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Mushroom Pork Hand Pies


I could eat pie every day. I love it. It’s my First Love when it comes to desserts and cooking in general. I could have an All Pies blog ("Pie Fits"??) and be perfectly happy. When I was a kid, I didn’t want birthday cake (gasp!!!) I wanted birthday pie. Usually Apple. Not enough people eat savory pie and I want to change that. Hand pies, empanadas and anything else small, savory and portable, should be right there among the sandwich masses. This recipe is easy, and the dough is based off a pie dough, but with a few alterations to make it more like an empanada, and it really is easy and quick. Also, a prefect lunch to pack for a picnic or a hike.

Get moving, eat pie.

Mushroom Pork Hand Pies

For The Dough:

2 1/4 cup flour

1 tsp salt

10 tbs butter, cold, cut into cubes

1 egg

1/3 cup ice water

For The Filling:

2 tbs olive oil (plus more as needed)

1/4 cup onioins, chopped

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1/2 cup mushrooms, chopped

1 cup ground pork (you can sub turkey or chicken as well)

1 cup tomatoes, chopped

1/2 cup roasted red bell peppers, chopped

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

1 tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp chili powder

For The Top of Dough:

1/4 cup melted butter

pinch of salt

Put 1 1/2 cups of flour and the salt in a food processor, pulse for a second to combine. Add the butter and process until combined. Add the remaining flour and process again. Move to a bowl. In a small bowl, beat the egg and water together until well combined then add the egg/water to the dough with a wooden spoon. If you add the water and egg with the food processor, your dough will turn out crispy and cracker like.

Form into a disk, cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 1 hour.

Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until opaque, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and the mushrooms and cook until the mushrooms are soft, adding a little more oil if the pan gets dry. Add the remaining filling ingredients and cook until warm and combined, about 3 minutes. Allow to cool.

Once the dough is chilled, roll out on a flat surface and cut into sections that are 6 inches by 8 inches. Add 1/4 cup of the filling to one end of the strip, keeping at least an inch between the filling and the edges.

Fold the empty half over the filling and press the edges until secure.

Transfer to a baking sheet (sprayed with cooking spray or covered with parchment paper to prevent sticking).

Repeat until all the dough and filling are used. Brush the tops of the pies with melted butter and sprinkle with a little salt.

Should make between 8 and 10 pies.

Bake at 400 for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.

How To: Make Round Meatballs

I got a request last week (yay!)  for a How To post about round meatballs. Most pan fried meatballs have the same issue, flat on three sides, in a pyramid shape, as opposed to the pretty round ones.

There are three methods to making meatballs round, but all start the same way.

Mix up your favorite meatball recipe making sure to use a binding agent (such as bread crumbs, oatmeal or even rice). For this post, I used the following:

2 cups lean ground beef

3/4 cup sweet italian sausage, casing removed

1 tsp salt

1/2 cup panko bread crumbs

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

1/2 tsp smoked paprika

1 egg

Mix it up really well (your hands work best for this) and use a small cookie scoop to grab a meatball sized portion.

This will allow you to have uniformly sized meatballs.

Roll them in your hands to make them as round as possible.

This is where the methods will deviate.

Method 1

The first method is to boil them. This will give you perfectly round meatballs without much fuss. Just drop your meatballs in a pot of boiling liquid. You can use the sauce you intent to serve them with, water or broth and cook until the internal temp reaches 165 or until, well, they are cooked when you break them open (about 6-10 minutes depending on size)

This method works great to give you really pretty and uniform meatballs, as well as infusing liquid to make them juicy. As for me, I like the caramelized char of a pan fried meatball, so I’d take a misshapen one over a boiled one any day, but if looks are what you are going for, boiling is a great options

Method 2

Baking. Some people swear by this method and love the way the meatballs taste after baking. Next to boiling, it is a really healthy method, saving the calories of the oil in pan frying. Heat your oven to 350, place your meatballs on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper and bake for about 15-18 minutes. I baked half of my meatballs, and pan fried the rest. The baked meatballs did still have a slight flat spot where they sat on the pan but the flavor was great. They did lack that browning on the outside that I love.

Method 3

Chill then pan fry. Place the meatballs on a plate and chill in the fridge for at least two hours. You want to be able to brown the outside before the inside knows whats going on and has a chance to sag. Heat 2 tbs of oil in a pan until it is very hot and almost smoking. Get your meatballs out of the fridge and place them in the hot pan. Grab the handle of the pan and pull it back and forth over the burner so that your meatballs never have a chance to settle.

Cook for about 5-8 minutes, make sure that the meatballs are cooked through before serving. I just broke one open but you can also break out the thermometer and make sure the temp is at least 165.

Here are the final product of Method 2 (baking) and Method 3 (chill then pan fry).

Method 2 is on the left and Method 3 is on the right.

Of all the methods, chilling and pan frying was my favorite. They aren’t as perfectly formed as boiled ones,but that browning taste that I love came through beautifully. Another factor to keep in mind is that lean meat cooks better, while fattier meat may leave empty pockets where the fat has melted, making your meatballs misshapen.

If you have a request for How To Mondays, you can email it to me at [email protected] or leave it on my Facebook wall at

Savory French Toast

I love french toast. I’ll take it in any form I can get it. Here is my version for those of you who don’t want to start your day with a large dose of sugary goodness. Although you are free to cook your eggs as you see fit, I have a strong urge to beat the people who like a well cooked yolk. After all, it’s natures perfect sauce.


2 cups of whole milk

2 eggs + additional 8 eggs

½ tsp onion powder

¼ tsp smoked paprika

1/8 tsp sea salt

½ tsp black pepper

Cooking spray

8 slices of bread

8 slices of bacon, cooked

Serves 4.  In an appropriately sized bowl, add the milk, 2 eggs, onion powder, paprika, salt and pepper and beat until well combined. Heat a pan over medium high heat, lightly coat with cooking spray. Soak the bread, one at a time, in the milk mixture for about 30 seconds.  Cook the bread on each side until goldeny brown, about 2 minutes per side. Cook eggs over medium so that the whites are mostly cooked and the yolks are still runny. Top the bread with one slice of bacon, cut in half and then an egg.

Downloadable recipe

Savory French Toast

Braised Chipotle Orange Oxtails

Oxtails scare me a bit. Not really because of what they are, but the gamey-ness is hard to tackle at times. This recipe was inspired by Carne Asada, another cut of meat that finds a delicious outcome only after the right treatment. A reminder that there really isn’t a “throw away” cut of meat, just ones that need the right touch.

Braising just means you brown the meat first, and then slow cook it in liquid. Really similar to pot roasting, although much more fancy sounding.

You’ll need about 4-6 large oxtails. The most often overlooked step in successful browning is to pat the meat dry. Sounds really counter intuitive, to REMOVE moisture when you want your meet juicy, but its important, just trust me. After the patting, season the meat with salt, pepper, onion powder and smoked paprika and don’t be shy.

oxtails-seasonedRoll them in flour

oxtails-flouredCut up half of an onion and saute in a cast iron pot in about 1/4 cup of olive oil

oxtails-onions-sauteOnce they are translucent and soft, take them out and set them a side. You’ll be putting them back in the pot soon.

Brown the oxtails on all sides, it’ll take about 10 minutes, work in batches if you have to. Add more olive oil if the pot starts to get dry, you want a thin layer at all times

oxtails-browningAdd all of the following to the pot:

your previously sautéed onions

2 cups of red wine

3 cups of sliced tomatoes

3 cloves of garlic, minces

3 chipotle chilies (from a can in Adobo sauce) chopped up, plus about 1 tbs of the Adobo sauce

2 tbs cummin

juice from 3 large oranges

pinch of salt and pepper

oxtails-begining-braiselower the heat to maintain a low simmer and put the lid on. Cook for 2 1/2 hours, stir occasionally. Then take the lid off and add 1 tbs Grade B Maple syrup, juice from 2 more oranges and simmer uncovered until the sauce reduces and thickens a bit, about 20 minutes. Serve over rice


Savory Bacon Garlic Cheesecake

Savory cheesecake. Really, an invention of necessity. I want cheesecake, but it’s not dessert time. The solution? Pre-diner cheesecake. Brilliant. Then add the candy of the meat world: Bacon. Yum. E.
    Prep time: 20 minutes | Cook time: 35 minutes | Total time: 55 minutes | Servings: 8
  • 5 Large cloves of garlic, unpeeled
  • 1 tsp. of olive oil
  • 1/8 tsp. of salt
  • 5 Strips of bacon
  • 1 1/2 cups of Ritz Crackers
  • 5 tbsp. of melted butter (unsalted)
  • 16 ounces of  Cream Cheese
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 tsp. of salt
  • 1/2 tsp. of pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. of smoked paprika
  • 1 tbsp. of fresh rosemary, minced
  • 1/4 cups of sour cream
  • 1 baguette, thinly sliced and toasted (optional, for serving)
  1. Roast the garlic: (your kitchen is about to smell SOOO good) Preheat the oven to 400. Place the five cloves of garlic on a small sheet of aluminium foil. Drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle with the 1/8 tsp salt. Fold up the aluminium foil into a tight pouch; you don’t want any of that goodness to seep out. Roast in the oven until garlic cloves are soft, about 20 minutes. Allow to cool (seriously, you really want to allow those suckers to cool) then remove the skins. Once garlic is done cooking, reduce oven temp to 350.
  2. Bacon time: While the garlic is roasting, cook the bacon in a skillet over medium heat, turning frequently. Again, your kitchen probably smells so amazing that you may need to lock your doors. Remove bacon from the pan once it is dark pink and the fat is mostly rendered, allow to cool on paper towels.
  3. Crust o’clock: In a food processor, add the crackers and pulse until reduced to crumbs and then add the butter, pulse until all that remains is a beautiful, buttery, crumbly pile that looks like wet sand. Press the cracker crumbs into the bottom of a 6 inch spring form pan.
  4. Blend well: in a stand mixer, add the cream cheese, your yummy garlic, eggs, salt, pepper, smoked paprika, rosemary, sour cream and mix the crap out of it. Seriously, don’t be shy, show that cream cheese who’s boss.
  5. Puttin’ it all together: Add the cream cheese mixture to the spring form pan. Chop the cooled bacon and sprinkle over the top of the cheese cake (it’s OK if you take a nibble or two of the yummy bacon).
  6. Bake: In the oven for 35 minutes or until top is golden brown. Allow to cool completely and serve with bread, or eat alone. And by alone, I don’t mean "by yourself" because, really, if you have a Bacon Garlic Cheesecake, you will never be lonely again. Enjoy!!

Hoisin Glazed Beef Tenderloin Stuffed with Mushrooms and Asparagus

Tenderloin is one of my favorite go-to meals when I have guests over. Mr. Fits parents were in town this week and I love cooking for them. Even when things don’t go as planed, they are always impressed and gush for days over how much they loved my food. “Wow, that chicken you made the other day was really something special!” Really? The overcooked, under seasoned chicken? Well thank you.


4 tbs butter

1/4 cup chopped yellow onions

3 cloves of garlic, minced

1 cup of mushrooms, chopped

5 large spears of asparagus (trimmed the ends about 2 inches) chopped

1/4 cup cooking sherry

1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs

2 tbs olive oil, plus 2 tbs, divided

Salt and Pepper

1 2lb beef tenderloin

(more salt and pepper)

1/2 cup Hoisin sauce

2 tbs soy sauce

Preheat oven to 350

Heat the butter in a large pan over medium heat until melted. Add the onion and cook until softened, then add the garlic, cook for about 30 seconds. Add the sherry, scraping to deglaze the pan, then add the mushrooms and  asparagus.


If the pan starts to look too dry, you can add olive oil or more butter to moisten things up a bit. Cook, stirring frequently until mushrooms are darker and softened. Add the olive oil, and Panko and stir until it resembles a paste, salt and pepper to your liking.


Cut the tenderloin down the middle, making sure not to cut all the way through and then open it up like a book. Pile the stuffing in the middle of the tenderloin, forming into a tight log with your hands.

tenderloin-flat-stuffed-pre-rollRoll the tenderloin up tightly and secure with kitchen twine. If you have never used kitchen twine, its really easy. Here is a simple how to:


Once the twine is secure, heat the last 2 tbs of olive oil in a pan until hot and shimmery. Sprinkle all sides of the tenderloin with salt and pepper. Once the pan is hot, brown the tenderloin on all sides. It should take about 4 minutes per side, roll it until all sides are brown, remove from pan and add to a glass baking dish.

In a bowl, combine hoisin and soy sauce. Brush all sides with the hoisin mixture. Cook in the oven for about 25-30 minutes or until the internal temp reaches between 130-140 for medium rare (meat will continue to cook after it is removed from the oven.) About  every ten minutes during the cooking, re-brush the beef with the hoisin glaze. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for about 5 minutes. Cut into rings and serve.


Ham with Bourbon, Maple, Bacon Glaze

As I’m putting the final touches on my Easter Ham, I’m chatting with a friend of mine. A friend who wasn’t spending the holiday with his family, well, because he’s Jewish. It occurs to me, as I’m glazing my large hung of pork with smaller hunks of pork, how Un-Jewish Friendly this holiday is. Not only is it a celebration of the resurrection of Jesus, it’s signature dish is Ham. SO, I apologize to all of my Jewish friends for the excessive use of bacon on this blog, and I promise my next post will be Kosher.

For those who would don an “I Heart Pork” t-shirt, this is my hands down favorite ham recipe. I was very happy with the end results and it was one of the few times I was able to eat a meal that I prepared without thinking of all the things I would change for next time.


1 10 lb ham

1 1/2 cup apple juice plus 1/2 cup, divided

4 strips of bacon

2 tbs butter

1/4 cup Bourbon (I used Buffalo Trace)

1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar, plus 2 tbs, divided

1 cup pecans

1/4 cup grade B maple syrup

1 tsp coriander

Place the ham in a roasting pan, fat side up. Add 1 1/2 cups of apple juice to the bottom of the pan. Cook at 325 for 1 1/2 hours (for a 10 pounder, or 9 minutes per pound).

ham-pan-pre-cookedCut the bacon into small, 1/4 inch strips

ham-bacon-cutIn a sauce pan over low heat, melt the butter. Add the bacon and spread out in the pan, sprinkle with 2 tbs brown sugar. Cook slowly until the fat is mostly rendered.

ham-bacon-pan-cookedIn a small bowl, add the remaining 1/2 cup apple juice and the bourbon. In another bowl, add the brown sugar, coriander, maple syrup and pecans, mix well. A side note about Maple Syrup: Grading doesn’t have to do with the quality, like some might assume. Syrup is graded according to color and translucency. Typically, grade A is much lighter (and mellower in flavor)  than grade B.

ham-glaze-ingredientsAdd the bourbon mixture to the pan, increasing the heat to medium, and cook until reduced by 3/4. Reduce the heat to low and add the brown sugar mixture and stir until well combined and thick.

ham-glaze-cookedOnce the ham has cooked for 1 1/2 hours, remove from the oven. Increase oven temp to 375.  With a sharp knife, score the ham in a diamond pattern.

ham-scoredCover the top of the ham, and as much of the sides as possible with the glaze. Cook for an additional 20-30 minutes, or until glaze is dark and bubbly. Remove from oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes. Cut the ham in slices, from front to back, and spoon the pan drippings over the pile of meat, or put it in a gravy boat to serve along side.

The trick to cooking a juicy ham is to under cook it. Remember that ham comes to you already cooked, you’re just heating it up and glazing it. If you cook it to the recommended 140-160 degrees, it will be dry and over cooked. Most meats will continue to cook, even up to 15 percent more, after you remove it from the oven.  If you want to thermometer cook it, shoot for closer to 110 degrees. Remember, its much better to serve slightly cold ham than dry overcooked ham.


The Perfect Steak

Really, is there anything better? A beautiful crust, tender, pink in the middle. Cooking a lovely cut of beef at home, on par with your favorite steak house, is completely possible. Years ago, I set out on a journey for the wisdom of the beef that would enable me to cook up a beautiful hunk of meat in a way that would WOW my guests (and by that, I mostly mean my husband). It was much simpler that I had expected.

First, pick the right cut. Of course a $50 steak is going to taste amazing, but you can also get a great meal out of a $5 steak as long as you know what to look for and how to read the label.

USDA Grades

Prime, Choice, Select? What the heck? Here’s the basic rule: stick with only Prime and Choice, don’t select Select and NEVER choose ungraded for this cookin’ method.

Prime is the best and Choice is the second choice. Select is a passable cut, but for only a few dollars more, a Choice cut will taste twice as good. All meat is inspected my the USDA, so don’t let that label fool you. If it just has a “Inspected by USDA” sticker and no grade sticker it just means the meat didn’t meet standards for a grade. If a cut has a grade, the sticker will be on the package. If there isn’t a sticker, it’s not going to be a tasty, tender cut. Although there are a lot of ways to make a cheap ungraded cut of beef taste great, it involves quite a bit of marinatin’ and manipulatin’.

Remove excess moisture. Although it sounds counter-intuitive when you want a juicy steak, patting the outside of the meat with paper towels is important. If you don’t, you’ll end up with gray meat (and that’s no metaphor).

steak-patting-2SALT!!! I’m a huge fan of salt, but even if you would rather pass on this seasoning, ALWAYS SALT YOUR MEAT (also not a metaphor). It’s essential. Not only is salt a tenderizer, it also brightens flavors and aids in a perfect crust. Just sprinkle each side of your meat with salt before you add anything else, and don’t be shy with it. I’ve concocted dozens of steak rubs, but its hard to go wrong with just salt and pepper. You can also add just about any seasoning that you love: onion powder, garlic powder, mustard, even a sprinkle of sugar will add a beautiful caramelization to your crust.

steak-begin-2Hot Pan. Get out the best quality pan that you have, add olive oil and let it get hot, about 4 minutes. You don’t want the oil smoking, but you want it hot enough to let out a loud sizzle as you throw your meat in. Cook for about 2-3 minutes on each side. If your meat sticks to the pan, it’s OK. Don’t frantically pull it in an attempt to rescue it, it will release from the pan when it’s done.

steak-panFinish in the oven. I once took a cooking class from a fancy chef who spent years as a personal chef to celebrities in Beverly Hills. He said that this was his “steak cooking secret.” Not so much a secret, most restaurants do this, but it’s the best way to get a perfect crust and a pink-not-red center. 350 degrees for about 7 minutes for a 1 1/2 to 2 inch thick steak (Medium rare).

steak-ovenThe feel test. This has been a technique of line cooks for a century. Put your thumb and forefinger together. With your other hand, feel the fleshy part of your palm, just below your thumb. That is what a rare steak will feel like. Then put your thumb and middle finger together. The fleshy part of your palm will now feel medium rare. Thumb and ring finger: well done. This is a way to get the doneness you want without having the unsightly cut marks in your beautiful steak.

Here is a great article about that:

My favorite really-impressive-really-easy steak topping is Gorgonzola Butter. In a food processor put one stick of softened butter, two tbs Gorgonzola cheese, pinch of salt and 1 tsp garlic powder and pulse until well combined. lay out a sheet of plastic wrap and put the Gorgonzola butter in the middle. Roll up the butter in the plastic wrap into a log shape and secure the ends. Place the log in the fridge until firm. Cut off slices of the butter and place a few pats on top of a warm steak. Gorgonzola butter is also really good on asparagus.

gorg-butter steak-done-2