Beef Stroganoff over french fried potatoes with dilled sour cream


Foods change. Immigrants learn to improvise with ingredients when moving to a new land or substitutions are made when a recipe travels to a new land when the original ingredient is not readily available. Beef stroganoff is no exception. Beef stroganoff originated in Russia. From there it migrated to China were it was served with rice. Later, beef stroganoff came to the United States where the dish was served over egg noodles. So what starch was beef stroganoff originally served with in Russia? Believe it or not, french fried potatoes.

I like to serve my beef stroganoff over hand-cut, french fried potatoes with a dollop of dilled sour cream. I will share my tips for making great fries in a future post. Here’s my beef stroganoff recipe:


1 ½ Pounds beef tenderloin or sirloin top loin
4 Tablespoon butter
1 Large onion, thinly sliced into half moons
½ Pound mushrooms, thinly sliced
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 Tablespoon oil
¼ Cup flour
1 ¼ Cups beef broth
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 Teaspoons freshly chopped dill
½ Cup sour cream


A couple hours prior to cooking place the steak in the freezer to slightly freeze. Freezing the steak for a couple of hours helps to firm up the steak allowing you to more easily slice the steak. Also, take all but two tablespoons of the sour cream and stir in the dill. Refrigerate sour cream allowing the dill and sour cream to marry.

Trim beef of all fat and slice thin strips against the grain.  Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large frying pan and fry the steak about three minutes. There should be a considerable amount of red showing on the meat. Remove steak from pan and set aside. Melt remaining butter and sauté the onions until translucent, about five minutes.  Add the sliced mushrooms, and sauté 2-3 more minutes.  Lightly salt and pepper onions and mushrooms as they cook.  Transfer to a bowl and set aside.  In same pan heat 2 tablespoons of oil, whisk in the flour and add beef bouillon to make a gravy-like sauce.  Stir in the Dijon mustard and two tablespoons of sour cream. return the beef, onions, and mushrooms and simmer 5 minutes more.  Adjust salt and pepper seasoning.  Serve over french fried potatoes and top with dilled sour cream.

Chili — Nothing like a good bowl of red on a cold winter day


You can’t have just one bowl of this chili. I use shredded chuck roast and shredded pork roast instead of the ubiquitous hamburger. The beef and pork compliment each other and gives chili a flavor and mouth feel you just can’t get with ground beef. This is how chili should be made.



1.5 lbs Combination of shredded chuck roast and pork butt roast (Recipe follows)
1 T Olive Oil
1 Onion
4 T Hot Mexican Chili Powder
1 Can Fire Roasted Tomatoes with garlic
1 Can Mexican Styles Stewed Tomatoes
2 Cans Red Kidney Beans (Optional)
1 46 oz Can Tasty Tom (Spicy V8 will also work but Tasty Tom is better)


Heat olive oil in large stew pot. Add onion and chili powder and sauté until onion just begins to get tender. Side Note: Sautéing the chili powder along with the onions brings out a somewhat smokey flavor to the powder. Add shredded beef and heat until warm. Add tomatoes, beans and Tasty Tom. Heat until chili begins to bubble. Reduce heat and simmer for as long as you like.

Shredded Beef or Pork


beef roast or pork butt roast – trimmed of fat approximately 2 to 3 pounds
1 onion – coarsely chopped
4.5 oz jar minced garlic – unless you want to mince all that garlic
1 to 2 bay leaves
Kosher salt
Fresh ground black pepper
olive oil


Preheat the oven to 325F. Rub the beef thoroughly with olive oil. Generously season both sides of the roast with the salt, pepper, cumin, and oregano. Spread entire jar of minced garlic on top side of roast. Top with onion. Add bay leaves and wrap the meat in heavy-duty foil sealing the edges all around with tight crimps. Place the meat in a baking dish and bake for about 2 ½ to 3 hours, or until the beef is tender enough to fall apart. If you hear much sizzling as the meat cooks, turn the heat down.

When the beef is fork-tender, unwrap the top of the foil package, push aside
the onions, and cook another 5 to 10 minutes uncovered. Remove from oven and let the meat cool. Shred it into long shreds with a fork. Beef may be stored in the refrigerator (for up to a week) or frozen. I use this style of shredded beef and pork for tacos, burritos, chimichangas, chili, shepherd’s pie or any other recipe in place of ground meat.

Fall is the perfect time for comfort foods

I love fall. I love the cooler weather, football, the colors, my birthday and most of all, all the wonderful comfort foods. This past weekend, Susan and I hosted the Eastern Iowa Wine Club at our home. It was an enjoyable evening with good friends, food, and really good wine. It was also an opportunity for me to cook some of these comfort foods that I really enjoy. The night’s menu consisted of a Roasted Butternut Squash Chipotle Soup, Wine Braised Short Ribs, and Roasted Brussels Sprouts. The hit of the night was the soup.

I am of the opinion that people need to eat more squash. It is versatile, delicious and so very good for you. There isn’t too much you can’t do with squash. Here is a Roasted Butternut Squash Chipotle Soup creation I came up with for the night. Please bear in mind that I was cooking for 16 people. If you half this recipe you should be good with plenty left over. It is every bit as good warmed up.


Approximately 8 pounds of roasted butternut squash
Three carrots
Three stalks celery
Two small to medium sized onions
Several cloves of garlic
8 cups chicken broth
Olive oil
1 cup heavy cream
Two canned Chipotle peppers.


Roasting the Butternut Squash
Preheat oven to 375° F. Slice squash length wise in half and scoop out seeds. Rub olive oil over cut side of squash and place face up on baking sheet. Season with kosher salt, fresh ground pepper, and fresh ground nutmeg. Roast until squash is fork tender, approximately 45 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.

Making the soup
Heat two tablespoons of olive oil in large pot. Add onion, carrots, celery, garlic, and salt and sauté until soften, about 10 minutes. Scoop flesh from roasted butternut squash into pot. Add chicken broth and diced Chipotle peppers along with some adobe sauce from peppers. Bring to boil and then reduce heat and simmer for about 30 minutes stirring occasionally. Working in small batches, transfer soup to blender or food processor and purée until smooth. Stir in cream and serve.

Here is what I did for the Wine Braised Beef Short Ribs. I served them over a Rosemary Thyme Whipped Potato. Again, the following recipe was for 16 people. You will want to cut this recipe down.


Approximately 16 pounds of beef short ribs
6 carrots thickly sliced
6celery stalks thickly sliced
2 medium sized onion coarsely chopped
5 cloves garlic minced
Fresh ground black pepper
Kosher salt
olive oil
2 750ml bottle of decent hearty red wine


Preheat oven to 325° F. Season ribs with Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper. Heat a large dutch oven or similar heavy bottomed pot over medium high heat and add 2 tbsp olive oil. Working in batches, brown the ribs on all sides. Remove ribs and clean out pot. Add the remaining olive oil. Add the garlic, onion, celery, and carrots. Cook, stirring often, until onions are softened; about 4 minutes. Add the Rosemary and Thyme and pour in the bottle of wine. Brink to boil. Add ribs back and cover pot with lid. Place into oven. Let braise for 3 hours.

Serve with potatoes, rice, noodles or some other starch.

I know, I know, most people turn their nose at Brussels sprouts. That is more than likely because all they have ever eaten are bitter, boiled sprouts. Roast these puppies until they begin to caramelize and you have a totally different and delectable treat. Here is my recipe:


Brussels spouts
Olive oil
Balsamic vinegar
Kosher salt
Fresh ground pepper
Parmigiano Reggiano (aged at least 18 months)


Preheat oven to 375° F. Cut the stem end off of each sprout and remove the outer leaves. Add enough olive oil to evenly coat the sprouts. Season sprouts with Kosher salt and pepper. Then drizzle Balsamic vinegar over sprouts. Roast sprouts for about 40 minutes stirring about every 10 minutes until they are evenly brown. Shred Parmigiano Reggiano over sprouts and roast for an additional 5 minutes. Remove and serve.

Want the best meatballs you’ll ever eat? The secret is to bake them!

Here is a meatball recipe that is a little out of the ordinary but is my absolute favorite. It is based off Alton Brown’s Baked Meatball recipe. My version strays the most because I do not use ground lamb in mine like he does. It isn’t that I am opposed to eating lamb; rather, I live in Vinton, Iowa. Ground lamb just isn’t readily available to me.

The sauce for tonight’s dinner is from Coralville, Iowa based Galassi Foods. Susan and I have been wanting to try the sauce for some time. We tried the Sweet Tomato Basil. Although we found this sauce just a little too sweet for our liking, we will definitely try their other varieties.

Both were served over Barilla pasta. Barilla is another Iowa made product. What can I say, we try to support our local producers as much as possible.

Here is tonight’s recipe.


¾ pound ground pork
¾ pound ground round
5 ounces frozen spinach, thawed and drained thoroughly
½ cup finely grated Parmesan
1 whole egg
1 ½ teaspoons dried basil
1 ½ teaspoons dried parsley
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
½ cup bread crumbs, divided


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the pork, ground round, spinach, cheese, egg, basil, parsley, garlic powder, salt, red pepper flakes, and ¼ cup of the bread crumbs. Using your hands, mix all ingredients until well incorporated. Use immediately or place in refrigerator for at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours.

Place the remaining ¼ cup of bread crumbs into a small bowl. Using a scale, weigh meatballs into 1.5-ounce portions and place on a sheet pan. Using your hands, shape the meatballs into rounds, roll in the bread crumbs and place the meatballs in individual, miniature muffin tin cups. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden and cooked through.

This recipe will make approximately 20 to 24 meatballs. I like to make a whole recipe and then freeze uncooked the ones I will not eat that day.

Steak au Poivre for a change of pace


Don’t get me wrong, a steak grilled over a hardwood charcoal fire is always fantastic. Sometimes though you just need to change it up. That’s when making your steak au poivre fills the bill.

Steak au Poivre (steak with pepper) is basically a steak with a black pepper gravy. It is extremely delicious and relativity easy to make. The fact that an open flame is involved is only a bonus!

I served tonight’s steak with garlic mashers made from new potatoes and steamed green beans.

Steak au Poivre


4 tenderloin steaks, 6 to 8 ounces each and no more than 1 ½ inches thick
Kosher salt
2 tablespoons whole peppercorns
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/3 cup Cognac, plus 1 teaspoon
1 cup heavy cream


Remove the steaks from the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hour prior to cooking. Sprinkle all sides with salt.

Coarsely crush the peppercorns with a mortar and pestle, the bottom of a cast iron skillet, or using a mallet and pie pan. Spread the peppercorns evenly onto a plate. Press the steaks, on both sides, into the pepper until it coats the surface. Set aside.

In a medium skillet over medium heat, melt the butter and olive oil. As soon as the butter and oil begin to turn golden and smoke, gently place the steaks in the pan. For medium-rare, cook for 4 minutes on each side. Once done, remove the steaks to a plate, tent with foil and set aside. Pour off the excess fat but do not wipe or scrape the pan clean.

Off of the heat, add 1/3 cup Cognac to the pan and carefully ignite the alcohol with a long match or firestick. Gently shake pan until the flames die. Return the pan to medium heat and add the cream. Bring the mixture to a boil and whisk until the sauce coats the back of a spoon, approximately 5 to 6 minutes. Add the teaspoon of Cognac and season, to taste, with salt. Spoon the sauce over the steaks and serve.

Garlic Mashers


4 large red potatoes
2 large white potatoes
1 Whole Bulb Garlic (Peeled)
1 Stick Real Butter
1 C Sour Cream
½ T Kosher Salt
½ t Fresh Ground Black Pepper


Boil potatoes, garlic and salt until fork easily pierces. Drain water. Add butter, sour cream and black pepper. Mash potatoes with old-fashioned ribbon potato masher making sure all ingredients get evenly combined.

Pesto di Noce with Flat Iron Steak & Green Beans Amandine.


Tonight’s dinner was Pesto di Noce (Pesto with Walnuts) served over a grilled Flat Iron Steak along with green beans Amandine.

Pesto is typically made with Pine nuts. However for this pesto I toasted some English walnuts and added a few sun dried tomatoes. The walnuts give the pesto just a slightly different flavor and the sun dried tomatoes add just a hint of sweetness.

This recipe originally called for a flank steak, however in my area flank steaks are very hard to find. I use the new kid on the block, the flat iron steak, as a worthy substitute whenever a recipe calls for flank steak. If you would like to read more about the flat iron steak simply click here. Flat Iron Steak

I also had some left over crostini from the weekend. I am planning a whole article on the versatility of crostini in the near future so that will have to wait until then. For now, here are the recipes for the steak, pesto and green beans.

Flat Iron Steak

In a small bowl, whisk together ¼ cup soy sauce, 3 tablespoons brown sugar, and 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce. In a glass bowl, baking dish or my preference a zip lock type baggie, pour the mixture over a flank steak. Let steak marinate for 30 minutes, turning once. I like to use a zip lock type bag because I feel it holds the marinate next to the meat much better and all you simply need to do is flip the bag every once in a while.

On a hot grill, cook steak over high heat, 3 to 4 minutes on each side for medium-rare. When steak has reached desired doneness, remove from heat and allow to cool for several minutes. Slice the steak against the grain in ½-inch-thick slices. Plate and top with pesto.

Pesto di Noce


1 ½ cups packed basil
½ cup olive oil
1/3 cup toasted walnuts
¼ cup finely grated Pecorino
¼ cup finely grated Parmesan (you may use all Parmesan if you wish)
2 sun-dried tomatoes in oil, chopped
2 cloves garlic
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


Process basil, oil, walnuts, Pecorino, Parmesan, tomatoes, and garlic in a food processor until finely chopped; season with salt and pepper.

Green Beans Amandine

1 lb. Fresh or frozen whole green beans
¼ Sliced almonds
¼ C Real Butter
½ t Kosher Salt
1/8 t Fresh ground pepper

Steam beans until tender-crisp. About 10 to 15 minutes. Melt butter in skillet over low heat. Add salt, pepper and almonds. Right before serving, heat butter, almonds, salt and pepper over medium heat. Stir until almonds just begin to brown. Add beans and fry while continuously stirring for three to four minutes. Serve immediately.

What can I say… you can never get enough pesto. As Susan said while eating tonight, “On the seventh day God created Pesto.”