Beef Stroganoff

Beef Stroganoff

Saturday was my sister’s birthday and I’m a big believer in celebrating a birthday! Some people as they get older don’t want to celebrate their life anymore and choose to mourn the day instead, but I think birthdays should be embraced and reveled in. Life is a grand adventure and birthdays simply remind us of our many adventures along the way!

I invited Katherine, Ben and Nelson over for dinner to celebrate. The tradition at our house growing up was that you got to pick what we had for dinner on your birthday and you got to pick your cake. Katherine chose Beef Stroganoff and chocolate cake with almond buttercream icing. Katherine also wanted a salad, some sort of veggie and some yeast rolls, so I made a big spinach salad with a choice of homemade ranch or blue cheese dressing, some roasted asparagus and a batch of Parker House rolls. We broke out the good china and had a grand old time!

Birthday Table

Over all everything came together well. The rolls could have risen a bit longer, but I got side tracked. The Beef Stroganoff was a play on the one my mom used to make as a child, that I adapted into Mushroom Stroganoff over the years. This go around though I skipped the onion soup mix and used all fresh ingredients and instead of ground beef I took a pot roast and sliced it across the grain into somewhat bite sized chunks. The result was wonderful! I highly recommend this if you like this sort of dish!

What You’ll Need For the Beef Stroganoff:
Extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 small package of mushrooms, sliced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons of flour
2 1/2 pounds of beef tips or other type of beef cut into chunks
1 15 ounce can of tomato sauce
1 cup of sour cream
1 package of egg noodles cooked according to package directions

In a large pot or skillet (and I mean LARGE!) saute onion, mushrooms and garlic until tender with a pinch of sea salt and some freshly ground black pepper. Once the veggies are tender add two tablespoons of flour and cook for 2 minutes stirring constantly. Add beef and cook for about 15 minutes until it’s mostly brown stirring occasionally so it won’t stick. (Note: A little red here and there is not a problem as you’ll be cooking the dish a while more.) Add tomato sauce and cook for 35-40 minutes to allow the beef to become tender. Add sour cream and cook for 2 minutes or until heated through. Serve over egg noodles.

Notes: In a pinch you could use onion soup mix. Just omit the onion and garlic. You could also use garlic powder or salt if you’re out of fresh garlic. Having made it both ways I highly recommend the fresh onion and garlic. Both variations are good, but the fresh version definitely was the best! You can also substitute more mushrooms for the beef to make the vegetarian equivalent.

After dinner we dug into the cake!

Katherine's Birthday Cake

Cake: The Inside

The basket weave wasn’t as neat as I would have liked, but the icing was having issues on Saturday so we went with what came out. It turned out ok in the end and it tasted delicious, so that’s all you can ask for. :o)

Shrimp and Veggie Kabobs with Thyme

Shrimp and Veggie Kabobs

These kabobs are so versatile! You can add the veggies you like and/or meat of your choice. You can bake them, pan fry them or even cook them on the grill. It’s a perfect way to utilize fresh veggies from the garden for a quick, easy dinner. Pair with some wild rice and you’ve got the perfect, healthy, summer meal!

What You’ll Need For Two People:
1 small zucchini, cut into chunks
1 small yellow squash, cut into chunks
4 small tomatoes, your choice of type
4 whole mushrooms, your choice
2 small chunks of onion, your choice of type
8 large shrimp, peeled and deveined
Extra virgin olive oil
Fresh thyme leaves
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Kabob skewers(Note: If you choose to grill the kabobs it is wise to soak the kabob sticks in water if they’re wooden for at least 20 minutes so that they won’t catch on fire.)

Preheat oven to 425 F, heat frying pan over medium heat or ready grill.

Arrange veggies on kabob stick. Brush each kabob with olive oil, sprinkle with thyme leaves, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Veggie Kabobs

Repeat process with shrimp by placing 4 large shrimp per kabob.

Shrimp Kabobs

Bake vegetable kabobs for 25-30 minutes, pan fry with a little non-stick spray for 20-25 minutes or grill for 10-15 minutes until veggies are tender. Bake, pan fry or grill shrimp kabobs for 3-5 minutes until pink. Serve immediately.

Notes: I used both red and yellow tomatoes. I also used button and baby portabella mushrooms. I also chose red onion. Asparagus would be a nice addition. Leeks would be good too. Any veggies that you like works. Mix it up! You could also use chicken or beef in place of the shrimp. Beef and chicken would take longer to cook than the shrimp so they could be placed on the same kabob as the veggies.

Onion Burgers

Onion Burger

As a kid when we used to camp at the lake all summer we ate a lot of burgers. One of my mom’s friends made the best onion burgers! She used onion soup mix in the meat and worcestershire sauce and they were delicious. On the 4th of July we usually spent the day together and she always made those burgers!

The other day I was thinking about my mom’s friend and her burgers and I decided to play around in the kitchen with what I had on hand and see if I couldn’t put something together that was similar. The result was delicious! Pair the burgers with some oven “fries” and you’ve got the perfect meal!

What You’ll Need:
1 pound of ground beef or turkey
1/3 cup of A1 Steak Sauce
1 small onion, chopped fine (I used a red onion…Which the name of by the way irritates me…It’s purple people! 😉 )
Freshly ground black pepper

In a bowl mix all ingredients until completely incorporated. (Note: The best way to do this is either in your mixer or with your hands.) Form into patties and cook until desired doneness. Top with your favorite burger toppings.

Makes 2-4 burgers depending on how big you like your burger.

Onion Burger

Notes: I don’t add salt to this personally because the A1 is salty enough in and of itself to me. I also use the leanest grass fed beef available or the leanest ground turkey.

Parmesan Encrusted Chicken Fingers

Parmesan Encrusted Chicken Fingers

Who says chicken fingers have to be fried? You can make a healthier version by baking them in the oven and they are just as scrumptious! What’s not to like?

What You’ll Need:
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup of whole wheat bread crumbs
1/3 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon of salt free seasoning mix (It’s like season salt, but it’s salt free)
A pinch of sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon of paprika
1 teaspoon of dried parsley
1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder or salt

Boneless, skinless chicken tenders (Note: You can always take a boneless skinless breast and cut it into strips if you can’t find them already pre-cut at your butcher’s counter.)

Preheat oven to 450 F.

Spray a 13 x 9 inch dish with non-stick.

Beat eggs and sit aside.

In a large bowl mix bread crumbs, Parmesan, seasoning mix, a pinch of sea salt, some freshly ground black pepper, paprika, parsley and garlic powder or salt to combine.

Dip one chicken tender into the bread crumb mixture to coat. Then dip into the beaten eggs mixture and coat both sides. Dip back into the bread crumb mixture and coat once again and place into the pre-sprayed dish. Repeat until you run out of chicken tenders. Make sure the chicken tenders aren’t touching. They can be close to one another, but give them a little room in between.

Bake for 8-15 minutes until chicken is done through and tenders are golden brown.

Notes: You could add crushed pecans, macadamia nuts or cashews to the bread crumb mixture for a different taste. You could also add in Cajun or Creole seasoning in place of the seasoning mix to spice things up. Leftovers make good sandwiches.

Hobo Dinner

Hobo Dinner

This meal is the epitome of easy, fresh and cheap dining! With all the veggies coming in at the Farmer’s Market and in the garden this is a very easy dish to pull together. It’s perfect for camping cooked right over the camp fire (that’s where we always had it and it reminds me of summers at the lake), grilling or even in the oven. Mix and match what you have on hand and you can have a basic “Hobo” Dinner or even a “Not So Basic” version. What you put in it it completely up to you, but you’ll enjoy it none the less!

What You’ll Need Per Person:
Aluminum foil
Non-stick spray
1 serving of meat (ground beef, chicken, fish, seafood, steak, etc.)
1 small potato (sweet potato, russet, yellow, etc.)
1 small yellow squash
1 small zucchini
2 slices of onion
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Take aluminum foil and foil up sides to make a square “dish”. Spray the foil with non-stick spray and place meat serving in the middle of the the “dish”. (Note: To make this completely vegetarian/vegan you could use mushrooms in place of the meat. Just slice a few button mushrooms and add to the bottom or use a large Portabella mushroom cap.) Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Next layer potatoes over the meat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add a layer of squash. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. (Do you see a pattern forming here? ;o)) Next add the zucchini and then a bit more salt and pepper. Top with sliced onions and fold the foil over to form a packet and seal.

Place foil packet on a baking sheet or in a dish and bake for 45 minutes to an hour until meat is done and veggies are tender. Serve immediately by sliding the packet onto a plate. You’ve got everything right there in the packet, ready to go.

Notes: You could easily add other veggies. What ever you like would work. Corn would be nice. Carrots would be good too. Rutabaga, turnip…Well you get the idea! You could also add in other spices or seasoning. Old Bay seasoning would be perfect with shrimp or seafood. Mix it up and make it your own!

Fried Buttermilk Chicken

Fried Buttermilk Chicken

It would appear I’m on a southern food kick this week! It must be this god awful heat that is making me think of childhood comfort food from Tennessee! 😉 Fried Chicken is the very epitome of what you think about when you think of southern cuisine. Throw in some Buttermilk Biscuits and mashed potatoes and you’ve got southern through and through!

What You’ll Need For the Buttermilk Fried Chicken:
1 chicken, cut into pieces
1 quart of buttermilk
2 cups of flour
2 teaspoons of salt
1 teaspoon of black pepper
1 tablespoon of paprika
2 teaspoons of garlic powder
3 tablespoons of Vogue Cuisine Instant Vege Base Soup and Seasoning or vegetable bullion powder
Sea salt
Black Pepper
Oil for frying (I like safflower)

You can either buy the whole chicken cut up by your butcher or you can cut it up yourself. Either way, once it’s in pieces wash chicken and pat dry. In a large container with a sealable lid place layer the chicken and cover with the quart of buttermilk. Place container in the fridge and leave it there for at least 24 hours.

When ready to make chicken heat oil to 350 F in a large skillet or stock pot. ( I prefer to use a stock pot…Less splashing and chance for burns!) Preheat oven to 425 F.

While oil is heating mix together flour, salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder and Vogue Cuisine Instant vege Base Soup and Seasoning and place in a shallow dish. Remove chicken from buttermilk mixture and sprinkle with sea salt and black pepper. Then dredge each piece in the flour mixture to cover completely. Place directly into heated oil and cook until each piece is golden brown turning once or twice to ensure all sides are browned.

Fried Buttermilk Chicken Frying

Place fried chicken on a baking sheet that is topped with a cookie wrack or a broil pan with top and bake for 10-12 minutes to make the chicken crisp. Drop heat to warm (about 170 F) and leave chicken in the oven to keep warm until ready to serve.

Fried Buttermilk Chicken

Notes: The larger the piece the longer the frying time. It takes roughly 7-10 minutes per side for a large breast piece. A wing takes about 2-3 minutes per side. Watch the color and you want it to just be golden. You also don’t want to completely cover the chicken with oil. You just want it to come up the sides of each piece. 2-3 inches of oil is usually what you’re looking for. Fried Chicken also makes a good picnic food the next day cold.

Slow Cooker BBQ Ribs

Slow Cooker BBQ RibsRibs are one of Jamison’s favorite meals…Throw in a few potato skins and he’s in heaven! A few years ago I read something about slow cooker ribs and thought it was an interesting idea, but never got back to actually trying the theory. Yesterday when Alexis and I went to the grocery store they had some pork ribs on sale, so I decided to give them a try! The result was tender, fall off of the bone goodness! Plus the whole thing is easy and fool proof. Throw them on before you go to work and come home to a mouth watering dinner. If you like ribs you’ll love these!

What You’ll Need:
1 rack of ribs
Seasoning salt
1 batch of Dianne’s Barbecue Sauce or 1 bottle of store bought

Cut slab of ribs into 3 or 4 sections to fit into your slow cooker depending on what size machine you have. (I have the large one so I cut the slab into 3 pieces.) Season generously with seasoning salt. Place rib sections into your slow cooker and pour all of the Barbecue Sauce minus 1 cup into the crock to cover the ribs and cook on high for 4 hours. Lower heat to low and cook for an additional 2-3 hours or until meat is tender and falling from the bone. Prior to serving heat the reserved barbeque sauce through and serve as a dipping sauce. (Note: If you are serving more than 1 or 2 people then you can add more ketchup and brown sugar to the existing Barbecue Sauce to make it go further. Simply use a 1 cup ketchup to 2-3 tablespoon brown sugar ratio.)

Notes: You could also do this with chicken or a boneless pork shoulder. If you don’t want to remember to change the temeperature you could cook them on high for a total of 5-6 hours and it would work just as well. Just remember when the bones comes out easily it’s done! The cooking time depends on the volume of ribs present. While the ribs were cooking I kept moving them around in the slow cooker so that each piece had a chance to be on the bottom, but you can just walk away and ignore them until they are done too. Either method will work fine.

Chicken Pot Pie

Chicken Pot Pie

Chicken Pot Pie is another one of those ultimate comfort foods. There are many ways to make the dish, but it’s hard to find a version much better than this one! It’s warm, hearty and oh so delicious!

What You’ll Need For The Crust:
4 cups of flour
1 teaspoon of salt
2 sticks of cold butter
1 1/2- 2 1/2 cups of ice water

In a food processor pulse together flour and salt to mix. Cut cold butter into pats and add to the food processor. Pulse the butter with the flour until mixture becomes crumbly and roughly the size of peas. Slowly add water until a dough ball forms. (Note: You might not need all of the water. When the ball forms stop adding water. It’s also possible that you might need a bit more water. It all depends on the humidity in the air and such. You can’t judge beforehand unfortunately so pay attention and when the ball forms stop adding water!!) Divide the dough into two balls and wrap each dough ball in plastic wrap or place in an airtight container and put in the fridge to chill for at least an hour.

Let the dough soften at room temperature for 20-30 minutes before rolling out so it will be easy to use.

What You’ll Need For The Filling:
2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked chopped into large chunks
1 stick of butter
1 onion, chopped
6-8 large button mushroom, sliced
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup of unbleached all purpose flour
1/3 cup of parsley, chopped
2 cups of chicken broth
2 cups of frozen mixed vegetables
1 cup of frozen peas
1 egg, beaten

Cook chicken. Add a little sea salt and black pepper and cook until chicken is done through. Cut chicken into chunks and set aside.

Preheat oven to 425 F.

Melt 1 stick of butter and saute onions and mushrooms with a pinch of sea salt and some freshly ground black pepper until tender. Add flour and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add parsley and stir to mix. Add chicken broth or water and let the mixture thicken (about 2-3 minutes). Add veggies and chicken and stir to mix. Remove from heat and set aside.

What To Do To Assemble the Pot Pie:

Roll out dough and press into a pie dish. Add filling to the pie shell. (Note: The filling will be slightly higher than the top of the dish. Push the bulk of the filling to the center of the pie shell.) Roll out the other dough ball and cover the pie, crimp the edges and cut steam holes. Brush the top of the crust with egg wash and sprinkle with coarse sea salt:

Chicken Pot Pie Baking

Bake for 35-35 minutes until crust is golden browned.

Chicken Pot Pie Baked

Remove from the oven and let sit for 10 minutes before serving.

Chicken Pot Pie

Notes: You could easily leave the chicken out of this and make it a Vegetable Pot Pie. You could substitute vegetable broth for the chicken water in this scenario to make it completely vegetarian. Leeks would also be a good addition, as would cubed potatoes. You can also make the filling and chill it before using for a day or two in the fridge or freeze in the freezer for months.

Swedish Meatballs

Swedish Meatballs

My parents are visiting us from Tennessee and my dad requested that I make dinner. Things have been a bit busy with us flitting here and there, so I hadn’t cooked dinner since their arrival as we had been out and about. Last night however we slowed down long enough to actually be at home and I got to cook a home cooked meal, which as you know I adore and prefer to eating out any day.

As a child this was another of my Mom’s special occasion meals. Serve the meatballs and rice along with a few vegetables and/or a salad and you’ve got a great meal! The next time I make them I’m going to try to make them with Gimme Lean Ground Beef Style meat substitute and make them meatless, but that’s a little “daring” for my Dad! For last night’s dinner we just stuck to the basics. That’s the way he likes things! 😉

What You’ll Need:
1 small onion, shredded
1 large or 3 small carrots, shredded
1 medium to large potato, shredded
2 pounds of ground beef
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 eggs, beaten
Extra virgin olive oil
2 cans of cream of mushrooms soup, plus 1 cup of milk or 4-6 cups of a homemade cream of mushroom soup
2 cups of uncooked rice, cooked according to package directions or cooked egg noodles

Mix shredded veggies, ground beef, salt, pepper and eggs until completely incorporated. (Tip: Much like meatloaf it’s easier if you just dig in with your hands and mix it that way.) Once the meat/veggie mixture is mixed form into meatballs about the size of a cherry tomato.

Preheat a large skillet.

Also preheat oven to 375 F.

Add a thin layer (about 1/8 of an inch) of olive oil to your preheated skillet and brown meatballs on each side and place into a 13 X9 inch baking dish. Cover browned meatballs with soup.

Bake for 40-50 minutes until meatballs are done through. (Note: I tend to like ground beef when I eat it to be between medium well to well done. If you prefer a different amount of doneness then adjust cooking times accordingly.)

Serve meatballs over rice or noodles.

Swedish Meatballs

Beef with Guinness

Beef With Guinness

This dish was an attempt to please the meat eaters in the family, since the rest of the dishes (except for the Dublin Lawyer) were meat free. Although I can’t vouch for how this actually tasted given I don’t eat beef, Katherine and Ben seemed to like it added to the Vegetarian Irish Stew.

What You’ll Need:
Extra virgin olive oil
Roughly 2 pounds of stew meat
1/2 a bottle of Guinness
2 tablespoons of flour
A little more Guinness (about 1/4-1/2 cup) to smooth the flour

In a medium pan brown meat in olive oil. Once browned pour in the first batch of Guinness. In a small bowl mix flour and more Guinness until smooth with no lumps and add to the pot. Stir to mix and simmer for at least two hours, until tender.