Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Mushroom and Sausage Soup - Melissa Gillen-style.

As is obvious, my time and dedication to this blog has been less than satifactory due to obligations to my real job and family.  I find it difficult to write down my recipes and actually get them posted.  So I'm reaching out to friends to make guest posts and keep this thing going.  The first person to contribute is Melissa Gillen. She made a delicious mushroom soup the same day I did, so I asked her to send the recipe along with whatever she would like to write about.  I'm very excited about this because so many people have so much to contribute and it's great to get to know what is going on in our friends' minds and kitchens!  So without further ado, Melissa Gillen:

When Jen asked me to write a guest post for her blog, I was stoked.  When she told me the world was my oyster in regards to what I would write, I immediately thought, “Most excellent… I shall talk of CrossFit!” Because really, what is better than CrossFit?!

I’m a big fan of CrossFit women…. CrossFit gents, yeah, they’re pretty awesome, but there is nothing better than a CrossFit woman.   I go to our box at 11:00.  I affectionately refer to the 11:00 class as “The 11 o’clock power hour” because well, it’s a powerful thing. The 11:00 class is predominately made up of female athletes. There is an occasional male, brave souls amidst a sea of lulu clad, estrogen crazed ladies punishing barbells while listening to obscene rap music.  It’s my favorite class. Not because it is most convenient with my schedule, or because Sam coaches it, but because of the women.  I love watching what CrossFit does to women. 

When we first start, we are timid, we stand in our spot on the floor or in front of the cage arms clutching our stomachs, eyes darting around the room, pausing for a moment to look upon the veterans… we are unsure of our bodies, our form… we move awkwardly and with extreme control and caution… In the beginning we cannot even fathom the idea that someday soon, we will be stronger, faster, our form taking shape as our bodies do as well… In the beginning all we know is that we show up every day and try our very hardest. 

Some days suck.  I mean REALLY suck.  CrossFit demands so much from us, mentally, physically, emotionally, and we gladly give it.  But there are those days where we feel we have failed, or let someone – ourselves, our coach, our fellow CrossFitters – down.  It’s the days that suck the most where the changes start happening.  Especially for women. 

We get more brave, more courageous.  We know what “the suck” feels like, we know it’ll be ok, and that the screams of encouragement from those around us will help us through.  So we stick our necks out… we add more weight… we go to the half band… we try the 44#... we try. We support each other fiercely.  We love one another shamelessly. This is why I love the 11 so much.  I get to bear witness on a daily basis to women becoming more powerful, more confident, more courageous, and more beautiful.  I count it a privilege and a blessing to do so. 

CrossFit women can’t be beat.  The friends I have made through CrossFit are the ones who know me best, and love me anyway.  They’ve seen me curse and cry and fail… and they love me anyway – in fact, they love me more because of it. CrossFit women are, dare I say, the most passionate, loving, supportive and beautiful women out there.  We are a tribe.  A courageous, powerful, beautiful tribe… a tribe I am so very proud to be a part of.   

Ok… whew… love letter to CrossFit women… and now, Mushroom and Sausage Soup.


Porcini Mushrooms (dried – I used Lucinda’s) reconstituted in water for 1 hour, then rough chop
Crimini Mushrooms (a dozen roughly) - rough chop
Portabella Mushrooms (2 large caps) - rough chop
Sausage (I used 1 package Sage and 1 package regular breakfast sausage)

Fresh Sage – 2 sprigs, roughly 8 leaves - rough chop

Fresh Thyme – 5-7 sprigs – rough chop

Shallots (3) – chop

Sweet Yellow Onion – ¼ - chop

Butter – 6 tablespoons

EVOO – a drizzle

Salt and Pepper – to taste

Nutmeg – just a sprinkle

Sherry Cooking Wine – ¼ Cup

Marsala Cooking Wine – ¼ Cup

Worcheshire Sauce – 4 teaspoons

Arrowroot - 4 Teaspoons (or so… depending on how thick you want it)

Beef Stock – 3 cups

Chicken Stock – 3 cups

Organic Heavy Whipping Cream - ½ Cup (not required, but seriously, if your tummy won’t hate you,


·         In a Dutch oven or large soup pot melt 4 tablespoons of butter.  Add your chopped shallot and onion – sprinkle with salt and pepper. Let that cook while you are chopping your mushrooms – don’t let your onion/shallot mixture brown.  That, would be a sad day.

·         Add your sausage, and drizzle it with a bit of EVOO.  Cook that awhile till your sausage is browned, take your time and separate the sausage into smaller chunks, or not, you can leave them big – whatever floats your boat. 

·         Add your mushrooms.  This will appear to be the largest amount of mushrooms ever – it is not.  They will cook down, your soup needs them.  Drizzle this mixture with another bit of EVOO.  Sprinkle with salt, pepper and nutmeg. 

·         When your mushrooms have cooked down, add your Sherry cooking wine, as well as your Worcheshire sauce.  Let it cook a minute or so… add your Arrowroot.  Incorporate the Arrowroot throughout the mixture – you will notice that it becomes thicker – this is good. 

·         Add your stock. Simmer for 10-15 minutes.  In the last 5 minutes, add the heavy whipping cream, mixing it throughout the soup.  Right before you serve it, add your last 2 tablespoons of butter.  Lightly stir to incorporate it throughout….

·         Taste it… Does it need more salt?  Pepper? Perhaps another dash of Marsala or Worcheshire?  Go with your gut, and add what you need to it… then… serve.  Savor.  Enjoy. 

This soup is even better the following day.  Also, I serve this with a spinach, pear, kiwi, and pomegranate salad with an apricot champagne vinaigrette.  BOMB.



Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Hearty Mushroom Soup

They call it falling for a reason...and I've fallen for the fungi (get it? fun guy...)  C'mon, you know that was hilarious!

But really.  Mel told me she was making mushroom soup tonight and if it turned out well she would bring some for me.  It sounded so yummy, I decided to make some too and we are going to exchange a bowl of our own version for the other!  I don't have hers yet, but will post it as soon as I do.

This soup turned out better than I could have ever expected and it's sooooo easy.  Hope you enjoy!

Hearty Mushroom Soup


1 lb ground beef
1 lb mushrooms, coarsely diced
1 medium onion, sliced
2 tbsp olive oil
2 slices thick cut bacon
3 cups beef broth
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper

-if you don't mind dairy...these are completely optional but highly recommended-

1/4 cup grass fed butter, unsalted
2 TBSP arrowroot powder
1 cup heavy cream


Heat skillet over medium and cook ground beef until brown. Set aside.

In large stock pan, heat olive oil over medium high and add onions and bacon.  Cook through, stirring frequently, until onions are slightly browned and carmelized.  Add mushrooms and saute until soft.  Add broth, thyme, salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil, then let simmer over medium low for about 15 minutes.

Use immersion blender to blend mushroom soup until thick and mostly smooth.  Leave some chunks of mushroom to get excited over.  If you don't have an immersion blender, put 2/3 of the soup into a traditional blender or food processor and pulse a few times.  Add back to the pot and throw the beef in with it.  Continue to simmer.

If you are on a whole 30 program or don't eat any dairy, stop here and eat what you have.  It's delicious.  If you don't mind a little dairy, continue on for magicalness (I know that's not a real word, but you get my point).

In small sauce pan, melt butter over low heat.  Mix in arrowroot powder until smooth.  Add in heavy cream and stir constantly until warm, but not boiling.  Then stop! ...collaborate and listen.  Add this dairy goodness to your mushroom soup.  Mix it all together, remove from heat and watch it turn into thick, creamy, fabulosity.

Eat it.

Beef Cabbage Rolls

I was in need of a Jewish dish for a party I was attending and I found a recipe for cabbage rolls.  The recipe I found was not Paleo, of course, so I modified it so it was and they turned out just great!  These are easy to make, but a bit time consuming if you don't have pre-made riced cauliflower.  You don't need much of it, so make these with your left over "rice".

Beef Cabbage Rolls


1 head cabbage (I used green)
1 lb ground beef
1 cup riced cauliflower
1/2 onion, finely diced
1 cup mushrooms, coarsely chopped
1 egg, beaten
1 can tomato paste, divided
1 can tomato sauce
1 cup water
1/4 tsp sage
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground pepper
1 bay leaf
2 TBSP vinegar (I used Apple Cider Vinegar)
1/3 c honey


Bring large stock pot of water to a boil.  Core head of cabbage and throw the whole thing in the water.  Turn the stove off, cover the pot, let stand 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, brown beef in large skillet.  Once cooked through, drain fat, add onion and mushrooms until soft.  Remove from heat.  Add beaten egg and 2 TBSP of tomato paste.  Mix thoroughly.

Remove cabbage from water and place in strainer over sink.  Let drain until cool enough to handle.  Carefully peel 12 leaves from the head and shred the remainder of the cabbage.

Place shredded cabbage in bottom of large pan (with lid).  Place about 1/4-1/3 cup of beef mixture in each leaf and roll like a burrito.  Arrange little baby burrito rolls in single layer over the layer of shredded cabbage. 

Combine tomato paste, tomato sauce, sage, salt, pepper, and one cup of water in bowl and mix.  Pour over rolls and simmer, covered for 1 hour. 

After one hour, mix vinegar and honey and pour over rolls.  Simmer uncovered for 30 more minutes. 

Eat like crazy.