Friday, September 19, 2014

SUPER Easy Carrot Bundt Cake

I LOVE Bundt Cakes so I came up with this recipe & it turned out SUPER moist!  SOOOO  easy too!  I am not a huge "baker" so most baking recipes have to have box mixes & I will add to them to really pump up the flavor.
Here is what you need....

1 Carrot Cake Box mix...  any one on sale

1 regular box of instant French Vanilla Pudding

1 cup Sour Cream (Yes - sour cream)  you don't taste it but it's what makes this cake super moist.

4 eggs
3/4 c water
3/4 c vegetable or canola oil
about 1/2 cup shredded carrot (appx 1/2 of 1 carrot)...  if you don't have a carrot on hand - you can leave it out.

Frosting - Cream cheese frosting from a can.  I TOLD you I was not a huge baker...  you can make your own if using a canned frosting is not up to your standards ;)

Preheat oven to 350. & grease or spray Pam in your Bundt pan (even if its a non stick)

Everything (except frosting) & mix well.  You can use an electric mixer.
Pour in prepared bundt pan.

put on oven rack that is the second from the bottom.  Bake at 350 degrees for 45 to 50 min.

Set in on a cooling rack or towel & let cool for at least 30 min....  cover with a plate & flip out.
Frost with Cream Cheese frosting.

~TIP~  I have not tried it but I bet 1/2 of the water could be replaced with pineapple juice for a big pop of flavor.

Try Carrot Cake in a birthday cake silicone mold!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Grilled Glazed Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts

Serves 4


  • 1/4 cup salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 4 (6- to 8-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed
  • 2 teaspoons nonfat dry milk powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • Vegetable oil spray
  • 1 recipe glaze (see related content)


1. Dissolve salt and sugar in 1½ quarts cold water. Submerge chicken in brine, cover, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 1 hour. Remove chicken from brine and pat dry with paper towels. Combine milk powder and pepper in bowl.
2A. FOR A CHARCOAL GRILL: Open bottom vent completely. Light large chimney starter mounded with charcoal briquettes (7 quarts). When top coals are partially covered with ash, pour two thirds evenly over half of grill, then pour remaining coals over other half of grill. Set cooking grate in place, cover, and open lid vent completely. Heat grill until hot, about 5 minutes.
2B. FOR A GAS GRILL: Turn all burners to high, cover, and heat grill until hot, about 15 minutes. Leave primary burner on high and turn other burner(s) to medium-high.
3. Clean and oil cooking grate. Sprinkle half of milk powder mixture over 1 side of chicken. Lightly spray coated side of chicken with oil spray until milk powder is moistened. Flip chicken and sprinkle remaining milk powder mixture over second side. Lightly spray with oil spray.
4. Place chicken, skinned side down, over hotter part of grill and cook until browned on first side, 2 to 2 1/2 minutes. Flip chicken, brush with 2 tablespoons glaze, and cook until browned on second side, 2 to 2 1/2 minutes. Flip chicken, move to cooler side of grill, brush with 2 tablespoons glaze, and cook for 2 minutes. Repeat flipping and brushing 2 more times, cooking for 2 minutes on each side. Flip chicken, brush with remaining glaze, and cook until chicken registers 160 degrees, 1 to 3 minutes. Transfer chicken to plate and let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Cuban Shredded Beef

Serves 4 to 6

Use a well-marbled chuck-eye roast in this recipe. When trimming the beef, don’t remove all visible fat—some of it will be used in lieu of oil later in the recipe. If you don’t have enough reserved fat in step 3, use vegetable oil.


  • 2 pounds boneless beef chuck-eye roast, pulled apart at seams, trimmed, and cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
  • Kosher salt and pepper
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons grated lime zest plus 1 tablespoon juice, plus lime wedges for serving
  • 1 onion, halved and sliced thin
  • 2 tablespoons dry sherry


1. Bring beef, 2 cups water, and 1 1/4 teaspoons salt to boil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Reduce heat to low, cover, and gently simmer until beef is very tender, about 1 hour 45 minutes. (Check beef every 30 minutes, adding water so that bottom third of beef is submerged.) While beef simmers, combine garlic, oil, and cumin in bowl. Combine orange juice and lime zest and juice in second bowl.
2. Remove lid from skillet, increase heat to medium, and simmer until water evaporates and beef starts to sizzle, 3 to 8 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer beef to rimmed baking sheet. Pour off and reserve fat from skillet. Rinse skillet clean and dry with paper towels. Place sheet of aluminum foil over beef and, using meat pounder or heavy sauté pan, pound to flatten beef into 1/8-inch-thick pieces, discarding any large pieces of fat or connective tissue. (Some of beef should separate into shreds. Larger pieces that do not separate can be torn in half.)
3. Heat 1 1/2 teaspoons reserved fat in now-empty skillet over high heat. When fat begins to sizzle, add onion and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is golden brown and charred in spots, 5 to 8 minutes. Add sherry and 1/4 cup water and cook until liquid evaporates, about 2 minutes. Transfer onion to bowl. Return skillet to high heat, add 1 1/2 teaspoons reserved fat, and heat until it begins to sizzle. Add beef and cook, stirring frequently, until dark golden brown and crusty, 2 to 4 minutes.
4. Reduce heat to low and push beef to sides of skillet. Add garlic mixture to center and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant and golden brown, about 30 seconds. Remove pan from heat, add orange juice mixture and onion, and toss to combine. Season with pepper to taste. Serve immediately with lime wedges.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Philly Cheesesteaks

Serves 4

If skirt steak is unavailable, substitute sirloin steak tips (also called flap meat). Top these sandwiches with chopped pickled hot peppers, sautéed onions or bell peppers, sweet relish, or hot sauce.







  • 2 pounds skirt steak, trimmed and sliced with grain into 3-inch-wide strips
  • 4 (8-inch) Italian sub rolls, split lengthwise
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 8 slices white American cheese (8 ounces)


1. Place steak pieces on large plate or baking sheet and freeze until very firm, about 1 hour.
2. Meanwhile, adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Spread split rolls on baking sheet and toast until lightly browned, 5 to 10 minutes.
3. Using sharp knife, shave steak pieces as thinly as possible against grain. Mound meat on cutting board and chop coarsely with knife 10 to 20 times.
4. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over high heat until smoking. Add half of meat in even layer and cook without stirring until well browned on 1 side, 4 to 5 minutes. Stir and continue to cook until meat is no longer pink, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer meat to colander set in large bowl. Wipe out skillet with paper towel. Repeat with remaining 1 tablespoon oil and sliced meat.
5. Return now-empty skillet to medium heat. Drain excess moisture from meat. Return meat to skillet (discard any liquid in bowl) and add salt and pepper. Heat, stirring constantly, until meat is warmed through, 1 to 2 minutes. Reduce heat to low, sprinkle with Parmesan, and shingle slices of American cheese over meat. Allow cheeses to melt, about 2 minutes. Using heatproof spatula or wooden spoon, fold melted cheese into meat thoroughly. Divide mixture evenly among toasted rolls. Serve immediately.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Crown Roast of Pork Family Dinner

Serves 10 to 12

A crown roast is 2 bone-in pork loin roasts, with the rib bones frenched and chine bones removed, that have been tied into a crown shape. This can be difficult to do, so ask your butcher to make this roast for you. We wrap extra kitchen twine around the widest part of roast to provide more support when flipping. Use potatoes that measure 1 to 2 inches in diameter.


  • Kosher salt and pepper
  • 3 tablespoons minced fresh thyme
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 (8- to 10-pound) pork crown roast
  • 2 pounds small red potatoes, scrubbed
  • 10 ounces shallots, peeled and halved
  • 2 Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored, and halved
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup apple cider
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth


  1. 1. Combine 3 tablespoons salt, 1 tablespoon pepper, thyme, rosemary, and garlic in bowl; reserve 2 teaspoons for vegetables. Pat pork dry with paper towels and rub with remaining herb salt. Wrap kitchen twine twice around widest part of roast and tie tightly. Refrigerate roast, covered, for 6 to 24 hours.
    2. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 475 degrees. Place V-rack inside large roasting pan. Toss potatoes, shallots, apples, 4 tablespoons butter, and reserved herb salt in large bowl and transfer to pan. Arrange roast bone side down in V-rack and brush with remaining 4 tablespoons butter. Roast until meat is well browned and registers 110 degrees, about 1 hour.
    3. Remove roast from oven and reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees. Using 2 bunches of paper towels, flip roast bone side up. Add apple cider to pan and return to oven, rotating direction of pan. Roast until meat registers 140 degrees, 30 to 50 minutes. Place meat on carving board, tent loosely with aluminum foil, and let rest for 15 to 20 minutes.
    4. Transfer apple halves to blender, and potatoes and shallots to bowl. Pour pan juices into fat separator, let liquid settle for 5 minutes, and then pour into blender. Add chicken broth to blender with apples and pan juices and process until smooth, about 1 minute. Transfer to sauce medium saucepan and bring to simmer over medium heat. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and keep warm. Remove twine from roast, slice meat between bones, and serve with vegetables and sauce.

Crown Roast of Pork

When roasted directly on a roasting pan, the perimeter of a crown roast overcooks by the time the interior ring is done. Here’s how we solved that problem and produced evenly cooked pork.
Using kitchen twine, make two loops around the widest part of the roast and tie securely to help the crown hold its shape when flipped.
Place the pork bone side down on the V-rack and adjust the bones to steady the roast. Roast about 1 hour, until meat is 110 degrees.
Using paper towels to protect your hands, flip the hot roast bone side up and set it back on the V-rack to finish cooking in a gentle oven.

Parmesan-Crusted Asparagus 

Serves 4 to 6 as a side dish

Avoid pencil-thin asparagus for this recipe. Work quickly when tossing the asparagus with the egg whites, as the salt will rapidly begin to deflate the whites.


  • 2 pounds (1/2-inch-thick) asparagus, trimmed
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (1 1/2 cups)
  • 3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • Pinch cayenne
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1 teaspoon honey


  1. 1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 450 degrees. Line rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with vegetable oil spray. Using fork, poke holes up and down stalks of asparagus. Toss asparagus with ½ teaspoon salt and let stand for 30 minutes on a paper towel–lined baking sheet.
    2. Meanwhile, combine 1 cup Parmesan, bread crumbs, butter, ¼ teaspoon salt, 1/8 teaspoon pepper, and cayenne in bowl. Transfer half of bread-crumb mixture to shallow dish and reserve remaining mixture. Using stand mixer fitted with whisk, whip egg whites and honey on medium-low speed until foamy, about 1 minute. Increase speed to medium-high and whip until soft peaks form, 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape into 13 by 9-inch baking dish and toss asparagus in mixture. Working 1 spear at a time, dredge half of asparagus in bread crumbs and transfer to baking sheet. Refill shallow dish with reserved bread-crumb mixture and repeat with remaining half of asparagus.
    3. Bake asparagus until just beginning to brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining ½ cup Parmesan and continue to bake until cheese is melted and bread crumbs are golden brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer to platter. Serve.

Making the Coating Stick

POKE Perforating and salting the asparagus draws out excess moisture that could saturate the crumbs.
COAT Whipped egg whites help the crumbs adhere. Honey adds flavor and extra sticking power.
DREDGE Working one spear at a time keeps the bread crumbs from clumping.


Saturday, August 30, 2014

Ramen Noodle recipes

Cheap but tasty & can be nutritious

this lens' photo 
Ramen Noodles are a Japanese noodle dish consists of wheat noodles served in a meat or fish-based broth, Usually its flavored with soy sauce and uses toppings such as sliced pork, green onions, and other vegetables. Almost every locality in Japan has its own variation of ramen,

A serving of ramen is high in carbohydrates and low in vitamins and minerals. Adding vegetables & meats really make it a healthy meal. Ramen soup tends to be high in sodium. Ramen noodles themselves contain very little sodium so one can avoid drinking the soup OR using a low sodium broth if a low-sodium diet is recommended for health reasons.

So here are some recipes that will add to that cheap little package of Ramin Noodles. 

Ramen Noodle Snack Mix

Ramen Noodles are not only cheap but very versatile! This recipe is a healthy snack for the kids or a great trail mix snack for hikers, bikers & more. We take this on our camping trips as a great snack.

This is an quick & easy Snack mix for the whole family!

Double or triple this recipe because it will get wiped out quick!
When Ramen goes on sale… at 20 cents a pack, stock up and you can make this recipe to even keep in the freezer.
  • Serves: quite a few
  • Prep Time:
  • Total Time:


  • 3/4 stick butter (or margarine)
  • 2 pkg oriental flavor Ramen noodles
  • 3 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 5 oz slivered almonds
  • 1/2 c salted sunflower seeds (NOT in shell)


  1. Crunch 2 packages dry ramen noodles in the packets.
  2. take out the season packets
  3. Melt 3/4 stick of butter (or margarine) in frying pan.
  4. brown the dry noodles in pan till light brown.
  5. Add 3 tbsp sesame seeds, 5 oz slivered almonds & 1/2 c salted sunflower seeds (NOT in shell).
  6. Toast to a richer brown
  7. Sprinkle in 1 seasoning pack from the oriental ramen... let brown a bit more & cool
  8. Store in zip bag & enjoy!
  9. *** you can add different amounts of the things you like more... if you like more sesame seeds or sunflower seeds, add more to your taste.***

Chicken ramen stroganoff

Made with some leftovers

A cost cutting, nutritious meal,


  • About 1.5 lb cut up cooked Chicken
  • About 1/2 c chopped onions
  • 1/2 lb chopped mushrooms.. can use a can of drained too
  • 1 T Soy Sauce
  • Add 1/2 tsp. each of garlic powder
  • salt
  • and pepper (I like kosher salt but iodized is fine)
  • 2 packages of chicken ramen noodles
  • 2 small broccoli crowns
  • small container sour cream with chives mixed in


  1. Prepare Ramen by boiling in water. Drain & season with only 1 packet of seasoning.
  2. Saute chicken pieces, onions mushrooms , and soy sauce. Add garlic powder, salt, and pepper.
  3. Steam two small crowns of broccoli and cut off stems. Lightly Saute in with the chicken
  4. Add small container of sour cream, and 1 tbsp. of chopped chives. Mix all together, cover and let the ingredients blend for a few minutes.
  5. Serve with Garlic bread & a good salad. ENJOY!

Breakfast Ramen Eggs-ellant

Or for a late night study snack

Ramen breakfast bake This recipe is fast, easy and cheap… plus it’s really delicious!! You can serve it as any meal of the day or for a college study snack late at night!
  • Serves: 2 or 3


  • 1 pgk. ramen noodles
  • 8 oz. ground pork and sage breakfast sausage
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/8 cup milk
  • 1 med. tomato
  • seeded and diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • Chopped green onions (optional)


  1. Cook ramen noodles according to package directions, without adding flavor packet. Drain and rough-chop noodles. Set aside.
  2. In a large frying pan, crumble and brown sausage. Meanwhile blend together eggs and milk, until mixture is a creamy yellow. When sausage is brown, add egg mixture, to pan. Cook for two minutes, stirring frequently. Add tomato, tarragon, Chopped green onions, pepper and salt, and ramen noodles. Continue cooking until eggs are firm. Serve warm with toast, or pop it in a 350 degree oven only for a few min. to brown a little.. Enjoy!
  3. Feel free to add a bit of shredded cheese or a little salsa too!

Philadelphia Eagles NFL 3-piece Plastic Bowl Set with Lids

Great Soup Bowls


Friday, August 29, 2014

How to Make Taco Bell Style Taco Meat

All the instructions on Taco seasoning packets only make that crumbly meat that falls out of the taco shells or tortillas. Here is a secret to making the taco meat that stays in your taco, just like the Taco Fast food places.

No more Taco meat all over the plate & trying to scoop it all up.



Copycat Fast food Taco meat:


  • 1 1/2 - 2 lbs Hamburger
  • 2-3 Tablespoons flour
  • 1 packet of taco seasoning
  • dehydrated onions


  1. First, in a small bowl, pour even amounts of dehydrated onions & water. Let them soak while preparing the meat. Appx 2 Tablespoons of each depending on how much onions you like. These onions are optional.
  2. In a bowl, mix 1 1/2 to 2 lbs of ground beef, 1 packet of Taco seasoning (if you don't like it too salty, use the low sodium mix)
  3. dump in 1 or 2 tablespoons of flour. Mix well with your hands.
  4. When the dehydrated onions have soaked up water & are no longer crunchy... squeeze out water in the onions with your hand. Add to meat mix. Mix together well.
  5. In a pot or fry pan, put in meat mixture & add 1/4 cup water. I use a potato masher to stir & mash at the same time. Cook till meat is cooked thru. You now have "Mexican Fast Food Taco meat".
  6. Tips & Warnings
  7. If you want it a little spicier, add some taco sauce or a little pacante sauce to the meat while cooling.
  8. "Smear" the meat up the side of a taco shell or on a flour tortilla. Then you will have meat in every bite rather than a mouthful of taco shell & lettuce.

Hot Chilies Salt and Pepper Shakers 3 Piece Set


Thursday, August 28, 2014

Award Winning Green Chili

 Green Chili... the best around!

The flavor of green chili really depends on the kind of green chilies you use. There are about 200 varieties of chilies, only three or four of which are commonly used in green chili.
I have tasted many green chili recipes but this one is, by far, the best. Add more or less heat depending on your taste.
Serve as a soup with a tortilla or slice of french bread dipped in. You can also simply pour it over your burrito.

Things you’ll need: 

1-3 lb pork loin or tenderloin roast
Olive oil
minced fresh garlic
salt & pepper
2 cans whole tomatoes
fresh roasted chilies Large fry pan
2 larger Dutch ovens or roasting pots.

1: Prepare a Slow roasted Pork roast first. Allow 3 or 4 hrs for this part. Preheat Oven to 325 degrees
Rub pork roast with olive oil. Rub about 1 Tbsp of cumin ( I like more) and 3 or 4 cloves of minced garlic (I like more)  all over the roast. Sprinkle with salt & pepper.

2: SEARING… will keep juices inside & keep the roast tender.
Heat a few Tbsp of olive oil in a Fry pan & let it get hot (sprinkle a bit of water to see if it sizzles).
With tongs, put in your roast on 1 side for about 3 min. Turn for another 3 min, then hold with tongs & sear each end for 3 min each end. Put in Dutch oven or roaster, cover with water. Put lid on pot & slow cook for 3 or more hrs. To test if it’s done… it will pull apart with 2 forks. DO NOT DRAIN YET.

Use a new pot on the stove… Add 2/3 c. olive oil & heat, add more minced or crushed garlic (to your taste or a couple cloves)Stir for about a minute. Add 1/3 c. flour, whisk & heat till light brown. Add 4 c OF THE WATER FROM THE ROAST. Whisk as you pour. Open the 2 cans of whole tomatoes & squeeze through your hands into chili pot. This way they are not too chopped up. They are the perfect texture.

4: THE PORK… using about half the roast… shred apart with 2 forks.
Add to pot. Keep the rest for burritos or pulled pork sandwiches.
Chop about 4 or 5 fresh roasted chilies… clean out veins seeds. (or 1 can diced) add to pot. Add more salt to taste… Stir & simmer for a while. Make sure you stir so the bottom does not burn. Enjoy

If too thick, just add a small amount of the “roast water” or plain water until the desired consistency. If too thin, in a small bowl or cup… add 2 Tbsp of softened butter & mix in 2 Tbsp flour. Make a paste & as your chili is simmering, add 1 Tbsp of flour mixture to chili & whisk. If you need more, add the rest. I like mine about the thickness of a cream soup. Some like it really thin, closer to a broth.  

Tips -  Warnings
Add more chilies or a bit of canned diced jalapenos for more heat.

Pour over Burritos to make smothered burritos.

We like eating as soup with tortillas or french bread dunked in it.

Next day if it’s too hot & spicy… you can add water to cool it down.

Hotter & Spicier the next day.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Chinese Chicken Lettuce Wraps


 Chinese Chicken Lettuce Wraps


Serves 4 as a main dish or 6 as an appetizer

To make an entrée, serve this dish with steamed white rice.




  • Chicken
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 teaspoons Chinese rice cooking wine or dry sherry
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • Sauce
  • 3 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Chinese rice cooking wine or dry sherry
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Stir-Fry
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 celery ribs, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 6 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and sliced thin
  • 1/2 cup water chestnuts, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 2 scallions, white parts minced, green parts sliced thin
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 head Bibb lettuce (8 ounces), washed and dried, leaves separated and left whole
  • Hoisin sauce


1. FOR THE CHICKEN: Place chicken pieces on large plate in single layer. Freeze meat until firm and starting to harden around edges, about 20 minutes.

2. Whisk rice wine, soy sauce, oil, and cornstarch together in bowl. Pulse half of meat in food processor until coarsely chopped into ¼- to 1/8-inch pieces, about 10 pulses. Transfer meat to bowl with rice wine mixture and repeat with remaining chunks. Toss chicken to coat and refrigerate for 15 minutes.

3. FOR THE SAUCE: Whisk all ingredients together in bowl; set aside.

4. FOR THE STIR-FRY: Heat 1 tablespoon oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over high heat until smoking. Add chicken and cook, stirring constantly, until opaque, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to bowl and wipe out skillet.

5. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in now-empty skillet over high heat until smoking. Add celery and mushrooms; cook, stirring constantly, until mushrooms have reduced in size by half and celery is crisp-tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Add water chestnuts, scallion whites, and garlic; cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Whisk sauce to recombine. Return chicken to skillet; add sauce and toss to combine. Spoon into lettuce leaves and sprinkle with scallion greens. Serve, passing hoisin sauce separately.

Cuisinart GR-55 Griddler Stainless Steel Nonstick Grill/Griddle Combo

Wild Rice and Mushroom Soup

Serves 6 to 8 White mushrooms can be substituted for the cremini mushrooms. We use a spice grinder to process the dried shiitake mushrooms, but a blender also works.

Ingredients 1/4 ounce dried shiitake mushrooms, rinsed
 4 1/4 cups water
 1 sprig fresh thyme
 1 bay leaf
1 garlic clove, peeled, plus 4 cloves, minced
 Salt and pepper
 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 cup wild rice
4 tablespoons unsalted butter

 1 pound cremini mushrooms, trimmed and sliced 1/4 inch thick
 1 onion, chopped fine
1 teaspoon tomato paste
 2/3 cup dry sherry
 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
 1 tablespoon soy sauce
 1/4 cup cornstarch
 1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup minced fresh chives
 1/4 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

 Instructions 1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Grind shiitake mushrooms in spice grinder until finely ground (you should have about 3 tablespoons).

2. Bring 4 cups water, thyme, bay leaf, garlic clove, ¾ teaspoon salt, and baking soda to boil in medium saucepan over high heat. Add rice and return to boil. Cover saucepan, transfer to oven, and bake until rice is tender, 35 to 50 minutes. Strain rice through fine-mesh strainer set in 4-cup liquid measuring cup; discard thyme, bay leaf, and garlic. Add enough water to reserved cooking liquid to measure 3 cups.

 3. Melt butter in Dutch oven over high heat. Add cremini mushrooms, onion, minced garlic, tomato paste, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are browned and dark fond develops on bottom of pot, 15 minutes. Add sherry, scraping up any browned bits, and cook until reduced and pot is almost dry, about 2 minutes. Add ground shiitake mushrooms, reserved rice cooking liquid, broth, and soy sauce and bring to boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, until onion and mushrooms are tender, about 20 minutes.

 4. Whisk cornstarch and remaining ¼ cup water in small bowl. Stir cornstarch slurry into soup, return to simmer, and cook until thickened, about 2 minutes. Remove pot from heat and stir in cooked rice, cream, chives, and lemon zest. Cover and let stand for 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve.

Nordic ware cast iron Dutch oven