Author Archive

Bacon Wrapped Pork Tenderloin

May 26, 2012

Greetings from Austin! This is a recipe that I got from a friend down here and that I served last night to rave reviews.  The amounts of spices are not specified because it depends on how big your roast is . I served it with sweet potato casserole and fresh green beans. It makes your house smell fabulous!

1 pork tenderloin

onion powder, garlic powder, thyme, fresh rosemary



1. Trim the tenderloin of all visible fat, and mix up your spices and rub all over the roast.

2. Wrap the roast with individual pieces of bacon to cover the whole roast. Place in a baking dish with a lid or cover with foil tightly.

3. Roast for 1.5 hours at 350*, then remove the top of the roaster and turn on the boiler to brown up the bacon.  Careful here, it can burn quite quickly. Remove to a carving board and let the roast rest for 10 minutes, covered, then slice and enjoy!


Beef Stroganoff

August 1, 2011

I tried so many recipes for Beef Stroganoff that turned out badly that I decided that I must just not like it. But what is there not to like: beef in a creamy sauce that has slowly simmered all day, smelling wonderful, only to taste a gluey mess that was too salty by far, thanks to the inevitable use of a package of onion soup mix. Then a magazine I subscribe to, called Cooks Country ( a more down home version of Cook’s Illustrated, as seen on PBS), broke down the ingredients in a package of onion soup mix to make it more natural and far less salty. So I tried the concoction in my next batch and it turned out GREAT! Now I use the substitution whenever onion soup mix is called for , usually to wonderful results. This magazine is for real foodies, who enjoy the whys and wherefores of a recipe, and how it came to fruition, how they tested the recipe 50 times before printing it. The magazine also does not accept advertizing and does reviews on various kitchen implements and ingredients giving them star ratings. Ok, enough about my bed time reading.

Mix to replace onion soup mix

3 T cornstarch

4 t onion powder

2 t brown sugar

1 t garlic salt

1 t instant espresso powder (can be bought either at The Bakers or Whole Foods)

1 t dried thyme


3 lbs stew beef

3 T oil

1 C red wine (it all cooks out!)

2-10 oz cream of mushroom soup

1 C sour cream

1. Brown the meat in the oil, transfer to slow cooker, and sprinkle with the special mix, turning to coat it all.

2. Add the red wine to the pan to deglaze (scrape up all the browned bits), mix in the soup and pour over the meat. Cover and cook on high 3-3 1/2  hours, or on low 6-7  hours. Stir in the sour cream and serve over noodles.

Ninfa’s Chili Con Queso

June 16, 2011
Immature jalapeno capsicum annuum var annuum

Image via Wikipedia

It was a very sad  day for us when we returned to Austin to find out that our favorite Mexican Cantina had closed and was only available in Houston, a city we avoid like the plague. So when their recipe for their Queso became known, we tried it and found it to be a comforting part of Austin in Jeffersonville. Even though we now have a Chuys ( a Tex Mex restaurant that started in Austin), it is good, but we are still praying for a Ninfa’s!

1 Cup of milk

1 1/2 lbs Velveeta

1/2 Cup of half and half

2 1/2 oz grated cheddar

1 oz diced green pepper

1/2 oz diced jalapenoes

1 oz diced onion

1 oz diced celery

3 1/2 oz diced tomatoes

1 oz pickled jalapeno

2 sprigs of fresh cilantro

1. Place milk, half and half and Velveeta in a heavy bottomed saucepan or on top of a double boiler, cook over low-medium low until melted. Add the cheddar, stir until melted.

2. Lightly saute the pepper, onion and jalapeno in a little butter.

3. Add the tomatoes, pickled jalapeno, cilantro and celery and the saute mix into the cheese mix

Caramelized French Onion Soup

March 14, 2011
Brown and white onions

Image via Wikipedia

I got this recipe from Southern Living a hundred years ago, and it is a hit with most adults.  The caramelized onions that are the base are great on burgers too! It does take a long time to cook but it is all in the slow cooker, so it is pretty hands off. From experience I have learned not to put the onions on to cook overnight, because I keep waking up hungry from the delicious smell!!!

Caramelized Onions

3 lbs of onions, cut in half, then thinly sliced

10 oz beef broth

1/4 C butter

1. Combine all ingredients in slow cooker and cook on high for 8 hours.

2. Store in an airtight container in fridge for up to 2 weeks, or in freezer for 2 months.


1 recipe of caramelized onions

10 oz beef broth

10 oz beef consomme

2 C water

1/2 t thyme

1/4 C red wine

bread and cheese

1. Combine first 6 ingredients in slow cooker. Cover and cook on high for 2-2 1/2 hours.

2. Either ladle into oven proof bowls, top with french bread slices and grated cheese, then broil until bubbly, OR broil some French bread with grated cheese on top and then float in soup.

Chocolate Flan Cake

January 30, 2011

This cake is one of our favorites, and is impressive to look at to boot! Everyone is always surprised by how easy it is to make.

Chocolate Flan Cake

1 box of chocolate cake mix

10 oz jar of caramel sauce

1 can sweetened condensed milk

1 can evaporated milk

1/2 C milk

8 oz cream cheese, softened

1 t vanilla

5 eggs, plus the number needed for the cake mix

1/4 C sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 350*. Prepare the cake mix per the instructions, then set aside. Grease a bundt cake pan, the pour the caramel sauce in.

2. Beat the cream cheese until smooth, then add the remaining ingredients, beating to combine. There will still be a few lumps of cream cheese, and this is fine.

3. Pour the flan mix over the caramel. Ladle the cake batter on top of the flan mix, it will sink but that is fine. Cover the pan tightly with foil, then place in a large roasting pan. Pour water into the roasting pan, halfway up the side of the Bundt pan and place in the oven.

4. Bake for 2 hours. Remove the bundt pan from the oven and the water, and let it cool a minimum of 30 minutes before unmolding (I have tried to rush this part, and it all slides apart, so here,as in life in general, patience is a virtue!).

Grandmother’s Recipe, and an Updated Version

January 27, 2011

My Grandmother, Mary Delvoie (whom we all called Baba) was an extraodinary woman.  Not only did she raise my father in wartime London during the Blitz, but she also worked for the Special Operations Executive, where she briefed and debriefed spies. The SOE was responsible for making exploding cigars, some of which were found in  Hitler’s bunker at the end of the war.

Baba hated to cook, and her philosophy was: learn to make 2 or 3 dishes really well, and you will be set for life. One such dish was Boeuf Bourgignon, and another was Cervelle de Veau, which translates as Calves Brains. After much thought I’ve decided to put up for your consideration the first and a fast and pared down version that is put together in a slow cooker. Try the original, it is well worth the effort and I make it for company. Make it the day before, not only does it give you peace of mind on the day of your company, it also helps to blend the ingredients. The alcohol cooks out of the dish.

Boeuf Bourgignon

8 oz bacon, diced

2 C frozen pearl onions (thawed)

3 lbs of stewing meat, cubed

1 large carrot, diced

1 onion, diced

2 cloves of garlic, pressed

1 1/2 t salt

1/2 t crushed thyme

1/4 t pepper

1 bayleaf

3 C Burgundy wine (Beaujolais or Pinot Noir)

1. Cook the bacon in a large Dutch oven, remove and reserve the drippings.

2. Add the oearl onions to the drippings and cook until well browned, remove and set aside.

3. Coat the meat the meat with flour, cook in batches, adding a bit of oil as the drippings get used up. Don’t over-crowd the pan with meat, as it will steam as opposed to brown. Patience is a virtue! Remove the meat as it browns.

4.Add the onion and carrot, and cook until softened. Return the meat to the pot, add the bacon, garlic, salt and pepper, thyme, bayleaf and wine. Bake in a 350* oven for 3 and a half hours.

5. One hour before serving add the pearl onions. Mix together 2 T butter (softened) and 2 T of flour, and add to the beef to thicken.

Beef Burgundy

1/3 C flour

salt and pepper

2 lbs stew meat, cubed

1 1/2 C baby carrots

1 onion, chopped

1 clove of garlic, crushed

1 bayleaf

10 oz beef consomme

1 1/2 C red wine

1. Combine the flour, salt and pepper to crockpot. Stir the beef into the flour mix until well coated. Add remaining ingredients.

2. Cover and cook on low 8 hours.

Quick and Simple Pastas

December 15, 2010

When I left home to go to nursing school, I knew how to make 2  things: Chef Boyardee Pizza, and real macaroni and cheese.  I used to grate all the cheese for the mac and cheese, stand over the stove and stir together a white sauce (or bechamel), ever fearful that the milk would scorch. Up until this year that has been how I’ve always made it, that is until I found a recipe in an old cookbook called What Can I Bring?  It looked far to simple to work, but to my great delight it did and even my pickiest eater happily chows down on this super easy dish. I use preshredded cheese, and quick cooking rotini pasta (3 minutes to al dente!) to speed up the process. It is best hot out of the oven, and does not hold well for transport (to a potluck for example).

Baked Macaroni and Cheese

2 C quick cooking macaroni

2 C of milk

1/4 C of flour

1 t onion salt

3 C shredded cheese

1. Preheat the oven to 350* and grease a 9 by 13 dish. Cook the macaroni.

2. While the water is coming to a boil for the macaroni mix together the milk, flour and onion salt (I use a measuring cup), and let stand while the pasta is cooking.

3. Return the drained pasta to the saucepan and add the milk mix and 2 C of the shredded cheese. Mix well and turn into the baking dish. Top with remaining cheese.

4. Bake for 45 minutes, turn on the broiler to brown up the cheese a bit.

The second recipe is also very simple and quick to put together. The original recipe is called Penne with Pancetta, but since I can only find real pancetta (an special Italian bacon type meat) it has been rechristened Penne with Tomato and Bacon Sauce. The sauce freezes very well.

6 slices of bacon, finely chopped

1 medium onion, finely chopped

3 cloves of garlic, crushed

24 oz crushed tomatoes

salt and pepper to taste

12 oz cooked penne pasta

1. Cook the bacon in a large Dutch oven in a little bit of olive oil to keep it from sticking, until crisp then remove with a slotted spoon, reserving the drippings.

2. Cook the onion and garlic in the drippings until soft, 7-8 minutes. Add the crushed tomatoes, and simmer for 15-20 minutes. If you have fresh basil or oregano add this as well.

3. Mix the pasta with the sauce (I do this in the pasta pot,  ladling in sauce just until it is evenly coated, saving any extra for another time). Stir bacon and parmesan and serve immediately.

Country Crust Bread

November 17, 2010

I’ve been a huge fan of Southern Living and their annual cookbooks for many years, and this year’s has already paid for itself, in a wonderful bread recipe that I adapted for my breadmaker. I never did get the knack of kneading…I’m a big fan of dump and push a button.


Country Crust Bread

1 C warm water

1 egg

1/8 C of oil

½ T lemon juice

3 C bread flour

¼ C sugar

½ T salt

1 envelop of yeast (or 2 ¼ t yeast)

½ T oil to brush the unbaked loaf

1 T butter, melted, for the baked loaf


1.    Place the first 8 ingredients in the bread machine in the order listed and set on the dough cycle.

2.    At the end of the cycle, remove from the pan to a floured surface, and let it rest for 10 minutes. Preheat your oven to 200*, then turn off. Roll the dough out to a 9 by 18” rectangle, then roll up tightly from the short side. Pinch the seams to seal, and tuck the ends in under the loaf. Place in a buttered 5 by 9” loaf pan, brush with oil, and cover with saran wrap. Place the pan in the oven and allow the dough to rise 45-60 minutes.

3.    Remove bread from the oven, and preheat it to 375*. Bake the bread for 25-30 minutes. Immediately remove from the loaf pan to wire rack and brush with melted butter. Allow to cool completely (if you have that much willpower!) before slicing.


Sweet and Sour Chicken

November 1, 2010

Grace and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ!

I love to cook, I admit it. Everything about preparing a meal, with the exception of the clean up, is fun. In the evenings when my husband is studying, I do some study of my own: cookbooks. I read them, obsessively, like novels. I’ve told Greg that we will need to move soon because I have combed through all of the cookbook collections from the local libraries.  As I move through the book, I have little pieces of scrap paper to mark recipes that I think sound or look good. Once through the whole book, I go through it again and decide if the marked recipes are worth the time and ingredients to make. I hate it when a recipe turns out badly, the waste of money makes me mad, so I’m pretty choosy. The almond macaroons were worth the $5 of almond paste, but the stuffed French toast not so much (it was a soggy mess). For every great recipe I find, I make 2 clunkers that have my family longing for the sight and smell of the golden arches! I have limited myself to 2 new recipes a week, and my family thanks me, especially after a couple of bad weeks!

Those recipes that are “keepers”, as my family calls them, go into The Book, which is now in its second edition. It’s also been split in two with appetizers to meats in volume one and desserts through breads in volume two. These are recipes I use over and over and that my picky girls will generally eat.

So today, with this first blog post I start with a recipe that has the seal of approval from even the pickiest of my eaters (Rebecca ate an unheard of  6 pieces of this chicken): Sweet and Sour Chicken. I got this recipe from the recipe wing of The Pioneer Woman blog.

A note about this recipe: it is messy to make, between the dipping in cornstarch then in egg. Your phone will no doubt ring just as your fingers take on a sausage like appearance of paste, your child will wail that their movie doesn’t work, or your dog will take on that desperate look in their eyes that mean only one thing! Fear not, it is all worthwhile, as is the turning every 15 minutes while it bakes (using a large flat spatula makes easy work of this part). So without further ado:

Sweet and Sour Chicken

3 skinless and boneless chicken breasts, cubed to about 1”

1 C of cornstarch

2 whole eggs, beaten lightly

¼ C of oil

¾ C sugar

4 T ketchup

½ C white vinegar

1 T soy sauce

1 t garlic powder

1.   Dip the chicken in the cornstarch then the egg.

2.  Fry the nuggets in batches in the oil until browned on both sides. Place in a single layer in a 9×13” baking dish.

3.  Mix together the sugar, ketchup, vinegar

4.  Soy sauce and garlic powder, then pour over the chicken.

5.  Bake the chicken at 325* for 1 hour, turning every 15 minutes.

I generally serve this with white rice and some stir fried vegetables.