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!

Slow Cooked Pork Pasta

The kids are very happy today.  There is nearly 6 inches of snow on the ground so they got a snow day.  Granted back in my day we wouldn’t have had the day off!  I literally walked up hill both ways.  Not sure if we’re getting soft or just more safety conscious.

I did take a short video of our lovely snow storm but it turns out in the past few months WordPress decided to not let the lowly plebs upload videos anymore.  But you can see it on Instagram if you wish.  I guess this means I really need to get off my duff and upgrade the site!

We’re making progress on the room we are reworking.  Got the primer on the walls and picked up the flooring this weekend.  So I needed an easy dinner to put together with the kids coming back for the week.

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Doing a slow cooked pork dish fit the bill.  Because of what we had going on I had time to toss everything into the baking dish and that’s about it.  If you have more time, brown the pork before you put it in the dish.  However, if you don’t have time it will still be delicious.

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Add a half a large red onion, finely chopped, with a few cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped to the baking dish.  Then add a 14oz can of diced tomatoes and 1/2 cup of red wine.  Season with sea salt, pepper, some red pepper flakes, and a couple of teaspoons of oregano.  Bake at 300F/150C for several hours until the pork is tender and falling apart.  Taste halfway through to adjust the seasoning.

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Toss in the pasta and serve.  Grate with a hard Italian cheese and enjoy.  This is a very easy flavourful dish to make when life is crazy busy.  And of course a nice glass of red wine goes nicely with this.  🙂

 

Aubergine Quinoa and Any Time is a Good Time for a Clear Out

Every year we try to accomplish something with the house.  Some years are more successful than others of course depending on what we have going on or how expensive the next set of projects are.  This year we finished our closet and redid our son’s bedroom floor.  But the big thing done is we did a massive clear out of the carriage house and the house itself.

I am convinced stuff multiplies.  How else do we explain filling a 20 yard skip?  Granted a lot of it was from the carriage house and old odds and sods left over from previous owners, the debris from our projects, that sort of thing.  But it feels so good doing some serious organisation, rediscover what we have, and do some major recycling.  We do try to fix, upcycle, and recycle before the last resort of throwing out.  Plus we have loads of stuff for the Girl Scouts fundraising yard sale.  It’s taken us all summer but it’s a big project to cross of the never ending list.

We’re starting to get some result from our garden.  Of course it comes all at once!  Our aubergine and tomatoes are coming in fast so it’s on to preserving and eating so none of it goes to waste.  The aubergine we decided to grow this year is called fingerling, I believe, and they are small diameter and about 8in/20cm long.  Perfect size for a small family.

Quinoa aubergine 1 2016

I wanted to make roasted aubergine and roasted tomatoes with quinoa for dinner.  The longest bit of this dinner is the roasting, everything else comes together quite quickly.

Quinoa aubergine 2 2016

Preheat the oven to 400F/200C.  Slice the aubergine and tomatoes and place them in a single layer into the baking dish.  Drizzle with olive oil and season with sea salt and pepper.  Roast until the veg is cooked through and begins to brown.  While this is roasting cut up some chicken and begin to brown with olive oil in a skillet.  Add about half a cup of chopped red onion and a few cloves of chopped garlic.

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Cook the quinoa according to directions.  It only takes about 15 minutes to cook so plan accordingly.  Once the tomatoes and aubergine are done remove from the oven.

Quinoa aubergine 4 2016

Slice up the aubergine and add the veg to the skillet with the chicken.  Add 1/2 a cup of chicken stock and about 1/4 cup of white wine.  I chopped up a small handful of fresh oregano from our garden.

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Add the quinoa and about 1/2 a cup of freshly grated parmesan.  Stir well and serve.

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Top with more parmesan and enjoy!  This is quite filling without being heavy and perfect to throw together after a day of projects.

Orzo with Lemon Chicken and New Tools

Some learning curves can be exciting.  Some not so much, like my learning curve with statistics in college.  Loved the subject but come test time it was always like I’d never been to class.  Never got far on that curve, bell or no bell.  But now I’m liking my learning curve.  Because there are a few projects I want to do, such as start a YouTube channel, and I was in the weeds with Unix, much to my chagrin, I needed tools that I could make headway on my own.  I.e not bugging my husband/IT guy all the time.  He has always been good about helping me but I hate not knowing how to do something!

So I am now a proud new owner of an iMac.  And I’m loving my new setup.  One, I can find and set up software I need, that is a big step in getting things done.  Though if it heads into Unix territory like GIMP then I have to ask for help there but for the most part it’s been good.  And it’s pretty easy to get an apple person on the phone if need be.  I’m quickly collecting senior tech phone numbers.

I do like the iMovie on the desktop, much easier than the iPad.  So watch this space as they say, I hope to have something soon.  The big thing I need to figure out is the uncopyrighted music so I don’t get slapped by YouTube.

Going through our cupboards I realised we had orzo still so I thought it would be nice with lemon, yoghurt, and oregano. Orzo lemon chicken 1 2016

I also wanted to grill up some chicken thighs.  Prep these ahead of time with a marinade.  With a ratio of 2:1 mix olive oil and lemon juice together.  Season with sea salt and pepper. Finely chop a couple of garlic cloves and a small handful of fresh oregano.  Mix well and coat two chicken thighs.

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Set aside for about an hour.  In a skillet heat up a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and start softening about half a cup of chopped red onion.  Once the onion starts to become translucent add 3-5 cloves (depending on size) of garlic, chopped.

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At this point start grilling the chicken on medium heat.  Add 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and 2 cups of chicken stock.  Bring to a boil and then reduce to a medium simmer.  It’s important to stir frequently as orzo has a tendency to stick to the bottom of the skillet.  Add more liquid as necessary because you want to make sure there is enough for the sauce.

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When the orzo is half cooked add a few sliced mushrooms and another small handful of oregano, chopped.  Stir well.  Near the end of cooking add a third of a cup of plain yoghurt and about a cup of chopped red bell pepper.  This gives the dish a nice pop of colour.

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Serve once the chicken is cooked.

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The flavours of this dish are very bright with the yoghurt and lemon.  It’s a great dish if you are getting tired of salads!

Greek Orzo Chicken

Finally I have a day off!  It’s been about 2 1/2 weeks straight out with the first peak of tax season so I’m in my comfy clothes relaxing and recharging my batteries.  And doing a long overdue blog post!

I was hoping to do one a few days ago but our silly dog had to be taken to the vet due to an ear infection.  The poor thing was shaking his head so much I thought he’d run out of brain cells and he doesn’t have a surplus!  He’d look at us with one ear up and one ear deflated.  Cute looking but definitely needed to get seen to.  I just wish they understood we are trying to help them.  He did not like his ear being examined and kept backing away.  I felt so bad but the meds are working and the ear is starting to be less deflated.

One of my food memories is eating orzo with chicken and green olives.  I loved that dish.  But I don’t have that recipe and since my family aren’t huge fans of olives I needed to find something different.  In my “The Foods of the Greek Islands” cookery book by Aglaia Kremezi there is a recipe for Baked Chicken with Orzo.  I changed it up a bit and did it on the stove top instead of the oven.

Greek orzo chicken 1 2016

This dish has a lot of strong flavours in this dish with the sundried tomatoes and garlic.  In a large skillet heat up a couple of tablespoons of olive oil.  Cube up about 3/4-1 pound of chicken and add to the skillet to start browning the chicken.  Season with sea salt and pepper.  Finely chop 3-5 cloves of garlic and half a red onion and add it to the skillet.

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Once the onion softens add a cup of sliced sundried tomatoes and saute for a few minutes.  Then add a 14oz can of diced tomatoes with the juice and 2 cups of chicken stock and bring to a simmer.  Toss in a small handful of fresh oregano.

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Add a cup of orzo.  All I could find was a wheat orzo and that worked well.

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Stir well and simmer covered.  Keep an eye on this as this can stick to the bottom of skillet.  Add more chicken stock as needed until the orzo is tender and cooked.  It takes about a 1/2 hour or so.

Greek orzo chicken 5 2016

Serve with parsley and shredded cheese.  I had a mixture of Italian cheeses on hand.  Of course there are good Greek cheeses to choose from.

This is definitely stick to your ribs dish, perfect for chilly winter nights.  This made a lot of food so we have leftovers to use throughout the week.

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!

Don’t Judge the Heat by It’s Cover…

Who brought the heat?  I would love to find away to know how hot a hot pepper is by looking at it.  Because boy oh boy it can be quite the surprise!  One of the jalapeños I bit into for this dish set steam coming out of my ears and my good husband went running for the milk.  I hate milk but when your mouth feels like it is on fire you take what you can.

I was digging round in my pins to try something new with bacon and I came across BBQ Jalapeño Poppers from Country Wood Smoke.  I didn’t have the supplies to smoke them so I grilled instead.  Aside from the tear inducing pepper these are delicious and easy to make.

Jalapeno poppers 1 2015

I mixed cream cheese, asaigo cheese, and parmesan cheese together.  The ratio is half cream cheese and then half the hard cheese.

Jalapeno poppers 2 2015

Mix well and add either fresh sage or oregano.  Set aside.  When handling hot peppers I wear gloves because otherwise my fingers burn for days.  Carefully deseed the peppers then stuff with the cheese mixture.

Jalapeno poppers 3 2015

Put the cap of the pepper back on then wrap with bacon.  I recommend toothpicks if your bacon is thick cut so it stays on.  Plus it helps keep the caps on. I found the caps didn’t “glue” on as I had hoped.  I really need to make more of my BBQ sauce but since I’ve been slacking I had to use store bought.  Gasp!  Brush all sides of the poppers with the BBQ sauce.

Jalapeno poppers 4 2015

Place on the grill.  Try not to have the grill too hot because you want the cheese to be hot when finished without the bacon turned to a blackened mess.  Turn the poppers a couple of times as it cooks.

Jalapeno poppers 5 2015

I served these with a fresh salad so the meal wouldn’t be too heavy.  But these are perfect for grilling and summertime meals.

The Lovely Zing of Fresh Horseradish…

The fun thing about our local co-op is we can find unusual ingredients not normally found in our box store groceries.  This time I found fresh horseradish root. As we are fans of this ingredient when we have roast beef I figured I would branch out a bit and play around with it.  If you ever have stuffed sinuses have a bite of fresh horseradish.  It will make you stand up and blink!

I planned an easy dinner to make because our plan was to whack some tennis balls back and forth.  But it rained.  Boo.  Now that is is finely warm enough we were looking forward to running around and having some fun.  That will have to wait.

I decided to do grilled portobello caps with steak and horseradish sauce.

Horseradish sauce 1 2014

Oregano is growing like crazy in our garden so I choice to use some to pretend I was making some kind of dent in the abundance of the herb.  I made up a marinade of olive oil, white balsamic vinegar, chopped garlic and oregano.  The ratio of oil and vinegar is 2 to 1. Season with salt and pepper.  Mix well and add the mushrooms.

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Set aside.  On to the horseradish!

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I had some plain Greek yoghurt so I used it as the base for my sauce.  In a small bowl add 8 oz of yoghurt, about 2 tsp of fresh thyme, salt and pepper, a few squirts of lemon juice, and grated horseradish.  The amount is up to you depending on how much zing you want.  I do suggest adding a bit at a time until you hit the level of heat you want.

Horseradish sauce 4 2014

When I bought the steak, the way it was packaged it looked like two equal pieces which is what you want when serving two people.  Does this look equal to you?

Horseradish sauce 5 2014

Like the moon to the earth!  Season with salt and pepper and a dry rub of your choice.  We like using the Salt Lick Spicy Dry Rub.  Grill the steak and mushroom until cooked.  We like ours on the rare side.

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After letting the steak rest slice it and spoon the sauce over the meat to serve.  Grate an aged Italian cheese of your choice over the mushrooms.

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A perfect meal for after an activity like tennis.  I hope we get to that soon!  Maybe this weekend.  🙂

Sausage Rolls

Whenever we head back to England for a couple of weeks I always have a list of food to eat.  All the foods we can’t get stateside.  Fish and chips, cornish pasties, chocolates, pork pies, and sausage rolls!  Not to mention the crumbles my MIL makes.   Surprise, surprise I usually gain a few pounds and then have to Zumba like crazy.  But it’s worth it.  🙂

We had friends over a few nights ago and I made sausage rolls as finger food.  I don’t make it often because there are only so many Zumba classes I can take!  But these are super easy to make and very yummy.

Preheat the oven to 425F.

To start with chop half an onion and saute in melted butter.

Once the onions are soft let them cool a bit.  In a mixing bowl add about a pound of ground pork, some fennel seeds, salt and pepper, oregano and basil.

Freshly grate parmesan cheese.  About 3/4 cup will do and add to the bowl.

Add the onions then mix.  Don’t be shy dig in with your hands!  They will clean up.  🙂

Roll out some puff pastry.  One of these days I’ll learn how to make it from scratch but until then store bought it is.  Place a line of sausage onto the pastry.

Roll it once to surround the sausage and then use a knife to cut the pastry.  Cut the roll in half and place on a cookie sheet.

Bake for 15-20 minutes until the pastry is golden brown and flaky and the sausage is cooked through.

Serve immediately and enjoy!

I’ll be on the road this week so it will be a bit before I do my next post.  See you soon!