Instant Pot Mushroom Soup

Click DOWNLOAD above to go straight to the recipe.

I hate mushrooms. Ok, I DID hate mushrooms, until I had them prepared in a heavenly way at a restaurant at Disney. Then, I had them again in the form of soup at another restaurant at Disney. At that point, Mystery Man informed me I was no longer a mushroom hater. I’m reformed!

I’ve been trying to replicate that soup ever since, and I finally nailed it! I hope you will try it, even if you are a fungi hater.

Also, don’t judge this soup by it’s looks! It’s delicious!

Instant Pot Mushroom Soup

Serves 8

Ingredients

2 Tablespoons olive oil

3 Tablespoons butter

2 leeks* chopped into 2” pieces (white and green sections)

1 medium sweet onion chopped into 2” pieces

5 cloves of garlic, minced

3, 8 oz packages mushrooms wiped clean

 (I use one pack, white, one pack baby bella and one pack ‘gourmet blend’)

1/2 Teaspoon salt (perhaps more when flavors are adjusted at the end of cooking time)

1/2 Teaspoon pepper

1 1/2 Teaspoons fresh thyme or 1/2 Teaspoon dried

1/2 cup cooking sherry

1, 32 ounce box of chicken broth

2 Tablespoons corn starch

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 Teaspoon liquid smoke (if making gluten free, make sure it’s gluten free)

1/2 cup cooked and chopped bacon (garnish)

*did you forget leeks at the grocery? Substitute with one small to medium potato and one stalk of celery.

Instructions

Place leeks and onions in food processor and pulse until chopped and slightly pureed. Transfer to bowl and set aside.

Place one package of cleaned mushrooms in food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Transfer to a clean bowl. Repeat with the last two packages and add all the mushrooms together in a bowl.

Turn on the pot’s ‘sauté’ setting and melt the butter and add the olive oil. Transfer the leeks from their bowl into the pot and add the garlic, too. Sauté until softening, about one minute. Add mushrooms, salt, pepper, thyme, sherry, and chicken broth. Stir.

Cancel the sauté setting and place the lid on the pot, ensuring the vent is set to ‘sealing’. Press the pressure cook or manual button, then the +/1 button to 10 minutes.

When the cook cycle ends, let stand for 15 minutes, then manually vent the remaining pressure via quick release. When the pin drops, open the lid and stir the soup.

There are two ways you can finish this soup, depending on your preference

Our household favorite – carefully pour the hot soup into the *blender to the max liquid line (this will not be all the soup). Add corn starch. Blend for about one minute, until silky smooth. Pour soup back into the pot with the un-blended soup. Add liquid smoke, cream, and salt or pepper to taste.  *An emersion blender is also a good choice.

OR

Remove one cup of soup and place it in a 2-cup measuring vessel. Add corn starch and whisk violently until silky smooth. Return to the pot with the rest of the soup. Add liquid smoke, cream, and salt or pepper to taste.

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Crêpes (Gluten Free & Traditional)

crepe-plainThis is a guest post by my friend Al. We met in 1997 when his kids were wee babies – he was a customer of mine at the toy store. Fast forward twenty years, and now my kids call him ‘Uncle Al’.

Click here for Al’s Traditional Sweet Crêpes

Click here for Jessica’s Gluten Free Sweet Crêpes and Savory Crêpes

Click here for my guide to Gluten Free Prepared Foods

Dressed in our pinks and greens, my friend Lawrence and I made eye contact from across the stage as we anticipated our commander’s downbeat for the last tune of our mid day concert. We were in the square in downtown Brussels, and the encore for our show was always Glenn Miller’s “In the Mood”. This classic was very much expected by the European audiences attending concerts by the United States Air Force’s Army Air Corps Glenn Miller Band.  Our commander always kicked off this tune much too fast for our liking but today we didn’t mind as we had plans. Big, tasty, plans. After the last note was released, we enjoyed a standing ovation which brought a bittersweet tear to my eye. Not so much because it was likely the last concert I’d play on that square in Belgium, but because we had started a bit of a tradition to visit what we considered one of the finest creperies in all of Europe, and we knew today would our last visit. Both Lawrence and I had received our orders to return stateside. 

This cute little creperie was nestled into a corner along one of the small cobblestone streets about a block from the main square. At that time, the business was owned by a lady in her late 30s with a well defined entrepreneurial spirit.  She was very cordial, attractive, and just stern enough to remain focused on serving as many of her local patrons as she single-handedly could. Little did she know, that day my friend and I would test her resolve.

Upon our arrival we informed her that this would be our last visit to her creperie and placed our order. When served, we asked for her recipe, just as we have each and every visit in the past – to no avail.  Only this time, we let her know we would be returning to the United States soon. We wanted to continue enjoying what we considered one of life’s finer treats.  She said no… again. So we asked again, and again, and again. Annoyed, she finally said if you are going to stay here you need to order something else, so we did … and we did, and we did. Finally, EIGHTEEN crepes later she gave us the recipe and her local patrons applauded OUR resolve.

Since our return to the United States in the Summer of 1998, my family and I have enjoyed and sustained a newfound tradition of making crepes together every Sunday morning after church, and rarely missed an opportunity to do so for years.  Each of our four children grew up learning how to make the batter, eagerly starting when they were just tall enough to stand on a chair and reach over the counter.  Little did we know such a simple food would provide years and years of really enjoyable “together time” … not to mention the literally thousands of crepes we have cooked and shared with extended family and friends – here and abroad.

I would be remiss not to mention that although you can choose to fill these crepes with a wide variety of choices including fruit, nuts, cheeses, creams and sauces etc. etc.  we always come back to a simpler presentation with butter, cinnamon and sugar. Ironically, exactly what my friend Lawrence and I regularly ordered in Brussels.

 Bon Appétit. 

Pulled Pork Tacos

Pulled Pork Tacos

Click here for Pulled Pork Tacos

Creeking

Photo Credit: My friend Liz over at superveggiemom.com

Summer. If I had it my way, we would leave the house in the morning and wander back around dinner time, only to venture out again for chasing fireflies. There would be creek wading, crawdad hunting, fossil searches, water fights, tag playing, and an occasional break relaxing on a blanket carefully placed in the shade.

Let’s face it. This only happens a handful of times during our crushingly busy summer, and since I want to bask in the sun and not fret over the always-looming question “what’s for dinner?” I toss this in the slow cooker and don’t look back. Not once.

It’s easy, kid-pleasing (for mine, “No slaw, please. But, add avocado!”) and not too filling after a hot, long day. I don’t know what to tell you about left overs, because we never have any. If you do, I’d love to know how you managed them.

 

 

Mushroom Risotto (Gluten Free)

Mushroom Risotto

(Click here for Mushroom Risotto PDF)

The musty, damp air. Songbirds belting their tunes. Tender wildflowers peeking through the rich soil. These things all lead me to one thought. It’s mushroom season!

Let me come clean right now. I hate mushrooms. At least, that is what I thought. For. Years. They are slimy. They taste like dirt. They make my teeth squeak.

Then Mystery Man and I dined at Artist Point, a restaurant at the Wilderness Lodge at Disney World. He ordered the Smoked Portobello Bisque. After listening to the chorus of yummy slurps and ‘Mmmmmms,’ I asked him for a taste.

So is this what mushrooms are supposed to be all about? It was pleasant. Actually, more than pleasant. Meaty, mouthwatering, deep flavors aroused my tongue. In a possibly trendy, probably hipster (but I don’t know, I’m not that cool) word, Umami.

This was the beginning of a whole new culinary road. Mushrooms. I started considering menu items that contained them. I never again dismissed a recipe that called for them. In fact, now I cook with them often, and this is one of my favorite side dishes. (I serve it with Pan Fried Pork Chops or Steelhead Trout).

 

 

Mock Manicotti (Gluten Free)

Mock manicotti

Mock Manicotti (pictured with Meaty Marinara Sauce)

The human brain can connect tastes and smells to memories from long ago. I do not question that logic one bit, especially since there are certain recipes that make my heart my heart sing.

The joy in this dish comes from my early days with Mystery Man. (You can catch the entire history here, here and here).

In between dances we would sit at a table, catch up on the day’s happenings and enjoy a drink. Gin and Tonic for him, Corona with a lime for me. The conversations were all over the place. Cooking, movies, our families, and dance steps were weekly topics. I was not par­ticularly attracted to Mystery Man and neither him to me. We were friends, dance partners, nothing more.

On more than one occasion, Mystery Man mentioned he liked to cook, was good at it, and was known to host a dinner party or two. I laughed it off, until one day the topic turned into a little friendly competition. I’ll cook for you, then you cook for me. We’ll see who can bring the heat.

The competition so intense, we went from one dinner each, to two, then three… In fact I think we are still competing (but I’m winning, for the record).

This dish (in it’s original manicotti shape) was one of the first Mystery Man made for me. It had the best balanced blend of cheeses, the pasta was cooked to perfection, and he had picked up a bottle of wine that complemented the course. He was proud, but not smug, and I was secretly impressed.

For some reason I had forgotten about this dish, until last week Vintage Thread brought a version over for dinner. She used the Tinkyada Lasagna noodles and rolled them for a faux manicotti. It worked beautifully. I dug out Mystery Man’s recipe this week and used Barilla Penne Pasta in a layering method. It worked beautifully, too, and in both cases, my heart sang.

 

 

 

Pan Fried Pork Chops (Gluten Free)

Fried Pork ChopsClick here for Pan Fried Pork Chops recipe.

The bacon fat jar was a fixture at the farm house. Crack open a jar of green beans – put some bacon fat on them. Lima beans? Bacon fat. Potato Soup? Start with bacon. Scrambled eggs? You guessed it. Smear that skillet with bacon fat first.

So a few weeks ago when a friend asked our Facebook Mama’s Group “I have pork in the fridge – what should I make for dinner?” My answer was, “fry it in bacon fat, of course. What could be better than pork fried in pork?”.

My, my. What interesting conversations arose from there. I found that some of my friends kept their bacon fat and it held a special place in their kitchen. Others did not. I un-friended them. (jk).

 

Classic Chili (Gluten Free)

2016-02-11 14.20.18Classic Chili

I think I was meant to be a hibernating mammal. The only thing I can think about during these cold days of winter is sleeping. And soup. Hot, filling, stick-to-your-ribs, soup.

I have many requirements for soup. They must be flavorful, even the spoonfuls void of the main ingredients. They have to be easy so I can walk away (or run eight errands) without things going array. Last, they have to be just as good when made gluten free, my family can tell when substitutions go wrong.

I present to you this chili. It gets an A+ in all categories, and is a great gluten free alternative to the chili served at that fast food restaurant featuring a little girl with red pig tails. Put it in your slow cooker and come home to a cozy meal. Post-meal nap is optional, but highly recommended.

 

Corn Casserole (Gluten Free)

Corn BakeAs I got older, my time at our family gatherings slowly shifted from playing hide and seek in corn fields and playing backyard baseball or kickball, to sitting with the adults and quietly taking in their conversations. The topics varied widely, but always included how much rain we had (or hadn’t) gotten, who was doing what at church, and some type of hometown or national politics. They pretty much broke all the social rules of conversation and usually things went well. But, when they didn’t, my sister and I would start talking loudly and dramatically about the current (and highly fictional) price hike in cans of creamed corn.  This cue became a family joke, and usually got the job done. But inevitably someone (usually Grandma) would fall for it and we would have to explain. Not only did “creamed corn” come up at every family gathering, this dish made an appearance, too. I have adapted it from my Aunt’s recipe to make it gluten free, and it is still as tasty as ever.

Corn Casserole (Gluten Free)

Eggplant Parmesan Bake (Gluten Free)

Eggplant Parmesan Bake

View and Print Here Eggplant Parmesan Bake

Grocery stores usually inspire me. Like last week, when I had no intention of making Eggplant Parmesan, and a big, beautiful, deep purple specimen caught my eye in the produce department.  I had to have it. I had to make it. I had to eat it.

There was a time when grocery stores struck fear in me. Like years ago, as a child, I took refuge under the cart just in case one of the giant ‘cost cutter’ cardboard scissor signs fell from the ceiling and cut me in half.  Or, when Mama ran over Bunny. My precious Bunny. Oh, who is he? Read on, my friend.

IMG_2191

Bunny travels. Half Dome was a favorite.

I suffered from Conductive Deafness until I was four. Just days after my first surgery Mama and I went about our usual business, which included a stop at the chicken farm for fresh eggs. The barn was lined with chickens and we stood in the market space just on the other side of a windowed wall. Mama chose her eggs, paid the lady, and turned to hand the carton to me. That was my job. To carefully carry the eggs to the car. Only I didn’t reach for the carton this time. I was horrified. Awed. Overwhelmed. I looked at her with wide eyes and asked, “Mama, what is that noise?!”  “Those are the chickens.” She replied. “Chickens make noise?” It was the first of many hearing-world revelations.

My speech therapist sat across from me. She had pulled a chair around to my side of the table and crouched down to me and smiled. My legs swung back and forth and I bounced my pink stuffed bunny on my lap. She asked me what it’s name was. “Buh-honey” I replied. “Do you mean ‘Bunny’? She asked. I nodded.

In the car on the way home, I held Bunny by the hands. His head wobbled a bit, and I made him nod ‘yes’ and shake ‘no’. I murmured his name. “Buh-honey.” I shook his head ‘no’. Louder, I tried again. “Buh-honey.” Once again, I shook his head ‘no’. Three more times. The same result. I looked out the window and watched a couple of corn and bean fields hurry by. We were almost home. Back to my friend on my lap, I tried again. “Bunny.” He nodded ‘yes!’

Cheesy Risotto (Mock Mac&Cheese, Gluten Free) (Mystery Man Part 4)

Cheesy Risotto Cheesey Arborio Rice

Skip to the recipe here. Cheesy Risotto

The Grand Canyon was brilliant. I walked down the South Kaibab Trail in the bright sunlight and carried a full pack of provisions for our trip. Mystery Man, Hockey Guy and his girlfriend, Lady Hockey, hiked along side me. It was only a 6.1 mile journey, but the elevation change was a decent of 4860 feet with little water on the trail and the sun was already baking. We had a full day of walking ahead, but luckily had a campsite along the Colorado River awaiting our arrival.

Mystery Man had just graduated with his Master’s Degree three days earlier. It had been several long years stuck in classrooms, computer labs and offices. It was time to get outside.

I knew the hiking would be challenging. It would be hot. Once we were on the trail we were at least three days from getting back to civilization. I knew all of these things and more. What I deliberately put out of my mind were the shear cliffs and dizzying views from heights I would not be comfortable. I suppressed my fears. I hiked along. Dealt with it. In fact, we were getting close to the bottom of the Canyon and I thought ‘hey, I might have put my fear of heights behind me.’

Then I saw this.

South Kaibib Bridge

Are you kidding me?!

I approached the bridge with shaky knees. Mystery Man was fully aware of this bridge, and had kept this little detail to himself. He knew I would do it – if there was no choice.

There was no choice.

The walking surface was made of grates. You could see all the way – straight down – to the moving river. The bridge was suspended between two rock faces and swung slightly in the breeze.

I laughed at my previous thoughts of overcoming my fear of heights. It was real. It was happening.

We were the only people on the trail, so I asked the others to stay off the bridge to minimize any movement. Taking a deep breath, I put my boot on the first grate, looked straight ahead and strode my short, little, tired, shaky, legs to the next grate. Then the next, then the next. It was a long bridge.

The red dusty dirt clouded the air when I jumped onto solid ground. I finally exhaled. The others had started across and where taking their time with pictures and pausing to take in the views. I peeled my pack off and took a rest on a large boulder.

They joined me at the boulder, and we soon decided our short rest was over. Darkness was just two hours away and we still had to set camp and make dinner.

Upon arriving at our home for the night, Mystery Man and Hockey Guy suddenly became slightly panicked. A camera was missing and the search was on to find it. They decided it must be back at the resting boulder and left Lady Hockey and I to set camp.

So we did.

We set camp, prepped the stove, and settled in. I was getting hungry and short tempered. It was time to get dinner on and Lady Hockey insisted we wait until they returned before beginning to cook. Where were those guys?

Finally. Boots kicked up dust into camp. Making my way to the stove to get things going, I hear Mystery Man suggest we take a short walk down to the river to take in the sights.

“I’m hungry”. I groaned.

He promised it wouldn’t take long and suddenly all three of them were prodding me along. I followed reluctantly, until we reached a path to the helicopter pad. The trail head was marked for “Authorized Personnel Only”, and with a chip on my shoulder, I refused to go further. I really, really, just wanted to return to camp, eat, and rest.

Since I was being the stubborn rule-follower, Mystery Man found a nearby overgrown path. It had thickets. I had changed out of my boots into sport sandals. He led on in front of me.

I called up to him, “If I hurt my feet, I am never going to forgive you!”

“Never?” He said over his shoulder.

“Never!” I yelled.

Just a few seconds later he stopped. The Colorado River’s edge was at our feet, and the valley colors were every shade of orange and green with the setting sun. As I took in the greatness surrounding me, my eye was suddenly disrupted by an unnatural sight. Another bridge stretched across the canyon, but this one was bigger, and there was some sort of trash or strange flag hanging from it.

I turned to Mystery Man, “What is that?”

“I don’t know. Here, check it out.” He said, and handed me binoculars.

The view was very blurry at first, and it took some time to adjust the lens in the darkening valley. I finally zeroed in on the spot. This was not trash or a flag.

Hanging on the bridge was a giant white sign. It had five words.

Jessica Will You Marry Me?

Completely stunned, I brought the binoculars down and turned to Mystery Man, who was suddenly on one knee, with a ring.

Here I was. Covered in red canyon dust. Sweaty. Smelly. Cranky. And here he was. On one knee. Asking that we spend the rest of our lives together.

“….well?” he asked.

It didn’t occur to me he had been waiting for an answer. Of course I would!

“Yes!”

A few moments later we headed for the bridge to retrieve the sign. Thoughts were flying through my head. The ‘lost’ camera, the stalling for dinner, leading me to the right spot along the river… It was all coming together and making sense. That’s when he looked at me.

“It’s all uphill from here.” he said.

“Very funny. I’m hungry.” I replied.

(We had Mac & Cheese with canned chicken for dinner. Since I can’t have Mac & Cheese anymore, I have found this recipe fills the craving, and brings back memories of the Canyon.)

Print It Here Cheesy Risotto

Cheesy Risotto