Category Archives: Recipes

steak and mashed potato

Take Steak and Potatoes Up a Notch

Steak de Burgo was created in Des Moines, Iowa around 1939.

Just another name for steak and potatoes, this rich  dish is traditionally made with a good cut of beef tenderloin, covered in a creamy mushroom sauce.

Because it is so easy and quick to make, I thought it would be a perfect recipe for just two people, but ingredient portions could be increased to serve more.

As an accompaniment, my mashed potatoes were made using russets.  Yukon Gold would produce a more creamy, buttery textured dish; however Russets was what I had on hand.

Regardless if you use Russets or Yukon Gold, the additional ingredients are the same.  Scallions, sour cream, butter, and Dijon mustard are staples in most family refrigerators, for this easy weeknight meal.

Before preparing your ingredients and steak, I suggest you go ahead and cut your potatoes into 1-inch chunks, throw them in a pot, cover with water and start to cook.

Once potatoes come to a boil, simmer until you are ready to use them.  I cooked two large Russet potatoes for two people.

If using Yukon Gold or red-skinned potatoes, you will need about 12-16 ounces, cubed.

steak mashed potatoesI purchased the largest filet Mignon steak I could find at my local butcher.  It weighed just under one pound.

About 20-30 minutes before cooking, I removed the steak from the refrigerator.

It is important to let beef acclimate to room temperature for quick cooking methods.

Link to another article I wrote about this acclimating method

Acclimate For a Good Steak


Because you want the meat to cook quickly, I sliced the 2 1/2-inch thick steak, crosswise, to produce two individual steaks.  About half a pound each.

After slicing, I sprinkled salt and pepper on both sides of each steak and allowed them to acclimate.

Meanwhile, prepare your other ingredients…


1 Tablespoon unsalted butter

1 Tablespoon olive oil

1 cup sliced button mushrooms

2 teaspoons minced fresh garlic

1/4 teaspoon dried basil

1/4 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 cup heavy cream

1/4 cup dry vermouth

chopped fresh parsley for garnish


1/2 cup sliced scallions

3 Tablespoons of sour cream

2 Tablespoons unsalted butter

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

salt and pepper to taste












If you want to speed things up a little bit, you can use already sliced mushrooms, but for the best freshness and flavor, I suggest using whole mushrooms and slicing them yourself.

Vermouth is typically made with wine, herbs, spices, flowers and seeds. There are two styles of vermouth, dry and sweet.

Sweet Vermouth is just slightly sweet and a reddish brown color, usually includes caramel. 

Dry vermouth is popular in martinis and is frequently referred to as French Vermouth.

***Research for this article revealed that dry vermouth should be refrigerated and used within 3 months of opening, due to evaporation of flavor

***HOWEVER, my dry vermouth used in this recipe has been open for six months and was very flavorful in this recipe. It has never been refrigerated.


Using a 10″ skillet, heat the butter and oil over medium-high heat until butter melts.

Add filets.  Saute until internal temperature reads 130º. This should only take no more than  3-minutes per side.

Make sure you under-cook the meat at this point.


Transfer meat to a plate and tent with foil.

Add mushrooms to skillet; saute until browned, 3-4 minutes.

Add garlic, basil and oregano; stir together and cook until garlic is fragrant, 40-60 seconds.

steak potatoes mushrooms vermouth

Saute mushrooms, garlic, spices

steak potatoes mushrooms vermouth

Combine cream and vermouth then stir into pan with mushrooms.












Combine the cream and vermouth in a cup.

Stir into skillet with mushrooms.

Turn down the heat to medium, and reduce mixture by half.

Add meat and accumulated juices to the pan.

Cook until meat reaches desired doneness.

Serve steaks with the sauce.

steak potatoe mushrooms vermouth

Turn down the heat and allow sauce to simmer to reduce & intensify flavor.

steak potatoes mushrooms vermouth

Return steaks to the skillet to allow all flavors to combine.












After cooking potatoes till done – a fork enters the potatoes easily; drain in colander.

Return drained potatoes to hot pot; cover and cook for 1-2 minutes, removing any remaining moisture.

Remove from heat.

Stir in scallions, sour cream, butter and mustard.

Smash potatoes using a potato masher to reach desired consistency.

Season with salt and pepper.

steak potatoes mushrooms vermouth

This really is a simple, filling meal and can be paired with a light red wine or rose for a perfect weeknight meal for two.

Let me know if you decide to try this meal and send pictures of how it turned out.

Keeping cooking…

*Adaptation of recipe found in Cuisine For Two Magazine









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Simple Asian Dinner: Pork and Rice

This simple Asian dinner is my substitute for Chinese take out.  Some “fast food” Chinese is loaded in MSG, which I try to avoid.

Although easy, this Pork and Rice dish is filling and a great option for a weeknight meal.

It can be done in only one pot and one skillet, for less clean up.

What is Monosodium glutamate?

MSG is the salt based compound used as a flavor enhancer in dishes needing a more intense “meaty” taste.

Although deemed safe by the Food and Drug Administration, MSG has been linked to severe headaches, bloating and general discomfort.

Found in many processed foods, it can be harmful for those diagnosed with hypertension, (like me) due to the salt compounds raising blood pressure.  Therefore, it is best for me to control how much salt is in my food.

Although this recipe calls for a small amount of baking soda, which also contains sodium, it can be eliminated from the recipe, without compromising the flavor.

The baking soda is used to intensify the brown color of the pork during cooking.

Ingredients for Pork and Rice

Because the cooking process moves very quickly in this recipe; I advised preparing all ingredients while your rice is cooking.

Pork and RiceGo ahead and prepare your Long Grain Rice according to package directions.

I chose Uncle Ben’s because it is gluten free.

Just make sure to make the equivalent of four servings.

While the rice is cooking, prepare the rest of your ingredients.


8 ounces boneless country -style pork ribs.  Cut them into 1/2″-bite size portions

4 teaspoons soy sauce, divided in half
1 Tablespoon packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 Tablespoons classic stir-fry sauce
1 Tablespoon dry sherry
1 Tablespoon ketchup
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3 Tablespoons vegetable oil
2 large eggs, slightly beaten
6 scallions, white and green parts chopped fine
2 garlic cloves, minced
8 ounces frozen peas, thawed

Instructions for Pork and Rice

Marinating porkAfter cutting the pork into bite size portions, place it in a clean bowl and combine with 2 teaspoons of the soy sauce, the brown sugar, the cornstarch, and the baking soda.  Let pork sit at least 15 minutes, at room temperature, or cover and place in the refrigerator for one hour.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the stir-fry sauce, sherry, ketchup, salt, pepper and the other 2 teaspoons of soy sauce; allow to sit.

When rice has finished cooking, drain in a mesh strainer to remove all water.

In a 12-inch, non-stick skillet heat 1 Tablespoon of the vegetable oil on high heat, till very hot.

Add pork in a single layer.  Make sure it sizzles as soon as it touches the pan.  This will ensure proper browning.  Disgard any remaining juices from the pork marinating.  Cook the pork WITHOUT STIRRING, to get a good crust, for about 2 minutes.  Turn the pork to brown all sides of the meat.  This could take up to 5 minutes.  Once the pork is browned, remove from pan and place in a clean bowl. Cooking pork riceReturn skillet to heat.  Add another Tablespoon of oil to the empty skillet. Leave skillet on high heat.  Add the beaten eggs.  Once the eggs set (takes about 30 seconds), stir with a rubber spatula.  Move eggs to one side of the pan…add remaining Tablespoon of oil to the empty side of the pan; then add the scallions and garlic to that side of the pan.

pork and rice eggs scallions garlic

Saute the scallions and garlic for about 40 seconds, till you can smell the garlic.  Add the rice and begin to incorporate the rice, eggs, scallions and garlic together.  Stir in peas and stir-fry sauce mixture.  I added another Tablespoon of butter to mine as well.

Add the pork.  Cook for approximately 3 minutes until everything is thoroughly incorporated and hot.  Serve.

Simple Dinner

This recipe may incorporate a rather large list of ingredients; it actually comes together very fast.  This dinner could be prepped and on the table in less than 40 minutes.

The Pork and Rice could be served on its own, but I decided to add a small side salad. It contrasted very well with the hot rice.

The original recipe actually appeared in Cook’s Country Magazine; however, I made a few changes because I despise oyster sauce and use it so rarely, it is not worth buying it.

Using the classic stir-fry sauce instead of oyster sauce was delicious.  It is usually sold in the Asian food section of all major grocery stores.

Pork and Rice Asian simple dinner

If you decide to make this recipe, please email me your results and snap a few photos – Thanks.









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Chicken Enchiladas for Two

Chicken Enchiladas For Two

Enchiladas are an easy weeknight meal, which can be very healthy if you use good ingredients.

Simple and easy to prepare, I made these chicken enchiladas with my favorite go to, pre-cooked, pre-chopped chicken.

Great invention for couples, or even one person.

Of course, you can prepare raw chicken, however, I think it tends to get a bit dried out for this application.

These were delicious and only baked for 20 minutes.  Prep time was about 15 minutes…dinner under an hour!

Make Your Own Enchilada Red Sauce

Ingredient List:

  • 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 4 Tablespoons chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 cups chicken stock

chicken enchiladasPlace a small saucepan over medium heat, begin to heat oil

Once oil is heated, add flour and whisk together for about 1 minute, till thoroughly combined.

Stir in all remaining seasonings.

Gradually add the chicken stock, while whisking constantly.  Continue till all lumps are removed.

Reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes.

Sauce will slightly thicken.

While sauce is simmering…

Prep your Enchilada ingredients…

  • 1 Tablespoon of vegetable oil
  • 1/2 of a sweet onion, peeled and chopped
  • 8 oz. bag of southwestern flavored precooked chicken.  I chop my up into smaller pieces.baked rigatoni, chicken and zucchini
  • 4 oz. can of diced green chiles
  • 1/2 can of re-fried beans
  • 1/2 teaspoon of Kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
  • 6 burrito sized flour tortillas
  • 2 cups of cheese, shredded

Don’t buy the pre-blended cheese. They contain CELLULOSE!

Click here to read my article on processed foods

I buy the block cheese and shred it myself.  I used Colby Jack and cheddar.

block cheese chicken enchiladas

Preparing Chicken Enchiladas For Two

Preheat oven to 350ºF.

Place re-fried beans in a microwavable bowl, and heat on high for 2 minutes.

After 2 minutes, stir. Heat again for 1 minute.  Remove from microwave.

In a 10″ nonstick skillet, add the 1 Tablespoon of vegetable oil and turn to medium-high heat.

Once heated, add chopped onion and saute, stirring occasionally to prevent burning, for about 5-6 minutes.

Add green chilies, salt and pepper.  Saute for about 2 minutes more.

Add precooked chicken and heat till warm through, approximately 3 minutes.

Remove from heat. Sit aside.

Assemble your enchiladas.

Place a tortilla on a flat surface.

Spread about a tablespoon of the enchilada sauce down the middle of the tortilla.

Spread about a tablespoon of the re-fried beans on the surface of the tortilla, concentrating mainly down the middle.

Sprinkle some of the chicken/onion mixture on top of the beans.  I just used my hands.

Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of the cheese on top of the chicken mixture.

Moving from one side of the tortilla, roll it up into a tube and place in an ovenproof, deep container.

Lay the tortillas in a row, next to each other.

Spread the remaining enchilada sauce over the top of the shells.

Sprinkle with remaining cheese.

Place in the oven and bake for approximately 20 minutes, or until cheese appears bubbly.

Serve with chopped iceberg lettuce and chopped tomatoes.

Chicken Enchiladas






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brunch peppers eggs hashbrowns

Pepper and Egg Brunch for Two

Wanting to find new Sunday brunch ideas, I was inspired by a recent episode of America’s Test Kitchen.

They constructed a brunch recipe named for the northeastern region of Spain, the Basque region.

Dividing France and Spain, the Basque region is known for their vast produce choices, including six different varieties of peppers.

Although my recipe does not include these exotic peppers, I wanted a recipe which would stimulate our sense of smell, taste and sight.

peppers eggs hashbrowns brunchAmerica’s Test Kitchen developed an Eggs Piperade recipe, which suggests cooking the vegetables separate from the eggs; a method which prevents the eggs from being stringy and wet.

The peppers are able to retain their natural sweetness and evaporate their liquid away.

Although you could use any pepper you like in my recipe, I chose green and red bell peppers for not only their mild flavor, but also their color.


Quantities are for two adult servings

hash browns peppers eggs brunch

  • 2 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
  • 1/2 green pepper, seeds removed, cut into julienne strips
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, seeds removed, cut into julienne strips
  • 1/2 Roma tomato, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 cups frozen hash brown potatoes (no need to thaw)
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 5 eggs
  • 2 Tablespoons heavy whipping cream
  • 1/3 cup shredded mild cheddar cheese
  • salt and pepper


Prep ingredients for cooking

Julienne red pepper, green pepper and chop tomato, gather on one plate.

On top of the peppers & tomatoes, sprinkle the paprika, red pepper flakes,  thyme, garlic, a pinch of salt and a pinch of pepper – set aside.

Place 2 cups of frozen hash browns in a bowl – set aside.

To avoid thawing hash browns, this is how I prepared mine.

Cut open frozen hash browns and place all of them in a large, FREEZER safe zip lock bag.

Close zip lock bag.  While lying on a strong surface, use the flat size of a meat tenderizer mallet to break up the potato chunks.

Open zip lock back and put 2 cups in a bowl.

Seal zip lock bag and return to freezer.

In a small bowl, break eggs.  Add Tablespoons of whipping cream, a pinch of salt and a pinch of pepper.

Using a fork or whisk, mix up eggs till broken.

Place 1 Tablespoon of olive oil in a small, 8-inch non-stick skillet and turn to medium heat.

Place 1 Tablespoon of olive oil in a separate, small, 8-inch skillet and turn to medium heat.

Place 1 Tablespoon of butter in a 10-inch, non-stick skillet, do not turn on heat yet.

Once small skillets are hot, place hash browns in one skillet.  Using a spatula, make sure hash browns are flat against the skillet.

In other small skillet, add your pepper mixture.

Allow peppers to cook for 4-5 minutes before stirring.  Saute peppers, stirring occasionally, while other food is cooking.

After 10 minutes, hash browns should be brown on bottom and have formed a large cake.

Sprinkle cheddar cheese on uncooked side, then flip to brown second side.

Meanwhile, under 10-inch skillet, turn heat to medium-high.

Once butter is melted, add egg mixture.

Allow eggs to set before stirring.  Gently stir eggs till they reach your desired consistency.

pepper hash brown egg brunchBy the time your eggs are done, the peppers and hash browns should be done as well.

Begin plating.

Divide the hash browns, pepper mixture and eggs into two portions.

Garnish with chives or fresh parsley.

I like my peppers to have a little bit of a crunch to them, instead of being soggy.  By cooking them during the course of cooking everything else, they do not become over-done.

This delicious, filling brunch can be adjusted to accommodate more servings, however, make sure you adjust the size of skillets you use, along with ingredient portions.



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Fish and potatoes with whiskey tarter sauce

Fish and Potatoes for Two People

Honestly, I had never had fish with a potato dish before.  I thought it just was not a logical combination, however, after preparing this dish,  I now realize what I have been missing.  Full of flavor and very easy to prepare, this Lemon-Herb Code with Crispy Garlic Potatoes is delicious and a perfect meal for two on a busy weeknight.

This perfect dinner is also very easy to clean up.  Just line your baking sheet with aluminum foil and you can just toss it when done.

I highly recommend trying this recipe. If you like halibut or haddock better, they would make good substitutes for the cod.  Just make sure the fillets are similar in size so they cook at the same rate.  Try to get fillets about 1-inch in thickness.

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  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 (8 ounce) russet potatoes, sliced 1/4″ thick
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 (6 – 8 ounce) skinless cod fillets, 1 to 1 1/2-inches thick
  • 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 2 springs of fresh tyme
  • 1/2 lemon, sliced thin



Ideal mandolin. Has a finger guard, dishwasher safe, and has thickness adjustment, as well as multiple julienne options.







Fish with Potatoes

Using my mandolin made preparing the potatoes EASY. Shingle the potato slices into 2 piles of rows. One rectangle is a portion.


Directions for Fish and Potatoes for Two People

Make sure oven rack is set to lower-middle position and preheat oven to 425º.

Prepare a 13 by 9-inch baking sheet with non-stick aluminum foil.

After slicing potatoes, toss them with 1 – 2 tablespoons of your favorite olive oil and the minced garlic.

Season with salt and pepper.  I just used my hands to mix this up.

Shingle potatoes onto the baking sheet.

Roast potatoes until edges are brown and just tender, 30-35 minutes, rotating dish halfway through roasting.

When potatoes are almost done, prepare fish.

Pat fish dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper.

Once edges are brown on potatoes, remove from oven and carefully place one fillet, skinned side down on top of each potato pile.

Top fish with butter pieces, thyme sprigs and lemon slices.

Roast fish and potatoes until fish flakes apart when gently prodded with paring knife and registers 140º, about 15-20 minutes.

To serve, slide spatula underneath potatoes and fillets, gently transferring to individual plates.

Fish and potatoesI removed the thyme sprigs and lemon slices to serve.

I sliced the remaining half of the lemon to serve at the table.

Click for my Homemade Whiskey Tarter Sauce recipe.

It pairs great with this meal.














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JoAnn’s Whiskey Tarter Sauce

Yields approximately 4 servings.

Mix all ingredients in a small bowl.

This can be kept in the refrigeration, in an air-tight container for about a week.


JoAnn's Food Bites Whiskey Tarter Sauce


1/2 cup of your favorite mayonnaise

1 1/2 Tablespoons of sweet pickle relish

1 Tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce

1 teaspoon of finely chopped lemongrass

2 green onions, chopped, whole thing

1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 Tablespoon Jack Daniels Whiskey

splash of lemon juice

pinch of salt & pepper

Put in a container with an air-tight lid.

Best if stored in the refrigeration 2 hours prior to serving.







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meaty skillet lasagna

Meal 3: Our Series 3 Meals for 2 People Without Leftovers

Three Meals for Two People

Meal Three: Meaty Skillet Lasagna

This meaty skillet lasagna is simple and scaled down, requiring very little prep and it will not leave behind a wake of dirty dishes.

Do not substitute no-boil lasagna noodles for the traditional, curly-edged lasagna noodles here because the no-boil noodles will fall apart.   Most lasagna recipes are constructed to serve 8-10 people.  Here, we just want enough to serve two people; however, this recipe is so filling, it could serve three people easy.

This recipe recommends using 85% lean ground beef to cut down on the amount of grease; however, the beef is not as flavorful as Italian sausage pork.  Next time I make this, I will try it with a flavored pork sausage, what I traditionally use in any Italian recipe.

Meaty Skillet Lasagna

Ingredients for Meaty Skillet Lasagna

1 (28 oz) can whole peeled tomatoes

2 teaspoons good olive oil

1 small onion, chopped fine

salt & pepper

1 – 2 garlic cloves, minced

Pinch of red pepper flakes

8 ounces of 85% lean ground beef

5 curly-edged lasagna noodles or 4.25 ounces, broken into 2-inch lengths

1/4 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded

2 Tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 cup ricotta cheese

2 Tables of chopped fresh basil

Basil storeage meaty skillet lasagna

Here is an easy way to store basil. Wash leaves, gently dry with paper towels. Place in a tall glass. Carefully place a plastic zip bag over the top. Leave on your kitchen counter.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   


Directions for Meaty Skillet Lasagna

In a food processor, pulse the whole tomatoes until coarsely ground and no large pieces remain.  You could use flavored crushed tomatoes and skip this step.

Heat oil in a 10-inch, non-stick skillet (All-Clad makes the best 10-inch, non-stick skillet in the world).  Check it out and buy one here

When skillet is hot, add onion and 1/4 teaspoon salt and cook until softened – about 5 minutes.

Stir in garlic and pepper flakes and cook until you can smell them – about 30 seconds.    Meaty Skillet Lasagna

Add ground meat and cook, breaking up meat, until lightly  browned and no longer pink – about 5 minutes.

Take the 2″ portions of broken pasta and scatter over the meat, then pour processed tomatoes over pasta.

Cover, increase heat to medium-high, allow to cook, stirring often, until pasta is tender – about 20 minutes.

Off heat – scatter mozzarella onto the mixture and half the Parmesan.

Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Dollop  heaping tablespoons of ricotta over noodles, then sprinkle with remaining mozzarella and Parmesan.

Meaty Skillet Lasagna

Cover and let stand off heat until cheese melts.

I allowed mine to stand a full 5 minutes.

Sprinkle with basil and serve with soft, warm bread.


Make sure you DO NOT STIR in the ricotta cheese, as it will make the sauce grainy and a pink mess. Meaty skillet lasagna

Plus the ricotta gives it a nice presentation, once it melts.



Meaty skillet lasagna






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