Mongolian Beef

Hello all–  We’re nestled in for the night here in Madison Wisconsin.  Loved our Laurel and John’s “Wisconsin wedding weekend in the woods!”  plus a little woodsy hiking and a lot of water-parking with grand-girls since then.  So actually, I haven’t been cooking up much lately!!

But here’s super at our house back in California a couple weeks ago.  Rich brown sauce wrapped around tender chunks of beef –all over brown rice.  Simple and so good.

1 cup brown rice
2 tab. cornstarch
1 pound flank steak
2 tab. olive oil
1 inch piece of ginger, peeled & minced
1/2 yellow onion, chopped fine
1 cup brown mushroom, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
garnish: green onion, chopped

1/4 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup water
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tsp. cornstarch

Put the rice on to cook according the directions on the package.

Then put the sauce together.  In a container with a tight fitting lid shake together the soy sauce, water, brown sugar and 2 tsp. cornstarch until it is thoroughly blended.  Set aside.

Cut the flank steak into 1/4 inch strips.  Toss it in a bowl with the 2 tab. cornstarch.  Heat the olive oil in a nonstick skillet. And then drop the meat in an even layer int he bottom of the skillet.  Cook on high for just about a minute on each side so it has a nice crisp char.  Remove to a plate.

In the same skillet, drop in the ginger and onion.  Cook 2 or 3 minutes until the onion is translucent.  Then add in the mushroom and garlic and cook a couple minutes more.

Give the sauce ingredients one more good shake and then pour it all into the hot pan over the onion mixture.  Stir until it thickens and then add in the beef.

Layer the cook rice and beef & sauce onto a plate.  Sprinkle the top wit green onion.  Done!


Chicken Stroganoff


Hello there– I’ve got a BIG project on my plate right now… I’m going through our 10,000 slides/photos of the years when our kids were growing up so we can send of 2,000 of them to be digitized.  Whew!  It’s taking forever and these days I’m awash in nostalgia– so many photos of kids blowing out birthday candles or building villages from legos.  Photos of days in the countryside with dear old  friends and vacations across Spain (our home then) and points beyond…  It’s been grand.

So here’s a nostalgic dish– the kind my mom used to make– chicken in a rich gravy over creamy noodles.  Good (and delicious!) old fashioned food.

10 oz. medium egg noodles
1 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
2 tab. olive oil
1 boneless chicken breasts, cut in 1″ bits
2 cup sliced cremini mushrooms (about 8 oz.)
1 small onion, chopped fine
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 tab. butter
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup white wine
2 cups chicken broth
salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
1/3 cup sour cream
tab. fresh thyme leaves for garnish

Cook the egg noodles according to the directions on the package in salted water.

In a mixing bowl, stir together the garlic powder, dried thyme, paprika, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper.  Cut up the chicken and drop the small pieces into the mixing bowl with the spices.  Turn them with a spoon until they are thoroughly coated.  Heat the olive oil in a skillet and drop in the chicken.  Cook 5 to 6 minutes until the pieces are toasty brown and cooked through.  Remove the chicken from the pan.

In the same skillet cook the sliced mushrooms for 4 or 5 minutes until they are tender and savory.  You may need to add a bit more olive oil to the pan. Take out the mushrooms and set them aside with the chicken.

In the skillet, now drop in the chopped onion and cook until they bits are al tender and slightly browned.  Add the garlic and cook 1 minute more.  Put in the butter.  When it’s melted, add the 1/4 cup flour and stir to make a paste in the skillet.  Then add in the white wine and cook one minute.  Add the chicken broth and stir until the sauce thickens.  It will take a couple minutes.

Taste the sauce in the skillet.  Add salt & freshly ground pepper until it’s perfectly seasoned (about 1/4 tsp. each).   Then stir in the chicken, mushrooms and sour cream.

Layer the noodles on a large platter.  Spoon the stroganoff over the top.  Garnish with fresh thyme leaves. So delish. Serve it up hot from the stove top with a crisp salad– dinner!



Parmesan Pasta with Mushrooms & Spinach


Hey there– We’ve been eating our share of salads and light summer suppers– but once in a while you get into a mood and only a plate of pasta will do.  This one is delectable– creamy and cheesy and garlicky– with all those mushrooms and spinach.  So satisfying.  ( I won’t admit that I had a little bowl for breakfast the next morning!).  I think you might really like it too– when that pasta craving hits.


8 oz. pasta*
3 to 4  tab. olive oil
8 oz. crimini mushrooms, cut in half
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
4 cloves garlic
1 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup whole milk (or half & half)
1/3 cup parmesan cheese
1 tsp. cornstarch
3 cups spinach, cut in shreds


Cook the pasta according to the directions on the box, using lightly salted water.

Heat the olive oil in a heavy skillet.  Drop in the cut mushrooms and cook, stirring a bit for 3 or 4 minutes until they are tender.  Salt & pepper them while they cook.  Add in the garlic and cook one 1 minute more.

Then pour in the chicken stock and milk.  Bring to a low simmer and cook 2 minutes.  Stir in the parmesan cheese.  Mix the cornstarch with 1/4 cup water in a container with a tight fitting lid and shake it up until the cornstarch is completely dissolved and stir it into the simmer sauce until it thickens.

Drop in the shreds of spinach and cook 1 minute more until it is wilted and tender.  Then drain the pasta and spread it onto a platter.  Top it with the mushroom-spinach sauce.  Serve it up hot, maybe with another sprinkle of parmesan on top!

*Used my very favorite angel hair pasta, pick your own fave.


Coq au Vin

IMG_3467Hello there–  Some people like to ski down steep mountain slopes and others like to skydive or run marathons… But my preferred form of adrenaline rush is rustling up a meal on a Saturday  and spending the evening with old comfortable friends,  talking late around the table.  What could be better than that?

That’s what we did last Saturday night.  Often those kinds of evenings are over simple bowls of soup or a pizza.  But this time I wanted to do something more.  So I settled on this coq au vin– starting with Ina Garten’s recipe and adding bits and pieces of recipes I could google up.  It was a fun project and was fine to share with friends.  I think you’d like it too.

4 slices thick bacon, cut to bits
3 boneless chicken breasts
salt & freshly ground pepper
2 carrots, peeled and cut into rounds
1/2 yellow onion, chopped fine
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup red wine dry red wine
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 cup frozen pearl onions
1 tab. cornstarch
5 thyme sprigs
4 oz. crimini mushrooms, sliced
2 tab. butter

IMG_3479In a large skillet, cook the pieces of bacon until they are browned and crispy.  Remove them from the pan.  Leave about 2 tab. of bacon fat in the pan.

Cut the chicken breasts horizontally to make thinner filets.  Season them well with a good amount of salt & pepper.  Cook them in the hot skillet with the bacon fat, working in 2 bathes so you don’t crowd the pan.  Remove them to a baking dish.

In the skillet, saute the carrot pieces for 3 or 4 minutes.  Add in the chopped onion and cook until the onion just starts to brown.  Add in the minced garlic and cook a ;minute more.

Pour the wine and chicken broth over the carrots and onions and bring to a strong simmer for 10 minutes.  In a container with a tight fitting lid, shake together the cornstarch and 1/4 cup water.  Stir it into the simmering liquid in the skillet until it thickens.

Pour the sauce over the chicken in the baking dish and cover it with foil.  Put it into the oven for 20 to 25 minutes until the chicken is cooked through.

While that is cooking sauce the sliced mushrooms in the butter.

When the chicken comes out of the oven, Sift the chicken pieces onto a pretty platter, mix he reserved bacon and cooked mushrooms into the sauce and pour it over the chicken.  Serve it up nice and hot. Viola!

IMG_3483P.S. Part of the fun for me was setting it all out on new dishes!  I have had a large William Sonoma Gifts card in the drawer for 2 years unspent.  I do need a bundt pan, but would go there and couldn’t imagine paying $50 for a bundt pan!!  I know. I’m a cheap-skate.  So I just hung on to the card.  But recently I found a luscious set of Hanukkah dishes there, beautifully crazed, blue bordered with little stars of David tucked in the design–on super after Hanukkah markdown.  I couldn’t resist– so happily thankful for the beauty they lend to our table.

Kale Pesto Pizza with Sausage & Mushrooms

Hi Pizza Eating Friends–  My Larry is a kale eater.  In fact, he was a kale fan before kale was a “thing.”  We’d go to the soup/salad buffet in town and he’s embarrass the girls by loading the kale garnish onto his plate along with the red lettuce and radishes…

So when I cam across this kale pesto to start off the layers of a pizza, I thought he would really like this one!  It’s a nice gentle flavored pesto– I’m imagining it on ravioli or over a nice piece of baked chicken.  And with pizza it’s just grand.  Hope you try it!!


Crust (makes enough for 2 12″ pizza crusts)
1 package yeast
1 cup warm water*
1 tab. sugar
2 tab olive oil
1/2 tsp. salt
2 1/2 cups flour

Kale Pesto (enough for 2 pizzas):
6 cups kale, chopped finely
1/4 cup pine nuts
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup parmesan romano

Toppings (for 2 pizzas):
8 oz. mozzarella (or your favorite pizza cheese), grated
8 oz. Italian sausage (mild or hot)
3 oz. crimini mushrooms, chopped to bits
1/4 cup pine nuts to sprinkle on top

DSC00409Let the yeast dissolve in the water and then stir in the other ingredients.  Knead 3 to 4 minutes (you can add a little more flour if it feels too sticky)  and stretch the dough onto 2  12″ pizza pans that have been sprayed with cooking spray.  Put them in a warm place to rise while you do the rest of the prep.  (I turn the oven on for just 3 minutes, then turn it off to warm it a bit and set the pizza crusts in there to rise).

To make the pesto, drop the kale, 1/4 cup pine nuts, garlic, oil and parmesan romano into a blender and whirl it to a lovely green paste.

Cook the Italian sausage in a skillet, chopping it to fine bits.  Grate the cheese, chop the mushrooms.

Then take the rising crust from the oven and gently spread on the kale pesto.  Then sprinkle on the cheese, cooked sausage bits, mushrooms and pine nuts.

Pop the pizzas into a 375 degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes until they are browned and the crust is cooked through.  —Eat them while they’re hot with a colorful salad.



Chicken & Mushrooms with Dijon Onion Sauce

IMG_2855Hello there–  In my mind, you can’t have too many delicious saucy chicken dinners up your sleeve– something you can pull together for a weeknight dinner or serve up to friends for a Sunday supper.  And this one is savory and delicious with a scoop of rice or a pile of roasted potatoes.

2 large chicken breasts (boneless, skinless)
2 tab. olive oil
1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
6 oz. brown mushrooms, cut in quarters
1/2 cup red onion, cut in slices
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tab. rosemary, chopped fine
1 tab. seedy mustard
1/2 cup white wine
1/4 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup half & half (or cream)
2 tab. butter.
1 tab. cornstarch

Slice the chicken breasts horizontally to produce four flat chicken filets.  Mix the flour, salt and pepper together in a bowl.  Heat the olive oil in a skillet and then dredge the chicken in the flour mixture and drop it into the hot pan.  Cook it 2 to 3 minutes on each side until it is browned.  Remove the chicken to a plate and set aside.

Then add the red onion to the pan (you may need a splash more olive oil) and after a minute throw in the mushrooms and garlic.  Cook 5 minutes more.

Stir in the rosemary, mustard, white wine, chicken stock, half & half and butter.  Bring to a low simmer, blending it well.  Put the chicken back into the pan and let it simmer away for 10 to 12 minutes until the chicken is tender and cooked through.

To thicken the sauce, put your chicken on a pretty plate and cover it with another plate to keep it warm.  Then, in a container with a tight lid, shake together the cornstarch with 1/4 cup water until it’s thoroughly blended.  Stir it into the simmering sauce and stir until it thickens, just a minute or two.  Spoon the thickened sauce over the chicken.  That’s it.  So pretty and delicious!



Caramelized Onion & Spinach Pizza

IMG_2812Hello all-  On a Friday night, what’s better than pizza, something good on the “telly” and a comfy spot on the sofa– winding down at the end of the week??  Perfect.

Here’s a favorite of ours.  First had something like this at Cheese Board Pizza in Berkeley several years ago and it’s been coming out of our oven ever since.  Garlicky, onion-y good.  (and it makes 2 pizzas!)


1 package yeast
1 cup warm water*
1 tab. sugar
2 tab olive oil
1/2 tsp. salt
2 1/2 cups flour

Let the yeast dissolve in the water and then stir in the other ingredients.  Knead 3 to 4 minutes (you can add a little more flour if it feels too sticky)  and stretch the dough onto 2  12″ pizza pans that have been sprayed with cooking spray.  Put them in a warm place to rise while you do the rest of the prep.  (I turn the oven on for just 3 minutes, then turn it off to warm it a bit and set the pizza crusts in there to rise).

4 cloves of garlic, minced
1/3 cup olive oil*
4 onions (yes 4!!), chopped
Big splash of olive oil
8 oz. mozzarella, grated
4 oz. spinach, chopped
6 oz. brown mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup pine nuts

While the crust is rising, do all your chopping and grating of the topping ingredients.

Heat the splash of olive oil in a skillet.  Cook the onions for about 10 minutes until they are browned and caramelized.

Mix the garlic and 1/3 cup olive oil together.  Spread it over the raised crust.

Then layer on the onions, cheese, spinach, mushrooms and pine nuts.

Pop the 2 pizzas into a 350 degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes, until the pizza starts to brown around the edges.

*We love the Spanish Olive Oil from Trader Joe’s.  It tastes like cooking-smells floating out the windows in Seville on a hot summer night.  So rich and buttery.

Garlicky Spinach Mushroom Pizza

IMG_7812Hello friends–  After spending my days in the classroom with 3rd and 4th graders for several years, I can tell you that pizza is the overwhelming food favorite for those kids.  I’m a long way past 4th grade, but I’m still an enthusiastic pizza eater.  And here’s one we really thought was delish!

This recipe makes two 12″ garlicky good pizzas.  Even though it’s just Larry and me in the house these days, I still make double pizza so there’s leftovers to toast up at lunchtime the next week…


1 package yeast
1 cup warm water*
1 tab. sugar
2 tab olive oil
1/2 tsp. salt
2 1/2 cups flour

Let the yeast dissolve in the water and then stir in the other ingredients.  Knead 3 to 4 minutes (you can add a little more flour if it feels too sticky)  and stretch the dough onto 2  12″ pizza pans that have been sprayed with cooking spray.  Put them in a warm place to rise while you do the rest of the prep.  (I turn the oven on for just 3 minutes, then turn it off to warm it a bit and set the pizza crusts in there to rise).

4 cloves garlic
4 tab. olive oil
12 oz. mozzarella (or fontina), grated
4 cups baby spinach leaves, cut to shreds
6 oz. crimini brown mushrooms (or your favorite), cut into slices
1/4 cup parmesan reggiano
1/4 cup pine nuts (or walnuts)

Stir the garlic into the oil and spread it over the risen crust dough.  Over the oil sprinkle the mozzarella.  The layer on the spinach, mushrooms, parmesan and pine nuts.

Pop the pizzas into a 375 degree oven and cook it for 15 to 20 minutes until the cheese is melty and the crust is browned around the edges.  Eat it hot from the oven.  Oh yumm.


Mushroom and Fontina Pizza

IMG_0173Hey friends– Wish I could invite you all over to share this yummy pizza with us.  Larry and I went to Mozza Pizzeria last week for our anniversary and had a version of this delicious plateful.  So here’s my best imitation–minus their fancy brick wood burning oven!  It’s a simple pizza but oh so good!

I want to thank Trader Joe’s for this one.  I love their little boxes of crimini mushrooms, buttery fontina, minced frozen cubes of garlic, their fresh pecorino parmesan and real Spanish olive oil– oil that takes me back to flavors floating out kitchen windows in our pueblo on a summer night.


1 recipe pizza dough–makes 2 pizzas (see link below)*
8 oz. crimini mushrooms
8 oz. fontina cheese
1/4 cup olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup pecorino & parmesan cheese, grated

Make the dough for the crust and put it into a warm spot to rise while you prepare the rest of the pizza ingredients.  Slice the mushrooms as thinly as you can.  Grate the fontina. And mix the garlic into the olive oil.  Then spread the olive & garlic over the 2 crusts.  Then layer on the fontina, mushrooms and finally the parmesan.  Pop them in a 375 degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes until the cheese is starting to bubble and the crust is golden.  Makes 2 yummy pizzas– One for dinner, one for leftovers.

* crust recipe on this post:

Turkey Alfredo

IMG_8911Hey there–  I’m thankful for the person who first thought to team up butter, garlic and parmesan and load it onto pasta.  They were brilliant!  I love this simple little dish that helpfully used up the left over cooked turkey stashed in the freezer.  You could used chicken just as well.  I’ve been enjoying the leftovers all week for lunch at school…

8 oz. pasta –whatever is your favorite
2 cups cooked turkey, cut in chunks
8 to 10 crimini mushrooms, cut in nice little chunks
2 tab. olive oil
1/4 cup butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup flour
1 1/2  cups whole milk*
1/2 cup parmesan reggiano cheese
salt to taste (about 1/4 tsp.)

Put the water on to boil and cook up the pasta.   Then sear the mushrooms in the oil.  Remove them from the pan and wipe it clean.  Then melt the butter in the pan along with the garlic.  When it’s starts to simmer, stir in the flour to make a paste.  Then gradually mix in the milk, stirring all the while.  When it thickens into a creamy sauce, add in the cheese and turkey.  That’s it!  So much flavor for so little work.

Serve it up with a crispy salad and a sturdy chunk of good bread.  Dinner.

*We only had nonfat on hand and it worked just fine (although I’m sure whole milk could have/would have been creamier).

Mushroom Stew–A Lunch in China

IMG_1385Hi friends– Looking through summer photos last night and came upon this memorable lunch in a small village overlooking the Yangtze River.  Our Chinese friend Thomas, loaded us into his little van for a day up higher into the mountains over the Yangtze.  Midday we stopped for our lunch with a view and a big pot of mushroom stew.

IMG_1372We were greeted at the front window by the cook, attending her wok.  Notice the hole under the window for feeding logs into the fire.  The window out the back had views down the hills to the river.

IMG_5790  IMG_1374  IMG_5802Here ‘s a view of the kitchen and one of the ample bags of dried mushrooms ready for the wok.  Once the table was laid, Thomas and his young cousin, fill their rice bowls.

IMG_5797  Pork and Tofu Soup for lunchThomas poured the thermos full of scalding water over the tea leaves and filled our cups.  And after a wait while the stew was being stirred up in the wok, our lunch arrived on the table– mushrooms, tofu and pork– with rice, ginger, and chili spices to add in.

IMG_5796We ate our fill and chatted while we looked out over the rooftops and down to the brown waters of the Yangtze.  It was a lunch I won’t forget.  Thanks Thomas.

Pappardelle with Asparagus and Mushrooms

Hi Cooking Friends-  Dashing through Trader Joe’s I passed the pasta section and those Pappardelle noodles caught my eye.  With that in hand I grabbed a little box of crimini mushrooms and a bundle of the thinnest asparagus (along with a whole lot of other things) and imagined tonight’s dinner.  Don’t you love that store–the friendly checkers, those cheerful flowers to greet you at the door, the free sample lady…

8 oz. package of pappardelle pasta
1 cup thin asparagus, cut into 1 inch bits
2 cups crimini mushrooms, sliced
1/4 cup roasted red pepper cut in bits
2 tab. olive oil
2 tab. butter (maybe a bit more)
1 cup milk
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup parmesan romano cheese, grated

Cook the noodles in boiling water with a splash of oil and a dash of salt.  Meanwhile, heat a saute pan with the olive oil and butter.  Then cook of the asparagus until it’s tender– just about 2 minutes for thin asparagus.  Remove them from the pan and toss in the mushrooms and let them simmer a couple minutes as well.  Take them out and if the pan seems dry add in another couple tablespoons of butter.  Then 3 tab. flour.  Stir it up in the hot pan until it’s all combined into a paste and then continue stirring while you add your in the cup of milk.  Last mix in the parmesan.  Salt and pepper to taste (you don’t need much) and add in the cooked asparagus, mushrooms and red peppers.  If the sauce seems a little too thick, stir in 1/4 cup water or milk.  Serve over the drained pasta.

Dinner tonight:  This pasta dish along with greens and tomatoes from Larry’s garden topped with pine nuts and balsamic dressing– and rosemary sour dough bread.  Larry’s doing to dishes right now and then we’re going out to walk off our dinner.  Just right.