sprinkle both sides of the chicken with salt and pepper. Spoon flour onto shallow dish or pie plate. Coat both sides of chicken with flour; shake off excess.

In 12-inch skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Brown chicken on both sides. (You don’t need to cook the chicken completely because it will finish cooking in the oven.) Transfer chicken to 13x9-inch (3-quart) glass baking dish.

Place butter in same skillet; let melt over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook and stir mushrooms until golden brown. Stir in sherry; cook and stir for additional 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in soup; mix well. Cook until thoroughly heated.

Pour mushroom sauce over chicken; top each piece of chicken with one slice cheese. Fold cheese in half if it is too wide for chicken piece.

Cover dish with foil; bake 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, turn oven to boil setting. Remove foil from dish; broil 1 to 2 minutes to brown the cheese. Remove from the oven; set aside to cool slightly.

Top with parsley.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Champions Dinner at The Masters

It's Masters Week in our household, live from Augusta.  It's a very big deal for my husband every year. Our morning coffee time with our news program has been replaced with every waking second of the "Morning Drive" on the Golf Channel.  He is also already planning our tournament meals for the weekend.  Of course, The Masters cannot be watched without taking in one of their famous pimento cheese sandwiches.  (Stay tuned for that one later this weekend).

Tonight is the Champions Dinner.  The Champions Dinner has been an annual tradition at The Masters since 1952, when Ben Hogan suggested and hosted the first dinner. 

The idea is simple:  Winners of The Masters are members of an exclusive club, so they get together each year on the Tuesday night of tournament week to welcome the previous year's winner to the club.  That club is officially known as the Masters Club, but unofficially the gathering is called the Champions Dinner.  

The previous year's winner get to select the menu (and even bring his own chef, if he chooses) - and he also has to pay for producing that menu. Over the years, the dinner fare has ranged from cheeseburgers to sushi to haggis.  This year Adam Scott, from Australia is expected to serve Moreton Bay 'bugs' (lobster), pavlova (meringue dessert).
So my husband and I were also discussing what other people's dinner selection would be if they were the returning champion.  Since he also has a golf tournament this weekend, I thought about my husband as a Masters Champion and knew the perfect dinner he would select as his favorite choice.

Pine Ridge Epitome Chardonnay

Loaded Garden Salad with
Italian Dressing and Foccacia Croutons

Puttanesca over Penne
and Roasted Italian Sausages

Belle Glos Pinot Noir

Apple Pie with
Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

Friday, April 4, 2014

Mushroom Soup for Momma's Soul

It is Friday...thank God.  I have been sick all week and I am so over being sick.  I heavily dislike being sick. There is this so called head cold going around that has sucked the life out of me this week.  I even bailed out of work yesterday with zero energy to drive to Boulder.

I do not make a good patient, because when I get sick, I get really sick.  It usually starts out small, so I push myself too far and keep going about my business not listening to my body...then it's too late to go back.  There I am, out for the count for a few days at least.

This week did have some happiness though, the creek near my office is running again and so beautiful.  I love hearing the water as I walk to and from my car every day.

The only good part of being sick is that I crave soup, any kind and all kinds of soups.  It's a comfort thing.  When I was younger and sick my mom always made me a can of Campbell's Chicken Noodle Soup and a Grilled Cheese Sandwich with a cup of Lipton hot tea sprinkled with a spoon full of sugar (served on our landscape painted, metal TV tray with the antique brass legs that fit perfectly over my lap - if you were a child of the 60's/70's you know exactly what I am referring to)....the perfect cure all!!

Mushroom Soup
Courtesy of Wolfgang Puck, Modern French Cooking for the American Kitchen

1 pound firm white mushrooms, cleaned
1 medium lemon
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons minced shallots
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 bay leaf
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 teaspoon cornstarch, dissolved in 1 tablespoon of water
1 tablespoon minced parsley

Sprinkle the mushrooms with lemon juice. In a food processor, coarsely chop them.

Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan and lightly saute the shallots. Add the mushrooms, thyme, and bay leaf and saute over moderate heat for 10 minutes, or until the liquid disappears.

Add the salt, pepper, cream, and chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.  Add the cornstarch to the soup and continue to simmer 10 minutes longer, stirring constantly.

***This soup is even better the second day as leftovers.***