Steak and Mushroom Pie

It’s time to get in the festive mood! It’s the fun month between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Though I’m already over the cheesy modern Christmas music. Just not the same as the standards. My husband and I had a quiet Thanksgiving as our kids were in South Carolina. My aunt very kindly invited us to her place for Thanksgiving dinner. We had a lovely meal and a lovely time. She is an awesome aunt and she’s very good to us.

Even though the weather can’t decide to be warm or cold this season there has been been opportunity for comfort food. And you can’t go wrong with steak and mushroom pie.

In a small bowl, add about 3 oz of flour and season with sea salt and pepper. Mix well. Take a half pound/8oz of stewing steak and cut it into small cubes. Toss in the flour until well coated.

Heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a saucepan and start browning the steak.

Coarsely chop a shallot and a couple of cloves of garlic. Add to the pan.

Cut up enough mushrooms to make half a cup/3-4oz. Sauté in the pan then add about 2 1/2 cups/20oz of vegetable bouillon. Bring to a simmer. For seasoning and flavour I added a half cup of dry sherry and a small handful of fresh oregano, chopped. Slow cook on low for a few hours until the steak is tender and falling apart. To thicken the broth, add either a couple of teaspoons of flour or corn starch(flour) to a couple of tablespoons of water to make a slurry. Add this to the saucepan and bring up to a boil to cook the flour and thicken the broth. Adjust the seasoning as needed as sometimes the flour can dull the flavours.

Split the stew between ramekins. I made enough for two. Melt a tablespoon of butter and brush individual layers of phyllo dough to top the ramekins. Broil/grill til the top is nice and golden.

Perfect with a nice deep red wine on a chilly night!

Parsnip and Roasted Mushroom Soup

I have to hand it to our son, he had his wisdom teeth removed yesterday and he did really well. Me?  Didn’t sleep the night before.  It’s so much easier when stuff is done to you rather than your kids.  Now he gets to hear his parents telling him to eat his ice cream.  Think he’ll be ok.  😊

Woke up being very happy for fuzzy socks with freezing temperatures and gusting winds.  Definitely soup season!  On one of our date nights, my husband ordered an amazing mushroom soup and it sparked an idea for a mushroom and parsnip soup.  Their soup just had mushrooms in it with Gorgonzola cheese.  Well I shouldn’t say just as it was delicious.  But I went off on a tangent.  


As luck would have it, the co-op had a great selection of mushrooms.  Including a Japanese mushroom called maitake.  Slice up the mushrooms and toss them in olive oil.


Roast them at 350F/175C until they are nicely browned.  In the meantime, peel and dice 1 to 2 parsnips depending on the size.  Finely chop a couple of garlic cloves.  Sauté the parsnips and garlic with olive oil in a saucepan.


Add a amall handful of fresh thyme, sauté for another minute or so.  Add about three cups of chicken stock and half a cup of dry sherry.  Bring to a medium simmer.  Once the mushrooms are roasted, add them to the soup.


Season with sea salt and pepper.  Cook until the parsnips are soft and the broth has reduced about a quarter.  Remove from the heat and purée until reasonably smooth.


Top with a dollop of sour cream and a bit of chive.  This could easily be made vegan with a veg broth.  The parsnip makes it very creamy so I didn’t have to add any cream.  

Making a Leftover Thanksgiving Turkey Mac and Cheese 

We’ve all done it.  Opened the door, peered in, shut it again.  Left to wonder what exactly is in that freezer.  Despite best laid plans it’s easy to lose the plot.  Our freezer is nearly 6 feet tall so it’s really not a good idea to lose the plot!  It got to the point where we couldn’t fit anything in and I was wondering how much money we were wasting by not using what we had.  

Off I went to get clear containers to organise the meats, leaving the baskets for all our fruits and veg we had harvested.  I did have to get rid of some things but overall getting it organised and knowing what the heck was in there was a success.  

One of my finds was a vacuumed bag of leftover Thanksgiving turkey.  So this post is either well overdue or too early for Thanksgiving.  😄.  Even though we seem to be stuck back in with the sticky heat of summer we did enjoy autumn weather for a few weeks.  It was wonderful and perfect for some comfort food.  Mac and cheese would do the trick.


Would you believe this onion was supposed to be a scallion?  We planted half a raised bed of bunching onions so you imagine our surprise to find proper onions growing.

While making the cheese sauce for this dish, cook up the pasta.  Preheat the oven to 375F/200C. In a separate saucepan heat up a couple of tablespoons of butter.   Coarsely chop half of a large onion and add it to the butter.


Sauté on low until the onions soften.  Then add a couple of cloves of garlic, finely chopped.  Cook for a couple of minutes then add about a cup and a half of chopped turkey.  Season with a couple of teaspoons of fresh thyme and sage.  If you don’t have fresh sage use about a teaspoon of ground sage.  Continue to season with sea salt and pepper.  Then add a half cup/4oz of dry white wine.


To make it a roux add 2 tablespoons of flour.


Stir continuously until the flour is incorporated and cooked, about three minutes.


Next add 1 1/4 cup of milk and heat through.  Don’t boil!  Once the cheese is warm enough to melt cheese add a cup of grated cheddar and half a cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese.  Stir until the cheese has melted,


Put the cooked pasta into a baking dish and add the cheese sauce.  Mix well. Top with more grated cheese.


Cover and bake for 20 minutes.  Uncover and brown the top of the dish.


Serve while hot.  Now we try to eat small portions in our house but with this dish we all had seconds and there weren’t any leftovers!  Guess we needed a break from salads.  😊

Getting My Husband to Like Aubergine 

We all have a veg we’re not a fan of but the rest of the family likes.  I hate Brussel sprouts, our son isn’t a fan of asparagus and mushroom, and our daughter finds celery particularly weird.  Aubergine is what my husband would be happy to avoid.  I have made the Moroccan Lamb Stew that he likes but as we like to grow the veg I need to come up with more recipes to use up the harvest.


When we were in Little Italy our daughter ordered a starter that layered aubergine, tomato, prosciutto, and basil.  She loved it so this was the inspiration for dinner.  I wanted to use the strong flavours of sun dried tomatoes and garlic for this dish.  I wanted it to pop!  I also used chicken thighs as it is a less expensive cut of meat to use.  

For this dish I used a little more than half a pound/10 oz of chicken.  Cut the chicken into small cubes and finely chop 3-5 cloves of garlic. Slice a large handful of sun dried tomatoes while heating up a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet.  Toss in the three ingredients and sauté on medium low to pull the flavours of the garlic and sun dried tomatoes into the oil.  


Once the chicken is halfway cooked add the aubergine.  We grew small Italian finger aubergine which get to about 5in/12.5cm long.  For this dish I used four of the veg, sliced.


Cook for a few minutes then add a couple of tablespoons of balsamic vinegar.  Because we ran out of our chicken stock (gasp!) I used veg bouillon instead.  It worked really well with the strong flavours.  Use about a cup/8oz of the bouillon and simmer to reduce slightly.  For once we did really well growing basil this year.  Let’s face it, gardening can be a bit of a crapshoot.  But I tossed in a handful of the fresh basil.  Once the dish is nearly finished cooking add a handful of chopped prosciutto.  You don’t want this ingredient cooking too long as it can get tough and overpowering.


While all this was going on I oven roasted potatoes that I sliced about a 1/4 in/.625cm thick, drizzled with olive oil and sea salt.  Lay out the potatoes and top with the aubergine dish.  Grate fontina cheese over the dish and garnish with fresh basil.


Our daughter said it wasn’t exactly like the dish she had, which was fine as I wasn’t reproducing it, but that she loved it.  My husband’s response? “Congratulations on making aubergine edible!”  😄.  I do love cooking for my family.

Pan Fried Chicken with Gorgonzola Pasta

We’re not a sports family.  We’ll watch tennis once in awhile and the Olympics.  Which is a 180 from growing up.  I didn’t do sports but I watched a lot of sports with my dad.  It was our way of hanging out.  But now we are so busy with the kids or the house sports take a way, way back seat.  Wouldn’t trade it for the world but it’s funny how things change.

But that doesn’t mean we don’t root for our kids if they want to try their hands at sports.  We definitely aren’t the parents who yell at the kids to get the ball, overrule the coach, or expect them to become pros.  As long as they try their best, have fun, and run off energy we’re good.  In the past few years at the rec games for football (soccer) some parents would be screaming into the field.  I was just making sure my son’s shoes were tied.  Fortunately this time round I haven’t seen that yet.  And our son is blossoming which is all we can ask for.

Our daughter is part of a fantastic program in the high school.  Several high schools have set up a sports program for those that have disabilities, whether it’s physical or emotional, and they have a few students without disabilities on the field with them to guide them and support them.  I was so proud of my daughter watching her support and encourage her teammates as they try to get goals.  The kids have a blast.

I still had some gorgonzola and mascarpone cheese left over from the Filet with Gorgonzola Risotto and I didn’t want it to go to waste.  We also had some chicken to use and I was in the mood for Italian.  Let’s face it, I’m usually in the mood for Italian!

Gorgonzola chicken 1 2015

Prep the chicken before hand by coating it in a beaten egg and breading it with panko bread crumbs.  I take one chicken breast and slice it lengthwise to have two portions.  Chop up a few cloves of garlic, a bit of red onion, and a cayenne pepper.  Heat up some olive oil in a skillet.  Start with the garlic and onions.  After a couple of minutes add the pepper.

Gorgonzola chicken 2 2015

In a separate skillet heat up at least a half a cup of olive oil or avocado oil.  Once it’s hot start pan frying the chicken.  In the first skillet add sliced mushroom.

Gorgonzola chicken 3 2015

Make sure the chicken is browned evenly on both sides.  Once it is cooked set aside and keep it warm while you finish the rest of the dish.  After you remove the chicken add about a third of a cup of gorgonzola crumbles and the same amount for the mascarpone.  Toss in a handful of fresh basil.

Gorgonzola chicken 5 2015

Cook until the cheese has melted and add cooked pasta of your choice.  Serve with the chicken topping the pasta.

Gorgonzola chicken 6 2015

Grate fresh parmesan cheese over the dish.  It doesn’t have a ton of colour but it really has a lot of flavour.  And this is a quick and easy meal to throw together when you have a busy schedule.

Tomato Garlic Beef Curry

There is a new Indian restaurant here in town.  We did make the mistake going on opening night.  We were getting cranky waiting for the food!  But once the food did arrive it was really good.  So I hope that they get things sorted because we would love to have a proper Indian restaurant in town.

I had ordered a spicy lamb curry with tomato, garlic and onion.  A slow cooked flavourful curry with a great balance of heat.  I had to recreate it.  I planned on doing that for my dad’s birthday but since plans got changed (for a good reason!) I decided to make it for the kids when they got back from FL as they both requested curry for dinner.  And they gave a thumbs up for adding spice.

Tomato beef curry 1 2015

This is a dish you want to slow cook, no short cuts on this on!  But other than the time it takes it is really simple.  Heat up a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet.  Season about a pound of stewing beef or lamb with sea salt and pepper.  Brown the meat on all sides.

Tomato beef curry 2 2015

Coarsely chop an onion and 3-4 cloves of garlic.  Add to the skillet.  We have been growing Ring O Fire peppers in our garden so I harvested a couple for this.  Start off with one pepper.  It’s a lot easier to add more heat than remove it.  Again, seeds increase the heat so use your judgement.

Tomato beef curry 3 2015

Saute for a few minutes to soften the onion then add a 14 oz can of crushed tomatoes.  Bring to a simmer.  Freshly grate about 1 – 2 inch/2.5-5cm piece of ginger, add to the skillet.  Chop a small handful of fresh cilantro.  Then season with sea salt and pepper, 1-2 teaspoons of garam masala, and a couple of tablespoons of red curry paste.

Tomato beef curry 4 2015

Cover and keep it on a low simmer for a few hours.  Stir occasionally so it doesn’t catch on the bottom.  Half way through cooking test the heat and if you want more add more hot pepper.  Adjust for the curry seasoning with the paste if needed as well.  Meanwhile, my husband made up some incredible naan for us to enjoy.  We thought the naan would be enough so I didn’t do up any rice.

Tomato beef curry 5 2015

I was really pleased with this, it tasted close to what I had at the restaurant.  It was hearty without being heavy.

Today is the first day of school for the kids.  Our daughter started high school and our son is starting middle school.  Wondering where time is going.  But to make it a fun day I’m making pavlova and and chicken cordon bleu.  Can’t wait to hear all the stories!

Sundried Tomato Cream Sauce

Summer, at least in relation to school, is coming to an end.  Tomorrow my daughter has her orientation for high school tomorrow and my son has his meet and greet at the middle school.  So we’ve had fun the past couple of days playing games and letting them be lazy.  Because after today we are off and running with a new year. And back to doing the school lunches.  Though with the days starting earlier as they move up schools I’ll have to do them in the evenings but that’s ok.  I’ll survive.  🙂

I’m just thrilled they are still into board games and such.  I hope they don’t outgrow that.  We have so much fun with family time.

Given that all that went on last week, quick meals were the thing.  This dish couldn’t be simpler.  But it has a lot of flavours and falls into the comfort food category.

Sundried Tomato Cream Sauce 1 2015

It’s hard to go wrong when you have sundried tomatoes and garlic.  We also had on hand some apple smoked chicken sausages.  These are fully cooked so this was added at the end.  If you start with raw sausages, brown them first and set aside to cook off near the end.  In a skillet melt 2 tablespoons of butter and add a few cloves of garlic that have been chopped.  Also, add several chopped sundried tomatoes.

Sundried Tomato Cream Sauce 3 2015

Chop up a few mushrooms and slice the sausages and add that to the skillet.  One of the towns we went on our honeymoon was San Gimignano which is famous for the towers.  It also has very good white wine.  I wanted to use this for the sauce.

Sundried Tomato Cream Sauce 2 2015

Add about 1/2 a cup of a good white wine to the skillet. Bring to a simmer.

Sundried Tomato Cream Sauce 4 2015

While this is cooking prepare the spaghetti.  Near the end of cooking add 1/2 a cup of cream and 1/2 a cup of freshly grated parmesan cheese.  Mix well.

Sundried Tomato Cream Sauce 5 2015

Add the spaghetti and a handful of fresh basil.  Toss well and serve.

Sundried Tomato Cream Sauce 6 2015

Quick and easy comfort food.  When it’s a tough week, it’s perfect.  In fact I did a similar dish at the end with tomatoes from our garden.  Seems to be my go to flavour profile!

Grilled Thai Steak and Ever So Grateful

It was a very long week last week but everything went well with my dad’s surgery.  Yesterday they discharged him from hospital and now he is recuperating at home.  We were all breathing a sigh of relief.  Still are if you want to know the truth.

So he’ll be causing trouble for a good long while now and we wouldn’t have it any other way!

As you can imagine I’m a bit backed up with blog posts and getting everything else back on track.  Kids are back at school this week so we’re winding down the summer the next couple of days.  Making sure they get back into the routine of things.

Last weekend I was in the mood for Thai flavours and decided to do a grilled steak with rice noodles.  We have had some success with growing fresh garlic this year and we also had ginger and cilantro on hand.

Grilled Thai Steak 1 2015

In a bowl mix 2 tablespoons peanut oil, 2 tablespoons oyster sauce, 2 tablespoons amino acid, 1 tablespoon lime juice, one to two teaspoons of fresh chopped cilantro, a large clove of garlic, finely chopped, and salt and pepper.  Add the steak to marinate for at least an hour.

Grilled Thai Steak 2 2015

When it is time to cook, heat up a couple of tablespoons of peanut oil.  Add a few cloves of garlic, finely chopped, and a couple of scallions, chopped.  Saute until the garlic starts to soften.  Add a cayenne pepper.  When slicing use gloves, saves on burning skin.  We keep the seeds but some may find that too hot.  Saute for a few minutes.

Grilled Thai Steak 3 2015

Add a cup of chicken stock and bring to a simmer.  I made the mistake of adding the rest of the veg too soon.  I like my veg on the crispy side.  If you like them soft then add the peppers and mushrooms when you add the stock.  Also add carrots.  I added a couple of tablespoons of green curry paste, a tablespoon of oyster sauce, a tablespoon of amino acids, and a splash of lime juice.  Continue to simmer.  As it cooks adjust the flavour to your liking.

Grilled Thai Steak 4 2015

Grill the steak to medium rare.

Grilled Thai Steak 5 2015

Take the leftover marinade and add it to the skillet and continue to simmer.  While the steak is resting add half a cup light coconut milk.  Add a few more teaspoons of freshly chopped cilantro at this stage as well.

Grilled Thai Steak 6 2015

While this is being created cook rice noodles according to the package.  Toss the noodles in the sauce and serve.  Top with the steak and peanuts.

Grilled Thai Steak 7 2015

I enjoyed this dish.  The heat was mild but you could always add more hot pepper as you cook.  Tonight we are doing Pad Thai for dinner.  Another one of our favourites!

Grilled Pork Salad With An Asian Flair

I heard from my mum this morning and she wanted to know what I was feeding my kids as they are growing like weeds!  I wish I knew!  I know it can’t just be they have a tall dad.  I have one as well but I didn’t get very far with the height thing.  And I did eat my vegetables though for all the good it did me. 🙂

It is strange coming into the last bit of the school year.  Both kids are finishing up at each of their schools and getting ready to move up to the next school.  Which means a flurry of celebrations and year end events.  A lot of lasts.  My son’s school has a cookout for the whole school with activities outside.  They finish off with a water balloon toss with the oldest students and the teachers.  They absolutely love that bit!

A big change from when I was a kid though would be the new tradition of having a graduation for every level of school including preschool!  At least our son’s celebration is called a recognition instead of graduation.  It’s a bit much.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m insanely proud of our kids.  I love watching them grow and becoming fabulous people.  They are really coming into their own.

The other day I planned on grilling pork in an Asian marinade to put over salad.  Great plan until I realised we had run out of gas for the grill.  Plan B was grilling on the stove top.

In a bowl mix together the following:

4 tablespoons of peanut oil

3 tablespoons of oyster sauce

3 tablespoons of rice vinegar

1 tablespoon of lime juice

2 tablespoons of amino acid

3-4 finely chopped garlic

A couple of teaspoons of cilantro

Grilled Pork Salad 1 2015

Marinate the pork for at least an hour.  Also, take some of the marinade and marinate a few mushrooms.  If you are lucky enough to have a working grill on hand, grill away until the pork is cooked.  Otherwise continue with plan b.

Grilled Pork Salad 2 2015

While the pork is resting grill the mushrooms.

Grilled Pork Salad 3 2015

Slice the pork and mushrooms and top your salad with them.  For a dressing I quickly mixed up a bit of peanut oil, rice vinegar, and lime juice.

Grilled Pork Salad 4 2015

A great light meal for the hotter weather.  And we’ve since rectified the gas situation so no more plan b for the time being!

Greek Lamb Burgers and Going Batty

We were destined not to have a good night sleep the other night.  There is the usual noise of the dogs shaking at times and our cat sleeping by my head. She has an incredible talent for purring.  Loudly.  But you get used to the normal noises.  We weren’t getting the normal noises this night.

In the fog of my brain I heard what I thought was one of the dog peeing by the side of the bed.  Which didn’t make any sense at all.  So I dismissed it but then I realised Guinness was sniffing around the window by my side of the bed pretty intently.  At the same moment I remembered the craft bag with the jumper I’m knitting for my husband so I leapt out of bed (not a good idea for my back) and felt round and found everything dry.

So what was the sound?  The window is about 6 feet by 4 feet and has the winter plastic still on it because the window is a bit drafty.  Guinness kept alerting and sniffing at the window.  I hear what sounded like wings at first.  I was thinking a bird but there isn’t anyway for a bird to get in.  Then it sounded like a bug buzzing.  Then I heard the wings again.  So something got in.  A tiny bat.  Though big enough I still can’t figure out how it squeezed through.

Then we were stuck with how to get it out without killing it or it getting into the room past the plastic.  The end result was my husband going out through the guest room window and along the porch roof to our room to remove the screen. I sliced the plastic to unlock the window.  At this point the bat was up at the top of the window and still as could be.  I honestly thought it might have died.  Of course I was keeping my fingers crossed that his little friends wouldn’t join him and we’d wake up to a crowd of bats.  Luckily he eventually left.

We were so exhausted!  So I needed a quick meal because I just didn’t have the energy to do anything complicated.  I had some ground lamb and I was in the mood for some Greek flavours.  A burger and a salad would do the trick.

Greek lamb burgers 1 2015I’m so proud of myself.  Well I should say ourselves.  We grew herbs in pots.  Inside.  And they lived.  My skill set for gardening definitely lends to the outside bit of gardening.  One of the herbs we grew is oregano.   In a bowl chop a few cloves of garlic and add a teaspoon of fresh oregano.  Then add a couple of teaspoons of red wine vinegar and olive oil, a tablespoon or so of panko bread crumbs, and half a cup of feta cheese.  Season with salt and pepper then mix well without overworking the meat.  Form into patties.

Greek lamb burgers 2 2015While the grill is heating up mix up the tzatziki sauce and greek dressing.  Grill the burgers until they are done making sure you get a nice sear on them.

Greek lamb burgers 3 2015Throw together a quick salad and serve with the dressing and sauce.

Greek lamb burgers 4 2015

This was really good with a cabernet.  And gratefully last night was uneventful.  No more uninvited guests!