Cream of Mushroom Soup


I have been on a quest for the ultimate Mushroom Soup recipe ever since I tasted the soup at Pop Ellis’ Soda Shoppe in Abingdon, Virginia. If you have ever been there and tried their soup and have any ideas for duplicating that, please let me know! In the meantime…

This recipe comes from a book entitled  IS IT SOUP YET? which I purchased from a Scholastic Book Fair at my kids’ elementary school, so many years ago.  I have only tried a couple of the recipes from that cookbook, and this is one that I never tried but wanted to.

During a little declutter of my cookbook shelf, I decided this was one of the items that could bless someone else, but before I let it go I copied down the recipe–just in case I could re-create the amazing aforementioned soup.

The recipe comes pretty close, but I substituted apple cider vinegar for the Cream of Sherry, and the taste is a little vinegar-y.

Cream of Mushroom Soup
A tasty alternative to the canned stuff.
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  1. 4 tablespoons butter
  2. 1 lb. fresh mushrooms, coarsely chopped
  3. 3 tablespoons chopped onion
  4. 1 tablespoon flour
  5. 1/2 cup cream sherry (I subbed apple cider vinegar)
  6. 3 cups beef broth
  7. 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  8. 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
  9. 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  10. 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  11. 1 cup 1/2 and 1/2
  12. 1/8 teaspoon salt
  13. 2 tablespoons fresh parsley (opt. for garnish)
  1. In a 4 quart stockpot, melt butter over medium heat.
  2. Add mushrooms and onion and cook for 15 minutes until tender.
  3. Stir in flour and sherry. Cook for 1 minute.
  4. Blend soup with immersion blender (or in small batches in food processor) until smooth.
  5. Add 1 cup of the beef broth, thyme, dry mustard, garlic powder, and pepper and blend until smooth.
  6. Pour back into the stockpot (if you used food processor) and stir in the remaining broth, 1/2 and 1/2, and the salt.
  7. Heat through, but do not boil!
Adapted from Is it Soup Yet?
Adapted from Is it Soup Yet?
Mormon Mavens

Our Traditional Thanksgiving Menu


Hi everyone!  I am sitting here at my desk organizing my Holiday Planner.

Every year I tell myself I will be ready earlier than the previous year, and this year is no exception.  We are actually going to be at my youngest daughter’s home for Thanksgiving this year, but I am sure I will be helping out with the meal there.

I will be making a booklet of these recipes, which have been passed down to the cooks in our family, to leave with her so that she has copies of our family’s traditional food.

I thought that I would share this with you a couple of weeks before the big day, just in case you needed some ideas for your feast. You might remember our post from last year, so this is just an updated version.

So here it is. I have also provided a link to the dishes that we shared on this blog. Thank goodness I took a picture of my plate last year so that you can see it up close and personal.

If you see another one on the list that you would like to have the recipe for just let me know! For the yeast rolls, we have several recipes to choose from but the one I use is not on the blog yet.


Thanksgiving Menu from Our House to Yours

Deep Fried Turkey
Mother’s Southern Cornbread Dressing
Sweet Potato Pudding
Cranberry Relish
James’ Fruit Salad
Copper Penny Carrots
Seasoned Baby Lima Beans
Giblet Gravy
Homemade Yeast Rolls
Pumpkin Pie with Homemade Whipped Cream


Well, that’s a mouthful–literally. Feel free to share your Thanksgiving favorites in the comments.  We love hearing from you.


Beef Tips


As you already know, we first began blogging with several more contributors.  We like to highlight recipes from the past that received a lot of views.  Our sweet Aubrey shared this Beef Tips recipe.  We sure miss her, as she lost her long battle with cancer several years ago.

So here is our remake of this dish, with no changes other than adding some broccoli as a side dish.

It’s tasty and you know how good your kitchen smells when something’s in the slow cooker!

Beef Tips
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  1. 1 lb. beef tips (any cut of beef roughly chopped)
  2. 1 can golden mushroom soup
  3. 1 can French onion soup
  4. 1 package dry onion soup mix
  5. Hot cooked rice
  1. Place all ingredients in slow cooker.
  2. Cook on low for 5 to 6 hours.
  3. Serve over hot, cooked rice.
  1. Ingredients double easily.
  2. Great dish for sharing.
Adapted from Aubrey Williford
Adapted from Aubrey Williford
Mormon Mavens

Herbed Greek Chicken Salad


Another venture into Mediterranean recipes brought me this delicious, yet simple, salad with chicken.

I didn’t realize how much I loved the subtle tastes of these foods until I took my first bite of salad.  My eyes closed and all I could say was “Mmmm…this is really good.”

This is a pretty healthy dish–protein, veggies, some healthy fats.  Sounds like a pretty good option for lunch today, right?

Herbed Greek Chicken Salad
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  1. 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  2. 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  3. 3/4 teaspoon black pepper, divided
  4. 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
  5. Cooking spray
  6. 1 lb. thin sliced skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut in 1-inch cubes
  7. 5 teaspoons fresh lemon juice, divided
  8. 1 cup plain yogurt
  9. 2 teaspoons tahini (sesame seed paste)
  10. 1 teaspoon bottled minced garlic
  11. 8 cups chopped romaine lettuce
  12. 1 cup peeled, chopped English cucumber
  13. 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
  14. 6 pitted Kalamata olives, halved
  15. 1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled
  1. In a small prep bowl, combine oregano, garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon salt.
  2. Place the cubed chicken in a medium bowl toss with the herb mixture.
  3. Heat a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray, then add the chicken. Saute until chicken is done. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon lemon juice and stir. Remove from pan.
  4. In another small bowl, combine remaining 2 teaspoons lemon juice, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, yogurt, tahini and garlic. Stir well.
  5. Combine lettuce, cucumber, tomatoes and olives in a large bowl.
  6. Place 2 1/2 cups of lettuce mixture on each of 4 plates. Top each serving with 1/2 cup chicken and 1 tablespoon cheese. Drizzle each serving with 3 tablespoons yogurt mixture.
  1. I was not able to drizzle the yogurt dressing because it was pretty thick. You will probably need to thin this out, maybe with a little milk? I wouldn’t increase the amount of lemon juice.
  2. I found tahini by the peanut butter at my local Wal-Mart.
Mormon Mavens

Nacho Mama’s Taco Salad Nachos

Taco Salad has been a mainstay in my family of origin for as long as I can remember (nachos ain’t too shabby either!).   It also became a fixture at family beach house get-togethers.  And I love it.  But leftovers don’t keep well.  Like, at. all.  So I decided to start serving it as more of a Taco Salad Bar, where all the ingredients are in separate serving dishes and you just put it together on your own.  And that worked out great.

But recently, as we were having our traditional BYO (Build Your Own) Taco Salad with my own family, I kept wondering if there was an easier way to eat it.  Trying to maneuver taco meat, cheese, tomatoes, lettuce, and Doritos all in the same mouthful is a challenge, to say the least.  Should I just use a spoon?  Should everything be cut super tiny….chopped salad style?

And then it came to me.

Nacho Mama's Taco Salad Nachos

NACHOS.  What if I made them like nachos instead?

And it worked.   Beautifully!

The recipe does not show ingredient amounts, and that’s another great benefit of Taco Salad.  You can just make what you are hungry for!  A regular size bag of Doritos was PLENTY for about 6 people with generous portions.  Adjust accordingly!  We used the classic flavor, but you can use any Doritos flavor you like.  The ingredient list reflects what my own family likes in our Taco Salad, but you may wish to add sliced black olives, avocado, diced green onions, etc.  Whatever you decide to top your Nacho Mama’s Taco Salad Nachos with, I’m sure it will be delicious!


Nacho Mama's Taco Salad Nachos
Serves 6
All the tastiness of your favorite taco salad with a more fun delivery method! The perfect way to enjoy all your favorite taco fixin's!
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Total Time
30 min
Total Time
30 min
  1. Doritos (any flavor)
  2. shredded cheddar cheese
  3. taco meat
  4. shredded lettuce
  5. chopped tomatoes
  6. Catalina dressing
  7. ranch dressing
  8. salsa
  9. Cholula sauce
  1. Prepare the taco meat. Use as much as you need. I typically use one pouch of taco seasoning (or the homemade equivalent) for 1 pound of ground beef.
  2. Drain the taco meat once it's cooked through.
  3. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  4. On a sheet pan, arrange the Doritos in a single layer with as little pan showing through between chips as possible. Top with shredded cheese in an even layer.
  5. Add drained taco meat over top of the cheese.;Bake for 8-10 minutes or until cheese is fully melted.
  6. While the nachos are baking get your toppings ready. In our family that's lettuce (must be shredded for nachos), tomatoes, sometimes drained canned kidney beans, Catalina dressing, and ranch dressing.
  7. Once the nachos are done baking, immediately serve onto plates and let your diners customize their nachos with the supplied toppings.
  8. Enjoy!
  1. If this is served as a main dish, I'd say 6 generous servings is about right.
Mormon Mavens

Sausage Okra Gumbo

This gumbo is a much-requested family dish and our friends ask for the recipe whenever we serve it up.  Kelsey Teague, a former Maven–who is also my daughter–shared the recipe on our original blog and then we re-posted it here.

I hope you will like this dish as much as we do.  And you might need to double it for your family if they want seconds.  Just sayin’.

Sausage Okra Gumbo
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  1. 1 1/2 lbs. Polska Kielbasa ( I just use 2 packages)
  2. 2-3 T. butter
  3. 3 T. flour
  4. 2 cups chicken broth
  5. 18-oz. frozen gumbo vegetables*
  6. 14-oz. can of tomatoes, chopped, with juice
  7. 1 1/2 t. salt (you may want to adjust down, depending on how salty your meat choice is)
  8. 1/4 t. garlic powder
  9. 1/4 t. ground red pepper
  10. 1 T. Old Bay Seafood Seasoning
  11. 3 cups hot, cooked rice
  1. Saute cut sausage for a few minutes in a Dutch oven or large pot. Even though these are precooked, I think it improves the overall taste to brown them up just a little bit and it also helps your roux. Remove and set aside.
  2. Melt the butter in the Dutch oven. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly, until mixture is deep brown, about the color of an old penny (this is known as making a roux)
  3. Add broth, vegetables, tomatoes, seasonings, and sausages. Bring to a boil.
  4. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 25 minutes.
  5. Remove from heat, ladle gumbo into bowls and top with a scoop of rice. Some people think you should put a bunch of rice in the bowl and then add the gumbo on top. Personally, I like less of a rice ratio to my gumbo. A little scoop of rice on top is perfect for me.
  1. You can use a combination of okra, corn, onions, celery and sweet red pepper instead of the frozen vegetables. These days that combo is hard to find in the frozen food section.
Adapted from Pat Brew, Brew Family Cookbook, vol.1
Adapted from Pat Brew, Brew Family Cookbook, vol.1
Mormon Mavens

Lemon Basil Shrimp & Pasta


I am a huge fan of one-pot meals and this shrimp & pasta dish did not disappoint.

Not only was it delicious, but it also provides about 31 grams of protein.  How cool is that?  Now, it does have capers and that will add to your sodium intake so make adjustments as needed. If you don’t have fresh basil–I had a few tiny leaves left on my plant in the garden–you can also use this.

I’m telling ya, I felt like I was at a restaurant when I served this meal.  The only thing missing was some crusty bread.

Now I need to try a shrimp & pasta recipe with lemon butter sauce…

Lemon Basil Shrimp & Pasta
Serves 4
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  1. 3 quarts water
  2. 8 ounces uncooked angel hair pasta
  3. 1 lb. peeled & deveined extra large shrimp
  4. 1/4 c. chopped fresh basil (I used a combo of fresh and lightly dried)
  5. 3 T. drained capers
  6. 2 T. extra virgin olive oil
  7. 2 T. fresh lemon juice
  8. 1/2 t. salt
  9. 2 c. fresh baby spinach
  1. Bring 3 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot or Dutch oven, adding a little salt, if desired. Add pasta and cook for 8 minutes.
  2. Add shrimp to the pot and cook for 3 more minutes or until shrimp is done and pasta is al dente. Drain.
  3. Place pasta in a large bowl and stir in basil, capers, olive oil, lemon juice and salt.
  4. Place about 1/2 cup of baby spinach into each serving dish and top with 1 1 /2 cups of pasta mixture.
Adapted from My Recipes
Adapted from My Recipes
Mormon Mavens

Hawaiian Haystacks

Way back when our recipe blog first began, a recipe for Hawaiian Haystacks was posted by one of our original recipe authors, Kara.  It was one of our most viewed recipes so I figured it was time to post another version of it and, I must say, I’m pretty in love with this one.   Fortunately, it’s a bit quicker than other recipes, but just as delicious!

My family tried this recipe out recently during a weekend trip to a VRBO in Virginia.  Although the pics aren’t great (dark and small kitchen) the dish was still delicious.  No pressure cooker so I cooked the rice the old-fashioned way on the stove top.  Either way I think that the timing–starting the rice then prepping the chicken/gravy and toppings while the rice cooks–works out about the same.

hawaiian haystacks toppings

I’m a big fan of rotisserie chicken for convenience and flavor, so when I saw a recipe using it as the chicken base I knew I had to try it.  I tweaked a few things to make it fit my family and my preferences and I invite you to do the same.  Make it your own by incorporating toppings your family loves!

hawaiian haystacks chicken and rice

Jasmine rice is my very much preferred choice for just about anything rice-related!  And I really like to use my pressure cooker for it.  But you could use leftover rice from another meal (I often will make way more rice than I need so I can use it for other meals).  Because there are so many rice options (leftovers, minute rice, pressure cooker, stove top, microwave rice) I have not included rice cooking instructions.  So just make whatever rice you want in whatever method you want.  Just use your judgement here:  if you are “long” cooking (pressure cooking or stove top) start the rice first then do the rest of the ingredients.  If you are using a “quick” cook (leftovers warmed up, microwave, minute, etc).  Do that at the end.  See, it’s versatile!

Now, as for toppings…I’ve only listed what *I* like.  Many people include sliced black olives but I don’t because, gross.  From Kara’s original recipe, she also lists diced celery, sunflower seeds, slivered almonds, and sliced water chestnuts.  But you do you… whatever toppings float your boat, tickle your Elmo, etc.  By the way, you can find crunchy chow mein noodles in the Asian aisle at the grocery store.

So, what are your favorite toppings for Hawaiian Haystacks? 

Hawaiian Haystacks
Jasmine rice topped with rotisserie chicken and gravy and then topped with whatever yummy toppings you want! It's a delicious, quick dinner!
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Total Time
30 min
Total Time
30 min
  1. 6 cups of prepared jasmine rice (start cooking first, then prep the rest)
  2. 4 cups of shredded rotisserie chicken
  3. 2 (10.5 oz) cans Cream of Chicken soup (with or without herbs)
  4. 8 ounces sour cream
  5. 1/2 cup milk
  1. shredded cheddar cheese
  2. canned pineapple tidbits, drained
  3. peas and carrots (from freezer section....thaw)
  4. diced green onions
  5. diced tomatoes
  6. crunchy chow mein noodles
  1. Prepare your rice on the stove top (follow directions on rice package...1 cup dry=3 cups cooked)) or pressure cooker (follow directions for appliance).
  2. While the rice is cooking, add the chicken, soup, sour cream, and milk to a large skillet and heat over medium heat, stirring often. Remove from heat when it's well-combined and heated through.
  3. As the chicken mixture is heating through, prep your topping ingredients and place them into individual bowls or into a serving platter that has separate divisions for toppings.
  4. When the rice is done cooking, remove from heat and fluff with a fork.
  5. Set your items up buffet style and let everyone build their own custom haystack.  Start with rice, then add the chicken gravy, then cheese (so it will melt), and whatever else your little heart desires!
Mormon Mavens

Hawaiian Fried Breakfast Rice


Sometimes I just struggle to find new, tasty ideas for breakfast.  Do you have the same problem?

I grew up on cold cereal, and still love it for Sunday night snacking.  Well, any night would work for me, actually.  But over time I have let go of my cereal tradition in lieu of more healthy options like oatmeal or smoothies.  Once in a while it’s eggs and bacon, but that usually ends up being an early lunch after an hour of yoga followed by an hour of Body Pump.

This fried rice recipe really turned out to be quite delicious.  Thank you to Sara at Our Best Bites, who was the source for this recipe.

Hawaiian Fried Breakfast Rice
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  1. 4 t. extra virgin olive oil
  2. 1/2 c. chopped red onion
  3. 1 bunch green onions, chopped (chop all but keep the green tops separate)
  4. 1 t. minced garlic
  5. 1 small red bell pepper, minced
  6. 3 cups leftover white rice
  7. 1 c. chopped fresh pineapple
  8. 1 c. chopped Spam (or bacon or ham)
  9. 3 T. low sodium soy sauce
  10. 2 t. brown sugar
  11. 1/2 t. ground ginger
  12. 4 eggs for scrambling
  13. Salt & pepper to taste
  1. Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Add the red onion, firm ends of the green onions, garlic and bell pepper. Saute until the onions are fragrant and red peppers are just tender.
  2. While the vegetables are cooking, whisk together the soy sauce, brown sugar, and ginger in a small bowl. Set aside.
  3. Add the rice to the skillet, stirring to combine, until heated through. Add the Spam and cook until that is heated through. Add the soy sauce mixture and stir to combine.
  4. Next add the green parts of the green onions, and the pineapple, stirring to combine. Season to taste with salt & pepper. Cover, turning heat to low to keep warm.
  5. In a separate pan, cook the eggs. Add eggs to rice mixture and serve.
Adapted from Our Best Bites
Adapted from Our Best Bites
Mormon Mavens

Low Country Boil

low country boilLow Country Boil has become a tradition for our family, but only if we are at the beach.  Not that we couldn’t have it at home if we wanted to, but it’s just come to be associated with beach time!  And that’s fine by me.  The more of both, the better.

Over the years we have tested and tweaked and found our family’s favorite ingredient combo, amount, and method of serving.  It suits us.  You may choose to do it differently, but that’s the beauty of the boil… make it your own by what you choose to put it in and how you choose to serve it.

What’s In It

Crawfish, corn, crab legs, shrimp, sausage, potatoes, etc.  There are so many variations.  But our family sticks with the fab four of shrimp, polska kielbasa, corn on the cob, and Yukon potatoes.  When you change up the ingredients just know that you will need to adjust the cooking times accordingly.  While some people add vinegar or lemons, we prefer it with just some seasoning.  But you do you!  You’ll need a big stockpot with a lid to hold all this goodness.

Draining That Thing

Once the last ingredient, the shrimp, have cooked you need to drain that thing pronto!  Overcooked shrimp are no fun to eat.  So, ideally, you would be equipped with a special pot and strainer, like this one.  But neither I nor the beach house kitchen has one of these bad boys, so we make do.  Before it’s time to drain, I get my hot pads and a bath towel ready.  And, by the way, with a heavy stockpot full of water and food, this now becomes a two person job.

I lay the towel on the edge of the sink and another person will use the bath towel to hold the bottom of it while I hold the handles and lid to drain.  That second person essentially keeps the pot from falling over and slipping and they hold the weight of it so it can be tipped over while steam envelopes the draining person and makes their hair even more frizzy than it already is with beach humidity.  But seriously, be very careful here because IT’S HOT!

How to Serve It

Die-hards may tell you it’s not an official boil unless you dump it all out onto a table covered in paper (drained first, of course!).  It’s fun that way, but messy.  I have found that my favorite way to serve it is, after it’s drained, divide it up into disposable foil pans (like I said we do this at the beach and who wants to do dishes at the beach?!).  The beach house dining room is two picnic tables placed end to end, so it’s a long dining space.  This allows everyone down the table to have access to a whole mess o’ the boil.

Serve it with melted butter and cocktail sauce (Cross & Blackwell only please….on this I simply will not budge).  I really like for everyone to have their own individual dishes for the butter and the cocktail sauce so I’ve come up with a couple of solutions on how to do this.  Again, I’m at the beach and don’t want to add to my dishwashing duties, so both ideas are disposable.

My favorite:  Use disposable foil muffin pans (the ones with 6 muffin wells).  I cut these with heavy kitchen scissors so that I have 3 sets of wells (2 wells in each).  That means each person has their own little serving container that can hold both the melted butter and the cocktail sauce.

My backup, if no pans can be found:  Occasionally I go to the beach grocery store and they don’t have the foil muffin pans so I get the disposable 1 oz. sample cups that look like this.  They are smaller than muffin pan wells, but they’ll do in a pinch.

Low Country Boil
Serves 6
Nothing says "beach vacation" like having this delicious seafood boil. Accompanied by melted butter and yummy cocktail sauce, how can you go wrong?!
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Total Time
30 min
Total Time
30 min
  1. 2 Tbsp. salt
  2. 1/2 cup Old Bay seasoning
  3. 3 (24 oz) bags of baby Yukon potatoes
  4. 10 ears of corn, shucked and cut into smaller cobs
  5. 2 pkg. polska kielbasa, cut into 1 to 2-inch chunks (almost 2 pounds)
  6. 4 lbs. raw shrimp (in shells)
  7. melted butter
  8. cocktail sauce
  1. In a large stockpot, combine the salt and seasoning with LOTS of water. I'd love to tell you exactly how much but I don't know honestly. I fill a large stockpot not quite half full with water. Bring this to a boil. (If you fill it too full, as I have done before, simply ladle out the excess to make room for more ingredients.)
  2. Add the potatoes and boil for 5 minutes. (Sometimes those bags of baby Yukons will have 2 sizes of size is sometimes twice the size of the smaller ones. If this is the case, boil the potatoes for an additional 2-3 minutes.)
  3. Add the corn cobs and boil for 5 minutes.
  4. Add the sausage and boil for 2 minutes.
  5. Add the shrimp and boil for 4 minutes or until all the shrimp have turned a nice warm pink all the way through.
  6. Drain immediately and serve. It will be super hot, so you may want to let the boil rest (on paper or in pans) for 5-10 minutes before digging in....if you can wait!!
  7. Serve with melted butter and cocktail sauce.
Mormon Mavens