Friday, January 14, 2011

A new year!

So, I'm a little behind.  I hope you all enjoyed the holidays and are settling into a happy, healthy new year.  I know I am.
This year I'm finally going to stick with my resolution to get healthier, which has started by taking a 20 minute bike ride every day.  I was able to pick up an old exercise bike off of our local "freecycle"-type site a couple of months ago, so am finally putting it to use.  So far, so good - I've only skipped one day this month and that was because I was crazy busy getting ready for a dinner get together I hosted the other night.  I just can't wait until spring comes, so I can start hiking and riding my real bike.
The dinner party I hosted on Wednesday was a lot of fun. A friend who moved away a few years ago was in town, so we wanted to have a get together so folks could visit with her.  I offered to host and then realized I didn't have a clue what to make.  I needed something that wouldn't be too time intensive, would fit a wide variety of tastes and food issues and could be kept warm for a few hours as folks came and went.  Hmmm.  I finally settled on making two pots of soup - ablondigas (meatball) and hearty potato & mushroom.  I also made rolls, loaves of bread, no-bake cookies and a rhubarb torte.  A friend brought a big pot of calico beans and a batch of cornbread muffins.  Yum!  Delicious food and great company - a great combination.
I'll have to catch up later with adding pictures and more recipes, but here's the Hearty Potato and Mushroom Soup.  I found this recipe on Poor Girl Eats Well and it quickly became one of my favorites.

Hearty Mushroom & Potato Soup
2 c finely chopped carrots, celery and yellow onions, divided
1 8 oz. package white mushrooms
1 medium Russet potato, diced into ½” cubes
2 medium red potatoes, diced into ½” cubes (you may also use 4 red potatoes or 2 medium Russets if that’s all you have)
1 14 oz. can of chicken or vegetable broth
1 c milk (*I use cashew or hemp milk or just up the amount of broth to make it dairy-free  ~rm)
1 T olive oil
2 garlic, minced
½ t salt
½ t ground black pepper
¼ t thyme
¼ t tarragon
1 T olive oil
Salt & pepper to taste (for the finished product)
½ c fresh spinach, chopped (for garnish)

Divide the package of mushrooms in half. Finely chop one half of the mushrooms and slice the other half into 1/4“ thick pieces. Set the mushrooms slices aside. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add one cup of chopped veggies and the chopped mushrooms, and cook over medium heat until the vegetables have begun to soften. Add the broth and cook for about 5 minutes or so. Remove from heat, add the cup of milk and puree in a blender until smooth (you may also use a hand blender if that’s all you have, like me). Set aside. Remember to use caution when pureeing hot liquids.

In a large pot heat the olive oil and the garlic over medium high heat until the garlic becomes fragrant. Add the diced potatoes, salt, pepper and herbs, and cook until the potatoes just begin to brown. Reduce heat and add the remaining cup of chopped veggies. Cook for 3 minutes and add the thick mushroom broth. Simmer over medium low heat for about 5-7 minutes. Finally, add the mushrooms and cook for another 2-3 minutes, or until the mushrooms begin to soften.

Spoon generous amounts of the soup into large bowls. Add some chopped spinach and plenty of freshly ground black pepper on top, serve with thick slices of warm, crusty bread if you like, and enjoy!

No comments: