Greek Style Shepherd’s Pie – Lactose & Wheat Free


Ground meat – beef & pork
1 – 2 onions, chopped
Salt & pepper
Oregano, rosemary, cinnamon, garlic powder, dash of red wine vinegar, several dashes liquid aminos (soy sauce), and 2-3 tblsp. sugar.
1 can tomato sauce
1-2 cans tomato paste
Olive oil

Over medium heat, add several tablespoons of olive to a pan. Add onions & meat, saute until done. Add spices & tomato ingredients until flavored and thickened to your taste.


Steam at least two bunches asparagus. Remove from heat as soon as it turns bright green.

*Better next time note: cut asparagus into 1 1/2 inch sections before beginning to layer your dish.

Boil 2  – 3 lbs. of potatoes till tender. (Peel before boiling, or squeeze skin off after they are cooked and cooled). Slice, lengthwise, 1/2 of the cooked potatoes.
For the other half, use 1/4 cup chicken broth and nutmilk to mash to the desired consistency.
Add salt, garlic powder and nutmeg to taste.


Slice thin, lengthwise. No precooking required.
*Note: while baking the zucchini will create a liquid. This can be soaked up, like gravy, with the mashed potatoes while eating, OR potatoes can line the bottom of the pan in order to soak up the liquid.

Pan Layering:

Coat bottom of oven safe baking dish with olive oil. Add the juice of one fresh lemon and 2-3 drops of liquid smoke. Use a fork to mix and spread evenly over the bottom of the pan.

Add asparagus (or potatoes as noted above), then a layer of zucchini slices, meat mixture, another layer of potatoes, and zucchini slices. Top with mashed potatoes.

*Note: Dollop mashed potatoes across the surface, use moistened fingers to spread.

Bake, covered, at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Remove covering for last 15 minutes.



Twirled Asparagus – Meat, Veg & Bread


Bacon lovers beware!

The bread strips on these twisty morsels soak up the fat making them filling and

2 bunches fresh asparagus, tough ends cut off

3 full packs of bacon (12 oz ea) – sliced lengthwise, cutting off the fatty side

1 pkg puff pastry (14 oz) – cut into 1/4 inch strips (use a floured pizza wheel)







Slice bacon.
Slice pastry.
Holding bacon & pastry strips together, twirl around asparagus.

Cook at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Festive looking, these meat, veg & bread twirls are good warm or at room temperature.

They can be served as appetizers or as part of a meal.


Here’s another way to prepare and cook them.

One Step Tamale Pie – Casserole

Casserole comfort food.

1 pound ground meat (beef)|
1 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, chopped

Saute in skillet until onions are clear and meat is thoroughly cooked.

2 – 8 oz cans seasoned tomato sauce
-12 oz can corn, drained skillet
1/2 cup pitted olives, sliced
Few dashes hot pepper sauce
2 – 2 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
2 teaspoons salt

Add above to skillet.

1 cup chicken broth
2 eggs slightly beaten
3/4 cup cornmeal

Blend in a bowl until smooth then add to skillet & cook for a few minutes.

Cook in a baking dish in 350-degree oven for 45 minutes.

Add cheese, if desired, in the last ten minutes.

Lisa’s Adaptations:

Same way of prepping and cooking – slightly different ingredients

1 pound ground elk meat
1 chipotle pepper
1 – 12 bag frozen peas, corn & green beans, thawed
1 large onion, chopped
1 entire bulb of garlic, chopped
two pinches salt
6 shakes chili powder

Saute in skillet until onion and meat are cooked.

To pan, add

1 cup polenta
1 – 6 oz can green olives with juice ( I like them whole)
1 – 7 0z can Embasa Salsa Casera
1 – 6 oz can tomato paste
2 tblsp. oregano
1 tsp. Better than Boullion Chicken Base (water from olives adds more salt and dilutes chicken base)
3 eggs, slightly beaten

Mix thoroughly & cook for a few minutes.

Cook in a baking dish in 350-degree oven for 45 minutes.

Add 1 lb of shredded cheddar cheese, if desired, in the last ten minutes.



Triangle Baked Chinese Chicken




Preparation is the most challenging aspect of this recipe…chopping. Fresh ginger, cilantro, and the Hoisin Sauce give it its distinct flavor.

Instead of wrapping the chicken mixture in tiny 2″ square (folded into triangles), I opted to use large squares that measured the exact length of a 12″ roll of aluminum foil. While not as cute, the larger presentation doesn’t affect the taste. In many ways, I thought it similar to my Aunt Jeanette’s Teriyaki Chicken recipe.

The final product can be eaten alone, or crumbled into any combination of stir fried vegetables.

It’s a nice, ‘grab n go’ type of meal.

From a standard 12″ aluminum foil roll, make 7 squares. Fold them into triangles.

Chopped Ingredients:

6 boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1/4 to 1/8 inch squares

2″ long  x 1/2″ wide (roughly) fresh ginger root  – minced

4 lg. garlic cloves – minced

2 bunches fresh cilantro – finely chopped


1/2 cup cornstarch (* use less if you prefer a more runny sauce)

1/4 cup soy saucehoisin-sauce

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup Hoisin Sauce

Combine all sauce ingredients (add a little water if needed), blend till smooth. Add chopped ingredients, mix well. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.


With the foil square open, place approximately 1/4 cup of chicken / sauce mixture in the center of one side. Refold the foil into a triangle and roll and fold each open side, two times. Make sure that the foil ‘envelope’ is completely sealed.

Place all the ‘stuffed’ triangles onto a baking tray. Cook at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes.




Pickle Soup

picke-soup-photoWeird but good.  When I first read this recipe, I thought, Pickles? That’s sounds yucky.

‘Kitchen therapy’ and weird were just what was needed one morning when I had emotional child-rearing issues weighing on my mind.


Items marked with a * are my additions to the original recipe.


5 dill pickles, grated

4 tsp. butter (1 tsp. for saute pan & the remainder for the soup pot)

4 cups water

1 large carrot, chopped (* 6 small carrots)

2 celery stalks (* 3 stalks)

1 parsley root (* 2 parsnips substituted ), chopped

1 leek, chopped (* skipped)

1 potato, peeled & chopped

*1 tblsp. salt



sour cream

fresh, chopped dill


Over low heat, saute grated dill pickles in 1 tblsp. butter for 20 minutes. (This removes some of the ‘bite’ from the pickle giving it more of a mild vinegar flavor that adds interest to the soup.)

In a soup pot, combine water, remaining butter and chopped vegetables. Over medium heat, simmer till tender.

Add grated dill pickles, bring to boil & remove from heat.


Polish Stuffed Cabbage

cabbage-roll-makingMeat Stuffing

1 1/2 – 2 cups Panko or Italian bread crumbs – soak in water then drain with a strainer (press firmly to remove as much water as possible).

1 lb. ground pork

1 lb. ground beef

1 lg. yellow onion chopped

1 egg

salt and pepper

Mix together like a meatloaf.

*Stop here if you prefer mild meat stuffing.


Since my tastes run more toward zippy, I also add;

juice from one lemon

1 tsp. Hungarian paprika

1 tsp. celery salt

1 tsp. dill

1 full pkg. of fatty bacon – cooked until drippings are obtainable

2 –  14.5 oz cans chicken broth

Cabbage Leaf Stuffing

1 large head cabbage with the core cut out.

Fill a large soup pot with water, add salt and boil.

Place the entire head of cabbage into the boiling water. Watch for the leaves to begin to separate.  Remove the leaves when they become soft or take the head out of the water, put it in a strainer, and peel the leaves.

The leaves are ready when they are translucent and soft. Continue boiling and leaf peeling until the entire cabbage is disassembled.

On a cutting board, spread a leaf out as flat as possible. Cut a “V” to remove the thickest parts.

Cut a small palm-sized portion of the leaf. Hold it in your hand and place 1 tablespoon of the meat stuffing on it. Turning it over onto the larger leaf, fold the leaf around the palm-sized portion. *The goal is to have no spaces where the meat squeezes out.

Secure with a toothpick.

Continue stuffing leaves until they’ve all been used.

Cook the Cabbage Rolls

In a large soup pot, bring 1 can of chicken broth + some water to a simmer.  Add 3 tblsp. of bacon fat.

Place stuffed cabbage rolls into the bottom of the pot in a single layer, cover and simmer for 30 minutes.

Remove cooked rolls, add another batch to the pot to cook for 30 minutes. Add more water / broth as needed.

*The brand of bacon that I had didn’t yield much fat, so I added three full strips of bacon to the chicken broth in the pot.


Add 1 can of chicken broth to the remainder of the bacon grease. Heat till warm.

*I had more meat stuffing than the cabbage leaves would hold, so I fried it up and added it to the gravy.

Blend a couple of tablespoons of flower with water and slowly add to broth mixture, stirring constantly to avoid lumps.


Place cabbage rolls in a casserole dish and cover with gravy. Heat them at 350 degrees in the oven for 45-50 minutes if you have a large group to feed or place the dish in the refrigerator and eat them a couple at a time.



Being a vinegar fan, I liberally douse my stuffed cabbage rolls with red wine vinegar. London Malt vinegar is good too as is rice vinegar – though milder. Top it off with Crème Fraîche, plain yogurt or sour cream.

Windus Macaroni Casserole


Lisa’s modified version of Windus Macaroni Casserole made with white rice angel hair pasta. *A short style pasta – on the bottom layer – is the optimal way to prepare this hearty one dish meal.

1 lb ground beef

1 whole onion – chopped

1 – bulb garlic – cloves peeled & chopped

3 tblsp. Italian herbs

2 –  16 oz cans chopped tomatoes (*drained or with liquid – see notes below)

4 – 6 cups cups macaroni (partially cooked) – enough to fill whatever sized baking dish you have

Pour macaroni into greased / sprayed casserole dish. Top with remaining ingredients and back uncovered at 350 degrees 30-45 minutes.


Lisa’s additions:

2 fresh zucchinis thinly sliced

one bunch of fresh, chopped parsley

juice from one lemon

pinch of salt

Notes: For the version that I prepared (photographed above), I used an entire 8.8 oz package of white rice angel hair pasta. (This is what I had on hand.)  It worked, but with the added zucchini, a short pasta would have been better to soak up the extra juice. Pasta on the bottom, as the recipe instructs, is the right way to go. short-pasta

*Include the juice from the chopped tomatoes or drain it depending on how much liquid you need to make this dish moist.


Upon receipt of the recipe, I noticed several things. There was only an ingredients list – no measurement amounts, and like the other family recipe collections that I’ve studied, casserole cooking used to be popular.  The lack of measurements told me that Virginia was a cook, like my Grandma, who could get the proportions right by ‘feel’ or eyeballing it. She had a lot of mouths to feed and casseroles were an economical way to satisfy it.

Casseroles in the US became popular after World War II, when the Campbell’s Soup Company distributed a booklet entitled Helps for the Hostess, published in 1916. Recipes from this book became staple meals in Baby Boomer homes. Click on this link to learn more about the history of condensed soup and its impact on American culture.





This recipe is from the Adrian (Bud) Schmidt collection. (Betty Wrysinski’s younger brother.) It was passed down through the family from Margaret Windus, maternal grandmother to Mary Schmidt Schwaller. Margaret was a neighbor to Betty’s mother, Lillian Schmidt.



Soup in American Food Culture – MIT Grad does a Taste Test Roadshow

Fortunately for John T. Dorrance, his uncle was the president of  the Joseph Campbell Company (Campbell’s Soup) in 1897.  Just out of at MIT, with a degree in science, John was hired as a chemist. He earned $7.50 per week and had to use his own laboratory equipment. John was about to make a contribution that would contribute to the companies long-running success.

John formulated a method to remove water soup. He was able to reduce the volume from thirty-two ounce can to less than half of that. Soup that sold for .34¢ per unit could now be reduced to .10¢!  His good work merited a two dollar a week raise.

Not long after his revolutionary product development, John went on the road offering taste tests. He hoped he could convince housewives to use canned soup. Most home cooks made it from scratch. Soup wasn’t the only thing that would be reduced. Women immediately understood the time spent over a hot stove would be minimized as well.

The Joseph Campbell Company gained international recognition at the Paris Exposition in 1900 when it won the Gold Medallion for excellence.  That medallion has been a featured element on their labels for at least one hundred and fifteen years.




John assumed the presidency of the company at the age of forty-one. Two years later, he published, Helps for the Hostess, a complimentary booklet with comfort food recipes, made with condensed soup. Many of those recipes are ones that we still enjoy today.

The recipe for Green Bean Casserole (one of their most popular) was developed by Campell home economists in 1955.

Product Timeline:

1895 – Tomato Soup

1895 – 1897  Consumé, Vegetable, Chicken & Oxtail

1904 – Pork and Beans

1913 – Chicken with Rice & Cream of Celery

1918 – Vegetable Beef Soup (response to feeding soldiers in WW I)

1934 – Cream of Mushroom Soup

1947 – Cream of Chicken Soup

1960’s Cream of Mushroom Soup commercial.

A few favorite recipes.

November 10, 2015 Campbell’s revamps its products to meet consumer demand for all natural ingredients.

Poking Fun at American Casseroles.

As you can see in this last video, casseroles can be laughed at or loved. It’s just a matter of taste, what you’re used to, and the food you loved while growing up.

(Some foul language, bleeped, except for the very end.)

Sauce Series – Brown Sauces & Thickeners – 3 of 5

Meat based liquids with thickening agents. Start with simple pan sauces or gravy and extend it into soups and stews.


Basic Brown Sauce

2 tblsp. Butter

3 tbslp. Flour

1 cup beef stock

½ tsp salt

Pinch of pepper


Melt butter in pan. Stir in flour and cook until browned, stirring continuously.

Little by little, add beef stock. Stir until it boils and thickens, continue to cool three more minutes.

Add any desired seasonings.


Pan Gravy

Approximate the amount of flour needed to thicken the volume of meat drippings available. Place flour in a dressing / gravy shaker or whisk with cool water and shake or blend till smooth.

To meat drippings (fat) [from a turkey, chicken, bacon, or roast] in a deep pan over medium heat, slowly add flour and water mixture. Stir continuously. After the mixture has thickened, continue cooking for a few more minutes to make sure that the raw flour taste has been dispelled.


Peanut Sauce

¾ cup organic creamy peanut butter

¼ cup + 2 tblsp. Water

½ tsp. Hoisin sauce

2 tblsp. Freshly squeezed lime juice (approx. 1 ½ medium limes)

4 ½ tsp. soy sauce

3 tblsp. Maple syrup

1 ¼ tsp. chile-garlic paste

1 med. Clove garlic, mashed to paste

½ tsp. toasted sesame oil

Blend, whisk or stir all ingredients together till smooth. Store in refrigerator, but let warm to room temperature before using.

Can be used a dipping sauce, over noodles, as a salad dressing or in spring rolls.


Cilantro Sauce (It’s green)



Flour  – velvety texture – opaque

(can be stirred directly into fat – butter, meat drippings, etc.  If mixing with water first, it must be cooked for a while to eliminate the raw, starchy taste)

Instant Blending Flour – Wondra or Shake & Blend

Can add to liquids without lumps

Kneaded Butter (Beurre Manie) – equal parts butter and flour – kneaded till smooth and rolled into teaspoon sized balls (can be frozen for storage). Drop a ball or two into sauce when needed.

Cornstarch – smooth – glossy – clear

Mix starch with equal parts water, then add to warm liquid

Arrowroot flour | tapioca flour, rice flour

Gums – Xanthum gum, agar agar, pectin, and guar gum

Egg Yolks – velvety – smooth

Add to heated liquids (no hotter than 190 degrees) slowly and stir constantly – or scrambled eggs will be the result

High fat cream / yogurt – thick – smooth


Additional Resources

WikiHow – thickeners

A Life of Geekery – guide to thickening sauces, soups, and stews

Youtube Videos

French Cooking Acacemy – What is a Roux – white, blond & brown

Beurre Maniékneaded butter

French Cooking Academy –  Hollandaise sauce tutorial for beginners (w/o double broiler)

Julia Child – The Hollandaise Family

Harvard University – Science in Cooking class – Working with Modern Thickeners



Check out the other videos in this Sauce Series

Sauce Series #1 – taste bud training

Sauce Series #2 – red sauces

Sauce Series #3 – brown sauces & thickening agents

Sauce Series #4 – white sauces

Mock ‘Chopped’ #5 – group cooking challenge how-to



Sauce Series – White Sauces – 4 of 5

White sauces are made with milk, buttermilk, yogurt, coconut milk, butter, other white liquids and thickening agents.


Basic White Sauce

2 tblsp. Butter

2 tblsp. Flour

1 cup milk

½ tsp. salt

1/8 tsp. pepper

Melt butter and stir in flour. Gradually add milk and stir until mixture boils and thickens. Cook an additional 3 minutes.

Use on seafood, vegetables, fish, or meat.

Additions to white sauce:

Chopped parsley 2 – 4 tblsp.

Mustard – 2 tsp.

Cheese – ½ – 1 cup grated cheese


Horseradish Cream Sauce

½ cup heavy whipping cream, whipped to stiff peaks.

4 -6 tblsp. horseradish

½ tps. Salt

Pinch of pepper

Serve with ham, beef or fish.


Makes ¾ cup sauce.


Lemon Roux


Pan Gravy

Approximate the amount of flour needed to thicken the volume of meat drippings available. Place flour in a dressing / gravy shaker or whisk with cool water and shake or blend till smooth.

To meat drippings (fat) [from a turkey, chicken, bacon, or roast] in a deep pan over medium heat, slowly add flour and water mixture. Stir continuously. After the mixture has thickened, continue cooking for a few more minutes to make sure that the raw flour taste has been dispelled.


Hollandaise Sauce

2/4 cup butter

1 ½ tblsp. Lemon juice

3 egg yolks, well beaten with dash of salt

Cayenne pepper


Divide butter in the three parts. Place one piece in top of a small double broiler, add lemon juice and egg yolks. Place over hot water (not boiling) and cook slowly, whisk constantly.

When butter is melted, add second piece. Keep whisking. As mixture thickens, add the final piece of butter.

Once the mixture is about as thick as gravy, remove from heat, add salt and serve immediately.

Can be used over vegetables (asparagus), fish, shellfish and poached eggs.

Lightly finish with cayenne pepper.


Makes: ¾ cup
Trouble shooting: If sauce is curdling, dilute by the teaspoon with hot water while constantly whisking.


Check out the other videos in this Sauce Series

Sauce Series #1 – taste bud training

Sauce Series #2 – red sauces

Sauce Series #3 – brown sauces & thickening agents


Mock ‘Chopped’ #5 – group cooking challenge how-to