The UK: Beef Wellington Bites


Beef Welllington

Beef Welllington

According to Wikipedia, Beef Wellington is named after Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington. Some have suggested this was due to his love of a dish of beef, truffles, mushrooms, Madeira wine, and pâté cooked in pastry, but there is no evidence to say for sure. Other accounts simply credit the name to a patriotic chef wanting to give an English name to a variation on the French filet de boeuf en croûte during a period when England was often at odds with France. Beef Wellington is a preparation of beef   tenderloin coated with pâté (often pâté de foie gras) andduxelles, which is then wrapped in puff pastry and baked.

The adult preparation for this is more involved than the kiddy version. It uses English mustard and mushrooms or pate. This too, is delicious. However, my kiddo and maybe yours will not tolerate such sophistication; yet. And so, with that in mind, here is the miniaturized kiddy version of the picture on the left:

The Recipe

-You can use cubed tenderloin if you like, or the already cubed beef for shish kabobs. (The amount will depend on how many kiddos you’ll be serving. You be the judge–we’re all grown ups here.)

-1 Package frozen Puff Pastry (sheets), thawed.




Preheat oven to 425 (I use the toaster oven).

Season your beef with salt and pepper.

Oil a skillet and sear your beef, which should be cubed into little blocks of meat that could fit in your child’s hand.

Coat each block with an egg wash mixture (egg and a little water).

Roll our your Puff Pastry. Cut thick strips of it and wrap each block of beef with the pastry, so that it looks like a little package. Brush thoroughly with the egg wash. 

Bake until the pasty is a golden brown. Serve with your child’s favorite vegetable. Enjoy!

Kid Approved: Little Boy G liked it. He didn’t devour it, like some of the dishes I make, but he ate it. And that is good enough for me.

If you want to watch a video on how to do this, a great one is by the phenomenal Gordon Ramsay on YouTube (


7 Random Things…

I’ve been reading the Dortches Vietnam adoption blog for a while now, and she tagged everyone who was reading the blog, so here goes. We’re supposed to list seven random things about ourselves and then link to the blog where we got the tag. Here is the blog:


And here are my random 7 things…

1.  I’m afraid of just about everything (Yes, just like the chic in Diary of a Mad Housewife). Bugs, roller coasters, tornadoes (but not hurricanes), heights, enclosed spaces, flying, dying, fire. It’s really bad as my husband can attest. It has more to do with being afraid of things I can’t control. I’m not afraid of dogs, horses (I actually jumped over large fences with them once upon a time), driving fast as long as I’m at the wheel, etc. Freaky. But it works out because I make a lot of money being afraid (can’t tell you why).

2. I’d love to be a great writer or a great singer. I have plenty of dedication, I just lack the talent part. Must work on that.

3. I have a fascination with clocks. My grandfather in Germany was a watchmaker. I loved that about him when I was young. He had a shop in the basement and worked on clocks and watches down there, even after he retired. The two novels that I’ve written have a timepiece and a clock in them and play a major role in the stories, although I didn’t plan it that way.

4. I was once addicted to Tomb Raider. I’d lose sleep, be late for work, etc., just to get to the next level. I had to stop buying the games in order to gain my life back. And then, my husband bought me The SIMS. Ugh. Same thing, not as bad. Stole my life. Video games are bad. bad. bad. (I don’t do it anymore).

5. I was once addicted to peanut butter. After being diagnosed with diabetes in 1984 and put on medication, I had this uncontrollable urge to eat jar after jar of peanut butter. GROSS. I couldn’t stop myself. I was so thin at the time, and had lost so much weight from being undiagnosed with the condition for one year, that my body craved fat. It was so hard to NOT buy a jar of the stuff when I went grocery shopping. You couldn’t pay me to do that now.

6. I love eating strange things, but  not too strange. I’ve had frog legs and rocky mountain oysters (um, bull’s testicles), escargot (although I can’t eat them now since I had a slug problem in my house in the city once). Things that I won’t eat: Balut (half-hatched eggs) and Durian (a Vietnamese fruit that smells REALLY REALLY bad.)

7. I sometimes display psychic abilities. I used to dream about things that would happen later on. Scary things, mostly, like death of a loved one, or airplane crashes. These were very detailed dreams (specific colors of cars, names of aircraft, types of vehicles driven, etc.) I appear to be very good at predicting when someone’s house will sell and in predicting the outcome of football games, as long as the Cowboys aren’t playing (I always want them to win and can’t distinguish between what I see and what I want). Don’t ask. I know, it’s strange. But true.

And those are the random things about me that I’m willing to share 🙂

Please comment, visit the Dortches site, and do your own seven random things!~



Meat and Fish* and Tater (Tot) Pie

tater totsThis recipe is an interesting use of Tater Tots I found in a book called, This is Delicious–What is it?, by Robert Meyers-Lussier. His recipe was more involved and time consuming than I like, so I modified it to a great extent to appeal to both my son and to me.

When I was first making it, it was in the oven and Little Boy G said, “I don’t want it!” I told him that if he didn’t like it,  I would make him something else (since it was, after all, an experiement). He protested, but I insisted that he at least try it before he hated it. He reluctantly agreed.

Kid Approved. When I placed it in front of him, he inspected it thoroughly, and finally tested it by taking one small bite. (I, of course, pretended not to notice). Wonder of wonders, he nodded his head in approval, saying, “It’s good, mama!” I gave myself a high five when he wasn’t looking…and then, the coup de grace: He uttered the rarely heard phrase, “May I have some more, please?”

Good as a left over.I gave this dish to my son the next day, for lunch. He wasn’t at all happy about it and cried all the whole way to school. Go figure. I hoped against hope that he would ultimately like it. When I asked him if he did, he said, yes, and that he “ate it all gone.” So, there you have it. Another small victory for mama.

But…it is better the first time around, so you should give it a try. While it might not work as a left over for your little ones, you never know. And that suspense is what makes parenting so fun and worthwhile, huh??

  • 1 lb ground hamburger
  • 1 can Cheese Soup
  • Spices of your choice (I use oregano, salt, pepper, minced onion, garlic salt)
  • Frozen Tater Tots (I prefer the Crowns, because they’re smaller, and therefore crunchier)
  • *Gold Fish crackers

Pre-Heat oven to 425F

Brown meat until thoroughly cooked.
Drain the fat.
Add the can of cheese soup. Mix thoroughly.

Add the spices. Taste. Add more if necessary.

Get your glass container and line the bottom with one layer of Tater

Cover the Tots with the beef mixture.

Add another layer of Tots on top of the mixture. Bake in oven for about
20-30 minutes until the Tots are nice and browned.

Serve with Gold Fish crackers (this addition was my son’s idea, as was the name of the dish). You can also add a veggie if you like–my son doesn’t like his veggies and main courses mixed yet, so I leave those, for now, on the side. Enjoy!

Tip: Banana Dilemma

bananaWhenever I buy bananas, the first thing they do, right after I eat the first one, is go bad on me. They turn brown within five minutes of getting home, and then black soon after that. If this happens to you too, don’t throw them away! Well, if they’re black you might want to. However, if they’re just kind of, eh, then go ahead and peel them, put them in a zip lock, sprinkle with lemon juice, and freeze them! You can use them for banana bread or banana muffins later. Waste not, want not, after all.

Germany: Wiener Schnitzel(ettes)

My mother is from the Rhine Pfalz in southern Germany. It’s the second city (or second to last, depending on your perspective) on the Weinstrasse. The town she was born in is called Gruenstadt and I’ve been there a number of times both with my parents and alone to visit my grandparents. My grandfather (Opa) died in 1998. He was a watchmaker. He was very cool. I loved him. My grandmother, Oma, is still alive and kicking. The other day, a friend of my mother’s took Oma out to dinner (she still lives in Gruenstadt, of course.) At the end of the meal, the waiter brought two shots of Sambuca (hello. What was he thinking?? She’s over 80 years old!). My mother’s friend decided to pass on the shot since she was driving. So my Oma, who has never wasted a single thing in her entire life—DRANK BOTH SHOTS. Did I mention that I had never seen her drink before and that she is over 80 years old?? You go. Oma!

Okay, so my favorite German recipe that my mother made when I was a child has got to be Wiener Schnitzel served with French Fries, or Pommes Frites, as they call them in the old country. It was always a big treat at our house, probably because of the fries, but also because it was the only time she ever put a lemon on our food. Kind of a novelty, I guess, which kids seem to love (well, most kids–not mine–not yet anyway.).

History. According to Wikipedia, Wiener schnitzel is pronounced veener, not weener (!) and schnitzel, not snitzel (!) and it means Viennese cutlet. It’s a traditional Austrian dish, but it is also served throughout Germany. Wiener schnitzel is traditionally served with a lemon slice. The dish may have originated in Milan, northern Italy, as cotoletta alla milanese, and may have appeared in Vienna during the 15th or 16th century. According to another theory, it was introduced by Field Marshal Radetzky, who spent much of his life in Milan, in 1857. The term “Wiener Schnitzel” itself dates to at least 1862. In the US, schnitzel could be equated to Chicken Fried Steak. Not surprisingly, Wiener Schnitzel has been popularized around the world:

  • In Argentina, the schnitzel is one of the most popular meals. Called “milanesa,” it is made from beef and also chicken, and is usually served with french fries.
  • In Australia, schnitzel is common pub food, and is usually made from beef or chicken, rather than veal.
  • In Brazil, schnitzels are known as filé à milanesa (Milanese steak). Served often with rice and brown beans, but also with French fries or mashed potatoes.
  • In the Czech Republic, schnitzel is knoiwn as smažený řízek and is made of pork or chicken. It is often served with boiled or mashed potatoes.
  • Lots of other places around the world–check Wikipedia if you’re interested.

My Recipe follows:

Two Veal Filets OR Two Chicken Breasts (the kids won’t know the difference)
2 Eggs
1 Cup flour
2 Cups bread crumbs
Salt and Pepper
Frying Oil

Heat a good amount of oil in a frying pan–the oil should be deep enough for the schnitzel to float.
Pound the veal or chicken until it gives up or is thin, which ever comes first. Cut into bite size pieces (not traditional–this is the kids’ version).
Season your flour with salt and pepper
Season the bread crumbs with salt and pepper.
Dredge the pieces into the flour, covering both sides equally.
Dip the bite sized piece into the egg.
Gently dip the bite sized piece into the breadcrumbs–don’t press the crumbs in or else the coating gets too hard when frying.
Place several pieces in the hot oil until golden brown.

Traditionally, you should serve the Schnitzel with lemon slices. However, kids probably won’t go for that just yet. If yours do, consider yourself very lucky! Serve with fries or whatever starch your little munchkin loves.

The UK: Cottage Pie…

I was born in Burford, a Cotswold town in Oxfordshire, England. Burford is considered the “Gateway to the Cotswolds”, in fact. This area is truly the heart of England. Stone cottages and charming villages breathe comfort into the air here. Burford is as warm and welcoming as Cottage Pie.

Origins. According to Wikipedia, cottage pie is a traditional method for using leftover roasted beef, using mashed potato as a convenient pie crust. In early recipes, the pie dish was lined with mashed potato as well as having a mashed potato crust on top.

Usage. The use of previously uncooked meat is a recent adaptation, suited to the techniques of commercial food processing companies. Early cookery writers did not use the terms “cottage pie” and “shepherd’s pie” and the terms did not appear in recipe books until the late part of the 19th century. From that time, the terms have been used interchangeably, although there is a popular tendency for “shepherd’s pie” to be used when the meat is lamb.

Variations. In North America a variation on shepherd’s pie, sometimes called Chinese pie or cowboy pie, is made with a layer of ground beef, a layer of corn and a layer of mashed potatoes. French Canadians call this variant pâté chinois. Peas and carrots are commonly mixed with or used to replace corn. In the northeastern U.S., green beans are often used instead of corn, and frequently a layer of tomato sauce is added to the beef. In the midwestern U.S., ground beef with cream of mushroom soup and green beans are topped with mashed potatoes or hash browns and baked until brown and crisp.

Here is my simplified recipe:

* 1 lb ground beef
* 1 tablespoon corn starch
* 1 packet Goya brand Pollo (chicken) seasoning
* 1/2 cup veggies (carrots or green beans or peas)
* ¾ cup chicken stock
* Instant Mashed Potato Mix for 6 servings (IF you have time to make your own, knock yourself out)
* salt and pepper

Place the beef in a large fry pan. Break up the meat into small pieces–no chunks please. Mix 3/4 cup chicken stock with corn starch. Stir until mixed thoroughly. Add 1 packet pollo seasong to the stock mixture. When the beef is cooked through, add the stock mixture and stir thoroughly until combined. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and cover, simmering for 10 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. The mixture should be thick.

Prepare your instant potato mix according to instructions.

Transfer the meat mixture to a casserole dish. Spoon the potato mixture on top of the beef, covering it completely.

Place dish under the broiler for as long as it takes to give the potatos a nice golden, rustic appearance.

Delicious and Quick. Enjoy!