Chicken with Mushroom and Baby Heirloom Tomato Gravy

Here it is, only a couple of days into cooler weather, and what am I doing? Reaching for the comfort food meals! This one has it all.  Chicken that is basically fried. The warm, comfort feelings mushrooms and oregano bring to the mix. next you’ve got heirloom tomatoes. well their teeny, tiny cousins, no bigger than a grape. All of this perched on top of a buttery mound of mashed potatoes. The only thing that would have made this better was if I would have had the time to make my buttery cornbread. As it stand, this meal isn’t really during the week cooking. Can’t say that I’m sorry, though.


4 bone and skin on chicken thighs
3 Tbs plus 2 tsp all purpose flour
2 Tbs olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion (to save time, pick up a pre-chopped bag either in the produce or freezer section)
1 Tbs minced garlic (pre-minced in a jar isn’t as good as fresh, but does shave a few minutes off the time)
1 1/2 cups thinly sliced baby bella mushrooms
1 1/2 cup thinly sliced button mushrooms
1 tsp dried oregano
Kosher salt and fresh-ground pepper to taste
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup halved grape heirloom tomatoes (picked up these beauties at the farmers market!)


Add 3 tablespoons flour, salt, and pepper to a gallon zip-lock bag.  Add chicken thighs, one at a time. Close bag and shake to coat. Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. To another burner, place a large nonstick pan and heat to medium low.  To cast iron, add olive oil. Once heated, cook chicken a total of 9 minutes, turning every 3 minutes.  Remove to nonstick pan and cover. Keep turning every 3-5 minutes while rest of meal comes together.

To cast iron skillet, add onion and garlic; sauté until onion is lightly browned.  Add mushrooms and oregano, sautéing until mushrooms release moisture and darken. Sprinkle with 2 teaspoons flour, stirring constantly. add broth, bring to a boil.Reducing heat, simmer 1  minute. Remove mushroom mixture to serving platter. Top with chicken and tent loosely to keep warm. To nonstick pan, add heirloom tomatoes and sauté until softened. Gently spoon over chicken and serve with mashed potatoes.

Wine Pairing Suggestions:

Burgundy, white
Pinot Noir

Serves 4

Total time: 1 hour

 *Original Serves 4 Recipe

Easy Sweet & Savory Korean BBQ Grilled Beef Short Ribs

My husband and daughter love sushi. Toyo Sushi is our local haunt where D always orders the salmon nigiri and The Hubs gets the Grace roll. They know us so well that, when I’m ordering and I leave something out, they ask me about it. My son and I, however, aren’t wild about sushi. For me it’s a texture thing. For my son, it’s probably that his sister enjoys it so much. I have found one dish, though, that Berto loves; the grilled beef short ribs. He enjoys them so much that on a recent trip to the market, where the butcher had them on display, I bought several pounds. I almost skipped all the way home with excitement! They were perfect! The only thing left was to find the right recipe. Thanks to, I did just that and the ribs were a huge hit at our Labor Day BBQ. Oh, and if I forgot to mention how ridiculously easy they are to make, let me say it now. Crazy easy! These were so tasty, so good, our friends were convinced we had ordered in, until I showed them the evidence of my cooking.


3 Lbs beef short ribs (Flanken style or Korean style)
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 cup soy sauce (I always opt or low sodium)
2 Tbs sesame oil
1 yellow onion, halved and sliced (I used 1 cup diced white onion that I had from a previous meal)
4 cloves of garlic, minced (while nothing beats fresh garlic, Spice Island makes an amazing substitute of a jarred minced garlic)


In a gallon ziplock bag (or whatever you like to marinate in) combine the sugar, water, soy sauce, sesame oil, onion, and garlic. Dissolve the sugar as much as possible, though it will likely not completly dissolve.

Completely submerge the ribs and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes, or up to overnight. Keep in mind, the longer you marinate the better the flavor of the meat.

On medium heat, grill the ribs 5-7 minutes on each side.  Open your mind to all serving options, over rice, on skewers, with traditional BBQ sides. The options are endless!

Wine Pairing Suggestions:

Cabernet Franc

Serves 10 small portions

Total time: about 40 minutes


Creamy Tomato & Beef Noodle Casserole

I love it when a plan comes together. Or, more appropriately in this instance, I love it when a meal comes together. Especially when I walked into the kitchen at 5:00 with no idea what was going to be dinner. Not one piece of meat defrosted. Not a clue in sight. Nothing. Nada, Zip. What I did have, however, were ingredients. Ingredients that were waiting in freezer and pantry for their rightful place on the dinner table. I’d say they found it.


8 oz Penne pasta
1 lb ground beef
1 cup frozen (or fresh) chopped onion
1 tsp minced garlic (or 1 whole clove)
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp Kosher salt
1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce
1/3 cup water
1/2 cup sour cream (change it up and use prepared alfredo sauce, pesto, heavy cream)
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese (or mozzarella; just about any cheese you like)


Prepare noodles according to package directions. Preheat oven to 375.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat and brown beef with onion, garlic, oregano, and salt. Add tomato sauce, water, and sour cream. Stir to combine and allow sauce to bubble.

Drain pasta and return to pan, add meat and sauce mixture. Stir together. When completely mixed, add to a casserole dish coated with cooking spray. Top with cheese. Bake about 20 minutes until cheese is melted and casserole is bubbly. Serve with warm French bread and salad.

Wine Pairing Suggestions:


Serves 6 to 8

Total time: 30 minutes

Featured image

Creamy Tomato & Beef Noodle Casserole

*Original Serves4 Recipe

On Top of Old Smokey Meatballs

All covered with cheese, I lost my poor meatball, when somebody sneezed.  But it’s ok because I made tons!  These meatballs were so easy to make and quick.  Such wonderful flavor!  And one of things that attracts me to a recipe is the ability to really make it your own.  Change it up some. Use spicy Italian sausage for a kick. Or, add your favorite hot sauce to regular Italian sausage. Instead of Italian seasoning, how about the Mexican Blend I always use with some fresh cilantro?  Add ginger and teriyaki sauce, served over steamed rice, for an Asian flavor.  Oh, how about subbing the bread crumbs with finely ground potato chips, shredded cheddar cheese and BBQ sauce.  Tailgate anyone?  So, let everyone sneeze as much as they want, you’ve got meatballs covered!

Ingredients (Meatballs Only):

16 oz pkg premium pork Italian sausage
1/3 cup plain dry bread crumbs
¼ cup finely chopped onion
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg, lightly beaten
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper


Preheat oven to 375°. Mix ingredients until blended (the best way is to don some gloves and dive right in).

Shape meat mixture into 2″ meatballs and place on a baking sheet.  Either spray with nonstick spray, or as I did, line with parchment paper.

Bake meatballs 15 minutes or until done (when they reach 160°).  Serve with your favorite pasta sauce (such as my  Busy Mom’s Spaghetti and Meatball – but ignore those meatballs, just this once, and go back another time to try those!)

Wine Pairing Suggestions:

Pinot Noir

Serves 6 (with pasta & sauce)
Prep time: 15 minute; Cook time: 15 minutes

On Top of Old Smoky Meatballs

On Top of Old Smoky Meatballs

*Derived from Jimmy Dean

Baked Ziti

I have an almost irrational obsession with baked ziti.  And I can pinpoint exactly where it comes from.  It was, I’d say, wow, about 10 years ago.  My wonderful Hubs (who was not my  Hubs yet) invited a coworker to go to dinner with us.  We went to Pasta Pomodoro in Rockridge (amazing outside seating with equally amazing heaters).  I very clearly remember ordering the very rich and creamy baked ziti.  When the waiter brought our food and said, “baked ziti?” I watched in dumb-founded amazement as Hector said, “Yes, right here.”  Right here?!??  “No, RIGHT HERE!!!” I silently screamed.  I don’t even remember the non-baked ziti dish I ended up with that night.  How could I?  It wasn’t baked ziti.  Ever since that fateful evening I have been on a baked ziti quest.  Each variation of a recipe that I try gets put in the “never again” pile, the “hmm, give it one more try” pile, or THIS could be the ONE” pile.  I made this ahead for our Tahoe trip.  My dad loved it, which is a whole other story, but got it added to the THIS could be the ONE pile.  🙂 


16 oz dry ziti pasta
1 small / medium onion chopped (depends on preference)
1 lb extra lean ground beef (can sub turkey or chicken)
2 (26 oz) jars pasta sauce (such as Classico Tomato & Basil)
6 oz sliced provolone cheese
1 1/2 cups sour cream
6 oz mozzarella, shredded
2 Tbs grated Parmesan


Add ziti to slightly salted boiling water.  You want to cook to al dente because this dish will go in the oven.

Over medium – high heat, in a large skillet, sweat onions until soft, add ground beef.  Once browned, add pasta sauce and simmer 15 minutes.

While simmering sauce, preheat oven to 350°.  Spray a 9×13″ baking pan with nonstick spray.  Layer 1/2 of the ziti, provolone cheese, sour cream, 1/2 sauce mixture, remaining ziti, mozzarella cheese and remaining sauce mixture.  Top with grated Parmesan cheese.

Bake 30 minutes, or until cheeses are melted

Wine Pairing Suggestions:

Pinot Noir

Serves 10
Total time: 1 hour

Baked Ziti

Not a great picture, we got busy in Tahoe and I forgot to take another when cutting into it!

*Derived from

Chicken minus the Vesuvio

This was supposed to to be a traditional chicken Vesuvio, except I was missing, well, the Vesuvio. Or, the red-skinned potatoes and artichoke hearts. ” so I attempted to make do without.  And boy, did I make do.  This got a thumbs-up from my R Jr., foodie.  And it was literally a thumbs-up because he had a mouthful of food.  Does it really get better than that?  I think not. I’m going to go ahead and add in the ingredients that I didn’t have, since it’s from Giada De Laurentiis, I think I’m safe 🙂  Everything with a * I did not have / did not do.


3 Tbs olive oil
4 skin on & bone in chicken thighs
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1½ lb small red-skinned potatoes, halved (I did not have this)
4 large garlic cloves, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
¾ cup dry white wine (ok, everyone MUST keep this on hand)
¾ cup chicken broth
1½ tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried thyme
8 0z frozen artichoke hearts, thawed (I did not have this)
2 Tbs unsalted butter


Preheat oven to 450° F.

Heat olive oil in a large oven proof pot on high heat.  Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper.  Working in 2 batches, cook chicken in pot until golden brown on all aides, about 10 minutes.  Transfer chicken to a bowl.  Carefully add the garlic and onions to the pot and cook until softened.  *Add the potatoes and cook until they are golden brown, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes.  Add the wine and stir to scrape up any brown bits on the bottom of the pot.  Add the broth, oregano, and thyme.  Return the chicken to the pot.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.

Once a boil is reached, cover the pot and bake until chicken is cooked through, about 20 – 25 minutes.  Remove pot and transfer chicken to platter.  *Arrange potatoes around chicken.

*Add artichoke hearts to sauce in pot. cover and simmer over high heat until artichokes are tender, stirring often, about 4 minutes.  Turn heat to low.  Stir in butter.  Add artichokes to chicken and potatoes, pour sauce over dish and serve.

Wine Pairing Suggestion:

Pinot Noir

Serves 6

Total time: About an hour

Chicken minus Vesuvio

Chicken minus Vesuvio

Derived from: Giada De Laurentiis

Hearty Beef & Stout Stew

Just because Old Man Winter has turned his nose up at Sunny California and left us with spring-like weather, doesn’t mean that we don’t still crave winter food.  You know what I’m talking about; thick stews and rich meals to warm the body (even if the body isn’t particularly cold).  It must be an internal time clock, kind of like bears hibernating or salmon knowing where to spawn.  If only I had a little more time, I would have added a thick slab of my buttery cornbread.  Something to look forward to, for sure. 😀


12 oz boneless beef check, trimmed and thinly sliced (tip – for easier slicing, pop the meat in the freezer for 10-15 minutes before slicing)
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper
5 tsp olive oil, divided
2 cups finely chopped onion (time saver – buy already chopped onions, found in the produce or freezer section)
1½ cups diagonally cut carrot (time saver – buy pre-sliced carrot chips in the produce section)
2 cups pre-sliced cremini mushrooms
3 thyme sprigs
1 Tbs tomato paste (tip – freeze remaining paste in a sandwich bag for later use. Freeze flat and just break off the amount you need)
2 tsp minced garlic (time saver – jarred minced garlic such as Spice World)
3/4 cup stout beer (such as Guinness)
1½ cups unsalted beef stock
1 Tbs all-purpose flour
1½ tsp lower-sodium soy sauce


Sprinkle beef with salt and pepper.  Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add 1 Tbs olive oil to pan, swirl to coat.  Add beef to pan, cook for 3 minutes, browning on all sides.  Remove beef from pan.  Add remaining 2 tsp oil to pan, swirl to coat.  Add chopped onion, carrot, mushrooms, and thyme sprigs; sauté for 4 minutes.  Add tomato paste and minced garlic; sauté 1 minute.  Add beer; cook 1 minute, scraping pan to loosen browned bits.  Combine beef stock and flour in small bowl, stirring with a whisk.  Add to pan.  Cover, reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes.  Stir in beef, and cook 1 minute or until thoroughly heated.  Stir in soy sauce.  Discard Thyme.  Serve over rice or mashed potatoes.

Wine Pairing Suggestions:

Cabernet Sauvignon
Petite Sirah
Syrah / Shiraz

Serves 4

Total time: 40 minutes

Hearty Beef & Stout Stew

Hearty Beef & Stout Stew

*From Cooking Light