Tag Archives: Dinner

Orzo with Veggies and Feta

Orzo with Feta

Orzo with Feta

I’ve been thinking about making something with orzo for a while, and saw a good recipe on Tasty Kitchen and thought I’d give it a try.  But you know me, I can’t follow directions when it comes to food, so, as always, I added my own touch on the recipe.

The asparagus I had was already roasted (LOVE! roasted asparagus) so that was one variation from the original recipe.  Another was the tomatoes.  I love tomatoes, and Sendik’s had cute little cherry tomatoes on sale.  These aren’t good enough to eat on their own yet, but are good enough to cook with (the added spiced and other things in the dish help out the paper-like taste of winter tomatoes).

1/2 cup orzo
1/2 lb spinach
1 cup cherry tomatoes (halved)
1/2 cup roasted asparagus (sliced on the diagonal in bite-sized pieces)
2 cloves garlic (minced)
Feta (as much as you like)
2 TB olive oil
Salt, black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder to taste.

1. Cook orzo according to package directions
2. Let the minced garlic infuse the olive oil on relatively low heat, so it doesn’t burn, until you can smell it (or about 5 minutes)
3. Add the spinach and cook down a bit
4. Add the tomatoes, season, and cook together for about 5 minutes
5. Add the roasted asparagus and orzo
6. Add the feta

Garlic infusing oil

Garlic infusing oil

Cooked spinach

Spinach cooked down


Added the tomatoes


Added orzo and asparagus

Added feta

Added feta


Beef Stroganoff

Beef Stroganoff

Beef Stroganoff

After making the Mushroom Stroganoff I wanted to make the real thing. Especially considering that I haven’t had beef stroganoff in at least ten years. Yeah, I couldn’t believe it either when I started thinking about it. I actually don’t remember the last time I had it. And after I made the mushroom stroganoff, I started searching for recipes. But as you know, I have a hard time following a recipe. So, I decided to combine a few and the ones I liked were the Paula Dean version and a Cooking Light version.  Here is what I came up with:

1 lb of beef (I used the already-cut-up beef that you can find at your local grocery store)
3 TB of flour (this depends on your beef; you could use more or less)
24 oz. of mushrooms, sliced thinly (less mushrooms if you like less)
1 cup of low-fat sour cream
1 large onion, diced
Spices to taste (salt, black pepper, paprika, chipotle pepper)

Cook noodles according to package directions.
1. In a zip bag, season and flour the meat. Shake it to make sure the flour, salt, and pepper cover the meat.
2. In a large skillet, saute the onions and then the meat.
3. Add the mushrooms once the meat is done.
4. Once the mushrooms reduce, add sour cream and cook over low heat till you have a nice sauce and no lumps and the meat is cooked through.
Add seasonings as you go along to deepen the depth of flavor.

Serve over noodles.

Onions and meat

Onions and meat

Mushrooms added

Mushrooms added

Sauce for stroganoff

With Sour Cream

Beef Stew

When it’s as cold as it is now, I always want something hearty, like a chili or a stew.  Since I made chili on Friday, today was the day to make the stew.

I was looking for an easy and quick stew recipe, but seems like those don’t exist.  But I like a lot of Ina Garten’s recipes, and wanted to try her stew. Here’s the recipe to the original: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/parkers-beef-stew-recipe/index.html

It turns out I can’t really follow directions.  That, and my dutch oven isn’t as big as hers, so I had to make alterations to the original recipe in terms of quantities and herbs (I really dislike rosemary – to me, it makes everything taste like mold).

So here is my version, inspired by Ina Garten’s recipe:

2 lb of beef
2 whole garlic cloves, smashed
3 bay leaves
2 cups all-purpose flour
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Good olive oil
2 yellow onions, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 pound carrots, peeled and cut diagonally in 1 1/2-inch chunks
1/2 pound white mushrooms, stems discarded and cut in 1/2
1 pound small potatoes, halved or quartered
1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
2 cups or 1 (14 1/2-ounce can) chicken stock or broth
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
tomatoes (I used 1 14 oz. can, but if you have fresh ones, that’ll be great too)
Red wine (I used a half bottle of what I had already opened)

Place the beef in a bowl with red wine, garlic, and bay leaves. Place in the refrigerator and marinate overnight. A few hours would be fine too, or even a few days, but not more than 2.

The next day, or in a few days (yes, I was too tired on Friday to cook this in addition to the chili I already had going) preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.

Cut up all the veggies, drain the meat in a colander but save the liquid. Dredge the beef in flour and brown the meat.
In the dutch oven, saute the onions and carrots. Then add mushrooms and potatoes. Cook for about 5 minutes or so until the onions are softened.

Add the browned meat to the veggies. Add the stock and canned tomatoes (I used these ’cause I don’t have any sun-dried ones).

Reduce the wine and sieve it into the dutch oven.

Bring everything to a boil. Once everything is boiling, put the lid on and place into the oven for about 2 hours, or until everything is fork-tender.
Note: I added my own spices: coriander, paprika, bay leaves, and several spice blends (Balti, Chili con Carne, and Southwest) from Penzey’s spices.


Thanksgiving Spread

Thanksgiving Spread

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, in large part because I love all the cooking.  Most people dread all the cooking, but I even take Wednesday off so I can make a few “spares”, just in case something doesn’t turn out and people still leave with overstuffed bellies.  I still love the holiday, despite the mandatory family squabbling.  But without further delay, here is the menu I’m planning (and yes, I take help where I can):


  • Chicken wings (not a Thanksgiving staple, but I love them and they seem to go over pretty well with the family).  See above
  • Seafood puffs (puff pastry stuffed with seafood, store bought, and I hope they’re good).
  • Smoked Salmon and Goat Cheese Pizza Bites
  • Smoked Mackerel (this can be found in most Russian food stores; ask for “skumbria”)
  • Baked Asparagus with Cheese
  • Shrimp with sauce
Whole fish

Whole fish

Fish in pieces

Fish in pieces






  • Seafood salad
  • Olivie? (a French salad, and every cook in former USSR has her/his own twist on it. This one is a maybe since I don’t like peeling potatoes or cutting cooked potatoes.) I decided not to make it this time.
  • Egg salad and mushroom


Main Course:

  • Baked potatoes (my family is averse to mashed potatoes with skins and I am averse to pealing potatoes)
  • Stuffing (of the StoveTop variety. My family will accept no other.)


Zephyr in Chocolate

Zephyr in Chocolate

  • I bought two pies at Sweet Pies of Door County and we’ll have that. They’re yummy, try one.
  • I also bought a Russian-style dessert called Zephyr in Chocolate. I’m not exactly sure what’s in it, but it seems a marshmallow-type substance covered in dark chocolate.

Recipes and pictures for all these to follow.


I started making chili a few years ago. I always wanted to know how, but none of my friends made it, so I followed the recipe on the back of a can of beans. But as always, I modified it to my liking.

1 LB of buffalo (or turkey or chicken, any lean meat is good here)
2 16-oz cans of beans (I use Bush’s, but if you have your favorite, use those)
1 16-oz can of diced tomatoes (today I used italian-style, but anything would work)
1 medium-large onion (diced)
3 cloves of garlic (minced)
1-2 TBs of olive oil
1 or 2 red bell peppers (I used a red and yellow here)
A handful of spaghetti (optional, but I put it in mine)
3-4 cups of water (depending on if you’re adding pasta and how thick you like your chili)
The following are to taste: salt, freshly ground black pepper, cumin, corriander, chili powder, sweet paprika.

In a large pan (I use a dutch oven) cook the diced onion and minced garlic in olive oil until golden brown. Add the meat and seasoning. This is what it should like:

meat and onions chili    meat and onions chili 

Add beans, tomatoes, peppers, and water. If you will add pasta, then for now, just add 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil. This is what mine looks like at this stage:
chili with meat, beans, and tomatoes

Cover and simmer for about 15-20 minutes on medium-low heat.

If you’re going to add the pasta, add the remaining water and salt liberally (if you don’t, it will taste a little sweet because the pasta absorbs the salt that’s already in the chili). I like to break up my pasta (it’s too long if you don’t break it up). Here is an example:
chili with pasta   chili with pasta
Cover and simmer for about 15-20 minutes on low heat. 

A most delicious result. Voila!