Cream of Mushroom Chicken

A friend of mine once mentioned that her kids don't like mushrooms, but they would eat Cream of Mushroom Soup. Makes sense, because there are only a few slivers of mushrooms in a whole can, and you have to dilute it in water since the cream itself is so condensed. 

Poor mushrooms are getting a bad rap because of their growing conditions. We usually associate it with growth on trees or on the ground, when the truth is, these edible mushrooms are actually grown in a mushroom farm. They are also called the "meat of the vegetable world" because it packs a lot of protein, fiber, and other nutrients. Oh, and the flavor isn't so bad too. 

I actually meant to cook this dish in my slow cooker, but I took the easy way out and did it pan-style. It was very creamy, flavorful and hearty - the addition of chicken soup was great! Perfect for those cold, rainy days.

What you need:

2 pounds chicken breast, cubed
2 tablespoons butter
1 can (10.75 oz) Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup

1 can (10.75 oz) Condensed Cream of Chicken Soup 
10 oz. evaporated milk 
1/4 Vidalia onion, sliced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 cups frozen broccoli, thawed
1 medium carrot, coined
1 can (8 oz) sliced mushrooms, drained
1 cup chicken broth
salt and pepper, to taste

What to do:

In a large pot, melt butter. Saute garlic and onion for about a minute, then add chicken and cook until no longer pink. Add the carrots, broccoli, cream of mushroom and cream of chicken soup, milk and broth. Stir well. Season to taste.

Lower the heat to a simmer and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add mushrooms and continue cooking for 5 more minutes. Remove heat and serve over rice.

Tips, Tricks and Tweaks: 

1. Add in a teaspoon or two of rice wine vinegar.
2. Use other vegetables like baby corn, water chestnuts, etc.
3. If you don't have cream of chicken soup, just use 2 cans of mushroom soup. Or just halve the recipe.


Grilled Mahi-Mahi with Orange Mango Sauce

Honey mangoes are on sale this week, so I decided to buy some. After devouring a truckload a few pieces, I used the remaining fruits in a savory dish (recipe generously adapted from this site). 

While I enjoy honey mangoes that I can get locally here in the US, I really miss the sweet (and huge) Philippine mango variety. Especially those from Guimaras - oh, what I would give to get my hands on those again! This article from the International Mango Organization says that it is the sweetest variety in the world. (Hubby agrees!)

I really should stop daydreaming about those succulent mangoes and focus more on this recipe - which was a pleasant distraction from those fruits!

What you need: 

2 mahi-mahi fillets (about half a pound each)
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
1 whole mango, flesh diced
1/2 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
1/2 of an orange, skin removed
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoon rice wine
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
toasted sesame seeds (for garnish)

What to do: 

Using a boning knife, score the fish by making diamond scores. Place in a ziploc bag and pour in the hoisin sauce. Marinate for at least 2 hours.

Remove the fish from the marinade and grill, about 2 minutes per side. Keep warm.

Meanwhile, prepare the sauce. Put the mango, orange slices, ginger, salt and rice wine in a blender and blend for about 30 seconds. Pour the sauce in a pan over medium-low heat. Add the butter and stir using a wire whisk. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer. Let cook for about 2-3 minutes or until sauce thickens. Stir in the lemon juice. Remove from heat.

Place the grilled fish on a serving plate and pour sauce on top of it. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds.

Tips, Tricks and Tweaks: 

1. When scoring the fish, make sure that you don't press the knife deep, else it will cut the fish through.
2. Halibut or Snapper may also be used for this recipe.
3. I suggest doubling up on the sauce - it was "lick-the-plate" good.
4. Do not marinate for more than 2 hours - the hoisin sauce will overpower the taste of the fish.


Loaded Baked Potato

I tried "experimenting" on this dish because I recently had baked potato from a restaurant and the potato was cooked perfectly - I wanna say that it was almost light and fluffy and was so tender - but not mushy. I thought the spuds were boiled prior to baking - so that's what I did. It turned out very good and I didn't have to stab it with a fork! :-)

What you need: 

2 russet potatoes
4 pieces cooked bacon, crumbled
1 cup cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons butter, divided
1 tablespoon green onion, sliced
dollop of sour cream
pinch of salt

What to do: 

In a pot over high heat, boil about 6 cups of water and add a pinch of salt to it. Place the potatoes and boil for about 20-35 minutes. Remove from heat and drain.

Preheat oven to 325°F.  Place the potatoes in a baking pan lined with parchment paper. Drizzle with olive oil. Bake for another 20 to 35 minutes, or until potatoes are fork tender. 

Cut open by mashing with a fork and top with remaining ingredients. Serve hot.

Tips, Tricks and Tweaks: 

1. Do not over bake - potatoes might become rubbery.
2. In a rush? Make loaded mashed potatoes instead. 
3. Hickory smoked bacon works well in this dish. I have yet to try this using maple bacon.


Lemon Cheesecake

I am in desperate need of a piping bag!

I know, I know. I have been slacking in posting new entries lately that I am beginning to wonder if I still have readers. It has been a very busy week, but let me reassure you that I am back! (Yay!!!)

Today's offering is Lemon Cheesecake prepared by me and my mother-in-law. I (kinda) love baking, and she loves shopping for ingredients, so together we make a great team! ;-) But seriously, I love helping her in the kitchen whenever we come to visit them, and we would usually whip up a dessert or two for "the boys."

This Lemon Cheesecake is from the Betty Crocker 2011 calendar (month of April). I love that it was semi-homemade but still tasted so great. The "lemony" taste was so subtle yet delicious. 

What you need:

For the crust:
1 box Betty Crocker Super Moist yellow cake mix
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel

For the filling:
2 packages (8 oz each) cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup sugar
3 containers (3.5 oz each) lemon pudding
1/2 cup sour cream
3 eggs
2 cups frozen (thawed) whipped topping

What to do: 

Preheat oven to 300°F. Spray bottom and side of a 10-inch round pan with baking spray, then dust with flour. Wrap foil around the outside of the pan to catch drips. Reserve 1/4 cup of the cake mix and set aside.

In a large bowl, beat remaining cake mix, butter and lemon peel with electric mixer on low speed until crumbly. Press in bottom and about half an inch up the sides of the pan.

In the same large bowl, beat reserved cake mix, the cream cheese, sugar, pudding, and sour cream on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, until mixed. Pour over crust. 

Bake for 1 hour 20 minutes to 1 hour 35 minutes or until edges are set but center of cheesecake jiggles slightly when moved. Turn oven off but open oven door at least 4 inches. Leave cheesecake in oven 30 minutes longer.

Remove cheesecake from oven and place on cooling rack. Run a butter knife around edge of the pan to loosen cheesecake. Cool in pan on cooling rack for 30 minutes. Cover loosely; refrigerate for at least 4 hours. Remove from pan before serving. Pipe or spoon whipped topping around outside edge of cake. Store in refrigerator.

Tips, Tricks and Tweaks: 

1. Use freshly grated lemon peel - it would give a stronger flavor. (Trust me, it would make a difference!)
2. You can totally skip the whipped topping if you don't like it.
3. Garnish with lemon peel strips.


Four Seasons - Summer

Nope, I didn't use the apple!

Summer is here (not officially, though) and boy, can we feel it! After the heat wave that scorched most of the country, I thought it was but appropriate to quench our thirst with a smoothie. 

The drink is called Four Seasons (Summer) - based on the fruits that are abundant at that time of the year. I am thinking that depending on which part of the world you are in, the fruits you will use for this recipe would vary. I have tried this shake with different kinds of fruits (always 4 types!) and one thing I can say is DON'T SKIP THE BANANA! I have been making this shake whole year round and the one fruit constant is the banana. And it is always wonderful!

What you need: 

1 banana, coined
5 pieces of strawberries, hulled and sliced
1 ripe honey mango
2 thin slices of cantaloupe, rinds removed
6 to 8 ice cubes
2 tablespoons honey

What to do: 

Combine all ingredients in a blender. Blend until mixture is frothy, about a minute (depending on the number of ice cubes you put).

Pour in a tall glass and enjoy!

Tips, Tricks and Tweaks: 

1. Instead of letting your blender run continuously, you can pulse it 10 seconds at a time until mixture is blended and frothy enough.
2. Cut the fruits into small pieces to avoid having chunks in your drink.
3. Try it with a bit of evaporated milk.
4. Use other fruits that are available!
5. Add or lessen honey according to your preference. Avoid using sugar!


Etsy Shop

Just wanted you to know that I have an Etsy shop! I am in the process of starting a new blog that would focus on my arts and crafts, but I am sooo busy that all I was able to do (as of now) was 2 posts! Same is true with my shop - I only have a few items for sale right now, but I promise more is on its way!

Here is the link to my shop (if you're curious about the shop name - it was coined by my hubby and son): 

You can also click the widget I added (on the right hand side) to go to my shop.

See you there!!!


Italian Sausage Penne

This dish was supposed to be "Italian Sausage Rigatoni", a recipe I found in the March 2011 issue of Food Network Magazine. The recipe was actually an ad for Johnsonville Sausage, and since we are addicted to love sausages, we decided to give it a try. Oh, and I changed the "Rigatoni" to "Penne" because that was the type of pasta I had in my pantry. It is important, though, to have at least the same shape of noodles when substituting, especially since different kinds of noodles have different uses. In this case, thick and heavy sauces tend to stick more to ridged or big noodles.

I must say, the secret of this dish is grilling the sausage. It gives a somewhat "charcoal-y" flavor to the meat, and it went very well with the pasta. So good!

What you need:

1 pkg (19.76 oz) Italian Mild Sausage
about 2 to 3 cups penne pasta
3 tablespoon olive oil
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 large red bell pepper, chunked
1 jar (26 oz) of your favorite pasta sauce
2 tablespoons parsley, chopped

What to do: 

Grill sausages for about 4-5 minutes per side, until golden brown, about 8 to 10 minutes total. Cool for a couple of minutes, then coin (slice diagonally in rounds).

Cook the penne according to package directions. Keep warm. Meanwhile, place olive oil and garlic in a large pan over medium heat and saute for 30 seconds. Add the peppers and cook until crisp-tender, about 2 minutes.

Combine cooked sausage and pasta sauce with peppers and heat until warm.  Mix with the pasta or serve separately. Top with fresh parsley and serve warm.

Tips, Tricks and Tweaks: 

1. Use 2 teaspoons of dried parsley if you don't have fresh.
2. Don't like grilled sausage? You can also cook them in a skillet!
3. You can also use the spicy sausage variety, but the mild Italian will give you the perfect balance of heat and savory for this dish.

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