Sunday Pot Roast: so many choices

When grocery shopping I wanted to buy a brisket but the discount grocery I went to only had corned beef briskets available. So hubby and I picked out a beef roast, round, sirloin tip. I asked hubby if this was a “nice” cut of beef and he replied that any beef cut was a nice cut of beef. He’s my carnivore!

quinoa and pot roast 016Instead of freezing this nice just-over-2-pound roast we thought we would make ourselves a nice roast dinner for Sunday. One could just throw the beef in a pot with potatoes, onions, and carrots but I wanted something a little different. I have many cookbooks to get ideas from and I had a full pantry and fridge from the grocery shopping. I think I looked through at least half a dozen books and laid out a few for hubby to choose from. These choices included Beef Bourguignon from Julia Child, New England Pot Roast by Betty Crocker, and a Swedish Pot Roast from the Better Homes and Garden book. I admit I have not actually perused the beef recipes sections in my cookbooks for some time. There were some interesting ideas.

The “winner” comes from my Anheuser-Busch Cookbook: Great Food Great Beer. I am originally from the St. Louis area so have an affinity for Anheuser-Busch even though we don’t drink their beer very often. I bought this cookbook in 2008 when we took the family to tour the brewery. We settled on New England-Style Pot Roast on page 206. It’s cooked in beer! For the weekend grocery shopping we also went to the liquor store next door. While waiting for hubby to bring the car around I went looking for Sam Adams Cream Stout which is his favorite beer. We like dark beer. I found a craft beer from a local brewery that is a chocolate stout. What a great combination! I bring it to him and tell him I found “dessert beer”! The point is that although the recipe calls for Michelob Amber Bock, we use the Hooker Chocolate Truffle Stout.

I have a two pound roast which is half the size of the one in the recipe but is plenty for the two of us with leftovers. Hubby and I are cooking together which is fun. I am working hard at not being the kitchen bully and telling him how to do things!

quinoa and pot roast 017Here’s what I used:

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 4 large onions, sliced.
  • 2.05 pound round roast, sirloin tip
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper,  or whatever it takes to sprinkle all over the roast
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup chicken stock (the recipe calls for beef stock but I didn’t have any)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves (I used 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 12-ounce bottle of beer: we used the chocolate stout
  • 1 tablespoon corn starch

First slice the onions and cook in the pot in the butter. Cook these stirring occasionally for about 10 minutes. The recipe called for 40 minutes but hubby thought that was too long. Meanwhile rinse and pat dry the roast and sprinkle all over with the salt and pepper. Remove the onions to a platter, add the olive oil to the pot, and brown the beef on all sides. Add the onions back into the pot, add the thyme, the broth, and the beer.

Cover pot with lid and put in oven heated at 325 degrees F. Half way through the cooking time the roast will need to be turned. Since this is a 2-pound roast it should be medium rare in about one hour. So I turn it over in 30 minutes. At one hour the internal temperature was 155 degrees. The roast is removed from the pot and hubby slices it. Now for the gravy. This is where something wasn’t quite right. The original recipe calls for 1-teaspoon of flour to thicken the liquid that is left in the pot. There’s a least two, if not three cups of liquid here. I used cornstarch and brought it to boil for more than the minute called for in the directions. Perhaps I should have removed the onions as well as the meat? The gravy did not thicken but still was very tasty.

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Served with mashed potatoes and peas

It did not quite look like the photo but tasted like roast beef dinner. The meat was tender and not overcooked so that also was a success!

Now on to the week!



Chicken Piccata

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Chicken thighs were brought up from the freezer to the fridge to thaw for supper. I went to my newly organized recipe notebook looking for a coffee marinade (I had a bit of leftover coffee from the morning) and came across a page I had saved from a 1991 Woman’s Day magazine on how to prepare chicken multiple ways using a basic starter of chicken thighs or breasts.chicken piccata 001 Add a different sauce and different vegetables and you have different dinners all week. I looked at it pretty thoroughly and found that I had all the ingredients for “chicken picante with green beans“. Even the white wine. Reading through the recipe I had the unique thought that I could actually follow this recipe exactly. Well, not exactly exactly. I would use fresh green beans instead of frozen, and I had a few mini orange peppers instead of a red bell pepper. It seemed exact enough to me!

This handy dandy recipe chart has four parts to each dish: the chicken, the vegetables, the liquid, and the finishing touch.

The first is of course the chicken. One trims the visible fat (I do a half-hearted effort at this) and coat the pieces with seasoned bread crumbs. Well, I have a package of Panko bread crumbs and that will have to do. The recipe calls for 1 1/2 pounds of chicken parts. I have thawed a 3 pound package so that will have to do as well. I’ll plan for leftovers this way. I put my breadcrumbs in a ziploc bag to toss with the chicken, one piece at a time.

  • 6 large chicken thighs, thawed. These could have the skins removed for a more calorie conscious meal.
  • 4 tablespoons Panko bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil for the skillet

Heat the oil in a large skillet with sides and cook the crumb coated chicken pieces for about 6-8 minutes, turning once.

Meanwhile prepare the vegetables:chicken piccata 006

  • 4 mini peppers or a red bell pepper, diced (any pepper or combination of colorful peppers would work here, red, orange or yellow will provide a nice contrast to the green beans)
  • fresh green beans, trimmed, about a pound (or 10 ounces frozen green beans)

chicken piccata 008Prepare the liquid:

  • 1 cup white wine
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon drained capers
  • 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

When the chicken is nicely browned, add the vegetables and the liquid to the pan, cover and let simmer for 30 minutes.

The finishing touch is to sprinkle with Romano cheese.

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I make a bowl of couscous to serve with this. I set the table and wait for hubby to arrive.  I remove the chicken and vegetables to platter and plates. I sprinkle about 2 tablespoons of flour into the sauce in the pan and bring it to a boil to thicken. This takes just a few minutes. We sit down to a nice meal (after saying the blessing). We are having a nice conversation sitting at the table for our meal when he informs me this is a Piccata, not a picante, when I tell him about the recipe. A piccata is a white wine sauce with capers. Hubby used to work in high end restaurants and has hobnobbed with real chefs so he should know. Oh, I’m sure I have had this dish at restaurants before but did not connect the ingredients in this recipe to the misnomer by the magazine.

I wonder if it was just an oversight by the food editor?  I know of Picante as a Mexican hot sauce. I was just going by the name given by the Woman’s Day magazine people. Points scored by hubby for his culinary knowledge. I am not surprised. This is the man who lent me his copy of Gastronomique and The Professional Chef when we started dating! He used to quiz me on the Five Mother Sauces! I guessed at them; I’m just a home cook raised in the Midwest. I just make gravy!

Can you name the Five Mother Sauces?

Bacon and Egg Spaghetti

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Sometimes it is difficult to know what to cook for dinner. I am trying to cook what is in the house to avoid a grocery shopping trip until another week goes by. I like having food in the house so when I go to the store I tend to buy lots! Everyone chooses how to spend their money; some spend it on dining out, entertainment, cars, travel. Me, I tend to spend it on food! And of course reading my fellow bloggers recipes and seeing the photographs of delicious food always inspires me to have enough variety of food in the house so I can cook up an experimental dish on a whim!

The inspiration for this dish is threefold. First and foremost is this blog that I just recently was reading: This sounded fabulous and I wanted to make this. While thinking about this I remember my brother-in-law talking about making a bacon and egg spaghetti and also in one of the many food magazines I have read over the years there was a page on a quick weeknight dinner featuring a bacon and egg spaghetti. I describe this to hubby and he says it sounds appealing so up from the sofa we get and go into the kitchen.

Here’s what I used:

  • 1/2 pound spaghetti noodles
  • a little bit of olive oil for the skillet
  • 1/4 pound bacon cut into small dice (I use uncured bacon that I keep frozen and just chop from the end what is needed)
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup grated Romano cheese
  • 1/2 cup cottage cheese
  • freshly ground pepper
  • dried parsley for garnish

Boil the water for the spaghetti. This is what takes the longest time for this dish. While waiting for the water to boil and/or the spaghetti to cook, dice up the bacon, onion, and garlic. Hubby kindly took care of the bacon while I did the other. Saute these together in the skillet with a little bit of oil. Add the oregano and basil when the bacon is starting to brown and the onion is caramelizing. I read somewhere that fat distributes the flavors so I am thinking this is the time to add the seasonings. This concoction will have your kitchen smelling wonderful!

In a bowl beat the three eggs with a fork and add the Romano cheese. Drain the spaghetti and add it to the skillet with the bacon and onion. Pour on the egg mixture. Cook this over medium heat stirring with tongs to coat the spaghetti. It will start to look like scrambled egg on the spaghetti. We added the cottage cheese here for extra creaminess. Season with pepper. Put in serving bowls and sprinkle with the dried parsley and more pepper to taste.

It served the two of us. This would be nice served with a green salad and crusty bread neither of which I had in the house at the time. I figure the onion is our vegetable, the eggs and bacon are our protein, the cheese is the dairy, and the pasta is the grain. That covers the major food groups and makes this a square meal!



It’s Just a Pasta Dish!

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I spent a morning organizing my recipe notebooks in which I had collected clippings and printings of recipes I have used and/or want to try. It was quite interesting going through the most recent collection. I removed some that were duplicative and that I would not really use again. I have another one that also has “classic” recipes from my early days as a wife and mother. I did not glean through that one. When these are changed up it is kind of like losing the ambiance of the thing. I have three of my mother’s notebooks. I wonder if my daughter will do this? I gave her one to start on but…?

pasta with beans and greens 005In organizing the two notebooks I came across this newspaper clipping from a year or so ago. In deciding what to cook for supper I wanted to use Italian sausages and thought this recipe could be the inspiration for supper. We like pasta dishes that have more “stuff” than the pasta.

I gathered what I wanted to use. I did not have fresh greens (Swiss chard) nor cannelini beans but that never stops me from going forward!

  • 3 1/2 pounds sweet Italian sausages in links (my addition)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 oz pkg of baby portabella mushrooms, roughly chopped (my addition)
  • 1/2 pint grape tomatoes, cut in halves
  • 1 cup frozen spinach (my substitution, but I like cooking with spinach)
  • 1 15.5 ounce can pinto beans, drained (substitute for the canellini beans)
  • 1/2 cup of broth
  • olive oil for the skillet
  • 8 ounces whole wheat fusilli pasta (less than the pound of the newspaper recipe)
  • sprinkle of red pepper flakes
  • grated Romano cheese to serve (at son’s suggestion)

First put on a big pot of water to boil for the pasta. Cook pasta according to package.

I sliced up the sausage links. This is easier to do when the meat is partially frozen.Heat olive oil in a large skillet and brown the meat. Be sure to cook it through. This takes about 10 minutes. Stir occasionally so that all gets evenly cooked. Meanwhile chop the vegetables. When the sausage is browned remove from the pan and drain most of the fat. Saute the onion and the garlic in this pan with a bit of the fat. When fragrant and caramelizing add the mushrooms, tomatoes, and beans.

Stir the mixture and cook for about 5 minutes, then add the broth, the spinach, and the sausages to the pan and simmer while waiting for the pasta to finish cooking. This should cook for another 10 minutes.

pasta with beans and greens 011

Blend in the drained pasta, add a shake or two of red pepper flakes, sprinkle on the Romano, and dinner is served:

pasta with beans and greens 013

This was a big hit with hubby and son who were home for dinner. Which means I will make this again. This serves six. Son had two helpings. I put the remaining two servings in a freezer container for an “emergency meal” for the future.

Thoughts for changes that would be nice: use more spinach (or other greens of choice), use canellini beans (or less than a full can of pinto/brown beans), artichokes could be added, and an addition of black olives would be spectacular!




Best Ever Chocolate Cake

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This is the cake my Mom always made. It has become a staple of my household as well. In 2007, when looking through her multitude of recipe clippings I found the newspaper clipping that she kept, had written “Best Ever” on the side of the clipping, and then had typed into her own recipe notebook. I have made a scrapbook page to grace the cover of one of my most organized recipe notebooks. I had printed a copy of this recipe and kept it on the inside door of a kitchen cabinet at one time when I was raising my kids!

I had somewhat decided that I would not make desserts for a while as I have gained a bit of weight over the past three months. Most likely due to Holiday baking but also due to the lack of usual physical movement due to this broken ankle. It is partially healed but will need a bit more time. Aye yi yi!  However I needed an excuse to try out the newest Buttercream frosting from Nila at 

So Best Ever Chocolate Cake is my “go to” recipe but I did not want a big cake to sit around my kitchen for me to nibble away on all week! I decide to make half the recipe (it divides very nicely) and make 12 cupcakes. I can always send the “leftovers” to work with hubby.

best ever cakes 016Original ingredients: (full recipe)

  • 1 cup lard or shortening
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 beaten eggs
  • 1 cup sour milk
  • 1/2 cup cocoa
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

And Mom’s version:

best ever cakes 015

Mom would have used shortening or oleomargarine.  Mom would make cake for Sunday supper. She would bake most of her cakes including this one in a 9 x 13 baking pan. She would sprinkle on powdered sugar. And here’s how to serve cake: cut the cake into two parts. Cut one part into six equal pieces. We kids thought “equal” was very important! Serve the family (2 parents, 4 children) dessert. Save the other half of the cake until the next night’s supper and do the same thing. Mom had a similar approach to those rare occasions when she bought ice cream from the grocery store. This was when the package was a rectangle and a full half gallon! She would open the rectangle flat. She would slice the rectangle of ice cream into six equal (emphasis again on the equal) parts and serve the family. The flattened open box was then put on the floor for the cat to have her treat.

Over the years I have altered the ingredients from time to time. I use butter now and not shortening. I usually keep buttermilk in the fridge so that can be used instead of sour milk. At times, recently, I use coffee instead of the hot water. I once “improved” the recipe using Shirley Corriher’s book Bakewise for the “scientific” version based on ratios and weights of flour, sugar, eggs, and fat. That required more eggs and using half butter and half oil. If I remember correctly that cake was more evenly baked, the top was not puffed up and the color was slightly lighter as was the texture. I think my son liked that cake.

Even though I had intended to only make a dozen cupcakes I thought it would be interesting to make the original (I have lard in my fridge to use!) and then make my more “modern” version. There will be family home for dinner tonight to test these on.

For the first set I use lard (I am not going to use oleo), regular cocoa, and make the sour milk. I even sift the dry ingredients together. For the second batch I use butter, buttermilk, coffee, and Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa. I whisk the dry ingredients together. Otherwise I use the same method for mixing the batter as per the original clipping. This is how mom taught me. She also had me sift the dry ingredients three times and only stir the batter clockwise. We did not always have an electric mixer available.

There is a definite color difference. The “modern” version rose a little higher as well but not too much so. I will have to remember which are which once I frost them!

best ever cakes 013

Now that I think about it, I could have piped the buttercream on one batch and spread it on the other!

Let us see what the family thinks. They were excited about the experiment. We spent 10-15 minutes in discussion and deliberation after dinner. My son had grown up eating this cake. His first response was that both tasted like he remembered. Hubby liked the darker version because it looked as if it would be richer and more chocolaty. Stepdaughter (I hate the prefix “step” but it is what it is!) liked the look of the lighter brown one and noted that it had a nice “muffin top” which was appealing. Everyone thought that if they were presented on different days and not in comparison with each other, the difference would not be evident.

Results: The lighter brown cupcake was the original recipe. The darker brown was my modernized version. The modernized version was described as moist. The original version was cakey. There  was no discernible taste difference. After several cupcakes were tested, and devoured, with and without the frosting, the preference was for the original recipe. When the changes were described the suggestion was to make the original but use butter and buttermilk. This is exactly how I have been making this cake for the past 10 plus years!





brownie 001I was sitting in my kitchen reading blogs on brownies. Some of you make wonderful sounding brownies and other chocolate goodies! So I began to contemplate brownies. I got out all the chocolate in my baking pantry to see what is there. I have semi-sweet chips, Special Dark Chips, German’s chocolate, unsweetened chocolate, bittersweet chocolate, Hershey’s Natural cocoa, and Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa. These are out on the counter when son walks in and asks what I am making. When I mention I was thinking of brownies, he says he likes chewy, not cakey, and no add-ins such as chocolate chips or nuts. He also likes the shiny crust on top. Me, too.

Recipes abound! I bring out a few recipes and am undecided. He refers me to look at Shirley Corriher’s book Bakewise. After all, he says, he made the cheesecake with a gingersnap crust and it was great. So I start reading the section on brownies. Very interesting. I had just been reading the King Arthur Flour blog on brownies and the shiny crust. . There is no real agreement on what makes cakey, shiny crusts, etc. I know that my favorite brownies were very chewy and came from a recipe on the back of Nestle Toll House chocolate chips way back in the 1980s. I have lost that little clipping and have been searching for the best brownie recipe ever since. For about 10 months in 1999 I made a batch of brownies weekly and tested them on my teenagers and their friends. I did not have a standard rating scale but only listed where the recipe came from. After these many trials the best brownies were determined…to be from a mix! It did not even matter which brand. The box brownies were chewy and always had the shiny crust!!

That was then, this is now. I have honed my baking skills and knowledge and much less frequently make brownies from a box. That elusive perfect brownie is still out there. Brownie recipes that I have used make up well and do not go uneaten. I just have not determined a “go-to” standard recipe. Brownies are basically butter, chocolate, eggs, sugar and flour.

We decide to go with the Shirley’s Fudgy Brownies from Bakewise, page 411-412. This recipe calls for 1 ½ cups of butter and four different sugars. It also uses 4 whole eggs and an additional 3 egg yolks. Wow! We run to the grocery to get the light corn syrup as the fourth sugar. There is also powdered sugar, granulated sugar, and brown sugar. For the chocolate the recipe calls for 12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped, and 1 ounce German’s chocolate.  There are a lot of ingredients in these brownies! We left out the pecans.

  • 1 ½ cups unsalted butter, cut into 1 tablespoon pieces
  • 12 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1 ounce German’s Sweet Chocolate
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1 ½ cups dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1 cup confectioners (powdered) sugar
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ cups spooned and leveled bleached all=purpose flour

(In reading this now I realize that I only used ¾ cups of packed brown sugar but also used ¾ cups granulated. The page must have flipped over to the Shirley’s Cakey Brownies recipe! No worries!)

Her instructions are to melt the butter with the chocolate. In a separate bowl beat the eggs to blend the whites and yolks and then add the other ingredients, except for the flour. Add the egg mixture to the chocolate mixture. Then stir in the flour without over beating.

We get all this put together. In beating the egg mixture I beat them in the stand mixer for a few minutes more because this will give the shiny crust. Apparently it is a “meringue” from the egg whites and sugar that rises to the top of the bake.

brownies 003


The oven has been preheated to just 300 degrees F. All ready to go in but son has the idea it should sit in the pan a bit to even itself out. While I wait for that to happen I reread the recipe. OOPS!!! I only used half the amount of butter. I used 1 ½ sticks instead of 1 ½ cups! What to do?


brownies 004
adding the missing butter

I scrape the batter back into the mixing bowl. I melt another 1 ½ sticks of butter and add that to the batter and blend. This is a necessary step because the fat to flour ratio makes the difference between fudgy and cakey.


I then pour this back into a re-prepared 13 x 9 inch baking pan and pop it into the oven. This time I don’t bother with the foil just sprayed the pan. It has taken 45 minutes of prep time at this point. Well, 5 of those minutes were adding in the butter that I had forgotten to add in the first place by my miscalculations!

brownies 005
shiny crackling crust

52 minutes later a toothpick stuck in the middle comes out clean. Take this out of the oven right now so as to avoid overbaking. We want fudgy and chewy. There is definitely a shiny crackling crust! That was a success.

Do you know of anyone, ANYONE, who waits until the brownies completely cool before cutting? I don’t think it is a natural thing to do. I would be concerned if there were a chocolate brownie lover out there who actually follows that step of these recipes. Granted, cool brownies cut more cleanly. But why is that important? Son pokes and prods at the side and takes a nibble. The only thing left to do is to actually cut a square and taste it. Very rich and sweet. It is fudgy and has its shiny crust.

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definitely fudgy

These are successful but the recipe is a bit too fussy to become a “go-to” for me. It is a “keeper” though because it is in a book. The book is worth reading as she explains the science of baking and some history of recipes and is just plain interesting.

Some of these will need to be individually wrapped and frozen for later enjoyment.

Pork and Peppers

The inevitable question running through my mind is “what’s for dinner?” I don’t think other family members have this question constantly bombarding their brain. Sitting home with son and hubby I was contemplating this and when I asked what they thought, I got the “I don’t know” looks from them. Son tried to be helpful with “what do we have?”

I looked through several cookbooks but was not inspired. I keep a running list of meats that I have in the house so I can quickly pick out something. I recently inventoried my pantry and spice cabinets and posted the contents inside the cabinet doors. (I am not used to being home 24 hours a day!) In the spring and summer I will keep a list of produce so I can use it before it passes it’s prime. I hate throwing away food!

So after reaching a point in the book I am reading where I could put it down for a bit, I took three pork chops out of the freezer. I defrost these somewhat in the microwave. Not sure what to do with them yet, I decide to take out veggies from the produce drawer and add them all together. In my perusal of recipes I had recently come across one that called for grating an inch of ginger root, so I take the ginger root from the freezer and some teriyaki sauce from the fridge. I will cook up all these veggies and serve them on top of the pork chops. I add a side dish of Bulgur.

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  • 1/2 inch of ginger root, grated; approximately 2 tablespoons
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed in a press or finely minced
  • olive oil and coconut oil for the pan, 2-3 tablespoons combined
  • 2 small onions, sliced
  • 3 carrots, pared and thinly sliced
  • 1 large red pepper, sliced (I should dice these in the future)
  • 4 ounces portabello mushrooms, roughly chopped
  • splashes of teriyaki sauce
  • sprinkle of oriental five spices powder
  • 1/2 cup broth (I make my own and freeze it in 1-3 cup portions)
  • 3 pork chops, bone in

Put the pork chops in a pan and into the oven at 350 F. Prepare a skillet with the oils. I love using my cast iron skillet. Grate the ginger root. Mince the garlic.

Several years ago I picked up a gadget from a tag sale. This is a garlic press. It is made in Italy. I had to ask what it was and thought it was a novelty so took it home. I know that I figured out how to use it then but had not since. It did not work out quite like I expected.

So I finely chopped the garlic cloves with a knife.

Saute the onion, garlic, and ginger in the oil in the skillet. While this is cooking, stir it occasionally, chop up the carrot, red pepper, and mushrooms. Put the carrot and pepper in to cook for 4-5 minutes, then add the broth and splashes of teriyaki and 5 spice powder. You will have to judge the amount based on the fragrance, whatever is pleasing to you. Add the mushrooms and cook uncovered about 5 minutes. The broth will be reduced and the carrots will be al dente.

pork and peppers 017Take the pork chops from the oven and flip them over. Put all the vegetables on top. There is a little bit of liquid so the pork chops will not dry out. Return to the oven and increase the heat to 425 F for about 20 minutes more.

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“This is delicious” were the first words out of son’s mouth after his first bite. That’s what a mom likes to hear.

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So I wrote down how I made this dish so I can make it again. But never leaving well enough alone there are a few changes: I think if I had put the temp up to 450 F and left in the oven a bit longer, the vegetables would take on a “roast” like look and flavor. I would either dice up all the vegetables or slice all of them more equally in size. I might add a bit more ginger root for more of a “bite”, OR I could make it the same way and know that it is delicious as is!


Super Bowl Sandwich (by Hubby)

We are not really football fans. We watch some football and we root for our local hometown or family-liked teams. We watch play off games and championships, like the Super Bowl. In the past we had the girls home with us to watch the game before they went off to college. We would make it an event: the Super Bowl Junk Food Fest! Initially the junk food included the famous Velveeta Cheese dip. But this is much too hard on our aging stomachs now. We have had BBQ wings, Quesadillas,and Brownie Sundaes, not to mention guacamole and chips!

Super Bowl 001

This year Hubby had the task of figuring out the menu. At first he was thinking to have ribs, wings, pizza, chips and cheese, and then narrowed his focus on a Philly Cheese Steak Sandwich on a baguette. He would make these his way.

We traipsed off to the Stew Leonard’s Grocery Store. This store is my downfall! I buy too much of everything especially cheese, olives, bakery goods. We only went there because we were in the area getting the oil changed on my car. What was I thinking? Our grocery list was less than a dozen items but we left the store spending enough to get a free ice cream or coffee. We had bananas foster flavored ice cream in a cup for our drive home!

Hubby thought the price of shaved steak was too much and he can just slice the meat himself. He selected a London Broil, no hormones, no antibiotics, and vegetarian fed. He begins by gathering his Mise en Place and preparing his pan.

  • 1.5 pound London Broil, sliced thin; half of this was used, the rest frozen for later use
  • American Cheese, 6 slices
  • one large red pepper, he wanted green but the green ones were a $1 more per pound!, 1/2 of this pepper was used
  • 8 ounce package of sliced mushrooms; we used about 4 ounces of these; these are portabella, just because; you can use regular white button mushrooms if desired
  • 2 small onions, sliced
  • olive oil and butter for pan
  • Baguette

Super Bowl 004First he slices the vegetables. Look at how nicely he curls his fingers. I have not been able to master this technique and hold on to the veg at the same time!

Super Bowl 005

These go in the pan on high heat. Hubby cooks most things on high heat. I tend to use medium flame. He also is able to flip the food in the pan a la Julia Child, or would Jacques Pepin be a better comparison? The onions and peppers are cooked for about 5 minutes and then the mushrooms are added for a few more minutes and then taken off the heat.

Now to “shave” the steak. He starts with my wonderful Cuisinart Chef’s Knife but is not happy with that. He gets out the “scary knife”! He tries to make thin slices but not being a deli slicing machine they are not as thin as could be. But they will be good enough.

The cast iron griddle is heated and greased with a little bit of fat from the steak. The slices of steak are put on in single layer and flipped when the blood is seen seeping out.

Then the veg is put on top and the heat turned off. Then add the cheese slices and give this a minute or so to begin melting.

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Meanwhile prepare the baguette. Cut portions for sandwiches, slice open, and swipe with a bit of mayonnaise (if desired).

When ready to eat, place portions onto the baguette and put on plate. Serve with beer (Sam Adams Boston Lager for hubby) or wine (Bota Box Nighthawk Black for me).

We enjoyed our meal while watching the kick-off show and commenting on which of the MVPs we remembered. After all we are older than the Super Bowl, but not by much!!

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No recipe, just thoughts

Good morning! I am thrilled that you read my blog and am grateful for each and every one of you. Please bear with me while I think about other things than just food. I am sitting in the kitchen drinking my morning coffee and musing.

Today it is snowing and I had thought winter had been on its way out! Son has returned from his travels in Vietnam. He is now watching those Vietnam War movies that were top hits back when. I have never watched any of those movies. You may remember Apocalypse Now, Deerhunter, Platoon. It was a troubling time and heartbreaking in a lot of ways. That was the era when I turned “Peacenik”. Just listening to the horrors is disturbing. My kitchen is wired with speakers so that we can have music throughout the house, but today it is the sounds of war!

My Dad served in the 101st Airborne in World War 2. He did not talk about his war years very much when we were young. After the fall of Saigon in 1975 he opened our home to a family of refugees from Vietnam. He told me at one time that this was to atone for the actions he had to take in the war, as well as to serve God by helping others since he survived the war intact. He found that people, especially young men, of my generation seemed fascinated by War. He thought this was because those men did not serve and did not experience War, just “Hollywood war”. My son’s father was one of those. And it looks like he passed that on to our son.

(I did not even know what Army division my father served in until my first husband got to talking with Dad and was totally impressed!)

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So son got up early this morning as his body clock is out of whack from the 12 hour time difference. He made muffins using the Bittman How to Cook Everything Cookbook. He added dried apricots, almonds, and used vanilla almond milk. He thought they were a little dry. I think they have a nice flavor.



For dinner I am making a shepherd pie. Son had to excavate through the downstairs freezer to find the ground turkey I will use. I cook that up with onion and garlic and add a bunch of frozen mixed vegetables (one could cut up carrots and celery) and top it all with the leftover mashed potatoes from the steak dinner earlier this week. Maybe grate a little cheese on the top.

This week I have cooked and baked. I just did not take pictures or notes. I made a no-knead banana bread that is keeping very nicely and is wonderful toasted. This was from my Fleischmann’s Bread Book. I used this book most of my adult life for bread baking. I hadn’t thought about it for awhile. And I think they have a website! (put smiley face here)

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I also made chicken and dumplings almost exactly like the recipe in the Soulard Market cookbook. I stewed the chicken, drained the broth, thickened the broth. Made the herbed dumplings. The only addition was a half bag of frozen vegetables to the broth. I usually don’t follow a recipe exactly!

It is still snowing. I think I’ll send the boy out to shovel after he finishes with his war!

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Happy Friday and have a glorious weekend.




Beef: it’s what’s for dinner.

The above title is not original to me. It is from a Beef Industry commercial that ran in the early 1990s. It was a very catchy commercial using music by the composer Aaron Copeland, sounding quite like the American West, eliciting images of ranches and herds of cows! Passing a field of cows on family trips as a kid always got a “hamburger on hoof” comment from my Dad.

I like cooking from recipes but do not always have the motivation/time/energy to do so. My husband does not cook from recipes. And he cooks dinner from time to time. (when I let him!!) A husband who cooks is a keeper.

Hubby loves red meat. I think he dreams of cheeseburgers! We have beef usually once a week or once every other week, or maybe three times a month. When we go out to eat I can count on him ordering something beefy to eat. For this week’s grocery shopping trip he picked out the beef. After all we have plenty of chicken and some pork in the house from our last major grocery shopping. And even though we have a bit of ground beef, the two remaining patties in the freezer are “too small” according to him. And I thought I made 1/3 pounders!

The beef was a “thin sirloin tip steak”.  When he took it out of the package it was thin but rolled into what had looked like a small roast. The weather is warmish so the steak will be grilled. Even if the weather were cold and snowy, the steak would be grilled. He seasons it with Soulard Grill spice/herb mixture (from the historic Soulard Market in St. Louis) and grills it to perfection: rare for him and medium rare, heavy on the medium, for me.

He also washed and cut the potatoes and boiled them for a hearty mashed potatoes as a side. There are leftovers to make a shepherd pie later in the week. I mashed these up and melted the butter first (not sure why) and threw that in the pot with a couple of spoonfuls of sour cream and a splash of milk. Good thick creamy mashed potatoes! Add salt and pepper to taste.

Then I made a bit of a Greek salad: lettuce, grape tomatoes, kalamata olives, feta cheese. I dressed this with the buttermilk ranch dressing I had previously made. The buttermilk dressing is modified from Joy of Cooking. One doesn’t really need a recipe for salad dressings. Put your herbs of choice in the cruet or small jar, add some vinegar or lemon juice and stir together. Add your oil and shake vigorously. Add buttermilk to this and shake vigorously again. The oil can be reduced if using buttermilk or yogurt for a creamy dressing. Generally it is presumed 2 parts oil to 1 part vinegar but change this up to suit your own tastes. I have used equal parts as well as less oil than vinegar. You can also put your ingredients in an almost empty jelly jar for a fruity dressing.

Back to beef…hubby also cut up one red and one yellow onion to saute with olive oil to throw on top of the steak.

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Dinner without much fuss.