y daughter Ali wasn't happy.
There are more than 500 recipes in the 2008 Taste of Home cookbook and I picked something with a pound of mushrooms.
''What am I supposed to eat?'' she asked.
Creamy bacon mushroom soup and asparagus brunch pockets are shown in this photo. Switching out whipping cream for low-fat half brings the soup recipe from heart attacky to hearty, while the brunch pockets take advantage of abundant seasonal asparagus.
Ali isn't a fan of fungi.
But I had a package of good bacon (Niman Ranch, applewood smoked, no hormones or antibiotics) in the fridge that I needed to use for something, and creamy bacon mushroom soup sounded like a hearty concoction.
Make that a heart attacky concoction.
Asparagus Brunch Pockets
TIME: 20 minutes prep; 15 minutes baking
1 pound fresh asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon milk
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1 tablespoon diced pimientos
1 tablespoon finely chopped onion
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 tube (8 ounces) refrigerated crescent rolls
2 teaspoons butter, melted
1 tablespoon seasoned bread crumbs
In a large saucepan, bring 1/2 in. of water to a boil. Add asparagus; cover and boil for 3 minutes. Drain and set aside.
In a small bowl, beat the cream cheese, milk and mayonnaise until smooth. Stir in the pimientos, onion, salt and pepper.
Unroll crescent dough and separate into triangles; place on an ungreased baking sheet. Spoon 1 teaspoon of cream cheese mixture into the center of each triangle; top with asparagus. Top each with another teaspoonful of cream cheese mixture. Bring three corners of dough together and twist; pinch edges to seal.
Brush with butter; sprinkle with bread crumbs. Bake at 375 for 15-18 minutes or until golden brown. Yield: 8 servings.
Creamy Bacon Mushroom Soup
TIME: Prep/Total Time: 30 minutes
10 bacon strips, diced
1 pound sliced fresh mushrooms
1 medium onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 quart heavy whipping cream
1 can (14-1/2 ounces) chicken broth
1-1/4 cups shredded Swiss cheese
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
3 tablespoons water
In a large saucepan, cook bacon over medium heat until crisp. Using a slotted spoon, remove to paper towels; drain, reserving 2 tablespoons drippings. In the drippings, saute the mushrooms, onion and garlic. Stir in cream and broth. Gradually stir in cheese until melted.
In a small bowl, combine the cornstarch, salt, pepper and water until smooth. Stir into soup. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Garnish with bacon.
For eight servings of soup, the recipe called for a full quart of heavy whipping cream. That's more than 3,000 calories or about 400 calories of fat (most of it saturated fat) per bowl. There's also bacon and swiss cheese in there, so this soup might rival a pint of Ben & Jerry's ice cream in calories.
And that's just not right.
Granted, some things shouldn't be tampered with. I eat more veggie burgers than hamburgers and can make a surprisingly satisfying replacement for Skyline chili with vegetarian crumbles, but there's no replacement for real bacon (not veggie, not turkey).
However, switching out the whipping cream for low fat half & half eliminated nearly 300 calories per bowl. A fat-free half & half or evaporated skim milk might have eliminated even more. The low-fat was able to get rid of a lot of calories (and the guilt that comes with them) without sacrificing the creaminess in the title of the recipe.
The swiss cheese and a little cornstarch provided plenty of richness to the base, the mushrooms added a chunky goodness and the smell of fresh-cooked bacon that filled the kitchen after the first step even had Ali willing to give the soup a try.
The recipe lists the prep/cooking time at 30 minutes, which seems a bit optimistic. But it's a simple soup to make, and I only got slowed down because I was trying to multitask and prepare a second dish simultaneously.
The other thing we had in the fridge that I wanted to incorporate into the meal was asparagus, which is abundant and inexpensive at this time of year.
Nothing is better with a bowl of soup than a fresh baked savory bread, and Taste of Home's asparagus brunch pockets filled that need while bringing some more vegetables into the meal.
The recipe can be assembled quickly because it relies on tubes of refrigerated crescent rolls for the pastry. Cooks can cut a few calories here by using neufchatel or fat-free cream cheese in place of the full-fat version. The pimientos, chopped onion and asparagus provide most of the flavor; the primary function of the cream cheese is to provide a smooth filling.
Because I was cooking dinner for five, I decided to double the brunch pocket recipe so everyone would have at least two.
Anyone planning on doing the same probably could get by with increasing the filling recipe by only 50 percent. Even being generous with my stuffing, I had both asparagus and cream cheese mixture left over after filling my 16 crescent rolls.
The crescent roll dough is easy to handle and cooks don't need to be too fanatical about sealing every single seam on the pockets. Even on the ones I was sloppy in assembling, the rolls were fully cooked without the filling oozing out.
Both dishes earned rave reviews from everyone at the table (Ali even ate a couple mushrooms, although she opted for a third asparagus brunch pocket instead of more soup). And while they were better fresh from the oven, the brunch pockets were enjoyable cold for lunch the next day.