Saturday, April 11, 2015

#15 -Fixin' Floors and Dad's Beef Stroganoff

Fixin' stuff with Dad.
Dad and I spent the better part of the week on a minor remodel of our bathroom. Apparently, the toilet had been leaking for who knows how long and had turned the underlayment to mush. Some of the subfloor was pretty bad too!

Stripped it all down...

...and here's my new floor!
Of course I didn't stop with the floor! We decided to get a new vanity and sink.  I also got the bright idea to install wainscoting! Oh, and we had a stubborn leak under the sink.  I think it's all done now though. It needs some new paint but that's gonna have to be a Summer project 'cuz I'm done!
In between all that fixin', Dad offered to cook dinner!! You better believe I took him up on the offer!! He made a super yummy beef stroganoff.  His recipe called for mushrooms, which I am NOT a fan of, but it was really good! I didn't even taste the fungi!

Dad's Beef Stroganoff
Adapted from Paula Deen.
Yield: 4 servings (although if actually fed 6 of us)

  • 1 1/2 pounds cubed round steak, cut into thin strips
  •  All-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 8 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 (10 3/4-ounce) can beef broth
  • 1 (10 3/4-ounce) can cream of mushroom soup
  • Kosher salt
  • Cracked black pepper
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • Cooked egg noodles

Sprinkle the steak strips with salt and pepper, and then dust with flour. In a large skillet, quickly brown them on both sides in the olive oil and butter. Remove the steak from the pan. Add the onion slices, garlic and mushrooms to the pan drippings. Sauté for a few minutes, until the onion is tender. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon flour. Put the steak back into the pan with the onion and mushrooms. Add the mushroom soup and beef broth. Cook over low heat for about 30 minutes, covered. Adjust seasoning to taste, adding salt and pepper, as needed. Stir in the sour cream the last few minutes, right before you serve. Serve over cooked noodles.
(Recipe #15 of 52)

Thursday, April 9, 2015

#14 - Overnight Blueberries & Cream French Toast Casserole

I had the makings of a Happy Easter with my Mom & Dad (The 'Rents) and The One Who Left Me for Higher Learning in town! It was so good to have all of my people under one roof (my other two peeps - The Hubs and The One Still at Home were here too, of course!).  I spent the better part of the weekend in the kitchen cookin' up a storm for The Fam... LOVED IT!!!
For Easter breakfast, we had Overnight Blueberries & Cream French Toast Casserole. As usual, I made a few changes to the recipe, like using croissants instead of bread and I added vanilla bean paste to the blueberry syrup. It was SUPER decadent! Dad said that he was pretty sure there was a law in California that stated you were only allowed to make this recipe once a year because it's too good. Tee, hee.... he's silly, but right!
Here's the recipe and know that you've been warned!

Overnight Blueberries and Cream French Toast Casserole
Recipe adapted from Cookies & Cups 
Serves 10
  • 18 slices of white bread, day old works best OR 6-8 croissants
  • 2 (8 oz) blocks Philadelphia Cream Cheese, room temperature
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries or 2 cups frozen blueberries (before thawed)
  • ¼ cup powdered sugar
  • 10 eggs
  • 1½ cups milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract (OR vanilla bean paste)
  • ⅓ cup maple syrup
Blueberry Syrup
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 Tbsp corn starch
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries or 2 cups frozen blueberries (before thawed)
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  1. Spray a 9x13 pan with baking spray.
  2. Cut all the bread (croissants) into cubes. Spread half the bread in the prepared pan, pressing down slightly.
  3. In bowl of stand mixer beat cream cheese and powdered sugar together. Drop by the spoonful the cream cheese mixture evenly on the bread layer. Top with the blueberries and then the remaining bread.
  4. In a large bowl whisk together the eggs, milk, vanilla and maple syrup. Pour over the entire casserole. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator overnight.
  5. When ready to bake, remove from the fridge 30 minutes before baking to take the chill off.
  6. Remove plastic wrap and cover with foil to bake.
  7. Bake covered at 350° for 30 minutes and then remove cover and bake an additional 25-30 minutes until center is set.
  8. Allow to cool slightly before serving.
Bluberry Syrup
  1. While the casserole is baking prepare the syrup. IN a medium saucepan combine sugar, corn starch and water. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Once it's reached a boil simmer for 3-4 minutes until thickened. Add in blueberries and simmer for 10 more minutes.
  2. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and butter.
  3. Pour syrup over entire casserole or individual portions.
Serve immediately, or cover and store for up to 2 days, reheating before serving.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

#13 - Spring Break and Beer, Bacon & Smoked Gouda Risotto

Just got back from 10 days in AZ with The Fam. It was Spring Break for The One Still at Home, so we headed to Mesa for some R&R, to take in some Chicago Cubs Spring Training, and to spend some time with The One Who Left Me for Higher Learning.  We had a great time (except for Still at Home stuck in bed for 3-days with the flu)!  We ate at our favorite restaurants, laid out by the pool, watched a BUNCH of baseball, and celebrated The Hubs' 50th birthday!  I thought about posting all of our trip pictures here like an old school slideshow... remember when people used to do that when they'd return from a trip? ..."and this was Aunt Martha standing next to the giant buffalo.."  Anyway, fear not, I only posted a few pics (the rest are all on Instagram if you're a glutton for punishment).


After being away, it was good to get back in the kitchen! This week I came up with Beer, Bacon & Smoked Gouda Risotto.  I hadn't planned on eating much this week to make up for EVERYTHING I did eat last week, but knowing that I needed a recipe to post I just went for it.  I actually made it with stuff I already had in the kitchen... that was just pure dumb luck!  A quick shout-out to our friends Bill & Taffi for buying a case of Shock-Top beer, not loving it and passing it on to us! I don't love it either but I'll definitely use it for cooking!
PS. My 'Rents are headed down this week! Looking forward to cooking up a storm for them! Recipes to follow.... for now, here's the risotto:

Beer, Bacon & Smoked Gouda Risotto
Yield: 8 (1 cup) servings


  • 2 slices bacon
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • ½ a small onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups uncooked Arborio rice
  • 12 oz bottle of beer
  • 5 cups chicken broth
  • 1 ½ oz Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
  • 1 cup shredded Smoked Gouda (I may have used a bit more than that)
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper


  1. Cook bacon is a large sauté pan. When bacon is crisp, remove from pan and set aside. 
  2. Place the butter in sauté pan with remaining bacon grease and return to medium-low heat until butter is just melted. Add onions and cook 3-5 minutes until the onions are translucent. Add the garlic and cook for another minute until garlic is fragrant. Add the rice and stir to combine. Cook an additional 2 minutes, stirring throughout.
  3. Pour in the beer and turn the heat up to high until the beer begins to simmer. Reduce heat back to medium-low and add ½ cup of the chicken broth. Stir until the liquid dissolves and then add another ½ cup. Repeat until all the broth has been added and the rice is creamy and al dente.
  4. Remove the rice mixture from the heat and add the cheeses, bacon, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper to taste. Stir until thoroughly combined and serve.

 (Recipe #13 of 52)

Friday, March 20, 2015

#11/#12 Guinness Stew & Irish Soda Bread

It's St. Patrick's Day and I celebrated the way I know best... with Mumford & Son's playing on the iPad, I got busy heating up the kitchen.
Irish Soda Bread
Recipe adapted from Ina Garten
4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for currants
4 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 3/4 cups cold buttermilk*, shaken
1 extra-large egg, lightly beaten
1 cup dried currants (I used raisins instead)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

Combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the butter and mix on low speed until the butter is mixed into the flour.

With a fork, lightly beat the buttermilk and egg together in a measuring cup. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture. Combine the currants (or raisins) with 1 tablespoon of flour and mix into the dough. It will be very wet.

Dump the dough onto a well-floured board and knead it a few times into a round loaf. Place the loaf on the prepared sheet pan and lightly cut an X into the top of the bread with a serrated knife. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. When you tap the loaf, it will have a hollow sound.

Cool on a baking rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.
*I didn't have any buttermilk, so I made my own.  I used 2 cups whole milk and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice. Let it sit in the fridge for about 10 minutes. Stir before using.

Guinness Stew and Irish Mash
Recipe adapted from The Berroness
For Guinness Stew:
  • 4 strips thick cut bacon
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1.5 lbs beef chuck, cut into cubes
  • kosher salt and cracked pepper, to taste
  • 1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 12 ounces stout beer
  • 2 cups beef broth (or stock)
    1½ cups baby carrots 

For Irish Mash:

  • 2 lbs russet potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 6 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 cups cabbage, chopped
  • ½ cup green onions, chopped
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • kosher salt and cracked pepper, to taste


In a large pot over medium heat, cook the bacon.
Remove the bacon from the pot. Chop and set aside. Pour off bacon grease until about 2 Tbsp of bacon grease remain in the pot.
Add 2 Tbsp of olive oil to the pot.
Sprinkle the beef cubes with salt and pepper. Add to the pot, sear on all sides until browned, and remove from pot (beef will not be cooked through).
Add the onions. Cook until lightly caramelized, about ten minutes.
Sprinkle with flour, stir until flour has turned brown, about 1 minute.
Add the stout and stir, scraping to deglaze the pan. Pour in the broth.
Add the beef cubes and bacon back into the pot. Throw in carrots. Add the lid at a slight vent and reduce heat to maintain a low simmer. Allow to simmer until beef is fork tender, 1 ½ to 2 hours.
While the beef is cooking, make the potatoes: Add the potatoes to a pot of salted water, bring to a boil and allow to cook until potatoes are fork tender. Drain, remove potatoes from the pot and return the empty pot to heat. Melt the butter in the pot. Add the cabbage and cook until wilted, about 2 minutes. Stir in the green onions. Remove from heat, and add in the milk and the potatoes. Mash and stir until well combined. Add salt and pepper to taste.

(recipes #11 & #12 of 52)

Thursday, March 5, 2015

#10 - Chicken Pot Pie

“I might be going out on a limb here, but this might be the best chicken pot pie I've ever had!”

That was the review my pot pie got from the Hubs!  The son that doesn't like pot pie loved it too.  They even warned that they were willing to fight over the extra pie sitting in the kitchen!

This was another one of those “experimental” recipes.  I looked up a few different recipes, pulled out things I liked from them and then did my thing.  The problem with that was that I didn't really write down everything as I went.  When it got such great reviews, I knew that I had better figure it out so I could make it again later!  So, here it is (as much as I could remember!):

Chicken Pot Pie
Makes 4 single-serve pies.

4 chicken breast halves
Salt and pepper
4 tablespoons cooking oil, divided
4 cups chicken stock
4-5 small red potatoes, diced
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1/2 small red onion, minced
1 cup chopped carrots
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
2 sprigs fresh sage
1/3 cup white wine (optional)
Frozen corn (about a cup)
Canned green beans (most of the can)
1/3 cup butter
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
Pinch fresh grated nutmeg
2 sheets frozen puff pastry, thawed
Egg wash (lightly whisk together 1 whole egg and 1 teaspoon water)

Special equipment: 4 (2-cup) individual baking dishes

·        Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
·        In a medium saucepan, cook potatoes in chicken stock until just tender.  Remove from stock and set aside. (You could just cook them in water, but I think it added great flavor to do it this way.)
·        Season chicken with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tbsp. oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken and sauté until cooked through. Remove from heat and cut into chunks. (You could always use 2 cups of precooked chicken to save time.)
·        In the same skillet heat the other 2 tbsp. oil and sauté garlic, sage and onion 2-3 minutes. Add white wine, and simmer a minute or two and then add carrots.  Cook until carrots are tender. Remove sage sprigs and add thyme.
·        Add potatoes, corn, green beans and chicken to the carrot mixture.  Salt and pepper to taste.
·        In a large saucepan, melt butter and then slowly add flour, stirring until consistency of peanut butter, but don’t let it brown. Alternating, slowly add cream and milk. Keep stirring.
·        This is where I added some chicken stock.  Start with about ½ and stir well.  You don’t want the filling too thin, so don’t overdo it.  Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring constantly until the mixture thickens, about 4 minutes.
·        When the stock mixture has thickened, add nutmeg, salt & pepper and veg & chicken mixture. Stir well and remove from heat.
·        Cut puff pastry into 4 squares big enough to cover the tops of your baking dishes.
·        Fill 4 individual oven-proof bowls with chicken mixture and top each with puff pastry. Cut a few slits in the top of each pie to vent and brush with egg wash.
·        Place pies on a baking sheet and bake for 25-30 minutes or until pastry is golden brown.
·        Cool a few minutes before serving… if you can wait that long!

A couple of notes…
When making the base (butter, flour, milk, cream, chicken stock), I just kinda eyeballed it.  SLOWLY add the liquids in, stirring well in between.  Next time I’ll pay more attention to the amounts I put in!

There will be extra filling left over. YUM!  Eat it tomorrow for lunch!

There was no blood shed for the extra pie.  The Hubs ate it a couple of days later (reheated at 350 degrees for 30 minutes) and it was still super delish!

(Recipe #10 of 52)

Friday, February 27, 2015

#9 - Sweet Cornbread

hadn't been to the grocery store yet and didn't feel much like going, so I needed to pull something together for dinner from what I already had in the kitchen.  We had some leftover brisket, tri-tip and pulled pork from our new favorite barbecue place, Leadbelly’s and I didn't want that to go to waste.  I threw a bunch of stuff (black beans, onions, fire roasted tomatoes, chili beans, spices, fire roasted frozen corn, and the meat) in a pot and voila… Leadbelly Chili!  There won’t be a recipe post for that one being that it was just a grab and dump kind of thing!  I AM posting the recipe I used for the cornbread I made to go with it.  Here ya go:

Sweet Cornbread

Makes 1 - 9x13 pan


4 eggs, whites and yolks seperated
1 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla
3/4 cup butter, melted
1 cup cornmeal
2 cups flour
1-1/2 cups sugar
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt


Preheat oven to 350ºF.
In a medium-size bowl, combine egg yolks, milk, vanilla, and melted butter and stir.
Mix in cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt - stirring to incorporate, but do not over mix.
In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Carefully fold them into the batter.
Pour into a greased 9x13 inch pan and bake for 25-30 minutes. Check with a toothpick to make sure it is cooked through.

(Recipe #9 of 52)

Thursday, February 26, 2015

#8 - Bacon 'n Ballyshannon Mac & Cheese

 Anyone who knows me knows that I LOVE CHEESE! Really! If I could get away with it, I’d eat cheese and bread (and maybe a little fruit) everyday! The other day I was at Sam’s Club looking for a little cheese to take to the beach for our usual picnic spread… I know, sounds crazy because you can’t just buy a “little” cheese at Sam’s.  Listen, Sam’s has a pretty good cheese section!  So what if you end up with a GIANT brick of Havarti!  I ended up with a $13 giant brick of Ballyshannon - a creamy, white Irish cheddar.

My almost 2 pound block of cheese!

Our beach picnic spread.
That was some good cheese!  As we were eating it I kept thinking how great it would be in mac & cheese!  So a couple of days later, Bacon 'n Ballyshannon Mac & Cheese was born!

Bacon 'n Ballyshannon Mac & Cheese

Serves 4-6.


8 ounces elbow macaroni
5 slices Applewood smoked Bacon, cooked & diced
2 1/2 cups milk
6 tablespoons butter
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped
1 1/2 cups shredded Gruyere cheese
1 1/2 cups shredded Ballyshannon Irish Cheddar
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 tablespoons butter, melted
½ cup plain dried breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped


1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
2.  In large pot of boiling salted water, cook macaroni according to package instructions; drain well and set aside.
3. Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add bacon and cook until brown and crispy, about 6-8 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate.  
4. Heat milk, thyme and garlic in a small saucepan, but don't let it boil. 
5. In a large pot, melt 6 tablespoons of butter and add the flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring with a whisk. Still whisking, add the hot milk and cook for a minute or two more until thickened and smooth. Remove from heat, add the Gruyère, cheddar, 1 tablespoon salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Add the cooked macaroni and bacon and stir well. Place the mixture in a buttered 9x13 baking dish.
6. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, combine them with the breadcrumbs and parsley, and sprinkle on the top. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and the macaroni is browned on the top.

PS.  I’m still working on that brick of cheese!! I've used it in several other things since! Tonight we put it in the Potato-Leek soup we had for dinner… YUM!!

(Recipe #8 of 52)

Saturday, February 21, 2015

#7 Sautéed Chicken with Sage Brown Butter

I needed something to serve with the Asparagus Soufflé and this chicken paired nicely with it.  As usual, I changed a few things in the recipe, but it was still simple and very flavorful. The sage brown butter sauce... so good!!

Sautéed Chicken with Sage Brown Butter
Adapted from

Yield: 4 servings


4 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons butter
2 sage sprigs
1 tablespoon minced shallots (I didn’t have shallots, so I used onion)
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme (I used lemon thyme)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Fresh sage leaves (optional)


1. Place each breast half between two sheets of plastic wrap; pound to 1/4-inch thickness (I used thin-cut breasts instead and skipped this step). Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
2. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat; melt 2 tbsp. butter. Place flour in a shallow dish; dredge chicken in flour. Add chicken to pan; sauté for 4-5 minutes. add another 2 tbsp. butter before flipping the chicken and cook another 5 minutes or until done. Remove chicken from pan.
3. Add 3 tablespoons butter and sage sprigs to pan; cook over medium heat until butter browns. Discard sage. Add shallots and thyme; cook for 30 seconds. Add lemon juice; cook for 30 seconds. Serve with chicken. Garnish with sage leaves, if desired.

(#7 of 52)