Steak Pizzaiola

I’ll tell you something – things are changing around here faster than a speeding Dachshund.


Why does she always look guilty? Oh I know – because she usually IS! 

So while change is good and inevitable in life, somedays, when things get thrown at you at all once, you have to stop, take a deep breath, and focus. Which I did several times this morning. And I’m sure that will be my mantra repeated with increasing frequency. With the impending closure on the new house, and the rental we are currently in going up for sale tomorrow, I’m definitely balancing a fine line of needing/wanting to pack and keeping this house looking presentable. Challenging, but doable.

Another facet to the changing times is that Alexander started his new job yesterday. Plus side? He loves his place of employment. The very minor downside? He is no longer home for dinner. It’s troubling him more than me, as evidenced by his comment to me yesterday afternoon, “Mom, I feel so bad, you’re alone because everyone is working! Doesn’t it bother you that no one is home for dinner at the same time anymore?”

Bother me? Not in the least. All it requires is strategic planning of dinners that can be prepared and reheated as necessary.

Done :)

Steak Pizzaiola – adapted from epicurious

  • 4 (1/2-inch-thick) top blade beef chuck steaks (1 1/4 lb total)
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, cut into 1/4-inch- wide strips
  • 6 oz white mushrooms, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 3 tbs. red wine
  • 4 Roma tomatoes, diced

Pat steaks dry and place between 2 sheets of plastic wrap. Pound to 1/4 inch thick with flat side of a meat pounder or with a rolling pin. Discard plastic wrap and sprinkle steaks with black pepper.Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then cook steaks in 2 batches, turning over once, until meat is just medium-rare, 2 minutes per batch. Transfer steaks to a platter as cooked and keep warm, loosely covered with foil. (Do not wipe skillet clean.)

Add remaining 2 tablespoons oil to skillet and sauté onion and bell pepper over moderately high heat, stirring, until onion is golden, about 4 minutes. Add mushrooms and garlic and sauté, stirring, until mushrooms are golden, about 3 minutes. Add wine and cook until evaporated, about 1 minute. Add  tomatoes with their juice, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes and onion are tender, about 5 minutes. Remove lid and cook until most of liquid is evaporated, about 5 minutes. Season with pepper, and  spoon vegetable sauce on top of steaks.

Carnitas Tamale Pie

I can’t believe it’s been a week since I last posted – the past seven days have gone by in a complete and total blur. It seems as though I say that on a weekly basis, especially since we moved to Texas. I think it’s a side effect of getting older……. as Ferris Bueller says, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around, you might miss something”.

It was with that exact sentiment that J and I took an incredible (albeit short) trip to Vancouver, B.C. over this past weekend. J arranged everything, from the flights (easy-peasy on United) to our hotel in downtown Burnaby (outstanding hospitality at the Hilton). Although it rained practically the entire time we were there, we enjoyed the city immensely and more importantly, thoroughly relished the quiet time together. And as nice as it was to go away, it was really nice to return home – especially to the posse. They had a beautiful birthday card for me ~ and even better, they proved, without a doubt, that they are maturing into conscientious and responsible young adults by not throwing a “Project X” style house party in our absence.

Thank goodness….

Now that we are back and settled on our home turf, our next trip is to Purdue University for Sabrina’s placement testing and tour. We are going to experience the consummate college scene for a few days, so she can get a real-time feel for the school and acclimate herself to what college life is really going to be like.

This will be interesting to say the least…..


Carnitas Tamale Pie – adapted from Pinch of Yum

  • ⅔ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup yellow corn meal
  • 1 tbs. baking powder
  • 2 tbs. vegetable oil
  • 1 can diced green chiles (I used 5 whole roasted chiles, and chopped them up)
  • ⅓ cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 2-3 cups leftover carnitas
  • 1 cup enchilada sauce (I used red, next time I’ll probably use green)
  • 1 cup shredded cheese (I used a Mexican blend)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Whisk the cornmeal, flour, and baking powder. Stir in the oil until the mixture makes soft crumbs. Whisk in the milk and egg. Add the green chiles and stir until just combined. Bake in a 9-inch square pan for 15 minutes or until set. Since it’s a tamale-like base, it won’t be completely dry like a cornbread. It’s supposed to be just a little mushy.

Poke holes in the crust with a fork. Pour the enchilada sauce over the crust. Squeeze or drain excess moisture out of the carnitas and arrange on top of the crust. Sprinkle with cheese.

Reduce oven temperature to 350. Cover with foil, return to oven, and bake for 20 minutes. When everything is heated through, remove foil and let bake for another 5-10 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly.

Top with chopped cilantro, allow to cool for 5 minutes, and cut into slices or scoop into bowls.

Brussels Sprouts Lasagna

Just when you thought it was safe to wear short sleeves..

Seriously, what’s up with this weather? Yesterday it was 83 degrees and picture perfect. Today, the wind is blasting and the temperature is 58. Tomorrow the forecast is 81 and calm.

And I’m accused of being fickle? Sheeeeesh……

Anyhoo, this lasagna, although unusual, was tremendously well received at Chateau W (aka our house). An amalgamation of two similar recipes, I used crepes instead of the standard lasagna noodles, and the end result was outstanding. It’s light, full of flavor and if you prepare the crepes ahead of time, it comes together in a snap.

Speaking of crepes, I always use Alton Brown’s recipe. They come out perfect every time – just make sure to follow the directions and let the batter rest for at least several hours. I usually make a double batch, stack the finished crepes between sheets of wax paper, and freeze them. However, the posse love them fresh out of the pan, dusted with cinnamon sugar and a drizzle of maple syrup.

That sounds so good right now, I think I want to go prepare a batch….

Brussels Sprouts Lasagna – adapted from Serious Eats and How Sweet Eats

  • 12 crepes
  • 4 tbs. olive oil
  • 1 pound brussels sprouts, shredded
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 1 leek, pale green and white part only, rinsed and thinly sliced
  • 3/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 16 ounces white mushrooms, stems removed, wiped clean, and sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 tsp thyme leaves
  • 3 tbs. unsalted butter
  • 3 tbs. flour
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1/4 cup grated parmigian reggiano cheese
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup marinara sauce
  • 1 lb. mozzarella cheese, grated

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Spray a 9×13 baking dish with nonstick spray.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the sprouts, shallots, and leek; season with pepper, stirring to coat. Cook until the sprouts soften and become bright in color, stirring occasionally, for about 5 to 6 minutes. Remove the sprouts from the skillet and set them aside in a bowl.

Using the same skillet, add the remaining olive oil. Add the mushrooms, stirring well to coat. Cook, stirring occasionally, about 6 to 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute or two. Season with black pepper and thyme.

In a saucepan, heat the butter over medium heat. Once it’s hot, whisk in the flour. Cook for 2 or 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Slowly whisk in the milk, stirring constantly as the mixture comes together. Cook, stirring constantly, until it starts to thicken, about 5 minutes. Add the parmigiano reggiano cheese, the marinara sauce,and pinch of cayenne.

To assemble the lasagna, spread 1/4 cup of the sauce on the bottom of the 9×13 dish. Lay three crepes across the bottom of the pan, then top with 1/2 of the brussels and 1/2 of the mushrooms. Sprinkle on 1/2 of the shredded cheese. Spread about 1 cup of the sauce over the top of the cheese. Repeat layers, ending with a top layer of crepes. Cover the whole thing with the rest of the sauce, spreading it out to the edges. Cover with a  sheet of foil and bake until bubbling around the edges, about 30 minutes. Uncover and bake for 10 minutes longer. Remove from the oven and allow it to rest for 10 minutes before slicing.

Pork Ragu

I don’t know about you, but Sunday is one of my favorite days of the week. I suspect that it’s most likely a throwback to my childhood, when one Sunday a month, Mom would spend the better part of the day cooking up a big pot of sauce for our dinner. The process was an event in itself, as she would shoo us kids (and Dad) out of the kitchen so there weren’t any distractions, and begin what I now recognize as a true labor of love. The sounds were unmistakable – the pots being pulled from the cabinets, the chopping of the onions, the blender grinding up chunks of bread for homemade breadcrumbs…….. and it didn’t take long until the house was filled with the aroma of her delectable homemade meatballs, spicy Italian sausage, and falling-off-the-bone meaty pork ribs…..mmmmm.

Eventually, Dad would sneak into the kitchen and slyly steal a meatball or two….and feign innocence  when questioned by three sets of eyes wanting a bite as well. It wasn’t fun being at the bottom of the food chain….

While I don’t have her recipe for that treasured family piece of history (something about copyrights, patents and not in my birthright……), one bite of this sauce immediately transported me back to those Sunday evenings, when dinnertime meant pasta, sauce, wine, and bread…. all while surrounded by your family.


Pork Ragu – adapted from Bon Appetit

  • 1 1½-lb. boneless pork shoulder (Boston butt)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup olive oil, plus more
  • ½ medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 1 sprig oregano
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 14-oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • ½ cup dry red wine

Season pork with pepper. Heat ¼ cup oil in a large heavy pot over medium-high heat. Sear the meat, turning occasionally, until browned all over, 10–15 minutes; transfer to a large plate.

Drain all but 2 tbs. fat from pot. Reduce heat to medium and cook onion and garlic, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, 8–10 minutes. Tie rosemary, oregano, and bay leaf into a bundle with kitchen twine; add to pot along with pork, tomatoes, and wine. Add water just to cover meat and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer, until meat is very tender, 1–1½ hours.

Discard herb bundle. Using 2 forks, shred meat in pot; cook, uncovered, over medium heat until sauce is thickened, 8–10 minutes. Serve over pasta with freshly grated cheese.


Impossible Taco Pie

Math has never, nor will it ever, be easy for me.

And I can accept that. 


For other members of our illustrious family, however, it’s as…… wait for it.….. simple as pie.

And yes, that’s probably the oldest and worst pun on Pi Day :)

Impossible Taco Pie – adapted from Betty Crocker

  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 medium onion, chopped (1/2 cup)
  • 1 package taco seasoning mix
  • 1 can (4.5 ounces) chopped green chiles, drained
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup Original Bisquick mix
  • 3/4 cup shredded Monterey Jack or Cheddar cheese (3 ounces)

Heat oven to 400°F. Grease 9-inch pie plate. Cook ground beef and onion in 10-inch skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until beef is brown; drain. Stir in seasoning mix (dry). Spoon into pie plate; top with chilies.  Stir milk, eggs and Bisquick mix until blended. Pour into pie plate.  Bake about 25 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake 8 to 10 minutes longer. Cool 5 minutes. Serve with salsa and sour cream.


Spoon Bread

Can I be honest here? The name of this recipe confused me. A lot.

At first, I thought it meant you mixed it with a  spoon. Except you use a whisk for the preparation.

Then, I thought it meant you ate it with a spoon. Except you cut it into squares. 

 What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;

Thank you, Shakespeare, for identifying the fact that the name of this bread doesn’t reflect what it really is.


Spoon Bread – adapted from Rebecca Rather

More pudding-like than bread-like, it reminds me of a very soft cornbread. We all loved it though,  and leftovers are wonderful warmed up and served with a side of jam.

3 1/2 cups milk
2 tbs. unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups yellow cornmeal
1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
3 large eggs

Preheat the over to 350 degrees. Grease an 8 x 8-inch square baking dish. Heat the milk and butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat until the mixture begins to boil. Decrease the heat to medium-low and slowly sprinkle in the cornmeal, whisking constantly, until the mixture thickens slightly, about 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat. Whisk in the baking powder, then the eggs, one at a time, beating until the batter is smooth and the eggs are thoroughly incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan and bake for about 30 minutes, until golden and puffy. Cut into squares, and serve warm or at room temperature.

Chicken Fried Steak

You know, I’m not one to brag (I find it to be such an undesirable trait), but I am on point and have made more than a few impressive dinners lately.


Is that bragging? No? Good.

Although I said I probably wouldn’t make chicken fried steak again (I prefer chicken), this was too good to pass up.  You know how bad I am about making the same recipe twice….

Besides, in all seriousness, J and Alexander love chicken fried steak  – in fact, Alexander took the remaining piece of steak as a sandwich to school the next day – he got to it before Sabrina did. To say she wasn’t happy is an understatement….

Anyway, once you get the hang of it, this is surprisingly simple to prepare. Time consuming, yes, but simple. I also think that the type of steak I picked up for this recipe go-round was much better than last time – it wasn’t tough at all, and cooked up to crispy perfection.

Verdict? This will definitely go on the monthly roster of recipes. Now if I can just perfect my white gravy making skills…..

Chicken Fried Steak – adapted from Serious Eats

  • 4 long, thin sirloin tip steaks (about 2 pounds)
  • 3/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup buttermilk, divided
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour 
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 quart canola oil (depends on the size of your pan) 
  • For the Gravy:
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1 tbs. coarsely ground black pepper, plus more to taste

For the Steaks: Pat steaks dry with paper towels. Place steaks onto a sheet of foil, and cover with a sheet of plastic wrap. Using a meat pounder, pound steaks out to an even 1/8- to 1/4-inch thickness.

Place cornstarch in a shallow dish. Whisk together egg and 2/3 cup buttermilk in a separate shallow dish. Whisk together flour, paprika, black pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, baking powder, and cayenne pepper in a third shallow dish. Drizzle remaining 1/3 cup of buttermilk into seasoned flour and rub with fingertips until mixture is coarse like wet sand.

Working 1 steak at a time, coat well in cornstarch. Lift steak, shake off excess cornstarch, then transfer to egg mixture. Coat steak well in egg mixture, lift steak, letting excess egg drain off, then transfer to seasoned buttermilk-flour mixture. Coat steak well, pressing seasoned flour all over to help it adhere to the meat. Lift steak, shake off excess flour, and transfer to a wire rack. Repeat with remaining steaks. Let steaks stand for 10 minutes.

Place oil in a large skillet to a depth of 1 inch and heat to 375°F over high heat. Carefully lift 1 steak and gently slide into oil. Cook, flipping occasionally, until golden brown and crisp on both sides, 2 to 4 minutes total. Transfer steak to a wire rack. Repeat with remaining 3 steaks.

For the gravy: Transfer 1/4 cup of hot frying oil to a medium saucepan placed over medium high heat. Add flour and whisk constantly until mixture turns light brown, about 1 minute. Slowly whisk in milk. Stir in pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat; season with a bit of salt and additional pepper to taste.

Transfer steaks to plates, top with gravy, and serve immediately.