B.L.T.’s and Beef-Mushroom Soup

Often, when it cook dinner on Sundays, I spend Saturday nights in my pajamas hunting for good ideas. Sometimes I run them by the husband, sometimes I wait til morning. Last night I suggested B.L.T.’s to the husband, mainly to warn him to not eat bacon at breakfast. He was on board, cool.

For some strange reason I thought we’d need something else, so this morning I also bought ingredients for a slow cooker beef soup. Except for the beef broth, which the husband had to get during kitchen prep time. Oops.

Anyway,I bought the husband his favorite ciabatta rolls by Macrina. I bought myself a sweet potato so I could try PaleOMG’s sweet potato noodle bun. It gave me an excuse to try my new julienne slicer (thanks for the birthday gift, sue). I wasn’t confident about the sweet potato noodle bun, so much so that I didn’t use it to sandwich my B.L.T. I did a simple lettuce wrap for that. I did spread some guacamole on top, and as it turns out, it was the frikkin best weirdly prepared sweet potato recipe I’ve tried to date. And pretty easy to make, though now I wonder if I should invest in a Spiralizer. Oh, it might have helped that I used some leftover bacon fat to fry those suckers.


Husband had a B.E.L.T. (added a fried egg). I don’t know why we don’t do B.L.T.’s more often. Oh, right. Maybe it’s because the kiddo’s ended up being a “B” … But here is a pic before her deconstruction.


The beef-mushroom soup was based on the beef-barley soup from my NEW slow cooker cookbook, Slow Cooker Revolution (thanks, Sue!). It barely fit in my slow cooker, but other than that, all was well. I had a small bowl as a test, but will be eating soup at work for the rest of the week, methinks.


Soup ingredients: onion, tomato paste, thyme, carrots, mushrooms, chicken and beef stock, beef blade, crushed tomatoes.

Kiss me, though, I’m not Irish

I’m not Irish, but I married into the Irish, and suddenly I’m all into making this St. Patrick’s day meal. Last year was my first attempt as corned beef and cabbage, so I did pretty much a repeat of last year’s dinner. The downside for me is that it’s in the middle of my nutrition challenge (really?!). That just means, a low-point day for me. I couldn’t NOT add Guinness into the crock pot. Just had to use a little brown sugar for the corned beef. I couldn’t not make Irish Soda Bread. I mean, I could have, but this is a once-a-year meal, so I indulged.

St Patrick's Day meal

Corned Beef & Cabbage, with root vegetables and Irish soda bread

The corned beef was a pacakged deal from Met Market, Wagyu Beef that included seasonings. The recipe from NYMSCC was quite similar to the other ones I found online. I placed red potatoes, quartered, a couple of small carrots and a parsnip on the bottom of the slow cooker then added the beef on top with additional spices. Poured in a can of Guinness then added additional water, so that the beef was just covered (per the recipe), though it seemed to me like a lot of liquid, I went with it.

Turned the SC on low for 9 hours, I took out the beef and vegetables and put them on a platter. Then added the cabbage, cut into wedges and held together by some kitchen twine. On high for 15-20 more minutes while the meat rested. Soup’s On.

The entire family enjoyed the meat and potatoes and not so much the bread. I will have to find a different version that doesn’t have raisins next time (I like the raisins, no one else does. I brought it to work for the crew to finish up and it disappeared from the kitchen pretty quickly, i suspect).

This was last night’s work. Tonight, the actual day, we had leftovers (which means no cooking for the husband three days in a row. That must be a record). As the finale the kid and I made a Green Smoothie. Recipe below:

green smoothie

Green Smoothie

Blend together a cup of chopped kale with a cup of coconut water. Based on what was in my kitchen 1/2 large banana, 1 small apple (peeled and chopped), a handful of frozen grapes. Blend until mixed. This made enough for two 8-oz glasses or so (see above).

This recipe idea courtesy of Pinterest! Woot.

Erin Go Bragh, as the Irish say.

Slow Cooker Diaires: Simple beef chili

Catching up on some food posts. Found this pic from a month or two ago. Husband generally doesn’t care for chili or soup for dinner. So I conjured up this one on a day I knew he had other plans. Pretty sure he still had some despite his plans.


Brown the beef. Kidney beans, diced tomatoes and onions. Love recipes where they call for lots of cans of stuff! That’s guac and plain Greek yogurt on the side. While Greek yogurt is a great alternative to sour cream I wish it didn’t look like sour cream, because it does and you expect that creamy sour taste. Sigh.

Slow cooker diaries update

No pictures, but recently I’ve done a few reruns for dinner. Here is a tally, with notes.
Beef stroganoff. Last time it was a hit. This time I was off my game. Not enough wine, forgot the Worcestershire sauce, not as spectacular. I will win the next round.
Moroccan chicken thighs. I love this dish. A swirl of nut butter at the end of cooking creates a great final touch. I didn’t have enough chicken, and had too many chickpeas. Need to swap the ratios next time.
Chicken stew with biscuits. Except that I didn’t make the biscuits. Husband said no thanks. So it was just so so. Just dinner. Biscuits might have helped this one.

So there you go.

Slow Cooker Diaries – St. Patrick’s Day Style

Scenes from a Chinese-Irish-Italian Kitchen. For St Pattys Day we go all out:

Final Meal: Corned Beef & Cabbage with vegetables, and a slice of Irish Soda Bread

Corned beef and cabbage and other root vegetables. Slow cooker goodness. The beef was a fancy sort that did not come with “seasonings” so I mixed up my own, a combination of mustard seed, fennel seeds, crushed bay leaves, cumin, etc etc. The Irish Soda Bread, baked the night before, is courtesy of a mix this time (Sticky Fingers Bakeries). It came with caraway seeds and raisins. Didn’t expect the raisins, which was ok by me, only not a big hit with the husband and child.

And for dessert. Hadn’t been here for a while, so figured we’d drop in for some Irish fun:

Pot o’ gold at the end of that rainbow

Guinness Stout, a special that shows up just a couple times a year

Happy St. Patrick’s Day. See, even the Chinese can make it sorta Irish-y


slow cooker diaries: meat loaf!

I was a little nervous about this one. The recipe I was following called for saltine crackers (it was old-school), among other things. Plus, the husband does a wonderful meat loaf, so would mine pass the husband test? I combined ground beef with pork and lamb, and did away with the crackers, but did for some reason sprinkly in some coconut flour. I put in only a little because the combined scents of coconut and ground meat was not appealing. Adding in a saucy mixture of mustard/bbq sauce gave it a nice flavor. The beauty of this slow cooker recipe was that it called to place the loaf on top of a bed of potatoes and onions in the slow cooker. I changed that from several russet potatoes to one russet, plus parsnips, carrots & sweet potato (and threw the rest into a pan with olive oil and salt/pepper to roast just before dinner)

via chattycha on flickr

meat and potatoes, and stuff

Verdict was a positive (and fun and easy to prepare). Although no grains were in the loaf, it came out binded together (my concern) and moist. I enjoy having a ton of vegetables as the side to enjoy.

Slow Cooker Diaries: Beef Stroganoff

Woot! We have a winner! Lots of good words for this one. I’ve been trying to avoid SC recipes that contain cream of mushroom soup and stuff like Italian dressing, ranch dressing, etc etc. This one is sort of skirting that policy but now I’m beginning to see why everyone uses these easy ingredients. This one used “golden mushroom” soup, plus sour cream and cream cheese. At the husband’s recommendation I used fresh noodles (Parpadelle) from the refrigerated section.

This one is a keeper.


  • 1 1/2 lbs beef stew meat
  • 1 can Campbell’s Golden Mushroom Soup
  • 1 C of red wine (I used Cab Sauv … and filled the empty coup can with wine, used some of that to deglaze the pan)
  • 8 oz fresh sliced  mushrooms
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 c or so sour cream (reduced-fat ok)
  • 4 oz cream cheese (reduced-fat ok)


  1. Brown beef in olive oil, seasoned with salt and pepper. (Next time I might dredge in flour first)
  2. Deglaze the pan with some of the red wine, and add the good stuff into the SC with the beef.
  3. Cover with onions and mushrooms. Add golden mushroom soup, Worcestershire sauce, season with additional salt and pepper
  4. Cook on high, 4ish hours. At 4 hours take some of the sauce from the SC and combine with sour cream and cream cheese in a sauce pan over low-medium heat. When smooth add in a little flour to thicken sauce. Try to remove the lumps and think about that gravy commercial from my childhood (“just like ma used to make, but no lumps!”)
  5. Add sauce back in and mix it up. Turn the SC to low for another 30 minutes.

Slow cooker diaries: Beef with noodles

Me: how does beef with noodles sound?
Husband: as long as I don’t have to cook it, founds great to me!
That’s not quit how the conversation went, but it could have.

I varied slightly from the recipe I found. The original recipe called for adding egg noodles into the SC at the end but too many reviewers complained of the noodles turning to mush, so I jut cooked separate and spooned on top.
I also made too much pasta. I’ve really reduced the amount of pasta I’ve cooked/eaten in the past couple years, so a bit rusty on how much to cook. Oh we’ll. good thing the kid likes fusilli.

The veggies were what we had (well, I bought the mushrooms, but everything else we already had. In fact the onion & potatoes were from the previous SC meal)

2lbs beef stew meat
Beef broth
Baby carrots
Italian seasoning
Salt and pepper
Oil for browning meat
Flour for thickening the sauce

Season then Brown meat. Place over chopped vegetables in the SC. Deglaze pan (i used the broth)and a add that in, too. Season, season. Pour in a good amount of beef broth. More vegetables. Cook on low for 8 hours.

The books mostly say to not open he lid. I always do. If only o check and stir. I want to make sure it’s all cooking ok. Never hurt nobody.

Forgot to snap a pic until I was packing up the leftovers

Result were good. Next day leftover beef was hard as a rock. Taking a break, as l’ll be in Cali this weekend. Last time I visited with my cousins we ate some amazing homemade chinese food. yay! Pics to come.

Sunday Night Dinners, continued

I’m getting pretty good at this routine. Tonight I cooked my first steak, ever, that I can recall. Lots of guidance from the husband. Marinated top sirloin with some red wine and soy sauce (suggestion courtesy of The South Beach Diet Cookbook that I recently purchased). My one mistake: I forgot to season the darn thing before throwing it under the broiler. Oopsy. Oh well. You live and learn. And you still make a nice steak salad.

steak salad via chattycha on flickr

The previous night, the husband and I watched “Brunch @ Bobby’s” on the Cooking Channel, where our buddy Bobby Flay was making a traditional Irish breakfast. He sauteed these delicious-looking mushrooms so I had the urge to do the same.

mushrooms via chattycha on flickr

His look better than mine. I guess that’s why they pay him the big bucks. Still tasted pretty good, though.

Christmas … 2 days later

So, we didn’t make it to Christmas dinner on Christmas day. Lousy weather, bad road conditions, and a trip up to the Sammamish Plateau was quite unappealing. Ditto for Christmas Eve. So yesterday we combined the two events into one and headed to Claire’s for presents and dinner.

But first, our Christmas, on Christmas Day.

Christmas Day with Max

Christmas Day with Max

He’s quite good at opening gifts. In fact, he was snooping around this gift (he sniffed it out) a few days early so I had to hide it until Christmas morning. Max. He is so tricky.

Dinner at Claire’s was excellent: Prime rib, potatoes, creamy pearl onions, creamed spinach, and a family tradition of Yorkshire Pudding. I had never had Yorkshire Pudding until I met the husband and his family. Yorkshire pudding, especially, the family recipe, is such a treat. Granted, there were a LOT of things I’d never heard of or tried before I met the husband and his family. It’s just what happens with families meld, isn’t it? I am fairly certain the husband had never heard of or seen a thousand-year-old egg before he met me. So, it goes back and forth.

Christmas dinner

Christmas dinner

The chef of the evening revealed that the recipes from the evening’s dinner came straight from Tyler Florence of all places. For dessert, Claire made a french treat, called something I can’t remember. Cafluti? Sweetened cherries surrounded by an egg custard. Very tasty, but no pic, sorry. I brought along lemon bars to share. And, as I’ve done quite a bit of baking this past week (what else are you going to do when you’re stuck at home), I made a point to leave them there. Before packing them up I taste-tested one of them. Pretty good. I should do these more often.

Lemon bars

Lemon bars

Of course, we didn’t go home empty-handed. In addition to the generous gifts we received from the in-laws, the mother-in-law also sent us home with a tiered-plate of Christmas cookies (tea cakes, shortbreads, bourbon balls, jam thumbprints, sugar cookies, oh my); plus what she calls “nuts and bolts” but what I’ve always known as Chex Mix. Tasty.

And I’m sure my doctor will wonder how it is possible for one person to gain 20 pounds in one week. I should just refer her to chattycha.com.