St. Patrick’s Corned Beef Dinner

March 17, 2015 - Written by Buff

Corned Beef is one of my favorite meals and I get to cook it only once or twice a year – once on St. Patrick’s Day [March 17th for those not in the know] for dinner and again when either the mood strikes me or I have special guests. Well, the other day we had special guests in and not only did I make this special dinner, we actually sat at the Dining Room table!

Corned beef






Pressure Cooker Brisket in a Pinch

April 25, 2013 - Written by Diana

Today I had plans for a brisket – all day in the crockpot, or smoking – plans for a slow cook.  Alas, planning isn’t any good without the follow through.  So here I had the brisket – small about a 1 1/2 lb brisket – targeted for dinner, but i was too late to go the slow way.  Brisket cooked fast is chewy and tough, it needs time, unless you have a pressure cooker.  I put that brisket under pressure, went for a walk with the dog and when we came back, it was ready to eat (the stove was attended, so no worries).  The meat pulled apart easily, and the sauce ingredients had all melded together quite nicely for a good swish at the end with the pulled meat.

I’ve used the pressure cooker many times as a way to fix a meal quickly without losing the flavor or moistness. Since there is less evaporation due to the seal, you need a little less liquid but it’s still pretty juicy.  The most difficult part for me is always when I have to wait for the little button to go down, so that I can separate the pot and lid.  It’s always amazing how the meat is ready to fall apart after such a short time.


Heat up the oil on the bottom of the pressure cooker. When the oil is hot, sear the brisket on all sides, while sauteing onions and garlic.  After the meat is browned on all sides, dump all of the other ingredients in, nestle the meat  and put the lid on, and seal it.  After about an hour, take it off the heat and wait for the button to go back down.  Using two forks, pull the meat apart and swish around in the sauce on the bottom of the pan.

The chipotle seasoning can make it spicy, so you can leave that out if you think it will be too hot.


Pressure Cooker Brisket in a Pinch
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
When you don't have all day to slow cook a brisket on the grill, a faster shortcut is to use the pressure cooker
Recipe type: Barbecue
  • 1½ - 2lbs Brisket
  • 3 tbs oil
  • ½ onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 can tomatoes (I used my home canned - Quart jar)
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • pepper
  • salt
  • chipotle seasoning (optional)
  1. Heat up the oil on the bottom of the pressure cooker. When the oil is hot, sear the brisket on all sides, while sauteing onions and garlic. After the meat is browned on all sides, dump all of the other ingredients in, nestle the meat and put the lid on, and seal it. After about an hour, take it off the heat and wait for the button to go back down. Using two forks, pull the meat apart and swish around in the sauce on the bottom of the pan.
  2. The chipotle seasoning can make it spicy, so you can leave that out if you think it will be too hot.


Beef Tenderloin with a Mushroom Wine Reduction

February 22, 2013 - Written by Diana


Beef Tenderloin Over Creamed Kale

Beef Tenderloin Over Creamed Kale

My husband picked up a Dry Aged Beef Tenderloin from Bluescreek Farm Meats this week and I knew it was the beef we could use for a special dinner.  I was looking forward to trying out the tenderloin – which I’ve never cooked before. I love an opportunity to try out something new, but it can be a little scary trying out something new when you know if you mess up. That’s it, we’re eating it anyway because we spent the money already. This one though, this was a big winner.

I researched the best cooking methods, and there was a consensus that high heat quickly was the way to go.  I couldn’t use salt, because my husband is on a low sodium diet and meat carries its own sodium, so I wanted a way to keep it moist and flavorful but without added sodium.  I decided to try out my dehydrated mushroom powder on the tenderloin.  Last year I took mushrooms, dehydrated them, and then pulverized them to make it into a powder.  I think mushrooms in gravy compliment steak. I mixed up some garlic powder, paprika and the mushroom powder, and then smooshed it up with some softened butter.  My steak had been sitting out coming to room temperature, which helps it to become soft and pliable.  I took the butter paste and rubbed it all over the steak.

The biggest hurdle to this perfect meal – was my husband didn’t know exactly what time he would be leaving work since he had to work on a project later than usual.  His task was to call when he was leaving work.  In the mean time, I put my cast iron grill pan into the oven and let it heat up at 450 degrees.  As soon as he called, I put a few pats of butter in the pan and placed the tenderloin on top  and put it into the oven.  I set the timer for 17 minutes because I was going to check the internal temperature at that time to see what the internal temperature was. My creamed kale was ready in a glass dish so that it would be tossed into the oven while the beef was resting.  I sliced shallots,  mushrooms and a couple of green onions and set it aside.

When the timer dinged, I checked the beef tenderloin and it was 135 degrees.  I have seen suggestions for 120, but my husband won’t eat rare meat or medium rare, medium is the lowest he would be happy with.  I took the tenderloin out and stuck it on a separate plate with an aluminum tent over top.  Then I added the chopped mushrooms and shallots and a couple of tablespoons of butter into the pan the beef was cooked in, on top of the stove over a low temp.  The mushrooms and shallots were sauteed until soft, removed from pan and set aside.  A cup of wine was added to the pan and simmered until reduced by half.  When it was reduced by half, the mushrooms and shallots were added back in and sauteed for about a minute.

Place the Creamed Kale on the plate, slice the beef tenderloin on an angle, place on top, and spoon the mushroom wine reduction over top.  My goodness this is good stuff.  The beef was pink, soft, tender and delicious.  Wow, that was good.

Beef Tenderloin with a Mushroom Wine Reduction
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Beef Tenderloin cooked uncovered in a cast iron pan in high heat. Pan sauce with mushrooms, shallots and red wine reduction. Serve over creamed kale, creamed spinach, polenta or mashed potatoes.
Recipe type: Beef
Serves: 3 - 4
  • 2 to 3 lb beef tenderloin
  • butter
  • 2 tsp dehydrated mushroom powder
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • shallots
  • mushrooms
  1. Pre-heat oven to 400.
  2. Let Beef tenderloin sit out to come to room temperature.
  3. A couple of softened pats of butter should be mixed in a small bowl with mushroom powder, paprika and garlic powder.
  4. Smoosh and mix the butter with the mushroom powder and spices until it is all mixed in as well as it can be.
  5. Take cast iron pan and melt 1 tsp butter and 1 tsp olive oil in the bottom of the pan.
  6. Rub the smooshed butter all over the tenderloin - massaging it well.
  7. Grind fresh black powder over top.
  8. Place the tenderloin in the cast iron pan and place into the oven uncovered.
  9. Set the timer for 15 minutes and use a meat thermometer to check the temperature. If you like your beef rare - take it out when the internal temperature reaches 125.
  10. My husband likes it medium so, I took it out at 135.
  11. Remove the tenderloin to a plate and tent with foil.
  12. Slice mushrooms and shallots.
  13. Place the cast iron pan back on the stovetop and melt 2 tsp butter in the pan.
  14. Saute the mushrooms and shallots in the pan until soft and remove them from pan and set aside.
  15. Add 1 cup red wine, scrape the bits off the bottom and reduce the wine by half.
  16. Add the mushrooms and shallots to the wine and saute for a minute.
  17. Place the tenderloin over top of the creamed kale (or spinach, or polenta, or mashed potatoes) spoon the mushrooms, shallots and sauce over top.
  18. Grind a little more pepper over top.


Happy Valentines – 2013

February 14, 2013 - Written by Diana

Flowers from my husband – he knows I enjoy the beautiful colors in the winter.  It just brightens up the day.  Plus a few handmade chocolates because I like them too.

Valentines Day Flowers

Dinner Beef Tenderloin over Creamed Kale – oh my goodness it was good.

Beef Tenderloin over Creamed Kale


Baked Ricotta Penne Pasta

August 2, 2012 - Written by Diana

Baked Ricotta Penne Pasta  Bake

Penne is one of my favorite tubular pastas – the sauce seems to cling in and around the pasta better than some of the others while keeping the tube shape.  I love to cover it in a meat sauce and layer it with ricotta.  Since I was reviewing TJ Gallivan’s Pasta Sauces, I used La Matrice to make my Baked Ricotta Penne Pasta.

TJ Gallivan’s Sauces are great when you don’t have the time to make the sauce yourself.  They are full of tomato flavor – that’s something my kids and I noticed right away, how the tomato stood out.  The other big plus was how thick the sauce is and how well it clings to the pasta. I love a sauce that sticks.

TJ Gallivan's Pasta Sauces

The Tradizionale – is a sauce full of tomato, garlic, basil and oregano and is the mildest of the three sauces.  My daughter liked this because she thought it was customizable.  She could take the sauce plain, or if she wanted to punch up the basil a little more, she would add more basil and it wasn’t competing with any other spices.

La Matrice  – has a bit of zestiness to it with tomatoes, garlic, onions, peppers and herbs.  This was what I used in my Ricotta Penne Pasta Bake.  I like the sauce a little kick when I’m cooking with cheese, otherwise it can get too muted – so La Matrice was just perfect.

Arrabbiatta – If you like a bigger kick with a bit more spiciness, then Ariabatta is for you.  It still has a great tomato flavor, but it’s very spicy with tomato, basil, oregano, garlic and red pepper.  It’s a little more adventurous than the other two.


I used La Matrice in with the Penne Ricotta dish I made for dinner.  The sauce  was mixed in with ground beef and poured over the penne which it clung to nicely.  I nestled dollops of ricotta in between layers of penne and sauce and also on top before sprinkling grated parmesan over top.  The three of us ate almost the whole pound of penne I cooked up – it was so good, my husband had difficulty stopping.

The sauce was provided by a former Cookerati blogger – Buff otherwise known as Thomas Tilert who has moved on to his own entrepreneur buisiness of pasta sauce making, and the company does rubs and spice mixes as well. My review is my honest opinion and I recommend the sauce.  I interviewed Thomas Tilert about how he got started in the pasta sauce business.  If you are thinking of going into business yourself, it has some interesting information.

Here’s my Ricotta Penne Pasta Bake:

Baked Ricotta Penne Pasta
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
This baked recipe with tomato sauce penne and ricotta, makes a really good hearty meal.
Recipe type: Pasta
Serves: 6
  • 1 lb ground beef (or bison)
  • 1 onion diced.
  • 2 green peppers diced
  • 1 lb Penne Pasta
  • 1 jar pasta sauce (I used TJ Gallivans, but you can use your own)
  • 1 container ricotta
  • grated parmesan
  • salt
  • pepper
  1. Cook ground beef, onions and peppers together until the beef is browned.
  2. Drain and set aside.
  3. Boil water and cook penne pasta according to package directions.
  4. Drain water.
  5. Add sauce to browned meat and stir to combine.
  6. Layer this way:
  7. Sauce
  8. Penne
  9. Sauce
  10. Dollops of Ricotta
  11. Grated Parmesan
  12. Penne
  13. Sauce
  14. Dollops of Ricotta
  15. Grated Parmesan
  16. Bake at 350 until the Sauce is hot and thick and the cheese is melty.
The pasta and the beef mixture can be prepared ahead, and assembled at the last minute. Don't pour the sauce over the pasta early or the pasta will absorb it



Borscht – Winter Stew

March 20, 2012 - Written by Diana

Borscht, a winter stew, has a long tradition in Russia and Ukraine. This recipe is from Cook Wild: Year-Round Cooking on an Open Fire by Susanne Fischer-Rizzi.  I made this dish for dinner, and it was very delicious. It is vegetable dense, with lots of red beets turning everything a bright red, and very pretty. This stew has a lot of steps to it, so you will be close to the fire cooking for a good amount of time to prepare, but it’s worth the time you put into it. Though it serves 6 – 8, there are only 3 of us, so we had it for two meals, Yay for leftovers!

Borscht - Winter Stew
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Borscht - a Winter Beet Stew with Russian/Ukranian background. This recipe comes from Cook Wild - Year Round Cooking on an Open Fire
Recipe type: Main - Stew
Serves: 6-8
  • 1 lb beef brisket
  • 6 pints (12 cups) water
  • 3 beetroots uncooked
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 potatoes
  • 2 parsley roots
  • 2 onions
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 red pepper, pitted
  • 3 tomatoes skinned, pulp removed and quartered
  • oil for frying (eg sunflower oil)
  • ½ medium white cabbage
  • 2 cups green beans cut into pieces
  • salt and pepper
  • 1⅓ cups sour cream or creme fraiche
  1. Put the meat (in one piece) in a pot with water, bring to a boil and simmer for a while.
  2. If there is foam on the surface, skim it off.
  3. Add the beetroots)whole and peeled), some salt and the bay leaf and simmer for about 1 hour.
  4. Meanwhile, prepare the vegetables. Cut the potatoes and parsley roots into strips or slices. Quarter the onions, slice the carrots and cut the peppers into strips. Heat some oil in a pan and add the vegetables gradually (the onions first, the tomatoes last) and fry for about 10 minutes.
  5. Cut the cabbage into fine strips and boil in a separate pot with the green beans for 10-15 minutes and then strain.
  6. Add all the vegetables to the meat, cover and simmer for another hour.
  7. Take out the beetroot and the meat, cut them into small pieces and return to the soup. If the borscht is too thick at this point, add some water. Bring to a boil, season with salt and pepper and serve hot.
  8. Put a generous dollop of sour cream or creme fraiche on each portion of soup and, if available, sprinkle some freshly chopped dill over it. Serve with fresh bread or blinis - and vodka as desired.
Borscht tastes even better when you warm it up the next day. Fire - a fire with low flames for instant heat.

Easy Ground Beef Vegetable Soup in the Crockpot

November 10, 2011 - Written by Diana

Last Christmas, my sister in law Pam, gave me a copy of a church recipe book – Seasoned With Love that her church had created for a fundraiser.  It’s a fun family recipe book, the recipes were donated by the congregation.  When I was out east taking care of mom, my mother in law stayed with my son.  He’s 19 and old enough to live alone, but we knew that boys with girlfriends who live nearby probably should be supervised.  That, and he doesn’t always eat enough to sustain himself. So we asked mom to come.

Mom made my college son this soup (contributed by Kellie Loudin) and since there were enough leftovers, my husband and I had a bowl when we arrived home.  The soup was delicious but the best part was my son.  He told us his grandmother made this soup that was easy – just cook up the ground beef, dump it and the vegetables into a pot and let it cook.  (more…)

Keep It Simple – Crockpot Beef Stew in Red Wine

May 19, 2011 - Written by Diana

As you know, I am a big fan of keeping it simple.  You can ruin a dinner by fussing too much.  My dad was a perfectionist and though his meals were technically perfect, sometimes there were other factors. Ask my mom how her friends loved dinner with my dad when his perfect meal didn’t show up until 9:00.  Ask how much we loved running out to the store at the last minute to pick up the perfect ingredient, that he couldn’t do without because the recipe called for it, and he didn’t do substitutions. Some of my favorite meals take just a few ingredients and a little bit of time.  Spending a couple of hours preparing an appetizer that disappears within a couple of seconds can be such a let down and who wants to come home to start a really in-depth dinner, when you just want to relax? This stew is super easy, fast and delicious.  I start meals like this before I go to work.  The first one home adds the carrots and cooks up some noodles.  Put it all together and dinner is done.


In a hot pan with two tbs olive oil, quickly saute the beef and onions.  Place into crock pot along with the rest of the ingredients. The wine and beef broth should cover the beef evenly.  Place the crock pot on medium.  When you come home from work, peel and slice carrots and add to the crock pot.  Cook up noodles.  Eat when the carrots are tender.  Serve the beef stew over noodles.  Yum.

Grilled Veal Chops in a Red Wine Sauce

September 13, 2010 - Written by Diana

The kids are gone, so bring out the good meat.  Does that sound bad?  When you have kids sometimes you want a bit of something more, but spending the money with teens around could be a waste since they consume every thing in two minutes and then run.  It’s difficult to want to cook dinner some nights with just two of you, but if you can change it up a little and make it interesting, it’s worth it.  I thought veal chops was just the thing to change it up a little.  I grilled the meat and then made a red wine sauce to go over it.  Simple fast and easy – even for a busy work or date night.


Brush veal with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and grill on a hot grill pan (or on the grill).   In the second pan, melt butter.  Slice shallots and throw into hot butter along with the sage leaves.  When the onions are soft and carmelized, add the red wine.  Simmer until it is reduced.

Turn the veal after about 5 minutes.  Plate up and pour the red wine sauce over top, letting it rest for a couple of minutes.  This is less than 15 minutes for the veal chops to be ready and served.  Fast and easy, but delicious.

Steak and Roasted Corn Salsa Stew(p)

March 7, 2010 - Written by Diana

I found a bag of roasted corn in the grocery store that inspired this stew/soup. Salsas always make me think of summertime, sitting on the deck reading a book and snacking on salsa and chips.  Well, the deck is being used to stain wood right now, and my husband’s hands got really cold while he worked, so a warm meal was in order.  I had some chuck roast that I diced and sautéed with onions and peppers, before cooking the rest of the way in a beef broth and adding the rest of the ingredients.  This is a quick soup to make, and was on the table in about an hour. If you double the ingredients, you can freeze a batch for another meal.  I dolloped sour cream on top to mix in, which my son thought was great – and oh by the way dear daughter, we do not have any avocados in the fridge like you promised – those are limes!  I would have chopped up some avocados to place on top with the sour cream if I had some – I was assured that I did. Even without the avocados this was a fantastic stew(p). Summer and Winter all rolled up into one delicious tasting pot of good for you food.




Heat up oil, sauté onions, garlic and beef in bottom of deep pot – add in a little salt and pepper to the beef.  When the onions are soft, pour in beef broth.  Simmer until the beef is about ready, then add the other ingredients one by one.  Let the temp come up and add the next ingredient. Squeeze Lime into soup. Salt and Pepper to taste.  Add more than one pepper if you like it really spicy.  We like the slightly spicy taste, but we’re weak stomached wimps when it comes to really spicy. Dollop sour cream on top of your soup when serving.  If you have some avocado, dice it up and add it too.  We ate them with chips instead of crackers – and that’s my suggestion for you too, because it turned out so great.