Beef Stroganoff

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The weather in San Diego is much more unpredictable than I thought it would be. I thought that it was 65-70 and sunny every day. But lately it seems like it has been much more up and down. 2 weeks ago we had 3 days almost in the 90’s. Then it went to a steady week of 60 degrees with a cloudy marine layer until about 11 am and then sunny the rest of the day. Then we had 50 degrees and rain. Today it is 68 degrees and super sunny, just the way I thought it would be here. (which is a little funny because my weather app says the high today is 66 and the actual temperature is 68)


See, overcast marine layer and sunny with fluffy cotton ball clouds.

For me, when it was spring time in Ohio and the weather reached 60 degrees it felt like it was practically summer. For some reason 60 degrees here is much different. If you’re in the direct sunlight it can feel warm, but if a cloud rolls in or you’re hanging out in a shady area 60 degrees can seem down right chilly. A few nights ago it was a particularly chilly 60 degree evening and I wanted the kind of food that can warm the soul. I decided to make beef stroganoff which has been on my to-try list for quite some time. It turned out to be just the dinner I was looking for. It was both hearty and creamy without being too terribly heavy.

Beef Stroganoff
(Adapted from Simply Recipes)

5 Tbsp butter, divided
1 pound top sirloin, cut into thin strips
1/3 cup chopped shallots or onions
1/2 pound cremini mushrooms, sliced
Salt and pepper to taste
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp dry thyme
1/3 cup dry white wine
1 cup sour cream at *room temperature

In a large skillet over medium heat, melt 3 Tbsp of butter. Increase the heat to medium-high and, working quickly, add the beef strips to pan. Brown one side of the beef then use tongs to to turn over and brown the other side. Work in batches if needed, so strips are not touching each other in the pan. Remove the beef to a plate (you can cover the plate with paper towels to absorb some of the extra grease)

Reduce the heat to medium and add the rest of the butter to the pan and melt. Increase the heat to medium-high again and add the mushrooms, shallots, nutmeg and thyme. Cook, stirring occasionally for 4 minutes. Pour in the dry white wine and use a spatula to scrape up any bits stuck to the pan.

Reduce the heat to low and add the room temperature sour cream to the mushrooms. Stir to thoroughly combine. Careful not to allow the sauce to come to a simmer or boil (the sour cream will curdle, true story). Stir in beef. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste.

I recommend serving over egg noodles, but it would also be good over mashed potatoes or rice.

* I did not follow directions very well and my sour cream was cold, the sauce still came together but it wasn’t as smooth as I would have liked for it to be. It was a little grainy due to a little bit of a curdling reaction between the cold sour cream and hot pan. So don’t be like me, follow directions. Please and thank you!

A Taco Stand Favorite

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One of my favorite things about living in San Diego is the availability of really delicious authentic Mexican food. There is a taco stand on almost every street corner, no seriously, not an exaggeration. On any given block there will be an Alberto’s, Roberto’s, Rigaberato’s… The girls (that I nanny for) helped introduce me to my favorite place Taco Surf, or as the girls like to call it, Surf Taco. I could eat there 3 or 4 times a week. I love the carnitas and the carne asada is amazing. Occasionally I indulge in the rolled tacos, YUM.

Rolled tacos are one of the most popular taco stand foods. Deep fried little rolls of heaven. All my life I’ve seen them called taquitos and I had only tasted the frozen variety, which are nothing to write home about. But rolled tacos from a taco stand, those are something I can get down with. Of course if I really ate these taco stand delights as often as I would like I’d have to go around in elastic waist pants all the time.


Needless to say, when I saw this recipe I was instantly intrigued. They are a healthier homemade version. I love the fact that these taquitos, or rolled tacos, are not deep fried but still have a nice crispy salty finish. These are not a dead match for taco shop rolled tacos, but I think I actually like them better, let’s face it, it’s nice to know what’s inside and not have to worry about mystery meat. They come together quickly, can be frozen and baked later, and taste wonderful! Try them today!

Creamy Baked Taquitos or Rolled Tacos
(Adapted from Pink Parsley)

3 oz cream cheese, softened (I used reduced fat)
1/3 cup salsa
juice of 1/2 a lime
1 tsp chile powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
pinch cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp onion powder
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro (I didn’t have any fresh so I used dry but fresh is best)
3 Tbs chopped green onions
2 cups cooked and shredded chicken (boiled, roasted, left over, anything works)
1/2 cup shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup shredded Pepperjack cheese
8-12 (6-inch) corn or flour tortillas
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
cooking spray

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and spray a baking sheet with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, combine the cream cheese with the salsa, lime juice, cumin, chile powder, cayenne, onion powder, garlic, cilantro, green onions, and 1/4 tsp kosher salt. Fold in the chicken and cheeses. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper if necessary.

Stack tortillas on a microwave-safe plate and cover with a damp paper towel and plastic wrap. Cook 30 seconds, or until tortillas are soft and pliable. (Mine took 60 seconds total after coming straight out of the fridge)

Spoon 2-3 tablespoons of filling onto the lower third of each tortilla, and roll tightly. Place seam side-down on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining tortillas and filling.

Spray the taquitos lightly with cooking spray, sprinkle with salt. Bake 15-20 minutes, or until the tortillas are crisp and golden-brown. Serve with salsa, sour cream, and/or guacamole.

I Love Lasagna and Happy Mother’s Day!

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This meal is in honor of Mother’s Day! Last summer my mom and I took a vacation to Disneyworld. It was the first time either of us had ever been and it was so much fun! We stayed at the Movie All-Stars resort and we were able to go to Epcot, Magical Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios. Truly an amazing trip and it was so great to get to hang out just my mom and I. One night we made dinner reservations for Tony’s Town Square in the Magic Kingdom. We both ordered the vegetable lasagna and it was actually pretty darn good. Of course the portion sizes were huge so we wound up wishing we just would have shared (but then I wouldn’t have been able to eat ALL of the cheesy top so maybe it was better that way). Since that time I have had vegetable lasagna on my to-try list.

Part of the trouble with lasagna is that it makes a ton. It was just me eating the lasagna last night so I didn’t want to make a 9×13 pan. I initially planned on using a small Le Crueset baker that I have but after pulling it out I thought the sides weren’t tall enough. I wanted to have lots of room for cheesy goodness in my lasagna. I looked around the rest of my bakeware and finally I decided that my 9×5 bread pan was best suited for the small lasagna job. It worked out perfectly! I think as is this recipe would serve 3 people perfectly, or in my case dinner and leftovers for 2 lunches.

This lasagna was DELICIOUS! The bechamel sauce added a rich flavor that went so well with the tangy tomatoes. I used zucchini, yellow squash, tomatoes, onion, mushrooms, and spinach, but this recipe is so adaptable you could really use any of your favorite vegetables. Eggplant and bell peppers would make an excellent addition. Play around and see what combination you like best!


Bread Pan Vegetable Lasagna

Vegetable filling –
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 zucchini, sliced
1/2 yellow squash, sliced
1/2 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, sliced
4 baby bella mushrooms, sliced
1 (14 oz) can whole peeled tomatoes in juice
1/2 tsp dry basil
1/2 tsp dry oregano
pinch of rosemary
pinch of red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp kosher salt
fresh ground pepper to taste

Ricotta filling-
8 ounces (1 cup) ricotta cheese
1/3 cup frozen spinach, thawed and excess liquid squeezed out
1/3 cup shredded italian cheese blend (or a mix of mozzarella and parmesan)
1 egg, lightly beaten
3-4 large fresh basil leaves (cut in a Chiffonade)
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Bechamel sauce- (adapted from Mario Betali)
2 tbsp butter
1 1/2 tbsp flour
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/4 tsp salt
pinch of nutmeg

1 1/3 cups shredded Italian cheese blend
6 no-boil lasagna noodles

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a large skillet, over medium heat, heat the olive oil. Add the zucchini, squash, onion, mushrooms and garlic. Cook for 2 minutes or until the onions start to turn translucent. Add the seasonings and can of whole tomatoes. Use a wooden spoon to break apart the whole tomatoes. Reduce heat to medium-low and let simmer while you make the bechamel sauce.

In a small saucepan, over medium-low heat, melt the butter. While the butter is melting heat the milk in the microwave for 1 minute and 30 seconds. When the butter is melted, slowly add the flour whisking constantly. After 4 minutes, when the butter is a light golden color, slowly add the hot milk whisking constantly. Increase the heat to medium and bring the mixture to a boil, whisking often. Cook for 10 minutes then remove from the heat and add the salt and nutmeg. (during this time I made the ricotta mixture, remembering to whisk often) Then remove from heat and set aside until ready to assemble the lasagna.

In a small bowl combine the ricotta, Italian cheese, spinach, egg, basil, salt and pepper.

Pour a small amount of bechamel sauce into the bottom of a 9×5 bread pan. Lay one whole lasagna noodle and break a piece off of another to fill the pan (about 1/3 of another noodle). Continue to layer the ingredients in the following order:

1. Noodle
2. 1/3 of the Ricotta cheese mixture
3. 1/3 of the Vegetable mixture
4. 1/3 cup Shredded cheese
5. 1/3 cup Bechamel sauce

After the 3rd group of layers, top off the lasagna with another noodle, the last of the Bechamel sauce and the last 1/3 cup of shredded cheese.

Cover the bread pan with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes. (I also gave mine 2 minutes under the broiler to make the cheese a deeper golden brown)


Chicken, Artichokes and Mushrooms

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I’ve recently discovered that I really like artichokes. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always been a fan of spinach and artichoke dip, but that’s so cheesy and creamy that it would be hard not to be a fan. A few months ago I had a delicious pasta that had artichokes in it and I could actually pick out and appreciate the flavor of the artichokes. Then, just before he left for China, Jesse ordered an artichoke appetizer and I loved it. Finally I decided it was time for me to try using artichokes in my own kitchen. I searched online and when I saw this recipe on Annie’s Eats I was inspired. I used the recipe on her blog as a base and adjusted the sauce because I was envisioning a dijon cream sauce that I could serve over egg noodles. The end result was rich, nutty, slightly tangy and overall delicious. I can’t wait for Jesse to come home so I can make it for him!

Chicken, Artichokes, and Mushrooms in a Dijon Cream Sauce
(Adapted from Annie’s Eats)

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp basil
1/4 tsp rosemary (basically a small pinch, it’s hard to measure rosemary)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
2 chicken breasts, cut into bite size chunks
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. butter
2 cups sliced baby bella mushrooms
1 (14 oz.) can quartered artichoke hearts, drained (in water, not oil)
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 Tbsp dijon mustard
1/2 cup half and half
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Minced fresh parsley, for serving (or dry if you don’t have fresh on hand)

In a shallow dish, combine the flour, dried herbs, salt and pepper and stir with a fork to blend. Reserve 1 tablespoon of the flour mixture. Place the chicken pieces in the flour mixture and toss until they are evenly coated.

Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken to the pan and cook until golden brown and cooked through, about 4-5 minutes per side. Remove the chicken to a plate; cover and keep warm.

Add the butter to the pan and warm until melted. Add the mushrooms and artichokes to the pan and cook until most of the liquid is released from the mushrooms and the vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes.

In a large liquid measuring cup, combine the white wine, chicken broth, dijon mustard and reserved tablespoon of flour; whisk until smooth. Add the mixture to the skillet, cooking until it is warm and slightly thickened, then stir in the half&half and Parmesan cheese. Return the chicken to the pan to warm through and cover with sauce. Serve the chicken and sauce over egg noodles and garnish with parsley.