Spicy Filet with an Apricot Orange Glaze

Is it just me or does the coverage of the Olympics stateside seem to be more adverts than sport? I love the Olympics and love to see the human interest stories, people succeeding and when they fall my heart goes out to them. It used to be a lot of all this. Now it is more important for us to see giant Big Macs and sugary drinks. The last things that should be associated with athletics.

Aside from the weird spectacle of the North Korean cheerleaders who outnumber their athletes by a couple hundred it’s been fun to see how everyone is doing. We do wonder of the sanity of the skeleton racers. Who thought, hey let’s go head first down an ice run?

But it has amused me while I’ve been sick this past week. I’m finally catching up with everything. One of the downfalls of getting my life organised and scheduled is it looks bad when it goes south. Such is life! I was glad to be back on my feet in time for Valentines Day. I wanted to make a nice meal for my husband.

I found this recipe on Carlsbad Cravings for a Cajun Steak with an Apricot Orange Glaze. I adjusted it for smaller portions and what I had on hand.

It’s an easy recipe with a few steps. In a small bowl mix together a 1/2 tablespoon each of paprika, brown sugar, onion powder, and chili powder. Add a teaspoon each of dried oregano, cayenne pepper, sea salt then add 1/2 a teaspoon of dried basil and pepper.

Take 2 teaspoons of this mix and put aside in a small saucepan. Use the rest to make the marinade. To the spice mix a 1/4 cup/2 oz of soy sauce and olive oil. Then add a tablespoon each of Worcestershire sauce, orange juice and brown sugar. Coarsely chop 2 cloves of garlic. Mix well and add two filet mignon to the marinade. Set aside for about an hour.

In the small saucepan add about a 1/2 cup of apricot preserves, a 1/3 cup of orange juice, a tablespoon of soy sauce, and a dollop each of brown mustard and brown sugar.

Mix well and bring to a simmer. While the rest of the meal is cooking reduce this by half. Melt a few dabs of butter and brown both sides of the filet. Finish off in the oven at 350F/175C until desired doneness.

I roasted potatoes and sautéed green beans to accompany the steak. Drizzle the sauce over the dish right before serving,

A nice easy delicious meal to enjoy for a romantic dinner.

I did have more than two green beans, contrary to what my husband says I do eat veg! ūüėĄ


Bacon and Chicken White Bean Soup and We Have a Houdini

Our puppy boys aren’t actually puppies, they are 11 and 8. We call them puppies as they like to act like that and occasionally they teach themselves new tricks. Guinness, our 11 year old, decided to channel Houdini this morning. Because we’re still having work done on the house we put the dogs safely in a room. It usually works. Only this morning Guinness figured out how to open our sliding doors. It got a little hairy as we corralled him. It was bit bit like a comedy of people going in and out of rooms but no one could see anyone else.

Murphy has been taking this in stride but Guinness has taken to muttering at the intrusions. Definitely put out! Fortunately it will be over soon and he’ll soon get his room back. Silly sausage.

With the cacophony going on, comfort food hits the spot. Bacon chicken white bean soup fits the bill. I added bacon and chicken to this soup because they needed to be used up. Necessity being the mother of invention and all that.

In a saucepan add a half chicken breast that has been cubed and 3-4 rashers of streaky bacon that has been chopped. Sauté on medium heat.

Slice 2-3 mushrooms and chop 4-6 cloves of garlic. Once the bacon has rendered a bit add the veg to the saucepan.

Add 3 cups/24 ounces of chicken stock and bring to a simmer. Next add 2 cans of 15 ounce cans of white beans after rinsing them. Continue to simmer until the beans are cooked through. Season with se salt and pepper. A healthy splash of white wine, ahandful of fresh parsley and 4 ounces of freshly grated Parmesan finishes off the soup.

Fresh baked crusty bread with butter is a perfect companion to this soup.

I really enjoyed this hearty soup. A nice break from all the upheaval.


French Onion Quiche and the Walls Come Tumbling Down Again…

They say wisdom comes with age. When it comes to house projects, my husband and I finally got wisdom! We’re redoing our bathroom and bedroom and instead of slogging our way through the demo we saved up and got our contractor to do it. What a difference. I can breath, we’re not exhausted and not filthy.

Our puppies, on the other hand, are less than impressed with the cacophony going on. I wish I could make them understand what’s going on but I can’t. So all I can do is give them loads of cuddles. Fingers crossed this project goes quickly.

Because we were facing a potential few hours of laying insulation (way too much fun, I know!) I made dinner during the day so we wouldn’t starve afterwards. Turns out, it was a quick job, thank goodness. As we also got several inches of snow to clear it was nice to have dinner ready.

I was inspired by a pin I saw for a French onion tart with bacon and I thought it would be fun to use my French Onion Soup in a quiche. This is easy to put together but just don’t rush it.

To begin cut up about seven rashers of streaky bacon and slowly render them on medium heat. Cook until about 2/3s done.

While the bacon is cooking slice a half an onion thinly. Finely chop two cloves of garlic and coarsely chop a couple of mushrooms.

Remove the bacon and set aside. Pour out the bacon fat until you only have about two tablespoons of fat left in the pan. Add the onions and cook slowly. Once they begin to soften add the garlic and mushrooms. Sauté for a few minutes. Add a cup of veg bouillon, a tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce and two tablespoons of brandy. Stir in a healthy dollop of stone ground mustard.

Bring this to a medium simmer to reduce the broth. Meanwhile prepare the pastry using half the recipe I used in the pie. Grate half a cup of Jarlsberg and half a cup of smoked Gouda. In a bowl beat three eggs together then had a half cup of cream and 3/4 cup of milk.

Once the broth is nearly reduced add back in the bacon. Continue until the broth is nearly gone. Spread it into the bottom of the pastry.

Sprinkle the cheese over the mixture then pour the egg and milk into the dish.

Bake for 15 minutes at 425F/220C then bake for about 30 minutes at 300F/150C. Remove once the quiche is set and golden.

Either serve it right away or save and heat up later.

Quick question, I’ve suddenly gotten a lot of followers from outlook mail accounts. While I’m grateful for followers I’m concerned there maybe something else going on.


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‚Äôt sleep the night before.  It‚Äôs 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‚Äôll be ok.  ūüėä

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‚Äôt 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.  Saut√© the parsnips and garlic with olive oil in a saucepan.

Add a amall handful of fresh thyme, saut√© 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 pur√©e 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‚Äôt 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.  ūüėĄ.  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.

Saut√© 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.  ūüėä


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 saut√© 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!”  ūüėĄ.  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 Р2 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. ¬†ūüôā

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!