Monthly Archives: January 2014

Steak and Guinness pie

Mmmm.. pie.  Especially beer pie.  Since this is fairly potato heavy, I haven’t made this in a long time but I do love it.  It’s excellent for cold weather and it is certainly one of those things that gets better the next day in the fridge.  I’ve also been known to make them and freeze them before baking – making it a very easy homemade TV dinner experience.

I actually made this for my parents who wouldn’t touch it because they equate Guinness with bad beer – and to be honest, the stuff we get that doesn’t come in the shotgun cans here in the US is fairly foul, given that it is contract brewed by Molson and has a bit of skunk to it.  Luckily baking manages to fix that.

One final thought.  As with so many of my recipes, this calls for a 40 of Guinness.  You may have noticed a trend.  I don’t drink beer that often anymore so I don’t keep it in the house.  I also like the snazzy feeling of walking out of a grocery store with a huge high end beer in a paper bag.

This recipe will make two pies.  I use these proportions because I like steak and Guinness pie and because the store brand premade pie shells always seem to be buy one get one.  Possibly just my store, but it always works out.

  • 2 pounds stew beef
  • flour for dredging (I use Wondra)
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 1 tsp garlic, chopped
  • 1 40oz Guinness
  • 2 medium red potatoes, cubed small
  • 1 tbsp capers
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp dried dill
  • 2 pieces of premade pie shell
  • corn starch

Press pie shells into pie pans and set aside.  This works out much better when they are at room temperature.  In a dutch oven, sautee onion slices, capers and garlic in a 1-1 mixture of butter and vegetable oil until the onion is almost clear.  Push the mixture to the edge of the pot.  Dredge the beef in flour and drop the pieces into the pot and brown them.  You may need to do this in batches to keep from overcrowding the meat.  Add the Guinness and potatoes.  Top with the dried spices.  Cook on high until the liquid begins to boil, then bring to a simmer.  Simmer for about 1/2 hour.  Thicken with corn starch and transfer into pie shells.  Top with another pie shell and pinch close.  Cut vent slits in the top and bake at 400 for 20 minutes or until the shells are finished.  If you freeze the pies before baking, make sure they are completely at room temperature before putting in the oven.  Add an additional 10 minutes in the oven.  Nothing kills the love inherent in steak and Guinness pie like a chunk of ice in your meal.

Campfire Meals

Another day, another recipe.  This time, it’s something simple and quick that I learned how to make at – of all places – church camp.  Campfire meals were one of those artsy things everyone’s probably done once but never done again.  The idea was to take ingredients that can be easily stored and transported, then cooked in an open fire (or, in my case now, an oven).  It basically consists of a meat, some sort of vegetable, and a starch that can be sliced.  The original recipe always had ground beef in it but I like to get all fancy schmancy with mine now and I use beef strips instead.

  • Tin foil
  • one pound beef strips or ground beef (low fat content)
  • one small potato, sliced
  • one small onion, sliced
  • one carrot, julienned
  • one celery stalk, julienned
  • one tsp worcestershire sauce per packet
  • dried thyme

Basically take the tin foil and put all the ingredients on it.  Wrap the tin foil into a pouch and toss in a 350 oven for 30-45 minutes or toss in a dying campfire for the same amount of time.  The fat from the beef will extract and cook the other ingredients.  The thicker the sliced potato (I grate mine usually) the longer you’ll want to cook it.  When it’s done, transfer to a bowl and top with a cheese of your choice.  Smells like the camp you didn’t want to go to when you were a kid.. until you got there.. then you didn’t want to leave.

Chicken Salad

Everyone has their own take on chicken salad.  I really didn’t have one until we started on the new food..plan..thing.  Since I work at home generally I make lunches in the morning and was looking for something fairly low carb and low glycemic that would also be sustainable.  I didn’t realize that chicken salad would be such a big part of the lunch experience.

The salad part (as in serve it over salad) is ad hoc.  I always make mine with celery, cucumbers, romaine, tomatoes, and chick peas.  When I do this, it makes enough for one person for one week.  It’s enough of a favorite that I get asked for a salad or chili pretty much every day.

There are two ways to make this and I’m including the long way starting with roasting the chicken.  When I’m not feeling the love with the whole experience, I got to the grocery store and get a rotisserie chicken – preferably a cold one so I can use it right away.

First, the chicken roasting.  In order to not sound like a crazy person, I do actually grab multiple chickens and freeze them.  I generally end up going through a chicken a week.

I coat the chicken in a mixture of olive oil and dark sesame oil, then liberally sprinkle rosemary, thyme, and oregano over the bird before roasting.

Once it comes out of the oven, allow to cool, then I feed the skin to the dog – because by this point he’s expecting something.. anything.. having to do with the bird.  The rest of the chicken gets pulled apart into small pieces.  I find that the mix of dark and white meat makes it unusually good.

Now onto the chicken salad….

  • 1 cup mayonaisse
  • 1 tbsp yogurt
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 1 tbsp curry – I use garam masala from the asian grocery store

Mix all the ingredients, then put them in a container in the fridge for at least an hour to come together.

I normally make the salad, topped with the chicken salad, then a handful of sliced almonds and two sliced dates.

Chicken Paprikash

Here’s an example of a recipe that I ended up modifying and really liked the result much more than the original.  Instead of using dumplings or pasta, I used some riced cauliflower.. but I’m getting head of myself.  I use bone in chicken thighs for this.  It makes all the difference in the world.  I usually pull the bones out right before serving using a pair of tongs.  As with all of my recipes the amounts are approximate.  Sometimes I use a little more, sometimes a little less of something.  In this case I liberally cover the meat with paprika so I will make an educated guess that I use a bit more than a teaspoon.  If you have that odd jar of paprika that you don’t know what to do with.. this is a great place to start.

This is a really good one for winter.  Nice and hearty and it’s one of those things that after sitting in the fridge overnight gets even better.

  • 4 chicken thighs – bone in and leave the skin
  • 2 medium onions julienned
  • 1 tsp garlic
  • ground pepper
  • 1 12oz can tomato sauce
  • vegetable oil
  • 1 package portabello mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 whole head of cauliflower, leaves removed
  • sour cream to garnish

In a heavy pan (I use a dutch oven) add enough oil to cover the bottom.  Heat to medium.  Add garlic and oil and begin to sautee.  When the onions are about half one, add the ground pepper and the paprika and allow to bloom.  Push the onions to the side and add the chicken skin side down until you get a good sear on the skin.  Do not move the chicken during this part.  Once the skin has seared, flip the chicken and continue to brown, then cover with the onion.  Add tomato sauce and a half can of water.  Mix, cover, and set to low.  Cook for an hour to an hour and a half.  Cooking it over an hour causes the meat to start to fall off of the bone.  In the last 15 minutes add the mushrooms on top and cover again.

In the meantime, boil the cauliflower whole until al dente.  After draining thoroughly, put the whole thing (in pieces) through the grater attachment on a food processor.  You’ll end up with what looks like mushy rice.  Press and drain any excess water out of the cauliflower and use as a base.  Ladle the paprikash over the cauliflower and top with a dollop of sour cream.


Honey Mustard Porkchops

I’ve always thought anything with the words “honey mustard” should have the mustard pronounced “moostard”.  As a fan of MadTV, this was perfect.

This isn’t Corn Dog On A Stick, and there will be no further appearances of international jewel thieves.  Just honey mustard porkchops.

This falls in the category of easy, quick, and tasty.  Before I start, let me say that I hate when the grocery store does “thin cut” because it “serves more”.  No.  It doesn’t serve more.  It makes you eat twice as much.  Just save me the time of picking through the meat section and cut normal pieces please.  This recipe requires a normal cut of pork.  Using thin cut makes the meat cook too fast and you end up with a gooey outer layer.  Nobody wants that.  This recipe is for two people with two porkchops per person.  You can expand it from there.

  • 4 boneless pork chops
  • 1/4 cu dijon moostard.. err.. mustard
  • 1/4 cu honey
  • 1 tbsp olive oil (slutty, not EVOO)
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 cu panko (you may need more depending on the size of the porkchops)

Mix the mustard, the honey, the olive oil, and the paprika in a small bowl and mix until you have a runny paste.  Paint the porkchops with the mixture then roll in panko.  Place on a baking sheet covered with wax paper.  Bake at 375 for 30 minutes or until done.

GREEN EGGS and ham. sandwich.

I made a ham tonite.  Every time I make ham, I think of green eggs and ham.  The ham part is self explanatory – I don’t do anything special with it, but the green eggs part is a personal favorite.  Here’s my recipe for guacamole deviled eggs.  They’re good and fairly good for you.  Oh, and they go great with a ham sandwich.  You’ll notice the picture above is why I write about food and am not a world renowned photographer.

  • One dozen eggs
  • two very ripe haas avocados
  • 1 shake of hot sauce
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • mixture of salt, pepper, and garlic powder – or goya adobo
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise

Hardboil a dozen eggs, save four of the yolks when you split them. Take two very ripe soft avocados and mix them. I use a fork to do it so it stays sort of chunky. Add one shake of hot sauce (maybe two), a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar (more if you like), and some goya adobo. If you don’t use adobo, you can use a mixture of salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Mix in 1/2 cup of mayo. The mixture should be thick and chunky and medium green. Garnish with chili powder instead of paprika.

Completely unrelated to the above recipe, there is nothing more adorable than the little cretin pictured below eating a carrot.


I love tacos.  Homemade ones especially.  For years I was making them with the little packet that comes in the taco kit from the store, but the only problem was the incredible amount of salt in the packet.  With the blood pressure problems, I couldn’t do that anymore so a good friend of mine taught me how to make the taco meat from scratch.  Since his partner of 25 years is Mexican, the original recipe I got was pretty authentic.  I’ve made some changes to it and this is what I’ve come up with.  If you’re expecting the exact same thing you get at the grocery store, you’re going to need to add quite a bit more salt than I do here.

  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • olive oil
  • 1 4.5oz can of chopped green chilies
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • salt and pepper to taste

Brown the ground beef, drain, and set aside.  I reserve a small amount of the fat in the meat because after refrigeration, it reheats much better.  In the same pan, add a little olive oil, the minced onion, minced garlic, and chopped chilis.  Sautee until the onion starts to clear.  Add the spices and 1/4 to 1/2 cup of water.  Bring the water to a boil, then set to low, stirring occasionally.
I serve this with low carb tortillas, sour cream, guacamole (see below), shredded cheddar cheese, salsa, lettuce, and tomato.


  • 2 soft haas avocadoes
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • one splash hot sauce

Halve the avocadoes and remove the pits.  Scoop out the filling and mash with a fork – you want it chunky.  Add the vinegar, hot sauce, salt, and pepper.  Mix and refrigerate for about 15-30 minutes.

Beef Stew

With all the cold weather we’ve been having I thought it was time to make something hearty and satisfying.  Beef stew is my favorite for this time of year.  In order to give it a little more depth, I use Guinness for a base – similar to my pot roast.

  • 2 pounds stew beef
  • 1 40oz bottle of Guinness
  • Two parsnips, chopped
  • Handfull of baby carrots
  • beef stock
  • 1 tbsp capers
  • 1 tbsp chopped garlic
  • 1 medium sweet onion, chopped
  • hot sauce
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 full leek, chopped
  • 1 can stewed tomatoes
  • olive oil
  • 1 small bunch fresh dill, chopped
  • 1 small bunch fresh parsley, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • worcestershire sauce
  • soy sauce

Sautee the onion, capers and garlic in olive oil.  Add the beef and brown.  Add the Guinness and allow to settle.  Add the leek, tomatoes, parsnips and carrots and mix thoroughly.  Add a splash of worcestershire, soy, and hot sauce, and add enough beef stock to fill the pot about 4/5 the way full.  Cook for at least 2-3 hours, then add the celery, dill, and parsley.  Allow to cook on very low for another hour and serve.

Norwegian meatballs. Kjøttkaker. Two recipes


Once upon a time, many many years ago, I lived in Norway.  I was a teenager.  I left Miami to head to a small town between Bergen and Trondheim.  It was cold, though not as cold as expected.  It was also very possibly the most beautiful place I’ve ever been.  I made some great friends and came back the better for it.  One thing about it is the local cuisine is it’s very fish heavy.  Not being a fan of fish, I was introduced to this dish.  Years later, I still make it, though I’ve modified it a bit from the original.  I’m making it more these days because of the new lower glycemic lower carbohydrate food.. thing.


My friend Nina, from all those years ago, gave me her recipe for this dish, which I’m sharing here.  Below, I’ll put my version.  My suggestion – try hers first.  It’s so very worth it.

Kjøttkaker (meatcakes)

  • 1 pound ground beef/venison mix
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 1/2 tbsp potato starch
  • 3 tbsp oatmeal


  • water
  • melted butter
  • gravy flour
  • beef stock
  • salt and pepper to taste

Mix the meat and salt.  Add the egg and the spices.  Mix while adding the rest of the ingredients.  Let it set while making the gravy (see below).  Using a tablespoon, take meat mixture and work into a flattened meatball.  Brown both sides in a frying pan and add gravy.  Allow to simmer while making sides.  Traditionally this dish is made with peeled boiled potatoes and peas.  Serve with a side of ligonberry or cranberry sauce.  For the purposes of this dish, go for the ligonberry if you can find it.  It makes all the difference.

To make the sauce, add equal parts water and beef stock, melted butter, salt and pepper.  Thicken with gravy flour or corn starch.

Norwegian Meatballs:

  • 1 pound ground beef/pork mix
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup panko
  • 1/4 cup milk (go for broke – use whole milk.. or cream.  mmmmm.. cream…)


  • 1/2 sliced small sweet onion
  • handfull of mushrooms
  • melted butter
  • 1 tbsp corn starch and enough water to make a liquid
  • 1 cu beef stock
  • salt and pepper to taste

Mix the meat and salt.  Add the egg and the spices.  Mix while adding the rest of the ingredients.  Let it set while making the gravy (see below).  Using a tablespoon, take meat mixture and work into a flattened meatball.  Brown both sides in a frying pan and add gravy.  Allow to simmer while making sides.
To make the sauce, sautee sweet onion and mushrooms in melted butter.  Add beef stock and spices then bring up the heat and add the cornstarch mixture to thicken .

I haven’t been back in years.  Making this makes me want to return.

Side dishes

Today we discuss tasty side dishes.  Who makes just an entree for supper unless it’s something like spaghetti?


For years I was always the meat-vegetable-starch person.  Since changing how we eat, It’s become more of a meat-vegetable-vegetable sort of thing, which has forced me to become a lot more creative.   I’ve discovered cauliflower is very possibly the most versatile vegetable ever.  In place of rice, I run cauliflower through the food processor.  In place of mashed potatoes?  Mashed cauliflower.  The best is fairly simple.  Take a head of cauliflower, cut it into quarters and boil until al dente.  Drain thoroughly.  Cover with grated parmesan and melted butter.

Random vegetable stirfry:

This always ends up with whatever I have in the fridge.  One thing it always has is broccoli.  The stir fry I had in the hamburger steak post turned out exceptionally well.

  • broccoli florettes
  • snap peas
  • baby carrots sliced longways into quarters
  • 1 yellow quash cut into thin planes about one inch long
  • one rib of celery cut into inch long pieces quartered the long way.
  • small sweet onion sliced longwise.
  • 1 tsp chopped garlic
  • regular olive oil
  • worcestershire sauce
  • soy sauce
  • dried thyme

Heat a frying pan and add olive oil until it’s hot.  Sautee the onion and garlic until half done.  Add broccoli florettes and stirfry until they are bright green.  Add baby carrots, squash, and snap peas.  Continue to stir fry until squash is al dente – it will start to become a little translucent.  Add celery and give it a couple more spins in the pan then add a splash of worcestershire sauce and a splash of soy sauce.  Sprinkle dried thyme over the completed dish.

Acorn Squash:

I have come to love acorn squash.  Partially because it looks like a gigantic acorn.  Partially because it’s delicious and very easy to make.

Simply split the squash in two and remove the seeds and stringy inner portion.  Place face down on a baking sheet and bake at 350 for an hour.  When they are finished flip them over and put a large pat of butter in the center and sprinkle cinnamon and nutmeg over the whole shebang.  It’s remarkably fun to eat with a spoon.