Steak, Carmalized Onion, & Brie Sandwiches

Carmalized Onion, & Brie Sandwiches

This is a very
simple, loose recipe, so don’t pay too much attention to measurements, just make
up your sandwich in however looks good to you! 
This is a great way to use up leftover steak, and the mix of flavors are
something we especially enjoy in the fall. 
Serve these up with some sliced apples, like Honeycrisp – they pair
wonderfully with the brie in the sandwich!

  • 2 sirloin
  • Seasoning
  • 2 tsp olive
  • 2 tsp
  • 1 medium onion,
    sliced into ¼ inch rings
  • Wedge of brie
    cheese (how much you use is up to you!)
  • 4 nice crusty
    French bread hoagie-type rolls, or a baguette cut into individual
  • Dijon
  • (Chris added
    some Mayo, too….)

If your steaks
aren’t already cooked, preheat oven to the broil setting.  Sprinkle them liberally with your favorite
seasoning salt on both sides, and set on a broiling pan (line bottom with tin
foil for easier clean-up).  Put in top
rack in oven and broil 4-6 minutes on each side, or until done to your
liking.  Take out of oven just before
they are to your liking, as they will continue to cook once they are out.  Set aside to rest for about 15

Caramelize the
onion:  heat butter and oil over medium
high heat in a large, heavy sauté pan. 
Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until they are soft, golden
brown, and caramelized.  Reduce heat to
medium low if needed to keep from burning. 
This will take approximately 25 minutes. 
Add a teaspoon or so of sugar at the end of cooking to bring out more of
the caramelized flavor.

Cut some thin
slices of brie.  Slice steak thinly
across the grain.  Assemble sandwiches,
spreading on some mustard, then layering some steak slices, a couple tablespoons
of onion, and thin slices of brie.  Broil
in oven until cheese is melty, just about 1-2 minutes, taking care not to

SUPER-yum. Enjoy!

Lemon Meringue Cake

Janene Tindall's Lemon Meringue Cake

I made this recipe for my sister’s birthday party, as it not only is as beautiful as it is tasty, it also doesn’t call for any hydrogenated oils (trans fats, like in Cristco), which she is allergic to.  This seems like an elaborate cake, but it really wasn’t, plus the cake can be made a day in advance and you can use purchased lemon curd for the filling in a pinch.  Enjoy!

Lemon Meringue Cake


·         4 large eggs

·         2 large egg yolks

·         3/4 cup whole milk

·         1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

·         1 tablespoon grated lemon peel

·         2 cups cake flour

·         1 1/2 cups sugar

·         2 teaspoons baking powder

·         1/2 teaspoon salt

·         1/2 cup vegetable oil

·         1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted, cooled


  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 4 egg yolks, lightly beaten
  • 4 teaspoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon peel


  • 4 egg whites
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 3/4 cup sugar


1.       Make cake:  Preheat oven to 350.  Butter two 9-inch-diameter cake pans with 2-inch-high sides.  Line bottom of pans with parchment paper; butter again.  Whisk eggs, yolks, milk, lemon juice, and lemon peel in medium bowl to blend. Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in large bowl to blend. Whisk oil and butter into flour mixture. Add egg mixture and whisk until smooth. Divide batter between prepared pans. Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Cool cakes on racks 10 minutes. Run knife around edge of pans to loosen cakes. Turn cakes out onto racks. Cool completely. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Wrap with plastic. Let stand at room temperature.)

2.      Make filling:  In a large saucepan, combine the sugar, cornstarch and salt. Stir in water and juice until smooth. Cook and stir over medium-high heat until thickened and bubbly. Reduce heat to low; cook and stir for 2 minutes longer. Remove from the heat. Stir a small amount of hot filling into egg yolks; return all to the pan, stirring constantly. Bring to a gentle boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat; gently stir in butter and lemon peel. Cool completely.

3.      Make meringue:  In a large bowl, beat egg whites and cream of tartar on medium speed until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, on high until stiff peaks form.  Cut each cake horizontally into two layers. Place bottom layer on an ovenproof serving plate; spread with a third of the filling. Repeat layers twice. Top with remaining cake layer.

4.      Finish cake:  Spread meringue over top and sides. Use your fingers to make even, decorative “flips” with the meringue.  Bake at 350° for 10-15 minutes or until meringue is lightly browned. Cool. Store in the refrigerator. 

Yield: 12-14 servings.


·         To save time, store-bought lemon curd will work in a pinch for the filling.

·         Anytime you’re going to beat stiff egg whites, remember to chill the whites, the beaters, and the bowl – the whites will stiffen in a flash!  Swirl some ice water and the beaters in the bowl, drain, and dry – or pop them in the freezer for a minute or two.

·         To make a lighter textured cake, sift the dry ingredients several times with a fine sifter.

Homemade French Toast

Fantastic Homemade French Toast

For many of you, school has started up again, and if you are like me, you find yourself rushed to get out the door on time (no matter where you’re going!). Breakfast time often suffers, and although I am not at all a fan of eating on the run, I do concede that eating on the go is better than not eating at all! This week we have been enjoying the very quick and tasty meal of French Toast. Save yourself the expense (not to mention preservatives!) of store-bought frozen waffles or toast, and make your own! You’ll find it surprisingly easy. Here’s what it takes:

French bread or a loaf Texas Toast

French Toast is very forgiving, and measurements do not need to be perfect. In general, 2 large eggs, about ¼ cup of milk, and ¼ teaspoon of cinnamon whisked well together will make about a half a loaf of bread’s worth of French Toast. Heat a non-stick skillet over medium high heat, and brush on a light layer of vegetable oil. Dredge each slice of bread in the egg mixture (both sides), and place on the skillet. You can cook several at once. Cook for about 2 minutes or until light brown and toasty, then flip. When that side is nice and toasty, remove to a plate. Keep cooking more bread until your egg mixture is all used up.

For freezing, separate the cooked, cooled slices with waxes paper, place in a freezer bag, and put in the freezer. When you need a quick breakfast, simply remove a couple of slices from the freezer and pop in the toaster. We like to spread on a little butter and maple syrup, and place two slices together like a sandwich. Easy to eat on the go!

Thoughtful Friday 8


Did you ever stop to taste a carrot?  Not just eat it, but taste it? You can't taste the beauty and energy of the earth in a Twinkie. ~Astrid Alauda

Grilled Hamburgers

These are the first hamburgers I ever made. Feel free to vary the ingredients, adding more Worcestershire sauce, breadcrumbs, and onion if you like more of a rich meatloaf-like flavor. Yum!

Yummy Grilled Hamburgers (or, as Chris calls them, the Perfect BBQ Burger)

  • 3 lb lean ground beef
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • ¾ cup breadcrumbs
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
  • ½ onion, finely minced
  • 1 garlic clove, finely minced
  • Salt, about 1 tsp
  • Pepper, about ½ tsp
  • Seasoned salt
  • Sautéed Mushrooms (optional)
  • Caramelized Onions (optional – see notes)

  1. Mix together the eggs, crumbs, onion, garlic, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Stir in ground beef until well mixed. I usually use my hands – kinda gross, but really does a great job.
  2. Form hamburger mixture into patties – remember that burgers really shrink down on the grill. This recipe will make 8-10 patties.
  3. Grill burgers as usual, sprinkling on some seasoning salt on both sides of each patty. While they are grilling, sauté your mushrooms: thickly slice about a pound of mushrooms (button or crimini, or a mixture of both), melt about 1 T button over medium high heat in a non stick pan, and add mushrooms. Stir fry over medium high heat until softened and lightly browned.

Note (optional) : Meanwhile, also caramelize your onions: Slice 1 medium onion (sweet is best – Vidalia or walla walla) into rings about ¼ inch thick. Melt about 2 tsp butter in a medium frying pan over medium high heat. Add onions. Cook on medium high, stirring occasionally, until they start to soften, just start to color, and look a little slimy. Turn heat down to medium low, and continue to cook until gooey dark brown and totally soft. Some people like to add a pinch of sugar toward the end to encourage that last bit of caramelizing. Process takes about 25 minutes, so they’ll be done when your burgers are done!

Makes about 8-10 burgers. Enjoy!

Summer Vegetable Pasta


This is a versatile recipe that makes the most of summer's bounty!  Use any fresh, favorite vegetable or herb that is in season.  The closer to your home it is grown, the more tasty and nutritious it will be.  Mess around with this all you want, just adjust the cooking times as necessary.

Summer Vegetable Pasta

10oz Whole wheat or spinach spaghetti or linguine
Cooking spray (or olive oil)
½ Sweet Onion (such as Walla Walla), chopped
1 small Zucchini, quartered lengthwise and chopped ¼”
½ Red Bell Pepper, chopped
½ Orange or Yellow Bell Pepper, chopped
¼ cup Sun-dried Tomatoes, packed in oil, drained and chopped
2 cups Grape tomatoes, halved
1 cup leftover cooked Chicken, shredded or chopped
¼ cup Kalamata Olives, chopped (optional)
½ cup Cream
2 Garlic Cloves, finely chopped
2 T Fresh Basil, minced
¼ – ½ cup shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese (
Salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain, reserving ½ cup of the cooking liquid, set aside. Return pasta to pot and set aside.

2. Coat medium sized stir fry pan with cooking spray (can use olive oil instead, if you like), and heat over medium high heat. Add onion, cook until it begins to soften, stirring occasionally (about 5 minutes).

3. Add zucchini, peppers, and dried tomatoes; stir fry until crisp tender, about 5 more minutes. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

4. Add cooked chicken, grape tomatoes, and olives if using. Cook until heated through, about another minute. Add to pasta in pot.

5. Add garlic to stir fry pan (add more spray or oil as needed), cook, stirring, until fragrant, being careful not to brown. Add reserved cooking liquid, cream, basil, and salt & pepper to taste. Simmer until reduced by about half. Add cheese to taste, stir until it melts.

6. Return pasta and veggie mixture to stir fry pan, and toss until pasta is coated with sauce. Top each serving with additional cheese.

Feeds 4 or so.  Email or comment if you have any questions.  Enjoy!


Sausage Kale Soup


Chris and I love to eat at Olive Garden restaurant, but the only thing we ever order is soup, salad, and breadsticks.  We only order their Zuppa Toscana.  A few years ago I tried my hand at recreating the recipe.  I just made it again tonight, and this time it tasted virtually the same.  Enjoy!

Read the recipe here…

Grilled Chicken Salad with Mango

Grilled Chicken Salad with Mango


For the marinade:
1/4 cup Soy Sauce
Juice of one medium Orange
3 cloves garlic, crushed
3/4 teaspoon chili powder
2 or 3 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Juice of one medium Orange
Juice of one Lime
2 tablespoons tequila
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons honey
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
Dash of salt

Remaining ingredients:
1/2 teaspoon salt
½ Jicama, peeled and cut into julienne strips
1 medium mango, peeled and cubed
½ bag frozen shelled edamame
3 cups torn romaine lettuce
3 cup fresh spinach, trimmed

Chicken: combine first 5 ingredients in a large bowl, cover and marinate in refrigerator 2 hours, turning chicken once.

Vinaigrette: Whisk together all vinaigrette ingredients; slowly pour in oil in a steady stream, while whisking; Set aside until ready to use.

Cook Chicken: Prepare grill. Remove chicken from marinade, discarding marinade. Sprinkle chicken with salt. Place chicken on grill rack coated with cooking spray, and grill for 5 minutes on each side or until done. Cut into slices or chop.  Set aside.

Edamame: Steam or boil edamame according to package directions.  Rinse briefly with cold water.

Assemble salad: Toss lettuce and spinach together in a large serving bowl with ¾ of the dressing. Arrange chicken on greens in one corner; arrange jicama, mango, and edamame in each of the other corners.  Drizzle remaining dressing over top.

Best served with baked, seasoned corn chips:  spritz corn chips with cooking spray, season to taste with some cumin, chili powder, some lime juice, and a dash of cayenne.  Bake at 350 for about 10 minutes.  Crush a few on top of salad, serve the rest on the side.

Yield: 6 servings

Bowtie, Chicken, & Cannellini Bean Soup


This cooked up in about 20 minutes, when I thought I had nothing to cook with.  This is a great way to use up any leftover cooked chicken, or even bacon (I had a couple slices left from going out to breakfast earlier).  Enjoy!

(I have photos, but they aren’t with me right now, so I’ll update the post when I can with a picture for you!)

Bowtie, Chicken, & Cannellini Bean Soup

1 T olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
½ red onion, diced finely
¼ – ½ tsp red pepper flakes
½ tsp dried or 1 T fresh Basil
¼ tsp dried oregano
4 cups good quality chicken broth
2 cups water
Salt & fresh ground pepper to taste
8 oz Bowtie pasta
1 can cannelloni beans, rinsed & drained
2 slices cooked bacon, crumbled or minced
1 cup cooked chicken, chopped
1 cup frozen spinach
½ cup whipping cream

1.  Heat olive oil over medium high heat.  Add garlic, cook 1 minute or until fragrance (careful not to burn).  Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes.

2.  Add red pepper flakes, basil, and orgegano; cook, stirring, about 30 seconds.

3.  Add chicken broth and next 6 ingredients (through chicken), bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer until pasta is al dente, about 8 minutes.

4.  Stir in spinach and whipping cream, until heated through (do not boil).  Adjust seasonings, if necessary, the serve in heated bowls with garlic bread.  Yum!

B is for Baking


Cooking all manner of things has become more and more enjoyable to me within the last several years – baking feels among the most artistic forms of creating food, one that I seem to enjoy the most at Christmastime.  I have memories of making sugar cookies as a child with my mom, mixing up the dough, waiting impatiently for it to chill in the fridge, rolling it out on the counter, eating bits of it raw.  Then we’d cut them out, bake them, and mix up different colors of powdered sugar icing and art them up.  We also made peppermint bark, english toffee, fudge, Russian tea cakes, and for Christmas morning, a gooey cinnaman and sugar pull-apart.

Chris has memories of his Grandma’s Spritz cookies.  Enjoy the recipe!

Grandma Esther’s Spritz Cookies

¼ lb. margarine
¼ lb. butter

½ c. sugar
1 egg yolk
2 c. flour
1 tsp. almond extract

Cream margarine, butter and sugar.  Add egg yolk and then flour.  Add almond extract.  Put through cookie press.  Bake at 350 degrees for 12 minutes.

Makes 6 dozen.

Baking feels like the cooking version of crafts.  Add this and that and the other thing, put it in the oven, and you have something that is sweet, tasty, and pretty.  A few sprinkles here, a dollop of colorful frosting there.  Yum.  I will so enjoy it when my son is old enough to start baking our favorite Christmas recipes with us…