Posts Tagged ‘Southern Living’

January’s issue of Southern Living had a recipe for homemade condensed cream of mushroom soup. I’m glad to know I am not the only cook that has a love/hate relationship with canned cream of mushroom soup. It’s a secret weapon in my pantry and recipe books: an ingredient I rarely talk about and certainly never brag about, even though it sure does hold a lot of food together.

But food snobbery aside, it is high in sodium and fat, and contains a few things I can’t pronounce, and would rather not eat. And it’s no longer a cheap ingredient. It was possible at one time to buy cream-of-anything soup at the low price of 4 for $1. Then the sales went to 3 for $1, then 2 for $1 and now you’re lucky if you find it for under a buck per can.

That’s where this recipe entered the scene. It is not an ultra frugal recipe (although if you find fresh mushrooms marked down, it could bring the cost down considerably.) My guesstimated cost was somewhere around $8 to make this batch. But it is significantly lower in sodium, and has no preservatives.

I modified homemade-cream-mushroom-soup-sl-lSouthern Living’s version…not on purpose. I dumped in the whole quart of heavy cream before I realized it only called for half that amount. But the final results were what I was looking for, and after using almost half the soup in a couple recipes, I was left with the equivalent of four cans concentrate. They are in my freezer, waiting for the next recipe that calls for condensed cream of mushroom soup.  Here’s Southern Living’s version and here’s my modified version.

Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup

3 8-ounce cartons of button mushrooms (whole or sliced – you’re going to dice them. I substituted one can of mushrooms for one carton of fresh, because I had one in the pantry and I wanted to use it up.)
1/2 cup butter, divided
1/3 cup flour
4 cups heavy cream
2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened (you can use light, fat-free or Neufatchel; the texture may vary slightly)
1/4 teaspoon Better-than-Bouillon chicken concentrate
2 ounces water

Place 3 tablespoons of the butter in a large, deep skillet. Add the chopped mushrooms (I’d recommend dicing them fairly small unless your family likes chunks of mushrooms in their foods.)

Cook, stirring, over medium-high heat until the mushrooms sweat out their juices and the juices evaporate – approximately 10-12 minutes. This step takes the longest and you really want to keep a close eye on them.

Remove the mushrooms from the pan and set aside.  Add the remaining butter and flour; whisk into a roux and let bubble for a minute or two over medium heat; do not let it brown.  Gradually add the cream, whisking smooth. Add the cream cheese and stir until smooth. Re-add the mushrooms. The mixture should be velvety and thick – much like the texture of condensed cream of mushroom soup. Cool and divide among 7 or 8 small (10 or 12 ounce) freezer containers or quart-size freezer bags. I portioned out 7 generous servings from this recipe but I’ll stretch it to 8 next time. Thaw before using.

For additional modifications, you can try substituting half-and-half for some of the heavy cream (it may make it “soup-ier”) and low-fat or no-fat cream cheese. Better-than-Bouillon also makes a reduced sodium concentrate that would reduce the sodium content even further.

Happy eating,


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I turned the big 5-0 last February.  To answer the inevitable responses to that statement,

No, I have no idea where five decades went. I just know they went really fast.
No, I really don’t know what I want to be when I grow up.

But with certain milestone birthdays come certain “health screening” procedures, whether you feel all grown-up or not.


Monday and yesterday were consumed by one of those procedures. You know, the one where you devote considerable time to NOT eating, and ummmm, “prepping”…which is far worse than the procedure. The procedure itself is fairly unremarkable, because you get sedated, and then you sleep. And sleep and sleep. At least that’s how mine went, and yesterday afternoon involved eating, napping, eating, napping. (Side note, the results were good news – a clean bill of health.)

january-2014 SL magazineAnd now that THAT’s behind me (sorry, couldn’t resist the pun), I’m going to make good on making some one-dish wonders highlighted in this month’s Southern Living magazine.

Rarely does one article have multiple dishes that appeal to me, but this one hit the jackpot with three. This week’s menu lineup includes:

1. Tomato-Basil-Spinach Pasta – I’m adding shrimp and some Italian sausage to mine;
2. Paella-style Orzo with Fish and Herbs which is a great use of orzo in my pantry and tilapia in the freezer; and
3. Hammed-up Macaroni and Cheese to use up some of the left-over spiral ham slices from earlier in the week.

I’m pretty hopeful the rest of the week will go better…although that napping was pretty awesome.

Happy cooking,

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I stumbled over this recipe several years ago in my beloved Southern Living magazine.

Initially, I was skeptical:  barbeque….chili?  But I gave it a whirl and I’m glad I did.  While I typically like to make my own pulled pork, in a pinch, I admit I’ve snagged a tub of pulled pork (preferably plain or  vinegar-sauce) from a local BBQ joint or even the grocer’s refrigerator section.

I’ve adapted the original recipe slightly and cut it in half, which is still enough to feed 4.  It’s fast, easy and makes an quick and tasty meat topping for dinner baked potatoes.  One word of warning:  the spice mix makes enough for 3-4 recipes, so cut it down or plan to store the remainder for future use.

Barbeque Chili


1 pound pulled pork (plain or preferably with a vinegar sauce; if it comes with a tomato-based sauce, scale back the tomato sauce and barbeque sauce to taste)
1 can diced tomatoes with green peppers, celery and onion
1 can tomato sauce
1/2 to 3/4  cup barbeque sauce (your choice, but I like something sweet with a bit of kick….like Sticky Fingers‘ Memphis Original)
1/4 cup chili seasoning mix (recipe follows)

Stir together all ingredients in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan (a 3-quart works well).  Over medium-high heat bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer on low for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Serve over baked potatoes, or place on a bed of cheese grits, spaghetti noodles, or serve as a bowl of soup with all your favorite toppings: Fritos, sour cream, shredded cheese, diced onions, jalapenos, etc.

Recipe can be doubled and reheats well.

Versatile Chili Seasoning Mix:
3/4 cup chili powder
2 tablespoons cumin
2 tablespoons dried oregano
2 tablespoons dried minced onion
2 tablespoons seasoned salt (Lawry’s Original or Penzy’s works well)
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons dried minced garlic

Stir together and store in an airtight canister for up to four months at room temperature.
Happy cooking,

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