November 2012

It’s hard to make a good steak better, but this sauce does it. Seriously, we ate it the next day with a spoon. Next time I will make a triple batch. Serve this at your next dinner party – it’s so easy!
  • 1 lb sliced mushrooms
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 sweet onion, sliced
  • 1/2 cup red wine (I used Castle Rock Pinot Noir)
  • 3/4 cup beef broth
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • several dashes worcestershire
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
Melt the butter over medium heat, then add the onions and cook for several minutes. Add the red wine and let it reduce a bit, then add the mushrooms, beef broth, and worcestershire. Cook for about 10 minutes, bringing to a low simmer, letting it reduce and thicken. Reduce the heat to low, and stir in the heavy cream, rosemary, and pepper. Continue simmering until the sauce thickens. Add more beef broth if you prefer a thinner sauce.

I’ll leave the steak grilling up to you, I am no expert. I think we grilled our two 6 oz filets for about 4-5 minutes on each side for medium. Spoon the sauce over the steak, and serve!

Cranberry Avocado Salsa

Perfect Thanksgiving appetizer – and so pretty! Recipe here. Except I omitted the jalapenos, cilantro, and onion…and added feta and chopped mint.

Pumpkin Cheesecake Trifle


To satisfy the gluten-free members of our family, I wanted to make a GF pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving. I don’t really like GF flour, so I decided to make more of a pumpkin-cheesecake pudding, with candied pecans and topped with whipped cream.  While it’s great as a standalone dessert, it turns out it’s also delicious on top of pumpkin pie. With a side of ice cream. And caramel sauce.


  • 2 packages cream cheese
  • 1 can pumpkin
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • ~1/4 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped pecans
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream 1 tsp vanilla

Bring the cream cheese to room temp. Beat with a hand mixer, adding in the pumpkin puree, brown sugar, pie spice, vanilla, and milk. Add more milk if you wish to thin it out a bit more.  Pour the pudding into a bowl, and set aside in the refrigerator.

To caramelize the pecans, mix them with the sugar and cinnamon in a small skillet. Turn the heat to low, and cook for about 10 minutes or so until the sugar is caramelized and your kitchen smells like a small piece of heaven.

When ready to serve, pour 3/4 of the pecans over the pudding, spreading in an even layer.

Beat the whipping cream and vanilla with a hand mixer until stiff peaks form. Spread over the pecan layer, then finish off with the remaining pecans.  I ended up eating more of this than the apple pie, which I’m sure was a very healthy decision. My mind ran wild with this dessert – what else could we add to cream cheese and turn into a trifle??!

Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Second only to green bean casserole, sweet potatoes are my favorite member of the Thanksgiving food group. Since green bean casserole is not something I can take credit for (I like it just the way it is on the Cream of Mushroom soup can – canned beans and all), I will tell you about my sweet potatoes instead.
My husband, who ‘doesn’t like sweet potatoes,’ ate his entire serving and claimed he may be a sweet potato man going forward. A big triumph for me as I love sweet potatoes just about any way they come.
Anyway, this was a really easy, tasty way to serve them. I love sweet potato casserole as much as the next person (as long as the next person isn’t John), but the fact is they just don’t need all that crap. They taste perfectly delicious without much help at all.
So…start by preheating your oven to about 400 degrees, and half the potatoes lengthwise. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil (this helps with the clean-up), and generously coat with butter in two rows where the potatoes will go.  Then, sprinkle several tablespoons of brown sugar over the butter, drizzle with a little olive oil, then sprinkle salt, pepper, and a pinch of cinnamon.
Lay the potatoes skin side up on the baking sheet. Brush with a touch of olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt.
Roast for about 30-40 minutes, and enjoy!

Grilled Blackened Salmon

In preparation for the eating marathon that is about to ensue (aka Thanksgiving), John and I decided to have a light and healthy dinner. Blackened salmon is typically pan-fried, but grilled is healthier and in my opinion, tastier.
You can make your own blackened seasoning or pick it up at the store. I didn’t feel like stopping at the store the other night, so I just made my own – but I plan to try some of the pre-mixed stuff in the near future.
  • 2 salmon fillets
  • 1 lemon
  • Olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon italian seasoning (or a tablespoon of fresh mixed herbs – thyme, oregano, basil)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Preheat the grill. Brush the salmon with olive oil, then drizzle with lemon juice. Spread the blackened seasoning generously on the salmon.  Then! I found this technique works really well to keep the seasoning in place while grilling – spray it with canola oil Pam! It sets the seasoning in place. Place the salmon on the grill skin-side down, grill for 3-5 minutes, flip, and grill for another 3-5 minutes more.

Croque Monsieur


I went to Paris a couple years ago with my then future husband, and it was the trip of a lifetime. My favorite part? The Croque Monsieurs.

Just kidding. Sort of.

I made these on Sunday for lunch, and I promised myself at that moment that I would make one of these for myself every day for the rest of my life.  I only hope that my job and associated travel schedule does not impede on my objectives.

The Croque Monsieur: Ham, Gruyere cheese, toasted bread, a Bechamel sauce that turns out to be nothing more than a few simple ingredients, and broiled to perfection.  EVERY SINGLE DAY.

Recipe (for 2)

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons flour (or 1 T. corn starch)
  • 1 1/2 cup skim milk, heated
  • 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan
  • 1 1/4 cup shredded Gruyere, divided
  • Pinch (or three) Nutmeg and pepper
  • 4 slices italian or sourdough bread
  • 1/4 lb Virginia ham
  • Dijon mustard

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the bread on an aluminum foil lined baking sheet, and toast in the oven…about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, make the sauce. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat, and just as it starts to bubble a little (not brown), whisk in the flour. Cook another minute, turn the heat to low and slowly whisk in the milk. Whisk several minutes and allow to thicken, then stir in the Parmesan and 1/4 cup of Gruyere. Stir another minute, then remove from heat and stir in the nutmeg and pepper. I used two substantial pinches of nutmeg.

Spread Dijon mustard over one side of the toasted bread. Lots of mustard. Add about 1/4 cup shredded Gruyere to each sandwich, then top with ham and the other piece of bread.  Gently pour the sauce over the sandwiches. Top with the rest of the Gruyere. Turn on the broiler, and broil until bubbly brown.