Creamy Mushroom Soup for Souper Sunday

It's May and it's hot around these parts but that doesn't usually deter me from making soup.  This particular soup has been on my radar for a while but I kept putting it off.  After reading a Nicci French book (Frieda Klein series) I started thinking about a mushroom garlic soup again.  It was one of the culinary items mentioned in that book and I actually planned to make it the representative dish.

But I get sidetracked easily.

You could use all sorts of mushrooms such as shiitake, portabello or white button - any sort you like. I used the white button mushrooms, not very adventurous this time but was good.


This would be a good starter with the Tortellini dinner we had. I also made fresh Italian bread!  While all that was a good meal I could do with not seeing a Tortellini for a long, long time. Two dinners and a lunch.


Here is the simple recipe if you want to try it, tweaking the recipe to your own taste.  I would recommend this as a dinner starter or to be served with something else hearty for a lunch.

Mushroom Soup

1 pound of mushrooms
2 tablespoons butter
5 chopped garlic cloves
1 chopped onion
a few tablespoons AP flour
1 cup broth (I used vegetable)
1 cup milk (adjust that as you like for thickness of soup)
sprinkle of ground thyme
salt and pepper

In Dutch oven saute onions, mushrooms and garlic. Add butter and when it melts, sprinkle in some flour.  Now slowly add milk and broth to your taste.

I'm linking up with Deb at Kahakai Kitchen for her Souper Sunday series.  Click HERE to see Deb's Red Pepper, Chickpea and Couscous soup.

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Conch Chowder for a light meal

It's getting very hot here in north Florida and so what do we have for dinner?  Hot chowder!  Why not.  It's a nice light meal after a hearty lunch so we were satisfied.  This chowder was prepared in Marathon Florida.

We were at Southern Seafood purchasiing some red fish for the grill and I happened to notice they had soups and chowders.  Our freezer has a bit of Mangrove Snapper and Cod awaiting their turn to become a milk based chowder but this tomato based conch caught my eye.


Check out the large pieces of conch - this was hearty enough yet light enough for a dinner.  We had a fresh loaf of French bread I had made eralier in the day.  Also enjoyed some cheese and Chardonnay.


While I can't take credit for making this chowder I think I would be willing to do so in the future.  It's packed with fresh conch, roma tomatoes, celery, potatoes, carrots, bell pepper, broth, sherry, turmeric  and a healthy dose of red pepper.  Gives it the kick that Chardonnay soothes after a few spoonfuls.

I found a recipe online that I will try next time, you can view that here is you are inspired to make some for yourself.

I'm linking up with Deb at Kahakai Kitchen for her Souper Sunday series.  Click HERE to see Deb's Rosemary and White Bean soup.  Definitely a keeper.

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Veggie burgers with an unconventional topping

Veggie burgers with unconventional topping - cheese grits. 

So I mentioned before that when Doug was out of town I used to eat eggplant, something he didn't care for.  Now he likes it so I have veggie burgers.  I love these things!

Trouble was, I forgot we were out of conventional bread so I adapted by using a French loaf I'd baked earlier in the week.  I just toasted the bread and that came out well.  Then I discovered I was out of cheese.  Hmmmmmm.........obviously I did not plan well.

As luck would have it there was a container with leftover cheese grits.  Why not.


Just layer up the toppings I like, loads of tomato.  Oh yeah, we didn't have lettuce either.  We need to go grocery shopping!  the plus side is, it was economical and I cleaned out the fridge.


It's not often I am out of so many key ingredients for a dish but I have to say, once I am home, I don't like running back out unless it's absolutely necessary!  I missed linking up with Deb last Sunday but I wanted to be sure to join in for this week.  Hoping to have a more elegant offering next week :-)

I'm linking up my weird dinner with Deb at Kahakai Kitchen for her Souper Sunday series.  Click HERE to see Deb's Asparagus Soup with Herbed Goat Cheese.  Definitely a classier headliner :-)

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When your son moves away..........

It's a bittersweet time here as our son Tristan and family has moved away to settle in the Midwest. When he was in the Army it was a little different as he was stationed at Ft. Stewart in Georgia.  We could visit a bit then.  Now he's moved across the country and while we will miss him, we are excited about his "escape" from this part of Florida.

Doug and I have wanted to move and talked about it many, many times over the 35 years we have been together. In our 30's we wanted colder weather and looked toward Maine, Minnesota and...we even had fingerprint cards sent from Alaska as we thought we would teach there.  Obviously years passed and we stayed put.  My Pennsylvanian roots have beckoned more than once and that state had also been considered.

But - the big news is - the kids made the big jump and are now relocated.  I'm envious and happy for them.  They will be missed but what a great chance to start over.

While my daughter-in-law went ahead to get settled, we had our son over for visits and dinner many times these past two months.  One memorable (and particularly tasty) dinner featured crab cakes.
As usual we paired it with cheddar cheese grits, fresh bread and openned a Chardonnay. It was so filling we could only eat two of the crab cakes but this worked out for a second meal.

I packed Tristan a to-go container with leftovers and Doug and I took the same to work the next day.  Now that's a way relieve the Monday blues - an excellent lunch!


Another good meal was Spinach Chicken Lasagna. I will post that recipe coming up soon but wanted to share the photo. This is a hearty meal leaving enough leftovers so I could send some home with Tristan.


We are all seafood lovers here so fish and shrimp make the appearance frequently.  A few weeks ago Doug grilled fish and we all sat on the patio looking out for foxes and sipping wine.

Sunday, our last evening together, we had Greek Scampi.


We've had some great vacations together, fun motorcycle rides, played hours of board games and have been a close family.  We'll miss you but we are also happy for you too!

I am sharing this with Beth Fish's Weekend Cooking Series


Mexican Jalapeno Cornbread

This was a good effort.  I experimented with this recipe using Tristan and Doug as taste testers. They are usually willing participants when it comes to kitchen experiments.  ♥ 

The goal was to find a copy cat recipe for 4 Rivers BBQ style cornbread.  I did not nail it as I couldn't find one that truly looked like the 4 Rivers creation.  But, I will say this was very good and I would make it again.

It only took 15 minutes prep time and it came out very moist.  This would go well with any BBQ or chili.  My heat tolerance isn't as great as the guys so next time I will put more of the jalapeno on one side of the pan.  I like some jalapeno but this was just a wee bit too much for me.


Mexican Jalapeno Cornbread


2 eggs 
1/4 cup corn oil 
1 cup buttermilk 
1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
1 (8 ounce) can cream-style corn
1 large onion, chopped
2 fresh jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
1 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease an 8 inch square baking dish or a cast iron skillet.
  2. In a small bowl, beat eggs. Mix in corn oil and buttermilk. Stir in 1 cup shredded cheese, creamed corn, onion, and jalapenos.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together cornmeal, flour, baking powder, soda, and salt. Stir the egg mixture into the dry ingredients. Mix well. Pour batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup cheese on top.
  4. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until center is set and top is golden brown.
  5. I am sharing this with Beth Fish's Weekend Cooking Series.

Nigella's Chowder with Asian Flavors

Happy Friday!!!!

Books, movies and cooking.  That's what we have been involved with here.  I posted about the British movie nights we have enjoyed at Novel Meals here.  As for books, I'm thoroughly enjoying A Year in the Life of the Yorkshire Shepherdess by Amanda Owen and have ordered the first book she wrote.  Next I will probably get on book 4 of the Frieda Klein series by Nicci French.  I'd like to finish up the series before summer and only have four books to go.

Cooking - I've been doing a bit of Italian cooking with stuffed shells and lasagna but recently wanted to make a chowder.  No tomatoes or sauce, need to give it a break.

Nigella Lawson has been one of my very favorites cooks for years.  The Nigella Express cookbook gets quite a bit of use and at one time, I was determined to make every single recipe in that cookbook.

I'm not sure when I let that mission go by the wayside did.  Skimming through that cookbook again had me motivated so, I choose this chowder thick with cod and potatoes.  We'll see if I want to tackle more of this book.  There are many old favorites in there.

Nigella's Chowder with Asian Flavors


Chardonnay works a treat with this meal.  We both like salt and lots of ground black pepper in chowders so you'll see flacks of pepper in our soup bowls.


Nigella's Chowder with Asian Flavors


  • 3 cups chicken or vegetable  broth
  • 1 pound baking potatoes (peeled and cut into  ¼ inch cubes
  • 4 ounces baby leeks (cut into ½ inch slices)
  • 4 ounces baby sweetcorn (cut into  ¼ inch slices)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon ground mace
  • 14 fluid ounces can coconut milk
  • 20 ounces skinless smoked cod fillets (cut into 1 inch cubes)
  • ¼ cup lime juice
  • 8 ounces small or medium frozen shrimp (I left this out)
  • 1½ cups canned sweetcorn kernels,drained(I used fresh corn)
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt flakes (or ½ teaspoon table salt)
  • 1 long fresh red chile pepper (deseeded and finely chopped)


  1. Bring the stock to the boil in a medium-sized pan. Cook the chopped potatoes, leeks and baby corn in the stock with the bay leaves and mace for about 10 minutes or until tender.
  2. Add the coconut milk, chopped smoked fish and the lime juice. Bring the pan back to the boil and let it simmer for a minute or so.
  3. Tip in the shrimp (if using them) and sweetcorn and once again let it come back to the boil to heat them through. Season with the salt and then serve.
  4. Decorate each bowl with some chopped chilli.
I'd definitely make this again, it was hearty enough with bread as an accompaniment and made so much we had lunch the next day. Nigella never disappoints me. 

Linking up with  Beth Fish's Weekend Cooking Series and with Deb at Kahakai Kitchen for Souper Sunday this week.  Here post and yummy Cure-All Lentil soup may be found Here - check it out!

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Cheeseburger Soup for Souper Sunday

Should this be called Cheeseburger Soup or shall I refer to it's true origin? Then it would be called Loser Soup but I don't want to get all negative.  Ok, I will tell you how it came about, this unplanned soup.  I must preface it with stating - this was delicious and hearty.


If you decide to make a cheeseburger soup then that's great.  And the reason for doing so isn't because a mistake was made, it's because you want to make that particular soup.  It had been a week of tiresome events and after walking Aja at the park, it was getting late.

Instead of picking up pizza or Chinese or just going home and tackling the planned meal (which was ratatouille posted here), I brought up the fact that I could be decadent and eat a cheeseburger.


Well now, that's like mentioning pizza or cake or whatever your naughty food craving is - it's out there now.  It's a mental image in your head and you are tired anyways so....take the easy way for dinner and go get X food.  The X is whatever you would cave in for and just get, vowing to be better later in the week.

For anyone who knows the rural area we reside, they will also know there isn't much choice for restaurants or....anything. I won't even mention the name of the truck stop "restaurant" we went to get this cheeseburger (embarrassment here).  We ordered a cheeseburger and were told by the waiter it would only be 30 cents more for a double.

"No, thank you," we said, "we only want a single patty."

So what does he return with?  Two double cheeseburgers.  It was way too much and we could have probably split one but....there you have it.  Almost impossible to eat as you would a regular burger and we cut it in pieces.  Obviously that was more meat than we wanted or could eat.  So I brought home the equivalent of one serving and used the meat for soup.

So, here is how I made a Cheeseburger Soup with leftover burger and fresh veggies.  Maybe the veggies counteracted the damage of the burger. Ha!

Cheeseburger Soup

Chop up 1 large onion, 2 stalks celery, several cloves of garlic, 2 carrots and several potatoes (I used red creamers).  Saute these until the onions are soft.  

Tip in a 14-ounce can of diced tomatoes, 2 TB tomato paste, salt, pepper, basil and oregano. 
Chop the leftover burger as well as you can and dump that in too. 
 Now add 2 cups of broth (I used vegetable broth)

Place in a Dutch oven or large pan with lid.  Place in a 350 F degree oven and let it all simmer for at least a half hour.  Add toppings as you like.  We used diced scallions and some shredded cheese.  

It was good!

Yes, we ought to have sent the waiter back and gotten what we ordered but.....I can't imagine how long we would have been there.  At least we had soup out of it.

Linking up with  Beth Fish's Weekend Cooking Series and with Deb at Kahakai Kitchen for Souper Sunday this week.  Here post and yummy soup may be found Here.

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Ratatouille Eric Ripert style

The theme this week at I Cooking Club is Healthy meets Delicious.  Eric Ripert is the featured chef for the next six months so I thought I would take a stab at one of his recipes.  This definitely meets the healthy criteria with loads of eggplant, zucchini, peppers, tomatoes and onions.

I also made French baguette and you know, there's nothing as lovely as hot baked bread to go with a meal. Light, healthy and fairly easy.



¼ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 diced large Onion
1 diced Red Bell Pepper
4 sliced Garlic Cloves
1 tbs Tomato Paste
3 seeded, diced Tomatoes
2 small diced Zucchinis
1 diced medium Eggplant
Sea Salt & Fresh Ground Pepper
¼ cup grated Parmesan Cheese
Fresh Basil


Put olive oil in a pot.
Add onions and garlic.
Cut the eggplants and dice.
Add peppers and zucchini to the pot, cooking about six minutes.
Add tomato paste, salt and pepper. Cook about four minutes.
Add tomatoes and eggplant. Cook about 10 minutes.
Add water as needed during cooking.
Add cheese and basil to serve.

Served over rice.  I cooked the rice using vegetable broth so it's creamier and has more body.


Join in at I ♥ Cooking Club and see what others have shared. It's a nice group of home chefs and all are welcome!


A wildlife portal and a cat stuck in a pipe
{I need advice, please!}

The wildlife portal seems to be an old swing set.  Tristan had lots of fun on that old set as he was growing up and once he was too old for it, we re-purposed it as a bird feeding station.  I had also placed hanging plants up there for a while but the birds droppings killed the plants. So now, just feeders. 

That is about to end.

We put up several feeders and unfortunately attracted the squirrels, thus wiping out the seed within hours.  What I came to learn was it's not only birds and squirrels who like to eat black sunflower seeds.  Foxes, rabbits and raccoons also raided us.

Here is the fox - busted - coming right up to the house and stealing seed. 


Several other times we saw rabbits sitting on the stumps, munching away.  I didn't know they ate sunflower seeds!  One evening this past week we were eating dinner on the patio, it got dark and the colored lights were flicked on.  Out in the yard we heard movement and it turned out to be two fat raccoons.  One climbed up onto the swing set and robbed seed and the other gorged off the laden tree stumps.  This is while we are sitting about 18 feet away with only a fence between us and them.

They are getting too bold and with a recent story in the news about a fox jumping a fence and attacked a child, we know this has to end.  The plan is to take the swing set apart and remove it altogether.  These are wild creatures and they need to hunt and get their own food.

Now - the cat in the drainage pipe is another matter completely.  We don't know what to do. A few months back it was very cold, probably 26 degrees overnight.  We get up and hear this meow out on the porch, go out to investigate and don't find a cat.  But it starts up again and we realize it's most likely made it's way up inside a drainage pipe and we are hearing it through the French drain on our back patio.

Since we'd had issues with water collecting in the yard a few drains were put in and a PVC pipe buried, draining the water into a fire break about 40 or more feet from our patio.  Evidently this cat (we'd noticed him out in the field one day, big fat stray I'm guessing) crawled up inside to get warm.  Or maybe to chase a mouse, then couldn't figure out how to back out.  No way is there room to turn around so it would have needed to back out.

Fast forward a bit and the weather is getting a bit warmer.  Now we are getting this horrific smell coming from the drain area.  That cat probably suffocated and the smell is just about unbearable.  It's not constant but when a shift of wind occurs that smell hits you and will run you inside.

We've tried filling large trashcans with water and dumping it through.  We tried bleach and more water, in great volume. It seems to make it better initially and then the smell comes back.

When Doug first started dumping the water into the drain nothing came out of the pipe in the fire break.  Then three barrels later it started trickling.  Then a mouse came running out as the water started flowing.  We saw hair, definitely the color of that orangey cat so we thought - progress, it should wash out soon.  So far we haven't seen any bones or anymore hair/fur.  And then the smell comes back again.

Any advice?  Besides digging up our field and the pipe I don't know what else to do. Since it's underground this cat won't have the sun breaking it down or vultures coming after it.  Who knows how long it will take to break down.  So seriously....any advice?  Anyone else have this sort problem..... ever? 

I'm open to ideas as wasting gallon upon gallon of water doesn't seem to help. Yet.


Creamy Mushroom Soup for Souper Sunday

It's May and it's hot around these parts but that doesn't usually deter me from making soup.  This particular soup has been on ...