vegetarian mushroom paprikash

Mushroom Paprikash

Now that I’ve finished recapping my Eastern European trip from last September, I wanted to share a recipe for a classic dish from one of the countries I visited. Taking into consideration the freezing cold temperatures outside in New England right now, and my souvenir stash of paprika from Budapest, I settled on paprikash. It’s a Hungarian dish traditionally made with chicken, but since I ate my weight in mushrooms during those 2 weeks, I figured I they might as well work here, too.

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Potato and Cauliflower Curry

I am embarrassed to admit this, but I am a bad vegetarian.  Not the kind that eats chicken wings when they’ve had too many gin and tonics, but the kind that doesn’t really like vegetables.  Anyone in my family will tell you this has always been the case. I was the last one sitting at the table, glaring at my peas through crocodile tears while everyone else was eating their iced animal crackers.

These are tragic memories, but over the past few years I have come a long way in my relationship with vegetables.  Many have made their way from my napkin to my fork, but unfortunately, appreciating their cooked taste has nothing to do with knowing what to do with them when I bring them home from the grocery store. 

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Tomato-Pesto Scones with Kalamata Olives

I think I want to like olives in my breads and scones more than I actually do.  This misguided notion led me to believe I would love Tomato-Pesto with Kalamata Olive scones, but I think instead I just liked them.

It’s not their fault.  I also probably over-worked the dough.

Despite my so-so feeling about the taste, I loved the aroma of the fresh rosemary in these scones, and it was fun re-hydrating the dried tomatoes.  I thought they would be more red, but they stayed pretty dark.  


The texture of the scones was plenty moist, and I think for a true olive-lover they would hit the spot. Maybe with some cheese.  What actually ended up hitting the spot for me was my semi-shortcut supper…

While I was getting up the ingredients for the scones at Whole Foods, I also picked up a jar of Tikka Masala simmer sauce, a ready-prepared portobella mushroom and pepper strips (4 colors!) pack, a bag of brown basmati rice, and some extra firm tofu.  Add to that an onion from home, and I was armed and ready for a big plate of delicious…and a few days worth of lunches, too!

So now that we have talked shop a little…do you want to know more about the lucky good news I mentioned yesterday?

I will be attending the 3rd annual Food Blogger Camp this January in Mexico! 

How awesome is it that I get to say I am going to CAMP?  I never went to camp and I always had some serious camp envy (thank you Parent Trap and Babysitters Club). 

FBC is a 5-day extravaganza hosted by famed food bloggers and/or photography experts David Lebovitz, Elise Bauer (Simply Recipes), Matt Armendariz (MattBites), Jaden Hair (Steamy Kitchen), Adam Pearson, Diane Cu and Todd Porter (White on Rice Couple).  This is an amazing roster.  Each day there will be sessions on blogging, photography, branding skills, and more…not to mention a whole slew of amenities courtesy of the Grand Velas Riviera Maya resort!  And of course, a lot of great food. 

I have been long overdue for a vacation and this will be that, but so much more.  I have found such delight and satisfaction through working in my kitchen and on this blog for the past 6 months (largely due to interacting with you…I mean it) and I want to continue to grow and learn. 

And this is growing and learning from the best…with lots of sunblock! 

I can’t wait! 

Click for the scone recipe!

Cheddar Biscuits and Tomato Gravy

A few years ago my sisters and I were visiting my cousin Jaime in Miami, and her husband Ben made us the most delicious breakfast of “Biscuits and ‘Mater Gravy”.  Ben is from Mississippi and it sounds a lot better when he says it.  I didn’t eat a lot of biscuits growing up, and had never even heard of tomato gravy…

But this was seriously delicious.  And meat-free!

It’s been on my mind lately, and realized I absolutely had to try to make it…or something close to it.  With a little research I found a tomato gravy recipe online, and I had plenty of biscuit recipes to choose from in my 3-ring binder of printed, ripped, and copied recipes for “someday”.

When the biscuits come out of the oven all hot and fragrant and buttery, you smother them with tomato gravy and dig in.  Then you close your eyes and go to a happy place.  They are that good.

Click for the full recipe

Campbell’s Soup

I have soup on the brain lately, so naturally I started wondering about the most famous of American soup companies.  Campbell’s! 

In 1869, fruit merchant Joseph Campbell and icebox manufacturer Abraham Anderson decided to start a canning company in Camden, New Jersey.  By 1877, the partners had separated and Joseph Campbell expanded the canning business to include ketchup, salad dressing, mustard, and other sauces.

When Campbell retired in 1894, Arthur Dorrance took over as company president.  It was Dorrance who made the Campbell’s brand what it is today when he reluctantly agreed to hire his nephew John, a chemist who enjoyed a challenge.  He accepted a low salary and a lack of sufficient lab equipment to help the company figure out a way to improve their product and increase their profits.  He realized that if he could eliminate water, soup’s heaviest ingredient, it would be lighter and cheaper to ship.  The result was condensed soup, which passed the responsibility of water provision onto the consumer.  Hopefully Uncle Arthur showed his appreciation with a big bonus and a wedge of humble pie.

In 1898 Campbell’s adopted it’s classic red and white can design, which has changed very little over 110 years (though I am glad to say it does now come with a pop-top), and sales continued to increase.  Under the leadership of William Beverly Murphy during the late 1940’s through the early 1970’s, Campbell’s went public and acquired many new brands, including Pepperidge Farm, Franco-American, V8 vegetable juice, Swanson broths, and Godiva.

I don’t know about you, but Godiva seems a little out of place to me.  Maybe Campbell’s thought so too, since they sold it to a Turkish manufacturer in 2008 for $850 million.

Always big proponents of advertising, Campbell’s is well-known for the “Campbell Kids” and their “M’m M’m Good” slogan.  What I remember the most from my childhood is the creepy commercial with the alien.  Artist Andy Warhol also increased the brand’s iconic status when he incorporated the Campbell’s can design into a series of pop art silkscreens in 1962.

Over time, tastes have evolved enough that nobody considers condensed soup very delicious on its own anymore.  More often than not it is used as an ingredient in casseroles, dips and (I have learned) sometimes even cakes…proving that the Campbell’s test kitchen chefs had a whole lot of time on their hands, and a blind belief that there wasn’t anything condensed soup couldn’t conqueror.  intrigued by this bold claim, I turned to the “Surprise Cakes and Cookies” section of my undated but very vintage Campbell’s “Cooking With Soup” cookbook for a sweet recipe.

I found Tomato Soup cake.  Pretty straightforward.  I didn’t want to make an actual layer cake with the called-for cream cheese frosting, so I added raisins and baked it in a loaf pan instead.  I also swapped the shortening for butter.  The result was…well…I suppose edible, but not pleasant.  Maybe it’s because I know it’s in there, but all I can smell and taste is the metallic tang of tomato soup.  Basically it wants to be pumpkin bread…

But it’s not.  And I knew it wouldn’t be.  I just couldn’t help myself…