Tag Archive: cream of mushroom soup

Fresh From the Garden Week!

Almost too pretty to eat....ALMOST!

Welcome to our first harvest from the garden and a week’s worth of vegetable recipes.

Almost too pretty to eat….ALMOST!


First up, an old family favorite made just for kids that don’t like vegetables.

There is nothing like making a dish that takes you back to good times.  As I was in the garden foraging for squash hidden in between the giant leaves I was thinking about this casserole.  I picked almost three pounds of squash and a pound of peppers this morning.  I weighed it just to be sure.  Amazing!  I plant squash almost every spring.  Sometimes I get beautiful plants and blooms, but never a squash.  This year, for some reason, the plants are huge and are loaded with squash!

Now what to do with it?  I could make zucchini bread, grate it and serve it in place of spaghetti, or chop it and freeze it, but I want a taste of it now.  So I think the Summer Squash Casserole is my best bet.

Amy, my middle child, doesn’t like “squishy feeling” food.  No tomatoes, squash, jello, most fruits….  You get the idea.  So in the summer when the squash was coming on I had to figure out some way to get her to eat some.  (My children weren’t picky eaters.)  So I called this Cracker Casserole and Amy would eat it when she was little.  I bet we can’t fool her any more.

Happy summer gardening and cooking!

Cracker Casserole (with squash) aka Summer Squash Casserole

  • 3 medium yellow squash*, halved length-wise, sliced into half-moons
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 medium red or green bell pepper, chopped
  • 4-5 stems fresh thyme
  • 1 cup chicken broth, low-sodium, low fat
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup cracker crumbs (I used saltines)
  • 4 tablespoons butter, divided

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350°. Lightly spray with non-stick spray an 8-inch square baking dish.

Bring the squash, onion, bell pepper, thyme, and broth to a boil in a medium saucepan with a lid.  Add enough water to almost cover the squash.  Season with salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil and cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid evaporates a little and the squash is tender, about 10 minutes. Drain in a collender.  At this point I mash the squash a little with a fork.  Transfer back to pan.

Stir in the cream of chicken soup, 2 tablespoons butter, and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Spread in the baking dish. Sprinkle with the cracker crumbs and dot with the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. You can dress this up with any cracker crumbs.  You can substitute cheese for the cracker crumbs and butter as a topping. This is a very versatile recipe.  Make it to your taste.  Maybe I’ll skip the carbs and add the cheese for my dish.

Bake until the juices are simmering around the edges and the top is crusty, about 30 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes, then serve hot.

*You can use zucchini squash too.

Creamy Mushroom Sauce for a Casserole

A friend at work, Nelda and I were discussing how the Food Network has influenced our cooking style.  I think it has improved my cooking and it has certainly made me more aware of how I can improve the flavor by using broth and fresh herbs and olive oil.  When I learned to cook with my mom, we didn’t use those at all.  She had 4 children to feed and the budget didn’t include all the extras.  Salt and pepper and maybe a dried bay leaf were her flavor enhancers.  She made good food though.  As time went by she began to venture out to try more and different things. I cleaned out her kitchen when she moved, her spice cabinet was still pretty basic.  There were more flavorings she added to cookies, cakes and pies than there were for savory dishes.

I was reading a food blog and there was a discussion about plain home cooked food and nothing would do but I was going to have a pork chop and rice dish.  I always stop at that thought because of all the salt in canned food.  I decided if I can make my own Suiza sauce for green chicken enchiladas, I can make my own cream of mushroom soup.  It was pretty good and satisfied my need for a good casserole.

Creamy Mushroom Sauce for Casseroles

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil (or oil of your choice)
  • 2 tablespoons butter or margarine
  • 1 ½ cups chopped baby Portabella (or button) mushrooms
  • 1 shallot diced
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup beef broth or ½ cup broth/1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme (chopped)
  • Salt and pepper to taste


Heat the oil and butter in a non-stick skillet until butter has melted.  Add the mushrooms and shallot and add some salt and pepper.  Cook until mushrooms and shallot are soft.

Add the flour and cook for about 2 minutes. (Adjust the liquid you add depending on how thick you want your sauce.)  Using a whisk add the broth and milk and stir until bubbly and slightly thickened.

At this point I use it as I would canned cream of mushroom soup (no need to dilute). I know and can pronounce all my ingredients.

Brown your pork chops (I like thin cut ones.) in a small amount of oil in a non-stick skillet.  Let them brown on both sides with a light sprinkle of salt and pepper.  Remove to a prepared oven-proof dish.

I used the same skillet for the sauce as I browned the pork chops in, and sautéed the mushrooms and shallot in the oil and just added a bit of oil and the butter to melt before adding the mushrooms and shallot.

Sprinkle about ½ cup white rice over the pork chops and add the sauce.  Cover the baking dish with foil and bake at 350° for about 40 minutes or until the rice is tender.

I served this with steamed cabbage and a small plate with radishes and onions from my garden.


Keeping notes on recipes…..Or escapades with Customs at the border crossing!

Our favorite family recipes aren’t written down except in the collections I have put together for my children.  They probably were at some point. (The side of a can of soup or the back of a box of pasta)  The recipe as we know it today has evolved and I never write down those minor tweaks to remember what I did.  You know what I’m talking about.  Those foods someone asks you to make for their birthday or a holiday.  Repeat requests for a special food is what I deem traditional food.  Those things that everyone will gather round to eat at dinner time if you mention that is what you are making.  It makes them feel loved because you are making what they like best.   Without fail I could tell my son I was making Dorito Casserole or Broccoli Rice Casserole and he would make sure to be there.  He loved the leftovers too.  The same with my youngest daughter.  Scalloped potatoes always brings “Yum.” Brisket does the trick for my oldest daughter.

Have you ever made something off the top of your head and then you can’t remember exactly what you put in it to make it so good?  I have done this forever.  Or I found a recipe in a magazine, bought the ingredients, made it and totally lost the recipe or couldn’t remember which magazine it was in.  That is the one thing everyone liked the best.   I have never had the presence of mind to write things down as I get the creative juices flowing or tear out that page.

It seems I made the same things over and over because my kids would eat it and their dad liked it.  Actually, I don’t remember my children complaining about too much we had to eat as they were growing up.  They didn’t like tuna fish sandwiches.  I discovered much later my oldest daughter doesn’t like anything with mayonnaise in it.  I never noticed she didn’t eat creamy potato salad, but she never said a word until she got much older.  I don’t remember my son ever complaining about any food I made.  I probably would have made it anyway if their dad liked it.

One time I made a pork roast for my mother’s birthday that was melt-in-your-mouth delicious and simple to make. I put it in the crock pot and we took off for Juarez, Mexico (about 20 minutes from my house!) to buy yarn.  My mother had heard we could buy yarn to knit with on her knitting machines there at very reasonable prices.  So we took plastic garbage bags with us and took off.  Once we found the shop we loaded the back of my car with black bags of yarn and headed for the bridge to get back on US soil.  I can’t imagine how naïve I was to think Customs wasn’t going to want to examine those bags and questions us about what we were going to do with it. To this day I am amazed we made it back with the yarn.  The woman who went through the back of my station wagon and each and every bag just kept asking us what we were going to do with it.  When I told her my mother practiced knitting on knitting machines, and she would use every ounce of this yarn for her children and grandchildren she finally shrugged her shoulders and walked away.  I put those bags back in the car and headed across that bridge!  We neither one spoke until we were back on this side of the river.  Then we laughed just to relieve the tension.  (Back to the meal.)

I can still remember the ingredients for this pork roast today.  My dad was on a special diet for his heart and she had not fixed pork in a long time.  He wasn’t with her on this trip, so it was a special treat for her.  I scribbled the recipe down for her on a piece of paper.  Years later I found that piece of paper in a drawer in her kitchen when I cleared out her house to sell.  I remembered then how good that meal was.  It was for her birthday.


Pork with Garlic in the Slow Cooker

  •  4-5 pound pork loin roast
  • 3-4 garlic cloves peeled, cut in half length-wise
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1 package Lipton dry onion soup mix
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 2 cups white wine or chicken broth
  • 1 large yellow onion sliced into ¼ ” thick slices
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

Cut pockets in the pork roast and insert the peeled garlic cloves liberally all over the meat.

In a large pan (I like a Dutch oven) heat the olive oil.  Season the roast with salt and pepper and sear the roast until brown on all sides.  Remove the roast from the pan.  Cover the bottom of the slow cooker with the onion slices.  Place the roast on top of the onion slices. Sprinkle the roast with the dry onion soup mix and thyme.  Combine the mushroom soup and wine/chicken broth.  Pour this over the roast.

Cook on low for 8-10 hours.

You can use the sauce to serve over the meat.  This is delicious served with oven roasted butternut squash and new potatoes.  We had a Pumpkin Cheesecake for Momma’s birthday.