A personal kitchen diary. I try new recipes and make notes on what works and what doesn't. Sometimes I can things, and sometimes I dry herbs. This is the story of my kitchen.

A Very Merri Kitchen

A Very Merri Kitchen

A personal kitchen diary. I try new recipes and make notes on what works and what doesn't. Sometimes I can things, and sometimes I dry herbs. This is the story of my kitchen.


Spicy Baked Chicken Thighs

Spicy Baked Chicken Thighs

This week I made an easy baked chicken thigh recipe from Let The Baking Begin In short, it was delicious!  And, it was fast and easy, so now it’s being added to the weeknight rotation.  Take a look at her recipe on the link above […]

A Different Kind of Chili

A Different Kind of Chili

Yes, I realize that there have been a lot of soups and chilis lately.  It’s that kind of weather out, plus, I love soups. I’ve been working with a health coach the past two months, and he gave me this recipe.  It comes from a […]

Smitten Kitchen’s Mushroom Soup

Smitten Kitchen’s Mushroom Soup

This mushroom soup is full of flavor.  I can always depend on Smitten Kitchen recipes.  Even if I don’t follow them exactly.

Smitten Kitchen’s post may be found here.

She didn’t make it exactly as the original was written, and I made some alterations as well-mainly when I didn’t have something that was called for.  And, when I make it again, I’m going to make one more change.

So, let’s get to it.

I was at Sam’s Club and bought the two big cartons of mushrooms below.  Forgetting that I already had the two small cartons.  So, I decided to make mushroom soup because I figured that would take a lot of mushrooms (I was right).  But this was the first thing that was different from the SK recipe as they aren’t exactly the same mushrooms used in that recipe.  Worked out fine though.

The depth of flavor in this soup is built layer by layer.  In addition to all the fresh mushrooms, you rehydrate dried mushrooms, chop them, and also use the rehydrating liquid.



Fresh herbs, fried in oil, add yet another layer.  It was the last of my herbs from my summer herb pots.

Making the soup starts with a LOT of slicing.  I also pop off the mushroom stems.  They are woodier than I want in my soup, even after puréed.

Then there was mincing the rehydrated shitake mushrooms, as well as chopping onions and slicing garlic.

I used an enameled cast iron pot to heat oil over medium heat, then let the sage and rosemary infuse the oil, letting it sizzle a few minutes on each side.  The aroma was incredible.

Next up was the onion and garlic.  I didn’t raise the heat—I didn’t want to brown the onion and garlic, just soften them.  Stirring occasionally, I let them cook for about 5 minutes.

It was quite a pot full once I added the mushrooms.

The original recipe says to let the mushrooms simmer and release all their liquid.  But, it says this will take 10 minutes.  It took me nearly an hour for all the liquid to be cooked out.  The photo below was about halfway through.  The thing is, at this point the released liquid made such incredible broth that I wish I had just stopped there.

But I went ahead and cooked out all the liquid, then added the chopped shiitakes and their soaking liquid.

Oh, and some Parmesan rind from the freezer, because, why not?

I did add chicken broth, and honestly I think it really took away from some of the wonderful mushroomy taste I had earlier in the process before all the mushroom liquid was cooked out.  I think the SK recipe suggests beef broth, but I don’t think I will add any at all next time.  The soup is then simmered for 30 minutes.

After removing the herbs from the pot, I used the immersion blender to purée the soup.  It’s not….attractive at this point.

The recipe calls for a cup of heavy cream, and butter.  I’m sure that would be absolutely delicious, but I’m counting calories right now.  And the soup doesn’t need it.

I love this soup.  There is just so much flavor, and you can really taste the mushrooms—not something you can always say about mushroom soup.

I garnished with some chopped chives (also from the herb pot!) and thinly sliced creminis.  I think maybe sautéing those thin slices would be good too.

I’m not going to retype the entire recipe here, because a) I’m too lazy and there are a lot of steps and b) you can just click on the Smitten Kitchen link above.

But, I am going to type my slight changes so I remember.

Mushrooms I used were Baby Bellas and White Mushrooms.

I used dehydrated shitake mushrooms.

Stop cooking down the liquid about halfway through.

Don’t add chicken broth.  If possible, add no additional broth at all (thus making it vegetarian).

No need for the cream or butter.


Sweet Potato Coconut Soup

Sweet Potato Coconut Soup

This soup is so easy and flavorful.  I made just the slightest changes, but you can find the original recipe here. There are also a few conversions that aren’t in the original recipe, and like another commenter I wasn’t sure what they meant by tomato […]

Lemongrass Chicken and Sort of Thai Soup

Lemongrass Chicken and Sort of Thai Soup

The other day I had some boneless, skinless chicken breasts thawing, and I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with them.  As it happens, I also had a big pot of lemongrass in my kitchen and I was harvesting the lemongrass before a cold […]

Roasted Vegetables

Roasted Vegetables

I was talking with a friend the other day, and we were talking about roasted vegetables.  And I said, you really don’t need a recipe. Just the basics.

Cut the veggies the same size, toss with olive oil, salt and pepper, and roast for 30 minutes at 450 Fahrenheit. That will work for almost anything. Usually include garlic or onions, or both.  Maybe some herbs.

I suppose you need to know which vegetables work with which, and time might vary according to the density of the veg.

But, basically just do what you like and what sounds good to you.  And use what is in your crisper.

Here are two combos I have done over the past two weeks.

The Reds

One of my favorite combos is red pepper and red onions.

Red onions are so sweet, and I love them roasted. I threw in some garlic cloves as well.

That night I served as a side with fish, but I’ve been known to add more red peppers to the roasting pan, then use the mix to make a pasta sauce.  Just squeeze the garlic out of the cloves, add a little liquid like chicken broth, and blend with an immersion blender to the consistency you like, adding liquid as needed.

Clean out the Fridge 

We would all like to use our vegetables at the height of freshness. But that doesn’t always happen.  I had some veg that needed using, and I thought that they would work well together.

Here I used carrots, zucchini, yellow onion, and of course garlic. I had used some green onion tops to garnish a dish earlier that week, and had the white root ends left so tossed those on the sheet as well.

I ate the roasted green onions right out of the pan!

And I thought briefly about making a roasted veggie soup, but ended up just eating over some red quinoa.

Who knows what I might roast next!

Crockpot Shrimp from Fit Slow Cooker Queen

Crockpot Shrimp from Fit Slow Cooker Queen

As a friend of mine commented when she saw my post about cooking shrimp in the slow cooker, “shrimp in a crockpot? Shrimp takes four minutes! “ I know, I know.  But, I was looking at slow cooker recipes and came across this one. Then […]

Pickin up Paw Paws, put ‘em in your pocket…

Pickin up Paw Paws, put ‘em in your pocket…

I remember hearing the song Way Down Yonder In the Paw Paw Patch growing up, but I never had a Paw Paw , and I’m not even sure I really knew what one was. In September, a local farm, Cary’s U-Pick, posted that they had paw paws and […]

Poached Halibut in Thai Coconut Curry Broth

Poached Halibut in Thai Coconut Curry Broth

Halibut was on sale and I wanted to do something different from what I usually do. So I texted my brother in Alaska and he sent me to Alaska From Scratch site and this recipe.

It’s a favorite at their house, and now it will be a favorite at mine.

And except for the fact that I didn’t use spinach, or have fresh shallots, and I added some chili paste and Thai basil leaves, and I think a kaffir lime leaf in the broth while it simmers would be good, it’s almost exactly the same  😀

It really is super easy as well.

Ready to go:

I didn’t have any fresh shallots, but rehydrated Penzey’s air dried shallots worked well to add the flavor fresh would have.

Thai Kitchen red curry paste was what I had on hand.

Once the shallots and curry paste were mixed in, I poured in the chicken broth, and blended.

Next was the coconut milk, which took a little more whisking to blend.  In the original recipe they said they used lite coconut milk and I plan on trying that next time.

This is where I think adding a kaffir lime leaf to the broth while it simmers and reduces would add some extra flavor.

As you can imagine, the kitchen smelled amazing at this point!  While the broth simmered, I portioned and seasoned the halibut, and chopped the cilantro and Thai basil.

The fish took about 10 minutes to poach.

After the fish is done, the recipe calls for removing the halibut and stirring cilantro, green onions and lime juice into the broth. (I didn’t have any green onions either!)

I didn’t have any spinach or other appropriate greens to add to the bowl, so I just placed the fish in a bowl and poured a ladle of broth over, and then topped with more chopped cilantro.

After the first bowl I started adding a teaspoon of Sambal Oelek to each bowl, along with a bit more lime juice and chopped Thai basil. It took it from delicious to sublime.

So here is my final version:

Poached Halibut in Thai Coconut Curry Broth

1 Tablespoon olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

3 shallots, diced (or 3 Tablespoons Penzey’s air dried shallots, rehydrated)

1 Tablespoon Thai red curry paste

1 1/2 cups chicken broth

1 (14 oz) can coconut milk-regular or lite

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1 kaffir lime leaf

4 Wild Alaska Halibut fillets (another firm white fish would also work)

1/4 cup cilantro for the broth, plus additional for serving

1/4 cup sliced green onions for the broth, plus additional for serving

1 lime, juiced, additional lime wedges or juice for serving

Sambal Oelek

Thai basil for serving

Heat 1 Tablespoon of olive oil in a large, deep-sided pan over medium heat.  Sauté the shallots 2-3 minutes, until fragrant. Add the curry paste and mix well so that all the shallots are covered with paste. Add the chicken broth and coconut milk, blending well after each addition.  Stir in the sugar and add the kaffir lime leaf.

Bring the broth to a simmer, reduce to low, and let the broth reduce by half.  Taste the reduced broth and add salt if needed.

Season the fish lightly with salt and add to the pan.  Spoon the broth over the top of the fish and cover the pan.

Poach 5 to 10 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish. Check for doneness at 5 minutes. Remove the fish to a wide shallow bowl. If you like, you could place on top of rice or sautéed greens.

Add cilantro, green onions, and the juice of one lime to the broth.

Add 1 teaspoon to 1 Tablespoon Sambal Oelek to taste.

Remove the kaffir lime leaf.

Ladle broth over the fish, and add additional chopped cilantro, green onions, and Thai basil. Serve with lime wedges.

Chicken, Tomato, and Fresh Herb Soup

Chicken, Tomato, and Fresh Herb Soup

May I call this soup?  I’m going to call this soup. Because, why wouldn’t I? I have to blog about this because it was so ridiculously good, and completely unplanned. There is exactly one picture because there is no recipe and I had no idea […]